Power outage on Friday night kept me from posting my Friday blog, wrecking my heretofore unbroken chain of posts since late November. Oh well.
Ophelia, Arthur Hughes, 1865
Late Night Thoughts
Where do you go when the night has been too long and unkind? Who takes your hand when you reach out in the darkness? Who will be there when you awaken after your dreams have taken you to places you never wanted to venture? Are these questions for you then?
Who will come for me when I call? Have I expended all of my chances to beckon unto me those who once may have attended unto me but are lost to me forever? I will not turn my head in shame this time, I promise. No more consolation prizes.
My eyes grow so weary: My soul has forgotten grace. The soul should never be without grace, the heart without memory and time. Memory then, is what saves us, what brings us back from the edge, what supplants those who chose to leave and those who are taken with things left undone. My father is in the night sky, the summer storms, the bold flashes of light just beyond the horizon. My daughter is in the mountains, the moss-covered hillocks and crevices, the natural running springs and waterfalls. My grief is invisible to all but me, a constant flame in my heart.
Doubts do not disappear when the stars reveal themselves. They are only cloaked temporarily in the sounds of dew on grass and moonbeams. At dawn, the dream ends the same. Truth, after all, is bitter root, mandrake, and hemlock. Only the hardiest of fools will take truth as a mistress—fools and children who have yet to forswear everything for a lie, and those who are lost already.
I will not treat you unkindly if you promise to love me. The heartache we will share together. I will follow you, yet do not desert me alone in the dark or in places unrevealed. Shadows can consume me and leave me concealed in desolate alleys, waiting for the moon’s pale light to illuminate the path home.
Shall we ponder tomorrow, you and I? Will we believe that we can stay here forever, on this carousel, the golden ring continually eluding our grasp as haunting pipe music plays in the background, and our painted horses, frozen in place, more like us than we care to see? My love, will you remember me? Will you come for me at journey’s end?
So who then shall hear your thoughts in the darkest heart of the night? Who will clasp your hand when you reach out for comfort? When you confess all that has caused you doubt and fear, where will you find comfort? Where will I? In the sounds in the night, after all?
Reflections on the Letter L
I saw this on someone else’s blog, and for the life of me, I cannot remember whose. So if it was yours, please jump in and remind me so that I can give you credit. The idea is that you choose a letter of the alphabet to ponder, and then once you have chosen, you think of ten things that that letter signifies for you and write about them. I thought that it was an interesting writing prompt, and since I am not up for anything too taxing today, I thought that I might try this.
The letter that I have chosen is . . . L. Surprise! I know that you are absolutely dumbfounded, as was I. But it was the first letter that popped into my weary head, and so I thought that free-association may come easier. I’m going to try to find new subjects to write about so that I’m not always writing about the same, predictable things.
- Lies: I have a very hard time with lies and liars, and I think that it’s because of my nature to trust too easily and too quickly. As a result of this, I frequently find myself encountering people who lie as easily as they breathe. I find this to be a deplorable trait as what is the point in trying to have a relationship of any kind if it is not based on truths that are shared? Too many people in this world get by on façades which they hide behind, never letting anyone see beyond the persona they have created.
- Labradors: I have never made it a secret that labs are my favorite breed of dogs. They are quirky, funny and have incredible senses of humor. Just don’t ever buy one as a guard dog. A lab is more than likely to welcome an intruder and lead them to the cookie jar than to attack them. But they are wonderful family dogs and protective of their little humans. Just don’t leave lab puppies alone to their own devices or you will probably find that they have begun to teeth on your best pair of boots or a piece of furniture.
- Loneliness: I am one of those people who can be very lonely if a loved one is away, or I can relish the time alone in the peace and quiet. It really depends upon the circumstances, as in exactly how long I am going to be alone and why. I do not equate being alone with loneliness. Sometimes, it is very nice to spend time alone; while other times, it is infuriatingly tedious.
- Learning: I am a believer in life-long learning. If it were possible, I would stay in school all of the time earning degrees in different subject areas: anthropology, sociology, political science. Since I can no longer teach, it would suit me just fine to be on the opposite side of the lectern listening and devouring. I know that my sons think that I am some kind of freak for thinking this, for actually wantingto sit in a classroom, but I don’t care. I’m not much for online learning. I like the face-to-face time too much.
- Lantana: In Mexico, lantana grows wild in between the rocks, and it’s everywhere you look. Corey planted lantana in the front yard, and it’s the centerpiece of the butterfly garden. The plants, when in full bloom, are almost four feet tall and just as wide, and full of orange and yellow and purple and pink blooms. Like our lilac bush and fresh lavender, butterflies love the blooms and the scents, but the lantana also attracts large bumble bees. When I look at the plants, I am always reminded of the plants in Mexico.
