Monday, August 3, 2015

August 3: First Day of Vacation, "Ives" Dip, Sharon Olds, "Psalm," Adventures of Stickman

Welcome to the first official day of my vacation.  As with most of my vacations, I have big plans.  This morning, my daughter and I spent two hours cleaning our attic.  Eventually, she wants to have a bedroom up there, so it didn't take much pressure to get her help.  She knows that the sooner we empty that graveyard of old toys and books and clothes and Christmas decorations, the sooner we can start planning her fortress of solitude.

This afternoon, my wife has scheduled a session at the gym with a trainer.  Not really excited about it.  Once I get there and start moving, I'll be fine.  I just don't like the preliminaries--getting weighed, talking about diet, feeling ashamed.  You know, normal gym stuff.  There's way too many hard bodies around that place.  I think it's supposed to be motivating to see a person in really great physical shape.  It doesn't really motivate me.  It makes me want to put on another layer of clothing and find the nearest Dairy Queen.

And this evening, I'm going to finish reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  It's for my book club, which meets this Thursday evening.  I have less than a hundred pages left, so it shouldn't take too long.

I will be doing a little traveling tomorrow.  I'm spending the day and night in Munising, a little town about 60 miles away.  We're staying at a hotel with a water slide, and then, on Wednesday, we're going on a glass-bottom boat shipwreck tour, weather permitting.  Last week, the temperatures were in the eighties and nineties every day.  This morning it wasn't even sixty degrees at noon.  Depressing.

Sister update:  Things are not going well at the University of Michigan hospital.  Her blood counts are still low.  The tumor in her brain has grown incredibly large.  The doctor said that the MRI of her brain looked normal at the beginning of June.  The one that was done at the beginning of July looked as if some kind of alien had taken over her head.  My sister hasn't spoken or responded to anybody in the last couple of days.  I'm thinking that the goal, at the moment, is to get her well enough to come closer to home.  Then hospice care.

My question for Ives dip Monday is this:

Will my sister be able to come home soon?

And the answer from Ives is:

They waited in the dark together, neither saying for several moments what each thought:  that when the elevator was falling, they might have been killed.

Well, that's not very encouraging,  The only thing in that little passage that gives any hope is the "might" in the statement "they might have been killed."  There's a little hope in that "might" that something else could happen.  Something positive.  Something hopeful.

I have decided, because it's my vacation, to extend Sharon Olds' reign as Poet of the Week for seven more days.  Her book The Father is still speaking to me on a very deep level.

Today is also the debut of my new comic strip, Adventures of Stickman, which will be featured Monday through Friday until I run out of ideas.

Saint Marty needs to get ready for his training session now.  That means he needs to eat a Cosmic Brownie.


by:  Sharon Olds

A lot of the time I just sat and held his foot.
The minister came, putting on his violet
stole, looping it over his head
as he walked in, an athlete binding
his wrist without thinking while approaching his event,
he read a Psalm, no longer going
close to my father and reading it next
to his ear, as he had when my father could still
turn his obedient unbeseeching
eyes toward a voice.  You could see he was
beyond all that, The Lord himself is thy keeper,
the Lord is thy defense upon thy right hand, etc., etc.,
So that the sun shall not burn thee by day,
neither the moon by night.  But my father would
stick his elbow out the window of his car, he
welcomed that L of fire on his elbow,
kiss of the god of long-distance drivers.
And he did not fear the heat of the moon, he would
go to the edge of the pool any night
with a cigar, turning it, watching its fibrous
woven fire.  Who knows what he was thinking,
or if he thought,
but he felt at ease with the moon and the sun
and his favorite table at each of his favorite
restaurants.  So don't tell me
he need not fear, as if, now,
death would protect him, The Lord shall preserve
thy going out, and thy coming in,
from this time forth forevermore,
Amen, Goddamnit.  I sat down
and held his foot again, cold
foot of the nearly dead--his feet that had
walked with the weight of me slung on his shoulder,
I breathed small breaths on them, and between each
puff I said my own psalm,
There is no good in this, there is
no good in this.  And yet I had never
held his feet before, we had hardly
touched since the nights he had walked the floor at my arrival.

Adventures of STICKMAN

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