Thursday, December 27, 2012

I missed Christmas Day, but. . .

May you all have the Humor of Donna

The Heart of Rose

The Patience of Rory

The Balls of Amy

The Bravery of Martha

The Belief of River

The Courage of Clara

And the Love of Tashi

To welcome in this new year.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

"But you. . .

. . .you were fantastic."

Arizona north of Phoenix is, as Beloved Pens says, fucking lousy with vistas. Coming up over a series of hills you weren't aware you were climbing, the whole earth opens up to reveal hills the size of small mountains, creekbeds that probably haven't had water in them in years, and is that a mesa out there in the distance?

I trundled along in my speed-governed econo-box, and my mouth dropped open as I topped that last hill on 17. All I could think to say was "Holy. Shit."

Arizona is a weird place. I hadn't been through there in years--the last time was in 1996 or so, and we bypassed Phoenix for Flagstaff--and I had forgotten how you see places in the desert.

The first way is in the details: the grinding sameness of saguaro cactus, which at first is incredible and then just blends in to the sagegrass and the sand. The second way is in a car, where everything moves fast enough that you're taken by surprise by the whole picture when a vista opens right up in front of you. The third way is from a plane. Nothing's human-scale any more; it's a glorious, perspective-less panorama of mountains and dry washes. You wonder, looking at it from the air, if anybody who'd settled the area would've kept going if they'd known what was ahead of them.

I wondered that same thing about Tashi before Kevin's memorial service this weekend. If she'd known what was going to happen, what she'd have to go through, would she have stuck with him? The grinding sameness of the day-to-day chores of dealing with somebody whose brain is altered, when vistas don't open up with the regularity that they do on the highway; what would she have done?

The answer came when Tashi said this: "Even though I only knew him for about a year before the cancer started changing him, he was so amazing that the love he gave me made it worthwhile to stick around."

And, "The cancer never got *him.* He was never his cancer. He was always himself."

Speaking literally, Kevin lost. He died of brain cancer. It won.

Speaking in every way that matters, he won. He owned that cancer, and beat the hell out of it. The proof is in how all of his friends remembered him: a silly, loving, incredible, creative, goofy, loyal man who cared more about other people than he did himself, and loved everybody. Those things that made Kevin Kevin didn't change just because he had a tumor.

I've never laughed so hard at a party in my life, even one where the guest of honor wasn't dead.

Kevin's friends told stories and provided details. Tashi told us what it was like to take care of him when he was sick. The two combined opened up a big, detailed portrait of a person I wish desperately that I'd known. I was honored and lucky to hear all about him, though, and for that I'm grateful.

Tashi said at one point that Kevin was the kind of guy who made other people want to be better people.  I had been thinking that exact same thing just seconds before.

Thank you, Tashi, for introducing me to Kevin. He was fantastic.

Monday, December 03, 2012


I just painted my fingernails a dark, elegant grey. My toenails are a sparkly dark red, except for the nail on the fourth toe on my right foot, which is grey. Tomorrow, when the polish is totally dry, I will decorate the nail on my left fourth finger with bright pink stripes.

This is all for Kevin's memorial service, which is Saturday in Arizona. I will be wearing, per his wishes, bright-colored comfortable clothing (ink blue baggy pants, grape-purple artist's smock with a green t-shirt underneath, Converse and a saffron-dyed scarf from India). There will be, if my Interwebs research is correct, pie available at the service. I am all about pie. Hence the baggy pants.

*** *** *** *** ***

The Boy and I are texting. I say he should check out Baker Seeds; he says I should check out Forestry Supply. Little does he know that I already have a wishlist from FS that's as long as your arm.

*** *** *** *** ***

Best salad ever: greens, including baby kale (NOM), bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, black-eyed peas, cheese, FRIED OKRA, little bits of carrot and olive. I'm kind of on a kale kick at the moment, which is good, as the hippies across the street have approximately eight gazillion tons of the stuff to give away. They're desperate. I eat the teeny new kale plants in salad, since it doesn't have to be cooked or massaged or whatever, and the older leaves chopped up for tabbouli.

The folks at Baker Seeds say that kale will grow whenever there's even a hint of warmth in the air or soil. That doesn't really express how kale will take over your garden, your yard, your life, if the air temperature isn't below thirty degrees. It was eighty degrees here today (what the fuck global warming stop it STOP IT) and, sure enough, there were bitty kale sprouts coming up from the ground.

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. I say the world will end in kale and cucumber vines.

*** *** *** *** ***

Speaking of cucumber vines, have I told you guys the story of Mom's killer melons and pumpkins?

*** *** *** *** ***

Or the time she planted luffa gourds and zucchini in the same garden, and they cross-polinated? I noticed that nine of ten blurbs for luffa gourds I saw in gardening catalogs this year noted that they would not cross-pollinate with other squashes. Technology: saving us from weird stir-fried squash.

*** *** *** *** ***

Don't tell The Boy, but I'm thinking of redecorating the bedroom, to make it more Boy-friendly.

*** *** *** *** ***

Attila made me do some weird new back exercise today. Given that I dealt with hemiparetic and tetraplegic patients last week, all weighing over three hundred pounds, I am sore as hell this evening.

*** *** *** *** ***

And that is all for this evening. I'm off to make stripes of Scotch tape and pink nail polish.