Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Lost in Words, Lost in Music

As usual, I live in fantasfy land. Reading Madeliene L'Engle's A Severed Wasp, one of my most cherished authors, listening to the Eagles' "Hotel California". This is not the version that most know, ind]cluding what I knew. I have that, too, not to worry. This is an amazing. It's from their live release, Hell Freezes Over. It is the same song, but with a slower tempo, and more on the Spanish guitar side than rock. I heard at the last Installation dinner, when I was sworn in as Recording Secretary. I love it.

I find it so easy to get lost in things. I love my life, but books give me the life I don't have. I have love, and I have responsibility, and I have adventure. This is important. But there is nothing... cosmic, I guess... about my life. Mostly that's fine. But sometimes we all want a little cosmic. To make a difference in some unimaginable way that Martin Luther King, Jr. or Charlemagne or whoever did. Without fighting a war, wouldn't that be ideal?

The way Madeliene L'Engle writes, just by living we are fighting a war, fighting darkness. I find that her writing about the cosmic things gives me a sense of balance. A sense of not being alone. That's a good feeling. One should not feel lonely ever. I find that while I would hate not having Luis in my life, I would not be lonely. I suffered more being unemployed by far than I ever have without a man in my life. I never looked down on Christmas or Valentine's Day because I was not with someone. I don't have a man in my life romantically. I'm a very complete person without Luis or another man. Without vocation, I am then completely rudderless. Afloat in a lost sea. Isn't that weird?

I think - I know - that for most women it is the opposite. I have many more identity issues without work than without romance. Strange, eh? I suppose everyone has the Achilles heal that they cannot handle. I happen to - amazingly - have a different Achilles heal than most.

Anyway... I've been coming home and instead of turning on the telly, I have been reading, reaquainting myself with my favourite addiction, the printed word! How I adore the way great books can just suck me in, make a part of it, lost in the imagery, the life, the lives, the events! A really great author is one that creates a very strong visual with words. Granted, my mind does that, really, but without complete images given by the author, there are some things the mind doesn't give... or gives incompletely. But a great author makes you forget that you are reading and makes for the best movie ever. I have thousands of books, and I love most of the ones I've read. (I'm going to have to live to be 200 years old to read all I've got and don't think I won't buy more books between now and whenever my untimely end comes.)

Some great books:

Almost anything by The Complete Idiot's Guide... to or ...For Dummies. If it is a topic you enjoy or wanted to know more about, this is a great way to start. If history is too dry for you, read these. I loved them. Historians tend to suck the joy out of history.

David Eddings' The Belgariad and The Malloreon - he writes five-book trilogies, if you can believe it

Madeliene L'Engle - anything

Anne McCaffrey - The Dragonriders of Pern series is wonderful but as she got older and lost her talent, they go dowhill. Still, you have lots of books before the inevitable happens.

Thomas Harris - Those sick Hannibal Lecter books... very educational but not to be read at night.

Tom Clancy - The Hunt for Red October made a better movie, the book was WAY too technical. But Patriot Games and Debt of Honor need all 800 or so pages and are also quite educational.

Leo Frankowski - He wrote a not-so-well known series, The Cross-Time Engineer. A guy in 1980s Poland goes hiking in the Lower Beskids and ends up in 1340s Poland, ten years before the Mogolian Horde shows up. A-MAZing!

Diana Gabaldon - OK, if you can ignore the real awful sex scenes (and they don't come up right away), then it is well worth reading. It's a series, too, but as time wears on, it becomes abundantly clear that the void she is trying to fullfill though writing really could be readily solved with a well-made dildo. Sorry. But the Scottish history described within is worth skipping a few pages here and there of "he reached out and grabbed my heaving right breast".

Elizabeth Scarborough - Very cool fun reading. Fantasy, of course. That is how I started, reading science fiction and fantasy.

Piers Anthony - He's written bloody boatloads of books. I'm not kidding, heaps. This doesn't mean you should read all of them. However, the series Incarnations of Immortality are completely worth it. The first book is On a Pale Horse, about Thanatos, the Incarnation of Death. Surprise! It is an office, not a person. You have the other incarnations as well - Time (Chronos), War (Aries or Mars), Fate (Atrpos, who cuts the threads, Lachises, who places the threads, and Clotho who spins and measures the threads for the Tapestry of Life), Nature (Gaea). The titles give away which character is featured - Bearing an Hourglass, With a Tangled Skein, Weilding a Red Sword, Being a Green Mother, For Love of Evil and the last book in the series, And Eternity. This illustrates a lot of interesting things, each Incarnations' struggle with their own baliwick, the struggle between Good (God) and Evil (Satan), God's indifference to everything. There are little bits of weirdness, as Piers Anthony is pretty weird, but the books are excellent.

John Grisham - what more need I say?

Dava Sobel - a new discovery. She wrote Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, but her best book to me is Planets, an incredible mix of knowledge and music and poetry:

"At totality, when the Moon is a pool of soot hiding the bright solar sphere, and the sky deepens to a crepescular blue, the Sun's magnificent corona, normally invisible, flashes into view. Pearla nd platinum-coloured streamers of coronal gas surrond the vanished Sun like a jagged halo. Long red ribbons of electrified hydrogen leap from behind the black Moon and dance in the shimmering corona. All these rare, incredible sights offer themselves to the naked eye, as totality provides the only safe time to gaze at the omnipotent Sun without fear of requital in blindness."
Tell me that is not incredibly visual!

Saturday, 23 June 2007

More Amazing Days!

Sometimes you have many good days. I usually do, anyway. There were some down points, but mostly, I had happy days. The past few have been really great.

