Monday, June 08, 2009

Sunday Homesick

Another bright sunny day after some grayness, cool air, and clouds burned off and I've got cabin fever. On our trek
to the store with happy dog in tow, husband asked me if I wanted to go home today. "I won't do that to you," I told
him. To husband who has been coming up here since the 1950s, this island is a treat and his spiritual home.

While I love water and trees and rocks-- all of which are plentiful here-- this trip has had its difficulties for me.
For one thing, we are without a car on the island itself. That immediately eliminates some of the places I like to
visit such as The Hook with its' sandbar and walk over to Little Chebeague, Rose's Point, and Chandlers' cove. Add
to that the lack of internet signal at the cottage, no access to support groups, and no television (never mind cable)
and I feel effectively isolated from the world at large. I miss my friends.

This week has been remarkable in that my trouble with remembering faces since my accident (the official word is
pronoscopia) is pronounced. I remember names and things about people. Once I am told the name of someone, I can put
that into a context. That part is good. What is not good is the not knowing. I can recognize the too-thin woman
next door sitting on her deck reading a book for instance. But if she dons a hat and sunglasses and heads for the
beach on the cousins' right-of-way, I have to ask her if I know her or if she is just another lost tourist from the
hotel. Even husband has noticed the pronoscopia this week, enough to comment on it.

Normally when here, we have two weekends and a week in the middle, thus we would have been on the road back home
today. But we are not. Also, usually mother-in-law is in residence along with her car that she has freighted over
from the mainland. That will not be occuring til Thursday as husband is driving her and her car up on Wednesday. At
any rate, a nap on the couch with the younger cat snoozing with me and a look at the morning paper has taken the edge
off my cabin fever for the moment.


How quickly things can change in the space of a couple of hours. This afternoon we took the dog down to Hamilton
Beach as the tide was midway between high point and low point. She enjoyed trotting through the water, racing around
in the sand, and going up the steps from the beach to the yards of various people uninvited. I got husband to sit
on a log for a few minutes while I enjoyed watching some ducks bob up and down with the waves along the reef. Don't
know what kind of ducks as they all looked black against the sun and the sky.

Back at home I was treated to the sight of the younger cat standing up against the back of the old gray chair in the
living room, all puffed out, and staring intensely at a kit walking up mosquito alley. I can't say if it was the
same kit we saw earlier in the week or not by someone's bird feeder. But it did make me glad that our cats are
indoor cats despite their protestations. Cats are looked upon as a yummy meal by red foxes. And with the kits,
sooner or later instinct is bound to kick in.

Husband's sisters called, back from a sojourn with their mother to a college reunion. Mother-in-law's oldest cat--
who is 18 years old-- stopped eating and was delivered to the vet before they left on their trip. No word yet on
whether or not he is still among the living but I suspect not, or not for long. Along with that, now her car "has
to be fixed." Husband did not ask exactly what has to be fixed, when it broke, or if she has a set appointment yet.
This has changed her plans. Now it seems as if my husband will not be driving her up to Maine in her car on
Wednesday. The current plans are that she and her car will be driven up by the more local of the two sisters on
Saturday. That sister asked my husband if he would stay here until Saturday in order to meet her and their mother
at the boat. Then husband could get his mother settled in while sister bikes over to another dock to meet another
boat to take her to another island where she and her family have rented a house for a week. Then husband could
proceed back to the mainland on boat and bus and then drive home. I was not crazy about the idea of staying here til
Saturday. We had plans and now they are being rearranged. I miss my friends, my routine, my internet, my teevee,
my home and deck and garden. I want to go home.

At any rate over dinner husband decided he really didn't want to stay until Saturday. There are several obstacles in
the way of doing that. He doesn't have enough blood pressure medicine to last through Saturday morning. It's
fifteen extra bucks a night for the car to stay in the parking lot. We would have to go to town (on the mainland)
tomorrow to buy more food. The round-trip for both of us is twenty bucks. Island living and even island visiting
is expensive. I would have been willing to stay a couple more days if husband wished it but not a whole week longer.

So far we are going home Tuesday as planned. If at some point he decides to stay until Saturday, I'm out of here.

Saturday Lobster

Today started early. Wild dog woke me up at 5:30 so I walked her up and down the road in my nightclothes. (She
ignored me last night and ran off so this morning she got the lead). The mosquitos were a lively bunch today. I
grumbled a bit, ate some breakfast then, and went back to bed for a few more hours.

Husband, dog, and I walked up to the dock and then through the woods to some of the golf course tees. It was early
morning as well as early season so consequently we saw only four golfers. The golf course is a full 18 holes and
I guess it comes highly recommended. Back home via mosquito alley.

