Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tonight I will add line breaks to my prose - an exercise that will flex my skillset a bit.

Here's an old poem of mine, one I like
quite a bit. I hope you'll enjoy it.
Oh, and Happy New Year. Finally
an end to this absolute worst year in my life
and all of its trials by brimstone.

It goes out for me with a certain
somberness and an internal quietness,
but that is a GOOD thing
(as Harry would put it).
I think. At least, I'm not sure.

Hey, at least I'm not slobbering. Yet, that is.
Though I'm sure that I will be
when the ball drops and the fireworks begin. I'm sure
Auld Lang Syne will take on new meaning for me tonight
when the counter is set to zero again.
A new year, a new chance, a blank slate,

New Year's will be yet another anniversary,
another chisel mark in my new way of marking time, difficult
(to say the least) and yet, and yet....I will take it
and it's pain gladly if it means the memories will flood in.
I begin to see.
This is how one defines melancholy.

Oh, and don't forget about your mom
as you ready yourself for that party
tonight. Pick up the phone and call her
now, while you still can. You'll be glad
you did.


how I long to lie in the sun, rocked
in the lap of the waves, adrift and free
as the fair weather clouds overhead.

(*edited 12/31/05 at 9:04 pm)

So, 'nuf said. 'nuf temporary poetic insanity. (someone out there throws a boot which clonks side of my head, causing me to utter a guttural sounding unghhhhhhhh)

Here's the poem now...


That particular mesmerizing sound
of the water’s lapping;
its hollow, steady slapping against fiberglass
lulls me just like dosed valium.

I lie face-up on this wooden deck
with the sun’s rays warming my carcass
of weathered skin and brittle bones.

A balmy breeze teases tendrils of my hair
as I’m rocked by the motion of the waves.
I could drift this way the entire day
without a thought of passing time,
my mind blank and loose, adrift
in the isolated freedom that comes
of a life left behind;
even if just for awhile.

Perhaps I’ll remember now
what it is to smile.

copyright 2003 by Cookala

Farewell 2005.

Friday, December 30, 2005

And then there were 3 1st draft poems:

This grief

clothes me like a woolen suit
and has it’s own agenda. It does not share
its schedule of highs and lows, or its timing
of angry bites and bitter lashes. I find myself
spread-eagled before its capricious grin
as it mocks and torments and lays me low.

There is no defense. I am at its whim.
I cannot chart its ebb and flow.

It simply is.

copyright 2005 by Cookala

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Another 1st draft poem, written when I was dealing with grief. Please feel free to nit either yay or nay. (I suspect it's a twee bit overdone) Thanks!

After a month

the concern begins
to flicker out. Calls dwindle,
invitations stop. I’ve disembarked
from that train called life;
it has left me standing alone
in the station without a ride.

I wear the cloyed silence
like a gray, woolen cloak
as my eyes turn inward. Closing
them does not shut out the grief
that melts into my dreams.

Appetites have faded.
Nothing appeals
and nothing lights the cold wax
of my heart; it has sputtered out
like a candle deprived of oxygen.

I wander through an empty house
searching but knowing she is gone

My protective shield is
I find myself naked
as the future advances like a cresting wave.

I pray for strong lungs.

copyright 2005 by Cookala

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

So, here's one of the recent poems I've written. I haven't done much of anything with, it's as rough as they get. Please feel free to comment whether it's yay or nay. Think it's worth developing? Thanks, and I hope you enjoy.


So there she is done up fine and fancy
as a suckling pig, the kind people make a fuss about.
Her makeup is perfect, the periwinkle blue gown
I bought at the mall for her yesterday fits
and she's lost the maggoty pallor she wore
when I found her sprawled on the floor four days ago.

The first time we go to see her at that dreaded place
that for years we dared not think about or mention
my brother whispers in my right ear,
don't touch her,
but of course I do out of curiousity
mixed with a pinch of sibling defiance.

Her right arm feels hard as a muscle spasm, and fat
and bumpy like she's been packed with wadded up sheets
of newspaper. She looks so real, yet surreal
as a sleeping beauty waiting for a kiss to wake her up.
I bend and kiss her cheek but all I get is a cold face.

I am relieved. She will pass the inspection of relatives
who will come to ogle her and meet their standards
for looking good, or peaceful, or younger
or whatever else it is people say
about the dead at funerals.

For this I will be told I've done well
and that I should be proud,
but inside I feel like a piece of lead
that dangles by a fraying thread.

