Pop Goes the Weasel

Spring has come to these mountains. Frogs send their amorous creakings up out of the creeks and ditches.  This morning I saw a whole tribe of wild turkeys.  The tom turkey had his tail fanned out just like the pictures in grammar school, and his eighteen wives and children grazed peacefully around him as he strutted his stuff, wattles swinging.

A few minutes ago in the gloaming a bird rang out with a song that reminded me of what happens when you take a Jack-in- the-box that plays “Pop  Goes the Weasel” and crank the handle backward.  A funny series of notes that just don’t sound like they belong together.  But the Jack pops out of his box nevertheless, right on cue, except the notes are backward.

I don’t know why this appeals to me.  It seems a bit morbid, really, to take pleasure in something happening in reverse.  No matter: it’s a harmless pleasure.

On the other hand, when things happen out of order in real life, I feel unsettled, uncomfortable, headachy.  I’ve had that feeling this week, except it’s been mixed with that semi-perverse Jack-in-the-box reversal pleasure. 

“POP!” goes the weasel.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

Like a Newborn Baby, Again.

What do people mean when they say that?  I haven’t the foggiest idea.  In fact, I haven’t the foggiest idea of what most people mean when they say anything at all.  This has been one of the hardest parts about being the vessel that carries my particular brain around.  I’m never quite sure whether my understanding of another human being’s thoughts and utterances ever even approaches what they really meant.  I waste untold quantities of time and energy worrying about this, my inability to feel connected with most human beings.  

I think this is one of the reasons I bond so closely with animals.  Communication with them is all about eye contact, body language, facial expression, smells….speaking of which, I got aggravated in the middle of last night with a smell that was lingering from the previous day’s cooking.  Being the Jewish Sabbath, it was not appropriate for me to do anything requiring fire, like lighting incense, burning essential oils, etc., but I did have a blend of essential oils in a spray bottle, which is perfectly acceptable to use on the Sabbath.  It was, in fact, one of many such spray bottles containing blends that I make for various purposes, that lurk in corners around the house.  I grabbed the one that I thought was for banishing evil odors, but it was dark, and alas, I grabbed the one that is for banishing ants.  I sprayed a great deal of it around before I realized my mistake….and my dog, Noga, headed for the hills, and tried to dig a hole in my recliner to bury her nose in.  Oh dear.  But at least it didn’t smell like the salmon from last night.

Where was I?  Oh yes.  I was in that place of wondering if I would ever understand other people.  I have come to a new resolve:  I shall not try.  I shall let other people be who they are, and I will do my best to let me be me.  If it should happen to turn out that there is a mutual understanding, I am going to try my best to stay in the moment with it and let it stand on its own.  That will be a marked change from my usual fear-based:  what if I misunderstood what they meant?  What if they think I’m really weird?

So, since we’re into the “what if’s,” what if I started all over again, each and every time, like a newborn baby, again?

A Very Sad Day: edited

Second draft: I am cleaning out my Dad’s ceramics studio, where he spent the past 30 years of his life creating objects of wonder and beauty.  This is what people are supposed to do after a parent dies.  But my Dad is still alive. And here I am doing it now, with his permission, under his direction, as far as he is able to communicate it.

Three years ago he made a rack full of vases, teapots, plus two covered jars, which he intends as reliquaries for his and my mother’s ashes. 

Then he walked away, and has been back only briefly to try to make some work, only to be foiled by his brain, shot full of little strokes as a result of his diabetes. He knows what he wants to do, but cannot make his hands do it. It is called “apraxia,” and it sneaked upon him like a thief in the night. And aphasia ties his tongue. And dementia wrecks his brain.

He waged a valiant war with diabetes.  He exercised an hour a day, seven days a week, from six till seven every morning. He ate a prescribed diet, and almost never cheated.  He took his medicine.  And he made it into his 80’s before the disease really caught up with him.

He still has all his toes, and his eyes and kidneys work fine.  But his brain and his skeleton took the big hit, and neither one carries him where he wants to go anymore.

So here I am in the inner sanctum, throwing out his special formula glazes–he was a master of glaze chemistry– because they are dried out and no good to anybody anymore.  Glazes with names like “Golden Ambrosia,”  “Rosey Lavender”– they are blends of his own formulas with commercial stains.  But ones like EZA 40% Cu, those are his own formulas. And I’m throwing them out.  I feel like I’m throwing out his life, and my life too, because I spent my childhood in the pot shop, quietly working on some project of my own so as not to disturb my master, my teacher, my guru, my Dad.

Epilogue–I had to come back and edit this. The first draft was full of mistakes because my eyes were overflowing and I could not read what I was writing. And I have decided not to throw the glazes out. “Throw them out!” says Dad. But I will put them in boxes in a safe place, until I feel more settled about it.