Monday, June 29, 2009

THOUGHTS…NOBLE AND OTHERWISE

There’s a storm blowing in from the west. Less than an hour ago it went from sunny, to partly sunny, then mostly cloudy in the space of perhaps thirty minutes. The wind kicked up, the air began to cool. Since then the overcast has thickened considerably and the temperature has dropped another ten degrees; the air now feels a bit damp. Still, no rain is predicted until midday tomorrow, so maybe this is just a precursor—both forerunner and portent of weather to come. I’ve spent the day running around…and around…and around, finishing up the business of replacing my long-lost Social Security Card. The experience has left me with a new insight as to why otherwise stable folks sometimes take up serious drinking. I’ve also come away believing there’s a real need for a compassionate Bureaucracy Recovery Program; however, if such a thing exists already, I beg them to please consider targeting me for immediate intervention. In the meantime, I’m sitting mildly benumbed in my deck-side rocker, watching a fellow who doesn’t know how to fish not catch anything from the pool below the cottage. It is doubtless a mark of the dark depths to which a day can sometimes hammer a man that I confess to find this inept angler’s total lack of success rather uplifting—an admittedly uncharitable thought, for which I must eventually seek forgiveness from the spirit of ol’ Izaak Walton. A few minutes before the weather changed and the light began to dim, I made a few photos of the blue flower you see at the head of this post. It just bloomed today, while I was running around downtown. I don’t know the identity; it came in a mix of seeds…but it is pretty, whatever the name. Sitting in my rocker, watching the last of the light slip away while the rain tries to decide whether to come tonight or tomorrow, I ponder this most noble thought—that beauty can be nameless and still be just as beautiful. Then I think of my day downtown—running from place to place, circling the blocks in search of parking, sidewalks hot enough to fry eggs, blinding glare off buildings designed by architects devoid of artistry or souls, long lines and longer waits in offices with seating by the Marquis de Sade—I recall all this jolly fun, and I have another, less noble thought…that I could easily have caught at least a dozen fish from the pool that gave the interloping angler his skunking! Sorry, Izaak!

16 comments:

KGMom said...

Nameless beauty is no less beautiful for being nameless.
Said not nearly so well as the Bard: "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".
Sorry for the frustration of dealing with bureaucracy--perhaps I shall write of my time in state government at some point. Among other things I found there are people who care a great deal about the services they provide--and a fair measure of frustration with the very bureaucracy with which we all contend.
I trust said card will soon be in hand.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I’ve never been a fan of bureaucracy (is anyone?) and this experience certainly hasn’t led me to change my mind. On the other hand, I must say that every single person I dealt with—whether on the phone or in person—proved extraordinarily courteous and did everything they could to be as helpful as possible.

Getting to speak to that actual person was the systemic downfall, a procedural punishment administered with a maze of illogical, ill-conceived, and poorly designed layers of automated phone answering systems and online support that provided little information, invalid options, simply didn’t work, or followed circular paths that ultimately dumped you back at the beginning. The online sites suggested you use the phone-supported services; you made the calls and were informed that online information was available; it was suggested that an appointment be made, whereupon if you called to make the appointment, waded through the layers of options while listening to suggestions that you try online answer boards, or call another department or talk to someone (which was, of course, what you were trying to do), you then got put on hold…only, after a half hour or more of holding to make the desired appointment, heard this automated voice say: “We can’t answer your call right now—please see our online website, or call back later…” and CLICK! hang up on you.

In the end, all the stuff their websites and forms and automated services claimed was needed turned out to be mere whims, waved off by the person actually doing the service: the nice, friendly, human who said, “Nahhh, I don’t really need all that—that’s just a bunch of silly rules and regulations.”

Yes, old Mysterious Will said more or less the same thing—a phrase so overquoted it has become hackneyed. Thank God I didn't recall it this evening, or I might have quoted it again myself.

Bernie said...

Hi Griz, love the flower and I will put money on Wanda knowing the name of it.
Your day may have been a bit frustrating but your humour shows through it all....love it! I really enjoy seeing life through the eyes of man....Thank You for sharing......:-) Bernie

Rowan said...

What an awful day you've had - I loathe automated phone systems, nothing is more calculated to turn me from a reasonably calm and pleasant lady to a screeching fishwife. I don't want options 1 to 24 I just want to talk to a real person! And as for beaurocracy - just don't get me started! Towns/cities in summer heat are places not to be, how lucky you are to be able to come back to your rocker and the peace and beauty of the riverbank.
I think your flower might be a cornflower? You are right though, not knowing what you are seeing or hearing doesn't make it any less beautiful.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

I have a number planting areas where I've not yet decided what I want to put in, plant-wise. So I've bought a few of those large packets of flower seeds—usually labeled something like "wildflower mix" or cottage-garden mix"—plus I was given, from a lady in east Tennessee, about a quarter pound of mixed "old timey" flower seed the year I moved in. I've more or less planted most of this stuff in the same three or four places. Some of them self seed; I collect seed, too; and, of course, I add in new seed. Lord knows what's in there.

