Playful Packrat

My sister freaks out once. “Oh, my gosh. Our parents still have boxes from their last move a decade later. What will we do when they die?”

Me: “Get a storage unit and open a box a year at Christmas for the rest of our lives.”

Her: “That could work.”

I tell my sister that we could start a magazine in response to Real Simple. “We will title it Playful Packrat.” We come from an impressive line of Packr– I mean, Collectors. Collector is honorable and respected. Packrat is, well, unfashionable. Perhaps I should title it Circumspect Collector instead. I know someone who seems to be collecting heavy equipment, which is an interesting choice. One needs more property than I have for parking.

My house would make Marie Kondo shudder. The photograph is the basement: the stack is my mother’s larger artworks. I am moving stuff around now that I am home-on-oxygen instead of running around clinic like a crazy rabbit. And like this writer, https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/maximalist-response-marie-kondo-minimalist-mandate, it ALL gives me joy. Well, ok, not the tiny ants. We are at war. My kitchen may be cluttered but by gosh it’s clean clutter because the tiny ants let me know immediately if I screw up.

Anyhow, my mother died in 2000, my sister in 2012, and my father in 2013. My parents left me their stuff and grandparent stuff, some of which I had never seen, and I still get dead people mail. The colleges and universities are the most persistent. They don’t care if someone is dead, they still mail out the Alumni Magazine. I get U of WI, Cornell, Princeton, U of Oregon, Medical College of VA, OHSU and Williston. Holy moly. U of TN and SUNY Binghamptom have lost track of us, thankfully. I wish I had kept my father’s notes on Beowulf and mailed them to Williston for their library. It would be a sort of just revenge. I still have boxes (my excuse is busy physician) so I will bet that I can find something to mail to each one of those places. Something that they want just as much as I want their Alumni Magazine. With a cover letter that says that my contribution is hidden in the documents. One dollar each.

I have too much stuff but I have now turned middle aged, that is, I am over sixty. So I now am on the downward side and decide, there needs to be outflow rather than inflow. I like my stuff but it’s time to start moving it. My mother was a prolific artist and all of the silent auctions in town will now be blessed by her art. And don’t worry, it is not awful! She has art in the Smithsonian, the National Museum of Women Artists, and a bunch of other places. See my April A to Z for details.

For my father it was books and musical instruments. I still have the guitars. I think there were twelve trumpets? A lute, a harp, a cello — the lute is in very bad shape and the others have gone to someone else and the school, respectively. Recorders, gone. I have flutes, my regular flute and then ones made out of clay, cherry, pvc pipe and bamboo, as well as a Native American flute. I am mostly playing the regular flute, Native American flute and guitar.

I am guilty of books, too. I DO want to read them all, but even if I did nothing but read for the next sixty years, I might not finish. The excuse that some are reference does not fly. Some are pure unsullied entertainment and by gosh, I am keeping those! I am not allowed to go to the book sale next week. I do have a library box but the books are not leaving at the rate they have been arriving in the last year. And it’s my fault.

Anyhow, I am enjoying my clutter. After all, we invented tables to put things on. Sometimes we do have to clear the table for the NEXT project, but no worries! There is always the floor!

Cheering up music:

tube cat

Do you know the song? Tube Snake Boogie?

My cats LOVE the tube. But it’s a little disquieting at times. I don’t have a photograph yet, but when there is one cat head first in at one end and another cat sticking out at one of the side holes or the other end… well, it’s a tube cat. A bit worrisome. Kind of a cat/snake cross. It doesn’t help that the tube really matches Elwha’s coloring. I am learning to step over the tube quite carefully because sometimes there are hidden paws.

Elwha barely fits in the side entrances. Cats can do that snakey thing of going through a space that really looks too small for them.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: disquieting.

A disquieting half a cat.

April A to Z reflection

April was a very interesting month! I went to Europe for the first time since 1988 and got covid, so had to stay an extra 8 days. The version I got was a mild cold and my lungs did not get worse. Traveling on oxygen is really challenging. I was anxious to get home because my son and daughter-in-law got married after postponing in 2020 and 2021, so they married on April 30th! It was a wonderful wedding!

So, I had to do some planning for the A to Z, writing about women artists, mostly Helen Burling Ottaway, my mother. I took a number of my mother’s etchings to give to friends in Europe and used those because they were what I had. In typing up her resume, I learned more about her! She was a prolific artist and I want to get more of her art out there. I had originally planned to set up an on line shop of her work, but the Europe trip, covid and the wedding derailed that idea! I still want to do that, but I am a bit slow about it. I need to catalog and photograph her work, after I recover from the wedding extravaganza.

When I got home from my trip on April 12, I started doing two posts a day. I did the present letter and then worked from the end of the alphabet, setting up Z for Zarathustra to go live on April 30th. By the last week of April, I had it all set to go live day by day. This is good, because there was no way I would have posted from the last Wednesday on!

