Monday, October 11, 2010

The Weekend, Painting Projects, Rage of Achilles

Well first, some news: my father made it through the first stenting procedure well. He's back home, resting comfortably. He now has three stents in his anterior artery, which the doctor said represents a lot of metal. But two significant blockages: a 95% and an 85% have been cleared. Dad has to go back in about a month to have a right artery stented. One artery at a time, the doctor noted. The surgical procedure puts too much pressure on the kidneys otherwise.

It was a more difficult than expected day for my father because he had complications from his cath the previous week. Apparently, he is too skinny for the dissolving polypropelene element they used to seal the vein they entered last week. The doctor had no idea why he was so bruised, and we sat until 1:30, while they ran tests to be sure it was okay to perform the operation. The sales representative for the "cath plugs" actually came to look at Dad's situation to see what might be done. When they finally took Dad into surgery, Mom, Michael, and I all fell asleep on the straight-backed chairs in Dad's cath-lab/ICU room, only to be woken by the doctor, who thought our exhausted slobbering was highly amusing. (We'd been up since 5:30 a.m. in order to get the Baltimore for the 8:30 check-in, and by the time the doctor came around, it was 3:30 p.m., so we were bushed).

When we thought the worst was over, when Dad was back and resting, Michael and I went to get Mom a coffee. We figured it wouldn't be long until they wheeled Dad into his overnight room, and Mom could get settled in with him. By the time we got back with the coffee, I saw three of the cath lab nurses clustered around my father, while my mother was leaning with a pained expression over his face. Dad was literally white--even his lips had no color, but his tear ducts and the pink framing his eyes looked as if they were lined with coral lipstick. His blood pressure had plummeted, and blood was pooling under his skin at the surgical site. The curtain was closed, and Michael and I were sent to the waiting room, although Mom was able to stay to help Dad relax.

The nurses got my father stabilized, and Jill, our cath nurse, stayed and applied constant pressure to the wound (to prevent a recurrance) for most of the late afternoon. It was a pretty frightening experience, one that makes me realize and fear so many things.

We were very happy with Sinai, which none of us had heard of before Dad was assigned to have his procedure there. It was wonderfully clean and filled with benign, contemporary art (by benign I mean nothing with a pointed message). One of the works is a striking, three-story black slate wall over which water cascades. Most importantly, the nurses were very caring, capable, and dedicated, which is, in addition to the doctor's talent, one of the most vital parts. We'll be back there to do the second procedure in about a month or so.

In other news, I've got garden pictures. I've got plenty of painting left to do, but here was the start of some of it. In a spirit of complete perversity, I also painted the rusting gas meter a buttery yellow with orange bee stencils (sadly, not yet pictured here):

I also just wrote an Amazon review for Terry Hawkins on his excellent book Rage of Achilles. Here 'tis. I mention the sex part here because another reader-reviewer panned the book for its inclusion of what she termed "soft-porn" scenes:

"In Rage of Achilles, lust and wrath are closely intertwined in the psyche of Hawkins' vividly-depicted protagonist. The direct inclusion of sexuality, while possibly objectionable to some, is actually more period-authentic than either Classicists or prim academicians might like to acknowledge, since sexuality is an integral part of recognized mythological narratives. While the popular imagination may hold antiquity to a sublime ideal--with its influential rhetorical strategies, momentous architecture, and definitive dramatic models, it cannot purge the more untidy stories, like Io, a nymph seduced by Zeus and subsequently turned into a heifer, or Leda and the Swan, which (regardless of 16th century artistic depictions) was a forced rather than consensual encounter perpetrated by Zeus. From Leda and Zeus's union came Helen of Troy, who contributed to the outbreak of the Trojan War.

With his depictions, with his sharp attention to detail, Hawkins gets to the heart of Greek mythology. At its center is an unremitting cycle of sexuality and wrath that defines Classical history.

Hawkins prose is perceptive and powerful, offering penetrating glimpses into each character's ambitions and darker motivations. His characters are far more believable, far more tangible than the original men and women described by Homer, who are as two-dimensional and ascetically profiled as any red-figure pottery painting. (And I certainly don't intend this as negative commentary on Homer's work. Just indicating that the styles differ, and Hawkins' vivid detail facilitates our understanding of their deeper nature). Hawkins' images are vividly observed, and his characters are cinematic in their actions. His scenes are brilliantly defined. Here, the heroic figures--even gods--of antiquity are defined by baser, more authentic human considerations, while still being bound by pre-determined fates they cannot escape.

While it does contain adult material,
Rage of Achilles is a highly absorbing, character illuminating read that reflects the complicated nature of a period from which popular understanding now expects only transcendent abstractions and heartening philosophies."

No comments:

Post a Comment