Two of my favorite versions of a classic:
Diana Krall, “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve”
Two of my favorite versions of a classic:
Diana Krall, “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve”
Tuesday afternoon, New Year’s Eve. Partly cloudy and cold, 46 degrees.
So here we are, at the end of another year. How strange, how very, very strange. A part of me is still somewhere around 2005, and another part is in 1996. No particular reason. Those weren’t landmark years in any fashion, but still points in time, points in which I rested. But 2014?
That’s a very strange year, for some reason. I still have such vivid memories of the turning hour between 1999 and 2000, how we had to have one person stay at work to make sure the systems didn’t collapse at 12:01; I never thought they would, never held much stock in that whole end of days scenario. But that was fourteen years ago.
How very strange.
I spent New Year’s Eve of 1999 on a boat with friends and a person who wanted to be more than friends, and the entire situation was more than a bit surreal. I think that was the last end of the year celebration I attended. Corey and I have always preferred a quiet evening at home together rather than risking the roads and the drunks. But I’m fairly certain this is might be one of only two New Year’s Eve nights that I have been away from Corey.
How very strange.
We are still in limbo as to when exactly Corey will be home. At first it was going to be on January 2, then January 5, then January 2 again, now? Maybe January 20? That’s if they decide to keep him on this particular ship a bit longer and then to throw him into some more training. I’m really hoping that it’s not this particular scenario, but something tells me that it will be. And after all, it’s not exactly as if he can say no, is it?
First hitch with a new company, you do whatever you have to do to make it work. I understand that, but understanding and liking are miles apart. And I’m wondering if it’s going to work out that Corey never even sees this year’s Christmas tree. The other time he wasn’t home for Christmas day, he was home a few days later, which made it much easier. This?
Not so much.
So . . . here we are. Getting ready to count down the minutes until this year is over and next year begins.
I know. I cannot continue to remark on the strangeness for the entire blog, so I will make an honest attempt to stop.
Anyway, I should know more about Corey’s schedule later today, and I’ll have le bébé by this evening, so my part plans are firm. How about yours?
I’m also hoping that Bailey’s stomach starts to feel better as she has been making the whole house stink. I’m pretty sure her stomach problems have arisen from trying to eat one of the puppy toys that I bought for the dogs’ Christmas. Tillie had loved a ball that Jake had (Jake being Corey’s parents’ dog), and I found one while shopping that I thought would be pretty dog-proof as far as chewing.
Not so much. I started to see little pink pieces of rubber around the house a few days ago. I finally found what was left of the ball and threw it in the garbage, but not before Bailey deposited several nasty leavings of her dinner around the house, one, unfortunately, on the bed.
Yep. Pretty gross. Anyway, she never seemed sick, except for the gas and occasional vomiting, as she was as playful as ever. I suppose I’ll just have to remember that not every dog has a Labrador’s constitution. I still remember reading about a Lab who ate locks, as in locks from lockers. When her owners finally found out, she had eaten about five of them and had to have an operation. Labs will eat anything . . .
By the way, when I chose the quote for this section, I honestly did not have that little story in mind.
As I said, later this afternoon I will have Olivia, which is a very good thing, something to take my mind off everything else. She’s such a funny little person, already saying so many words, already expressing so many facets of a personality in flux. One of her presents from us this year was this wild-looking stuffed monkey, and she loves it. She makes monkey sounds, too.
One of her Baby Einstein books has lots of animals in it, and when I read it to her, I make all of the animal sounds, except for a ladybug. What kind of sound does a ladybug make?
When I think about anyone hurting her, it makes me crazy. It was the same with my children. The very idea that anyone might ever harm them filled me with such a blind rage. But they’re out there. Not just the pervs, the ones everyone fears, but the people who believe in beating a young child, beating a baby, as if inflicting pain will stop the crying, as if repeated strikes will somehow bend a child to conform.
That has always just blown my mind—those ignoramuses out their who believe that shaking a baby or beating a toddler is okay, is the way to handle a situation. Where does that mindset come from? I have a vague memory of the police being in the parents’ waiting room at the hospital where Caitlin was a patient, there to question some parents about how their child came to be hurt. I remember feeling that blind rage again—all of the parents who were there just begging for their childrens’ lives, and these two had thrown theirs away.
