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Leonard Cohen: the life and legacy of the poet of brokenness, by Mikal Gilmore

I am not recopying the entire, long, well-written article, but I wanted to cite the full credit from the table of contents for future reference. This, though, was the final paragraph, and I do want to keep it.


"This sounds like the most hackneyed 19th-century platitude," Cohen once told me, "but in the midst of my own tiny personal troubles, I turned to the thing I knew how to do and I made songs out of it, and in the making of those songs, much of the pain was dissolved. That is one of the things that art does, is that it heals. A man who makes those choices in his own life is often more beautiful than his works. Any artist who remains true to himself becomes a work of art himself, because that is one of the most difficult things to do. If someone does have that vocation, and diligently applies himself to the exigencies that arise, he will lose a great deal but he will have created his own character."


I like this. It's a full, rich description of a concept I find appealing. Of course, I am equally happy to just think of the lyrics from the song "Art Class (song for Yayoi Kusama)" by Superchunk:

"Why so serious? When it's only your life that's at stake.
Why so serious? When your life is the art that you make.
Your life is the art that you make."
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Today I have a combo platter of complaints and disappointments that are just... not... something I can air locally.

I've been worried about getting my yard mowed. I have gotten so much more disabled over the winter that I really felt I would not be able to do the work. And the grass and weeds kept... growing (we were seeing rain almost every day for awhile there. I finally made it out to try to start the mower (which has been very cranky the past couple of years). Amazingly, IT STARTED! YAY! I was worried that my knees would not allow me to push the thing, but my knees noticed immediately that this was pretty much just straight-legged pushing. OK.

But my back overruled everything. Because not standing/walking/doing the housework/etc. meant that my back muscles have faded, too. So that settled it- I had to call someone and hope I could afford someone to mow. Got hold of the guy who mows the neighbor's place, set it up for him to start the next week. The "affording it" part is probably going to be OK. Mostly. Hopefully.

Later that day, the neighbor from down at the other corner stopped at my house to ask if it would be OK to come mow my yard. I thanked her, and explained that I had just made arrangements. She asked if I might be able to cancel them. I declined again, but asked if she would be at all willing to help me with some gardening problems (FIERCELY overgrown on the patio and the strip beside the house). She agreed to come over the next day to do that.

She did a tremendous job on the overgrown strip, and I told her my poor overshadowed Virginia bluebells would be very grateful. She kept working along, and I was working on the patio itself. When she decided she was done, I was so happy with how everything was cleared out. Except she left the seedlings that weren't maple or black walnut. Still, I could deal with those.

Then I realized that she apparently did not recognize the leaves of Virginia bluebells. Because they were gone along with the weeds and seedlings. Yeah, I am a bit sad- they were mom's favorite, and she had planted them years ago. Ah well.

So then the new mowing guy did his thing. HUGE relief, seeing things all mowed and trimmed. But then I went out and realized that he had trimmed off the iris leaves, where they've been suffering in the shade for a few years (I have nowhere dug up to move them- shoveling is not in my range of motion these days). So, yeah, disappointing, but just a further fail for me.

And now, tonight, the sink in the downstairs bathroom has developed a leak. The cold water line is spraying where it's connected to another pipe under the pedestal sink. There's no shut off valve under the sink, this is how it goes when family does the installation, you know? So there's water all over the floor, and my s-i-l suggested I tie a rag around the spraying part, and try to trail it down into some kind of container. Because I am completely unable to go down into the basement to see about shut off valves down there, and I am really not going to call a plumber now, at 10:40 pm on Memorial Day.

I'm just sick with stress at this point, tearing up and thinking I CAN'T ADULT ANYMORE. Send good thoughts, if anyone has any to spare?
monkey5s: Chinese golden monkey (Default)
"When we talk about the Big Bang or the fabric of space, what we are doing is not a continuation of free and fantastic stories that humans have told nightly around campfires for hundreds of thousands of years. It is the continuation of something else: of the gaze of those same men in the first light of day looking at tracks left by antelope in the dust of the savannah-- scrutinizing and deducting from the details of reality in order to pursue something that we can't see directly but can follow the traces of. In the awareness that we can always be wrong, and therefore ready at any moment to change direction if a new track appears; but knowing also that if we are good enough we will get it right and will find what we are seeking. This is the nature of science.

