Christine

Lake Worth Noise Ordinance: Mayor thinks 90 db will work weekend nights

Employers must provide workers exposed to noise levels over 85 db with a hearing conservation program along with ear protection. That’s all I have to say about that… (and I asked Butch Trucks if he had trouble hearing, and he said, yes.)

Now. When you have to listen to some kind of music to get anything done, you know that you are out of it (which is what my neighbor over at the cottage thinks about me, anyway).

Listening to the sounds of ocean waves, rain and forest streams has been a way for me to relax for more than 20 years.

My ex gave an ocean soundtrack to my little girl, and I got addicted. Every night, before I went to sleep, I’d play the CD, and I’d be out like a light. Up until recently.

Here’s what happened. I rented my space and left the clock radio / CD player on my bedside table.

Strangely enough, I survived without my trusty CD. I did not miss the nature sounds and I found the quiet itself, incredibly soothing.

And then the restaurant down the street turned itself into a nightclub and I was bombarded by noise into the wee hours of the morning.

Talking to the owner, a young guy, was useless. He’d look at me while I explained to him that, because of him, I could not sleep at night — that the music coming from his garden until 2 a.m. minimum five nights a week was unbearable.

It wasn’t so much the actual song itself that was the problem, I tried to tell him. Once the music sound waves bounce off the building opposite me, it minnows down to a steady loud base, rhythmic, concentrated and rather like Chinese torture.

He smiled and nodded his head. Don’t worry, he told me, we are changing out the sound system.

I know what he was thinking. I was a creature with two heads (four ears) and a dull, dimwitted brain – clearly an ignoramus who doesn’t delight in good music. An old crab to be sure.

Of course, his new sound system only amplified the problem.

Since then, I pray for rain. When that happens, his patrons go home (and probably the system shorts out).

But, ah, the incredible human being, we are so adaptable. One night, when the prayed-for rain torrented down, I saw that it wrapped itself around my house (and the area between my yard and my neighbor’s).

Oh my goodness, I thought. I don’t have to wear earplugs. I can get out the old ocean CD and drown out the base.

Which led me an Internet search for new sounds, because rain worked so well.

That’s what led me to the discovery of binaural beats

Here’s what the Web site says:

“Welcome to the perfect Binaural Beats experience! Binaural beats affect our brainwaves directly and can alter moods, behavior, even consciousness.

“Sound crazy? We thought so too. But guess what? We tried it and it works!

“You can now choose the state you want easily.”

At night, I turn on “Relaxation,” the site’s answer to ocean waves. It works like a charm. Digitally, it seems the ocean waves gently break outside my window, far enough away to be considered friendly and non-obtrusive. If you’ve ever lived on the ocean, you’d know that the ocean can be mean and destructive – angry even – but “Relaxation” has taken Mother Earth, and given her a sedative. And that’s OK by me.

So, at night, when I get into bed, which usually corresponds to my neighbor’s music revving up, I turn on my new version of ocean waves. I’ve metered it with a decibel reader (yes, I do have one) and it’s at about 60 db. If I can hear my neighbor’s base over my waves, I call and complain. Otherwise, enshrouded in white noise, I drift off to sleep and his beat goes on.

Presently, I am listening to “Coffee Break” (After all, I am working). Actually, it sounds like cars driving by on a quiet street. About as loud as ordinary conversation, it starts at low machine whispers, culminates in a wizz-by at about 45 miles, and disappears at the horizon – another car, though, is in transit.

I can handle “Coffee Break.” Other energizers I find annoying. “Energy Drink” reminds me of a Moped at a distance – a floppy kind of putt-putt – not to my taste. I don’t like “Focus,” either. Rather like an incessant mosquito buzz, for me, it is a distraction.

I can handle “Inspiration and Creativity.” Yes, it does have a kind of wound-up energy – a motor of some type – maybe a fan – in the background, and a kind of bizarre hut-pah chant hidden within, but overlaying those are birds and crickets. I like that.

There are a variety of other sounds that I haven’t tried out yet – I’m saving them for a rainy day. They include: “Stop Alcohol Abuse,” “Quit Smoking,” and “Antidepressant.” Maybe I’ll suggest them to my neighbor…

In the meantime, this morning, I think I’ll try “Weight Loss,” and then, I’m going to have a big breakfast.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos

Christine

Enough, not enough, too much

I don’t know how to be funny to save myself. Feel too heavy to be funny. Or even intelligent, for that matter.