Sorry, really didn’t mean to go there. I’ll try to regroup.
And now for something completely different . . . here’s a bit of history for you:
The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days.
Supposedly, the first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was “in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.)” But it was in 46 B.C.E. that Julius Caesar who made January 1st the official start of a new year with the introduction of the Julian calendar, which was solar based:
Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back. Caesar felt that the month named after this god (“January”) would be the appropriate “door” to the year . . . In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies—a ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was ordered by the gods.
During the Middle Ages, this practice was abolished because of its pagan roots and did not return until 1582, when the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year’s day.
So how was that for a complete 180? Whiplash?
I hope you have a lovely safe evening, and best wishes for the coming year.
More later. Peace.
All images are by Canadian artist Lawren Harris (1885 – 1970), a key figure in the Group of Seven. I don’t know which I like better, his houses with the splashes of red, or his lakes, with various shades of blue.
Music by Gregory Alan Isakov, “That Moon Song”
Moth; or how I came to be with you again
— I remember when I touched my
sleeping mother’s hair, it sparked in
my hands and I thought she was
inhuman, but I was young, and only
years later would I understand she
was under the spell of an erotic
dream — I remember a white door
emboldened with a laurel wreath
leading into a basement where we
retreated frequently in the tornado
season — I remember how day after
day would pass while nothing
happened and how without mercy
time would gather weight, accrete a
green patina on the locket I chipped
with a long fingernail — I remember
the swaying firs made a whanging of
rusted girders I thought would
collapse — I remember sitting at my
desk before my most precious
things, sheets of graph paper,
diagrams, folders, waterlogged and
moulded charts, and then
unannounced he would come to me,
moving my hand automatically
across these pages — I remember
the gathering darkness of a thousand
incidents I never witnessed, and yet
bird by bird they separated
themselves into moments of bright
singularity — I remember that I
possess no real memory of my
mother and only know at all she even
existed by evidence of my own pale
skin and the double-helix twisted
under it into an X — I remember
blurry light, rain on an awning, and
then being lifted and placed into a red
wagon — I remember when the
earth was for me, for the last time in
its history, still elastic as cartilage,
had not fully solidified into the
obstacle of the known, the terrible,
stubborn thing called fact — I
remember it was the hibiscus winter,
because she said so — I remember
writing these words, but only barely,
but one after another stone-like in
their materiality they are undeniable
— I remember remembering a
dream, under a low ceiling of
illuminated clouds swirling in a
tarantella, I rode weeping along the
boulevard of an empty city newly in
ruins where each crumbling
museum was my hidden and
sumptuous destitution — I
remember someone informed me he
had once hanged himself from his
swing set, then the memory infected
me, became my own — I remember
a small, A-frame house, and
watching the hawthorn wasting in an
emollient sea wind — I remember a
white door — I remember it was the
hibiscus winter — I remember
thinking I had been comatose a
thousand years, though this is surely
false, and in my uncorroborated
absence the whole fungible world in
a moment of chemical agony had
changed in irreversible ways — I
remember how everything tasted
dark — I remember things I’ve never
felt — a seagull feather brushing my
lips, a turquoise shell, my shoulders
festooned with flowers — I
remember thinking what was in my
mind was put there by others, by
books I read, by objects I looked at
but did not own — I remember
wondering if other memories
remained in the twilight regions of my
mind where my failed loves were
soil, and if soon someone would
enlighten me to things I had done
and then, years later, I would
remember them as real — I
remember tender hands covered in
snow — I remember the city, the
flames immanent as flowers, patient
to burst forth — I remember my
favourite word once was —
~ Thomas Heise
“If with pleasure you are viewing
Any work a man is doing;
If you like him or you love him, tell him now.
Don’t withhold your approbation
Till the preacher makes oration
And he lies with snowy lilies o’er his brow.
For no matter how you shout it,
He won’t really care about it;
He won’t know how many teardrops you have shed.
If you think some praise is due him,
Now’s the time to slip it to him,
For He cannot read his tombstone when he’s dead.”
~ Clyde H. Box
Many thanks to those of you who continue to follow and subscribe to this blog. Some of you I have never heard from, and some of you I hear from once in a while, and some of you I hear from frequently. You will never know how much your comments and observations—big or small—mean to me. It affirms that this ongoing project is not for naught.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Here’s an excerpt from the WordPress report:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.
