“They believed that if a mouse found your hair clippings and built a nest with them you got a headache. If the nest was big enough, you might go mad.” ~ Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

My Brain on Migraine

“Normally seven minutes of another person’s company was enough to give her a headache so she set things up to live as a recluse. She was perfectly content as long as people left her in peace. Unfortunately society was not very smart or understanding.” ~ Stieg Larsson, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

“Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.” ~ Theodore Dreiser

“I also painted a study of a seascape, nothing but a bit of sand, sea, sky, grey and lonely — sometime[s] I feel a need for that silence — where there’s nothing but the grey sea — with an occasional seabird. But otherwise, no other voice than the murmur of the waves.” ~ Vincent van Gogh, from a letter to his brother Theo, 17 September 1882

Yangon, Myanmar:

Beauty in the afternoon: If you have a few minutes, watch the whole thing. I promise that you won’t be disappointed:

“They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.” ~ Donald Miller

“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

Close-up Detail of van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

                   

“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday early evening. Sunny, high 80’s.

Blue Waiting by nalo.soul (FCC)

Absolutely beautiful today. Not too hot. The perfect day to float around the pool for a few hours. Yesterday I gave Alfie and Shakes baths while we were outside, and today I did Tillie. After my relaxing time in the pool, I came into the house and did a bit of cleaning, the floors, the bathroom, some glass. I was a sweaty, smelly mess when I finished. Time to bathe myself.

Last night Corey had his last session of his introductory class. He’s so glad that it’s over. Frankly, I feel that the class is a complete waste of time for people who have been out of high school for a while. It’s the kind of class that would actually be good as a seminar for graduating seniors who are college bound to help them determine what fields they might want to pursue in college. Other than that, I think that it’s just plain silly.

My mom dropped by with some fresh cherries this afternoon. I adore fresh cherries. I can eat an entire bag by myself. I have determined that I must have fresh fruit in my diet, and if not that, then at least yogurt. It’s that sense of something fresh to clean the palette. So far my attempts to eat healthier are working: I’m drinking a lot more water and a lot less Pepsi. I’m trying to stay away from bread and chips. Just cannot give up the gummi bears, but I limit my daily consumption.

Frankly, in the summer I could live on fresh vegetables from the garden and Edy’s fruit bars. Our eggplant and bell pepper plants have died, victims of the extreme heat. Corey has a huge crop of sunflowers, but they are all droopy, not standing straight like last year’s crop. This year he planted seeds from last year’s crop, so the stems weren’t as thick. Perhaps next year they will be stronger and more upright.

“Blue as the evening sky, blue as cranesbill flowers, blue as the lips of drowned men and the heart of a blaze burning with too hot a flame.” ~ Cornelia Funke

Captain on the Bridge by Jens Lumm (FCC)

I’m so glad the last heat wave finally broke. My head feels a bit better, and obviously (as witnessed by the cleaning), I have more energy.

WordPress has launched several new themes, and I was actually considering changing my theme, but none of the new ones quite felt right. So I settled for changing my header picture to something more in keeping with summer. I rather like the image that I found. Let me know if you notice and what you think about my selection.

I had very strange dreams last night. One was a bit on the sci-fi side as it involved being able to breathe and live beneath the water. Kind of cool, actually. I probably had that particular dream because Corey and I watched “Torchwood” before going to sleep last night. “Torchwood,” which is an offshoot of “Dr. Who,” was a series on BBC. Then I heard that they were going to do a new version. Well, Russell Davies (from “Dr. Who”) is involved in the reboot, but it’s on Starz and only has two of the original cast.

I’m not entirely certain that I like the new version. The old show was very much in the same vein as “Dr. Who,” with aliens, and strange occurrences. The cast had chemistry, and there were references to the doctor. The new show deals with one main event, and I keep thinking in the back of my mind that the doctor should be involved in this threat to earth.