After lunch I took the dog out walking again. We went down the public access road to the beach. Dog got to run
then. We found three other dogs (one of them being Phil the puppy from up the road) and three younger folks with
them. I almost said kids but the twenty-somethings don't like that. At any rate, the young man with Phil had to
be reminded that my dog and his knew each other already as he was panicking. The two young women-- one had a lab
mixed with something heavier possible staffordshire, and the other a yellow lab-- were asking one dog where "his"
stick was.

I found a stick and threw it in the water several times, much to the delight of the three other dogs. My dog
followed along plunging into the water cuz her doggie buddies were doing it. But it was clear to me that she would
have preferred not to chase sticks as usually after the second time I toss something away she figures I mustn't
really want it. But she got wet and got to see other dogs be excited about sticks. The four had a romp on the
beach and then the young folks and their dogs wandered away.

I couldn't help but wonder if my sudden appearance had interrupted a would-be session of pot-smoking or something.
Even so, the young people were nice enough. Part of me wanted to say to them, "Look, I was young once too." But
that sounded lame. So I didn't. At any rate it doesn't really matter.

Dog and I wandered back along the beach toward the cousins'. We saw an older woman sitting on a rock reading a
newspaper in the breeze. Dog spied what must have been her lunch in a plastic bag. With firm encouragement, the
dog came away and the woman was spared her own food. There was a lone gull on a rock by the point. The tide was
heading out but the eiders were not to be found yet. We come back up the stairs between the cousins' and the point.

This afternoon I relaxed and husband fretted about the delivery of the lobsters. Seems the guy he gets them from is
struggling not to drink and perhaps on the losing end of that stick. At any rate the lobsters came. They were
hard-shells and at one and an eighth pound apiece cost six bucks total. Husband cooked them up, melted the butter,
and set out the potato chips. It was a delicious meal, our first at the dining room table all week. Dog lay by
my feet hoping for a taste of lobster. Turns out she likes lobster. The two cats were nowhere in sight. After
dinner more quiet time. Husband in bed by seven p.m. and so I had a quiet evening.

I talked with my dad today briefly just to say hello. He was heading out for some hair products. Husband said to me
after we hung up, "Man, he should just look in his bathroom. I couldn't go into the bathroom after him because of
all the hair stuff he uses." Which was pretty funny. I myself at times have gotten bent on cleaning products and
so we would wind up with lots of them, all different kinds. That must be where I got that from. Dad is stuck on
hair products and I am stuck on cleaning products.

I also talked to Ed. He is expecting a grandchild-- his first-- in September. She is going to be a girl, that we
know and we even know her name but I will not publish it here.

Well that was it for today. I am missing my internet connection and my friends back at home. So far it looks like
we will be leaving Tuesday. Husband and his mother will drive her car back up on Wednesday. And he plans to take
either the train home or rent-a-car. I teased him a bit, telling him that I am going to go to the bookstore on
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday when he is away.

Friday in Portland

I took the dog for a walk this morning and we stopped to see the artist woman in the green house. The mosquitos were
something fierce this morning. While there she told me this story:

Artist woman and husband have a house in Freeport, a farm in Central Maine, and a condo in Florida. She is retired
and had earned the things she has. She also flips houses-- only she usually lives in them while fixing them up. She
and her family bought the ramshackle house nearby our end of the road. The former resident had been a quiet woman
with crazy relatives. This former owner had been existing there on weekends without electric-- for fear that her
crazy relatives would notice an increase in the bill-- or running water. She didn't fix up the house at all. She
was afraid she would lose it after her mother died. And that is exactly waht happened.

She hadn't dusted in forty-five years either, according to the artist lady. Or vacumned. The place was a pig pen.
Additionally, prior owner had three months to get out and the artist woman felt forced to help her pack stuff and
move it every day during the month of January. When artist woman returned from the Florida condo, prior resident
called her up demanding more help "right now." And pitched a fit when the help was not forthcoming. Never mind that
legally she was supposed to be out by the end of January.

At any rate, the new owners have had to padlock the door to keep the insane twisted woman out.

Dog and I returned to the cottage to find that husband had misread the boat schedule. I played some computer
majong and did some computer art so the time was not wasted. After apologizing to the dog for leaving her, we walked
back up mosquito alley (the mosquitos here are outnumbered only by the ticks) past the golf course to the dock. It
was high tide which means that the ramp was almost parallel rather than at a steep angle to the boat. There were
not a lot of people boarding today. Just a few year rounders going into town to do some shopping and run errands.
We got on the boat and then the shuttle bus to the parking lot.