High points have been the weather. It couldn't have been better if we'd a note from God. Pick a god. Any god! It was perfect. I think it still is (although at 00:40, it is a little on the cool side). I suspect it will continue to be delightful. Well... maybe not. I just checked the weather... Not all that and a bag of chips but they tend to be wrong. On the other hand, how many perfect, temperate, lovely days can you have... at the end of June?

Answer: Not that many.

Not to sound negative, it is just that the odds are against it. It is New Jersey, you know.

I've taken a Benadryl. I'm having an allergic reaction to something. I hate having a runny nose.

Anyway, other high points. Thanks to Joe (he knows who he is), I found a better way to get out of Springfield when commuting home (this is saying something!). Thanks to Kevin, I felt wonderful on Friday afternoon - above and beyond just normal feeling wonderful. Thanks to needing to look at the posters in the Grounds department, I got to take a perfectly lovely drive through the course. Thanks to Mitch, I got to meet his son, a very nice and painfully shy kid, but definitely a cool person. He is going to be someone amazing. I can tell. And thanks to the weather, every day from Wednesday through today was a treat.

I also had calls this week. I must admit, though, it is Sunday now. And not a peep all night - at least, not yet. Now that I've said something, I may be in trouble...

Today I had my hair cut and coloured, I went to my parents' house and a fun if fruitless time putting up their tent by the pool (it looks like a really big hupa[sp?]), and I took pictures of the guys with 69-4, which won first place in the Morris Plains parade. Way to go, J.T., Rafael and Andy!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The Day in Review - Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Another day, another headache, another triump! A day full of the good, the bad and the ugly and I loved it. Loved it!

The day prior, I ended with having work done on my teeth. Baby's fourth crown... not exactly an amazing homage to my caretaking of my teeth. I always hated listening to my parents about that, and I took not-so-great care of my teeth then - and that was with them watching over me! Imagine what happened when they weren't... I didn't. That was fine until I hit around 15 - between that and the endless amount of candy I ate, I began to get cavities. Admittedly, I did not get my first crown until a couple of years ago. Last year was my first root canal. And they were all completely painless. This one... was not.

My mouth hurt on waking, and increased as the morning wore on. It was not pretty, and I was a complete wretch. Most people didn't notice it but I was very quiet, and stayed in my office when not getting tea. Mitch noticed (which was very nice) but then I realised I had to do something about this instead of living in pain. So I took a couple of Aleve (three, actually) and began to finally feel a little more human. I never did feel completely OK, but I felt better and able to function, which was a lot harder before.

I went downstairs for lunch, and there was no chicken with salad, so I asked Greg to make me something that wasn't hard and wasn't chewy. Seems pretty straightfoward. He managed it, too. I had chicken without any charred marks, on a bed of cous cous, and some hot stuff (I think it was soup). I went out to the lunch room, for flatware, and Joe, Anna and (I forget her name) the programmer who is in the Business Office once or twice a week were sitting there, watching the news. I sat down with them, and had a nice lunch. We chatted about stuff, and no one noticed that I wasn't saying very much and it was good, companionable and pleasant. (The news wasn't, though...)

While we were there, Troy and some of the wait staff showed up with dessert that some members hadn't eaten - three balls of sorbet with a garnish of two leaves and a raspberry in an edible cup... oooohhhhhhhh... for us! We all grabbed one and happily dug in to the mango, raspberry and pear favoured sorbet. Yum! It was wonderful. I can't remember the last time I had such a delicious dessert! We were all thrilled with this windfall. I guess some members went without but that was what they wanted and we were delighted to take the offering.

After this, I was able to get a lot more done. A full (but not stuffed) stomach, a lovely dessert, and a bit of chemical help and I was quite improved.

I weeded through the major medical stuff and found errors that needed fixing, got a few things off of my seemingly endess to-do list and updated my manager on things. Conversations with him are interesting, fun and always educational. But mostly fun. Still, the best was to come...

I went out to Play Deck in response to a message on my voicemail and there was Reta, one of our Grounds interns from Canada (I love the pronounciations - "out" is more like "oot" - it's very typical but we don't hear it often in this area). She and I chatted about different things and then she said I should do a work shadow with her. Well, OK! I agreed to a Work Shadow day on Saturday, 30 June - a week from this coming Saturday.

I went to the Play Deck and asked to speak to one of the Locker Room guys. I was waiting for him and Jeff (I think it was him) said that there is a butterfly on the back of my chair. I turned slowly and there he was! Not a monarch, but something similar - black body and head, read and white designs on a black field. I was besotted. I managed to get my hand slowly to the back of the heavy wooden chair and he stepped onto my palm!

I very slowly brought my hand over the chair and in front of me. He sat, not moving, but not frozen on my hand. He must have stayed there for about 35 seconds. He was wonderful! I held my hands in front of me, and I guess it must have looked weird to the people in front of me - Reta, Kevin and some members at the top of the play deck; but in my palm, calm as could be, was a perfectly lovely creature that flittered around and just sat there for a few moments. Much to my complete delight. Delight! I loved it. I still feel shivery at the memory of it. I doubt I will ever forget that.

It was magic.

I finally finished up and packed it in around 1715. On my way out, the interns were in the breakroom (which is called the Family room for reasons passing understanding). They started chatting with me and I had an enjoyable time talking to them. Reta reminded me of our work date. I said goodnight to everyone and headed out.

As usual I howled to music while driving home - "Kiss Me", "Flying Horses", "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic", etc. I did not care that there was traffic where Route 24 West heads into Route 287 North - I had my music to enjoy. I arrived home, happy, feeling great, around 1805.