Found a copy of this beautiful poster, which was part of the Poetry in Motion series, sponsored by the Poetry Society of America:
Some items are in high demand at the food bank and you may not realize it. Because they aren’t essentials, the staff doesn’t publicly ask for them. A survey asked volunteers what items people would be most appreciative of and we’ve listed the top 10 below. If you’re looking for an easy way to help out, pick some of these up while shopping and drop them off at one of our area food banks.
Think about it. People who rely on the food bank eat a lot of canned food, rice, oatmeal, white bread, etc. They love spices. Seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, oregano, basil and so on.
2. Feminine Products.
Can you imagine being worried about affording these? Pads, tampons, panty liners, etc. Recommended: Buy in bulk at Costco for donating.
People don’t need it, but think about being in their shoes and how nice it would be to be given a chocolate bar or brownie mix along with your essentials.
Grocery stores are great about donating surplus or unsold food, but they have no reason to donate toilet paper, tooth paste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc. Food stamps often don’t cover these.
5. Canned meats and jerky.
This isn’t true of all food banks, but some struggle to give users enough protein.
6. Crackers and tortillas.
They don’t spoil and everybody likes them.
7. Baby toiletries.
Diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby shampoo, baby soap, baby food, bottles, etc.
8. Soup packets.
Sometimes you look at rice, beans, instant potatoes, and cans of vegetable and think, “What do I make with this?” Hearty soup is a complete meal.
From a former homeless person: “Socks mean the world to you. They keep you warm, make you feel like you have something new, and just comfort you.”
10. Canned fruit other than pineapple.
Food banks get a lot of pineapple donated. Their clients love it when other kinds of fruit are available.
And remember! Food banks love cash donations because it allows them to buy whatever they need!
From someone who has used a food bank:
As a sometimes food pantry user myself and with friends who rely on them to varying degrees – I want to specifically stress some of these:
– non-food items like tp and feminine products and baby needs are SO incredibly important because 1) they are rarely donated, 2) people who have food stamps can often afford their food staples but might still need help with toiletries and cleaning items, and 3) folks who are homeless especially need that kinda stuff!
– treats! Like, yes of course, if I am in need I am appreciative of canned goods and rice and pasta and stuff. That’s great for putting together healthy meals. But everyone needs a treat once in awhile – so when there is candy or chips or a nice expensive brand of organic something or other available at the pantry – it is just so incredibly exciting.
It can be a humiliating experience to visit a pantry, and it can make you feel very much less than. So to get a treat of some sort just really really makes a difference. And believe me – there are enough loaves of bread, cans of fruit, and dried beans to go around at these places. You won’t be starving someone by donating some microwave popcorn or chocolate chips now and again. I promise!
Friday afternoon. Sunny and cold, 47 degrees.
Home alone. Silence.
Well, long time, no write. I know. Unfortunately, it’s been a hellacious week, and today is the first day that I’ve had any time to myself, any time to sit here and muse, any time to try to stitch together some kind of linear thought.
I hope you enjoyed the Muppet Christmas carols. I had always planned to post them leading up to Christmas, but unfortunately, was never able to do the actual scheduling. Let me back up . . . On December 16 I took my mother to the ER because she was in a lot of pain. They ended up admitting her to the hospital with a severe case of diverticulitis. She was in until December 21. Consequently, my stress levels shot through the roof, and my computer time was nil.
I was trying to take care of her cat, do Christmas shopping and decorating, visit my mother in the hospital and everything else. And of course when she was released, she was still weak and in need. It became one long litany of telephone calls. And in between, I lost my bank card, but didn’t find out until I was in line at Wal-Mart. Thankfully, some honest soul found it and turned it in, and no weird charges appeared. I was very lucky, but man, stress upon stress.
The last two weeks have just about done me in.
Add to all of this the planned holiday dinner here at my house, and then pile on the fact that Corey is not home. Christmas morning was more than a bit surreal for me. The boys decided to open their big presents and then to save everything else for when Corey gets home, the same for Lex and Mike. I left it up to them, and that’s what they all decided to do, which is nice.