- Lightning Bugs: When I was a child, we used to catch these little beacons in jars and watch them light the jars in which we imprisoned them, never having the first idea that we were harming them. When the boys were young, I used to read a book to them by Eric Carle, I believe, about the lonely lightning bug that was looking for his family, and on the last page, he found them, and there were all of these blinking lights. I loved those books. I remember there used to be so many lightning bugs (or fire flies)in the summer time; they were never hard to find. Now, I hardly ever see them. I wonder what happened to them all.
- Leaves: I love to see the changing leaves in the fall, particularly on Maple trees. The best place in Norfolk for beautiful foliage is Forest Lawn cemetery off Granby Street near the Naval Base. There are so many different kinds of trees planted in that cemetery. I remember that right after Caitlin died, the first few years, I would ride through the cemetery every day, and in the fall, there would be this wonderful path of yellows and reds lining the narrow lanes between the sections. Other than there, Skyline Drive in the foothills of Virginia is a lovely place to drive and look at nature’s autumn pageant.
- Loons: Loons are lake birds, larger than mallards but smaller than geese. They can live for up to 30 years and have been known to mate for life, but what is so distinctive about loons, and what I find so intriguing about these water birds, is their call, which has been described as haunting. In some native legends, the loon is a bird of magical power. To me, the sound of a loon calling, and the water lapping is the epitome of a natural concerto.
- Lockets: Lockets are wondrous things, and you don’t see them much anymore. I’m talking about the sizable lockets of the Victorian era in which small keys and locks of hair could be enclosed from prying eyes. Lockets could also contain powders, poisons, and other secrets. Made of sterling, gold, aluminum, brass and copper, the lockets of old were much more interesting than today’s lockets, which tend to be flat, with only enough room for pictures. Round and heart-shaped Victorian lockets were often set with seed pearls and jewels such as rubies, and were often monogrammed and worn close to the heart.
- Li-Young Lee: I’ll bet you thought that I was going to finish with love, didn’t you? I told you, I’m trying for new topics tonight. Li-Young Lee is one of my favorite poets, and his poem “The Gift,” one of my very favorite poems. I will close with the first two stanzas of that poem because it always reminds me of my father, his hands, the great care that he took when he was doing something gentle with them:
I was offered a job teaching English online for an online college several years ago, but I just could not do it. I was supposed to write scripts for other instructors to use to teach literature classes, but when I sat down to do it, I realized that there was no way that I could put down in a script what I do in a classroom. I ad lib too much, depending upon the mood of the class, my mood, the reading material. And what I do depends so much on the immediate feedback from the students. I literally feed off them. Learning, and teaching, are creative processes. A script does not allow for independent thought.
To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.
I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.
(from The City In Which I loved You, 1990)
More later. Peace.
Phantasms Collide With Reality
Picking up where we left off. If you recall, when last we left our heroine, she was having both auditory and visual hallucinations, and her family was considering running far, far away . . .
The Mexicans in the Walls
New and exciting chapter: The conspiracy.
You are going to love this part. Trust me. I am not making this up. This is like something that W. would say at the microphone before his handlers could stop him and the press is just pissing in their collective pants with joy at the gift that they have been handed. I kid you not. That’s how good this part is, and we aren’t even to the S.W.A.T. team and the sword yet. I have figured out why the Mexicans are in the walls. Hallelujah. In my head, this is more real than Paris Hilton’s suntan or James Frey’s memoir. My husband has gathered all of these Mexican’s in the walls, who at this point are playing cards, brewing coffee (which smells rather good because I do love strong, Mexican coffee), and playing this infernal Mariachi music all night and all day, because he—my husband—has devised a plan of such cunning that it would make a Fundamentalist proud.
Now granted I’m not exactly sure how the Mexicans fit into all of this except that there is a larger plan or was a larger plan. I’m getting ahead of myself again. Let me back up . . . When the visual hallucinations started, my husband called the doctor again, who suggested that perhaps he (my husband, not the doctor, silly) should take me to the ER. Well, I was not having any of that because I was onto the whole ER thing. It was as plain as the brace on my body. If I let him take me to the ER, then he would have evidence that he could use against me later when he wanted to commit me or if he ever wanted to have complete control over me. It would be there, in writing: I was L-O-O-N-Y. It was a conspiracy.