I suppose as with most things, in this, too, I’m a purist. I’ll keep watching, mostly because I love John Barrowman as Capt. Jack Harkness, and I’m also quite fond of Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper. But I miss Owen and Ianto. Oh well . . . can’t have everything.

“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Blue Flood by ecstaticist (FCC)

The Fitzgerald quote above is one of my all-time favorites. Just beautiful writing. Truly incomparable.

So speaking of my mom, I’ve planted the idea in Eamonn’s head that he  might want to consider moving in with his Oma. Of all the grandkids, Eamonn would probably get along with her the best, and I know that I would certainly feel better if someone were living there full time. There’s plenty of room, and Eamonn is only home at night. I think that it could work.

We’ll see what happens with that.

It’s not that I don’t want him here, because I love seeing him all of the time, but it’s more that he would have plenty of room over there, and someone would be around at night if something happens to Mom, like another emergency. Of course, it’s a decision that they would both have to favor, so who knows what will happen.

I only know that if Eamonn is going to stay here, we have to do something about the garbage bags full of clothes, and he has to stay home long enough to move furniture.

Other than that, not a lot happening on the home front. We’re waiting for some expected funds so that we can get the work on the truck finished, and the Rodeo needs a few (more) things. I’d like to be able to send for my Uncle Ely’s Explorer in the fall as Brett will be driving the Rodeo. Of course, he needs to take his driving test, which doesn’t seem to be on the forefront of his list of things to do.

I remember that as soon as Eamonn was of age to get his driver’s permit, he wanted to take the test, and then he psyched himself out so badly that he failed the test a couple of times and had to retake it. My children are all so different. Of course, once Brett has his license, we’ll have to add him to the car insurance, which is not going to be cheap—that’s for certain.

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness” ~ Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Great Blue Heron at Sunset on Captiva Island, FL, by Jujuba (Pixdaus)

I had a lovely telephone conversation with someone the other day in which the person with whom I was speaking told me that she found my last post quite inspiring. Apparently, she had been having a really hard time at work lately, and she was feeling down. She said that my post gave her the mental boost to keep going, that it reminded her that life’s annoyances are only temporary.

I thought that that was such a lovely thing to say. I had been a bit concerned of late that my stats aren’t surpassing 1,000 hits a day like they used to, but comments like that and many others that I receive from regular readers help me to keep things in perspective.

I may not have millions of hits, but I have a lovely little support group that reads me regularly and comments when possible. If I can cheer someone with my tongue-in-cheek irreverence, or if I can inspire someone with my collection of quotes and images, then that’s what makes this blog relevant, not the numbers.

Coming from my last position in which the numbers were the end all and be all of how well I was doing my job, it is far too easy to get caught up in the statistics and to forget that the numbers are actually people. And it’s the people for whom I write, the people who I consider when choosing subjects, the people I think about when trying to decide on the post’s theme, or the selection of content.

And if I haven’t said it lately: You guys are the best. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Let me close with the following:

From my favorite Doctor Who episode, “Vincent and the Doctor,” written by Richard Curtis:

Vincent: Hold my hand, Doctor. Try to see what I see. We’re so lucky we’re still alive to see this beautiful world. Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character. The black is in fact deep blue. And over there! Lighter blue. [the starscape slowly transforms into The Starry Night] And blowing through the blueness and the blackness, the winds swirling through the air. And there shining, burning, bursting through, the stars! Can you see how they roll their light? Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.

Doctor: I’ve seen many things, my friend, but you’re right: nothing quite as wonderful as the things you see.

More later. Peace.

