It didn’t melt off for a month and then came fresh snow. Underneath is next season’s clover, chikory and hay but now it looks like Spring will never come. Snowed in for two weeks, getting a little panicky when I lost Internet and phone and felt cut off from the world. My grandparents wouldn’t have cared with kerosene lamps and wood heat and a root cellar along with 6′ drifts. They were so modern with a battery bank hooked to the windmill, a pump at the sink and a party line on the hand-cranked phone. There was a time I had my own battery bank and a generator to charge it and snowed in was normal.
How soft I’ve become since then!
There was a marvellous butterfly hovering over wild purple phlox last July as I pulled out of the drive . I stopped. It stopped. I went back into the house for the camera. I crept carefully up on it, aimed, fired…………..no memory card. The laptop was in the car with the memory card in it.
Did I get the picture? No, but the field down the road was full of butterflies……….laughing at me.
I start getting depressed in September but it really hits in October when the asters bloom. Why? The trees that worked so hard to turn green turning scarlet? Too many sad anniversaries? November, with lousy weather and another birthday, creeping up on me?
I swear the trees were green this morning, gold by afternoon. But there are little surprises – the flower baskets bursting into bloom after taking the summer off, a wild cyclamen hiding by the drive. I find things to lift my cloud – a new DVD (Fosse this time) an appreciation of the “new” corner of the living room with its soft light and books. Life may not always be exuberant or even bearable but it’s all we have.
Tonight I’ll feel the sadness. Tomorrow I’ll dance.
It seems obvious the Tower portrait of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, is full of symbols, from the cat to the cuffs. It’s been suggested the symbols are Rosicrucian and Masonic, from the diamond windows to the shape of the ribbon on the book. What does it all mean? I know less about Rosicrucian and Masonic symbols than I do about Alpha Centauri, but I’m always willing to learn.
I did find this on the symbols but they’re not specific to any group.
“There is a pretty legend that this was Southampton’s favourite cat, and that when he was imprisoned it found its way to the Tower and joined him. But personally I prefer the suggestion of the late Lesley Hotson that the cat is there not as a pet but as a symbol. To the Elizabethans a cat stood for the desire for liberty, since cats, as any cat owner will tell you, have zero tolerance for closed doors. And if the cat is symbolic there’s a fair chance everything else in the picture is freighted with hidden meaning too. The fortress visible on the right of the picture is presumably the Tower: the inscription in Latin refers to Southampton’s imprisonment, proclaiming ‘In vinculis invictus’, ‘In chains but unconquered’. A book lies behind him, its ribbons untied. He has stripped off one glove so we are treated to a view of his left hand, dramatically pale against a dark ground, bare but for a single small ring and what appears to be a string of rubies round the wrist. Why? What do the rubies signify? And as for the ring – it has an irregular outline and appears flat and dark. I think it may be a mourning ring. These often had hexagonal bezels with a death’s head mounted in the centre. If it is, then taken together with the sombre clothes and expression I would bet money there is a reference to the dead Essex here. When James became king he would speak sentimentally of Essex as ‘my martyr’, because though they never met Essex had been secretly writing to James for years. But Essex burned their correspondence before he was arrested and there was little mention of the Scottish king at his trial. Just as well. Elizabeth would not have taken kindly to the thought that her dear cousin of Scotland was so impatient for her crown that he’d been in cahoots with a rebel.”
The cross on the book appeared on a coin issued by Louis the Pious (778 – 840 AD). The four dots apparently represent the four gospels.
Diamond windows were around in Medieval times and may have been more practical than symbolic.
Wikipedia says: “The diaper shape of the panes gave greater stability than square-cut straight-set panes and hence are more common. It was also convenient to cut diamond shaped panes from a single “crown” of glass with less waste than that caused by cutting square panes.”
This room in the Bloody Tower looks as it might have when Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned there. Note the windows.
I don’t know if there’s significance to the broken pane but if there is it might have to do with wanting freedom, a desire to break out. I don’t think it has anything to do with the broken window in Oxford’s room that Dr. Nelson mentions. ;) Maybe the pane really was broken; that might indicate a certain neglect.
If this was an appeal to James (who would want to commemorate an experience like this?), it’s effective.
I haven’t been able to find much on gloves but they indicated status and were usually leather. The “crosses” on the cuffs resemble heraldic crosses, I think, unless they’re X’s. They’re not unlike the ones that appear on imperial crowns. One topped Elizabeth’s crown in her coronation portrait. Maybe this is a reminder of who had him imprisoned just because he tried to overthrow her?
Or are the X’s saltires?
“A saltire, Saint Andrew’s Cross, or crux decussata (though it is never called the last in heraldry), is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross (×) or letter ex (x). Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred on such a cross.