I have become a multitasking robot
performing hostessing services by rote
while I heed an inner, repeating voice
that says this is just a nightmare
and that it will go away
just as soon as I wake up.

The service ends just as suddenly as the way
she passed. People leave in a rush to get home
and wash their hands of death
as though it were some kind of contagious germ.

copyright 2005 by Cookala

Monday, December 26, 2005


Originally uploaded by cookala.
Anyone know the name of this building? I love the way they lit it for Christmas! It wasover by Trump Plaza and Bergdorf Goodman.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas people, and Happy Holidays. I hope they are safe, healthy and filled with all good things.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Shortly we'll be leaving to go to NYC to see the tree, go to Macy's and then have dinner at Ruth Chris. We're taking my cousin from Texas out for some sightseeing. The transit strike is over, the sun has come out and it's a little warmer today than it has been all week. Things are on an upswing.

I just finished making a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, and a batch of chocolate chip with pecans. Then my brother walks in with a plate of fancy cookies from his office party. Well, I guess we'll be eating lots of cookies for the next few days, courtesy of Murphy's Law.

This morning my cousin and I went to the graves - first her mom's and then mine. They've put up the new headstone, so that was a nice surprise and a nice Christmas gift. And they even replaced the balsam wreath I'd placed on the grave. We put in some pointsetta plants at both gravesites We both cried on the way home, and I can feel myself welling up a little as I write this. *sigh* Well, I 'll try not to dwell on it too much today so I don't depress everyone around me.

I can't wait to get started making ATC's. I've even got Julie's mom into it. Yay! It's like a Christmas present to be able to get a fellow artist out of a rut. Good for her - you go, Julie's mom! I look forward to trading with you someday!

So, gotta run and catch a train. And remember, go talk to or hug your mom.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Originally uploaded by cookala.
Wow, this Blog It thing is so easy to do! Finally, something useful that actually works. Yay! Flicker rocks!

This is a shot of the Fire Island Lighthouse - my home away from home -the place where I generally spend most of my time in warm weather. I can usually be found within sight of the lighthouse, soaking up the sun. I even go there when it snows. I just can't get enough of it.


Originally uploaded by cookala.
I'm trying out the Blog It option at Flickr. I took this pic during hte summer at the Bronx Zoo in their Butterfly Exhibit. It was an amazing experience - they had a white tent set up that you walked through, and as you did there were millions of butterflys all over the place. They even landed on you momentarily. There were many different types - whites, blacks, monarchs, oranges, zebras and more. I got some fab pics that day.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I've been checking out websites that host Artist Trading Cards, or ATCs. These are cards no larger than the size of a regular playing card, and they must be handmade. When the artist finishes creating their cards, they swap them via the web or at face-to-face swap meets. No money is ever exchanged, and each card is a work of art. There can be series, sets and one-of-a-kinds. All sorts of embellishments and found objects can be incorporated into the card, and the card can be dimensional or can even be made to fold outwards.

Some of this will be repetitive but Wikipedia says:

Artist trading cards, also known as ATCs, are 2½ x 3½ inch (64 x 89 mm) miniature works of art which artists trade with one another, similar to the way people trade sports cards. They can be any medium: pencil, watercolor, acrylic, oil, collage, scratch board, mixed media - anything the creative mind of the artist can think up. Artist Trading Cards are produced as originals, as limited editions, or as a series. ATCs are a relatively new art form which formally began in September 1996. The concept was created by Swiss artist M. Vänçi Stirnemann. [1]

Conceptually ATCs are about exchanging art without the interface of the art world and without money being involved. Artists trade their cards in face-to-face trading sessions as well as via mail. Artists who trade by mail often make their arrangements online and/or through e-mail. In some ATC artists' opinions, trading cards by mail is a diminished experience when compared to an ATC Trading Session.

Rules of ATCs
There are only two true rules applied to Artist Trading Cards:

The dimensions of the card must be 2.5 x 3.5 inches (64 x 89 mm).
The cards must be traded - never bought or sold.
Artist Trading Cards are typically made on a base of card stock, although this is not mandatory. ATCs have been created on metal, stiffened fabric, plastic, clay, and many other materials. Various techniques are then applied to the chosen canvas: collage, assemblage, digital art, calligraphy, beadwork, watercolors, rubber stamps, and many others. The back of the card typically includes the artist's signature, the date, and the number (if the card is part of an edition or series).