"The confusion between these two diverse human activities-- inventing stories and following traces in order to find something-- is the origin of the incomprehension and distrust of science shown by a significant part of our contemporary culture. The separation is a subtle one: the antelope hunted at dawn is not far removed from the antelope deity in that night's storytelling.

"The border is porous. Myths nourish science, and science nourishes myth. But the value of knowledge remains. If we find the antelope, we can eat.

"Our knowledge consequently reflects the world. It does this more or less well, but it reflects the world we inhabit. This communication between ourselves and the world is not what distinguishes us from the rest of nature. All things are continually interacting with one another, and in doing so each bears the traces of that with which it has interacted: and in this sense all things continuously exchange information about one another."

This is a marvelous book, and I suspect I could go on about it for more pages than the book itself contains (it's only 81 pages).
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I missed [personal profile] lavendertook's birthday! Hope it was a grand, lovely affair, and that you have a wonderful year to come!
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REALLY outgrew original catchall post, so this is the list of what I do, at this time, own )

Trying to get organized is difficult, but I just bought a second copy of one deck because I hadn't listed it when I first got it. Timely record keeping: so tedious and yet so important.

What to do

Jan. 5th, 2016 05:54 pm
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Bright Eyes, the youngest of the "kittens" (the surviving two are 10 years old now) has been having health issues lately. It's been a long process, I have not taken her to the vet because money, and I was hoping she'd pull out of it (she's been going up and down). Her brother has had a recent recurrence of his sinus infection that did make me call the vet yesterday, because there is only so much snot-flinging I am willing to accept from sneezing cats. The process is that you call the vet's wife (his office manager and vet tech) and she calls you back (as time allows on her second job of postal carrier). I was not surprised to wait three hours for my callback.

It was that long because they are on vacation. On the west coast. Until Saturday.

She did say she'd call in a prescription renewal for Corrie, so I can get him started once I pick it up. But last night I didn't mention Bright Eyes, with her health issues, because she was seeming better. But today she's not made an appearance since morning, and I believe she's upstairs somewhere (I still can't get up the steps).

I had been afraid that she was beginning to develop the Feline Infectious Peritonitis that killed her sister Pansy two years ago, but she just didn't seem to have the same symptoms. I didn't see labored breathing, but she seemed like her shoulders hurt when she first would stand up and walk, which Pansy did. Bright Eyes will get up on the table asking for attention, but stays up on her front feet instead of laying on her side to relax- except when I brush her. She also gulps sometimes, which was something she did a lot when she first started having problems. She mostly just wants to lie on the furnace vent, and will come to the food bowls, but be very slow and careful about eating.

Last night I finally wondered if she had a gum infection. She's never had her teeth cleaned, and I haven't been getting them their yearly vaccinations like I should (because my beloved Kia died of Injection-Site Sarcoma, which I hadn't even known was a thing). So I tried to look in Bright Eyes' mouth last night.

She was having none of it. I do not have enough hands to accomplish this.

So. Is she avoiding me because she's angry, or is she spiking a fever from an infection? I don't have anyone to call to help me try to locate her, but if she does put in an appearance should I try to find a vet to see her, or wait until my vet gets back? Previous "other" vet experiences have shown that it's expensive and can be damaging to my pet (two of the four times I can remember my animal died in the vet's care, and one time they told me there was no hope and I should just put him down. That cat lived a good six months longer with care from my regular vet before he was ready to go).

Tl;dr: I need more money. I need a house I can live in. I need a support system. Ugh.
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Every fall, a former coworker and her family throw a big cookout (with a Haunted Maze set up in the yard) at their place out in the country. I have attended irregularly, but since retiring, it's pretty much the only time I can be sure to see her. This year, it was on Oct. 10th.

Navigating uneven ground with the walker isn't easy, but it's MUCH easier than when I was getting so arthritic, yet not using assistance. After all, six legs to support me is not bad, even when two of them are problematic.

Most of the attendees are her family, and I don't really know any of them. But yesterday's weather was amazingly beautiful, and they have three acres and years of accumulated Halloween decorations. Mostly I hung around overhearing other people talking.

