Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1 August 2013

The other day I received a response from someone who thought they were being helpful. I appreciate the effort, the response missed me entirely.

This is understandable. Nearly our whole culture is focused entirely too much on the linearity of the left side of the brain. It seems to come naturally by way of our exposure to education, maturation, socialization and maybe a few too many other forms of -tions.

Consider this song by Supertramp;

Songwriters: R Davies, R Hodgson

When I was young
It seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees

Well they'd be singing so happily

Joyfully, playfully watching me

But then they send me away

To teach me how to be sensible

Logical, responsible, practical

And then they showed me a world
Where I could be so dependable

Clinical, intellectual, cynical

There are times when all the world's asleep
The questions run too deep for such a simple man

Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned?
I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am

I say, "Now what would you say for they calling you a radical

Liberal, fanatical, criminal?
Won't you sign up your name?
We'd like to feel you're

Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable
Oh, ch-ch-check it out yeah

At night when all the world's asleep

The questions run so deep for such a simple man
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned?

I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am

Who I am, who I am, who I am

'Coz I'm feeling so illogica
Oh, oh, oh, oh
B-b-bloody marvelous

This is not much of a foreign concept, most children are natively right brain oriented at birth, the linear, logical aspects usually must be learned. This what schools tend to focus on. As the song portends, as we become more indoctrinated in the ways of culture through the educational process we become more predictable, trustable, lesslikely to bear watching.

Notice in the song the words names used to encourage the individual to maintain to the new expected norm, radical
Liberal, fanatical, criminal. Names meant to send shivers up the spine. No one wants to be one of those.

For some reason I never lost touch with that right brained sense of me as a child. Throughout grade school I was never a star pupil, I always found the material to be boring, the teacher to be stodgy and many of my peers in the classroom to be frankly, suck ups, who could be pedantic trying to curry the teacher's favor in return for a good grade.some of whom had gone over to the other side, bragging how their parents gave them a dollar for every A received in school. There was something about those “successful” ones, nobody wanted to be like them.

So the world outside the window always intrigued me. I was lucky, the school was sited in a woods. When the clock dragged its second sweep hand too slowly round the circumference, making me wonder if the gears weren't solidifying in the works, there was always a squirrel out side darting hither and yon as if unable to make up its mind, occasionally shaking its tail as if to inquire when was I coming out was growing impatient to play. Mrs. Newton Miller Euwell merged into one mindless blob of sameness, all bent on following their mandate to teach us something or we were to sustain their wrath if we didn't. I never understood the correlation between corporeal punishment , or the threat of corporeal punishment and learning. Mostly it seemed like bullying to me.

We were always told to stand up for ourselves on the playground. But somehow doing so with the teacher was forbidden, and those teachers knew it. One of the best teachers I had was Mrs. Sakamoto from the island of Oahu, the state of Hawaii. It was sixth grade, school had been moved to a new building sited in a treeless, open field. There were no squirrels for entertainment outside the window. That woman was engaging. We learned about Hawaii, the iron grip of education relaxed. In one year my reading level was beyond the grade reading book, so those few of us were given a pass to the library for reading hour, best thing that could ever be done for me. My measured reading level went beyond the twelfth grade. In math we outstripped the sixth grade math book so the math coordinator for the school district came in twice a week to instruct us in base two, base seven, hexadecimal, basic geometry, basic trigonometry, and whatever else we could glom onto.

Learning was fun, for the most part suffering the teachers was abysmal.

With that I leave you with an excerpt from my dissertation, written a few years ago, to demonstrate how these ideas stayed with me down through the years.

Autobiographical Connections
I have been aware that when I am in the creative form that there seems to be so much more of what I experience as myself than at other times. This is not to say that my physical dimensions change, rather that the fullness of my being, the essence of who I am, assumes larger dimensions. This larger sense of myself is palpable. There is a sense of watching a series of events unfold in a way that is just perfect. There is no thought of racing ahead to a preconceived expectation; there is a sense of knowing that everything is going to find its rightful conclusion.
I know that, when I set about to make photographs and pay attention to the image, I see in my mind that the adjusting of the variables that make photography work just seems to flow with ease. The speed of the film, its inherent characteristics at receiving an image, the factors that shutter speed and aperture influence the image are all familiar and do not get in the way or need to be pondered.
Some people view the creative process as difficult or strange. Often the methods the creative person uses to access the creative moment are very different from the behaviors that people most often use in the company of one another. Often the results are so different from what is expected that the product appears bizarre or out of the ordinary. The creative process is often very far from the usual activities of daily life that, in comparison with the mundane routine, it may appear to be quite strange. There are two forms of difficulty that arise related to being creative. One is to voluntarily step away from the commonly accepted behaviors that everyday life in a social system demands of its participants. This can be difficult as doing so one separates one’s self from affiliation with the group. This is often necessary as the group mindset is not very conducive to creative thought and expression. The second difficulty is that, if/when one chooses to step aside from that acculturated acceptable way of doing things, there are some internal awareness changes that have to happen for the creative process to become available.
Even though I have an idea as to the mechanics of what is going on with the inhibition that is being felt internally and from others, I am even more curious as to the nature of this creative urge. What is it? Why is the giving of one’s self over to the creative process so demanding? What is it about the creative process that is so appealing? There are so many questions. This study focuses on experiencing the movement of creativity from the point of view of persons reporting their internal awareness of being in the creative process.
As I have observed this situation over the years, I have noticed that much research is from the perspective of viewing creativity as an object, separate from the person. Yet from my experience creativity is an act, a verb, it is not a noun. Creativity is a way of being, a way of conducting oneself within the constantly unfolding present moment. For that reason I would like to study the experience of creatively being.
There is a quote from Franz Kafka in The Great Wall of China. It states:

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. (Kafka, 1968, p. 980)

I find that as a child I was able to accomplish this way of being with very little effort on my part. It seemed as if this was a natural way of existing in the world and with the world. With age and the expectations of school, I learned to think my way through my daily existence. I found that most people and certainly my teachers expected me to figure, name things, and make sense of, in a linear manner, everything with which I came into contact. While this may be acceptable for schooling, it precluded my being able to participate creatively in my engaging of the world. Often I would sit in a classroom, bored silly with the activities going on, yearning for an opportunity to be with the world and to participate with it, rather than learning how to dominate it and manipulate it.
I can remember those wonderful, glorious moments when as a child I was completely lost in some aspect of what I was doing. In these moments my individual sense of being a persona had drained away, there were no linear thoughts of causation, no naming of things and finding a dualistic set of understandings. I would become so involved in a project that I was turning my attention to, as to lose track of time, physicality, and my position in respect to other people.
I have often identified myself as being an art form. An art form can be both a verb and a noun. As a verb an art form is always evolving. It is never finished, but continually responding to its environment, usually at the hands of the artist. An art form can be static as well, stopped in a moment of time and for a brief moment to become a noun. The more dynamic, verb way of being an art form is constantly evolving, changing, shifting, taking on different dimensions and qualities as the artist continues to interact with the self. I often see myself as the more dynamic version, a series of changes that grow and develop out of what was previously present before.
What draws my attention is that the usual, standard way of knowing myself, the way that most of us do on a daily basis completely fades away during my experiences with the creative process. Not only are the usual markers not important, but the lack of need for them has a liberating feeling to it. There is no fear that I have lost my boundaries, or that I might disappear without the old ways of knowing myself. The sense of time falls away and I am timeless in a timeless world. Things move and evolve as each moment unfolds out of itself. Not that there are a discreet set of moments strung together like popcorn on a string, but that the moment exists right now and it is constantly changing, in a state of flux, like watching the image through a kaleidoscope. I am left with an awareness that is fixed on that which has me enthralled, whether it is visual, aural, or tactilely oriented.
I have found that when I participate with the world in a creative way, that I feel a sense of gratitude that works in both directions. I feel gratitude for the world and that I am in it. This has a sense of separation to it in that I am grateful over here for something over there. I also sense that I am grateful for the world that I see in the same way that I can look at a part of my body and be grateful for that as a part of myself. In that way I am being an essential part of the world when I appreciate it, I am that functioning part that notices and appreciates the whole as itself.
Many people have studied creativity as a thing, from the point of view of construing it as a noun. Some have even studied the attributes of those who are highly creative. I have not yet been able to find any studies of what the experience is from a subjective perspective of being within that act of expressing creativity as it moves through us. I want to know what the sense of creativity is as a verb being experienced. I have noticed this action moving through me and taking over my experience in those moments that I have experienced the creative impulse. I am interested in finding out if the experience I know is similar to that of others and if so in what manner?
There is a human awareness to being creative. These experiences, which I open up to allow, become real in both a felt sense and in the physical space around me. I am not so interested in the remains of that creative pulse left behind as in paintings, poems or even less lasting acts as performance art. I want to know what the experience is of being in that creative moment as it unfolds.

In summary, the term experience can be used both as a noun and a transitive verb. This study predominantly depends on the action-oriented version of the word. In seeking to understand what the individual undergoes and gains from being aware of participating in a creative event, the active understanding of the word experience is necessarily at the root of the study. Therefore, the use of the word experience is the transitive verb definition, which is process oriented, describes a personal knowledge, utilizes feeling and sensation, and examines the effect on the individual.

I also found that most teachers do not like creative individuals in their classrooms as they are considered too disruptive. These teachers put a heavier premium on maintaining control over the students than allowing them to go about learning in their own best way. In order to be creative the individual needs to have some familiarity with right brain functioning. Too much analysis and linearity is an anathama to creativity, it can augment the creative bloom but it can easily smoother it.