These little cards are fascinating and fun to make. I find that they help me to get past my usual boundaries and help give me a sense of free reign with what I'm creating. I've known what they are for about a year or two now, but have only just started to make them myself and they are totally addictive. Because your palette is so small, you have to think in terms of scale. I've seen some really beautiful cards on the web. So, when I've finished making some decent cards I'll post my endeavors here. I'm also toying with putting snippets of my poetry and scaled down photos into them.

So, stay tuned and after the holidays, about the time the snow starts littering the ground, I'll get busy taking photos of some I've made and show off my artwork. Right now things are just too hectic.

And, of course, did you talk to or hug your mom today? No?! Well, get to it!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I just picked up a copy of "Little, Big," by John Crowley. Has anyone read it? Is it any good? I bought it based on the back cover snippet of what it's about. They claim if you liked LOTR than you'll love this book, too. Guess I'l find out when I get around to reading it.

Took a ride down to the beach today. Wow, the wind was super bitter. Two minutes without gloves while fiddling with the camera and I thought I had frostbite. Ouch. Needless to say, I didn't walk very far before I ran back to the warmth of my car. Oh well. But it felt good to get out with the camera. Doing that always recharges me. I've posted a few here, but you can see the rest at Flickr if you're so inclined. There's a link on the right.

I'm feeling almost normal today, yay, even though I did get some bad news yesterday. My sister-in-law passed away. I feel bad, but not so bad because she'd had a stroke twenty years ago and was completely paralyzed since. She couldn't even talk. Yet she had her mind. I can't think of a worse kind of hell than that. So, even though it's sad she's passed on, it's kinda not because at least now she's not in torture anymore.

And what is all this death around me lately? I've lost two aunts, (one of whom was like a second mother to me) my mom and now my sister-in-law - and all of them in the space of less than 4 months. Enough already. Honestly, I think 2005 has been the worst year of my life so far. I can't help but wonder why so many pieces of my life are disappearing all of a sudden. Is it any wonder why I've got such intense feelings of grief and feel completely out there sometimes? I think about all these people in my life and I wonder. Why have they all passed away so closely together? Does that mean something? Is it setting the stage for something else? *sigh* I don't know. ALl I can do is get through one day at a time. Que sera, sera.

So, here'e some of those pics I took today.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Ok, somebody just tagged me (it was Chuck) and now I have to do this:

Rules: The 1st player of this "game" starts with the topic "5 weird habits of yourself" and people who get tagged need to write a blog entry about their 5 weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged and list their names.

Ok, here I go:

1-I'm right handed and wear my watch on my right wrist. (Most everyone else who's right handed wears their watch on their left wrist.)

2-I'm a private perfectionist (private meaning I keep it confined to myself because I've gotten enough beatings over it)

3-I'm a total beach freak - I actually get depressed when I can't get in any sun time. And, once I'm there, I absolutely hate it (it actually almost ruins my day)if someone spreads their blanket within 25 feet of me so I have to walk down the shore at least 300 ft before I can set up camp for the day. And I'm carrying about 40 lbs, too, between the cooler and backpack (towels,lotions, etc), chair and umbrella. (and I swear, I am NOT antisocial...)

4-I hate spiral ham hot, but love it cold. (don't ask me...)

5-I spend way too much money on stuff I don't need when I'm depressed.

Ok, my turn - I tag Rob (romac), Harry, Heather, Tanya and Autumn

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Well, I'm in much better spirit today so I figure I should write now. My last few posts have been really dismal. This grief is just very unpredictable - I never know when I'll be down and when I'll be up. I just want you to know that I'm not so down all the time, I do have good days, too.

It's really cold out, and boy do I hate the cold. It's painful. It makes my muscles spasm. I makes my head hurt and my eyes tear. Ick. I've been toying with the idea of moving to central California when I retire in a few years. Maybe somewhere around Santa Barbara, but not in it - ain't got those kind of bucks. I'm thinking I should take a vacation or two there in 2006 and then maybe every other year until I do retire to scout the area and check into rentals and talk to the residents about community and taxes and such. I've always dreamed of living there, and now with mom gone I suddenly have wings.

Everywhere everyone is getting ready for Christmas. Everyone but me - and honestly, it's something of a relief not to worry about decorating the house and making big, fancy dinners, and shopping for gifts. I do have some gifts to give out, but only because I'd already picked them up throughout the year. I'm not really going to celebrate. I don't think it's appropriate this year.

