Ruby inside looking out after discovering how to get inside the house
Freddy posing: The only dog who will sit still long enough for a picture
Nuzzling Napoleon in the bright sunshine
Max grazing in the pasture
Ruby looking inside the front door
“there were times when I could believe we were the children of stars and our words were made of the same dust that flames in space, times when I could feel in the lightness of breath the weight of a whole day come to rest.” ~ Mark Strand, from “For Jessica, My Daughter”
Saturday afternoon, sunny and warm, 69 degrees.
Too nice to concentrate on my words today, so I’m offering some new pictures of the animals.
Everyone was outside in the bright sunshine as Corey did more work on the pasture fence. We’re trying to let Max and Ruby wander around like the dogs, and so far, they stay close; although, they are just as mischievous as the puppies: Ruby jumped inside Corey’s truck, but I couldn’t get a good picture of that particular moment; then both goats figured out how to get inside the front door because, yep, that’s what goats do.
Ruby made a beeline for the horses’ apple treats, which I had to snatch before she inhaled them. Max has a hard time with the treats because they are too big, and he has a jaw problem.
Man, how do I always end up with animals with too much personality, animals who don’t know they’re animals? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
More later. Peace.
Music by John Denver, “Today” (I cannot begin to tell you what this song means to me)
The red sun rises
and shines the same on all of us.
We play like children under the sun.
One day, our ashes will scatter— …………………………………….it doesn’t matter when.
Now the sun finds our innermost hearts, …………………………………….fills us with oblivion
intense as the forest, winter and sea.
“Boughs of trees adorned with thick pillows, so fluffy someone must have plumped them up; the ground a series of humps and mounds, beneath which slinking underbrush or outcrops of rock lay hidden;” ~ Thomas Mann, from The Magic Mountain
Sunday afternoon, cloudy and cold, 32 degrees, more snow forecast.
It began snowing during the night and continued into early afternoon. I estimate about five or six inches on the ground, and the weather is predicting more to come. I am mesmerized by how everything here looks. It is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
In scouring the internet in search of appropriate quotes and a poem for today, I was dismayed to find only the most well known of quotes and poems, you know, Christine Rossetti’s “In the Deep Midwinter,” which I love, but I’ve used before, I’m certain. And I do try very hard not to repeat the poems or songs that I include; although, it’s a bit harder with quotes.
But I thought of Galway Kinnell, one of my favorite poets, and I reasoned that he had to have a poem that fit the mood of this post. I was not wrong, but the poem, which is about his wife, is a bit melancholy, I’ll admit, just so you know.
“Is it snowing where you are? All the world that I see from my tower is draped in white and the flakes are coming down as big as pop-corns. It’s late afternoon – the sun is just setting (a cold yellow colour) behind some colder violet hills, and I am up in my window seat using the last light to write to you.” ~ Jean Webster, from Daddy-Long-Legs
Corey has driven to Dallas’s house to pick up some hay for the horses; although they seem to be grazing just fine beneath the snow. Napoleon and Sassy continue to break out of the pasture, and have taken to coming onto the front porch to get my attention. While Corey wonders how we always manage to have animals with so much personality, I smile inwardly. It does not surprise me at all that the horses have already developed distinct personalities. It just take a little conversation, a little attention, a little love.
Animals are not dumb. People are.
I put the coats on the dogs before they ventured out again. Tillie loved hers, Bailey not so much. Though it looks as if I’m going to have to switch them—the coats, not the dogs. Originally I had bought a bigger coat for Tillie, but hers is too big, and Bailey’s is, well, a bit snug; she was not amused when I told her that she had gotten bigger.
Anyway, while the dogs are enjoying the snow, and the horses seem a bit indifferent, the cats are having none of it. Ash took a quick peek out the front door and immediately turned around and plopped himself back down in front of the wood stove, as if to say, “You must be joking.” Cleo, the other cat, rarely stirs from sleeping 23 hours a day unless it’s to eat or to peer out the back door as if to reassure herself that she is no longer living outside.
Speaking of the wood stove, we really need to buy a bellows for it. It’s not that large, but it puts out a lot of heat once the fire gets going, that being the operational phrase—gets going, as in it takes a lot for that to happen. Corey ends up frustrated daily by the lack of cooperation that he gets from the stove/fire.
“All Heaven and Earth Flowered white obliterate… Snow…unceasing snow” ~ Hashin (only known haiku)
When I awoke very early this morning, the flakes that were falling were big drops of fluff, bigger than I’ve seen in quite a while. I had to stop myself from waking Corey so that he could see, as I didn’t think that he’d appreciate it.