He had brought the Mexicans in so that I would see them and hear them, and then when I did, he could tell them that I was seeing things and hearing things that weren’t there. Husbands all over the country were doing the same thing so that they could control their wives, like Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, and we know where that leads, and I wasn’t going there. I had just read Under the Banner of Heaven, and those people were crazy. So I was not going back to the old ways. Not me, no way, no how.The conspiracy, you see, was that if husbands secretly banded together through some kind of code word (no I didn’t know the word, how would I? Duh. It was a secret), then all of those involved would be able to have something on their wives, like me being loony, to keep them in check. You know, no more freedoms, no more equality. None of that crap. Back to the old-fashioned days when women were never allowed to speak or own land or heads of cattle (not that I wanted to own cattle, mind you). I knew that that’s why my husband was planning, and I told him that I knew, so he could forget about taking me to the ER, because I was not a threat to myself or anyone else, so I knew that they wouldn’t hold me. So there.
Of course, this was before the streamers. In between calling the doctor, my husband had been calling his mother and my daughter, asking for advice, help, anything. My daughter was at work, and his mother was 800 miles away, and believe me, you don’t call my mother during something like this unless you want to make it ten times worse by a factor of 92 or so. But I digress . . .
This is important because of the streamers, which I’m getting to right now. Apparently, every time I went into the bathroom or fell asleep, my husband (or so my deluded mind believed) would do something new to add to my doubts to my sanity.
Well, I woke up in the middle of the night, and there were all of these beautiful colored streamers hanging from the ceiling and walls, and they were not the cheap paper kind—I was impressed—but lovely, translucent gels (where did he get these in the middle of the night, I wondered), and I just knew that my daughter had come over and helped my husband to hang them while I was asleep. Let me just mention here that this is the first time that my poor spouse has actually fallen asleep under the assumption that I, too, have gone to sleep for the night in my cocoon of pillows.
He should have known better. He woke up to me jumping on the bed trying to grab the streamers on the ceiling. I really thought that they were quite lovely, and I just wanted to touch them (also, I had to know how he had gotten them to stick to the ceiling like that). However, post-operative back surgery, I don’t believe you are supposed to be jumping on anything, even a mattress. He brings me down, agrees that the streamers are lovely, and probably does not sleep any more that night.
Now this is the really weird part. No, the other parts were eccentric, a bit out there, but for pure weirdness, this is it. The morning after the streamers, I am in the bedroom alone. Said spouse is out of earshot. Little do I know, but he is in the backyard on the phone trying to convince someone, anyone, that things are not quite normal in our household. When I call out for him, he doesn’t answer, and then I hear a big noise in the garage. I make a completely logical leap here (in my mind), and decide that someone is breaking into the garage, and they have probably taken my husband hostage.
I crouch on the floor by the closed bedroom door and dial 911 emergency. While I am on the phone with the emergency operator, telling her about the hostage situation, I try to move my dresser in front of the door. This is an old, solid wood dresser, not pressed board, and it is full of clothes. I am tugging on the bottom of the dresser when I remember the swords. I still have the operator on speaker phone when I dive into the closet where we have three antique swords that we bought at a thrift store. I grab the first one that I can get to. If I have to, I think, I will take them all out like The Bride did in that scene in the tea house with O-Ren and the Crazy 88’s, which is just the coolest Quentin Tarantino scene ever, except I don’t have a yellow biker suit, and I don’t believe that I’ll be doing any jumping from balconies.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes. I tried to move the dresser in front of the door, but it was too heavy.”
“Do you think that you could open the door?”
“I guess so. I have a sword.”
“Yes. It’s pretty old and not very sharp, but it’s the only weapon I have.”
“Well, do you think that you could open the door and give me the sword?”
“Where is my husband?”
“He’s right here with us.”
So I open the door, and there is my husband behind two police officers who, I swear, are trying not to laugh. One of them reaches out, and I hand him my sword, while explaining to him that it’s not very sharp, but he should still be careful because it’s a sword. I am a mom, after all. I know these things.
The police ask if I want to go to the hospital. I tell them not really. They tell me that an ambulance is already outside, so maybe I should just let them check on me. Since it’s the police and not my husband, and they are asking nicely, and no one has kidnapped anyone, I figure, why not.
And that’s how I end up at the emergency room.
(For Part 1, see https://poietes.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/lunatic-tales-from-the-ether )
Computer has been whack for about 18 hours, so I’m behind on posting and responding. I hope to catch up later tonight. Thanks for stopping by to the newcomers. Please come back soon. I live for comments.