Back to my respondent the other day: of course I cannot expect everything to go as I would like, but most of the other residents here have similar concerns. Every meal I eat I have to remind myself that the food service contract was recently awarded to a lower bidder than the last holder of the contract. Cheaply as possible stands out in big terms every day. Those who forgot how wonderful life could be or who have not experienced it in a while might be forgiven. I never signed on for such treatment. I didn't buy into this form of minimal existance, I just got ill with a disabling disease. I have all of my mental acuity's I am not so easily lead as many others whom I have seen here. Just because one can pulla fast one on some people doesn't mean that al of us are so compliant. I know what good food is, I used to buy and cook it. I am only not able to stand and walk, which includes a lot of activities of daily living. So I askwhat about that means I have to live the rest of my life at the lowest common denominator? Is this the way we collectively want to treat everyone who can no longer take care of themselves? I am here by way of the National Health care policy, which insists that I own nothing or hold any financial instruments valued at more than $2000. Everything I have ever worked for has been taken from me. Is this how we as a people look after those who no fault of their own require help.

Through this all I see those who learned the lessons of their schooling verywell, reduce everything to dollars and cents before evaluating anything. Have no feelings, do not allowthat unruly part of your humanity muck up your decisions. The almighty dollar must be kept sacrosanct. That critical, reasonable , cynical world is at stake. Everything could come crashing down. It is so sad when one considers some of the studies that havefound that there is enough food to go around, the world over, the only thing that keeps the present world in play is scarcity, most of it man made (like say DeBeers and diamonds in South Africa, look into the recent diamond strike in the Canadian Northwest by a recent graduate with a geology degree) Those that have inhibit the gain of others using whatever forms available, we all pay the price, some more than others. The linear thinkers are running the world, and not to well either. The logical argument seduces with the linear simplicity of logic, which inhibits nature, excludes any right brained feeling, or “fuzzy”thinking. Come live with me for a few weeks under these conditions, I wouldn't be surprised if a change of thinking occurs. That is why I titled this blog “From Behind These Eyes”, to report the real experience of what it is like living under these conditions. By age accident or illness all of us end up here eventually. Once someone ends up here all of your abilities to effect a change have left. Now is the time for doing before its too late for you too. 


31 July 2013

Sometimes I feel …
so unlike words will suffice

There are moments when I feel
   as if I have had more than I can take. As if all the world's water is going to overwhelm me.

if not all at once, then sooner rather than later.
I feel like home on barely stable footing. How did i get here?

I try to center myself
but to no avail. 
I can't seem to settle.
I'm all over the map.

It feels like I'm traversing desolate territory, no destination in sight. Only way to go is forward, to where, from what?
This may be a little too close to the edge.

Maybe without so much excitement, the neighborhood looks nice though ....

  This is about the most daring I feel like traveling these days.

Anyone seen some of these? I could use some.  

This looks more my speed right now. Does look sedate  and inviting ...
First over the hills and through the valleys

And finally over the bridge until ....


Monday, July 29, 2013

29 July 2013

Getting tired of this place,
but I can't leave yet

I am growing weary of the constant input from other people, especially with the silliness that often ensues. Earlier today one of the CENAs when he was attending to my call, told me about an earlier escapade where one of the more cantankerous of the residents here managed to get permission to leave the building under the care of a friend of his. The friend soon took off leaving said resident on his own. This is a large gentleman (probably above 250 pounds, well above) who has some limited standing ability but mostly moves his huge carcass in an electric scooter designed for duty of individuals who have difficulty walking.

I don't know what this man's problem is but he barely fits in the seat. He is often complaining about getting outside to smoke a cigarette, even though cigarette smoking is not allowed on the property or in the building. When challenged by the staff as to whether this is a wise idea or not, he often turns belligerent saying that his doctor knows he smokes so it's okay with him. This “gentleman” often goes about dressed in nothing but his hospital gown. He complains vigorously about everything and never seems to comply with anything. He is so large that when he sits in the seat of his scooter he cannot bring his legs together, thereby giving everybody downstream a visual glimpse that they care not to remember as hospital gowns are not designed for modesty, only easy access.

The CENA was tired as he got the duty of walking running outdoors looking for the errant resident he had walked over half-mile down toward the fairgrounds and could not find him there. The CENA then reversed direction and walked up to the party store on the corner asking for a large man wearing a hospital gown on electric scooter, possibly mumbling about the difficulty getting a cigarette. One of the patrons indicated that they saw that gentleman about quarter-mile up another street that was ninety degrees away from his original direction of travel. The CENA, our hero in this story, finally met the man and managed to “talk” him back to the facility, with the visual persuation of the local constabulary staying in the background.

This is why the doors are locked and we are not allowed out without someone to be responsible for us. The family or friends that some of us can produce as the most responsible of responsible characters in order to get out. Sheesh! You can rest assured that his leaving privileges will be sharply curtailed in the future, as will the rest of ours.