I pulled into the driveway, headed out and while I was getting the mail, I heard my name ( sort of - "Aaaaaaaash-Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan") and there's Stee Tissot, my old crewmate from when I rode on Wednesdays, sitting on one of the crappy picnic tables. I walked over to the squadhouse to sit with Steve, talking about all sorts of things for over an hour. I really enjoyed it. I miss him. Like Danny, he is crude and oversexed and right on the money. And we always had a good relationship and had a fun time riding together. He may not be on the squad much longer, and that will really be disappointing. I'll miss him, since I won't see much of him if he stops riding. He was my first friend at the squad and I don't think I will find another like him.

I came home at 1930, fed the kitties, and then ran across street to get dry cat food (it would have been a VERY long night without it). I went to bed shortly thereafter. A very good day, indeed!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Extraordinary People

I suppose, it being Father's Day, I should only be thinking about my fathers. But I'm thinking about someone else. He is an amazing person. I love him, I respect him, I have not yet found any real flaws to him (which bothers me, because, like all people, he has them. But they are not right at the surface, the way mine and seemingly everyone else's are). He is really something else.

Everytime I get worked up about something and hung up on an issue, I talk to him. And not just because I need to, as a requirement, but because I can't often see past the injust of the issue to see what... well, what ripples I'm going to create. Maybe that doesn't make much sense, but it does to me and this is one of those times I can explain it.

Next time you are by a lake or a pond, throw a rock into the water. When it hits the water, it creates ripples, and they go out in ever-widening concentric circles. Every time I undertake an action, it creates ripples that flood out and affect everyone else in its immediate vicinity. Just like throwing a rock into the water. I can't always see clearly the ripples I'll create by doing that. He can.

When I or Mitch get all worked up and ready to run out and start on an action, he is the calming voice that should be (but rarely is) in my head saying, "Stop. Think. What ripples, what reaction, will this course create?" When I really stop and think before I speak, then I can sometimes do that, but often things are knee-jerk reactions. But Kevin will always see things from all the angles - or most of them, or the major ones - and ask me what affect this or that rock will have. I can't seem to find that. The balance, I mean.

One time I was in his office and I mentioned that I am all passion and nuttiness and he is always so calm. I guess I didn't express that well, because I think he was not happy with that and said that he is passionate. Yes, he is right, it is not immediately visible, but he is passionate about his job, what he does, the person he is. That wasn't what I meant. I never did get to say what I really meant. It is not that he isn't passionate but that he isn't blinded by it, the way I am. That all that nuttiness and passion that makes me warm and caring also makes me wreckless and unthinking in my approach to things. That he keeps all of that reined in, not in a negative way, but in a way that allows him to look at things more objectively than I think I ever can. I admire that greatly.

My weirdness and passion does not do me a total disservice, and I like me a lot, so it won't go away. But to be able to stop myself, look at the situation without that weirdness getting in the way, Oh, how I'd like to have that kind of mastery! Over myself. I'm sure he has made bad decisions and agonised over things and have that reactionary issue, but where he has earned from it, lessons come slowly to me and I seem to be unable to get past that.

One time I did something really wrong - twice - and all he did was look at me and very calmly and quietly, with great gravity, say that he is very disappointed in me. I almost wanted him to yell, scream, curse, throw something at me because those quiet, steel-cold-angry-without-being-angry words were more crushing than anything else that anyone has every (or ever will) say or do. I was so upset. But it was what he was feeling and it would have been wrong to say anything else.

I'm being called to dinner, so I will continue this anon...

Saturday, 16 June 2007

The Moon Was Full...

"Recently BBC News reported that some British police departments have decided to add extra officers on nights with a full moon. The concern isn't over werewolves or vampires—no need to issue silver bullets or wooden stakes—but more human threats such as petty thieves and violent criminals. For years, some who work in police and emergency services (such as doctors and nurses) have anecdotally claimed that full moon nights are busier, crazier, and more dangerous than nights when the moon is dim. This perception may be rooted more in psychology than reality.

Belief in the moon's influence is an ancient one, and common in many cultures including our own. If police and doctors are expecting that full moon nights will be more hectic, they may interpret an ordinary night's traumas and crises as more extreme than usual. Our expectations influence our perceptions, and we look for evidence that confirms our beliefs. (The same thing happens on "bad days" when everything seems to go wrong, but only a few key things actually do.) Yet carefully controlled studies have not found good evidence supporting this idea.

For example, researchers Ivan Kelly, James Rotton, and Roger Culver, in their study "The Moon was Full and Nothing Happened" (published in the book "The Hundredth Monkey and Other Paradigms of the Paranormal," 1991) examined more than 100 studies of alleged lunar effects and found no significant correlation between phases of the moon and disasters, homicide rates, etc. Furthermore, there is no known mechanism by which the moon would somehow influence a person's mind to make him more dangerous—except of course for his own expectations. Still, though the evidence for any direct influence of a full moon is negligible and contradictory, there is some evidence for a less direct (yet more obvious) connection.

There is a good reason why there may be more crime on the nights of a full moon; it has to do with statistics, not lunacy. People are more active during full moons than moonless nights. An especially beautiful full moon may draw families out into the night to appreciate it, and lovers to local necking spots. Muggers and other criminals who ply their trade at night also use the moon's illumination to carry out their dirty deeds. If there is even slightly more activity—any activity—on a full moon night, then that may translate into a slight but real increase in crime, accidents, and injuries.

No werewolves needed."

