“We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives . . . inside ourselves.” ~ Albert Camus

Fire Clouds by Chris Pastella (Pixdaus)

                   

 

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” ~ Albert Einstein

From a June 26, 2009 interview with Bill Moyers:

[..  BILL MOYERS: When we confirmed this meeting, you suggested that I read a poem in here called “Rain Light.” Why did you suggest that one?

W.S. MERWIN: I don’t know, I just — that seems to be a very close poem to me.

BILL MOYERS: Here it is.

W.S. MERWIN:

“All day the stars watch from long ago
my mother said I am going now
when you are alone you will be all right
whether or not you know you will know
look at the old house in the dawn rain
all the flowers are forms of water
the sun reminds them through a white cloud
touches the patchwork spread on the hill
the washed colors of the afterlife
that lived there long before you were born
see how they wake without a question
even though the whole world is burning”

BILL MOYERS: “Even though the whole world is burning.” It is, isn’t it?

W.S. MERWIN: Yes. It is. It is burning, and we’re part of the burning. We’re part of the doing it. We’re part of the suffering it. We’re part of the watching it helplessly and ignorantly. And we know it’s happening. And it is just us. It is our lives. We’re burning. We’re, you know, we’re not the person we were yesterday. We’re not the person we were 20 years ago.

Music by Gary Jules, “Mad World”

“I know no other way out of what is both the maze of the eternal present and the prison of the self except with a string of words.” ~ Lewis H. Lapham

 

 I want to go here: Hotel de l’Europe, Amsterdam

                   

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” ~ Mark Twain

And here: Bakklandet, Norway, by sigkyrre (flckr creative commons)

Saturday afternoon, my house.

The autumn sun is shining brightly through the window of what used to be Eamonn’s room, and dust motes are dancing in the beams. Shakes is asleep on a pillow on the floor near my chair. Corey and Tillie are at the park; Alfie has the big bed all to himself, and Brett is playing XBox. All in all, a rather quiet, peaceful Saturday.

Alexis is busy with a yard sale, some of the proceeds from which will go to Jennifer’s fund for her son Reilly. I spent $10 I didn’t have on two china teapots that belonged to Janet’s mother, Amanda’s grandmother (Amanda is a life-long friend of Alexis). They are beautiful and might make lovely gifts for someone. I also scored a free bread maker, which is great as Corey and I were looking at breadmakers last Christmas but decided against the investment. Scott, Amanda’s father was diagnosed as being Diabetic Type II, so no more homemade bread for them. The bread maker is in great shape, which makes getting it free a great yard-sale deal.

Fresh, hot bread and homemade soups and stews—a winter staple in our house. I know many people who do not like using slow cookers, or crock pots, but I have always used one. When I worked full-time, I would put the soup on in the morning, and when we got home nine hours later, we would have a delicious, hot soup for dinner. Small pleasures.

“So long as a person is capable of self-renewal they are a living being.” ~ Henri-Frederic Amiel

And here: Bruges, Belgium

I began this post on Saturday, and it is now Wednesday evening. Corey asked me this morning if I was going to post soon as I hadn’t added anything since the 19th, which reminded me that I had actually started a post but had never gotten back to it. I had a very good reason, though.

I did something on Saturday and Sunday that I’ve needed to do for a while, but just didn’t feel ready to do: I cleaned my closets, really cleaned, and filled two large black trash bags with clothes, not including the three suits on hangers. I got rid of pretty much anything that I wore to work; I realized that if I ever returned to work, I would want a new wardrobe, that and the fact that none of these clothes would be in style if I do ever resume my career.

So someone at the thrift store will get a great deal on two Jones New York suits, and one Chaus suit, one of which had never been worn, not to mention the jackets, blouses, and pants that I tossed.

It felt good, really good, as if I had passed some kind of hurdle, which is actually what I did. I mean, I cleaned out a chunk of my life that doesn’t exist any more. Corey was both surprised and amazed.