Husband drove down route 1, hopped on the freeway, and then swung off into Baxter and then Forest Avenue. First stop
The Caravan where I picked up some new beads. Then to a small Mexican restaurant. And then to the Old Port. The
staffer at the comic store remembered husband from last year and even what he had bought. We cruised around the
cobblestone street willy-nilly, checked out the store with the old maps, laughed at one teeshirt on display which
said "bad dog" illustrated by a dog taking a dump, retreated quickly from an ice cream shop where the first scoop was
three bucks. "We'll get ice cream at Bagels n More," husband said. And that is what we did. Bagels n More is in
a small strip mall across from the larger strip mall where Shaws and the Goodwill are.

After ice cream, we went to the Goodwill. Husband and I both picked up a couple of books apiece. I found a Peterson
fourth edition bird book which I shall leave at the cottage. If mother-in-law throws it away-- she has a habit of
throwing out, giving away, or donating anything she does not use herself-- no big whoop. Husband picked up a few
food essentials at Shaws and then speeded down Route 1 just in time to miss the bus for the boat.

He swore. He parked the car. We sat under the trees reading our new old books. A man came with a shitzu/pek mix
in a black kennel. He tuned up his guitar but I was too tired to be interested. The bus came and then we were
deposited by the long dock leading to the ramp and the boat. The boat came. First the people got off. A young
couple with three little girls were waiting to board with us. The middle child was swooped up by her dad because she
would not move out of the way. This set off tears. The youngest decided to join the middle in crying. After the
folks got off the boat, the crew (three this time, not two) loaded the boat with the groceries in bean bags and
etcetera. Then they waved us on. The two little girls who had commenced crying cried all the way back to the
island. It was a regular crying contest. The oldest sister was begging for her share of attention too. The man
with the caged ankle-biter had disappeared into the back of the boat somewhere which was just fine with me. He was
seeking out attention for his dog. In my world, dogs adjust to humans and not the other way around.

Back at home, neither of us were hungry. Husband tottered off to bed at 6:30! That left me with a quiet evening of
reading, computer, and dog.

Thursday-- Old Friends

Another sunny morning. The three of us set out for Hamilton beach. Our too-thin neighbor walked with us for a
short distance before turning off. Then a yellow lab named Lilly and her owner-- I remember the dog from last summer
and I've even got a picture of her and her now passed on black lab companion from a couple summers ago splashing in
the water with my dog-- came along and the two dogs played for a bit. We walked back home. With apologies to the
dog, husband and I set off for a walk. He was going to the store and I to the library.

At the library I found that an old acquaintance from my wild college days had e-mailed me. Turned out my best friend
from high school had directed him to my blogs. He is doing well for himself and I was pleased to hear that. Best
friend and I had driven to his parents' home late one night around Halloween time. We wrapped his car up in paper
chains fashioned to a cut-out white ghost with a blue thumbprint on it. The blue thumbprint was in reference to my
own thumbnail which I had slammed into my car door one afternoon. The thumbnail turned blue over a period of a
couple of weeks and then fell off, revealing a new thumbnail underneath.

Spaghetti tonight for supper.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wednesday: Achiness and Fox

After the grayness of early morning burned off, another fine sunny day in Casco Bay. Husband and I took the dog for
a walk along Hamilton Beach after breakfast. The tide was high (but going out). The eiders and the heron all were
someplace else. The clearness of the bay held me enraptured. Taking off my dog mom hat, I dipped it in the bay and
then put it back on my head. "Why?" asked husband. "Is that symbolic of something?" I smiled as my feet struggled
for purchase on the rocks littering the southern half of the beach. "Nope. Just feels good."

The dog happily dashed all over the beach, snuck in a few quick swims when she thought we weren't looking, tried
to wrestle a large log out of husband's grasp. (He collects driftwood for firewood). There were no other dogs on
the beach today (the various labs that come during the summer hadn't arrived yet) so she contented herself by playing
with us instead. A lobsterboat went by and one lone comorant. The wake from the boat didn't reach the shore til it
was round the bend and out of our line of vision. The dog danced happily into the artificial waves.

We stopped to say hello to a neighbor across the way and then after a bit husband and I went off to the library book
sale. Himself got a book of New Yorker political cartoons and a Robert Parker novel. I picked up a copy of "Reading
Lolita in Tetran," and another book by a company mover and shaker turned blogger. I used the library computer to
hurriedly check my e-mails. Friend Ei had gone to the Bahamas to an ashram and she is now certified to teach Yoga.
You go gal! She's offered to show me some meditative yoga for the body aches and I may take her up on that. It is
the increase in endorphins that provide pain relief-- which is why meditation, craftwork, movement, sex all help with
pain management. My problem is that I want to know why I am having the aches. Is it a fibro flare-up? (I don't
take any pain meds for mine and consider myself fortunate that my fibro is mild enough to where I don't have to. And
fibro to me is sort of like an arthritis of the muscles. Doctors tend to blame the patients because often fibro is
severely painful and thus people want pain meds that actually work.) If not fibro, are the degenerative discs in
my back worsening? Is it the over age fifty arthritis thing that most people get? Or? Or? Or? (This is what comes
of reading Medscape for a hobby).

