“I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of—that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally I find that encouraging.” ~ Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Gargoyle, Holy Trinity Church in Stratford upon Avon, UK, by lowfatbrains (FCC)

                   

“Only, there is a haunting sense of the imminent cessation of being; the year, in turning, turns in on itself. Introspective weather, a sickroom hush.” ~ Angela Carter, from “The Erl-King”

Sunday afternoon. Sunny and cool, low 50’s.

Gargoyle, Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Tring, UK, by Today is a good day (FCC)

Well only a few days ago, it was 80 degrees, and then the temperature dropped 30 degrees, and snow fell on parts of the east coast. It seems the weather reflects my state of mind.

I had joked to Ann that we could walk on Friday unless it snowed . . . right. So far, our attempts to start a daily walking routine have been thwarted, but we’re going to try again this week, and with luck, perhaps we’ll have some results.

Gargoyle, Cathédrale Saint-Etienne de Meaux, France (WC)

I awoke on Friday with one of the most painful migraines I’ve had in a while. It was blinding, and any bodily movement meant stabbing pain. I did not move from the bed all day except for necessities. Then this morning when the dogs woke me early to go outside, I stepped out of bed and couldn’t straighten my body because of my back. I have to tell you that this switch off between my back and my head is not in the least amusing, and I could really live without it.

Yesterday, I had planned to post. I gathered my quotes and images, and then ran out of steam, which is unfortunate as I had the whole house to myself, and it was nice and quiet. I think that I overcompensated for Friday’s inertia by doing too much yesterday—laundry, the kitchen, various other small chores, and I found by 7:30 or so that I was too tired to do anything requiring my brain, so no post.

So I’m trying today, and we’ll just have to see how far I get. Unfortunately, I’ve been taking muscle relaxers since early morning because of my back, and while they do not ordinarily affect me, the leftover fatigue from the migraine coupled with the meds is definitely leaving me sluggish.

“Artifacts
Are the accounts we leave behind.
We leave them buried beneath what is buried” ~ Michele Wolf, from “Archaeology”

So I’ve been thinking about gargoyles. Don’t ask me why, perhaps because of Halloween, which is tomorrow. I’ve always been fascinated by these carvings, which can look like anything from the famous pensive statue atop Notre Dame to really hideous statues resembling something out of a nightmare.

Gargoyle Atop Notre Dame, Paris, by Lisa Kline 1 (FCC)

According to one site that I visited, the word gargoyle shares a common root with the word gargle, which comes from the French word gargouille, which means throat. Many people confuse gargoyle with grotesques, the difference being that a gargoyle is a water spout or drain pipe, and a grotesque is not. In a gargoyle, a trough is cut into the back of the carving, and the rainwater flows from the mouth.

Writer Russell Sturgis says that in medieval architecture, “the gargoyles, which had to be very numerous because of the many gutters which were carried on the tops of flying buttresses, and higher and lower walls, were often very decorative, consisting, as they did, of stone images of grotesque animals, and the like, or, in smaller buildings of iron or lead.” Supposedly, gargoyles can be traced back to ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece, where such carvings depicted animals like eagles and lions, as well as mythological creatures.

While gargoyles and grotesques can appear to be quite ugly, something about them fascinates me. I love that these intricate carvings can be found all over the world, but the ones that I really like are the really old ones atop cathedrals. I like the juxtaposition of the grotesque with the holy. While the consensus is that the gargoyle was supposed to represent evil outside the church walls, I just cannot imagine the medieval sensibility, which believed in all sorts of evil spirits, not cringing each time it passed beneath one of these faces to enter a church.

“I will walk home alone with the deep alone, a disciple of shadows, in praise of the mysteries.” ~ Edward Hirsch

Gargoyles, St. Stephens, Vienna, by ccarlstead (FCC)

Anyway, Halloween around our house is usually just an excuse for me to eat more candy, but I’m really trying this year. I haven’t opened the bags of candy that I bought to pass out to the neighborhood kids. Of course, that’s the second batch of candy. The first batch of candy my mom brought over, and it included mini Almond Joy bars, which are a big weakness for me,and Reese’s peanut butter cups, which Corey loves. Love those, but they are so bad for me, between the chocolate and the coconut, bad for my head and bad for my cholesterol.