Can’t get enough.

Time for miracles.

At this hourly rate, I would do well to move to India – and I can speak English without an accent.

What am I waiting for? I feel like a girl waiting for that guy to call. I am too tired to do much of anything else.

I’m still clearing my throat because my head is aching and my ears are ringing, so why not? At least I have something to say. Even if comes out all wrong. Even backwards.

Oh my, it’s the cream soup to consume theory. The opposite of making mayonnaise, the undoing. Perhaps that’s something for me to think about. I think I will unthink. I don’t think, so I am not.

I’m amming not, and holding my head, and I don’t know that person.

She’s a little nutty, but when did that ever stop anybody? That’s a good place to be, actually.

A little nutty. Protein and the good fat.

And vegetarian, so to speak. If I’m speaking, which I amming not.

And if you don’t like it, you can go, there’s the door. I’m tired of being nice, and that might be dangerous. I did that about half my life ago, and lived to regret it. Being nice is a fate worse than death. Martha said so. “I am not nice.”

My not name Nannette, my sister said.

My not, neither.

And as things lighten up, who cares whether the work gets done, as long as it’s light, lively, and invigorating. What else could be right with the world? Or wrong?

Now, for starters, She’s a little nutty. We already established that. She gets up on the wrong side of bed, sets the alarm off first thing, and of course, she can’t remember her password. Thank goodness they give her a second chance. She’s missed her real calling in life.

And then she lets the cat out, and it starts all over again. Maybe she should just go back to sleep?

But the shrill ringing in her ears does not stop, because after all, she’s set off the alarm.

Don’t just sit there, girl. Let the cat out!

Then, once all is calm again, it’s time to shake it up again. Walk around in circles a few times. Start and stop. Puff off. The work will get done eventually.

And the cat looks up with compassion. Or at least attention. Single minded attention at that, but the cat doesn’t have to multitask to be fed and housed. All it has to do is come when it’s called.

So, she does. Calls the cat. And the cat answers.

What? What? What?

That’s not an answer. That’s a question.

Can we start over?

No, it’s too late for that. You can try that tomorrow, but not today.

So, the music has stopped. On purpose. The end. Get it going again, please. Ok. We’ll try the Alpha Brainwave Series and see if that does it. Who knows? It just might.

Went to dance tonight, but it was called off. Could have been worse I guess. I could have had two glasses of champagne, and danced anyway. Maybe that would be a good thing. Do the dance. Capture it.

To be a dancer. Is it too late? Was it ever on time? Not for me. Not in this lifetime. Or maybe any other. My mother. She didn’t care. I asked her. She said no. What was it about dance? Those beautiful young girls, hair tied up, flowing costumes. Both the men and the women moving beautifully fluidly. No, she said. Dancers have big calves. Like that makes a difference. Like she cares.

So, it was not to be. I wouldn’t be doing it anymore anyway. I love it though. Still. And I’m old.

Have to figure out a way to keep on doing it. Maybe the cat will know. I’ll ask the cat.

One day, I followed a cat out the hidden gate, and into an open field with a rock formation and an oak tree at its center. It was a glorious thing. First, inside the walled garden, blooming and beautiful, then through the vine entangled gate, freed into the open field. I lost sight of the cat of course.

We danced through that gate, the cat and I.

I must do that again someday. Maybe tomorrow.

Many times, though, I feel like that. Something changes in the air. And you know that you are about to enter sacred space, whatever that is.

It’s the place with thin clear air. You know that, the cat says.

Yes. You are right, dear. I do know that.

I look into the fire. I dream. Something feels sad. Broken. Yet, I know that is not so. It’s the fire that’s doing it, and the beauty. But the beauty is so impossibly beautiful that it hurts.

The rhythms are off I think. Someone turned them off. Was it I? I don’t think so, but I was the only one there.

Why did you go? Couldn’t you have stayed? It would have been easier that way, you know. It wouldn’t have hurt so much, and I wouldn’t have gone through the years broken. There’s no healing, you know. They say there is, but they are lying. They know if they tell you the truth, you wouldn’t last the night.

But somehow it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t know that blooming was like waves breaking. It’s the very same thing. Slowly opening, and then closing in upon itself. I never knew that before.