Once we finally stirred ourselves hours later, it was still snowing. I noticed that it was almost impossible to make out the top of the ridge as everything was snow covered, and the sky was white, so it appeared as one long white gradient. Sometimes, it’s nice to see the world a little blurry as I do without my glasses and truthfully, sometimes with them; but I do enjoy seeing the lines blurred between nature’s boundaries, earth to sky.
Unfortunately, I know that I need to get my eyes checked again before ordering new glasses. The last time that I was at the eye doctor in Norfolk, she had said that my vision will continue to deteriorate because of the cataracts but that the cataracts weren’t yet bad enough to operate.
A classic catch-22. Aging is fun.
What will also be fun is trying to find an eye surgeon around here that I trust to do the work on both eyes, and with my ill luck in finding just a regular doctor, I’m seriously considering going back to Norfolk at the beginning of the year to get my eyes checked out and to make an appointment for the operation.
“The crisp path through the field in this December snow, in the deep dark, where we trod the buried grass like ghosts on dry toast.” ~ Dylan Thomas, from Quite Early One Morning: Stories
I’m torn between putting on layers of clothes and venturing outside for real, as in past the porches, or taking a nap, or taking a hot bath. For now, I’ll just sit here and write until something changes, I suppose.
Last night I had a very strange dream in which there was a lot of movement between two houses, people going back and forth. What is strange about this dream is that the night before, I dreamed that an old friend was supposed to come to dinner, but I had forgotten to tell him that I had moved, so he went to the old house and then had to drive to the new one. It doesn’t take a dream interpretation book to understand the underlying contexts; still, it’s a bit unnerving in that the people who populate these particular dreams are ones I have not seen in many years.
A few nights ago, when I could not sleep, I wrote a poem, something very unlike most of my other poems. It was a take from a news article that I wrote a lifetime ago about the nightlife in Norfolk. For that particular story, I girded myself with an assortment of my male friends, and for several nights ventured into various seedy after-hours establishments around the city, one of which was a strip bar outside Gate 1 of what used to be the Amphibious Base. I use the term strip loosely as Norfolk outlawed stripping years ago, so the women wore bathing suits and/or shorts.
Anyway, the poem that I wrote was about that bar. Again, something from years ago. I truly haven’t the faintest idea why that experience would pop into my head at 2 a.m. or why I would suddenly be possessed to write a poem about it, but it did, and I was.
Hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .
“In your hands winter is a book with cloud pages that snow pearls of love.” ~ Aberjhani,from “Angel of Earth Days and Seasons”
So I suppose the last thing on my mind is this preoccupation we now have with trigger warnings. I mean, I just watched the video for “Drunk Girl,” by Chris Janson, and there was actually a warning about the video’s contents. I just don’t understand.
Look, I absolutely do understand that people have terrible experiences that can come roaring back out of the past without any warning, triggered by an image or a song or whatever. I know that only too well as it happens to me. But country songs are all about love and hurt and heartbreak and the wrong man and the wrong woman and life and . . . And now we have to put warnings on videos that contain no nudity, no violence, nothing of the sort, only an implied abusive relationship?
I read a story in the news a few days ago about how today’s youth wants to be sheltered from so many things, and it isn’t good for them. Okay, so I just used the phrase “today’s youth,” which is really, really weird. Next, I’ll be yelling for people to get off my lawn. But I digress . . .
I suppose it’s a combination of helicopter parenting and that derogatory term of snowflakes to describe young people. But if a person is never exposed to anything that might, just might, maybe, possibly be a bit negative, then how on earth is that individual ever going to grow? Going to develop that invisible exoskeleton with which we armor ourselves in order to deal with life?
We’ve gone from the horrors of forcing children to work 18 hours a day for mere pennies to shielding them from commercials that might have a scary message. I am completely befuddled, but then, that’s not exactly a new thing.
Okay. Time for a hot cup of tea and a bath. All of the images are mine.
More later. Peace.
Music by David Lanz, “Whiter Shade of Pale” (bet you thought it was going to be “Drunk Girl”). I cannot tell you how many times I listened to David Lanz’s CD Cristofori’s Dream while driving through the cemetery on cold winter days.
The stars were wild that summer evening
As on the low lake shore stood you and I
And every time I caught your flashing eye
Or heard your voice discourse on anything
It seemed a star went burning down the sky.