Oh boy! Thank you, Mr. Me first.

Later a pair of CENAs responded to looking into my room as a routine part of their shift taking care of me. During which they indicated that someone on the 2nd floor didn't bother to show up for their scheduled CENA duty this evening, so someone will have to be pulled from this floor. This place is run on such a thin coverage that the loss of one CENA was felt immediately. I had a headache coming on so I asked those 2 CENAs when they were in my room at 6:30 PM if I might have a couple of Excedrin's. By 8 o'clock PM no medicine had come yet, so I used my cellphone and called the main number to the facility. Since it was after business hours it rang right to the 3rd floor nursing station who covers the phones during off-hours. The very nurse that I was seeking answered the phone. I indicated that I felt 90 min. was more than enough to wait for some Excedrin, the nurse indicated that by coincidence she had just got the message and was about ready to bring my late day medication dose, including Excedrin down to me.

The problem with headaches is that if one does not get to them soon enough even though Excedrin is a good medicine it barely touches a headache with a head start. I indicated this to the nurse bringing Excedrin and although she is a nice person her response left no satisfaction. She indicated that she gets migraines too and she knows how it is. Now, two a half hours later this headache seems to have barely budged, but I do take great satisfaction in the fact that even though I still have the headache pain and it is continuing to get worse, I do have a nurse attending to me who understands what I'm going through.

Another old boy! That really helps me feel better, about having a splitting headache. Commiseration means so much, don't you know? A good headache seems so personal, makes one feel as if no one anywhere exists or understands. I'm feeling much better about that now. The sense of isolation is minimally reduced, I'm just waiting for the pain to diminish as well.

I discovered this evening that suddenly my e-mail does not fetch up any of the accumulated incoming mail since this morning. I keep trying to re-sign in and I keep getting a message that my account is not recognized. A quick call to the ISP and I find that they have changed their operating hours from 24 hours a day to usual business hours, please call back tomorrow. These folks used to run a twenty-four hour operation. They used to sound like the dedicated T-shirt, jeans and floppy athletic shoes crowd, willing to help sounding as if the can of Red Bull was always at the ready, for whom no problem ever fazed them. Now the phone is answered by a machine speaking of business hours, call again tomorrow. Tomorrow?!! This is email by the Internet – it operates 24 hours a day. Many people contact me at all hours, some from other time zones far away. Its aways Now somewhere. Business hours tomorrow is so last century. I hope a bunch of suits haven't bought out my old ISP.

I still have Internet access as far as the web browser is concerned. So I'm at a loss to decide what ever happened to my e-mail. On top of all this my next-door neighbor is in bed and has his television on to the most god-awful station, with full tilt volume, per usual. Hearing the high-pitched squeals of women and the pounding report of gunfights through the closed door does nothing to prove my mood or my headache. Looks like another sleepless night hiding under my headphones. Thank goodness for my iPods.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

25 July 2013

You done ea'in'?

Spoken quickly with little enunciation of consonants and run together as if the phrase was to have been spoken as one continuous set of vowel sounds. Yewduneden, with the slight uplift in tone that serves as an indicator of a question being asked, instead of a statement of fact.

U. Duneden. Never heard of it.

You duneden, related to the Brythonic Din Eidyn (meaning fort of Eidyn) which through some linguistic changes of successive languages eventually was usd to describe the place as Edwens burh (meaning the same hill fort only attributed in reverse order) Edwin's fort instead of the other way round “fort that belongs to Eidyn”. Over time and through the endless use without knowing the background, Din Eidyn became synonymous with what is now known as Edinburgh in Scotland. After people migrated they named new places with names familiar to them from their earlier placements. There became Dunedin, New Zealand and Dunedin, Florida …

But why would this woman with an African-American background be thrusting her head into my room to inquire of me about some ancient name for Edenburgh Scotland? Why not a newer , more familiar name from the early age of industrialization like Auld Reekie? And why would she ever think that I might hold some information regarding possible three citys or towns known as Dunedin?

Then I swallowed the chewed masticated entirely pulverized load in my mouth of sausages wrapped in toast, when it hit me, she was inquiring if I was finished eating my breakfast by now (which had been a very short amount of time since I had received it).

Ahhh, she was interested in discovering whether I was finished eating my breakfast as she was ready to reclaim my tray, if I was finished using it, yet. These CENAs have to get a lot done in a short time on their shift.

With a quick zip of my tongue through my mouth with a sweeping, raking motion to clear everything so I would not spray food when I spoke, I replied, “Nope”. I could have responded “Chan eil mi”. But I don't think she would have appreciated the irony of my comment.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

24 July 2013

I was mistaken

When I first entered nursing care, I thought the program and the people would be doing their best to care for my needs. I find now that that's partially true. That is to say there is care for my needs - to a point. As long as my needs do not require more costs then has been budgeted by some administrator given too little money to facilitate my care. Basically it is an oxymoron of a situation. It is the best care for the least money, which in effect is not good care at all. The least money trumps every time.