Not to worry, though. I polished those off weeks ago, which is why I had to buy more candy. I try to buy things that I’m not crazy about so that I don’t succumb to temptation, but it has to be stuff that someone in this house will eat in case we have leftovers, which we can never predict. Sometimes, we have lots and lots of kids and run out of candy, and sometimes we have fewer than ten, which means leftovers.

Gargoyle, Manchester Cathedral, UK, by Gordon Marino (FCC)

I do miss the days when the kids went trick or treating, helping them to pick out their costumes, doing their faces. Some years their costumes were extravagant, and some years, just a black cape and some fake blood.

I remember when I was a kid, and I would take a pillow case, and Cathy Weaver and I would have to come home at least once to empty our sacks before going out again for more. Of course those were different times. We went all over the neighborhood and to houses around the schools. We would hit at least ten different streets. Neighbors knew each other, and trick or treating went on for hours, or until you were exhausted. There were the stories about razor blades in apples, but really, who went to houses that gave out apples?

I remember after 9/11, the hospitals set up free x-rays of Halloween candy. Bizarre. We only took the kids to houses that we knew, so we never felt a need to have the treats undergo x-ray. Nothing has the innocence of years past. Nothing.

“It’s not humankind after all
nor is it culture
that limits us.
It is the vastness
we do not enter.
It is the stars
we do not let own us.” ~ Simon J. Ortiz from “Culture and the Universe”

Gargoyle, Arundel Cathedral, Sussex, UK, by howzey (FCC)

So other than those tidbits, not a whole lot going on. Corey is working at least four shifts a week, which is always good. And more and more, I’m really glad that I didn’t submit that application packages as my health in the past month has been a real roller coaster, with far more downs than ups.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, and my other m-in-law is on my mind a lot. This year’s holidays will be the first without her, and it’s going to be so hard. Even if we didn’t eat dinner with her, we always spent some time at her house, even if it was just to visit and have dessert. She loved to cook for her family in the old days when she could still cook. She would set the table with her best china and her silver and make enormous quantities of food.

Gargoyle, Château de Chenonçeau, France, by bolt of blue (FCC)

It’s going to be very strange. This losing parents thing really sucks, I have to say.

I don’t know if we are going to try to  make a trip to Ohio around Christmas. That’s always iffy and dependent upon so many things, but it’s nice to be there at the holidays, especially if it snows.

Anyway, I don’t know why I’m already thinking about the holidays; although, it’s probably because the stores have all of their Christmas stuff out already, and I’m seeing advertisements for holiday sales. So glad not to be in retail any more, even though there were parts that were definitely fun. I remember when I managed the home store, and we had a party for the associates to decorate the display trees one evening after work. Those are the good memories, admittedly, not that many.

Well, back is really hurting again, so time to go.

More later. Peace.

Music by Land of Talk, “Troubled”

                   

The Last Days of Summer Before the First Frost

Here at the wolf’s throat, at the egress of the howl,
all along the avenue of deer-blink and salmon-kick
where the spider lets its microphone down
into the cave of the blackberry bush—earth echo,
absence of the human voice—wait here
with a bee on your wrist and a fly on your cheek,
the tiny sun and tiny eclipse.
It is time to be grateful for the breath
of what you could crush without thought,
a moth, a child’s love, your own life.
There might never be another chance.
How did you find me, the astonished mother says
to her four-year-old boy who’d disappeared
in the crowds at the music festival.
I followed my heart, he shrugs,
so matter-of-fact you might not see
behind his words
(o hover and feed, but not too long)
the bee trails turning to ice as they’re flown.

~ Tim Bowling

Last Week’s Northern Light Show

For Leah in NC, videos of the recent light show that we both missed . . .

And this one:

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street: The Ongoing Saga

I am 54 years old. 

I entered the workforce when I was 18. 

I have played by all the rules, and paid all the taxes my government asked of me for entire working life.

My house is paid for. 

My 11 year old car is paid for. 

I have saved for retirement. 

I live within my means.

All of my hard earned savings could be wiped out with one major illness in my family.