As one who deals with emergencies and patients and has ridden enough full moons, I am the first to admit, that while normally not at all superstitious, on those nights I'm on and the moon is full, it has been insanity. (Take it anyway you like.) And more so on those moonlit nights with the more unusual happenings - eclipses, blue moons, harvest moons - the really weird and severe stuff happens.

We know this more than nurses and doctors, for we are out in the thick of it.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Wells . . . Magic, Holy and Medicine

A friend of mine sent me this and I really enjoyed it. I must say, though, I'm disappointed - I went to Scotland and did not see a single one of these! The country is not that big - how'd I miss them all?!

"It seems certain that wells, springs and pools were accredited with healing powers long before the Christian era. The custom of visiting “ holy wells” on the days of the saints who had blessed them can be traced back to a pagan water-cult of much more ancient times.

Scotland is a country of many waters, and thus there is no shortage of wells and springs. There were over six hundred holy wells dotted over this country at one time, and no doubt the Tay region had its fair share, though many have now fallen into oblivion.

Probably these magic or holy wells were originally the shrines of local deities. A spring of water bubbling out from some secret crevice of the rocks or from some obscure pocket of the soil meant life, and where there was life there was a spirit. But in due course these wells were Christianised. There are tales of St. Columba and other saints blessing wells of evil repute, and driving the evil demons from them.

Grew's Well (Dunkeld) St. Fillan’s Well (Loch Earn), St. John’s Well (Marykirk, in the Mearns) and St. Trodlin’s Well (Rescobie, Angus) are examples of holy and “healing” wells, much visited on certain days of the year. Sometimes a “ holy fair was held in the vicinity of such wells, and no doubt in the revelry that accompanied these pilgrimages many relics of paganism survived.

There are several “Nine Maidens’ Wells.” The one in the park at Glamis Castle serves as a memorial to nine saintly ladies of the 8th century, whose missionary labours, conducted from Abernethy, earned them a place among our earthly saints. But the tradition attached to another such well, near Dundee, tells of a farmer’s nine daughters failing to return, when sent one after another to fetch water. Seeking the cause, the farmer and a prospective son-in-law discovered two great serpents lurking by the well. Valiantly they drove the monsters away, and finally dispatched them at Balluderon.

Gifts of silver coins and pieces of cloth were often left in or alongside wells as a thanks offering. This is still done to some extent, and like the practice of throwing coins into the River Tay for luck, is certainly a pagan and superstitious custom.

I should also mention the practice of making a bargain over running water. In a way it is “calling the water” as a witness. Lovers plighting their troth stood on opposite banks, dipped their fingers in the burn, clasped hands and exchanged vows. Thus Robert Burns plighted his troth with Highland Mary, and many other lovers have done the same thing since. In Angus, however, young folks were often more sparing with the water—they simply licked their thumbs and pressed them together. “There’s my vow, I’ll ne’er beguile thee.”

Farmers, too, spit in their loofs before shaking hands over a bargain. “Dookin’ for apples” at Halloween was in origin a Druidical rite associated with water. Water was used as a witness in witch trials at such places as the Witches’ Pool, St. Andrews, and at a similarly named pool at Lunan.

But the most sacred of all water was the dew of the morning, and the lasses of Tayside and round about still rise very early on the first of May to wash their faces in the May dew, thus linking themselves with other maidens of the long-distant past.