I am constantly running into examples of how limiting this extra force can be. Many of the hands-on people who administer the actual physical care are trained well enough so as to be able to do the job. But often their attitude towards doing this job, working for this administration, and ability to show care and consideration for their residents under their care shows itself to be extremely lacking. Now, this is not an outright condemnation. There are several individuals who shine through the circumstances in which we meet. These people are gems. I wish there was some way that I could encourage them further. If only I was sought after for my opinion about some of the people who have contact with me, I'd put my $.02 in. Sadly, the value of my opinion is so lowly held that it is not sought out, or considered 2¢ worth. This is too bad. Who better than the resident who receives the care are able to rank the quality of said care? Admittedly, I have seen some short-term residents who are here for their recovery from surgeries or other short term care needs. Many of these people are not far removed enough from their previous lives to render an untainted free of past longing, type of evaluation. I have seen more people able to bitch, complain and make life miserable for the CENA help than anybody else. I have heard from these people more fowl language, cursing and swearing, obstinate behavior all directed at the very wrong people who are just trying to help them. This is not appropriate, I realize that these people are not happy and the CENA staff are the 1st to be available for them to vocalize in the extreme. But their unhappiness is aimed at the wrong people.

The first thing to remember is that there are appropriate people to answer for one's concerns.

For example, I happen to have celiac disease. This means I don't eat anything made from wheat or containing gluten. Now I would think that if somebody were making a wage in the kitchen that they might understand what this means, or at least the dietitian who was employed by this facility overseeing the meals being prepared in said kitchen. For the most part the kitchen crew has done well by me regarding this requirement. When they advertise some sort of breaded fish for a meal, I am served something else. In general they do a pretty good job of serving me a meal sans gluten. However, not every trial has been successful. On one occasion the desert was an apple cobbler. I examined the cobbler portion and wasn't too sure exactly what it was made of. Some of those flecks looked suspiciously like oats.

Now, as a long-term celiac (over 45 years now) I have learned how to be suspicious and read and gained a lot of information. If one were to consult books on the matter, oats do not contain any gluten to speak of. However in practical sense it is advised not to eat oats as they are often processed on the same machinery that processes wheat, which has a lot of gluten. There is such a thing called cross-contamination and the oats can carry gluten although it is externally acquired.

Back to the cobbler

I cautiously ate the cobbler. Within 4 to 5 hours I was beginning to experience the intestinal distress for which I am familiar from eating gluten contaminated food. All night long and the next day I had a very rumbly stomach, un-ease to the point of threatening a loose bowel accompanied by great eruptions of noxious gas. Okay, I got fooled. The trust of the professional staff turned to understand them according to the behavior they showed, they failed.

Two days later there was another dessert that was the same Apple cobbler, only this time the crumble topping was much thicker, adhered together much more strongly in my suspicions of a similar batch of the same desert from previously grew too large for me to ignore. It deftly took the spoon and peeled off the crumble topping, which came up in huge tile like sections, leaving cooked apples naked and thus edible.

Count one for my side of the division. This is just one example of how an eye must be kept on these rascals.

There are times when the public menu posted in the hall way of the day's meals never matches up with what I'm served. I assume in many cases this is due to the fact that fish is prepared breaded and is therefore not served to me. But events like yesterday really have me confused.

I am able to eat potatoes if they have not been adulterated with anything, as potatoes are basically a simple starch and contain no gluten. Yesterday for breakfast there were to be served some form of hash brown like potatoes (which I really like). My breakfast tray held nothing that could be mistaken for some form of fried potatoes. The lunch menu also stated that there would be baked potato wedges with spices. What appeared on my lunch tray was the ubiquitous lump of white stuff (most commonly known as instant mashed potatoes). It's not often that I feel gypped or is it the meals here deprive me (that's because they really do) but I really like hash browns and potatoes that had some caramelizing process applied to them. Here were 2 occasions that they publicly said what they were going to do and nothing even close was produced. Are these people not to be trusted on any level?

Today's lunch was some form of breaded fish, according to the CENA who brought my lunch, at least that's what all the other lunch trays that she was delivering had on them. My lunch looked like pieces of fried bread with a small piece of cheese hidden within them. Euphemistically called a grilled cheese sandwich. (Make no doubt the bread products but they serve me here are gluten-free and specifically made for celiac individuals like myself) how can I tell? Since the flour combination that is used for in baking gluten-free bread really misses the activation of gluten to hold the baked ingredients together, it often collapses on itself, much as a fallen soufflé might look.) The CENA thought this not to be right, there wasn't enough protein in this meal. She volunteered to call up the kitchen and ask/order up another grilled cheese sandwich for me. I indicated that if they were going to make another sandwich from scratch, could they slip in the middle along with the cheese a slice of meat and make a grilled ham and cheese sandwich?