Actually I have a yen to go sailing on a boat, on a whale watch, or perhaps take a cruise somewheres. There is no
sailboat that we have access to, even up here. I require a second and possibly a third driver to get to the places
where a whalewatch can be had. (Interested, Ei? Maybe me, you, your daughter, a friend or two perhaps sometime this
summer or fall?) And as far as a cruise goes right now-- some rich unknown relative would have to die and leave me
a shitload of money. In other words, I am not holding my breath. I love water-- mother ocean, bays, backwashes,
lakes, creeks, waterfalls-- particularly if it is cold water that I am able to swim in. I swim like a fish, always
have. I can float on my back for hours and even fall asleep that way. I am more of an endurance/distance swimmer
rather than speed. But I enjoy water. As a kid once my mother and step-dad rented a sailboat and we went sailing on
the ocean near Lavallette New Jersey. That was a happy day. I can still feel the wind and the sun on my face,
remember the white hooded sweatshirt I wore, the orange life vest. I've been on a few boats since-- two cruise ships,
one row boat with a sail and a 5 mpg putt-putt motor on the Sacandaga with my old friend Kenny and then his secondhand
houseboat, and a neighbor's sloop up here in Casco Bay. Reading about the desert over the past fortnight has made me
thirsty for water. I sent off a few e-mails on the crappy connection that the library has and then we were off to a
late lunch. Since the grocery store was closed, we went to Calder's for a fish fry and onion rings.

On our way back, my eye was drawn to a reddish canid under someone's birdfeeder. Upon closer inspection, it turned
out to be a young fox, a kit determinedly eating-- I don't know if it was seeds on the ground from the bird feeder
or a corpse-- something. I was close enough to her where I could hear her crunching. The kit had red down her back
to the end of her tail which was white and four black stockinged feet. She had the sharp chin, the whiskers, the
bright dark eyes. She watched us watching her. The owner of the house came up from the back. He said the kit and
one slightly larger kit have been coming to the feeder. He hadn't seen the mother fox lately and said he didn't
"know what happened to her." He had seen both kits run off to the wooded lots across the road and he suspected the
den was probably in there somewheres. Although a neighbor or two had encouraged him to feed the baby foxes, he was
having none of that. I figured he was right on that account.

Another lazy evening here at the cottage (quesadillas for dinner), a walk for me and the dog, some reading time, bed.

Monday-- Sleeping on an Island

I was reading more Abbey last night, more about the Utah desert as it was before the Industrial Tourism engineers got
a hold of maps of it and turned it into paved roads leading out into the wilds. His words made sleep a very long
time coming. I laid up there in the bed next to the man who can sleep through anything, pondering the irony of read
ing about the desert in the middle of an island surrounded by the salt water of Casco Bay.

I have always wanted to sleep on an island. The islands that I had in mind are surrounded by lakes in the
Adirondacks. One of the islands in the middle of Cranberry Lake would do nicely. One of the ones surrounded by
Pharoah Lake with a view of the most holy Split Rock better yet. Perhaps it is not too late and I will still get my

This morning though I contented myself with sitting on the fractured rocks along Fisherman's Beach with views of the
tiny uninhabited islands dotting the bay. There are bigger islands which are owned by the Industrialists (a nod to
Abbey for it is his word and not my own) and which have some sort of tourist trade. One has a church and offers
retreats. A couple others are not really islands-- for roads and bridges connect them to the mainland-- but have
become bastardized in their attempt to pry some of the money out of the soft hands of those who come to Maine to
escape the city. They are incapable of leaving the city behind. They come in their gas guzzlers up 91 or 95 with
their fancy clothes and their fancy dogs and their kids who have never known the joy of true silence. They come to
rent out the quaint little houses or stay in the fancier hotels. They eat out at the restaurants where no locals
can be found enjoying the fare. A few of the locals are stuck in the hot kitchens and a few more are waitressing.
But none are customers.

