“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows.” ~ Audrey Hepburn


“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” ~ Henry James

Saturday afternoon. Rainy and windy, 55 degrees.

Oh I feel terrible. I missed my mother-in-law’s birthday on Tuesday, and that is a true misgiving on my part because she is the kindest woman I have ever known. I’ve been saving the video below just for her, and then because of the craziness that is my life, I forgot.

Mea culpa.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Joyce! I hope you had a lovely one.


Starry Nights time-lapse video by Jan Hattenbach:

StarryNights is a collection of astronomical time-lapse videos recorded of the last three years.


A November Sunrise

Wild geese are flocking and calling in pure golden air,
Glory like that which painters long ago
Spread as a background for some little hermit
Beside his cave, giving his cloak away,
Or for some martyr stretching out
On her expected rack.
A few black cedars grow nearby
And there’s a donkey grazing.

Small craftsmen, steeped in anonymity like bees,
Gilded their wooden panels, leaving fame to chance,
Like the maker of this wing-flooded golden sky,
Who forgives all our ignorance
Both of his nature and of his very name,
Freely accepting our one heedless glance.

~ Anne Porter

“Life might be brief and transient, scrawled in the sand. But death was written in a much harder alphabet.” ~ Stephen Booth, from Dancing with the Virgins

No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, from Invisible Monsters

Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and 83 degrees, yes, 83 degrees . . . whatever . . .

It’s supposed to be “Two for Tuesday,” but I’m pushing Tuesday to Wednesday because I was up until almost 6 a.m., thinking about words, words that I wanted to say, but I kept myself away from the keyboard because I knew that once I began, it might be days before I stopped. Days, hours, it matters not.

Odilon Redon Closed Eyes 1890 oil on canvas

“Closed Eyes” (1890, oil on canvas)
by Odilon Redon

This is what kept me awake: My mother was the one who realized that something was wrong with Caitlin. Not me. She did. She took one look at her and said, “What’s wrong with her eyes?” She said they were bulging. I didn’t really see it, didn’t want to see it, shrugged it off as my mother being overprotective of her granddaughters in the same way that she was overprotective of me.

She was right.

That phone call I received at my very first faculty meeting? That one? It was because my mother had put Caitlin in the car and had taken her to the pediatrician’s office and made them look at her eyes. You see, after the ER doctor had said that she had a virus, I had taken Caitlin to the pediatrician and said that my mother thought her eyes looked funny. The one doctor, the one I never really liked, poo pooed the comment.

My mother was right. I was wrong. The ER resident was wrong. The pediatrician was wrong. It took my mother taking Caitlin to see the other pediatrician in the practice, the gentle one who listened to every word you said—it took that for someone to finally pay attention and send Caitlin to the Children’s Hospital, the hospital that found the brain tumor.

My mother was right.

How children think of death is how the shadows
gather between trees: a hiding place
for everything the grown-ups cannot name.
” ~ John Burnside, from “The Hunt in the Forest”

Odilon Redon Ophelia

“Ophelia V” (c1905)
by Odilon Redon

Look, you’re probably wondering why I’m going over this yet again, but all I can say in way of explanation is one word: fall. Autumn is my best and worst of times. I love every natural aspect of the  season, yet the way in which my emotional well-being goes into free fall more often than not leaves me tortured. Nietzsche said it best when he said that autumn was “more the season of the soul than the season of nature.”

Example: Yesterday, after getting my fasting labs done in the early morning, and then having my six-month checkup with my PCP, all I could think about were curly fries. Weird, I know. So I had to maneuver the hell that is a major thoroughfare that it still under construction to get to the nearest Arby’s. My timing was lousy as the nearby grade school was getting out at the same time. Parents in their cars lined both sides of the streets. No one would let me turn into the narrow street. The resultant snafu left me in tears.

Yes, tears, as in crying in the car, which, if you’ve ever been in the car with me, is completely uncharaceristic. Crying over curly fries, crying over curly fries that I couldn’t eat once I had ordered them. Then yesterday evening as I was trying to force myself to post something, I came across the story about a journalist who was beheaded by ISIS, and again, I cried.

Bed. Yes, bed would make it better. But bed, not so much. No sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about my mother and Caitlin’s eyes, which leads me to this moment.