They did! Which surprised me.

A couple of days ago one of the former residents here, came back for a visit along with her husband. They brought along a plastic bag with some of the produce from their garden this summer. There were 2 peppers, 3 cucumbers 2 jalapeno peppers and a tomato. I thanked them profusely and set the bag aside. After they had left one of the CENAs asked me what I was going to do with them? I replied wouldn't it be nice if I could send them down to the kitchen and have them make a really nice salad? She said that was a great idea and that she would call the kitchen and speak with the dietitian and asked if it could be done. That was last I ever heard of the project.

Two days later I have received no visit or comment from the kitchen. This morning I took out the vegetables and laid them out on the table that often holds my meals in order to take a photograph of these soon to be in the trash vegetables. Imagine my surprise when everything was there except the ripe, red tomato. Where did it go? How did the exit bag? Did somebody surreptitiously while I was sleeping liberate the tomato? I have been in this room ever since I received those vegetables, and nobody has touched or inquired as to what's in the bag. It's pretty hard to mistake a round, red, ripe tomato amongst all the green things that were in there.

One of the other CENAs mentioned sagely, that the kitchen might not want to have anything from outside, in their kitchen due to cross-contamination. While the argument does have some merit, I only had to laugh because according to the Apple cobbler incident, (mentioned above), the kitchen is more than capable cross contaminating on their own, they don't need any help from me.

The kitchen is run by a third-party company. Contracted by the facility owners to provide their food concerns. We had a meeting with them when they first came to the facility to take over the operations. They told us from here on things would be different. No more mystery meat, the protein product that is ground up so fine that one can ever tell what sort of meat it was to begin with. Then the ground meat product is formed into many different shapes. With this kind of ingredient the kitchen can put numerous products in and around this meat product and call the same meat different end results. For example when formed into “riblet” form it can be served with a tangy barbecue sauce and referred to as ribs, sort of the way Macdonald's does with ribs. When molded into round balls about the size of a quarter's diameter they can be served over noodles with marinara sauce and called spaghetti and meatballs. Or they can be served with a white sauce and various flavorings and referred to as beef stroganoff. Mystery meat is indeed a wondrous food ingredient. My concern, and that of many residents, is, “what is this crap?”

The new food service company indicated that there would be no more mystery meat. From now on we would have slices of real beef, slices of real turkey breast, ham, real (miniature sized) chicken breast and lots more fish. I've heard of tilapia, but I've never had it before, same for skia, but I have now. They're okay, I wouldn't cross town to get one at a restaurant, mind you. And those slices of beef – there are all brown all the way through. No redmeat excapes the kitchen's attention from here on out. Everything is cooked to well done, regaedless of flavor and texture loss – State law we were told.

The food service industry removed all snacks (which really meant crackers, which I couldn't eat) and they did away with the soda pop that we had available, ostensibly as it was not good for us. Well I can kind of agree with this as the soda pop that was available was all artificially sweetened soda, This way  we wouldn't drink so much as to ruin our teeth and incur even greater costs due to dental work. So I suppose from Medicaid's point of view that's a plus. In lieu of the soda pop, we were told with great fanfare that we get of all the water we wanted. Only 2 problems here. 1) the ice machines on both floors are always needing repair, meaning there is not always ice available. 2) the water that's available is city water, long known for its chemical additives and terrible taste. When I lived in Jackson before our house had its own well. The only time I experienced “city water” was when I went to visit my grandmother's house, in town. In the 40+ years that I've been gone from the city of Jackson, they have done nothing to improve the taste of that water. Now it is the only liquid of choice that I am able to utilize.

Of course if I had somebody who would bring in soda pop, fruit juice, iced tea mix, or any other liquid from the outside I would be free to be able to have that. However, I have no one on the outside, including my brother who lives 10 min. away, who would even bother to consider doing such a thing. So in another fact I am the downstream recipient of governmental largess as expressed through this facility, paid for by Medicaid, which insists on making me institutionally poverty-stricken, and provided for by a food preparation company that won the bid by being the cheapest operator available. Yay me! Things could be worse, although I would hate to consider such a possibility.

I try to look on the bright side, but it's awfully thin. When I lived on my own I used to get raw honey straight from the apiarist, excellent gluten-free bread already baked, frozen,and  delivered to my local health food store. I could order grain fed beef for not much more than my local grocery, frozen and shipped right to my door, on a weekly basis. I used to can and freeze all sorts of fruits and vegetables. I made my own ice cream and sherbet and have begun cooking using the sous vide method, I had begun dehydrating food and making fruit leathers. All of that is just memories and history now. Nobody here understands what I'm talking about when i mention these things.  They think they know how to cook. As far as I can tell what they know is blasphemy towards food.