And they were canopied by the blue sky, so cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful ~ Lord Byron
There is a site that I visit daily just to check out what new images have been posted. The site’s name is Floridana Alaskiana v2.5, and it is hosted by some extremely talented people who moved from Florida to Alaska.
Sometimes the photos are from Florida, sometimes from Alaska, but always beautiful. The other day, I came across an image that really just made me pause. It was of Bard Peak at Portage Lake taken in April 2008. The Peak is completely covered in snow and ice, and the sky is a stunningly bright cyan with wispy clouds behind the Peak.
What really drew me to this picture is that in my mind, these are the images of the Alaska that I have always wanted to see in real life. I know that Alaska is really quite beautiful in many parts, and this photograph encompasses that beauty.
If you would like to view more of this wonderful photography, please visit http://floridana.typepad.com/weblog/.
For a link to this particular page, please follow http://floridana.typepad.com/weblog/2009/02/portage-lake-12-april-2008.html#trackback.
More later. Peace.
Starry Night by Van Gogh
The Bucket List
This list has been circulating for a few months, and I posted it with my answers already. However, this list has a few new questions, and I added a special question the end. But for the sake of this post, I thought that I would elaborate a little on my answers to some of these questions.
Things you have done during your lifetime.
(X) Gone on a blind date: I have done this twice in my lifetime. The first time was such a disaster that it is still imprinted in my memory after all of these years. I was working at the newspaper, and a friend (using the term loosely here) wanted me to come to a Halloween party. I didn’t really want to go, so I made the excuse that I didn’t have a date. She said that that wouldn’t be a problem as she knew the perfect guy for me. Those are scary words, people.
His name was Mark, and he sold spices, as in salt, pepper, seasoned salt. He also drove a white Corvette which he told me that he liked to drive very fast. The street that I lived on at the time was a dead end and not very long, but somehow, he managed to top 40 mph in just a few seconds before hitting the brakes at the stop sign. I was supposed to be impressed. I wasn’t. The night went downhill from there.
(X) Skipped school: In my senior year of high school I skipped French class 17 times in one grading period and still managed to get an A. Madame Thomas was, shall we say, oblivious. I would stick my head in the door and say, “Madame, I have rehearsal for the senior play today,” and she would wave at me. Very nice woman.
(X) Watched someone die
( ) Been to Canada
(X) Been to Mexico
(X) Been to Florida
( ) Been to Hawaii
(X) Been on a plane: When Alexis was one, her father and I took her on a plane with us. We were flying to Massachusetts for a family vacation to see his grandparents on his dad’s side and to introduce the first great grandchild. Alexis was fairly good until she had a messy diaper right as the fasten seatbelt sign came on because of turbulents. She was most unhappy that I wasn’t changing her, and made her unhappiness known to everyone on the plane. It was a wonderful flight.
(X) Been lost: I would just like to say that Corey deserves some kind of award for this, and as soon as we are able, I’m going to buy him a phone that has a buit in GPS.
(X) Gone to Washington, D.C.
(X) Seen and/or swam in the ocean. Which one(s)? Atlantic, Pacific
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played cops and robbers
( ) Recently colored with crayons
(X) Sang Karaoke: I am a karaoke ham. Lola really comes out to play when there’s a microphone around.
(X) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch?
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t
(X) Made prank phone calls
(X) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Before or after Katrina? Before. When I was a teenager, my parents and I went to New Orleans to visit his cousin. We went down Bourbon Street one night, and it was pretty incredible. All of the doors were open to the bars, and since I was behind my parents, I managed to catch glimpses of things I had never seen before. The best one was this man dressed in drag coming down a ramp from the ceiling to the middle of the bar. He had this wonderful feather headdress on and a few pasties and strategically placed feathers. I still remember that they were peacock green.
Bourbon Street was wonderful in those days. My daughter and her boyfriend visited just before Katrina hit. When I saw the devastation on television, I was so overwhelmed with sadness at the destruction of New Orleans and the deaths of all of those people.
(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(X) Danced in the rain: I love rainstorms, but I hate cold rain. Often during summer storms, I am tempted (or at least I used to be) to run outside in a bathing suit and wash my car in the rain. It makes perfect sense to me.
(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(X) Watched the sunrise with someone
( ) Gone ice-skating
(X) Gone to the drive-in movies: One of the drive-in movies that I went to was The Exorcist. I went with several friends. They watched. I hid behind my hands the entire time. I was a real coward when it came to scary movies when I was younger, and that’s because my dad let me stay up one night and watch a scary movie with him, and I had nightmares about it for months. I still remember there was a coffin scene and maggots. Scarred for life.