I looked into your heart that dying summer
And found your silent woman’s heart grown wild
Whereupon you turned to me and smiled
Saying you felt afraid but that you were
Weary of being mute and undefiled
I spoke to you that last winter morning
Watching the wind smoke snow across the ice
Told of how the beauty of your spirit, flesh,
And smile had made day break at night and spring
Burst beauty in the wasting winter’s place.
You did not answer when I spoke, but stood
As if that wistful part of you, your sorrow,
Were blown about in fitful winds below;
Your eyes replied your worn heart wished it could
Again be white and silent as the snow.
“I know I have conquered nothing I have simply outgrown everything” ~ James Broughton, from “Aglow in Nowhere”
Wednesday afternoon. Party cloudy and cold with melting snow, 27 degrees.
So the house is quiet, just me, the dogs, and the (now) two cats. We acquired a new black girl cat with topaz eyes a few weeks ago. She took a few days to actually come to the door, another couple to come inside, and another few to let me touch her. Now, though, she has made herself quite at home, spending most afternoons curled up on an old flannel duvet cover in front of one of the heaters. Her name is Cleo because of the very exotic looking eyes.
Most certainly, she was someone’s pet as her coat is in good shape, but she was definitely too skinny when she arrived on our back porch, which probably means that she’s been missing for a bit. Around here, that doesn’t often mean much—no one has come looking for her that we know of; of course, they’d have to be very dedicated to make it up the mountain to look here.
We’ve seen so many seemingly stray animals since moving to the mountains—cats, dogs, horses, donkeys. I had read stories for years about how people just abandon animals on or near land in the country that looks occupied, thinking that surely the landowners will take in the stray, but that just doesn’t always happen.
This area is so different from the city. There are many people out of work, and there really isn’t work to be hand anywhere nearby, so families aren’t so eager to take on more responsibilities. That, and many of the animals that we’ve seen that do belong to someone just look underfed, not anything like our spoiled rotten crew with the shiny coats and rib cages hidden within well-fed bodies. I try not to judge, but it’s hard because I’m so damned judgmental. I want to take in all of the strays and feed them until they have bellies full, but I suppose baby steps for now.
My new motto.
“Eat, sleep, sleep, eat. Exist slowly, softly, like these trees, like a puddle of water, like the red bench in the streetcar.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from Nausea
So I said that I’d tell you more about the horses, and so I will, but it’s not a short tale. But first, an aside: I’m writing on my laptop, the one that Corey gave me several Christmases ago. It’s a lovely little thing, but I still miss my desktop with the wide screen and the very clicky keyboard. My fingernails keep catching on these close together keys. I know. I’m analog . . .
But I digress . . .
Horses. A few weeks after we finally moved here permanently after many fits and starts, Corey met a local guy, a neighbor a few miles down the road. His name is Dallas, and he’s a native, so native that he actually spent some of his youth in this house on this ridge. Fate is funny, huh?
Anyway, Dallas is as much of a character as you would imagine someone named Dallas would be, and the first time we met he offered me horses, puppies, and a stove. He’s one of those kinds of people: If he has something that you want or need, he’ll offer it to you. Well, so far, no puppy yet (promised), nor a stove as we didn’t really need one, but the four mares arrived a few days ago. It’s an arrangement that works for everyone: we have quite a bit of grazing pasture with nothing as yet to graze; his grazing land is getting sparse for the number of animals that he has. Apparently, I can expect to see at least two more, stallions this time, along with a selection of saddles.
I wouldn’t call Dallas a hoarder because he isn’t one, but he is a collector—not one saddle, but a dozen, not one dog, but 14. I think that’s what I like about him. I collect books, nail polish, and makeup; he collects pretty much everything else.
“The mountains have valleys and I have thoughts. They stretch out until fog and until no roads.” ~ Yehuda Amichai, from “Poems for a Woman”
The first time Dallas came to call, he arrived on a big John Deere tractor, which he then proceeded to use to clear a huge section of our land. Before this, Corey had been doing his best with a ride-on mower, which worked for some areas, but not the really overgrown ones. We had both been quite down about not purchasing our own tractor before we encountered the bounty of Dallas. When we left Norfolk, we had much less money in our account than we had hoped for, which meant that the purchases of a tractor, and a new washer and dryer were not going to materialize any time in the near (or possibly far) future.