The new food service company says that they will make soup from scratch, rather than open a can. That may be so but the only type of soup that I have seen is tomato, in spite of the publicly posted menu offering vegetable soup on one occasion and green pea soup on several others. Surprisingly, everything comes disguised as tomato soup. What the food does have In a lack of imagination and style of preparation it certainly adds to it in monotony and blandness. Both of which I've seen entirely too much of.

You may have seen in one of my earlier posts some pictures of several my meals, especially showing the ubiquitous hemisphere of white stuff. That, has not ceased. Several of my later pictures also feature the same loathed entrĂ©e. This new food service company indicates that we will no longer have over easy eggs, why? Because, we were told, in a condescending tone, that if the yoke is not cooked solid it may contain salmonella. Then the statement was backed up by that comment - state law. Which I find extremely cowardly and fallacious as I have seen restaurant advertisements featuring breakfast 24 hours day picturing lush, shiny over easy eggs whose yoke has not been molested by heat or scrambling, which this food service company delights in doing to eggs every morning. Oh well, at least they've gotten away from the previous company's penchant for serving “scrambled eggs”, which always looked suspiciously similar to dehydrated eggs, and have as much flavor too.

We may come to love each other, but I doubt it. To do so I would have to be reduced even further than I am now so that what they offer will look good to me. Those days may come, you never know, in the meantime I will celebrate in memory of good beef cooked rare or medium rare, chicken from the behind parts bearing dark meat and not everybody's favorite tasteless breast meat, or potatoes that have met with a skillet to dance through the oil wearing a dusting spices, or real whole fruit other than bananas, like oranges, apples, pears and maybe a rare peach or two. Living inside of a can does nothing for perfectly good fruit. Occasionally we get half a cup of fresh fruit usually consisting of 2 or 3 chunks of cantaloupe or honeydew melon occasionally a grape and a couple of sections of an orange that have been deprived of rind and neighboring sections. This is nanny food. I look forward to having some real food.
The usual breakfast under the new food service
(notice the overcooked fried eggs, the new over easy)
Old style Mystery Meatball (naked) along with the ubiquitous white stuff

Scene of the Crime - Topping scraped off the Apple Cobbler

A shot of the "Homemade" soup; Tomato, vegetable and Green pea
(surprisingly they have all looked and tasted like this tasty selection, amazing how they do that)

My fresh vegetable gifts (sans tomato)
I bet they would have tasted wonderful

A grilled cheese (only) on an MSU luncheon plate (spinach and white stuff)
Another protein laden lunch, beans and one (1) Tube steak

Another high volume lunch. This time the Tube Steak is split down the middle
Makes it look bigger that way. Eat hearty, now!

First Political statement putting glob of white stuff to good use

Although not large by any standard, this is the largest salad yet
Will wonders never cease?

Although the oil reflects the flash making the meal to appear greasy
this is actually one of the better breakfasts served.
Two new fried eggs, two pieces of toast, two fingers of sausage

An edition of the more commonly served salad.
Chunks of lettuce cut from a head of iceberg, half slices of cucumber and  half slices of tomato
and all the 7/16 of an ounce salad dressing that you can never hope to apply to the entire salad.

A Tuna fish salad Sandwich
(which I decided to eat with a spoon, scraping the tuna off the bread and leaving the slices to survive on their own)
There is so much about presentation to making food appealing, for some reason this does not approach that.

Advancing the form of political comment using the ubiquitous white stuff
This one is titled Planting Trees 
Last of the over easy fried eggs
(mourning is ongoing)

A rare delightful lunch featuring a tube steak, fresh frozen peas, and chunks of fried potato

A somewhat decent lunch (with the ever present white stuff overseeing the the steaks dressed
in celebratory regalia)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

21 July 2013

I haven't written in a while. It shows. Not only here on this blog listing, but also here from behind these eyes where I live. The only way I can type is with my computer on my chest ('cause I spend so much time in bed on my back) to type this way for too long is hard on my wrists. I used to dictate most of my writing as I did with my dissertation, but the other day when I pulled out the headset the computer wouldn't recognize any sounds from the microphone, probably a short, the headphone is of such high quality. It has dropped out sometimes in the past, but often a wiggle would put it back into play. Not last time. So I ordered a bluetooth type headset from It's due here by Wednesday or Thursday. It's hard being effectively silent, I realize that there is not much that I can do. Not being able to write seems like a basic right is taken from me, Oh wait... it is. I'm so used to living the institutional live that it seemed just like the other things I have learned to do without. I still have a voice, I could scream to the heavens … what? Wait! That would mean that I have completely gone over, nope better to be silent, observe and be patient.

Till Wednesday, or Thursday ...

