Did You See It?

At the junction with the “Great” conjunction

So, I have this blog thing. You are right; I should not start a sentence with a conjunction. Even if it is a post about a conjunction. Just pretend that I was using the word “so” as another part of speech that the word so can perform, so that we can continue. So is so useful.

Anyway, I have this blog thing. Sometimes I just do not know what to write. That makes it so hard to keep the blog thing going. There are so many important people writing about so many important things, and then there is me, writing about how I do not know what to write about. So sad. So so.

Enough about my writing, did you see it? The Great Conjunction? My friend reminded me that there was supposed to be a cool astronomical alignment on December 21, so I went outside just after sunset to see for myself. Ooh, so again.

I got the compass app fired up on my smart (so much smarter than me) phone and found southwest. You would think that since I live in Arizona I would know which direction was southwest, but once again, I amazed myself. I would not have looked in that direction. We should align streets to the compass points. So much easier. Ooh, more so.

After ascertaining the correct alignment, I looked just above the horizon and lo and behold, there it was. The Great Conjunction. I will admit I was so underwhelmed. Two adjacent pinpoints of light, one decidedly brighter than the other, both bright enough to cut through the light pollution. However, not so great. So again.

So as not to be so disappointed (so used as two parts of speech?), I decided to Google the Great Conjunction. I guess I should have been so much more impressed. Apparently, this conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter happens about once every twenty years, but a nighttime alignment as close as this alignment has not happened in 800 years! So cool! However, every time I hear the word conjunction I think of this. So sad.

Image courtesy of NASA (I think). Conjunction Junction video courtesy of Disney (I think). Please don’t sue me. You won’t get much.

The Spaces Between the Words

Learn to embrace the silence

In the spaces between the words. That’s where the thoughts wait, snug, and safe in their lairs. When the last reverberation of the last word stops falling on your ears, that’s when the thoughts stir, ready to pounce.

As long as the words are there, either yours or someone else’s, spilling out of or into your consciousness, the thoughts stay hidden, afraid to come out. So you strive to keep the words coming, and you beg others with your words to speak theirs, and the sound of the words in your ears is so important that you don’t care that the words are meaningless, only that they make a sound, only that they keep the thoughts away.

But eventually, there is a space between the words. There always is. And if the space is big enough, then the thoughts do come out. And the thoughts have their way with you. They always do. They leave you with what they will, anguish and self-doubt, or whatever is their way.

The thoughts are not you, though. They are of you but they are not you. They cannot define you. You are the one who stands beside the thoughts, separate from them. You are the one who reacts to the thoughts if you let yourself. You are the one who gives the thoughts all of their power if you choose to. But you are not the thoughts.

Remember that you are the one standing beside the thoughts, separate from them, undefined by them, you are not the thoughts. Remember to take away their power because the thoughts are of you but they are not you. Remember not to react to the thoughts, because they hide what’s really in the spaces between the words.

The beautiful silence of the present. And you.

When Memory Fades

How cognitive degeneration in a loved one can cause self-doubt

Hello gentle reader(s). This one is a bit of a wallow. I hope you continue reading, but you will not be thought less of if you stop reading now.

Although I’m not really the eternal optimist (can you be both a cynic and an optimist?) I guess I always figure it’s going to get better. No matter how bad it seems, it will eventually get better. Eventually. So here it goes.

Tonight I invited my mother, father and aunt over for dinner. The average age of this group, excluding me, is about 90 years young. My mom (87) and my aunt (91) are both still with it, but my dad (90) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago. He’s fading, not fast, but more noticeably.

We were all at the table, dinner was done, and the talk was about my house and the improvements I could make, and what the house might have looked like before the previous owners made their changes.

Dad was trying to participate in the conversation, but it was soon evident that he had forgotten where he was and who I was. Despite the fact that I have been his son for a long and intentionally-unrevealed-to-the-reader time, and despite the fact that he has been coming to my house on a nearly daily basis for the past six months, he continued to tell us how much this house we were in reminded him of his son’s house.

My aunt dealt with my uncle’s Alzheimer’s for more than 10 years. His care became too burdensome for her and he recently passed after 18 months in a memory care facility. She recognized what was happening in the conversation, and I’m sure my mom recognized what was happening as well. Mom’s been coached by my aunt and by her caregiver’s support group throughout dad’s struggles.

I also recognized what was happening, but it didn’t keep me from trying to bring him back to the present reality. I introduced myself, reminded him where he was, but try as I might it didn’t seem to work.

As they left I walked them to the car, but I still don’t think he knew who I was, or that this was the same house he would come to tomorrow. I’m pretty sure that when I see him tomorrow he will remember who I am and that this is my house. At least for a while. But he will never remember our conversations tonight.

I hope I had enough conversations with him when he could remember. But I will never know. I think we’ll be talking a lot more from now on. Even if he can’t remember.

Hey, Is This Thing On?

Or, the next installment of the Perils of rudyblues

Hello gentle reader(s), it’s rudyblues here. I know, I know, where have I been. It’s been a year or more since I’ve been here. Might have something to do with my fear of commitment. Or being a Pisces. Or a lazy slug. Enough with the soul searching, get on with it.

A lot has happened with old rudyblues in a year. Not just another year older (note to self, check that About page) but thousands of miles from where we last conversed. Is it considered a conversation when I type and you (maybe) read and type back? Seems a little disjointed.

Old rudyblues has pulled up stakes and moved his sorry behind from Illinois to Arizona. Me and Cat Master Jenna jumped in the rental truck filled with the precious bits that I wouldn’t entrust to the movers and made a three day drive from snow in the Midwest to sand (and gravel) in the Southwest. I think I once made a somewhat disparaging remark about ocean front property in Arizona. And maybe one about moving and something about not being a Rockefeller. I hope anyone here who read those remarks will forgive me.

Since old rudyblues has no wife (divorced) and no children (that he knows of) he has taken up the mantle of relocating to help care for his ailing father. Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years back and old rudyblues is in a position to help Mom take care of him. I bought a house that’s two short blocks from theirs and Mom brings Dad over so I can watch him while she gets some time off. He mostly sleeps but when he’s awake you have the same conversations ad infinitum. Come on, he’s nearly 90 after all, you can’t expect sparkling conversation all day!

I arrived here on November 2, 2019 after selling my house in Illinois and buying a house in Arizona in about one month’s time. It was a whirlwind. Mom found the place, I flew down in October to see it after I had already made an offer on it (I know, not smart), and we closed in a Starbucks in Joplin, Missouri while I was driving through on my way to Arizona. Lucky for me nothing fell through. Living in a U-Haul is not on my bucket list.

Did I mention snow in Illinois? Yes, the Midwest weather had to get in one last slap in the face when it heard I was leaving. I woke up on moving day to three inches of lovely, slushy snow. Thanks, Mother Nature!

But we arrived in Arizona in one piece. With a house. But no furniture. Furniture didn’t arrive until the end of the following week. The sellers left a couple of recliners (I love the product name BarcaLounger for some reason) but after a couple of night’s sleep(?) in those I broke down and bought an air mattress. Best. Purchase. Ever.

I arrived in Arizona during the meteorological sweet spot. Lows around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, highs around 75, sunshine, blue skies, an occasional rainy day, just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas with Mom and Dad and aunts and uncles and cousins in the area. I had abundant fresh oranges and grapefruit on the trees in the back yard and life was good.

Today, it was 109. Humidity was 9%. It looks so nice through the windows. But I know I shouldn’t succumb. On the positive side, I installed solar panels on the house. I got my first electric bill last month after turning them on. It was negative! I’m an energy magnate! Woo hoo!