Then in rode Dallas. And that first day he bushwhacked and mowed and whatever else you do on a tractor, and then he made Corey get on the tractor and spent the next few hours complaining that Corey wasn’t going fast enough, so Dallas kicked Corey off. Since that first day, the tractor and Dallas and Corey have been constant companions. Because of his eyes, Dallas isn’t supposed to be driving (operative phrase being supposed to), so Corey drives Dallas around and then gets introduced to all kinds of people, and in turn, Dallas comes over and clears the land, which had become horribly overgrown and impassable in places. There’s a lot of land, in case I hadn’t mentioned.
As for me? I sit around and watch and offer running commentary. Bailey still barks at Dallas like he’s a stranger, but Tillie loves him, so much so that she knocked him into the small pond while he was fishing. He thought that was hilarious, which immediately endeared him to me. Oh yeah, two ponds, one small and one much bigger, too.
“As life runs on, the road grows strange with faces new—and near the end, the milestones into headstones change, ‘neath every one a friend.” ~ James Russell Lowell
So that’s the story of the horses and Dallas. As for the puppies, he has a litter of five girls and one boy, of dubious heritage, but they definitely have some retriever in them, so I want one. The plan was always for me to get at least two more dogs once we got here. Initially, that was so that I wouldn’t be lonely when Corey went to sea, but it looks like
Corey may have become a permanent landlubber in favor of farming. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. It’s not that I want him to be gone; more, it’s that I’m afraid that he’ll regret not going some day.
I mean, he’s been over more than half the world and seen so many things, and I know that he really loved doing that. I also know that he was very proud of his accomplishments as a merchant marine, which he had every right to be. Being permanently landlocked, not seeing the ocean, any ocean or any sea again? I would miss that it if were me—in fact I do miss living near the Chesapeake bay and the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s not me. Only time will tell on that front, and there is much here to keep him occupied.
“Always, always you recede through the evenings toward the twilight erasing statues.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “Clenched Soul,” trans. W. S. Merwin
That’s a brief synopsis of the past few months here. Lots more details, but enough for now. I am making an efforts to go walking on the property as much as possible. The recent cold has put a temporary halt to that. And you’ll be happy to hear (or not so much, who knows?) that I no longer spend most days in my bedroom. It’s a smaller house, but I manage to frequent all of the rooms! Gasp! Yep, I know, small things . . .
Anyway, I’m not doing so much as far as getting out and about, but that’s actually not just my choice. The first time we left the house, we met Bailey on the driveway on the way home; the driveway is almost two miles long. She had pushed out the screen of the open bedroom window and apparently went searching for us. The second time we left the house we closed all of the windows. When we got inside, we saw that she had pulled off the molding on the bottom of the bedroom window and had somehow begun to dig through the masonry. She is a dog with serious abandonment issues.
I haven’t left the house without her since then, but it doesn’t make too much difference at the moment because she’s fine in the car, and I don’t go that many places anyway. Still kind of a hermit. I suppose we all have things to work on here, huh?
So that’s all for now. Even though I started this post in the afternoon, it’s now almost 6 p.m., time to feed the dogs and perhaps bathe the blogger. The evening skies have cleared, but the temps have dropped to 25 degrees. Time to publish my first real post with quotes, images, music, and a poem in what? Years? Well . . . it’s about time, no?
More later. Peace.
Music by Lorde, “Writer in the Dark” (so phenomenal to be so young)
I wept in a stable.
I found money in the dirt.
I reenacted a car accident in the tack room.
I asked a horse van driver to let me off where the bridle path stopped.
I looked at the jockey for what he was dreaming.
I told him he was wrong about making things happen.
He couldn’t make things happen.
I couldn’t make things happen anymore.
There is exactly not enough money in the world.
Magical thinking got me where I am today.
Animals are warriors of time.
I stopped keeping things hidden.
That wasn’t a horse we saw in the winner’s circle.
I can’t stop horses as much as you can’t stop horses.
“The funny thing about Thanksgiving ,or any big meal, is that you spend 12 hours shopping for it then go home and cook,chop,braise and blanch. Then it’s gone in 20 minutes and everybody lies around sort of in a sugar coma and then it takes 4 hours to clean it up.” ~ Ted Allen, from The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
How about a little Thanksgiving history, including some similar feasts around the world . . .
Did you know?
The cornucopia, or horn of plenty, one of the symbols of Thanksgiving, comes from ancient Greeks and Romans. The term (generally describing a horn-shaped basket filled with fruit, flowers and other goodies) comes from the Latin cornu copiae, literally “horn of plenty.” In Greek mythology, the cornucopia is an enchanted severed goat’s horn, created by Zeus to produce a never-ending supply of whatever the owner desires.