I am the 99%

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” ~ Sylvia Plath

“La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” Frank Cadogan Cowper (1926)*

                   

“’You see I am fate,’ it shouted, ‘and stronger than your puny plans; and I am how-things-turn-out and I am different from your little dreams, and I am the flight of time and the end of beauty and unfulfilled desire; all the accidents and imperceptions and the little minutes that shape the crucial hours are mine. I am the exception that proves no rules, the limits of your control, the condiment in the dish of life.’” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Cut Glass Bowl and Other Stories

Wednesday afternoon. Unseasonably warm and very sunny, mid 70’s. Feels and smells more like spring than fall.

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," Arthur Hughes

Thought that I’d try to bang out a post today. Haven’t felt up to sitting here for more than a few minutes for the past few days. Same old thing—headaches, pain, weakness. (That phrase “bang out” reminds me of how Rebecca used to say that she could hear me typing from anywhere in the office because I hit the keys so hard, which I do, but I learned to type on a manual typewriter (yes, I’m that old), and I learned to type very quickly on an old IBM Selectric, so my touch is not acclimated towards a computer’s keyboard. Funny the things that pop into your mind at the turn of a phrase.)

I’ve finally gotten an appointment to get my botox injections at the neurologist’s office. It took talking to a different nurse and saying that I was tired of being jerked around, and voila—appointment. Funny how that works.

So in the next six weeks or so, I’m banging out another four doctors’ appointments. So excited. Cannot hardly wait for the poking and prodding to begin. Actually, I am excited about the botox as I’m really hoping that it helps with these damned headaches. I mean, if this stuff deadens nerve endings, it makes sense that it would kill pain. Too bad they haven’t approved it for back pain. Not enough studies done to show conclusively whether or not it actually helps the kind of pain that I have.

Too much to wish for at once, I suppose.

Anyway, after spending time making telephone calls to various doctor’s offices for prescriptions and/or appointments, I decided to go back to bed this morning, and part of me wishes that I hadn’t as I had more intensely bad dreams. In the past few nights, I keep dreaming about this doctor who is treating me, and he’s a sadist. I won’t go into the kinds of things that he’s trying to do to me, but suffice it to say that they are quite unpleasant. The dreams are probably coming from the subconscious part of me that is wholly fed up with doctors and treatments.

“Sixty six times have these eyes beheld
the changing scenes of autumn
I have said enough about moonlight.
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars
when no wind stirs.” ~ Ryonen, Buddhist Nun, 18th Century

The quote above appeared on my tumblr dash a few days ago, but it was only attributed to a Zen nun. That’s one of the things that I really hate about tumblr, how lax some people are about attributing quotes and images. It took me about 20 seconds to find the source of the quote and to learn that the line breaks were incorrect in what was originally posted.

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," Frank Dicksee (1902)

Now line breaks might not seem like a big deal, that is unless you write poetry. Line breaks are all-important in poetry: They indicate the point at which the poet wishes to break the thought, add a pause, add a breath, indicate a new train of thought—all or none of these. But to quote a poem and not to take care to get the name of the poet correct I find really problematic.

But I’m also a stickler for the Oxford comma. So shoot me . . .

Anyway, I love tumblr because it continues to be a great source of quotes and images for my writing, but it really bothers me when people post something without quotations marks or an author, and people who may not be familiar with the phrase might not realize that it’s not original, or when people post art without listing the artist’s name or giving the attribution for a photograph. All problematic. So when I repost, I try to add the missing information, or if something has an obvious copyright on it, I don’t repost it.

I know. Not really a big problem in the grand scheme of things. Just file it under things that bug the crap out of me.

“There is among all your memories one
Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain
Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, from “Limits”

So my uncle in Florida has decided that I shouldn’t send for his Explorer as he feels that it’s not worth the money to ship it from his house to ours. I have to respect his decision, although I really wish that he’d understand that any working vehicle, no matter how old it is, is better than no working vehicle. But he doesn’t want us to waste our money, so what can I say? It’s not like we have the money to waste . . .