Dusk on the Waterfront, time to be still

While waiting, contemplate these two photos I found on the Internet
see the face in the door above? 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

17 July 2013
10:00 AM

Its the small but obvious invisible little things that bring Life to life

Lying here in bed, which doubles as my study, business office, partial bathroom, dining area, and in general the place where I spend the predominance of my life anymore, I was idly thinking over local events and the similarities to my former life in the vertical world. I recognize that several of the CENA's here actually do like me. I can tell by the extras that can be seen in their communication. Most people don't realize there is more to communication than mere words. In fact those who study such things have found that using words only offers 22% of the activity of personal communication. Yep, less than one quarter of what we put out there is the stuff of dictionaries, our old high school English classes, all of those papers we had to produce, and the dreaded proper punctuation and approved written language formats we were continually cautioned to adhere to. Most of that was situational, driven by people who drew their paycheck by trying to enforce such restrictive styles on us. In many ways, they were successful – situationally.

In real life, that which we could hardly wait for, between classes in the hallway – we could relax talk with our friends, use slang to describe things, crack jokes, spread gossip, in short be real people, which we seemed to do natively without taking an assigned seat, raising one's hand and waiting (forever sometimes) to be acknowledged AND indoctrinated with those lifeless facts. Some people were always known for being able to always be there, bringing themselves more fully into the present and thus swaying others to interact with them. Sometimes this might even occur during class time, which usually didn't make them too very positive in the teacher's eyes.

When I was in college, while working on my Bachelors degree, I took an elective creative writing class. It was not related to any of the other classes as far as a declared major or minor was concerned. I was attracted by the title creative writing that attracted me so much. The first thing the instructor said was that we hadn't ever really learned to write truly as people actually are when they are being themselves, No we had been taught to use proper English as it is literally used, but very few people speak that way, what we had inadvertently learned was Engfish. Engfish, we were told, was a pseudo language that we learned for the purpose of writing papers to influence our teachers that we knew more than we actually did, and thereby get a better grade.
It's insulting !” he bellowed in mock anger. “To your instructors it smacks of sucking up, much like a preadolescent speaking in the manner and stye of a Nobel Prize Winner while chewing gum and throwing in a few “ya knows' to move his presentation along. It speaks loudly of insincerity he sniffed while mocking disappointment.

The bulk of the intent of the class content was summed up in that demonstration/statement. Actors are better communicators than anyone, because they put everything into it. Tone of voice, pacing, inflection, accent, facial expression, filling the space with the whole of the body, gestures, coordinating all of this to come together in a complete package to deliver the entire message so there is no mistaking the content when it is delivered this way. If we had to continually add what we believed the content should be, or make accommodations for the actors, that minor bit of audience input separates us from losing ourselves to the story being presented.

Even a person delivering facts with none of the extra additions of fully being present comes across wooden and without presence, Al Gore is a good example here. Al seems to be a nice guy and he certainly knows his material, but coming close to the Pied Piper of Hamlin might be a stretch. If you want to convey and convince people there has to be a sense of someone there. Not very many people warm up to an encyclopedia or a text book very well.

Back to the CENA's; last night, just before the end of the second shift, one of the CENA staff who has taken care of me on several occasions, stopped by just before she was due off the floor. Every day as the CENA's come on to work and due to the fluctuating nature of the number of residents they have to work with, they divide the rooms (and thus the residents they will work with) so that the work load is not so lopsided. She had a few moments and every one was under control, so she stopped in to say hello, that she had seen me when I was up in the wheelchair earlier that day but she wasn't working with my part of the hallway so she couldn't stop to visit with me. She was really animated as she talked to me. She was concerned that I didn't feel that she was ignoring me. I assured her that I never considered that at all. At that point I realized that the were several CENA's who also could be standing in the same spot next to my bed saying exactly the same thing. They all exhibit similar characteristics. They bring themselves into the work they do, they make contact and don't give the impression that they are just doing their job. Some of the people here act as if they were afraid to show themselves in nearly every situation. Those are the ones who speak little, make minimal eye contact, seem to look right through you or just past you when they speak at you. These are the ones who take a message that you want some Excedrin for the headache you've got raging and thirty minutes later the nurse still hasn't arrived (the CENA 'forgot to deliver the message).That's when it gets aggravating being here, not able to do for myself what I have grown used to doing.

There are just enough events that impact me that are influenced by factors beyond my control, that can be really aggravating . It doesn't matter what I want or need, or even if I ask nicely or if I am told that the person will convey my my wishes or conduct the task needed in just a few minutes – if they are not fully here and make the commitment to follow through, I end up making excuses for them, accepting what ever reason they may give for not doing the task. Accepting mechanical apologies and being continually greathearted about continual non-accomplishment on the part of others wears at me. Its hard not to view such acts from a personal basis and begin viewing the whole thing as an affront.

It was delightful last night to see someone take the initiative on their own to make the contact with me because she really wanted to do so. I felt worthwhile and appreciated. These days, and around here this is a big deal.

This helps dealing with the institutionalized, dehumanizing conditions that seem to be built into places like this.