“. . . how come sorrow is as heavy, lumpen and impenetrably black as an anvil?” ~ Agnès Desarthe, from Chez Moi

November will rear its ugly head in just a few days, and with it I have to confront once again the losses of my daughter, my father, my friend, and yes, even my dog. Isn’t it time to let go, past time, you ask?

Odilon Redon The Yellow Cape 1895 pastel on paper

“The Yellow Cape” (1895, pastel on paper)
by Odilon Redon

Beh. Of course it is. But that’s for normal people, people who do not obsess and obsess and obsess over perceived failings. Example: I did not clean the portal lines that had been inserted into Caitlin’s chest the day that I had taken her in for a follow-up MRI. Why do I remember this? Who knows, but I remember vividly doing a haphazard job of inserting the flushing material in the waiting room at CHKD before they took her into the MRI suite because I wanted to make sure that I had done this one thing for my daughter that I was tasked to do on a daily basis.

Did that failure to use a one-inch square of alcohol on a gauze pad lead to infection? Who knows? Possibly? Probably? Probably not?

The point is that I REMEMBER. I cannot forget. Just as I cannot forget that I did not go back to the hospital that night before my father died even though I had promised his unconscious body that I would come back and spend the night at the hospital. Exhaustion and relief at being away from the white noise of the ICU gave me a false sense of relief, and so I went to bed, and he died in the middle of the night alone.

“How long it takes me to climb into grief!
Fifty years old, and still held in the dark,
in the unfinished, the hopeful, what longs for solution.” ~ Robert Bly, from “A Ramage for the Star Man, Mourning”

Enough, you say. Stop this madness, you say. No, not nearly . . .

When I left my mother’s room that Thursday afternoon, I secretly congratulated myself on making such a speedy getaway, leaving my mother to talk the ear off the social worker. I had work to do. I needed to get her house ready for her to come home. There was snow to be removed. And so I had a brief visit, long enough for her to bitch at me, and then I left, and then she died the next morning, sometime, they are guessing around 9, alone.

Odilon Redon Closed Eyes c1894 oil on canvas

“Closed Eyes” (c1894, oil on canvas)
by Odilon Redon

And did I mention that that best friend I lovingly wrote about years ago in my Vale et Memini series, the one who had a brain tumor and survived? Her? Did I mention that she died and I didn’t find out until a few years later, that I never even went to the funeral because I didn’t know that there was a funeral, and the other night it suddenly came to me that hell, I was her eldest daughter’s godmother, a sacred honor that I had completely washed from my memory.

And that other anamchara friend, the one who I always thought I’d be bonded to in perpetuity? I haven’t corresponded with her in years, other than an obligatory Christmas card. Yes, I am a careless friend, the kind of person who withdraws so completely that the only interactions I still have with friends occur in the midst of troubled sleep.

And then there is the nagging curse I imposed upon myself when Corey and I first got together: I had been so certain that he wouldn’t have to be burdened with me for years and years because I never wanted him to see me get old, and so I had this feeling, this sense, that I would die when I was 56. And you hear of people who have feelings that they will die young, in their teens, who do, and people who have a feeling that they will not live to be old, and they do not, and so what have I done to myself.

“Endlessness runs in you like leaves on the tree of night.” ~ Anne Carson, from “TV Men: The Sleeper”

Listen, if you recently subscribed to this blog because you found it amusing and slightly entertaining, or if you enjoyed the art or the poetry or the music, if that was your reason? Well I’m sorry. Because this post is really what this blog is about. This endless cacophony of doubt, and blame, and grief, and sorrow, and pain.

That other person, the one who offers up stuff from Takei’s tumblr or other such sites? She’s a phony. She is neither glib nor witty. She masks all of the pain behind little ditties about animals and absurd abuses of the English language because to do otherwise would be peering far too keenly in Nietzsche’s abyss, and we all know what happens when you do that.

Odilon Redon GIrl with Chrysanthemums c1905 pastel on paper

“Girl with Chrysanthemums” (c1905, pastel on paper)
by Odilon Redon

The only good thing about this post is that I did not get out of bed at 4 a.m. to begin it. Had I done so, I am completely certain that the maudlin factor would have been  even worse, if you can imagine that.

I always, always know when the words are going to come fast and furious, when there is no stemming of the onslaught. It has always been this way, since I was but a child, hiding in my room, trying not to let my mother see that yet another book had reduced me to tears and heartache because her solution, of course, was to think happy thoughts, and for a soul such as mine, one might as well say something along the line of “you could be happy if you just tried.”