At the end of Harpswell Neck (just past one of the uninhabited little islands in view of Fisherman's Beach) there is
a store called Land's End. I have been there. We've gone by car several times. Several roads and a couple hours
it takes to get there. We rolled through sleepy and not so sleepy little towns, inhaled the exhaust of other cars on
the not-free-freeway, been casually tempted by the overpriced little antique shops along the way. Alas, inflated
prices for not so antique treasures. Land's End is three floors of kitch. Yup. From spiney dried out blow-up
fishies on nylon string to witch balls which have never been handled by a witch to Christmas balls and sweatshirts.
Land's End is not a place for the weary or the broke. Here I must confess that I myself have hunted for baubles
and shiney objects in the lie that is Land's End. Better I should have spent my time on the little beach outside,
studying the lapping of the gentle waves meeting rocky sand. But no. I too am a mere mortal, a consumer of frantic
factory-produced goods. I too am invested in the Lie which is the heart and soul of Amerika. The truth and the lie
can both be unpalatable and rotten as they hit the gastric juices.

It is to Portland that we shall venture toward the end of this week. Portland with its' Old Port and yes, some diners
and small restaurants where the locals can indeed be found as customers. There is a Starbucks there-- or Starpukes
as I like to render it. A comics store, toy stores, a few hippie shops, a travel agency. Cobblestone streets, public
transit buses, a park. Bookstores, art galleries, tall buildings where those who have made it work and rush out to
the local bistro during lunch hours. The bead and yarn store further away from the crowds, coin shops, lighthouses,
a private community, a ghetto where honest homey faces and twisted bodies wait on line for the soup kitchen to open

Everyone needs a hobby I guess. I had an acquaintance back home whose hobby was to eat at a local soup kitchen. She
was not starving, had never really known physical hunger. She would donate money for her meal and talk about how
a soup kitchen meets the needs of the poor for socialization. I went with her once. This was not a hobby that I
found to be palatable.

Within the past half-decade, I myself have gone from finally having arrived with a fancy-enough middle management
position to the ranks of the disabled. The original plan, formulated by the nice neuropysch in another county was
that VESID would job coach me in a position cobbled together for me at my old place of employ given my new limitations
and problems heaped up upon my old ones. This was not to be. VESID took its time "accepting" me. Once accepted, I
was horrified to learn that the "counselor" assigned to me was someone that had been a co-worker years ago with whom
I had shared more than one joint and more than one beer. The employment officer from the brain injury hospital in
the other county whose job it really wasn't to help me out of the kindness of her own heart came up to my county to
meet with VESID and me. The second VESID counselor was notable for being a man and for having a handshake like a
slimey fish. The third put my case on hold for a year because I refused to get a return to work order from the doctor
after a routine for me vertigo attack. "What work?" I asked her the last time she had deigned to call me on the
telephone. The RCIL got the three thousand bucks for me that year anyways. (I had gone to the other "choice" I had
for job services but that agency was an outgrowth of the sheltered workshop in town. During that interview, it
became rapidly apparent that their sole idea for my employ was factory work. "How do you know you can't manage
factory work?" one particular professional would-be helper person full of idiocy had demanded of me, "Have you been
tested for it?" Geesh. "I have a traumatic brain injury," I told him hotly. "That means No Open Machinery. No
Factory Work."). The fourth VESID counselor and the second job developer and I had met once this year, no explanation
offered of why my "case" had been put on hold without notification or of why I am suddenly judged to be healthy enough
to put up with their bullshit in spite of a lack of certification that I am indeed healthy enough to do so. No doctor's
note will be gotten from me.

The second job developer calls me once a month to nag me about giving her my resume so she can "advocate" for me and
also "needs" to meet with me. Well, I don't need to meet with her. I've quite frankly had enough of advocacy. And
no, I am no advocate. The two of them decided-- the second job handler and the fourth VESID counselor-- that I am
an advocate. But I am not an advocate. I am an investigator. That is who I am and that is what I wish to do. I do
not want to (nor am I physically capable of) become a companion to other disabled people via the agency within RCIL.
I am not willing to settle. If I cannot get a job that is meaningful TO ME, then VESID can go fuck itself and shove
the monies it is acquiring for dealing with my "case" up its crappy elongated rectal tunnel. Because VESID has not
helped me. I should not have to explain traumatic brain injury to these people whose middle names are all moron. I
should not have to point out that these things are in my records which they are so fond of keeping in notebooks. I
should not have to be ignored when I inquire about the possibility of taking a few courses at a community college (that
they would PAY FOR) in order to at least have a possibility of getting MEANINGFUL TO ME employment.

And so once again, or as always, I am in charge of my own rehabilitation. The system was set up to keep us down, not
to help us up and out. VESID in particular-- and my county is one of the worst for this-- cannot see beyond the
labels and the limitations to the investigating, idea-generating, individual that makes up the essence of who I am.
Contrary to the "individualized employment plan" that was drawn up in my name, it is not my limitations that I must
familiarize myself with. I am intimately acquainted with my limitations-- every blasted one of them. I have been
living with them, working around them when possible, sleeping, breathing, eating and moving them for the past five
and a half years. I need to focus on what I can do, not learn again and be swallowed by the things that I can't do.
And just in case my feelings are not clear here, a big fuck you goes out to VESID and all the help that is designed
not to help. For VESID sucks. Probably just as much as Abbey's Industrial Tourism sucks and my incipient consumerism
sucks. VESID sucks.