This year, there was an unexpected coalition of current and former big rig drivers. They all worked for different big companies, and they were happy to have people with whom to share stories. This unexpected camaraderie led to loosening of other social strictures, and I finally had to leave the food tent when the White Male Privilege came out. OK, it was actually when the guy started talking about how AWESOME it would be for Trump to be president, was when I thought, That's my cue to exit!

Still a fun time, not sure it counts as "socializing" for the full three hours I spent there since I didn't really, you know, talk to anyone most of the time, but a lovely October evening in the country is still a nice time.
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This year my insurer stopped covering "wellness checks". Only now do I see that, when they say they won't cover it, they mean they won't pay for anything related to assessing how your progress is going with ongoing treatments for things. Which means I am on the hook for the full price of the lab tests for my vitamin D levels, as well as checking my thyroid. And it also means they won't even negotiate a lower price for me to pay. The total for those two tests is $365.58.

And then we moved on to the Wound Clinic charges. This was only for the two trips I made in August, the September ones will be on the next EoB. For these, Medical Mutual slid part of the charges into my deductible for the year, plus used "coinsurance" (have never actually understood the concept of this, other than "another way to screw you over"), leaving me on the hook for $366.40. At least there was only one doctor copay on that, since the second visit was just to see the nurse. And sure, this is MUCH BETTER than having to pay the originally-billed $1,200.00.

I would like to get my varicose veins procedure done this year, since I've nearly met my deductible. But I am not sure I can add whatever large amount of cost that will entail, to the payments I will need to set up for the Wound Clinic charges. At least there will only be two more to pay for?
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What an awful experience! I will try to take the high road for a change, and say that maybe the doctor I saw is really a good person, kind to his family, a good boss to the office nurses, etc. Perhaps the only thing he lacks is effective patient interaction skills, despite his telling me, at FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES, that he's been doing this work for 15 years.

1. His insistence that he's seen my case history "at least 60-70 times per week for the fifteen years I've been doing this" seems slightly unrealistic- because there are WAY more kinds of wounds than what I brought in.

2. He kept repeating himself over and over, while he stared at me, as if he was expecting me to give some response that I did not understand. I mean, he never prompted me about anything, and I had no idea what he was waiting for.

3. It also did not help my impression of him that he told me repeatedly, emphatically, and in great detail that the pain I felt at times with the wound was physically not possible, never would happen, clearly just nerves oversensitive, absolutely nothing whatsoever could ever be done to change it, with a heavy implication that I should just stop whining.

4. And I have no idea why he was so bent out of shape over the fact that I did not want to take a diuretic, because my incontinence is bad enough without it (and I already have problems with muscle cramps from mild dehydration at times). But, he told me more than once that my wound would never heal because of my refusal.

5. However, the edema has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on how I ended up with the wound, and having the varicose veins ablated would have no impact on the peripheral artery condition that was the actual cause of the wound. I am proud of myself for refraining from asking him to explain this conundrum.

So they put my lower leg into a "boot" (heavy wrap from toes to just below knee of cast padding covered by elastic bandage for extreme compression), told me to try to endure it, but if I couldn't take it by tomorrow morning to call them, and remember that the pain was just oversensitive nerves, and hopefully I would be able to stick with it until I go back to see the nurse Monday to get it off and rewrapped tighter after it has done its work for three days. Then I see the horrible doctor again on Thursday. He's already told me that it will take MONTHS of wearing the boot nonstop in order to possibly heal the sore, but remember, it probably WON'T WORK because I refuse to take the diuretic.

I can tell you this- the pressure of the compression wrap on the sore is really miserable, but it's nothing compared to the shifting of the wrap over the sore as I move. And getting up the three steps from the ground into the house was insanely horrible. SO GLAD IT'S NOT REAL PAIN, RIGHT?

As an added bonus, he pretty much called my family practitioner, AND the venous specialist I saw, incompetent boobs who were too stupid to correctly diagnose anything.
monkey5s: Chinese golden monkey (Default) predictable. It wasn't a complete waste of my copay because I was overdue for bloodwork.