Looking for a song by Blue October to go with my blue theme and found this beautiful one: “Congratulations”

                   

Devotions of a Painter

Cool sinuosities, waved banners of light,
Unfurl, remesh, and round upon themselves
In a continuing turmoil of benign
Cross-purposes, effortlessly as fish,
On the dark underside of the foot-bridge,
Cast upward against pewter-weathered planks.
Weeds flatten with the current. Dragonflies
Poise like blue needles, steady in mid-air,
For some decisive, swift inoculation.
The world repeats itself in ragged swatches
Among the lily-pads, but understated,
When observed from this selected vantage point,
A human height above the water-level,
As the shore shelves heavily over its reflection,
Its timid, leaf-strewn comment on itself.
It’s midday in midsummer. Pitiless heat.
Not so much air in motion as to flutter
The frail, bright onion tissue of a poppy.
I am an elderly man in a straw hat
Who has set himself the task of praising God
For all this welter by setting out my paints
And getting as much truth as can be managed
Onto a small flat canvas. Constable
Claimed he had never seen anything ugly,
And would have known each crushed jewel in the pigments
Of these oily golds and greens, enamelled browns
That recall the glittering eyes and backs of frogs.
The sun dispenses its immense loose change,
Squandered on blossoms, ripples, mud, wet stones.
I am enamored of the pale chalk dust
Of the moth’s wing, and the dark moldering gold
Of rust, the corrupted treasures of this world.
Against the Gospel let my brush declare:
“These are the anaglyphs and gleams of love.”

~ Anthony Hecht, from The Transparent Man

“Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.” ~ Gary Zukav

Gate of Wishes, Mrtivica Canyon, Montenegro (Pixdaus)

“The more I see, the less I know for sure.” ~ John Lennon

Saturday afternoon. Temperatures hovering above 100° F. Thunderstorms.

Keyhole Arch in Monument Valley

I awoke with another headache, nothing new. Not too bad, but lots and lots of pressure in my forehead and behind my eyes. Probably due to the barometric pressure and the heat.

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in years: I went outside during a rain shower and got in the pool. It was so refreshing. The air temperature dropped a bit, and the water cooled. The dogs joined me for a few minutes, but Shakes doesn’t much care for rain. Tillie stayed out with me for the duration. It didn’t rain long, but I enjoyed myself while it did.

I was hoping to do the same again today, but unfortunately the rain is accompanied by thunder and lightning. Even I have enough sense not to get in a metal-clad pool in the middle of a thunderstorm.

I just glanced at my weather icon, and the temperature has dropped 8 degrees in the last fifteen minutes. Now that’s change I can live with . . .

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” ~ Oscar Wilde, “Lady Windermere’s Fan”

Monday afternoon. Not nearly as hot.

Kicking Horse River through Natural Bridge, Canada

So I got distracted . . . where was I? Oh yes, drama.

Woke up this morning to lovely news: we should expect a drop-in visit from Adult Protective Services. Whatever . . .

The ongoing drama at our house had been calm for far too long. I knew to expect something soon, and I wasn’t disappointed. Apparently, the pest (nicest word I can think to use for this person), reported Em’s case worker and our home as being  . . . shall we say, unfit? Charges include holding her against her will, all of us being insane (I told you this person wasn’t wrapped too tight), beating her down continually (not sure if that was meant to be literal or metaphorical), ya da ya da ya da . . .

In the inestimable words of W: Bring. It. On.

I mean, we have absolutely nothing to hide here. We are exactly as we purport ourselves to be: a middle class family in the burbs that is making ends meet. We have a home, food in our pantry, all of the accoutrements, as it were. We do not claim to be wealthy because we are not. We do not claim to have all of the answers because we do not. We do claim to have a healthy living environment for our family because we do. We do claim to know a few things about people who face challenges in life because we do. We do claim to be good parents because we are.

So when I heard that APS was going to come by, my response was what it only could be: Okay. Whatever. Tell them to drop by as they like because we have nothing to hide.

So they did. Today. A very nice woman who sat down with Em and asked her basic (and I mean basic) questions: Are you able to dress yourself? Yes. Do you take care of your own physical hygiene? Yes. Do you know how to do things around the house? Yes (she does now). Can you get your own food or does someone have to do it for you? Get it myself and can cook a little . . . and lots more in that vein, and then . . . Are you happy? I am now.