It forms the national Flag of Scotland…”
The Flag of Scotland, according to Wikipedia, is the oldest continuously used sovereign flag in the world, reportedly in use since 832 AD. And James was, guess what, Scottish.
Rubies represented many things but in this case I’d suggest the bracelet represents drops of blood referring to the Crucifixion or Essex’ execution. Or is it a symbol of undying devotion and love – but for whom?
Now, I’m not one to see Jesus in a piece of toast or Mary in bird droppings (and I certainly wouldn’t tell the media if I were) but I did notice a shape in the wallpaper on my mini-notepad that somewhat resembles the Prodigal Cat. I might take it as sign my kitty ascended if I hadn’t taken the picture weeks before he went into the night on secret kitty business never to return. He did visit me in a dream but I was realistic enough even in sleep to not wake up and get his treats.
I do know what paradolia is and once spent a few minutes viewing a picture before and after the blues were tweaked. This proved beyond reasonable doubt that even a mentally challenged person can use Photoshop but did nothing for the sasquatch effort. There wasn’t even a shadow to form an impression of a hominid in the brush, let alone two (one was transparent). It’s nice, I must admit, to be free of a group that even begins to take such things seriously.
The idea of cats in the sky led me to Donald Johanson and the discovery of Lucy, so named for the song playing in camp. Contrary to popular belief at the time, the song is not about the initials of the title. John’s son brought a painting home from school and when asked what it was he said it was Lucy in the sky with diamonds. I’d somehow never thought of paleoanthropologists enjoying simple pleasures like we lesser mortals do. I prefer Norwegian Wood, however.
But I digress.
After Lucy I wandered to ancient Egypt and wondered if the ladies of the time applied eyeliner the way we do, for emphasis, or whether it was just to repel parasites. Desmond Morris called us the Naked Ape. I submit we’re the Decorated Ape.
I’m now all disinfected and entering the land of “Nothing by mouth after midnight.” I’m already wondering what I’ll forget to bring to the hospital even though I’ve been packed for two days. It’s not like I’m going to a foreign country. My housesitter can bring me things – provided I remember where I put them. Will I really finish the books I packed? Can I live without the Internet for 3-5 days or should I risk bringing the netbook? Did I answer all the e-mails I really needed to answer? Will I come out of the anesthesia or will I end up like a character on House? “Oops! Did the wrong thing; you have five hours to live.”
I don’t have to worry about leaving my cat with a stranger. I sure could use his company now, but then I run across a glob of cat hair (how did he get it there?) and have mixed emotions. I understand my mother wanting out of cat sitting when time was slowing her down. I resented her putting housework ahead of her kids (who never did master the art of wiping feet). “Who tracked up my clean floor?” I can hear her say. It just now occurred to me she could tell by the size of the prints. So why did she ask me? Now I no longer resent her; I just miss her. I hope she understood at last I couldn’t be there for her because I just couldn’t handle it.
When I was little I’d cry over roadkill. When one of my first cats died my grandmother opined I should be glad it wasn’t a person. My mother responded, “Right now I think she wishes it were a person.” I think that was the only time my mother really understood me.
I used to think I’d be okay if I had no emotions at all. It would be nice if I could think everything I’ve lost in life is waiting for me in The Great Garbage Can in the Sky. Sister Clotine told me when I was in kindergarten animals can’t go to Heaven; they have no souls. That pretty much did it for me and religion at the age of 4 1/2.
So, kitties can’t go to Heaven and the shape is not some sort of spiritual cat. I can’t help but notice, though, that that Jack-o-Lantern “face” next to “him” in the photo looks pretty angry – or is it hungry? If, by chance, there’s an afterlife for kitties I hope all the animals he killed weren’t there waiting for him.
I didn’t want to spend the last part of my life like my mother did, with my social life consisting mostly of doctors. I have nothing against doctors; I just prefer meetups with like-minded people over lattes and books to be purchased. For my birthday last month I treated myself to a latte alone and an Audubon guide to butterflies, but after many years of avoiding doctors (and attorneys) I now find myself having to see both.
I kept putting my limp down to having jobs where I’m on my feet a lot and winters with respiratory infections that seemed to sprain a ligament with every sneeze. But then the limp turned to a hobble and I let a friend haul me off to Urgent Care. Two X-rays later I was referred to a surgeon.
I had mild to excruciating pain with my back for thirty-five years. I took a fall playing longball in Junior High and the family doctor diagnosed a sprained sacroiliac. I wish he could have seen my X-rays when I finally broke down and had my 3rd degree “spondy” repaired. The pain and stiffness over the last several years was really minor compared to that and I tended to dismiss it even after I took to using shopping carts for walkers. I actually scoffed when my employer said I could be in for hip replacement surgery.