Having said that, I'm toying with the idea of driving around the neighborhood like I always do and checking out the lights. The people around here really go all out with the lights and animated thingies - some of the houses are really awesome. But I feel a bit guilty about doing it, because of mom. A part of me thinks it's disrespectful in some weird way, and I feel somewhat guilty about it, too. I mean, she only died a month ago and I shouldn't even want to or care about seeing the lights. I dunno, am I being silly? Well, it's two weeks away. Who knows what mood I'll be in then. I know if I'm down, I won't go. (I mostly prefer to sulk in private and alone). Well, we'll see,

I finally got to the salon and got my hair done. It was looking rather ravaged and wild and limp and hangy all at the same time. Yuk. It always shocks the shit out of me when one day I look in the mirror and see how bad things have gotten. Never mind I look in the mirror every day and somehow didn't notice it. But I look and think, wow, that looks pretty bad. When did that happen? I should've gotten myself to the salon a month ago, but I was sick so I couldn't, and then all the other stuff happened. As always, I like what my stylist did, but I just need time to get used to it. heh. I'm sure I'll like it better after I adjust to the length. It was good to get it done, because it always lifts my mood and y'all know I need good slatherings of that right now.

I've been writing a bit again. Six poems since Sunday. Four about my life's current events, two not. It's hard to write about anything besides the last month, but I don't care as it's a catharis for me. I'll probably throw out most of it as it's very depressing and emotional, but probably save some snips here and there as I'm coming up with some nice turns of phrase and diction and sonics(which is surprising because I haven't written anything new since summer).

Speaking of poetry, I've been thinking about NaPoWriMo. I'm inclined to think I probably won't participate in NAPo at PFFA in 2006 - this past year very nearly murdered my poor muse. I went dry for months after NaPo and it drove me nuts, and I don't want to do that again. It was just too draining.

Well, let me end here. Hope you're all having a good day, and remember to hug your mom!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Today is a bad day for me. It's been a month today that Mom's passed, and it's hitting me pretty fucking hard. I miss her in ways I can't even put into words - no small task for a budding poet. Right now as I write this I'm also busy printing out old photos of Mom for my cousin from Texas who's coming to stay with us for the holidays, and some pics for my brother. There's one I'm going to frame and put on my desk at work when the grief has subsided somewhat. Mom looks really happy in all the pics, and that makes me both happy and sad at the same time.

I don't know where the month went - and it's all a blur anyway. I'm finding that as the days pass I'm becoming more deeply upset and depressed. Seems I'm taking some backward steps this week, but I suppose grief is like that in the way it comes and goes. I put on a strong facade, but inside I feel like I'm hanging by a thread sometimes. The word hollow has taken on new meaning for me.

Last night we met with a lawyer, so probate has begun. It's both a relief and a source of disquiet for me. Everything is in order and neither my brother nor myself are contesting anything, so it should only take a few weeks to transfer the house into our names. I'm the executrix, so I will also have yet more stuff to take care of.

It seems there is always someone to call or see, or papers to fill out and mail, or medicaid people to cuss at. Those medicaid people define the word incompetent. The other day when I picked up an application form, the woman told me to bring it back to the chronic care office in a different town. So I did, even though it was an hour and a half of a drive back and forth. Then today, I get a letter from the chronic care office stating that they were sending it to the other office - the one I got the application from. Stupid idiots. I've learned that everything they say and tell me I must do is questionable, and usually wrong. *sigh*

I haven't been sleeping well, so I'm wiped. I took a day off this week just to sleep but it didn't help all that much. I feel like I need a month of shut eye to feel normal in a physical sense again. I only managed to get 13 hours of sleep between Sunday and Tuesday and I know the lack of sleep is making me more distraught.

It's amazing what sleep deprivation will do to you. Everything, no matter how small and simple, seems so utterly hard to do, and I want to cry all the time. I'm getting really strung out. Yesterday my brother got impatient with me and I burst into tears. It scared the shit out of him because it's not like me. Needless to say, he's suddenly started keeping watch on me. Today especially, I had a sense of not knowing what was happening to me. I felt so lost and alone. I think I'm running on empty.

So, that's about it. On the upside, I wrote two new poems this week and that brought me a nip of happiness. I had some good moments - I made it to work and home in one piece and without mishap for the two days that we had snow (driving in snow and ice makes me freak big time), I saw the new Harry Potter pic, I bought some poetry books and artsy/crafty magazines to read and went out for dinner with a close friend. The rest of the week was spent just getting through. Well, let's hope the coming week is better. I'm tired of this grief.