Of course when I finished, my body was completely trashed, and it has taken until this afternoon for me not to be in constant, throbbing pain. The price I pay for living.

“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering—because you can’t take it in all at once.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

And here: Istanbul, Turkey

While trying to recuperate from my big project, I had to take my mother to a doctor’s appointment on Monday, after which she wanted to do some grocery shopping. No surprise that by the time we were finished, she was complaining bitterly that her leg was hurting. She is doing well, but she has not yet healed completely, something that she does not seem able to reconcile.

After all of her hard work, Alexis only made about $70 at the yard sale. She was a bit down about that, but at least this particular project is over.

In other family news, Eamonn stopped by Monday evening to pick up some of his belongings. I have been pressing him to make some decisions as Corey and I want to change Eamonn’s bedroom into an office, so of course eldest son is thinking about moving back home. I would love to have him move back, but I don’t think that he will; rather, I think that he bothered by the idea of his bedroom being transformed into something not reflective of him, which is to be expected.

Brett finished his astronomy project yesterday, which put him in great shape for Thanksgiving break. He is really doing well in school, and I cannot say enough how happy I am at the change that I see in him.

“Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying.” ~ Simone de Beauvoire

And here: Helsinki, Finland by sigkyrre (flckr creative commons)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and in preparation, I have baked sweet potatoes so that I can mash them tomorrow (with a dash of vanilla, nutmeg, brown sugar, and cream), and I have made a cranberry salad that I hope turns out okay as it is my first time with this recipe. Tomorrow I’ll make the dressing. just a basic recipe.

Corey has to work from 7 to 3, so we’ll probably eat around 5. I’ll go to my mom’s around noon to put the turkey in the oven as it is quite large and heavy. Mom has already made pecan pies and is cooking the green beans, and I’ll make the gravy and heat the rolls after the turkey comes out of the oven.

After last year’s fiasco in which Alexis got up in the afternoon and didn’t put the turkey into the oven until 2 p.m., she is responsible for the mashed potatoes and corn this year, two things that do not require a great deal of time. I do have to say, though, that since she started her new medicine, she does seem to have more energy and hasn’t been sleeping for 24 hours at a time—a positive sign that perhaps she is moving in the right direction.

So if everything goes as planned—which never, ever happens with this family—all details of our Thanksgiving feast should be covered. Eamonn is eating with us, which means that the whole family will be together. I just have to try not to get hyper and anxious, something always happens whenever the whole family is together. I love it, but it makes me very fretful as the perfectionist thing kicks into overdrive.

“If I see the outer world differently from how others see it, it’s because I inadvertently incorporate, into what I see, the things from my dreams that have stuck to my eyes and ears.” ~ Fernandoa Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

And also here: Locronan, Brittany, France

                   

I couldn’t bear the thought of spending another winter in this house without natural gas for heat and cooking, so I took money out of my retirement to pay the back balance to Virginia Natural Gas. In addition to the balance, we have to pay a deposit, which they will spread over three months.

It’s a major expenditure, but a necessary one.  I mean, let’s face it; the cold wreaks havoc with my back, not to mention my knees, which is why it’s so odd that I would love to relocate to a place that has mountains and snow. But ask me on another day, and I would love to relocate to the tropics. As with most things, I don’t really know what I want, but what I want is anywhere but here.

Brett has been talking about New Zealand, a country that I have wanted to visit since I was a child. I told him that unfortunately, the reality is that I cannot even think of moving far away as long as my mother is still around. Her recent accident only reinforced the reality that I have been trying to avoid: As an only child, there is no one else to step in, and there never will be.

Life has an odd way of unfolding, of spilling seemingly insignificant pebbles across the path, only for the pebbles to morph into giant boulders when no one is paying attention. And boulders, well they don’t move at all and cannot be easily pushed to the side, which means that the only way forward is around, making the path longer than anticipated.