Wells Of Angus

1. Queen’s Well-Glenmark, Lochlee Parish

2. Monk’s Pool-near church ruins, Kitkton, Lochlee

3. Scots Well-near Stripe of Droustie, Lochlee

4. Meg Blair’s Well- ditto

5. Droustie’s (St. Drostan’s) Well, near Invermark Castle, Lochlee

6. Nettle Well-Nettlewell Hillock, south of Cornescorn, Edzell Ph

7. Mary Well-south of Meikle TulIc, Edzell

8. St. Drostan’s Well-site of, west of Mid-Mains of Balfour, Fettercairn

9. McComie’s Well and Chair-south of Creagan Caise, Glenisla

10. Holy Well-near chapel ruins (1693) Balnaboth, Cortachy

11. Bell’s Witter, Clach of Glentaire, Cortachy and Clova

12. Well, near Priest’s Stone, Newbigging, Lethnot and Navar

13. St. Mary’s Well, near church, Bridgend, Lethnot and Navar

14. Well-Caterthun Fort, Gallows Wood, Lethnot and Navar

15. Well and Baths-Edzell Castle ruins, Edzell

16. Lady Well. site of, Chapelton, Menmuir

17. Bra Well, near church, Stracathro

18. Golan Well, and Well, near chapel-site and Auchenchapel, Glenisla

19. St. Andrew’s Well, south of Londrum Earn Scar, Lintrathen

20. The Docken Well, Scad Cairns, Catlaw border of Lintrathen and Kingoldrum

21. Whey Wells, north of Leytack, east of Eastside wood, Pinderachy, Fern

22. St. Aidan’s Well, Kirkton of Menmuir

23. Jenkins Well, Balrownie Wood, Menmuir

24. St. Vivian’s Well, near Vane Castle, Fern

25. College Well, St. Michael’s Mount, Brechin

26. St. Martin’s Well, St. Martin’s Den, Logie
27,28. Wells in wood, Dovecot, Kirkside, St. Cyrus
29. Well of Bowbale, Hill of Fernyhurst, Glenisla
30. Duckladge Well, Black Hill, Lintrathen
31. Abernathan Well, near Castlehill Wood, Kirriemuir
32. Cattle Well, Lochmill, Kirriemuir
33. Witch Pool, Meikle Mills, Kirriemuir
34. St. Columba’s Well, Shielhill, Kirriemuir
35. St. Mary’s Well, Gallow Path, near site of chapel, Rescobie
36. Chapel Well, north-east of Whitemire, Aberlemno
37. Well-Vitrified Fort, Hill of Finavon, Oathlaw
38. Nine Wells, Hill of Finavon, Oathlaw
39. Hen Well, north-west of W’hinnydrum, Aberlemno
40. St. Murdoch’s Well, near West Drums, Brechin
41. Pater Well, near Burial Ground, Deerpark Cottage, Kinnaird
42. Rosamond’s Pond, near Kinnaird Castle
43. Battle Well, Battle Drum, Montreathmont Moor, Brechin
44. Lady Well, near Rosehill, Lunan Den, Brechin
45. Well, near Fort, Barry Hill, Alyth
46. St. Ninian’s Well, north-east of Powderwalls, Alyth
47. Dovecot Well, near Balloch, Alyth
48. St. Madden’s Well, site of Cleikheim, near Kirkton of Airlie, Alyth
49. Hassock Well, west of North Whitehills, Forfar
50. Lunan Well, near Restenneth, Lunanhead, Forfar
51. St. Fergus’ Well, also remains of church, north of Woodfaulds, Glamis
52. Maid’s Well, Drumhead Plantation, Rescobie
53. Purdie’s Well, east of Ouchterlony, Rescobie
54. Cardinal’s Well, quarry, Hillend, Dunnichen
55. Paterlochwell, near Cottarward, Dunnichen
56. Camperdown Well (formerly St. Causnan’s)-near site of St. Causnan’s Chapel, Dunnichen
57. May’s Well, south of Dunnichen Moss
58. Tothel or Lothel Well-West Mill, Dunnichen
59. Hogg’s Well, west of Fairies’ Knowe, Dunnichen
60. Medicine Well, near Idvles Sawmill, Dunnichen
61. King’s Well, Dumbarrow Hill, Dunnichen
62. Nine Wells, East of Peallock Quarry, Lunan
63. Lady Well, Netherton, Alyth
64. St. Anthony’s Well, south of Henderstone Wood, Auchterhouse
65. Iron Harrow Well, Hayston Hill, Tealing
66. Knellock Well, Gallow Hill, Sidlaws, Inverarity
67. Seggie Well, west of Guynd, Carmyllie
68. King’s Well, east of Fallaws, Carmyllie
69. Golly Well-Milton of Carmyllie
70. St. John’s Well, east of the Temple, Roman Camp, Guynd
71. Helly Well, east of Shelterfield, Arbirlot
72. God’s Well, south-west of Swirlburn, Arbirlot
73. St. Ringan’s Well, alongside Rottenraw Burn and field named the College, Arbirlot
74. Well, ruins of St. Vigean’s Chapel, Arbirlot
75. Mary Well, Marywell Village, St. Vigean’s
76. Silver Well, Silverwells, St. Vigean’s
77. Nickies Well, Witchwood, Arbroath and St. Vigean’s
78. Lanuner Well, south-west of Newton Hill, Arbroath and St. Vigean’s
79. Cartyheugh Well, Kelly Den, Arbroath and St. Vigean’s
80. Monk’s Well, Kelly Den, Arbroath and St. Vigean’s
81. Dripping Well, beside rock-arch called the Castle Gate, Arbroath cliffs
82. St. Ninian’s Well, site of chapel, Whiting Ness, Arbroath
83. Bower Well, in wood, Brunty Sawmill, Blairgowrie
84. Camp Well, site of Roman Camp, Campmuir, Kettins
85. Horse Well, Smithton, Smithton Hill, Lundie
86. Craig Well - ditto
87. Scotston Well, Little Scotston, north of Kirkton of Auchterhouse
88. Nine Maidens Well, site of Bracken Bruach, south of Kirkton of Auchterhouse
89. St. Andrew’s Well, East Hillhead, north of Kirkton of Monikie
90. Peter’s Cauldron, Guildy Den, Panbride
91. Matty’s Well - ditto
92. Dundas Well, site of Boath Chapel, Pitlivie Moor Plantation, Arbirlot
93. Peatmire Well, Black Wood, Arbirlot
94. Batties Well, north of Haughhead, Arbirlot
95. St. Kane’s Well, site of Ardestie Castle, Monifieth
96. Nine Maidens Well, Castle Park, Glamis
99. The Tottler, Milton of Conon, Carmyllie
100. St. Sinavey - locally known as Sunny Vie, Den o’ Mains, Dundee"

Monday, 11 June 2007

A Ring of Endless Light

I'm reading - for the thousandth time - a book called A Ring of Endless Light, by Madeliene L'Engle, one of my most favourite writers. She is a writer, a scientist, a poet - all those things that I understand. She is also deeply religious - no, that isn't right - deeply spiritual, and that is a wonderful quality. She is very much a Christian but in a normal, unassuming way that is not phony, like so many "religious" people I know.

From me, high praise indeed.

I feel that way about Luis, too. He clearly believes but it is not that phony overbearing let's-do-everything-right-for-the-neighbours sort of way like his father or my deceased grandmother. It's very unassuming, a normal part of him like any other part of him. I am much more comforted by people like him in that way.

This book, which I have read so many times since I was a kid, is an easy read in the literal sense but not in the emotional or thinking sense. It is very deep, very emotional, very... I don't know. I love it. It makes me laugh, cry, feel, love, all of it. All of which is very important to me. I would not be happy not being this way. But it makes me think, and I'm the most me, the most complete, when I am thinking. For me, thinking is kind of like meditating... it isn't really, not in the true sense of the word, but it kind of is for me.

That probably doesn't make a lot of sense.

