A Month into Winter

Not that the Phoenix valley has much of a winter, but this year was more wintery than the past two; December’s highest temp was 73º but the previous two years it was in the low 80s.

For the first time in 15 years, I’m not knee-deep in songwriting. I’ve participated in February Album-Writing Month since 2006, some years writing as many as 32 songs in a single month. I want to write at least one to celebrate my 15th FAWM, but I’m having a hard time dredging up the feeling.

I’m also 6 months or so behind on delivering the third Jake Calcutta story. And don’t get me started on the third Irish Adventure; poor Web Martin ended his second adventure on a low note and I’ve been meaning for years to lift his spirits with another chapter in his life.

The family band used to practice music 5 days a week. We’ve been up in the music room twice in five months. I’ve barely strummed my brand new 3/4-size Orangewood guitar. It’s beautiful, easy to play, great-sounding, and parked beside my desk. But, parked. In the same stand as my Blueridge tenor, the most wonderful musical instrument I’ve ever owned.

Moving my mother into assisted living absolutely trashed me physically and emotionally. Getting herself evicted in under 90 days because she’s so uncooperative was a gut-kick to Best Beloved and I after all the time, energy, and money we spent making it happen.

I usually ignore my age; I don’t celebrate birthdays, and the only reason I know my age most of the time is that it ends with the same number as the year. I haven’t been conscious of anything special about turning 60 the end of last month, but I have been feeling old, slow, a bit bleak.


2020

me, on a boat, on a lake, in Wisconsin, in the fall [smiling at Best Beloved as she takes my picture]
I am so old that I remember how odd it was to write 1970 on my school papers instead of 1969.

Half a century ago.

The previous summer I had watched, live, as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

Even earlier: one of my earliest memories was everyone crying about something on the radio. It was November 22, 1963.

When I was born, Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower was President of the United States. There have been 11 more since then.

My maternal grandfather was born in a tiny village outside (then) Berlin (the village itself was absorbed by the city long ago.) That was in 1880, 140 years ago.

In 1630 or thereabouts, three brothers named Canfield were well-known businessmen in New Haven Connecticut.

In 1066 a chap with the last name Campfield (he was Belgian so I don’t know where that spelling came from) crossed over from Europe with William the (Soon to Be) Conqueror.

This history lesson (?) brought to you by the numbers “2” and “0” and the letters j, d, and c.


I promise not to make an issue of it, but the new decade doesn’t start until 2021. Decades start with 1, end with 10, rather than starting with 0, ending with 9.


Kittens


I’ve never told anyone this before; not when it happened, not since.


When I was 13 our cat had 9 kittens. They lived in a box in my sister’s closet. When they were about a week old, a visiting child took them out of the box and put them on the cold tile-over-concrete floor to play with them. They all got sick. One by one over the next week 6 of them died, one every day.

I cried myself to sleep every night for a year. More than 45 years later it’s still hard to think about.


A Good Trip to the Desert

15-year-old Joel wanted to tell a story today.

On Friday when I dropped off a leftover paper for Cindy (she was looking for a job, and I always seemed to have a spare paper at the end of my afternoon route) her mom Jean answered the door. When she mentioned they were driving out to the desert to see the spring flowers bloom, I thought what fun, and asked if I could go along.

She thought about it for a moment, and then said how nice it was that if you waited you could always depend on a man coming along or something like that. I found out what time they were leaving so they could pick me up in the morning.

My mom was surprised I was going. When she’d talked to Jean earlier, all Jean had said was they had plans the next day, but Mom didn’t get invited.

After they picked me up in the morning we stopped for breakfast with the rest of the group. The other moms and daughters seemed surprised to see me. I still thought my mom could have come along, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

We got out near Borrego Springs, and the flowers were beautiful. After lunch (I didn’t pack anything and had to go into the deli to get a sandwich) Cindy wanted to sit in the sun. It was warm, and the rest of us were in the shade, so she had to go way off to be in the sun. When I tried to talk to her, she was so far away she couldn’t hear me very well and after while I think she might have fallen asleep because she stopped answering.

On the drive home, she was still sleepy. I think she slept all the way home, like two hours. It was a long drive and I knew Jean must be tired, so I said I had my learner’s permit now and if she wanted me to drive for a while I’d be glad to. I think I even mentioned that my driver’s training used exactly the same kind of car she drove. But she didn’t hear me, so after a minute I said it again. I could tell she was really tired, because she still didn’t answer. After I said it the third time and she still didn’t answer, I decided she was too tired to think about it, and I just let her drive.

It was a fun day, being out in the desert when it was cool, all the flowers blooming, spending time with friends.


Jake, Web, and Mom

I don’t know how long ago I promised the third Jake Calcutta story, followed by the third Irish Adventure From the Fog but reports of my writing, as they don’t say, were greatly exaggerated.

We’ve been home from Wisconsin for two weeks and we’re still not back to our regular routine. Another week and we should be more or less recovered. Gustave Flaubert wrote to Gertrude Tennant, “Be regular and orderly in your life…so that you may be violent and original in your work.” (Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire…afin d’être violent et original dans vos œuvres.)

Don’t believe the hype about the wild lives of writers. The wild life is what goes on when they’re not writing, or because they’re not writing, or they’re not writing because of the wild life, or something. Without an orderly life, truly creative work is difficult.

Here’s to an orderly life and robust originality in my upcoming artistic works.


Since My Whole Life is Moving Mom…

Saturday, the day it didn’t rain we moved Mom’s stuff from her apartment to the assisted living facility. It was easy, which is becoming the norm on this project. Couple young friends did the heavy lifting, and we were done by noon.

Now if the company responsible for moving her hospital bed can actually get it done, she can move in Wednesday, if the convalescent home can figure out how to discharge her without a social worker on staff because theirs left recently. That is, as long as someone at the doctor’s office gets her prescriptions transferred to the assisted living pharmacy. (They’ve had two weeks to organize all this, with Best Beloved riding herd like a deranged cattle rustler, so I’m not sure what’s up other than the severe ponderousness of bureaucracy.)

But it’s looking like maybe we’ll be heading home come Monday.

One more week. I can make it one more week. I can.

My sister Lynn and my wife Sue Lynn, 25 years ago



It’s All One Post

Somewhere in Neil Young’s live album Year of the Horse he yells “It’s all one song!” I’m beginning to feel that way about my posts lately. Guess I write what I know, eh?

Today we learned my mom was accepted at the assisted living facility we loved and hoped for.

H’ray!

We also discovered that there’s more than $700 missing from her bank account, and the most likely explanation is, sadly, the abuse of trust. Another reason we’ve been putting all legal docs and records under the control of one of her children instead of the wrong people having too much access.

But, she has a new home, and we can start moving her soon, and clean out her apartment.

And then I can go home.


The Shrinking Moving Mother

with my Best Beloved on the Sacramento RiverIn the time since Mom disappeared and reappeared, it has become obvious to her that she can’t live on her own anymore. This was obvious to us a year ago when we started discussing it (fruitlessly) with her.

A trip to the emergency room and two months in a convalescent home has her convinced. She’s excited about moving into a good-smelling (this is a big deal) food-oriented (another big deal) assisted living facility.

That means she needs to downsize. By about 75%.

It’s going to be a challenge for everyone involved. I’m thankful every day we’re here for Best Beloved and my baby sister who was able to join us.


this is not a post

the cold I’ve been running from has caught me

we leave tomorrow morning for northern Wisconsin

four day drive

we might be moving my mom out of her apartment after 22 years and into assisted living

I’ll leave you with this: https://joeldcanfield.com/test/anibg.html (you’ve read the story; watch the background)