As a fellow once said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Too right, that.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cyndi Lauper, “Fearless”

                   

Fearless

Sometimes I’m afraid when you go
Sometimes I’m afraid when you come home
Underneath it all . . .
I think I’m afraid when there’s nothing wrong.

But if I was fearless . . .
Could I be your reckless friend
And if I was helpless . . .
Could you be the one comes rushing in.

There’s something that I never told
When I find myself slipping off of my pedestal
I’m a fierce believer afraid to fall.

But if I was fearless . . .
Could I be your reckless friend
And if I was helpless . . .
Could you be the one comes rushing in.

Sometimes I’m afraid of the dark
I can’t find the light in my heart
I can see my hand pushing away from you
Hard as I can

But if I was fearless . . .
Could I be your wreckless friend
And if I was helpless . . .
Could be the one comes rushing in.

Sometimes I’m afraid when you go . . .

“You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.” ~ Tom Robbins

An Evening in Berkley by Vagelisf (deviantart)

                                      

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~ William Cullen Bryant

Autumn Mirror by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

It’s been a week of perfect autumn weather: brilliant skies, mild temperatures, and vivid colors everywhere. I love days like these as they tend to fill me with a sense of calm, a rare and delightful treat for my psyche.

Fall used to herald boots-and-sweaters season for me, but not so much any more as I no longer need to get dressed for work, the one aspect of a full-time job that I can sincerely say that I miss terribly (probably the only aspect)

I’m back home full-time now. I stop in on my mother after taking Brett to school each day. She is slowly retaking her house, which is to be expected, and she spends more time sitting than lying down, a sure sign that she feels better. The next big step is driving, which she says that she is ready to do; I know that she is eager to be out of the house on her own, but I don’t think that she’s considering what might happen if she has to slam on her brakes. Just saying.

“Our world—don’t you just feel we’re becoming more fragmented? I used to think that when I got older, the world would make so much more sense. But you know what? The older I get, the more confusing it is to me. The more complicated it is. Harder. You’d think we’d be getting better at it. But there’s just more and more chaos. The pieces—they’re everywhere. And nobody knows what to do about it.” ~ Rachel Cohn, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

This Fall (Part II) by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

Corey and I are working on the house (in the house?). For several weeks he has been shampooing the remaining living and dining room carpet (as in the carpet yet to be ripped up, revealing the hardwood floors that need to be refinished). I’m not sure how cleaning the carpets could turn into a month-long endeavor, but somehow my charming spouse has managed to do just that. I’ve made him vow to have all of the furniture back in place by the end of the weekend as I cannot begin a holiday week with everything in such disarray.

In the meantime, I need to switch t-shirts for sweaters, and summer night shirts for winter pj’s,  and sandals for boots, which (of course) involves several other steps and lots of shifting as our home has 1950’s closets, i.e., not even close to walk-in. And when I came back from my mother’s house, I pitched a pile of hanging clothes on one of the dining room chairs that is currently sitting in the middle of the living room, and I have yet to sort through that morass as just walking through the obstacle course that is my house is too daunting.

In other words, our house is completely wrecked, and it’s making me very stressed and a wee bit testy. While I was at mom’s, I got in the habit of keeping everything very clean and tidy, which is easier in her house as she is not in the midst of a major home remodeling project that had to be abandoned when Corey lost his lucrative tugboating job—over two years ago. So I have become accustomed to neat and tidy, and the return to chaos is more than a bit unnerving.

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”  ~ Lemony Snicket

Yellow by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

Of course, the complaints about chaos are completely gratuitous as I would not recognize my life if it were not constantly imbued with chaos, disorder, and entropy.

But speaking of Corey and jobs, he is still waiting for his contact at Company X to get back to him. I know that we’ve heard this story before, but this time, there actually seems to be a hint of truth to it. Company X did buy a new boat and land a new contract, so we’ve moved beyond the this may happen stage into the we’re definitely interested in having you on one of our boats stage.