We left Em alone with the case worker so that the woman wouldn’t think that we were trying to sway her answers or to influence her unduly (because that’s what I do, you know. I beat people down until they are simpering idiots who have no will of their own . . . right.) The case worker asked her more questions that I didn’t hear because I wasn’t listening. Then I invited her to look through our house, as it were.

Dreaded visit over, and everyone survived. And the case worker didn’t even flinch over Em’s shaved head, which she is loving, by the way, especially since no one has asked her to wear a hat to hide her ears. Of course, after the case worker left I took all of the illegal drugs out of the hall closet, and I let the dozen or so illegal aliens out of the bathroom, and I got back to making the homemade meth that I was cooking up in the kitchen along with barbecued ribs.

It’s a joke, people. Of course, I know that sentence will come back in another form somewhere, but at this point, I am so over it.

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” ~ Aldous Huxley

Keyhole Arch, Apostle Islands (National Park Service)

You might think that such a visit and the results would put a normal person’s mind at ease, that the news that a completely unbiased third party witnessed the supposedly downtrodden young woman healthy and happy would be welcome news. You would think, but the key word here is normal. I know that this saga isn’t over. There will be more frantic telephone calls to whoever will listen. There will be more tossing about of the family name in an attempt to curry favor. There will be more stealing of passages of my blog to try to show how insane I am. There will be more disparaging remarks regarding my character, the character of my family.

As I’ve said before, when I need to, I can have the patience of Job. The more chest-banging this other person does, the less I need to justify myself. And dare I say it? I don’t really have anything to justify. I took in a young woman who felt trapped and mentally abused. I offered a safe haven to a person who did not feel safe, for various reasons. She is healthy. She is happy. She is safe.

I can do no more than what I have already done and what I continue to do—be myself—be patient, be sympathetic and empathetic, be a sounding board when needed.

Oh, and by the way, the illegal things? Puleez. But the part about Em’s shaved head is true; she just hasn’t died it blue yet . . .

“The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Keyhold Arch, Antelope Canyon

Even though I’m spending a lot of effort here bitching, I’m actually not at all peeved. Instead, what I really feel is a deep sense of pity. You might think that I’m a sap for feeling pity for an individual who is set upon my ruin, for the person who does not hesitate to disparage me to anyone who will listen, but that is indeed what I feel.

I cannot say that I have ever encountered anyone exactly like this particular individual before, but I have encountered people who are filled with such a determined sense of entitlement and righteousness: They are the only ones who are right, and everyone else is wrong. They are entitled to have this or to be given that because of a skewed sense of self-importance.

Unfortunately, my encounters with this personality type most often have occurred when dealing with members of boards of directors, especially in the arts. I cannot tell you how many people, women especially, who banked everything on their last names. They would meet me, hear my unusual, distinctly not patronage-linked last name, and immediately make assumptions about my value to them. If I could, in fact, give them something they needed or desired, then they would deign to be polite to me, but if my existence did not in any way benefit them, then I simply ceased to matter.

The first time that this happened, I was highly affronted, and my alpha side reared its head: You will listen to me because I do know exactly what I am talking about . . . I may as well have been barking at the moon for all of the good that it did me. This personality type is impermeable to reality, well, at least the reality in which so many of us exist. I took a lesson from my director, who was a very soft-spoken, wise man when he told me that I simply could not treat these people using logic because in their worlds, Copernicus was wrong, and the universe did indeed revolve around their spheres.

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” ~ Ansel Adams

Keyhole Tree, Broome, Australia

I have written about self-entitlement before, but usually as it pertains to teenagers and how we have an entire generation of people who think that they deserve whatever they want simply because. It’s not often that I encounter someone from my own generation who operates with this same sense of entitlement. People within my age group have usually worked hard to get to the points in our lives at which we find ourselves. Many of us our self-made, and many people I know are second generation to this country.

Being second generation (even on one side) imbues those of us like this with a strong work ethic because the desire not to fail our parents is extremely important. Being second generation also means that few of us have family names on which to fall back. We have made our own names, and we don’t depend upon our ancestors to define us. I cannot imagine being the kind of person to make requests simply because of what my name happens to be, but I have met people like this, and they have no qualms about throwing around that name as if it we still lived in a system with peers and nobles.