( ) Been deep sea fishing
( ) Driven across the United States alone
( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
( ) Gone snowmobiling
(X) Lived in more than one country. Which one(s)? U.S., England, Philippines
(X) Visited another country. Which one(s)? Scotland, Spain, France, Morocco, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Philippines
( ) And watched a full lunar eclipse while listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”
(X) Seen a falling star and made a wish
( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Ole Faithful Geyser
(X) Seen the Statue of Liberty
(X) Been to the top of the Empire State Building
( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
(X) Been on a cruise
(X) Traveled by train
( ) Traveled by motorcycle
(X) Been skiing or snowboarding: I used to love to snow ski and water ski, and believe it or now, I was actually pretty good at it. I used to go snow skiing a lot during college. If I got on a pair of skis now, I would probably end up in traction for life, and that kind of makes me sad because I loved the feeling of racing down the slopes.
(X) Been horse back riding: We won’t discuss the time the horse threw me the first time I went riding with a person of the opposite sex that I was trying to impress with my horse back riding skills. Damned horse knew it, too.
(X) Ridden on a San Francisco Trolley
(X) Been to Disneyland or Disney World
( ) Truly believe in the power of prayer: Unfortunately, not in a long while.
( ) Been to the top of an active volcano and seen hot lava
(X) Been in a rain forest
(X) Seen whales in the ocean
( ) Been to Niagara Falls
( ) Ridden on an elephant
( ) Swam with dolphins
1. Any nicknames? Not any more
2. Mother’s name? Ethelda/Babe: My mom was the baby of 12 children. She’s probably lucky they remembered to call her to dinner.
3. Favorite drinks? Hot tea, Pepsi, and wine occasionally. I used to really like microbrewed beers. I probably still would if I ever had occasion to drink them.
4. Body Piercings? ears
5. How much do you love your job? Don’t have one any more
6. Birthplace: Norfolk, VA
7. Favorite vacation spot: the Caribbean
8. Ever been to Africa? Yes.
9. Ever eaten just cookies for dinner? Yes. And I have also just eaten chocolate for dinner.
10. Ever been on TV? yes. I did a few television interviews when I worked for the Museum, but the most fun was when my former husband and my three children and I were featured in a commercial for the Museum. The kids were absolutely adorable.
11. Ever steal any traffic signs? no
12. Ever been in a car accident? yes
13. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4 door
14. Can you drive a standard shift car? yes. I love to drive standard shifts, but I’m hard on clutches, and they are expensive to replace.
15. Favorite pie? Homemade apple pie. My mom-in-law used to make me a homemade apple pie every year on my birthday because it was my favorite. She also used to make the most amazing strawberry/rhubarb pie.
16. Favorite number: 7
17. Favorite movie(s): The English Patient and The Lord of the Rings
18. Favorite holiday? Christmas
19. Favorite dessert? Depends on mood: cheesecake or hot fudge cake
20. Favorite food? Salmon with tequila sauce
21. Favorite day of the week? Sunday afternoons are my favorite time for reading a good book. When the house is quiet and no one is around, and if I can keep the dogs from barking at air and leaves, then I can consume a novel while wrapped up in a soft blanket. Good times.
22. Favorite brand of body soap? Depends on season. Usually some kind of liquid body wash that is clean-smelling or that smells like lavendar
23. Favorite toothpaste? Colgate Total
24. Favorite smell? Lilacs or Rosemary
25. How do you relax? Read a book or write
26. How do you see yourself in 10 years? In the islands
27. Furthest place you will send this message? Germany
28. Who will respond to this the fastest? No idea
Big Question: What is the one thing that you feel deep in your heart that you must do before you die?
Travel. I want to see Ireland because it’s someplace that I’ve always wanted to go. I want to visit Wales for the same reason. I’d like to go to Greece because it is such a beautiful country. I also want to see the Great Wall of China. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia and Iceland, and I’ve also always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. Then I want to spend the rest of my days someplace that is warm and green and lush and near clear blue water and far away from Wal Marts and malls in general. I don’t want to be living in a cookie cutter house in the suburbs. I want to be able to go outside and get in my hammock, or sit under a tree with a laptop and write.
I don’t know that I’ll ever have these things, but this is what I wish for. I don’t want to have lived without living as deeply as possible, without sucking “all the marrow out of life and end my days as if I had never lived.” I know that it may sound like a cliché, but from the first time I heard Thoreau’s words, I knew that that was what I wanted to feel before my end of days.