VESID counselors are fond of saying-- when excusing the slave labor that is sheltered workshops-- "Well, it's better
than sitting at home." No, it isn't. Yes I am a woman with disabilities. Yes, VESID has pigeon-holed me into the
category of multiply-disabled, severely disabled. True, my body does not bend. Yes, I have to go through mental
gymnastics in order to force my brain to think logically more times than I care to admit. True, I can only manage
ten minutes of housework at a time before I have to take a break. And yeah, the world is in constant motion. The
vision-induced vertigo ensures that my environment lurches around me counter-clockwise. To the left. The room I
am in, the landscape I find myself in, it all spins to my left. When I fall, I fall to my right. Yet I do not find
the wrongness that is inherent in the words "sitting at home." I have had plenty of time to do exactly that. And
from my perch on the back deck or the front porch or the side steps or the living room easy chair I have embraced
my time at home. I ponder these words. I turn them over in my brain-- still brilliant but slightly sideways-- Briella
is my brain's name now. I squeeze them, suck the juicy pulp out of them. And I the observer, the investigator, the fearsome
interrogator cannot find the fatality embedded in the words "sitting at home." I love my home. And I love my own
company. I am comfortable within my own skin, even with the stiffness, pain, limitations and so forth. Sitting at
home is not a leporous condition. It is not a disease or a dis-ease.

The place where I find my true self is away from the distractions of consumerism and the idle chatter. I have no fear
of myself. Like the queer poet Walt Whitman, I too celebrate myself. As a pagan and an atheist, I can do nothing
less. A sheltered workshop is a form of soul death. A sheltered workshop does not benefit us the Disabled by saving
us from facing ourselves. A sheltered workshop, just like VESID, benefits the folks at the top who run it, who draw
their salaries off our bloodied and hunched over backs.

When I was finally well enough to not need to sleep twenty two hours a day, I cultivated this new way of life. There
is a dog that requires walking and training and love, cats that desire my attention, elderly relatives who listen to
me and in turn I listen to them. There are still trees and woods and trails and water and air and sunlight and rain
in my life. I have bird feeders and a deck and tea to drink. I can take myself to a bookstore, out to eat with a
friend in places where locals go, run a load of laundry. I have blogs to write, art to create, a whole world to live
in and be conscious of and interconnect with. And there are books to read, places to explore. Several years ago, I
went off alone cross-country to places I'd never been before to retrieve pieces of my soul that had gotten lost. Deep
down within me, I feel another trip coming on. More dreams to dream. More silence to embrace. New places and people
to study and be in and with. I do not know where I shall go this time, nor how I shall afford to get there. I only
know that I am ready again for a journey to places that will at first be strange to me but then quickly also become
home. For like the snails that dot the little rocky places here by Casco Bay, I too carry my home on my back. My
place is everywhere and beyond.

Sunday-- On our way

We left early Saturday morning,too early by my estimation but not by husband's. We wound for hours through
the back roads of Vermont, New Hampshire, and reached the southern end of Maine via Sanford. The two
felines unresplendent in their captive plastic kennel boxes had given up and lay quietly nestled in their
bathtowels as the dog aimed her long nose toward the cracked open window. Bad music played through
the chinsey Ford speakers and still I slept on. I slept for most of the trip, broken up twice by two
half-hour stints at driving, choosing to forego panic induced by his driving triggered by my visual
perception problems and the dusky scenery of lakes, weeds, and mountains for the pleasures of sleep
adrift in my own world of blessed silence.