I did not get to surf other writers blogs as much as I had planned. Too busy in Europe and too busy with wedding. This week I mostly want to do not very much. I am sorting wedding photographs, the ones I took, and sending them to the new bride and groom.

The picture is of my two aunts at the music rehearsal. I was cantor and led the two hymns. Both of my father’s sisters are church organists. They played four hands for the processional and the recessional and were wonderful! With both my parents gone I was very very grateful to have them present.

Stages of Peace Playlist I

Dang, I’ve got a lot of stages. So it is a long playlist! I can’t complain (yes I can), after all, I wrote the stages. Hmm, to work, to work, to play, to PEACE.

Twisting words- The Grass is Blue – Dolly Parton

Confusion- Get it Worked On -Delbert McClinton

Denial- Old Number 7- The Devil Makes Three

Bargaining – Gallows Pole- Alvin Youngblood Hart

Anger- Joanne Little- Sweet Honey in the Rock

Bitterness -The Wound That Never Heals – Jim White

Revenge -Silver Dagger- Dolly Parton

Acting Out – Pills I Took- Hank Williams III

Oppositional Defiance- All Hail- The Devil Makes Three

Grief -Days Like These – Over the Rhine

Acceptance- In my time of dying – Alvin Youngblood Hart

Forgiveness -Jesus on the Mainline – Mississippi Fred McDowell

Healing- I be your water- Sweet Honey in the Rock

Hope – So Glad I’m Here- Sweet Honey in the Rock

Reconciliation – You are loved, Victoria Williams

Peace – Everybody Ought to Know (and) Redemption Song- Sweet Honey in the Rock

Playlist: Stages of Grief 3

Stages of Grief Playlist 3

All women all the time today. Grieving for their men or our culture. Fighting back.

Denial

Dolly Parton: The Grass is Blue

Bargaining

Ann Peebles: I can’t stand the rain

Anger

Lily Allen: Not Fair

Acting Out/Fighting Back

Sweet Honey in the Rock: Give Your Hands to Struggle

Revenge

Dolly Parton: Silver Dagger

Grief

Tricia Walker: The Heart of Dixie

Acceptance

Bessie Smith: You been a good old wagon

Stages of Grief Playlist 2

Wait, another? We don’t go through the stages of grief once. We go around and around, like a spiral. Some days we want to lie down in the driveway and just not move. Others it seems like the there might be a tiny bit of sun in the world after all. A mourning handout from the American Academy of Family Practice writes about a culture where one is considered “legitimately crazy” for a year after the death of someone loved. The person is allowed to be emotional, complain, wear their bathrobe all day and call people at 3 am.

Maybe we are all in that stage right now.

Stages of Grief Playlist 2

Denial

The Offspring: Pretty Fly for a White Guy

Bargaining

Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Hard Times Come Again No More

Anger

The Offspring: The opioid diaries

Acting Out

Nathanial Ratcliff and the Night Sweats: SOB

Revenge

Bessie Smith: Young Woman’s Blues

Grief

Over the Rhine: Let it Fall

Acceptance

Sweet Honey in the Rock: Run, Mourner, Run

Lullaby of Birdland

Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt is flute.

I have played flute since fourth grade. This pastel was done by my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway, in 1980. We lived in Alexandria, Virginia. I am playing flute and Johnny Johnson is on trumpet. My father played trumpet too. Johnny was trying to teach me to improvise. I had not listened to much jazz and was not very good at it. I was well trained in classical flute and could read music. Johnny said, “No, just LISTEN.” I did learn it and can still play it.

One night the three of us were playing. We had a knock on the door. It was an Alexandria policeman. “We have had a complaint about the loud party.”

We looked at him blankly. My father says, “Well, you are looking at it.”

“Three of you?” says the policeman.

“Two trumpets and a flute.” says my father. “We can make a lot of noise.”

“Hmm.” says the policeman. “Well, um, could you keep it down a little?”

“Yes,” says my father, “It is after 10, so we will play more quietly.”

The policeman left and we did.

My mother’s pastel is titled “Lullaby of Birdland”.

wear and tear

B and I have been walking the beaches a lot since we returned from our trips in January.

We are noticing how much the beach changes daily. The high winter tides wash sand out and back in. Some days the beach is covered with pebbles and some days it is smooth sand. The boulders move and the cliffs do too.

With the heavy rains this year, sections of cliff collapse. We have both edged closer to the water when we see sections of sand and clay that have fallen: some are as large as a car or larger. We would not survive if that fell on us.

Trees hang on for as long as they can, but they fall too.

We also see root systems exposed when a section of the cliff falls and know that those trees are struggling to survive.

We are debilitated by the length of the pandemic, but going out walking every day, watching birds and trees and the beach change, the eagles flirting, the seals peering out of the water, this renews me. I hope you have a place to walk.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: debilitating.