And don't forget about your mom, hear?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

And I've survived another week. It's true, life does go on though it may be altered in intangible ways. It's surreal, really, how things seem the same on the surface and yet are so profoundly changed inside of you, in your soul. And as I've said before, grief is exceedingly weird. Right now I'm feeling like my old self, but that can change in a blink. I've been crying less, but when I do it's more intense and comes from a deeper place than before, when I cried a lot. I think it's because I've been trying not to dwell on being in the place I'm in. I'm not denying my feelings, but I've found I am pushing them aside. I don't know if that's good or bad. I've been finding things to keep myself distracted, and trying to avoid quiet time.

You know, before mom died I couldn't bear to think of her dying. I thought for sure I'd be so devastated I wouldn't be able to function at all for a long time, but I fooled myself. I didn't fall apart to the extent I thought I would, and I somehow found the strength to make funeral arrangements, tend to the stepfather and the brother, deal with Medicaid (I hate those people. I would like to shoot them all, but that's for another time to rant on) clean the house and go through mom's private papers in search of needed documents and a will. And all that while I had a nasty upper respiratory thing going on. I guess it comes down to somebody having to do it, and I guess that somebody had to be me. And yet I feel guilty that I should be falling apart - does that sound nutso?

I dunno, but I wonder about a lot of things now. For one thing, becoming an "orphan" in mid-life is a real humdinger of a head trip. It's just me now, and that scares me much more than I care to admit. Truth is, I'm afraid to go alone into the world. I know, that must sound rather pathetic, especially coming from someone like me, but that's one of the things that's begun to haunt me. I expect I will be moving out of the house I've lived in for a large part of my life in a few years, but where to go? I've been thinking maybe California, somewhere near Monterey or Santa Barbara. I don't know a soul in that area, so that's a little scary, but from what I've read and seen on TV I think I'll fall in love with the area. CA would also be good for me because I'm in the IT business, so finding part time computer related consulting work probably wouldn't be too hard.

For a long time I had thought I'd move to Florida where I have some relatives, but after this past year's hurricanes, forget that. Yeah, CA has earthqueakes and mud slides and fires, but the area I've mentioned seems pretty removed from that, or at least it's not a common place event. Anyway, I need to be near the ocean and rid of cold weather and snow. Ick. I'd wither up and die if I moved inland. Though I love LI, it's just too damned expensive. Taxes are through the roof and so is the housing. Moving away from "safe" to "completely new and unknown" is daunting. Ah, well, it's all conjecture right now anyway.

I finally "found" (located might be a better word) the will. Well, actually, the lawyer had it all along. See, what happened was that I called the wrong lawyer the first time. (Who said grief doesn't make you stupid?) Heh. Anywho, this past weekend I found some correspondence from a different lawyer about her will. So I called them and, yup, they had a copy. Phew, was I relieved! It's in their hands now, so probate has begun. And with that I groan long and hard because I'm already thinking in terms of the tax man and my 2006 return.

I have no idea what inheritance tax is, or how to do all this new stuff on my 1040. *SIGH* Still more stuff I have to read up on. I tell ya, I'm sure getting an intense, albeit crash course education out of all this - what with medicaid (seriously, I really want to harm those people somehow), and medicare (and them too, but not as much) and Empire's Senior Choice Plan, and now taxes and probate. And it's all so damned complex and boring to me. I hate it. Almost overnight, my life has gotten extremely complicated. I'm learning I have a low capacity for dealing with this type of stuff. It's been extremely frustrating and will probably continue, maybe for the rest of my life. How sucky is that.

Well, that's all for now. I still have a million things to do - seems my life has changed that way, too. I'm always busy now, and always exhausted. I haven't written anything for over a week. It seems the muse has deserted me again, and that frustrates me. I'm hoping she'll come back when things settle down. Oh yeah, and I've been suffering from insomnia. Seems that as soon as the distractions fade into quiet, my thoughts turn to mom and all sorts of things. I've been having to leave the tv turned on low to distract me. Thing is, sometimes it distracts me into watching it so I get interested in what's on and end up getting 3-4 hours of sleep. I was late for work two days last week. There's only so much of that the boss will overlook. Shit, what a dilemma my life's become. *sigh again*

And so, I leave you with my usual mantra - go talk to your mom. Life is uncertain, be with her while you can.