But still, she just made sympathetic faces about my open sore on my ankle from the edema (now with bonus fungus infection), and (yup) referred me to the wound clinic in the city south of us. And yes, nagged me gently about getting a mammogram again. At least since my weight was down, and I reported trying to eat better, she spared me the 'really should try to lose weight' talk.

She also followed up on my colonoscopy, which... that doctor failed to send her the updated info after the pathology of the single, tiny polyp he found and removed, so she was relieved that at least I had been advised to repeat the procedure in two years. And I told her my tale of insurance woe over the varicose vein ablation procedure that is still pending (she said she finds it frustrating that we hear all the time about how expensive it is to have medical ANYTHING happen, yet how many people are the insurance companies paying to sit in a room and routinely deny coverage?).

So the wound clinic is supposed to call, and until they see me I will just continue to be SOL, ankle-wise. Also, I discovered that my new, digital weight scale here at home reads 5.2 pounds lighter than theirs. So that made me grumpy. OTOH, despite having stopped taking the amlodipine (because it causes edema, so fuck that shit), my bp was a perfectly fine 122/68, on just the lisinopril.

Next stop, WOUND CLINIC, with bonus endless copays! And still have to fight over the varicose veins procedure, plus I haven't heard from the vascular surgeon's business office, to find out just how much of what insurance doesn't pay, I will have to cover. Ugh.
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Got a call from the vascular surgeon's office today. Insurance HAS approved the varicose vein procedure. I told her I was a bit taken aback at the letter they had sent, rejecting it. Particularly the part where they stated I had not had the 3-month compression treatment. She said when she read that, she called them up and asked if they were crazy, since that was part of what she faxed them. They claimed they did not receive that page, so she asked if she could send them JUST that page? And so they have approved both veins on the right leg, but only the worse one on the left. (which... the left is the leg where the edema has made the skin break down, and only doing the one means edema will STILL BE A PROBLEM. Oh well.)

The provisional yay is because now I have to talk to the business office for the practice. This is so they can tell me how much I will have to cover, as in how much slack (between what they charge and what insurance allows) will they require me to pay. Not even including the deductible that the insurer will stick me with. So this isn't a done deal, but at least it's farther along.

Also, I am not sure how, if at all, this will affect my immediate problem, of the sore(s) on my bad ankle that heal as others open up. I'm running through all the first aid creams I can find, and so far the one that helps the most is a zinc cream I can only find at CVS. Oh well. Just keep plugging along.

Mail call

Jun. 21st, 2015 10:30 pm
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I usually try to pick up my post office box mail once a week. Today was the day. Among the junk mail and catalogs and yes, a couple of good magazines, there was also a severely official-looking large envelope from my health insurer.

They were officially notifying me that they were denying the request from my vascular surgeon to get rid of the varicose veins in my legs that are causing the severe edema (which is, itself, causing the skin around my left ankle to deteriorate and cause sores that I have had to keep bandaged, and wrapped, for the past SIX MONTHS, since I ended up in the ER after a small varicose vein blew out in that ankle and I left a unit of blood on the sidewalk in front of the library). Nope, in the considered opinion of their paid third-party medical troll, I do not need to have the procedure, and so they will not pay a cent towards it.

Nice to know my insurer is just fine with me having raw meat for an ankle, and that I have to keep spending money on bandaging supplies. Hey, they get their payment from my retirement every month! Other medical expenditures are NOT. THEIR. PROBLEM.

I just... I hate everyone, and everything, right now. But I particularly hate Medical Mutual.
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I was getting ready to go to the grocery when my s-i-l called. She sounded wrecked, told me my brother was "gone". She was following the squad to the hospital, and I said I'd be there as soon as I could.

It was sudden, he had slid off the bed when he was trying to get up, and he just stopped breathing. She called 9-1-1, the squad got there almost instantly (the station is very close to their house), tried to resuscitate him at the house, then transported him with lights and sirens, but she said she knew it was useless.

There's lots of upset of course, only it's not really unexpected, because he's had so many health problems for so long. It is still sobering, he was only 61. And my only sibling.
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Used the Turbo Tax Freedom Edition, since I qualified. My federal return does give me a refund- all of $4!! WOO HOO, try not to spend it all in one place, amirite?