Yes, you did, said the cat. You knew that. You always knew that.

I look at the cat like it has two heads. Not true. I say.

The cat looks away, losing interest, and goes back to screen door. Let me out, it says. Time to go.

Ok. I say. Can I live on cookies, do you think?

The cat shakes its head slowly. You are just wasting time, it says.

I know that, I say. I’ve always known that.

That’s all. Good night.

Christine

Old Furnace, Singed Eyebrows, Don’t Remember

My car mutters, sighs, hums, creaks. It’s been speaking to me for years, but I haven’t been paying attention. Maybe I should – we are both getting old.

I forget that machinery is alive.

Years ago, I was afraid to go to the basement. The old iron clothes press lurked there for one thing, and god knows, it looked sinister sitting in the shadows.

The spooky old furnace in the bowels of my Michigan farmhouse, with arms reaching in all directions, was laid to rest when I renovated, along with its radiators. I dream of it still, although for some reason, my subconscious elevates it to the attic.

Not so with the old fellow in my California 1930s bungalow, a house I couldn’t bear to renovate. That old furnace resided in an enclosed dugout pit, which served as a basement, typical of Marin County homes built on the hillside in that era.

This old guy was cantankerous — the last of his kind in the county — an old oil boiler that only one repairman was willing to take on. The repairman came with the house (luckily for me), I guess.

In California, heaters weren’t important in the 1930s. To begin with, it doesn’t get that cold in the winters, and, anyway, Marin was a summer resort for San Francisco city dwellers. That was before the Golden Gate Bridge was built, when people used to ferry across.

My little old place was darling — with redwood wainscoting, a window seat, a large covered porch, a stone fireplace, and absolutely no conveniences. The bathroom was a green and black beauty that heralded back to a 1950s remodel. Appliances in the kitchen were ugly old stand-alones and counter space and cabinets were the bare minimum. Am I remembering correctly that the refrigerator was actually on the side porch along with the washer and dryer?

With two bedrooms and one bathroom, four of us were fairly well scrunched in, but it didn’t matter much, as this was the year that the Family Bed was published, and the kids  slept on the floor in our room. That was also the year of the drought, when we all four shared the same bathwater, then used it to flush the toilet.

Anyway, back to the furnace. It was cantankerous, as I said, and the least little problem caused it to go on strike. Then, I had to schedule the repairman. Mid-day, on one such outage, I went to find out how he (the repairman) was getting along down there, and there he was, calmly sitting by the furnace eating his lunch.

Companionable. That’s what it felt like.

Now, even though people of the 1930s didn’t mind the chill, I was born in Miami, and, in my opinion, it does get chilly in Marin, and I used to turn the heat up on some winter mornings.

And of course, on the coldest of these days, that old furnace wouldn’t put out.

Companionable.

I looked at the thermostat needle pointing all the way to the left, and turned the switch on. The machine did not roar into action. It did not.

It was Saturday, of course. No repairman until Monday at the earliest.

Companionable.

I sat down, quieted myself, and breathed deeply. Let’s see if I could talk it out of its funk, I thought, closing my eyes.

Images. Memories. I was remembering the time my little sister wandered away. She was only one or two and was returned to the neighbors. I “saw” it again. Her curls, her big eyes, her chubby little arms. She was so cute.

My mother was crying in relief (I think), or did she even realize my sister had disappeared?

I “saw” it that day years later in California in my redwood house with the broken furnace.

My, I wondered, did I open the door allowing my little sister to wander away? I had a dreadful feeling that perhaps I had.

Maybe I had fallen asleep. I don’t know. But when I “came back” and opened my eyes, I heard the deep hum of the heater, which had somehow returned to life.

I still haven’t figured that one out.

Years later, in Florida, I spoke to my cousin, an Annapolis grad and Navy career man, about that house. He and his family had visited during a cold spell.

I remember that house, he said. I remember your furnace.

You do? I said, totally surprised.

Yes, he said, it wasn’t working when we arrived, and I told you not to worry. Boilers like that are on ships, and I knew how to get them lighted.

Really, I said, not remembering at all.

Yes, he said. You and I found some long matches and we went down to the basement. I flipped the switch and lit the match and it blew us across the room. Singed our eyebrows. Don’t you remember? he asked.

No, I answered.

How could I have forgotten something like that?