Oh, but if you only knew the truth of my esse, my life force, that tortured, tormented, and torrid do not begin to encompass the four corners of my heart.

More later. Peace.

All images by French artist Odilon Redon (1840-1916). I am intrigued by how many of the subjects in his paintings have closed eyes or eyes narrowly opened, to which I can relate: going through life with eyes closed, surrounded by beauty . . .

Music by Will Hoge, “When I Get My Wings”


Consider the Space Between Stars 

Consider the white space
between words on a page, not just
the margins around them.

Or the space between thoughts:
instants when the mind is inventing
exactly what it thinks

and the mouth waits
to be filled with language.
Consider the space

between lovers after a quarrel,
the white sheet a cold metaphor
between them.

Now picture the brief space
before death enters, hat in hand:
vanishing years, filled with light.

~ Linda Pastan

“The human heart is like a night bird. Silently waiting for something, and when the time comes, it flies straight toward it.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

(c) Perth & Kinross Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

“Blyth Autumn” (1963, oil on canvas)
by Robert Henderson

Two for Tuesday: October

Thursday evening. Partly cloudy and humid, 81 degrees.

Argh. Heat and humidity. What gives? I want it to feel like October, to feel like autumn.

Corey has spent the day working on the side yard again. All of the random trees have been cut down. He has mulched a huge pile from the wood, and today, he put up a make-shift fence until he has the funds to rent an auger and do all of the post holes. At some point he’s going to work on getting some of the stumps out or cut level, don’t know which, but removal requires a grinder, which costs money. Anyway, I know that he’s happy with what he’s accomplished. As am I.

We’re working on getting done the things we have to get done so that we can put this house on the market. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner the better. But, of course, everything takes money, so it’s here and there. It would be so nice if we had the funds to just take care of everything all at once, but alas. Not for now.

He goes back next week, and it’s been really nice to have him home for a full three weeks. With this set schedule, he’ll be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and somehow we have to fit in holidays and a trip to Ohio to see the new baby. I long for easier days. Oh well . . . Baby tonight, which is always nice.

More later. Peace.

MSKG - Zonnige boom - Emile Claus (1900)

“Tree in the Sun” (1900, oil on canvas)
by Emil Claus

Late October

the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
to black
for comfort.

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order to begin

~ Maya Angelou


Léon Spilliaert October Evening, 1912

“October Evening” (1912, pastel on paper)
by Léon Spilliaert

October, Mon Amour

The first dead leaves lie like sea urchins

browned on the asphalt drive.

It’s got to be October,

Slayer of living things, refrigerator of memory.

Next to the wilted lettuce, next to the Simone Weil,

Our lives are shoved in,

barely visible, but still unspoiled.

Our history is the history of the City of God.

What’s-to-Come is anybody’s guess.

Whatever has given you comfort,

Whatever has rested you,

Whatever untwisted your heart

is what you will leave behind.

~ Charles Wright


Music by Esthero, “Crash” (featuring Johan Johnson)

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

This week’s headline (sort of):

“A photon checks into a hotel, and the bellhop asks him if he has any luggage. The photon replies, ‘No, I’m traveling light.'”

Does this answer your question?

Genius Test Answers

Where Was The Declaration Of Independence Signed

Smart Test Answers

 In the “would you believe” category:

Word play as clever jokes, for $1000, Alex?

Ghandi joke

Wow. Free $50?

Sweeney Todd, anyone?

Say what?

This is so not funny:

This was an actual ad:


For your bibliophiles who are just aching to spend more money: Book Riot’s Quarterly Box


Click here to find out more.


Wonder how these taste . . .

I love this:

Jericho the horse and his baboon friends at Monkeyland, a spacious free roaming animal sanctuary in South Africa’s Plettenberg Bay which serves to rehabilitate and free previously caged primates.

And this:


Post hoc, ergo propter hoc . . .

Berthe Morisot Fall Colors in the Bois de Boulogne 1888

“Fall Colors in the Bois de Boulogne” (1888, watercolor)
by Berthe Morisot

Two for Tuesday: Post hoc

Tuesday afternoon. Cloudy and cooler, 66 degrees.

It’s a “West Wing” kind of day . . .

Josh Lyman: Someone give me a river to forge, a serpent to slay.

C.J. Cregg: What’s his problem?

Donna Moss: He’s been drinking from the keg of glory. We’re to bring him all the muffins and bagels in the land.