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," William Russell Flint (1908)

He wrote me a very nice letter explaining his decision, and he sounds so much like my father, which is always just a bit painful. This uncle is the last one of my dad’s siblings who is still alive. He’s 80, and his wife, my aunt, has breast cancer. It just breaks my heart for so many reasons: that he’s the last, that he looks so much like my dad, that they are both in poor health.

When I was a child, I didn’t really have that much of an attachment to my dad’s side of the family, mostly because I was always around my mom’s side. But as an adult, I think that I’ve spent more time trying to stay in contact with my uncles, my dad’s brothers. Both of the ones in Florida kept asking us to bring the kids down for a visit and offered their homes if we wanted to visit Disneyland, but it was never the right time, and now the kids are grown, and no one wants to go to Disneyland . . .

Perhaps I should just think of a few more things to chew on in this guilt fest . . .

“Here I sit between my brother the mountain and my sister the sea. We three are one in loneliness, and the love that binds us together is deep and strong and strange.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Corey has a medical transport tomorrow, so he’ll be gone from early morning until around 10 tomorrow night, which means good hours but a very long day for him.

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," John William Waterhouse (1893)

I think that we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel as far as getting the truck fixed. We had thought that by hiring the guy across the street to fix it, we would save money, which we have, but he’s taking his sweet time in finishing, which is always the problem in not going to a shop. He knows what he’s doing, as that’s how he makes his living, by working on cars, but he has his own issues, the least of which is that his elderly mother (with whom he lives) suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia and forgets who he is and calls the cops on him because she thinks that he’s a stranger in her house.

I do sympathize with him, and he really is a nice guy, but we just want the truck to be fixed. Once he finishes with the transmission and the transfer case, we need to get the brakes done and get it inspected. I’m hoping that we don’t have to do four new tires as that’s a big cash output, but we’ll just have to see how that goes.

I know that Corey will be glad to have his truck back, but I also know that he’s in for a rude awakening the first time that he fills the tank as he’s been spoiled by the four-cylinder engines in the rental cars and the six-cylinder in the Rodeo. His truck is a V8 and a gas hog. I don’t even want to think about how much it’s going cost to fill, and I’m not looking forward to finding out how much gas it uses to get back and forth to the peninsula where he works.

I know. I know. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. My life at the moment is a tired cliché. Sorry that I don’t have more exciting things to say, but frankly, I’m lucky to get any kind of post out of my head at the moment. Perhaps I should call it a day.

More later. Peace.

*This is my favorite version of this subject, a particular favorite of the Pre-Raphaelite painters.

Music by Blue October, “Amazing”



From Out the Cave

When you have been
at war with yourself
for so many years that
you have forgotten why,
when you have been driving
for hours and only
gradually begin to realize
that you have lost the way,
when you have cut
hastily into the fabric,
when you have signed
papers in distraction,
when it has been centuries
since you watched the sun set
or the rain fall, and the clouds,
drifting overhead, pass as flat
as anything on a postcard;
when, in the midst of these
everyday nightmares, you
understand that you could
wake up,
you could turn
and go back
to the last thing you
remember doing
with your whole heart:
that passionate kiss,
the brilliant drop of love
rolling along the tongue of a green leaf,
then you wake,
you stumble from your cave,
blinking in the sun,
naming every shadow
as it slips.

~ Joyce Sutphen

Occupy Wall Street . . .

occupywallst.org

I am a 37 year old writing tutor at a community college.  I have long believed America represents something special in the history of the world – diversity, fairness, upward mobility for all people.  Now I’m not so sure.  Everyday, I work with men and women of all ethnicities, ages, religions, etc. who are tirelessly trying to improve their lives through education.  These are not lazy people looking for hand-outs.  But in this “jobless recovery” many of them will still struggle to find meaningful work even with a degree in hand; many more will be forced to return to low paying jobs just to survive.  These are people who played by the rules, got an education, and believed in the American Dream.  Now the American Dream is telling them that the new reality is that the rich get richer while everyone else has to bail them out when they make a mistake.  This is NOT right.  This is NOT America.  I still believe in hard work and competition.  But you have to give us a fighting chance.  I am the 99% – WE ARE THE 99%.  Support the Buffett Rule.  Support debt forgiveness.  Support a real jobs bill.  Make America work again