I hope Wanda, or anyone else, can give me a clue as to the names. I'll doubtless stick photos of other things in here as they begin to bloom.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

As I told KGMom, the people I dealt with couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. But I wouldn't wish the SS Office's national or local phone systems on anyone.

I'm a reasonably intelligent fellow. And while I'm not a technological whiz, I can manage most online systems—navigate through various menus, fill out and download/upload forms, etc.

But if you think about many of those folks who desperately need and must rely on Social Security and Medicare for income and health—plus you sit in a waiting room for two or three hours watching them struggle to understand what to do and how to do it—you quickly come to the conclusion that nothing replaces a one-on-one encounter between humans; people helping people help themselves. I honestly don't know how some of these poor folks ever manage—and I feel so bad watching them try to make sense of it all. The world, I fear, is fast losing both its humanity and compassion.

Still, I'm finished with it all for now (I hope) and am certainly ready to enjoy a day on the riverbank. And so far this morning, it is bright and sunny—no hint yet of the day's predicted rain, nor did the rain I thought was coming last night arrive. The river is almost back down to normal pool; birds are singing; the world is green and lush. Sure beats the steel and concrete and glass of the city!

The Weaver of Grass said...

That blue flower happens to be my favourite flower - for its blueness, for its simplicity and for its opportune flowering at summer's height. It is the cornflower Scribe.(- it is an annual and it seeds if you give it a chance.
You are quite right though about beauty being just as wonderful without a name - was going to quote the Bard but see that KG Mom has already done so.
Sorry about the bureaucratic nightmare - but may be that made you enjoy the beauty of the cornflower even more. Have missed you over the last few days.
(Centaurea cyanus)

Gail said...

Hi Grizz -

The blue of that flower is breath-taking!! named or not!!

and...the angst of your day? ack!

today is anoother day - enjoy.

I think you have missed three of my posts now, not that I am keeping count or anything. :-)


Love to you
Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Thank you (and Rowan) for the I.D. I guess I knew that flower's name at some level, since my mother used to have them by the front gate years ago. But seeing just the one bloom, amidst all the other greenery which is also just starting to bloom—and this after my DAY IN THE CITY!—I was apparently too muddled to recollect. I was probably lucky to have found my way home.

I did recognize its blue, blue beauty, though. And like I told KGMom, if I'd have thought of the line from Shakespeare, I'd have probably quoted it myself…though again, I wasn't in much shape to think or, apparently, write.

I hope I can now get back to posting with my usual degree of semi-regularity, reading and commenting on other blogs, taking photos, etc. I've missed being here myself…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Today is indeed another day—and a fine sunny and cool one it is turning out to be!

Actually, I've read the older two posts. (I'm not counting, either.) I do want to comment on them sooner or later.

More importantly, I've also just read your newest post and think it is absolutely the best one you've written. I love its raw power and frankness, and admire you for life-changing journey you've made these past five years—and the point of grace and balance you've reached.

Your life is ahead, not behind. Your courage and strength will carry you wherever you need to go.

Sydney said...

A wonderfully written, entertaining post dear friend! It is good to read your comments again on my blog too. The picture of the blue flower is perfection. You could start a whole new career with photos like that. And I loved your descriptions of getting the SS card... which then they tell us not to carry with us, but ask for in so many public ways -- at the doctors office on files anyone can pinch, or even when I applied for a discount at an Ann Talyor store....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Sydney…

Thank you for your kind compliments. BTW, I enjoyed your screech owl post.

Yup, Social Security Cards are strange objects, indeed: don't carry them, they tell you; they are not forms of I.D. you're told. THEN, they ask you to show them your card!

The last number you ever want to appear on a check is your SS number…yet when you use a check to pay for something, the cashier is apt to scrawl your SS number right there on the front of your check, which already has your account number, the bank's routing number, an up-to-date specimen of your signature, and possibly your street address and phone number, either printed or handwritten. Talk about making things convenient for identity thieves!

Even the SS office I visited has a sign asking folks to have their cards out and ready as I.D. when their number is called and they go up to the desk for whatever help they're seeking. Huh?

Are we a nutty country or what?

Gail said...

Oh Grizz-

"Thank you, thank you thank you" Your heartfelt reply to me here has touched me deeply. And yes, my life is ahead still and I will forge on with grace and balnace, (well, balance is subjective - :-) )

Love to you
Gail
peace......

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I meant every single word. That was a fine piece of writing, and you've done an even better job with the cards life has handed you.

You have an indomitable spirit and a golden heart.

PERBS said...

The blue flower is a Bachelor Button -- they come in white, pink and blue. It is a favorite annual of mine. I see soemone else called it a Cornfower so maybe it has different names in different parts of the country.

I have enjoyed perusing your blog and intend to return.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

PERBS…

You're right! Cornflower and Bachelor Buttons are two names for the same flower.

I thought my mother had these flowers around when I was growing up. But now I remember Mom called them "bachelor buttons," and I think almost all the ones she had were white, pink, and purple; I don't remember any blue blooms at all.

This different name and not having seen (or remembering) blooms in blue, may have contributed to my initial confusion—or may simply be an excuse for my ignorance.

Anyway, I'd bet my father, the college botany major, would have been the one to tell me that Cornflower was an alternate name.

Thank you for this comment!