Music lit me up and doused the fire

Okay, this is weird… good weird, though.

I’d been in a really bitter, increasing pain jag for days, and though a dose of Norco and dramamine gave me one good night Wednesday night, the pain started ramping up again once the meds wore off on Thursday morning.

That was bad. Very bad.

The Norco usually breaks the cycle. I definitely did not want my body thinking it was normal and appropriate to keep cranking up the pain.

I worked in the yard Thursday late morning (John keeping me from overdoing on any one thing, because I couldn’t track well enough to notice), because I just had to move through the pain to keep it from making me lock up.

Then I took a disco nap, dressed up minimally, and went to see Boz Scaggs at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, which we’ve been looking forward to for a month.

Side note… I haven’t been inside the Calvin for 30 years, and it looks it around the gingerbreading, but apart from the art-nouveau panels it was in great shape.

The opening artist was a solo acoustic set by Jeff LeBlanc, who has had some success but not that much; an unfair position to be in, because he has the creamiest tenor I’ve ever heard in the rock/folk-rock realm, a pleasing and rather classy onstage personality, and a delightful way of framing and playing his material. He has matured just since recording this:

I mean, John Mayer can just shut up and move over. Beautiful.

The Boz show was outstanding.

He used to go in for pyrotechnics and flash, I’m told, but this show was just pure, perfect musicianship. His 7-member band fattened up the sound in the smoothest, tightest way — every note perfect, every beat perfect, and the band grinning and digging into the show like they were as happy as we were.

Bonus: I finally understand what musical stage lighting is supposed to do. I’ve seen a few shows and, apart from the spotlight, the shifting colors and intensities just seemed to be either distracting or hokey. The lighting actually worked this time, and I only noticed because there was one single slightly missed cue, and then I noticed how flawlessly it had been guiding my attention and floating with the music until then. I could see everyone, but each musician was distinct, and the soloists glowed. Every moment was beautiful. Who knew?

I was absolutely jamming. Every song was just a whisker better than the last (perfect) song, and everyone was having a fabulous time. I was lost in it, elated. I was rocking in that ecstatic state that a great performance can put you in… and suddenly, I swear I felt my brain move: my left front inferior pareital portion and my right lower temporal lobe and some bits elsewhere gave a squirm, a shift, and then clunked into a more comfortable position.

Then I realized I was in no pain. No pain! I mean, NO FREAKING PAIN AT ALL!

I’ve got to look those parts up and see what they relate to. I may be overthinking it, of course.

Fast forward past a couple post-show hours of “wow” and a happy thunk into the pillows; waking up to a beautiful dawn and feeling, in the words of Tony the Tiger, grrrRRRRREAT.

Still have allodynia, where a breeze feels a bit like a hot iron sliding over my skin. Still feeling a bit fragile, like my body might tear at the seams if I try too hard. Still not pushing it (which means I gotta get off this keyboard.) But my baseline pain is back down, well below the event horizon of functionality, and I can sit and stand and move and there is NO FIRE. NOR FIRE AT ALL.

Those coals banked in my feet and hands and knees and every single bone of my spine and so on and so forth are just gone.

This is a good day, folks.

Next on the agenda, after finding our own home and getting the outstanding business nailed down: Music lessons. I don’t know in what, but all those scientific studies about the different ways the brain benefits from hearing and playing good music are suddenly making a boatload of very personal sense. Victory! Thank you, Boz & co. 🙂

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Autogenic training — calming the CNS in the nicest possible way

I have to fling this file up onto my site and write the supporting material later. I’m trying to do a lot on very little steam, so forgive my slapdash approach. There will be a readme to go with this next time. Believe it or not, there’s a reason for every single line 🙂

Anyway, this is the (probably) final draft of the first autogenic training script I’m writing for my charity, CRPS: Art & Spirit. It will be read in and turned into an mp3 in the fullness of time, which will also be available under the same Creative Commons license, so please do share.

Meantime, if I say it myself, just reading this is soothing to that frazzled ol’ autonomic system 🙂

Now, let’s see if I can load the whole pdf here… direct link to brain-soothing script

Indirect link to script:
autogenictraining-no1-ver1.2 — Click the link, then click the link again.

NOTE
I’m sorry to say there were some ghastly cut and paste errors in the version originally posted. I posted the corrected version on December 2nd, 2014. This one will flow a lot more smoothly.