I almost never took pain pills for the back due to an aversion to “drugs”. Mostly they didn’t work. Amazingly, ibuprophen actually helped my hip and I started gobbling them at the rate of one a day. The surgeon said I could take three three times a day, but it wasn’t long before I was back at Urgent Care. The nurse practitioner prescribed an industrial strength anti-inflamatory and more hydrocodone. I buried my guilt and watched House in relative comfort after a day at work that was almost pain free. Wow. I was even dancing!
By then I had an appointment with a GP who sent me a letter saying he doesn’t do pain management and won’t normally prescribe anything that can be addictive. I was just there for a pre-surgery checkup. I decided not to ask and gritted my teeth in preparation for toughing it out. After telling me I’m in pretty good shape he actually volunteered. He said I’m in acute pain and gave me enough refills to last well into next year. I guess he noticed the unique way I got on to the examining table.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my neighbor left a note on my door informing me she would cut off my water the next Monday. I hadn’t heard anything from her since I accidently caught up with the fact she’d been charging me half the total water pump bill instead of half the current amount. While we tried to figure out why it was running so high (drought? leaks? sprinklers? long showers? six people to my one?) she had evidently failed to notice the overdue amounts – for seven months. Since her note didn’t give me a clue to how much the total was (her normal billing method was to send a kid over with handwritten amounts every six months or so) I had to estimate, giving myself six months credit for the overcharge. Her reaction was to leave some really colorful language on the voicemail. I made an appointment with an attorney.
This diversion, the Internet and some lengthy shopping trips, helped me deal with the pain of losing my kitty.
But what does all this have to do with King James’ Queen Consort? A debate on YouTube took a bizarre turn when a poster decided Anne of Denmark was the Dark Lady of the Shakepeare sonnets. At first I thought this was parody, a snide take-off on some of the extreme anti-Stratfordian views, but the poster was serious, proposing the Bard and John Florio, onetime tutor to the 3rd Earl of Southampton as well as Anne of Denmark, were in a ménage à trois. There followed pages of one-line posts, now removed, that seemed to be diagnostic for an episode. It’s interesting we debate pseudonyms and concealed identities while using them ourselves – even to the point of changing gender. This person revealed having several identities (he was giving himself Thumbs Up on his own comments), and, while posting under a woman’s name, mentioned writing a sonnet for his wife. He also said he hadn’t read up on the case for Oxford but that hadn’t prevented him from declaring Oxford is the worst candidate of all. Why would the fair Queen Anne be the Dark Lady? Because she commissioned and acted in the Masque of Blackness. Ladies of the time used belladonna which made their eyes appear dark. She had a thing for poets. Shakspere co-produced The Tragedy of the Rape of Lucrece by Thomas Heywood. Really?
In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty’s name;
But now is black beauty’s successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on Nature’s power,
Fairing the foul with Art’s false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress’ eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Sland’ring creation with a false esteem:
Yet so they mourn becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says beauty should look so.
I’m not implying, of course, that all Stratfordians are stark raving mad.
Butterscotch was a homeless kitty who’d wandered into the fellowship hall and was speaking louder than the speaker. I didn’t take him home that night. After leaving my life in Washington I didn’t want to have anything I’d have to take care of, nothing to love and lose. The next week someone handed him to me. The women had been passing him around and he smelled of cologne. I stopped at K-Mart for a bag of dry food for him and he had it torn open before we got home. I put some outside and told him he was my outdoor cat. He circled the house yowling for the next two hours. I let him in, but just, I told him, for a little while.
That was about nine years and eight months ago.
He became my indoor-outdoor cat, coming in in the middle of the night announcing his presence. He’d be waiting in the drive when I got home or sleeping in the house and then yelling at me before I could open the door as though he’d been waiting there for hours. He thought five AM was a good time for me to get up and get his tartar control treats until we got that moved to seven. He had a really cute begging gesture. He’d paw my face or my arm or my leg when he wanted something, like petting or treats. It would have been cuter if I’d had him declawed.
I’m trying to think of all the good things about him being gone. I won’t have to get a cat sitter when I go into the hospital this winter. I won’t have to get out of the car in black pants and discover I’m covered in cat hair. The kitchen floor will be safe from dismembered kills and I’ll be able to walk across it barefoot in the dark. I won’t have to worry about burrs and ticks in my bed. I’ll be able to keep my laptop on the bedside table without fear of him knocking it off. There will be no more triangular tears in the curtains from his sudden compulsion to climb them. I won’t have to move his paws when he stretches across my chest, kneads my hair and gets dangerously close to my ear. Never again will I have to wonder if he thinks his name is Damn Cat.
A parade of friends, family and pets from hamsters to horses goes through my mind. I was devastated at the loss of each but don’t feel the pain now. I know I’ll be better in a few days and stop thinking he’ll be waiting for me the next time I come home from work. I won’t go to the door and futilely call when I’ve accepted the fact that he blended into the autumn leaves and vanished in the night.
But right now I can’t stop crying.