But it is an amazing book. The storyline is fairly basic. Told from the point of view of one girl, it is about her family spending the summer with her grandfather, who is dying. He has luekemia, an incurable kind. That doesn't sound like much, does it? But it is a lot. And told through her eyes it is even more than that. She has a big family - her parents, two brothers and a sister. That, to me, is a huge family, my being an only child. I was not unhappy that way and I'm still not, although if one could be guaranteed the kind of relationship they end up having, and overall, I might be more willing to put up with all the bullshit in between.

But I guess what makes this book so special for me is that I identify very much with the story teller, the writer, in this case Vicky Austin. I am very much like her, certainly at that age I was (in this book she is not quite sixteen). I needed to be alone a lot, I was much more inside my own head than partaking in the world around me. All cobwebby and artsy and not much for wanting to deal with the rest of humanity. Sometimes I still feel that way, although I suspect that this is normal for people who's job make them deal with the human race a lot.

In the book, at one point, her grandfather tells her that "poets are born knowing the language of angels". I like that - a lot. I'm not a poet, but I am an artist. One of the reasons I make a losy scientist, aside from a huge incapability with math, is that I'm too much the artist - the emotional, unreasoning creature who sees everything as it could be and not so much as it is. I'm pragmatic about certain things, but not the scientific things.

That probably doesn't make any sense, not easily, anyway, because I write all the time about science and my love of it. Yes, I do love science, terribly, but not that part of it that is the cold hard facts, but the colourful, dreamy side of it. I love volcanoes and can tell you a lot about them, but not the chemistry. I know the difference between andecitic and basaltic lava, the difference between lava and magma (the former is above the ground, the latter below), the difference between a pyroclatic flow and a lava flow, the difference between pahoehoe and aa lava, but I can't tell you the chemical make up of them, something a goelogist would mostly know. I love the visual and passionate sciences - plate techtonics, volcanology, meteorology, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. Ask me about calculus - I'll laugh at you. I know nothing of math. Certainly not at that ridiculous level!

In high school I tried chemistry. I hated it - it was all math. It was boring, not at all what I'd thought. But I had taken all the earth sciences, biology and any other ology there was (except for philosophy - no, thanks!), and all that was left was chemistry for the sciences, so I tried it. It was a failed experiment, definitely. I asked to be tranferred three weeks into it.

I wish I could recall what I opted for instead but that was a million years ago, galaxies of time away. I know that by the time I reached my senior year, my classes were almost entirely art-based. Oils, airbrush, free form, creative writing, etc. - I had all artistic classes. I had gotten all the suff I knew I'd hate but had to take out of the way as much as the stuffy school curriculum would allow. I hated a lot of the classes - Math, Algebra (a complete waste), Spanish (they insisted on a language and did not offer Russian), Economics (gasp...), Social Studies (I liked the topics well enough, but the teacher really knew how to suck all the joy out of it), Home Ec (awful), Gym - good gods, who thought that up? Physical education was just a formalised area for the bullies to really show their prowess at abusing the rest of us. I hated that all my scholastic life, which would have absolutely been better served studying something I liked!

I had some great teachers who really made me suffer some subjects that I hated, like Mr. Lebrenz, my eighth grade math teacher. He was really great and he clearly loved what he was teaching. I had an algebra teacher who looked like he was going to nod off teaching the hideousness that is algebra. I had a teacher for Economics, Mr. Denequolo, who was very sarcastic and funny. We liked history but I did not have the good fortune to get him for that subject. He liked economics, but I hated it and it would always be that way - I've no more appreciation or liking for it now than I did then.

But I had plenty of teachers who were dead from the neck up. They stood there and spewed out tidbits by rote, made us take multiple choice quizzes and tests, and really wasted far more of my time than anyone should have.

I did get lucky in that I liked - at least I cannot recall any that I didn't - all of my science teachers. They loved their subject and really got into teaching it - and teaching high school age kids anything is no easy task. Shove this down any ten-year-olds throat and see how easily it goes down... but the average fifteen-year-old is lost in sexual angst and longings s/he doesn't really understand. That is an ugly age to have to deal with.
And while the character Vicky did not have my really awful high school life, she was still someone I could understand - most people are just... well... joe-people, moving through life but not really specialised or seeing the world that they are in. But I'm an artist. I still am, even if I don't draw. One reason why I won't ever try to write for a profession is that I tried that with drawing and now I don't draw. There is a very big piece of me that is missing and I have never been able to get that back. I miss it in a way that one misses a limb. And if you don't know that kind of loss, well, you can tell me I'm an idiot and I have my limbs (yes, I have both hands and feet and all that should be there with them), so what do I know? I know I lost something it seems I am never meant to have again.

The ability is still there and so is the interest and yet... when I sit down to draw, the lines come out but the emotion that made it so rich, and not just doodles, well... it is not there. My heart is not in it. And how can anyone create with that?

So unless you know that kind of loss, you don't get to look down at me for lamenting on it.

But artists are artists, no matter what their vocation, what kind of art and whether or not they still do it. I will always have the artist's temperament. I will never be the pragmatist that is the true scientist. I'll always be the person who can't look at things from the outside and be divorced from them. I am very empathic, which is good for what I do now - HR and EMS - but bad for science. And in some ways, bad for what I do, too. I find dealing with the patient extremely rewarding and satisfying. However, I find dealing with survivors of a deceased patient very, very difficult. That empathy tends to get in the way. I have a tendency to mirror what others feel and I have enough of my own internal turmoil to have to deal with everyone else's - if that makes sense.

