Thursday, July 05, 2018

Thursday morning random

Even though it feels v. much like a Monday to me. (Partly because the main "relaxation" activity I did yesterday was sewing a bunch more blocks for the current quilt)

* Hallmark Channel is doing its "Christmas in July" thing. I think that used to be a bigger thing? Where lots of shows that were in re-runs for the summer re-ran their Christmas episodes about this time? And stores had sales.

I don't know. I can't get into Christmas in July, as much as I love the Christmas season itself. I don't know if it's because it "feels wrong" to be watching shows about snow and pine trees when it's so hot outside, or if I need the run-up through Hallowe'en and Thanksgiving in order to have my mind set for it.

* I've been trading off (mostly) reading two different books:

"Seven Dead" by J. Jefferson Farjeon

"The Ghost of Thomas Kempe" by Penelope Livesey.

The Farjeon first, and here be mild spoilers (mild, in that I'm not quite halfway through yet) - a young man, who has tried to make a living as a pickpocket, decides to try a little breaking and entering. Unfortunately, the house he chooses....well, something horrible has happened. He finds seven (fairly recent) bodies, goes a little crazy, runs off, runs into a policeman. (He very soon fades out of the story, not sure if he'll be back). A newspaperman (a freelancer, but obviously a freelancer who comes from money as he owns a yacht and seems more a rich dilettante who wants to play at writing articles than be a genuine freelancer) joins up with the police. Struck by a lovely portrait of a young woman, he goes in search of her, hoping to find out that she is not involved with the what-are-taken-to-be murders (despite a note claiming it is the "Suicide Club."

I admit, I had to put this down a bit and take the early part in small doses (now, when it's Hazeldean in Boulogne, looking for Dora Fenner, the girl he's been smitten by from the picture, it's more entertaining and there's less of the awful idea of the dead bodies) but the whole idea of a Suicide Club and the thought of stumbling onto a house with that many dead bodies gave me the creeps. (I am in one of my periodic cycles where stuff gets to me, perhaps more than it should)

The second book is a kid's book, really, but it's good and funny and atmospheric in that "I can picture the house and the people in it and even the meals they eat" way that some good kid's books are. James Harrison, a 10 or 12 year old boy, moves with his family into an old, old house in a small town. Presumably the "times" are contemporaneous with when the book was written (early 1970s, and there is a television in it, so it must be at least post 19505 or so, given when TVs became common in the middle class in Britain). The fundamental problem is this: the ghost of a "sorcerer" from the 1600s, Thomas Kempe, inhabits the house, and Kempe is meddlesome and cranky and he tends to break things when he's displeased and also write cryptic notes. And OF COURSE everyone (except, eventually, James' friend Simon, at least at the point I'm in now) disbelieves James and thinks he's pulling pranks and writing notes, so he unjustly gets in trouble. (He is, at the point I'm up to, enlisting the help of a builder named Bert who also apparently dabbles in exorcism - oh, yes, Bert is the one person who immediately believes him when he talks about the ghost)

It's a jolly and entertaining book, or at least it is as far as I've gotten. I've before expressed my fondness for these sort of "kid's chapter books" where there's a BIT of fantasy, but there's also some grounding in the real world (The Dark Is Rising sequence is a similar type). The writing in this one is vivid and the characterizations are enjoyable even if I can't quite figure out if James' sister Helen is meant to be younger than he is or slightly older.

* I have resolved a few of the issues of earlier in the week:

- got the changes made to the proofs and got them submitted
- am feeling a little less body-dysmorphic; it's entirely possible I was retaining water that day because a piece of clothing that felt tight then, when I put it on yesterday, it felt loose.
- am trying to write my syllabi this morning, though I am going to wait until Monday (the "deadline") to submit them, as a tiny expression of my displeasure over this arbitrarily early deadline.

Yeah, I wonder how many of the students will ACTUALLY read them before the first day of class.

This is pushed on us as a "this is a way to help the students and make their lives easier" thing but you know? Of late, there have been so many things I've been asked to do to make others' lives easier, when apparently few care about how easy or hard my life has gotten, that I feel a tiny bit resentful.