I had woken up fully by time we hit the Shaw's supermarket. Himself went in for the milk, the eggs, the
butter. Upon his return I walked over to the Goodwill, with aching back and hips and shoulders and neck.
I located some shorts made from a pleasing lightweight poplin striped material and an old teeshirt in
soft grunge style bearing the logo "Long Beach Island." I stowed my treasures in the trunk and he began
at once to complain about having to take the train back home a couple of weekends hence. Upon our return,
he will be forced to transport his elderly mother back up the back roads in her car with non-functioning
radio accompanied only by the blithering natter of her voice and the shitting of her two cats in their own
captive plastic kennel boxes. And for that I was momentarily glad-- my cats don't soil their confines.
At once arose my temper at my own pain and the betrayal of my own body. "Look," I told the complainer,
"I am quite sure you will be able to manage locating a cab to take you from the Portland pier to the
Portland transportation center off of exit 5 where the Amtrak station is. That is far better than me
having to endure six or seven hours of pain and fatigue and driving alone in order to come get you." He
shrugged. "I don't mean that," he told me. I knew he meant the mechanics of it all. The investigation
involved with finding the Amtrak schedule, the train ticket, the cab phone number, the two hour trip in
early morning on the mail boat. (I didn't bother to tell him that there was also a bus available at the pier. For
some odd reason, he considers the taking of buses to be "plebian." The word plebian appears to be some sort of insult
which he and family all hurl at any activity tha they consider to be beneath them somehow. I feel fortunate that
I did not grow up with such prejudices. For me as a child in Newark, New Jersey public transportation represented
a means by which I was able to get myself to places where I wanted to go without the necessity of relying upon the
parental units-- and in some cases the added bonus of not having to explain to them exactly why my best high school
friend Peggy and I oft felt compelled to travel to places where none of our parents would have allowed us to go. But
those tales are for another day). Husband-- like me-- is at once attracted to and flummoxed by the details of daily

We got to the parking lot where the car was deigned to live for 15 bucks a night, payable up front. We
unpacked, I took the dog to the lower end of the parking lots by the weeds for a shit, I used the portajohn,
husband read, I paid for the car's residence, he stowed our luggage along with the two cats onto the back of
the bus. In short order, the cats and bean bags and cheap cloth suitcases would be joined by several
dozen plants and bushes, more bean bags, and a few people. The bus driver drove one poor soul to the
Saab dealership in her own station wagon. That place had promised to return the stranded woman's car to the
lot after it was fixed but had fallen down on their end of the deal. The bus driver lent husband the phone
so he could arrange for the island taxi to meet us and the luggage at the pier. "Knowing the phone number of the
taxi is not my job," she said gruffly. It did not matter because I knew the number by heart-- I recall phone numbers
and zip codes even from my childhood with easy facility-- and there was never any question of us needing
the bus driver to provide us with any phone number. I shut my mouth then. I have some very dedicated and
opinionated viewpoints of what constitutes anyone's job. Certainly I have declared in these pages that
customer service is dead enough times for the casual reader to know what I think about this paltry refusal
of a bus driver to refuse to provide tourists to Chebeague Island with the phone number of a taxi cab. But no
matter. I don't mind following the rules when I know what the rules are. Such rules-- the ones governing
the dictates of average interactions such as the one between a bus driver who hates Chebeague and those
customers going there-- escape me and always have. While I don't believe that I am any more or any less
entitled to service than any one else, I have often noted an absense of basic human respect glossed over
by the words, "It ain't my job." Customer service is a rotting corpse. Alas, I have digressed and so must
return to the subject of these feeble paragraphs.

We sat in the back of the bus so that the overly friendly dog would not distract or terrify the rest of the
passengers, some of whom may be distressed by her presence. Dog wagged her tail and alternately checked on
the well-being of "her" cats, sniffed at the flora next to their kennels, peeked at the water and bridge and
building flying by the windows, and slept at my feet. Once the bus had backed up to to wharf, she was
tempted to bolt but was held back and remained under my firm control. We shuffled back and forth from the
luggage drop point to the loading dock until all of the bags, plants, cats, luggage, and boxes had been

The boat came then. After it had emptied itself of folks going to the mainland, the deck hands came out (all
two of them) and loaded up the back of the boat, only after which we are bidden to come along and board. A small
wave of humans ambled down the ramp and onto the dock and then into the boat itself. We sat by the outward
door which would be the one to exit off of, again with the thought that the dog should not inflict herself
gregariously upon the unwilling. She flopped down contentedly at my feet. The engine hauled itself into
life (for there was no springing that came with this engine) and we set off for the island. The hotel came
into view first, as it always does, once white but now a sickening yellow, then the shoreline, then the dock.
Husband loaded the luggage and himself into the waiting taxi van. The dog and I walked past the golf course
skirting the hotel, past the intersection of the two roads, down to where our road would turn into a pleasant
dirt path and the mosquitos grew lush and wild, down past several other cottages and one mid-size monstrosity
to our own family cottage. The uber-rich had discovered the island in recent years and had begun constructing
mansions which looked out of place among the little gingerbread cottages that was more the style of this island.
As it happened, the two elder inhabitants had winterized their monstrosity and then promptly died. Their son and
his family now came up from Boston for the summers, although the son was a weekend commuter since his Boston
medical practice would not allow for three months off in a row. Truth be told, I missed his father a tiny bit
but not his mother. His dad was an interesting old fellow who freely allowed me access to his stash of Parabola
magazines. His mum had acted interested in a return invite to our cottage later on one week but then snubbed me
in the singular local grocery store refusing to acknowledge my existence, never mind a friendly hello. They
never did make it down to our cottage that summmer. More's the pity. First he died off and then she did,
leaving a bad feeling in the air between us and I as usual unable to puzzle it out.