The best aspect—the one that makes this situation so much better than the Vane Brothers wait-and-see situation—is that Corey went from the introduction phase to the two-hour interview phase in a matter of weeks.

No hope-pinning, but hopeful waiting, at least.

“Time folds you in its arms and gives you one last kiss, and then it flattens you out and folds you up and tucks you away until it’s time for you to become someone else’s past time, and then time folds again.” ~ Margaret Atwood

A Moment in Time 2 by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

                  

So here we are: Brett’s first semester of college will be ending in a month. Eamonn is thinking about joining the Peace Corps (I know. Surprised the hell out of me too). Alexis is still not working and does not appear to be ready to return to work anytime soon, something I try not to ponder too much as my mother is doing enough fretting over the situation for the both of us.

I am approaching December without fulfilling the one goal that I set for myself for 2010, and I am totally unsurprised by that. I am trying to get back into my habit of writing daily and hope to have my own computer back in working order before 2011. Of course, having said that, Corey’s computer is now dying, and we are unsure as to what it needs to be healed. Could be something as simple as a graphics card, or could be something more . . .

We are hoping to have Corey’s truck fixed as soon as Ford gets back to us with the Windstar recall package (don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but the Windstar was found to be hazardous because of an axle problem, so Ford had to buy it back from us). Meanwhile, they are paying for a rental and we are pricing rebuilt transmissions.

And so it goes. More waiting and hoping and hoping and waiting. Meanwhile, the world spins madly on; the seasons creep into each other relentlessly, and time morphs from second to second, seemingly dragging its heels one moment only to metamorphose in the next instant into a nimble-footed fellow, fleeing from invisible fire.

The only constants remain my unflinching capacity for seeing only the bad in myself, the deep love of my dysfunctional family, the continued delight I receive from my dogs, and my surprising ability to still be moved to tears by nature’s breathtaking beauty.

More later. Peace.

Music by Chris Mills, “Such a Beautiful Thing”

“What language do you speak?” ~ Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)

Too funny: Cast of Harry Potter trying to speak “American.” (No, that’s not exactly a language, people.)

Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) nails it best.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

“It’s crazy when getting us back to square one feels like victory.” ~ Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

 

“The banks didn’t read the fine print . . . we don’t read the fine print on anything. Have you ever seen the length of an i-tunes contract?” ~ Jon Stewart, “The Daily Show”

The following—which was originally posted on Between the Hammer and the Anvil—appeared on my dash in Tumblr, and I think that it’s worth reposting in its entirety, not only for the finely executed argument, but also because it references my favorite imaginary character, Keyzer Soze, from The Usual Suspects

Enjoy.

How The Peasantry Took Up Torches And Burned Their Own Houses Down

Good fun as usual with MattTaibbi, documenting the atrocities as the major US banks’ intergalactic rip-off moves into the mopping-up phase by crushing homeowners with the club of the state.

It’d be difficult to find a finer example of modern democracy’s total inability to control the monster it’s created.  On the micro level, here’s how the scam worked –

– The major US banks buy politicians with campaign contributions, in exchange for rights to expand into more markets and a reduction in regulations;

– Freed from effective oversight, the banks proceeded to aggressively lend to hundreds of thousands of home-buyers, entirely aware that they were lending to people who couldn’t afford repayments;

– The banks then took all those shit mortgages, bundled them up into impenetrable finance packages, and sold them off to pension funds, trade unions etc. as top-notch, ultra-secure investments rather than the near-worthless bags of cowshite they actually were;

– After a few years of making out like bandits, their pockets stuffed with fraudulently-earned cash, the financial crisis finally exposed the scam, causing major financial institutions around the world to explode like staked vampires.  Those that survived did so by robbing taxpayers at gunpoint – give us fifteen bajillion dollars, or we take the entire planet down with us. 

– Engorged with taxpayers’ cash, they then refused to lend it back to citizens – theoretically the reason they were given it in the first place – and awarded themselves another round of massive bonuses instead, before enlisting the aid of the state to repossess the very homes they’d used to cause the disaster in the first place.