But truthfully, it just hasn’t felt anything like Christmas this year. I haven’t listened to any music. I haven’t read anything, and you may wonder what that has to do with Christmas, and the answer is nothing, but everything. For me, it’s a state of mind, and my state of mind was pure chaos, a restless sea.
I don’t even think that I can describe it adequately to make sense.
I mean, my mother is very sick, isn’t leaving the house to have dinner with the family, and Corey is thousands of miles away. To top it off, Corey tried to call me on Christmas day using the ship’s satellite phone, and I didn’t answer because I didn’t recognize the number, and I really didn’t want to talk to anyone because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. He called four times in a row, but I didn’t answer. I talked to him that night when the ship got its wi-fi back and he was able to call on his phone.
Obviously when I found out what had happened, I felt like a jerk.
There are things that I used to do to get into the mindset for the holidays. I have about ten Christmas CDs, and I would impose my music on anyone who was near, play it in the car, play it at home, sing along loudly. And then I would watch two movies: A Wonderful Life (in black and white), and Scrooge, the musical with Albert Finney. I would usually put these on while I wrapped presents.
None of that this year. I simply forgot. It’s as if my mind said to itself, “Hmm, Christmas . . . blank.”
I finished addressing the cards on Christmas Eve, but this year I didn’t include any letters to anyone. I never send out those family holiday bulletins, but I usually take the time to add letters to a few special people. Not this year.
I tell you, it’s like I’m in some kind of vacuum. Outside everyone is carrying on with life, and I’m in here, on pause. It’s been like this since Thanksgiving, and unfortunately, I don’t feel as if my kids have been able to fill the void. It’s small things, like when I was going on seven hours in the ER, and I asked if anyone could spell me, maybe bring me Starbucks. Nothing. What gives with that?
I know. They have their own lives, their own priorities. It’s just a bit hard to realize that at the moment, I’m no one’s priority. It’s making me reflect a lot on life, as in people who live alone, how they do it, how they survive. I want my children to have their own lives, want them to set out into the world, to explore, want them to be unafraid to try new ventures.
Yet if I am honest, I am also sad at being left behind. They no longer need me; I am no longer the touchstone that grounds them, that keeps them safe from harm. Yet I know that will be my role until I take my last breath.
This is hard to elucidate. I can’t quite get a handle on it, this ephemeral state in which I find myself. I don’t know how to define it.
And of course, I feel like a selfish wench because I’m full of self-pity, and there are so many people out there who are alone all of the time. There are so many people with real problems, real life-altering problems, and here I am, having another pity party. I don’t know if I’m more upset at the fact that I’m upset or that I’m alone.
Last night, as I lay in bed trying to decide whether or not to fall asleep with the television on, I thought of my mother who has been alone for so many years. I wonder if she ever fears going to sleep alone at night as I was feeling that moment, and then at the same time I was amazed by the contradiction that is me. I love the silence, love the quiet, but fear the stillness.
And I wonder when I began to be afraid to be still. Is it something that has happened gradually, or have I always been this way? And I really don’t know the answer, so unsure am I of my own personality.
Alone in the dark, my mind races, and perhaps that is what I fear: where my mind will take me in the dark silence. And when I awoke from an intense, frenetic dream of my father, I knew that that was precisely what I had been afraid of—going there again.
The days until Corey is home again are less than ten. Surely I can hold it together until then. This is what I think as I sit here now in the afternoon sun, a cup of hot Irish Breakfast tea in a mug before me. I can do this.
Until night comes again.
More later. Peace.
Music by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, “Winter Song”
two short ones . . .
On Missing Them
People always say that it hurts at night
and apparently screaming into your pillow at 3am
is the romantic equivalent of being heartbroken.
it’s 9am on a tuesday morning
and you’re standing at the kitchen bench waiting for the toast to pop up
And the smell of dusty sunlight and earl gray tea makes you miss them so much
you don’t know what to do with your hands.
~ Rosie Scanlan
Sometimes you called on those
you’d never know
to come with you in place
of those you loved,
and talked to them
and touched them
and let them close purely
for sadness, for sadness
you’d hold them,
and you’d let them go.
~ Daniel Halpern
I’m a big believer in the long winter’s nap, and today I really, really needed one. I chanced upon some beautiful illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith for the Night Before Christmas story, something I have read to all of my children countless times.