The dog and I continued past this winterized half-mansion of a showpiece on past the gingerbread cottages more
to my liking, past the mailboxes on the corner, arriving finally at the family cottage which sits like a barnacle
on a rock but not quite jutting out into Casco Bay. The Barnacle indeed used to be a gentleman farmer's barn
and had been converted to a three season cottage sometime before 1956 when my husband's family had bought it.
The porches are fine and spacious, the one gracing the front of the house being roofed but airy and the one in
the back being more of a deck upon which to sit and watch the garden grow and the clothes dry on the old posted
clothesline. Dog and I went through the front door into the living room, dining room and then the kitchen where
I immediately reached for a soda. Husband had sorted out the three disposable litter boxes and were placing
them where our two felines would be sure to find them. I and my aching body carted our cheap cloth luggage
upstairs and began to unpack. We would be here this time for a week and a half, leaving on Tuesday the 9th.

I plugged in my laptop and sat down to read for a bit and relax. There is no television up here, no cable, no
internet connection, no radio. There used to be a radio but it had gotten seized by my mother-in-law and thrown
out or given away. In her world, anything she did not use herself was useless. Thus the radio, various pieces
of furniture, a variety of books not to her liking, even two bicycles belonging to other members of the family
were all frantically shoved out from under her vision just as soon as she was able to. But the mother-in-law was
not here this trip. And I can't remember the last time that the two of us (and the animals) were left alone in
this small barn with the too-narrow steps leading upstairs to the side of the house designated as "our bedrooms,"
the connecting room leading to "her bedroom and her bathroom with the smelly catbox in it by the singular bathtub."
Alone the five of us, two humans and three beasts, to enjoy our own company and each other without the interruptions
of a lonely elderly narcissitic woman who cannot stop talking-- ever.

And so we settled down to ziti and canned sauce, and time some time alone to enjoy our solitude. On our evening
walk, the dog and I were treated to the sight of a red fox with pointy nose and a "ROwwww ROwww" bark running from
the water along Patton's land uphill and into the woods from which more barking was emitting. Dog stopped to smell
his tracks but did not appear interested in seeking out the vixen's den itself.

Sunday morning came and being happily unchurched, we did not make the trek to the only church on the island. Instead
we walked along Hamilton Beach where I collected broken shells for my garden plots back home, husband pointed out
the old dock pilings, and dog trotted joyfully along the sand and lapping bay water. The dog spied a family of
four endeavoring to provoke skin cancer sitting on the beach with goosebumps littering their exposed flesh and
immediately sought to endear herself to them by giving them the sheepdog stare and then running around them in
large expanding circles. She ran off to the water then and threw herself in, demonstrating to us her secret. She
indeed swim, and swims quite well. she just does not want to be forced to swim and after a couple tossing of a stick
figures we mustent really want the thing and refused to retrieve it for the two human fools who keep throwing it
away. But there is no stick tossing today. Just a happy dog having her first romp on the beach this season before
it fills up with summertime residents and their labs (it's a requirement) and the hapless hotel guests who have
difficulty locating the public access road to the beach. In truth there are many beaches but only the locals and
the summer folk know the ancient right-of-ways. And many are determined to keep those little woodsy jaunts a secret
from those who must be confined to using the public access road to the somewhat public beach.

Sunday afternoon found us two humans walking a mile or so up to Calder's to try the newest item on the
menu-- clam puffs. At 7.50 per half pound which works out to a bit over a dollar a clam, husband declared the puffs
to be doughy, a disappointment, and not worth the money. "I won't have that again," he declared as we meandered
over to the grocery store and then a second time to the neighbor woman whose own mother-in-law had killed herself
a few summers ago by jumping out of a window and who in my estimation was too damn skinny. "But their lobster rolls
are really good!" she told him. Over homemade chili later on when I observed the woman walking down the road I said
"She really is too skinny," my husband asked if I told her so. "No," I said stuffing my mouth with cornbread, "I
know what anorexics are like."

After dinner I went back to the Edward Abbey book I was enjoying before dinner and before I had dropped off for a nap.
Abbey's world is the desert and places that used to be, before being taken over by Industrial Tourism, a fate which
this island also seems destined for although in the extreme east rather than in the West. I respect Abbey a great
deal since he also was intimately acquainted with the insides of a bar in Hoboken and so I engrossed myself in stories
of the west that I myself had travelled through on the trains from Chicago to Flagstaff with stops inbetween on a trip
that I had taken a few years back alone.