I do the same thing Vicky does to balance out others' feelings with my own and letting go of holding onto negative things that people seem to shed all the time. I go out to my hammock, which is my magic space, my hideaway. I'm not all that hidden away - look out the bedroom or sunroom window or look from the road where the traffic comes out of the Foodtown and there I am, sitting or laying in my hammock with my laptop or a book and always, always with my music. Last summer it was my Rio Carbon (I do still miss it) and this summer it is my iPod (which I love dearly), playing my favourites... right now it is playing To Live And Die in L.A. by a group called Wang Chung (don't know them? They were a sort of two-hit wonder in the mid or late 80s. I have the first release, Points on a Curve but nothing after that - the song that was just on was from a movie. Now I hear Breathe Me by Sia. It's from Six Feet Under (oh, come on, you didn't think that show was something I'd immediately gravitate toward? Pleeeeaaassssse!
That's an easy one!

My laryngitis and tracheal whatever seems to proceeding apace. I don't feel sick like I did last week (thank the gods) but I sound awful. I laugh and everyone can hear all the phlegm and mucus moving and rumbling in there - it is amusing and horrifying at the same time. I was talking to my manager about something on Friday (I should not have been to work but I needed to get the Orientation out of the way and done and there was no managing it by moving it at the last second. He said something that made me laugh and there it was, written all over his face - total horror. I laughed, my usual happy infectious sound, but infectious the way I'm using was not what he was thinking! He was thinking infectious like I'm releasing a thousand bits of evil into his air. He couldn't get me out of his office fast enough. It was really amusing, although I'm sure he was not thinking that at the time.

I still sound all rumbly and sometimes my voice gets hoarse - not a whisper, but not normally the way it is, strong and clear. It's weird. Definitely not Barry-White-hey-baby sexy!

I love Madeliene L'Engle's use of language. In this world you hear people say the most appalling things - not in content but the way that they say it. Sentence structure, tenses, dangling participles - all those things we were told not to do in school - they just come flying out of people!


I know I am not any great intellect or amazing learner. I have a problem with math and languages (other languages, dopey!), and linear thinking, but at least I can speak and write well. Very well, in fact. I never say "aks" instead of "ask", "don't" instead of "doesn't" - do people not hear themselves and want to cringe?!
I don't mean just that, though. She's not one to waste words or use unnecessary words. And then uses the full, rich, good words, not the simplest possible terms. Any book is worth it if you need to occasionally reaquaint yourself with your dictionary. That is never a bad thing. Your dictionary should absolutely be one of your nearest and dearest friends. What a terrible world this'd be if there weren't huge and witty words. I love words. Language is definitely a gift. Anyone can have verbal language but written language is what makes life so much richer.

I'm aways surprised and dismayed at how few readers I know and even less writers. I mean, sure, we all have to produce some written things at work (I do, but that is a major part of my position) but how many people do it for the sheer screaming naked joy of it? I do it because it feels good, excersizes the brain, keeps the dust and cobwebs out, and it also gets the millions of jumbled thoughts out of there. I need that. No one wants to hear all the stuff floating around in there but it needs to get out or I just munch on it more and more. Now I have this blog that no one reads (except for some staff - but they are just parsing it to make sure I don't put anything inappropriate in it!), but that's okay! It's out there, out of my poor, crazed mind that is always going, always thinking, always racing lightyears ahead of my mouth anyway!

I wonder if they are really reading this stuff, anyway. I know that they do. From time to time anyway. I like that, though. That's what it is there for, anyway. Not what they want to do, I'm sure - weed through my endless musings to figure out if I've posted something vile or heinous or just too private about work...!

So many ways I could play with this... GRIN...

And it would be so like me to do that, too. Just for the sheer fun of it. (Yes, the sheer naked screaming fun!) I can be a little on the mean side when I am taken by the mood. It's fun. They'd understand... they are kind of that way, too. I don't think all of them sit there and check out My Space and Blogger sites, but I know at least three of them do. Sometimes they've mentioned some of the things they've encountered... shiver...
I mean, scary - more than I ever want to know about my coworkers. Then again, I am sure that the same could be said of some of my postings - however, I am just cogitating, not looking for a hot date or (even worse) a spouse through the Internet.

I just like to think out loud...

Wow... it'sw almost 2000... Yikes. Time for bed!

Sunday, 3 June 2007

The Blue Moon Night

It's been that kind of a week.

Intense, crazy, and a blue moon to boot on Thursday night. We are prepared for the madness that is a full moon - any full moon - but really, a blue moon on top of it? Not fair, not fair at all. I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been non-stop action... not an unheard of thing on a full moon night. It could have been even worse than that - it could have been a full moon on a Saturday night. That is the worst. First time I ever rode a full moon night was a Saturday and we had seven calls between 1900 and 0100. Horrifying. It was completely exhausting.

A blue moon is a full moon amplified.

Actually, a blue moon isn't even blue (yes, I was quite disappointed about that. I kept looking for it to change colour...). A blue moon is - for reasons passing understanding - the second full moon in a month. So we had the first full moon on 2 May and the second one on 31 May. In some countries, they did not have the blue moon - it occured on 1 June.

Why is it a blue moon? I honestly don't remember. I should look it up. I'm becoming very fond of Wickipedia - it seems to know everything... Let me see. OK...

"The term blue moon has at least four related meanings. One is a common metaphorical phrase for a rare event. Full moons are given names in folklore, and two definitions of blue moon are a name for a rare full moon that does not have a folk name. One modern blue moon definition is a result of a misinterpretation of the Maine Farmer's Almanac, where a second full moon occurs in a calendar month. The older definition of blue moon is for an extra full moon that occurs in a quarter of the year, which would normally have three full moons, but sometimes has four. Oddly, it is the third full moon in a season that has four which is counted as the "extra" full moon and named blue moon. According to certain folklore, it is said that when there is a blue moon, the moon has a face and talks to the items in its moonlight."