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A great flight

The first leg of this flight was the best I’ve had in years. I chit-chatted at the gate with another invisibly disabled person for half an hour and the three of us (including his wife) kept each other very amused, then wound up with not just one, but two, delightful neighbors.

No sooner had I noticed, and enjoyed, the fact that I could converse for an hour and a half without saying “CRPS”, than one of my lovely neighbors turned to me and said, “And what do you do?”

“I’m a writer.” A surefire conversation-starter, that.

Inevitably, “What do you write?”

I talked, not so much about the disease, but about my core group of CRPS friends, most of us in different countries. I described our ongoing efforts to publicize the disease by surfacing the art and creative work of people with CRPS, of pooling our own information about what works both within and outside the standard medical model, and our hope, one day, to be funding research to quantify what works in fields that have been completely overlooked (I’m being tactful) for so long.

I got what could be THE critical referral to a lawyer who has relevant experience in nonprofit structure. That alone might have been worth the price of the ticket.

Then the entire plane sang “Happy Birthday” to my other lovely neighbor.

It really was a great flight.

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Colorado Springs and the Paleolithic Point

Being part of an interracial couple can be unnerving at times. Last night, we walked into a steakhouse; I sailed in first, as JC had held the door for me like a gentleman. I was confronted by a very long table of very white faces, many of them bearded, all of them looking directly at us.

All of them. Directly. At us.

Not one fork moved.

I fiddled with my jacket zipper for a moment, dithering in the doorway, decidedly nonplussed.

JC took a look around, stepped around me, and sailed in as if he had just bought the place. He twinkled at the waitress, said something jovial to one of the guys at the endless table, chose a booth, and we had a wonderful meal.

He told me later that he cased the men over my shoulder and saw that the biggest of them was very much out of shape. With nothing to worry about, he defaults to playfulness and easy-going charm, which has the effect of drawing any remaining fangs.

I’m learning a lot from this guy.

Today

We noodled around Colorado Springs for a while. We were trying to find a museum which, he was told 20 years ago, would host an extraordinarily valuable archaeological find that he had made.

The museum had moved, with a great website but no address; and according to the website it had shifted its focus to post-World War I, while his find was Paleolithic.

We drove all over Fort Carson looking for the museum, called quite a few different phones with no clue, no answer, or an answering machine, and spoke to any number of very sweet people who had absolutely no idea that anything like a museum ever existed there… a museum that had been built less than 2 years ago — if it exists at all. I’m beginning to think the Mountain Post Historical Whatever exists only in print.

Sigh…

I have a couple of numbers to call, and if those don’t work out, I already have a plan C in place, which involves digging up the now-retired archaeologists in charge of the original excavation. Since his find saved their funding (and at least one doctoral thesis) after four fruitless years, I’m pretty sure somebody will remember.

I have a feeling there’s an interesting story that took place in the 20 years since that item was brought back to the light of day. It was very important to someone very important in his field, but it’s not important to the landlords who ostensibly own the right to it… And, at a market value of ~$10,000 at the time of its finding, that’s not a trivial issue.

It’s not unusual for great finds, like great works of art, to lie moldering in a museum basement because the present curator’s vision doesn’t include them. Even great curators have limits to their vision, and any curator who doesn’t dig Paleolithic craft is somewhat wanting, in my view.

But then, I am a bit of a throwback.

Speaking of being a throwback

We saw the Manitou cave dwellings. We were headed for the Manitou Springs, but I put the wrong thing into the Garmin. I first read about New World cave dwellers when I was five or six, and actually climbing around inside those wonderfully convoluted dwellings was a dream of 40 years’ standing. It was a totally unlooked-for gift.

JC kept saying, “there’s more…” And led me to further outdoor displays… the first floor of the gift shop… the second floor of the gift shop… the museum, with some stunning examples of work… and of course the bathrooms, which he knows I have to get to regularly.

We stopped in Trinidad for the night. The weather has been so odd – and so fraught – that the direct route over the Rockies, via Denver, was a little unnerving to me. Our route will bring us past more painted rock, and even some stunning canyon land. There’ll be a little bit of nostalgia for both of us, and there’s nothing to brighten a trip like telling each other stories.

