“ . . . Our real fears are the sounds of footsteps walking in the corridors of our minds, and the anxieties, the phantom floatings, they create.” ~ Truman Capote

Cottage in Bowd, UK (Wikimedia Commons)

“But mostly they were lies I told; it wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t remember, because it was as though I’d been to one of those supernatural castles visited by characters in legends: once away, you do not remember, all that is left is the ghostly echo of haunting wonder.” ~ Truman Capote

Thursday afternoon. Cloudy and warm, mid 60′s.

Cottage, Hemingford Abbots by gillpenney (FCC)

I slept fourteen hours last night, with only a few interruptions. The house was very quiet and the dogs accommodating. I feel better for it. The choice was between doing the dishes, folding clothes or beginning a post. Not much of a choice really. So here I am.

Last night, the kids went with their father to their grandfather’s house. Corey picked up Brett from his night class and dropped him off there. I imagine that it was one of those uncomfortable gatherings in which people spoke about nothing of consequence as the reality was much too hard to acknowledge. My heart aches for the loss my children are feeling, and I feel strangely guilty that I don’t feel more.

I’m not sure if my heart is in protective mode, in denial, or completely closed off. I would truly hate to think that my distaste for the evil-step-m-in-law is clouding everything that I feel about this man. That would be too, too small-minded. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I just don’t know how to express this, so perhaps I shouldn’t even try.

“Still, when all is said, somewhere one must belong: even the soaring falcon returns to its master’s wrist.” ~ Truman Capote, from Summer Crossing

Well the other big news is that Corey will be going to Lithuania next week . . . yes, you heard me: Lithuania. You know, that little country on the Baltic Sea?

Rustic Kitchen (photographer unknown)

Apparently, that’s where the ship is in the yard, and the company is putting on a minimal crew to move the ship from there to Cape Canaveral, where it will begin its new route. At first, we thought that he would be leaving this Saturday, but now the departure date has been extended a week.

This change in plans means that Corey will have to pack for both cold (very cold) weather and warm weather. He has mixed feelings about the whole thing. I mean, Lithuania? But at least we now have a clearer departure date, which means that we can all begin to acclimate ourselves to the idea of his leaving.

Truthfully, I know that it’s not going to really hit me until he is gone—the idea of him being gone for more than a few weeks is hard to wrap my brain around. I mean, everything changes, absolutely everything. I’m really hoping that my breathing is back to normal before he goes because Tillie the lab is going to need some daily exercise so that she doesn’t get lazy or out of shape. I plan to do morning walks with her, but breathing without wheezing is actually a necessity for such things.

“The wind is us—it gathers and remembers all our voices, then sends them talking and telling through the leaves and the fields.” ~ Truman Capote

Anyway . . .

Now that I’m beginning to actually feel better, feel as if I’m getting some energy back, I look around at all of the things that I need to do: I need to do everyone’s taxes, need to complete next year’s financial aid for Brett and Corey, need to deal with the pile of whatever in the corner of my room. It’s so easy to throw a shirt on a stool, but before you know it, the shirt has morphed into some kind of dark blob that has taken on a life of its own.

This bathroom here . . .

Thankfully, all of the Christmas decorations are packed away. I ended up doing most of that myself as I knew that I would. In moments like that, I almost agree with my mother’s declarations that decorating is a waste of time. I said almost . . .

Overall, the house needs a really good cleaning, and I haven’t felt up to it in weeks and weeks, so now everything is reaching critical mass, well at least in my eyes. I often wonder what happened to the woman who used to clean the entire house each Saturday—polishing the furniture, scrubbing the floors, vacuuming everything—where did she go? Perhaps she left in exhaustion. Of course, that woman got by on five or six hours of sleep a night, exercised each morning before work, and worked full time.

Yes, exhaustion . . .

But as I said, a change is indeed going to come to the abode, and everyone needs to get on board.

“So the days, the last days, blow about in a memory, hazy autumnal, all alike as leaves: until a day unlike any other I’ve lived.” ~ Truman Capote

I came across a Truman Capote quote on my tumblr dash, and thought to myself, “yes, it is indeed a Capote kind of day.” I have long admired his descriptive abilities. It’s as if his diminutive body was filled with nothing but words, words that he poured forth in huge bursts, and then when he ran out of words, he stopped living.

This view from my bedroom window . . .

He died quite young in 1984 at only 59, of liver cancer, a result of years of alcohol and drug abuse. I always think of Capote in terms of burning out rather than fading away.

I remember assigning “A Diamond Guitar,” a Capote short story in one of my American literature classes. What was interesting was how much some of the students really hated one of the characters. To accomplish such a thing among audiences is a good indication of how the characters were so well drawn, enough to give rise to hate and empathy. It was the same semester that I assigned Carson McCullers’s novel Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I saw/still see many parallels between McCullers and Capote, their writing, their tortured lives.

I do so miss teaching literature. It used to distress me to no end when one of the boys would come home from school and tell me that his English teacher said that X story meant Y and only Y. Teaching literature in a vacuum is unpardonable in my eyes . . .

“Did you ever, in that wonderland wilderness of adolescence ever, quite unexpectedly, see something, a dusk sky, a wild bird, a landscape, so exquisite terror touched you at the bone? And you are afraid, terribly afraid the smallest movement, a leaf, say, turning in the wind, will shatter all? That is, I think, the way love is, or should be: one lives in beautiful terror.” ~ Truman Capote

I know that you will probably think me quite mad, but in thinking about all of the things that I need to do around here in this house, my thoughts are drawn back to the kind of house I used to imagine I would be living in when I was young. I never imagined a brick ranch in the suburbs, and I have no desire to live in a cookie-cutter McMansion. I always thought that I would be living in a log cabin or a big open loft, or an old farmhouse. The idea of living in a rambling tree house is also quite appealing, the very hap-hazardous nature of such a structure.

This potting shed-cum-writing studio . . .

I envision white rooms that are not carpeted with wall-to-wall, but colorful rugs, lots of toss pillows, comfortable niches in which to curl up and read. The kitchen would be like a farmhouse, with an old solid wood table. The bathroom (or at least one of them) would have a claw-footed bathtub. The floors throughout would be wood planks, and the windows would open out not up.

Outside would be an huge herb garden—lavender, mint, verbena, rosemary, thyme, Russian sage—the smells from which would drift in through the open windows. There would be lots of trees, perhaps a small orchard, wildflowers and roses, climbing vines around the front door. Birds would be frequent visitors. As would butterflies and dragonflies.

Adirondack chairs on the back lawn. Within view, would be the sea.

My whitewashed country cottage by the sea. Some dreams never die.

More later. Peace.

Music by Peter Bradley Adams, “Wait for the Faithless”

                   

Before You Know What Kindness Really Is

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words