Toby Ziegler: We heard.

Well if every week were to begin with a Monday like my yesterday, I doubt I would ever leave my bed. Let’s just say that it was a day worthy of Finagle’s Law of Dynamic Negatives: Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment.

All three of my children were in crises, and I was in the midst of a massive migraine brought on by stress and lack of sleep. It was a mixture of illness, stress, bills, and life. Somehow we all muddled through and managed to take care of a few pressing issues. And somehow I was able to sleep last night, short bursts of sound sleep, interrupted by my dogs’ incessant need to wander into the back yard in the middle of the night and look around, sniff the air and . . . just stand there as if they had all of the time in the world.

Anyway, I talked to Corey last night, and he seemed to be in the midst of his arm of the Murphy’s corollary, with things not going all that well for him either. Sometimes, sleep is the only answer.


Edvard Munch Elm Forest in Autumn 1919-20

“Elm Forest in Autumn” (1919-20)
by Edvard Munch

After All This

After all this love, after the birds rip like scissors
through the morning sky, after we leave, when the empty
bed appears like a collapsed galaxy, or the wake of
disturbed air behind a plane, after that, as the wind turns
to stone, as the leaves shriek, you are still breathing
inside my own breath. The lighthouse on the far point
still sweeps away the darkness with the brush of an arm.
The tides inside your heart still pull me towards you.
After all this, what are these words but mollusk shells
a child plays with? What could say more than the eloquence
of last night’s constellations? or the storm anchored by
its own flashes behind the far mountains? I remember
the way your body wavers under my touch like the northern
lights. After all this, I want the certainty of hidden roots
spreading in all directions from their tree. I want to hear
again the sky tangled in your voice. Some nights I can
hear the footsteps of the stars. How can these words
ever reveal the secret that waits in their sleeping light?
The words that walk through my mind say only what has
already passed. Beyond, the swallows are still knitting
the wind. After a while, the smokebush will turn to fire.
After a while, the thin moon will grow like a tear in a curtain.
Under it, a small boy kicks a ball against the wall of
a burned out house. He is too young to remember the war.
He hardly knows the emptiness that kindles around him.
He can speak the language of early birds outside our window.
Someday he will know this kind of love that changes
the color of the sky, and frees the earth from its moorings.
Sometimes I kiss your eyes to see beyond what I can imagine.
Sometimes I think I can speak the language of unborn stars.
I think the whole earth breathes with you. After all this,
these words are all I have to say what is impossible to think,
what shy dreams hide in the rafters of my heart, because
these words are only a form of touch, only tell you I have no life
that isn’t yours, and no death you couldn’t turn into a life.

~ Richard Jackson


Anne Redpath A Borders River Landscape, Lyon and Turnbull, Edinburgh

“A Borders River Landscape, Lyon and Turnbull, Edinburgh” (nd, oil on board)
by Anne Redpath

The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray. When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

~ Stanley Kunitz


Music by Great Lake Swimmers, “Moving Pictures Silent Films”

It’s that time again . . .

Banned Books Week September 21-27, 2014

“Our most basic freedom in a democratic society is our first amendment right of the freedom to read,” said ALA President Courtney Young. “Banned Books Week is an opportunity for all of us – community residents, librarians, authors and educators – to stand together protecting this fundamental right for everyone and for future generations. We can never take this precious right for granted.”

Monday night, late. No idea what the weather is like at this moment . . .

It’s Banned Books Week, and you know how I feel about that. I found the wonderful poem by Robert Morgan below, and it really touched a nerve for me. You see, I taught myself to read with Superman comic books. My dad got so tired of me wanting him to read to me all of the time that he told me that I should learn to read for myself. I was four.

Anyway, I don’t care what your background is, who you are, what color you are, what your country of origin is—reading is one of the most powerful tools in the world. Reading is knowledge, and the idea that there are books and comics that should not be read for whatever reason just slays me. You see, I have seen illiteracy up close. It’s ugly, very ugly.

So if I young child comes to you with a book or comic and asks you to read it, don’t say no. Never say no. It doesn’t matter if you like it. It doesn’t matter if you agree with it. Words can save us all. Do not deny anyone that access.

Read to your children. Read to your siblings. Read to your grandchildren, your nieces, your nephews, your neighbors. You want to make this a better world? Read to someone, and then, teach them to read for themselves.

More later. Peace.