Antibodies to tubulin

All right.

I am thinking about tubulin blocker antibodies. How would they work?

About 2 weeks ago, I had trouble walking down the stairs because my quadriceps just did not want to bend. In fact, all of my muscles felt awake and grumpy. As if I were Sleeping Beauty, now awake. Of course, if I was Sleeping Beauty and some jerk kissed me awake, I’d punch his lights out. Hands off!

Anyhow, I concluded that my tubulin antibodies had released. Was I better?

Well, no. It’s been weird. In me it’s the voluntary fast twitch muscles that don’t work when I have a PANS/PANDAS reaction, so they are back on line. The grumpy muscles are the slow twitch ones who essentially are screaming “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, I’VE BEEN DOING ALL YOUR WORK SINCE MARCH!” Nine months. The fast twitch muscles are weak, the slow twitch muscles don’t trust them and I am having trouble getting it all to work together.

My balance is fine. It just all hurts and is a bit unreliable.

I was in Michigan for Thanksgiving, staying with old friends. My oldest friend there is 80 and does not have wi-fi or any internet. That made doing any blogging quite a challenge and many thanks to everyone who pointed creative spelling. I would go to her son’s house daily and try to put up the work I’d done at her house. Not the way I usually do it and three kids distracting me, which I enjoyed.

It is bowling that makes me realize how weird my muscles are right now. I went bowling with the middle (15) and younger (11) child. Mom watching all of us. My role is Weird Aunt, more or less. I have bowled maybe 12 times in my life. I guttered the first three balls, a 9 pound orange beauty. My muscles all started screaming at me at once in my upper and middle back. Oh, I thought. So I slowed way down and tried to slow bowl. Next was a strike. I ended up bowling 100, which I guess is not so bad for someone who really has no idea what they are doing. My muscles were grumpy but slow was ok and I didn’t pull anything badly. Next morning I am quite stiff.

I am trying to figure out how to rehabilitate the muscles. Do I exercise? Slowly? It’s as if half a team has been missing for 9 months and is now back. The remaining team members are tired, pissed off, and have figured out how to work without them. They aren’t very pleased about relinquishing control and they don’t trust the part of the team that’s been missing. I would go to my doctor and ask to see a neurologist or ask for physical therapy, except that since PANS/PANDAS is barely believed in in children, there are only a few doctors that work with adults and other doctors seem to think they are quacks. One writes articles for Psychology Today. I’ve thought about contacting him, but he’s a psychiatrist. How much do psychiatrists know about muscles?

Let’s extrapolate this too, to the people with really bad chronic fatigue. Presumably they have antibodies to tubulin that affects more muscles, fast and slow twitch. No wonder they lie in bed. I would presume that they are hypoxic too, if they could walk, but they barely can. The Functional Medicine doctors are treating folks with hyperbaric oxygen and I think it might help with these muscles that don’t work and can’t move. It is sneaky. It’s not that the muscle can’t move at all, it isn’t paralyzed, it’s just that the exhaustion and fatigue that comes after moving it is terrible. The body says very very clearly : “DON’T DO THAT.” And we are still in the infancy of looking at antibodies, so we aren’t measuring them. I was going to say we can’t type them, but that’s not true. We are using monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer, so there are ways to isolate and type them. Medical science may explode with this and can’t you see the potential for misuse? Imagine an army affected by a tubulin blocker antibody, against an army with a tubulin augmenting antibody. Holy moly. It has the potential to be really really horrific, which is why I am putting all this up on everything2. Keep it in mind, ok? Nothing like making information public to prevent secrets from screwing us over.

And that’s the news from me. “Har det godt!” which is Danish for “Have it good!” or have a really good day.

Thank you for the music

I have been in Rainshadow Chorale since 2000. My father, Malcolm Ottaway, was one of the eight people who started it in 1997. He and my mother moved here in 1996. My mother, Helen Burling Ottaway, died of ovarian cancer on May 15, 2000. Rainshadow agreed to sing a Byrd Mass for my mother’s memorial. My father asked if my sister and I could sing in the chorale for the memorial. We were told yes. I had moved to Port Townsend at the end of 1999.

After the Memorial, I asked if I could stay in the chorale. The answer was yes and I have been in it ever since.

Our director, Rebecca Rottsolk, is retiring from the chorale after our next concert. She has picked favorite pieces. I have sung in nearly every concert since 2000, though I couldn’t sing in the one right after my father died in 2013. He followed my sister, who died in 2012. My throat wouldn’t let me sing that one.

So Rebecca, thank you for the music and thank you for being a wonderful director and forcing us to level up over and over. I am sending you peace and love and joy.

And everyone else, put this concert on your calendar.

Rainshadow Chorale practicing outdoors wearing masks in a fine rain. Dedication.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: thanks.