This only happens once every 2.75 years. It's unusual. Figure whenever there is a full moon on the first or second day of the given month, one will likely fall at the end. We had this in May 2007, so the next one will be November 2009. I love astronomy.

Anyway, Thursday night was the second full moon in May.

Which brought out the weirdness and accidents. Only two calls, but both counted (maybe for four calls...). At 1758 we were blown out for a bipolar 38-year-old male... he was really a headcase. I guess I shouldn 't say that. But he was a really troubled kind of person. He seemed a little weird but okay at first, but then on the ride it became apparent that he was not firing on all cylinders. Or maybe I should say he was firing on too many.

I have had a lot of bipolar patients before but yikes...! He kept up a steady, monotone monologue the whole 20 minute trip that would have made anyone start inching their way out of the rig... He did it with his eyes closed and he lives in what I call "Opposite World" - "I thought that they were bad people, but they are me and I am them" - stuff like that. At one point I checked his pulse and he said (eyes still shut), "Are you my mother?" Uh, no. I told him no, I'm not his mother - as far as I know, I'm not anyone's mother. He did not seem to hear that part (that was fine). He said that it felt like his mother touching his wrist. I said no, it was just me - Aislinge - you met me before. He asked me was this why he liked other women who did not look like his mother? I said that that is fine. Liking other women is a perfectly normal reaction. He began his opposite world monologue again, and quite frankly, I was happy to let him do it. I'm not up for providing the answers to life to someone who is looking at it through a very distorted lens.

Sometimes what he was saying sounded deep but most of the time it was deep in a Stanley Kubrick sort of way. We couldn't wait to get him to the hospital. Thanks to some invisible force that forms needless blockage in traffic, we were sitting there listening to someone else private Idaho for twenty minutes instead of seven...

After that, there was not a peep - for us or Squad 65 - until the thing went off at 2240. I was in bed and my eyes were finally slamming shut and BOING! Wide awake again. This one for an MVC on Route 46 and New Road. An MVC is a motor vehicle collision.

We get there and there are three cars involved, one totalled white car, one fairly scraped up red car and one black car with (from what I could see) little to no damage on it. My patient was the black car guy, Don's was the red car guy in the tacky plaid shirt and poor Bob, he got stuck with the 18-year-old girl who ran the red light and was hysterical. Don and I checked vitals and got sign-offs from our patients, Bob got the kid into the back of the rig. When I finished with my patient and got the pink transmission fluid off of my right boot (that crap is slippery), I got into the back of the rig, figuring as the only female EMT Bob might want me there. Sure enough, he did but not because of anything like that. She'd refused the collar and was refusing to go to the hospital. At age 18 she is considered an adult in the eyes of the law, just not mine. So she can refuse. Had she still been 17, she'd've been collared and boarded like she should have been.

Her parents kept telling her not to go to the hospital over the cell phone, so at one point, I held out my hand for the phone, and politely (in that dangerous way that communicates clearly "don't fuck with me") explained how the kid might wake up paralyzed tomorrow and the mother grudgingly said OK. I "accidentally" hung up the phone and handed it back to the kid, who grudging nodded (all the while still crying) and got Bob out of the rig to hurry up and get us out of here before we end up having any more distractions.

I don't know how many red lights and speeding laws those hideous parents broke to get to Parsippany from Hawthorne (an easy 40 minutes away) but they managed it in a much shorter time. We had almost pulled away twice when the plainclothes cop from the call popped in first to give the kid a ticket for running the red light (there should have been one issued for gross youthful stupidity, but I suspect there is no statute number for that). Then he popped in with her purse (which was bigger than she was...). Then we had started moving and suddenly came to a stop and the side door opened.

Some woman came in and I heard Bob say the same time as me, "Who the hell are you?!" It's the mother. Good gods. She stood there right over the stretcher. We told her she had to sit down in the Captain's chair. She said she'd stay right there. We told her that if she didn't sit in the captain's chair we were going to ask her to leave. She grudgingly sat down. Then she started fussing and we kicked her out to the front seat with Bob. Even there she managed to be a problem - she got in the front seat and immediately opened up her cell phone instead of putting on her seat belt (which means we can't leave) and Bob was yelling at her to put the damn thing on and get off the phone. I should have reached up front, taken the cell phone and tossed it out of the window...

We finally left and got her up to St. Clares (in maybe less than seven minutes!), all the while with the mother fussing and make phone calls and the kid crying the whole way up.

Turns out that the crazy mother ran across six lanes of traffic to get into the rig. I should find the cop who directed her to us and thank him personally... with a sledgehammer. Obviously I wouldn't, but really, he could have thought this one through and told her it was too late to join us! It would have been much better for us!

What a night.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

It's Not What You're Sure of...

This is so true. The things that rip you up - or at least, trip me up, are the things I don't know. And there is much more that I don't know than the things I am sure of. Lots more. Too much, sometimes.

Anytime I trip up it is thinking that I know something when I patently don't. Not being able to really read and understand those contracts... I feel like it is torture to read those things. I did not try very hard to really read them and understand them and then I had all the trouble in February and March with those two projects - two huge gaffs that held me back at work in a big way.

There has not been anything as devastating as when someone whose opinion I calue most looked me in the eyes and said, "I'm disappointed in you." I was, too. That was more upsetting than being yelled at or ignored or anything else that could have been done or said.

It's not what you're sure of...

...it's what you don't know.