Result – giganti-bonuses all round at Goldman Sachs; a lifetime of crushing debt and exploding government programmes for you and your offspring.

It’d be funny, if a peasant uprising in the US hadn’t just sent a flock of angry retards barking and snarling into Congress and the House to protect the banking aristocracy under the hilarious euphemisms of “smaller government” and “resisting socialism”.  It’d be hilarious, if the British government’s response to private sector malfeasance wasn’t an entirely ideological assault on government spending. 

It’s a real laugh riot, in short, that the near-destruction of the western world’s economy by Croesus-rich corporate thieves has been deliberately propagandised as an overabundance of social outreach officers – that the total discrediting of modern capitalism is somehow the fault of a non-existent socialism, an ideology that hasn’t been a force in world politics for more than twenty years.

That’s the micro explanation – on the macro scale, the problem begins in 1979, when a beige cadre of unsmiling Randroid lunatics decided to totally restructure the American and British economies by slicing and dicing the power of labour.

Long story short – the public were sold an appealing picture of personal responsibility and individual freedom.  What they got was an all-out, militarised assault on the working class, on the promise of call centre jobs, wide-screen TVs and a fortnight a year in Greece…  And then the call centre jobs were outsourced to India, and the bailliffs showed up at the door. 

Thus it was that governments that regarded the words “wealth redistribution” as Stalinist oppression proceeded to redistribute wealth to themselves and the class that spawned and sustained them – royalty.  For the great mass of the people, the new restructured economy meant one thing – debt.  Lots of debt.

And here we are in 2010, with a new breed of hairy-palmed Conservative revolutionaries making the world safe for royalty with an entirely ideological crackdown on public spending, pledging to create a bajillion jobs by hurling half a million onto the dole and forcing the unemployed to work for a bowl of rice a day.  Out of the self same wizardry that just hurled all of us into the shitter will be fashioned a brave new world of magical ponies.

Well, I don’t think you have to think be Sherlock Holmes to work out why this story hasn’t been broadcast from the rooftops, and exactly cui is bonofitting from it.  The British public didn’t suddenly decide on its own that the financial crisis was caused by tossing too much government cheese into tower blocks;  the electorate of the United States didn’t suddenly come to the conclusion unassisted that this disaster was caused by their dark-skinned neighbours borrowing too much money.

As Keyzer Soze says in The Usual Suspects, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.  Our present situation strains satire, and represents the absolute failure of our democracy to analyse and tackle its most life-threatening problems.  It shows that collectively, we’ll swallow anything so long as there’s a lazy civil servant or a black homeowner to pay for our sins; that we’re delighted to have the privilege of selling our birthright for a car boot full of snazzy electronics bought on the never-never

BERNARD MATTHEWS: Anyone for more Christmas?

TURKEYS:  Yes please!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

 More later. Peace.

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.” ~ Peter Ustinov

From the Original Dr. Zhivago

“The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” ~ Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Just a brief note for today . . .

I don’t know where I’ve been or how I missed this, but a British remake of Dr. Zhivago came out as a television serial in 2002 (Directed by Giacomo Campiotti, starring Keira Knightley, Sam Neill, and Hans Matheson). The serial has since been released on DVD. I first saw the original movie when we were in the Philippines. I remember being absolutely taken with the images of snow as my mother and I sat in the theater, one of the only air conditioned venues available, tropical temperatures outside hovering around 100 degrees.

I still remember the pivotal scene in which Yuri hears the sound of the water hissing on the hot iron and is taken back to his days with Lara (at least I think that’s what happened). Years later, I read the Boris Pasternak novel, which I also loved, but not as much as the movie (Omar Sharif and Julie Christie), an unusual occurrence for me. I understand that the ’02 remake differs in several key elements from the original film as well as the book, but I would still love to see the newer version.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ludovico Einaudi from the Dr Zhivago Soundtrack