They also extended a free version to do my state return, so I went ahead and did it. Much bigger refund, to the point of me side-eyeing it. Will not spend until I see what happens. But then, they also filed my school district tax return (which the state collects)- and for that, they did not have an option to help me. Nor did they let me file only the regular state. So, I am a bit at a loss- they submitted a return that indicated I did not pay school district tax yet, because I paid estimated tax directly to the state from my checking account. Seems like a gap in their forms, there.

So I am going to go to the state website and file a duplicate of my school district form, because I paid more than required. And I did look around the Turbo Tax website for the free edition, but there was no feedback option. So whatever. I'll just do my state forms myself next year.
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I finally watched the third Hobbit movie last night, the Battle of the Five Armies. It felt more coherent than the previous one (which I kind of felt could have used more editing). Here are a few of my favorite parts of this one:

Cate Blanchett getting her "TERRIFYING elf queen" geared up and going.

Proper tribute paid to the "hero" Uruk-Hai leaders- particularly nice they had their end credit sketches.

A revisit of the "rabbit sleigh" of Radagast the Brown- never not hilarious and fun to watch.

Martin Freeman's Bilbo getting home to the Shire- only to find out his home has been trashed and stripped.

The young Bilbo transitioning to the 111-year-old Bilbo, with Ian Holm looking exactly right as we witness the true passage to the Lord of the Rings.

And my biggest 'Oh, my heart!' moment, of Billy Boyd singing "The Last Goodbye" over the end credits. I didn't watch the special features (just not enough time), but I did watch the stuff about Billy and recording that song- with the music video for it, where they pulled together the whole franchise.

So. I was not going to buy this for myself, since the second one didn't thrill me, I just watched the library's copy. But now? I think I might have to get my own copy after all.
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Sure signs of spring:

Great Lakes Brewing Co. has released this year's batch of Rye of the Tiger IPA.
Bell Brewery released their rye ale, Smitten.
Columbus Brewing Co. released this year's first batch of Summer Teeth kellerbier.

And, in a desperate attempt at finding a silver lining, the warm weather and excessive RAIN has started the ant invasion in my kitchen/.

[Also, I may have been taste testing the Rye of the Tiger IPA a bit here]
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I hope everyone who celebrates it had a good one.

When I talked to my bro on the phone Friday, he sounded great. He was clearly in a good mood (rare for him), and the initial visit of the home health nurse went very well. They put him on the schedule to have his legs re-wrapped once daily, and she set up the physical therapy person to visit him Monday. He was remarking how great it was that he could wheel the wheelchair straight up to the kitchen table and be there as an active participant in the nurse's filling out of forms. I told him I was so pleased, because this meant I would get to have a dinner Sunday where the entire family was actually around the table (instead of him sitting in his recliner in the living room calling to have things brought to him while the rest of us ate together).

I didn't call him yesterday, since I was actually going to be visiting today.

When I got there this afternoon, he was asleep in bed. He had gotten up when they came to do his legs, but went right back to bed. S-i-l woke him when dinner was ready, but when he got to the table, he said he felt ill and wasn't going to eat. He finally got a bottle of water out of the fridge, then went into the living room and sat in his recliner.

After the rest of us ate, I went in to see if I could at least talk to him. And no surprise, he is back to doing the things that have made him so sick in the past- not taking his meds (not since Friday), refusing to eat (nothing yesterday or today), not doing his PT exercises. And he's saying it's no use, he tried but insurance kicked him out of the place he was getting so much help. So he was giving up. I gave it a shot, reminded him that just because it was harder, it did not mean he couldn't manage to do it himself, anyway. After all, if he didn't like how things were going, it was up to him to change them. But he's right back in the same old rut (direct quote from him). And I'm not a mental health professional. I'm also tired.

So I will try calling tomorrow to see how things went with PT, but I am not holding out much hope. After all, I've got plenty of my own problems.
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One of the items on hold for me at the library today was a music CD I had requested they buy.

That had been in the collection since last November. Oops? I always check the catalog before I do a purchase request, apparently THIS time I had a typo that I didn't catch. Still, at least the other four CDs I requested were not in the system. Hopefully a couple of them will make the purchase list.