I think that part of what makes me strong is the fact that I have worked for everything that I have, that my parents came from humble beginnings and worked and saved for everything that they had. I’m proud to come from working-class stock. I was taught the value of a dollar, and I was taught that respect is something to be earned, not something to be bestowed upon someone simply because of who they are.

So what it boils down to is that in the midst of all of this, I try to retain my patience, and I try to retain my sense of humor, much taxed though they may be. And when in doubt, I remember the rule of three: that what we send out into the world comes back to us threefold.

Karma. It’s a bitch.

More later. Peace.

Music by The Morning After Girls, “Hidden Spaces”

                   

Picture of the Author with Vice President

That’s me on his left. If neither one of us
looks comfortable, it’s because I said
I’m sorry to hear about his heart.
A small machine, he says, sends tiny sparks
in there, to pace the flow of blood.
Some people will dispute this photo; his office
has denied it’s me; but I have to believe
I am in the picture. It’s awkward, yes,
for we don’t know each other;
and if he’s known as a man who keeps
public secrets, I’m not known at all.
Even so, he and I share something
that we cherish, deeply, which is our love

of trout. On his Wyoming ranch, he owns
a trout stream for himself. When I raise
the question—How’s the fishing?—he will rise
to the subject, and we will have grown
a little closer, having now disclosed
a passion no one, having known, lets go.
And he, too, is a man who knows cold blood
of trout cares nothing for who you are.
Nor do they care who owns the land
their water flows within: So long
as land and stream stay clean, they live.
Because I must rely on public lands
to find—weighed out in the flash
of a trout’s brilliant scales—that cleanly order,
I’m concerned about his sympathy
with those who call such places “undeveloped.”

But I know better than to say as much
to a man who’s so well versed
in the rhyming of ecology with economy
abstract nets that hold so many tangibles,
such as meadow grass that filters silt
so cutthroat trout may have clean beds
of gravel for their spawning redds;
or the English teacher whose hopes
for a pay raise float on the promise
of a growing tax base—in other words,
the new sport coat I’m wearing
in the photo, bought for this occasion.
Still, I want to believe in the heart
of a man who would fish a barbless fly
for a trout, and let it go; who would spend
that much time to be where trout live, to step
so softly in their stream, they do not frighten.

So I am going to tell him a story
about the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico,
and a man who lived there. By all accounts,
William Myers knew the land, but owned
none of it. Had no money, so in order to live
in the mountains, he bartered work
for the privilege of staying in
other people’s second homes.
One day, he drove his ATV up a ridge
to scout the most likely route to run a pipe
to his friend’s house. He lit a cigarette,
studied the forest floor, as he’d often done
for fresh deer lies, bear scat, a crop of mast
that might draw wild turkeys in.
Whether it was a spark from the ATV
or the cigarette, he didn’t know; but he was sure,
he told police, that it was he who caused the fire.
That night, a glowing orange blemish on the sky;
by next day, a dry mist with a taste
of wet paper. Nine thousand acres
of forest he had hunted, ponds and creeks
he’d fished—the bell-note of hummingbird wings,
the raccoon crooning to her pups—gone up
in a surf of flame; sap-laden pines burst
like the improvised gas-and-bottle bombs
he’d learned to make in the army. Helicopters
dropped fire-retardant chemicals on a woods
he’d loved but never owned, and never meant

to burn. They fell in scarlet plumes, like blood
that must have sprayed from his skull
when he stood in front of the gun
he held in his own hand, and fired.
—Well, it may have been the words
like blood, and skull, and gun,
that made the men in sunglasses bring
our conversation to a polite, efficient end.
Or it could have been my agitation
over a man who took responsibility—
who, as his scribbled farewell letter read,
could never live with what he had destroyed.

~ William Wenthe (as found in The Paris Review)