Logistics

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to conduct long trips. I’m checking some ideas against JC’s horse sense, and will refine them further with my CRPS: Art & Spirit core group.

And then we’ll deal with the reality of funding.

This trip has been immensely valuable from the standpoint of researching how to make this kind of traveling feasible. The answers look nothing like anything I’d envisioned at the beginning, so this was an extremely useful endeavor.

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Not much scenery after dark

Usually, or at least so far, I’ve ended each day with some coherent sense of things. Not today!

Perhaps that’s because I spent several hours in the middle of it, struggling with a terrible wireless signal and time sensitive need to book a flight. My sweetie is flying out to meet me and help with the rest of the drive. How cool is that?

View Larger Map
The last-minute logistics have been horrible, but so far, with much persistence and lateral thinking, things are shaking out. Finding a safe place for his dog for a week was probably the most worrisome, but an online search turned up Canine Energetics.

I spoke with the owner, Sean, who struck me as extremely decent, sensible and accommodating. The facilities sounds like dog heaven. I have every faith in her ability to play well with others, and she’ll probably have as good a time as she can away from her human.

I pushed on for an hour past dark, and realized that somehow I’m almost (not quite) a whole day ahead of myself. This means I have time to pull the car apart, make it easier to manage getting what I need, and clear the entire front seat (including the foot well) for another person. Not a trivial task!

I also have a ton of paperwork to catch up on: finding a suitable ISP, nailing down the design for the website, and filing the paperwork for registering “CRPS: Art & Spirit” as a tax-exempt nonprofit. I’ve gotten much-needed logistical help, so at this point, the next tasks are approachable. I’m grateful for all the help I get, and the help I get for this project is more important still. We’re going to have a “gratitude” page, where we can publicly thank those who will let us, for the help they give 🙂

Now, all I need is a web geek who’s reasonably up-to-date on the technology and knows how to design an accessible page. Suggestions…?

Southern Illinois was exquisite. It’s so pretty and so shapely that I can’t wait until Hollywood discovers it as a shooting spot. I knew I couldn’t do justice to the shape of the land, so I cheated:

Somehow, at least along Interstate 70, Missouri isn’t quite as nice, and neither was Indiana. There’s definitely a difference.

Y’know, I feel a lot safer, noodling around by myself, than I did in the coastal Northeast or pretty much anywhere in California. I still keep my word to my sweetie, though: locking all the locks, no hitch-hikers, and — it still cracks me up, but I do it — be careful who I talk to. There’s so much more to human nature than what’s on the surface.

Off for Epsom bath. Incidentally, these are not a “Calgon, take me away!” kind of bath. But I think I’ll talk about that another time.

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Oliphaunt, the Thule Frog

Those of you on the central coast of California know that tule fog is what comes in when it’s hot inland and cool on the ocean. If you live there long enough, you can’t keep saying “fog” so — especially if your housemate is whimsical — you wind up using “frog” as a euphemism when it’s froggy out.

I couldn’t possibly get all my clothing, tech, and kitchenry into Henrietta and still leave room for a sleeping Isy, and a rooftop carrier would kill the mileage and my arms, so I had to come up with an alternative…

I stopped at ProLine in Wallingford, CT since they sell this, which is a cargo carrier with 3 features I really need: an accessible height, plenty of space, and a swing-arm so I don’t have to fight with the box to get to the back of the car.

It turns out that Stowaway ships direct from their warehouse on the other coast, but they had a slightly smaller Thule carrier. I asked to look at it to see if it would suffice. I thought it would, after measuring and peering and playing with the lid a bit…

Then it turned out they didn’t have the swing-arm version… but as he said so, I saw wheels starting to turn. Rather than dashing off, I explained a bit about why I needed it (“my hands don’t work so well; I can’t handle the Transporter’s drop-down hinge”) and stated rather baldly that, without the swingarm, I was screwed.

He said he might have the swingarm itself from a Thule Terrapin (which they discontinued for some silly reason.) He thought there was a spare one lying around somewhere, for some reason, and if the holes lined up…

There was.

And the holes lined up.

And it wound up costing less than my Plan A.

And, bless his heart, he got out a drill, put the whole thing together for me, and popped the monster into place.

Its gaping mouth… its long leggy swing… its sheer enormity…

Meet Oliphaunt, the Thule Frog:

The answer to my prayers.

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