Called my bro tonight to see how the home health person was (they were supposed to stop by today). They did not, in fact, do so- but called and said they'd be there tomorrow at 2. My bro is sounding really depressed and tired, he's still working on the stress processing from the whole situation.

Tomorrow I need to get to the grocery. And I had better get up early to do so- I really don't want to compete with Easter Weekend Grocery Shoppers. Right now I'm trying to decide if I want to see about getting a haircut tomorrow. It's not quite to the 'assault myself with scissors' level of UGH, but it's gotten to the 'can't I clip it back on the sides? No, nothing will stay IN the hair to do that' phase. So a haircut tomorrow would be prudent.

I watched Magic in the Moonlight last night. I was sadly not amused. Possibly I am just done with romantic comedies, but it felt lame and boring.

And finally, Mr. Dash got an allergy shot yesterday because he's started ripping his fur out. Today he is still all grumpy and restless (in and out the door, repeat ad nauseam), not sure what's going on with him now. I saw him pulling at the long hair under his front leg, but that could be a burr tangled in there. The detangling combing I did yesterday got some twigs out of his belly fur, and he left a burr on my bed last weekend, so it's possible. I just hope he doesn't need more medical attention.
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When you've let yourself down, and yet...

Today I had to have the vet's wife (office manager, assistant, etc.) stop by the house to give my big orange cat, Dash, an allergy shot. This time of year he gets itchy, and once he starts tearing his fur out with his teeth it's too late for anything I can do on my own (I had hoped we could get through it without medical intervention this year, but no).

So she came, he got his shot, she chatted a bit. And she started in on her hatred of Obama. I am not sure if she's a racist (though I tend to feel that all Obama-haters are, at least on some level), but I do know that she considers Faux News to be the arbiter of all that is Truth. Therefore Obama = All That Is Evol In 'Murica.

I did not engage. I did not refute (despite wanting to), I certainly did not agree, I just stopped chatting and waited. I feel like I should have pointed out that her insistence that he's never kept "his word about anything" is just... incorrect. And oftentimes he has been unable to make things happen because the Republicans have publicly stated that they would categorically refuse to make any legislation that he wanted, no matter how much it would benefit the country, simply because he wanted it. And they would much rather see America suffer than Obama succeed.

But here's the thing. I like my vet. He gives my critters excellent care. And his wife is frighteningly competent in all the things she does as his assistant. But, she also does the billing. And it would be well within her power to charge me more than she does. And yes, I could go to a different vet, but I don't want to.

So I just shut my mouth and wait to change the subject. (In this case, she said she'd heard we are supposed to get monster storms overnight. Massive thunderstorms, heavy rains, high winds. Right now it's all clear blue skies, gentle breeze and sunshine, but this is Ohio.)
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Yeah, that didn't work out so well. Maybe next month, it starts tomorrow, so anything's possible!

Today my bro was supposed to go to the Wound Clinic from the nursing home, for progress report on his leg sores and to see if the MRSA was gone yet. I knew it was a horribly early appointment time, s-i-l would have to pick him up at 7am to make it there on time. So I waited until after 4 to call her.

They were back at the nursing home. She asked if I wanted the day's good news or bad news first. I opted for the bad news. And it turns out insurance has decided that he's rehabbed enough for them, they stop paying for his nursing home as of today- it seems the MRSA is just not a big deal to them. The nursing home was horrified, they considered him about halfway to their physical therapy goal for him. Also, they said they have never had such short notice before from an insurer. And that they would protest, but they have never yet won a case with insurance companies.

So the bad news was both shocking and kind of horrifying.

The good news, such as it is, is that the Wound Clinic said his legs look much better (which... duh). But no, they weren't going to test for the MRSA, that's in the blood tests the nursing home was doing, and the results of the last one weren't back yet. Of course, this questionable "good" news was belayed by the fact that when they got there, the clinic had no record of them making the appointment. But they would reluctantly graciously fit them in. Uh huh.

And then someone was needing to talk to them there at the nursing home, so I hung up.

When I talked to my bro later this evening, he was clearly still in shock over losing his PT team so abruptly. Then I called my s-i-l, and she's still steamed at how things are going. Should be a horrible couple of days for them. Hope everyone survives intact.
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