Also given that in the past, some important "announcements" (for example, legal language we were expected to include in the syllabus, or changes to the holiday schedule) were only made a day or so before classes started, I fully expect that these copies won't be FINAL copies. 

* The AAUW planning meeting is today. At a local restaurant that I'm not even sure is open at the time of the meeting but whatever. (And I hope I can find something on the menu I can eat).

* I think I'm just going to stay in town this weekend. Nothing I need-need that can't be gotten locally, it will be a good way for me to save a bit of money (if I go to Sherman, I will spend money), and it's going to be hot again. I also figured out (possibly) a way to have enough space on my living room floor (well, with one piano leg in the way) to lay out a reasonably-sized quilt so I may finish the blocks for the current quilt and lay them out, and maybe take the floral-and-green blocks I finished over a year ago and lay THEM out as well.

* The church secretary forwarded a newsletter article from the Oklahoma Disciples newsletter - an obituary of Steve, the friend of mine who died in February. Eventually reminders of a death stop hurting, don't they? I mean, it was a nice article and all but it also reminded me that he's not here any more. And I remembered this past weekend how he'd given me his cell number at one point, and told me that if I needed help with anything in the house or the yard, to call, because as another live-alone, he knew what it was like, and I caught myself thinking - as I heaved myself like a beaching seal up on to the roof from the ladder - how much easier the task might have been with him standing there in the yard, wisecracking at me and telling me not to fall, and me just knowing there'd be someone there to help if I kicked the ladder over with my swinging foot as I tried to get down (the most realistic mishap I could face, and while I had my cell phone with me, I would have had to actually reach someone and then wait for them to arrive).

I think also the thing that affected me so much was the suddenness of it. That was what made it so awful. I've lost other friends before, but in all those cases it was someone coming to the predicted end of a long illness, and while you were SAD about it, (a) you had had time to say goodbye and also process the fact that the person was dying and (b) you figured "at least the person was out of the pain they'd been suffering"

I suspect sudden death - where you don't know it's coming and is something like a heart attack in your sleep - is less awful for the person dying but more awful for their friends and family, whereas a lingering death, while still awful, is maybe easier on the friends and family but is harder on the person facing it - I can't quite wrap my head around the concept of being told "you have about six months to live" and even though I KNOW people often beat those estimates, still....what would I do? How would I decide to spend those six months? I don't even know. 

* And I have again begun noticing people (or animals - my parents' last set of cats commonly feature here) who are dead showing up in my dreams. Usually it is right before I wake up, and I probably remember the dreams because I wake up right after my brain goes, "Wait, that person (or cat, or dog) can't be here, because they're dead"


purlewe said...

My grandmother died what I would call slowly at 64. She had cancer, beat it, went to her 5th anniversary cancer check, told she was cancer free, and then 2 weeks later they discovered it was in her spinal cord/brain. We had about... 2 months? 3? when we found out (she figured it out first and she was the one who told the doc where it was. I guess b'c spinal fluid doesn't share traits with blood it was undetectable? anyway) We got time to say goodbye, and time to all shout and be angry about it. (and that continued afterwards, but we got much of the shouting out before) vs. my dad died suddenly at 54. He went to the doc, told him he didn't feel well, keeled over in the office. They brought him back to life, but in a coma and he died the next day. No goodbyes, and my mother held on to the idea that he would wake up so she didn't call many people to come before he did die. His sister made it about an hr before he officially died. It was hard, and tragic, and in some ways easier? I mean he didn't suffer. And ooh boy my grandmother suffered. And yeah.. comparing death is like comparing cars vs. trees. It makes no sense. Each one is a loss. and it all hits you at the weirdest times and not when you really are ready for it. I miss both of them everyday. But I am glad for silly things, like happy memories, and times when they show up in my dreams. But I think it sucks either way.

Mokihana said...

It's gone both ways for me. My mother died very suddenly, and my dear dad-in-law, who lived with us for eleven years and died here at home at age 96. And my beloved dad, a suicide, at age 51. Well, that was a double shock, for sure.

I don't know that I could choose a "best" way, because you're right, they're all losses. And you can't really compare which is the best way. Though the one thing I can say is that suicide is the very worst.