In England, the September 23 Harvest Festival goes back thousands of years, during which plaited corn dolls were hung in the rafters. The pagans believed that the Spirit of the Corn resided in the first cut sheaf of corn. During the Harvest Festival, children take fruits and vegetables to churches and schools for distribution to the elderly and the needy.
Thanksgiving is a part of U.S. military history, including days of Thanksgiving during both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
In Germany, Erntedankfest is officially celebrated in October, but can be celebrated anytime during the fall. Following the Erntedankfest celebration, the unused food is distributed to the needy.
Pumpkin pie has been around for hundred of years, possibly dating back to the 1500s during which a dessert was made by stewing pumpkins and wrapping it in pastry. During the 17th century, recipes for pumpkin pie could be found in English cookbooks, but it wasn’t until about the 19th century that pumpkin pie similar to what we know today became a Thanksgiving staple. John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem called the pumpkin in 1850: “What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?” Lydia Maria Child’s poem (later a song) “Over the River and Through the Woods” (1844), includes the following verses:
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
One of the biggest and most important holidays in Korea is Chuseok, a three-day harvest festival that is s celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. In the morning, foods prepared with the year’s fresh harvest are set out to give thanks to ancestors through Charye (ancestor memorial service). After Charye, families visit their ancestors’ graves and engage in Beolcho, a ritual of clearing the weeds that may have grown up over the burial mound.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 and has been held every year since, except for 1942-44 because of WWII. The first major balloon featured in the parade was Felix the Cat, in 1927. Floats were introduced in 1971. Each parade has ended with the appearance of Santa Claus.
Seriously though, I hope the day finds you warm (or cool, depending upon your hemisphere), safe, and with family or friends, that your table has enough to fill your hunger, your glass has enough to slate your thirst, and your body feels the comfort of close companionship. And tonight, when everyone has gone, and the table has been cleared, may you spare a thought for those out there who find clean water a luxury, warm food a bounty, and a safe pillow something found only in dreams.
I miss you, Dad.
More later. Peace.
Music by John Denver, “The Wings that Fly us Home.” (yes, it’s blatantly sentimental)
Before the adults we call our children arrive with their children in tow
we take our morning walk down the lane of oaks and hemlocks, mist
a smell of rain by nightfall—underfoot,
the crunch of leathery leaves released by yesterday’s big wind.
You’re ahead of me, striding into the arch of oaks that opens onto the fields
and stone walls of the road—
as a V of geese honk a path overhead, and you stop—
in an instant, without thought, raising your arms toward sky, your hands
flapping from the wrists,
and I can read in the echo your body makes of these wild geese going
where they must,
such joy, such wordless unity and delight, you are once again the child
who knows by instinct, by birthright,
just to be is a blessing. In a fictional present, I write the moment down.
You embodied it.
If you Google “Do a Barrel Roll,” the whole screen will literally do a barrel roll.
Couldn’t post yesterday as I had to chauffeur Alexis back and forth and then try to buy some groceries, which was way harder than it needed to be. More strange dreams last night. I remembered them, and then I didn’t. Oh well . . .
“the tea smoke and the willow together trembling” ~ Kobayashi Issa
Internet was out until late today. I fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning and did not sleep well, awaking with a headache and heavy sinuses. Spent most of today dealing with customer service representatives. I am completely spent.
I can only offer you this . . .
My love affair with coffee is only surpassed by my much longer love affair with tea, which I began to drink when I was but a child. England, you know. Milky tea and hot bread and butter. Good times . . .
A Sweetening All Around Me As It Falls
Even generous August
only a child’s scribblings
on thick black paper, in smudgeable chalk –
even the ripening tomatoes, even the roses,
blowsy, losing their fragrance of black tea.
A winter light held this morning’s apples
as they fell, sweet, streaked by one touch
of the careless brush, appling to earth.
The seeds so deep inside they carry that cold.
Is this why some choose solitude, to rise
that small bit further, unencumbered by love of earth,
as the branches, lighter, kite now a little higher
on gold air? But the apples love the earth and falling,
lose themselves in it as much as they can at first touch
and then, with time and rain, at last completely:
to be that bone-like One that shines unleafed in
all black and glazed with not the pendant gold of
necklaced summer but the ice-color mirroring
when the earth is lonely and dark and knows nothing
Seed-black of the paper, seed-black of the waiting
December’s shine, austere and fragile, carves the
But today, cut deep in last plums, in yellow pears,
in second flush of roses, in the warmth of an hour,
as drunk on heat as the girl who long ago vanished
into green trees,
fold that loneliness, one moment, two, love, back into