Important Links:


Funny Books

Because my parents had denied
me comic books as sordid and
salacious, I would sneak a look
at those of friends, the bold and bright
slick covers, pages rough as news
and inked in pinks and greens and blues
as cowboys shouted in balloons
and Indian yells were printed on
the clouds. I borrowed books and hid
them in the crib and under shoes
and under bed. The glories of
those hyperbolic zaps and screams
were my illuminated texts,
the chapbook prophets of forbidden
and secret art, the narratives
of quest and conquest in the West,
of Superman and Lash Larue.
The print and pictures cruder than
the catalog were sweeter than
the cake at Bible School. I crouched
in almost dark and swilled the words
that soared in their balloons and bulbs
of grainy breath into my pulse,
into the stratosphere of my
imagination, reaching Mach
and orbit speed, escape velocity
just at the edge of Sputnik’s age,
in stained glass windows of the page.

~ Robert Morgan


Music by Greg Holden, “The Lost Boy”

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

This week’s headline:

“Five years down the road, Harry might have become a fornicating, drug-addicted Evolutionist!” ~ Grace Anne fanfiction of Harry Potter

Friday afternoon. Sunny and lovely, 77 degrees.

I had an absolutely dreadful night, and at some point I had a horrible dream about a friend from whom I have been estranged for many years, but I dreamt that his two-year-old daughter had died in a horrible accident, and no one had told me . . . and then I was awakened this morning by some very loud yard machine that sounded as if it needed a new muffler. Egads.

I tend to have an allergic reaction to one of my pain medications: I start to itch all over, even into my scalp, so I try to avoid this particular medication unless I absolutely have to have it. Benadryl helps, sometimes. I bought some of that ointment that I had seen advertised—Tricalm, but I don’t see that it helps any better than plain old hydrocortisone cream. That’s seven bucks wasted. Anyway, I awoke several times during the night and morning because of the uncontrollable itching, do once the noise started, I just gave up and got out of bed.

I consoled myself for the lack of sleep by working my way through a small book: Drowned, by Swedish author Therese Bohman. I’ve been wanting to read more Swedish authors ever since I finished Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. The story was good, even though the writing was a bit uneven, but I really did not like the ending.

Oh well.

“The couple’s problems might be sexy and Aquarian, but the solution was the same as it ever was: Allie had to ‘hold her tongue’ and ‘mend her ways’ to avoid ‘bossing and manipulating’ Kip.” ~ From a December 1970 “Can This Marriage be Saved?” column

I seem to be on quite a tangent lately, which is, unfortunately, compelled by too many recent news stories concerning domestic abuse, college rapes, and other vile things.

The warped world of 1950s marriage counseling:

Ladies Home Journal Illustration by Coby Whitmore 1959

Ladies Home Journal Illustration by Coby Whitmore (1959)

Do you remember the “Can This Marriage be Saved?” column in Ladies Home Journal? Well a recent article shed light on a patently one-sided vein to the early columns in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. For example, in the case of Sue and her physically abusive husband Joe

But it was Sue who had the most work to do. She showed a lack of insight – she didn’t understand her husband. By refusing to have sex with him after he hit her, ‘she… touched off another almost inevitable explosion. Many husbands endeavour to make up for their misdeeds by such ardour, a fact of life that wise and loving wives accept.’

W-ORD Channel 7 News With John Oliver & Cookie Monster

Ah yes. The Scholastic Book Fair—nothing better. I used to send Alexis in with a blank check and a maximum budget. The librarians loved that. Good times.

Actress Nina Millin’s Beyoncelogues: “Best Thing I Never Had”

Classic Art Meets Magazine Covers:

Barbara Walters- Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (Whistler's Mother)

Barbara Walters + “Whistler’s Mother”

Kate Upton- The Priestess

Kate Upton + “The Priestess”

From beauty to blegh: Is this not one of the creepiest things you have ever seen?

Say what?

Photo: We'll have more steak in just a momentaneousment.

Brett and I were just discussing the failures of public schools, and then I saw this:

georgetakei:</p><br /><br /> <p>I’m going to need a lot of patience just to not hit my forehead so hard with my palm.<br /><br /><br /> Source: That’s Messed Up - http://po.st/1df5Hk

You put what in my candy?

Photo: The other OTHER white meat.

Definite face palm Tiger face palmmoment . . .


Your weekly public service informational announcement:

This is so cool: Pendulum wave demonstration

I would love to own a pair of these jeans: