“She wore flowers in her hair and carried magic secrets in her eyes. She spoke to no one. She spent hours on the riverbank. She smoked cigarettes and had midnight swims . . .” ~ Arundhati Roy, from The God of Small Things

Emil Nolde Sunflowers c1925-30 watercolor on paper
“Sunflowers” (c1925-30, watercolor on paper)
by Emil Nolde

                   

“Here was a flower (the daisy reflected) strangely like itself and yet utterly unlike itself too. Such a paradox has often been the basis for the most impassioned love.” ~ Thomas M. Disch, from The Brave Little Toaster

Emil Nolde Flower Still Life with Orchids c1923-24 watercolor
“Flower Still Lifew tih Orchids” (c1923-24, watercolor)
by Emil Nolde

Questions from Flowers (found on tumblr):

  • Daisy: How old were you when you had your first kiss? I was 12.
  • Carnation: If I handed you a concert ticket right now, who would you want to be the performer? Believe it or not I would like it to be country singer Luke Bryan; I think he’d be great in concert. Second choice would be Alison Krauss.
  • Jasmine: What color looks best on you? Red. Then black. Then purple.
  • Foxglove: Name three facts about your family? First, we have Filipino blood. Second, my father was a guerilla during the second world war. Third, there is a strong strain of military service throughout.
  • Allium: What’s the best thing you can cook? Brunswick Stew.
  • Orange Blossom: If you could pick the gender and appearance of your child, would you? No. Are you crazy?  Life should be full of happy surprises, your children most of all.

“Creating is living doubly. The groping, anxious quest of a Proust, his meticulous collecting of flowers, of wallpapers, and of anxieties, signifies nothing else.” ~ Albert Camus, from The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

  • Calla Lily: If you died right now, what song would you want to play at your funeral? “Where the River Meets the Sea,” and of course, “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

    Pierre Bonnard Daffodils in a Green Pot 1887
    “Daffodils in a Green Pot” (c1887, oil on canvas)
    by Pierre Bonnard
  • Poinsettia: Favorite holiday dish? Cranberry Relish followed by Pecan Pie.
  • Oxlip: Would you ever get into a long distance relationship? I have. They’re very hard.
  • Primrose: Favorite kind of soup? Homemade beef vegetable soup.
  • Daffodil: What’s the most thoughtful present you’ve ever received? Anytime I am given a book or a gift card to buy books, but thoughtful is not romantic, and the most romantic present I’ve ever received was a string of pearls from my husband when we were dating.
  • Rose: Are you currently in love with someone? Yes, very much so.

“Yes, just like those flowers. There’s something strained, but there’s beauty in that. Something like that” ~ Koushun Takami, from Battle Royale

  •   Amsonia: Would you ever become a vegan? Probably not even though it would be better for me in some many ways.

    Emil Nolde Red Hawthorns with Green an dYellow Leaves and Brown Grass c1930
    “Red Hawthorns with Green and Yellow Leaves and Brown Grass” (c1930, watercolor on paper)
    by Emil Nolde
  • Peony: What’s your favorite hot beverage? It’s a tie between Hot Tea (preferably Darjeeling) and Southern Comfort served warm with honey and lemon.
  • Tulip: For your birthday, what kind of cake do you ask for? I like apple pie, or if not, homemade cheesecake.
  • Myrtle: Do you like going on airplanes? I used to, but lately I find them so cramped.
  • Hibiscus: Did you ever play an instrument? If so what? Piano, classically trained for 14 years.
  • Zinnia: Who was your best friend when you were six years old? Creighton Firth.

He knew the plants by name and took a few minutes with each of them: ageratum, coreopsis, echinacea, rudbeckia. The yarrow, he said, had rose-red flowers on two-foot stems. Achillea millefolium, the plant Achilles used to heal wounds.” ~ Frederick Weisel, from Teller

  • Poppy: What color was your childhood home? Brick.

    Only One by Georgia O'Keeffe 1959
    “Only One” (1959, oil on canvas)
    by Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Hydrangea: Starbucks order? Venti latte (no bells or whistles)
  • Violet: Do you like where you’re from? Do you mean where I was born (yes), or my heritage (yes), or where I’m currently living? The answer to the last is probably sometimes. It’s a nice area, but it’s not where I want to spend my life.
  • Locust: What was your favorite book as a child? A Secret Garden
  • Rhododendron: What’s the scariest dream you’ve ever had? I have lots of scary dreams, usually involving some kind of killing.
  • Queen Anne’s Lace: Would you rather carve pumpkins or wrap presents? Wrap presents.

Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her . . .” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, from The Little Prince

  • Magnolia: Favorite kind of candy? It varies. Right now it’s Starburst berries. Last year it was gummi bears. A few years ago it was Twizzlers . . . so chewy stuff.

    Odilon Redon Three Vases of Flowers  1908-1910 oil
    “Three Vases of Flowers” (1908-10, oil on canvas?)
    by Odilon Redon
  • Aster: Would you rather be cold or hot? Cold. You can always add more clothes or blankets.
  • Marigold: Do you listen to what’s on the radio? Not usually.
  • Heliconia: Do you like when it rains? Yes, if it’s storming with lightning. Just cold rain, not so much.
  • Azalea: What’s a movie you cried while watching? So many: Return of the King is the first one that comes to mind. But I remember I wept during The English Patient.
  • Dandelion: Do you think you’re important? Not nearly as important as I think I am.

                   

Music by Dum Dum Girls, “Coming Down”

                   

Findings

Found what I think are the breast feathers
of a flicker lying in the melting snow
in front of the house. Found a crow feather
in Bozeman one spring and have kept it
in a vase on top of the dresser. Yarrow grows
where my son planted a root last summer,
and hyssop seeds have sprouted
with the wildflowers. Found spearmint
growing under the outside faucet
and tiny blue snails in the fallen apples
and black and white hornets stumbling drunk
around the rotting apples in August. The columbine
had eight inches of new growth in January,
and two summers ago found a red-shafted flicker
lying in the alley behind my house
with grass in its throat and wasps
crawling in and out of its mouth.
Its wing feathers were dazzling
and I took them, buried its body
in tall weeds, saved the feathers
in checkbook boxes in the dresser
beside a Norwegian pewter cake server,
a twenty dollar bill, some old ribbons
and a flat rock from the Marias.
His mate remained in the neighborhood until fall,
and this February a pair or flickers returned
to eat last year’s sunflower seeds
at the side of the garage.
One spring, hundreds of crows filled a single tree,
their black wings shifting against dense bodies
and air, their voices calling across leaves
then reeling into space.
Saw flickers in the park last spring,
a male calling with such racket
my son covered his ears, and
from across the park, through twigs
and leaves pushing out from resinous shells,
a female approached, blended into bark
and clouds, and for an instant, opened to the sound.

~ Tami Haaland

“Who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?” ~ Virginia Woolf, from A Room Of One’s Own

Emil Nolde Autumn Sea IX 1910
“Autumn Sea IX” (1910, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

                   

“It was the in-between time, before day leaves and night comes, a time I’ve never been partial to because of the sadness that lingers in the space between going and coming.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd, from The Secret Life of Bees

Saturday afternoon. Rainy and mild, 68 degrees.

Strange dreams last night. Something about living in Iceland. It was going to be possible to live there because the entire family was relocating there. I just remember being terribly excited by the prospect.

Emil Nolde Evening Sea at Autumn
“Evening Sea at Autumn” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

This morning I awoke with an Alison Krauss song running through my head: “Killing the Blues.” It’s a rare morning when I don’t wake up with an internal playlist running through my head. I have never been able to figure out if the song appears in my dreams or it’s just there, like a random egg. I wonder if other people wake up with a song?

Things that make you go hmm . . . . . . . .

Anyway, I just spent almost two hours perusing a blog by poet Paul Guest, with whom I was unfamiliar until the closing lines of his poem “Practice” appeared on my tumblr dash. As is often the case when I come across snatches of poems that I really like, I went on an internet scavenger hunt to try to track down the entire poem. I found it on Guest’s blog, Almost I rushed from home to tell you this. Good stuff there. I have added him to my blogroll, in case you are interested.

“’All my life, my heart has sought
a thing I cannot name.’
—Remembered line from
a long-forgotten poem.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson, from Hell’s Angels

Corey’s ship docked this morning, but I cannot pick him up until 5. He’s only here until Monday, so it will be a very short stay at home, barely enough time to say hello and to play with the dogs. But any chance to see him, for however long, is always a good thing.

Emil Nolde Autumn Sea XIX 1911 oil on canvas
“Autumn Sea XIX (1911, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

Yesterday I cleaned (of course), including the ceiling fans, something I do at the end of seasons. Tillie hair was everywhere—on the walls, baseboards, lampshades. It’s strange the places it lands. Bailey doesn’t shed, or if she does, I haven’t been able to see it for the Tillie hair.

The five days of rain and counting have not been good as far as the dogs going outside. They go to the door, take one look, and turn around. Are they holding it in? The rain is supposed to last through tomorrow, but at least temperatures will be cooler this week. I hope we’ve seen the last of the 80’s for a while.

So I cleaned, and Brett cleaned, and today my back has knots in places I cannot reach. Always a lovely side-effect. Beh, I say.

“Perhaps my life is nothing but an image of this kind; perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I simply should recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.” ~ André Breton

Brett missed an opportunity to go to Floyd, Virginia this weekend with friends. Floyd is in the western part of the state, off I-81, near Roanoke. I know that I’ve passed it many times, but I’ve never stopped. It’s supposed to be a lovely place; the population is in the hundreds.

Emil Nolde Autumn Glow
“Autumn Glow” (1925, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

I expect it’s the kind of place I’d probably like to live: mountains, small population, interesting things nearby. I’m so tired of living in the city, but my dream of living away is probably just that. I mean, I wonder how I would really do without the conveniences of living just a few minutes from anything I need. One adjusts, I imagine. Still, the idea of living in the mountains, even the foothills of Virginia, appeals to me.

I know that I’ve said this before, probably many times, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here, in this brick rancher. It just seems to pointless, or perhaps it is my life that has become pointless, well, perhaps not pointless, but rudderless.

Oh, who the hell knows.

“The time of harvest and the time of poems is passing
……….
Light glitters in patches on mowed field
This hour too will be more lovely in recollection.” ~ Anna Kamienska

I’m really hoping that I’ll get to make a trip to the mountains this fall. I haven’t been in years, and I feel as if there is a big hole where those days should be. The last trip I can remember was when the boys were still young. Has it really been that long?

Emil NOlde Autumn Evening ca1930
“Autumn Evening” (ca 1930)
by Emil Nolde

This month marks the sixth anniversary since I left full-time work and began long-term disability. At the time, I never dreamed it would last this long, that I would go so many months and years without any kind of career. Another hole. So many holes in the fabric of my quilt. So many bare patches where other things should be. How did I get here? But more importantly, will I ever find my way back? Back to work? Back to days filled with more than housework and blogging, pretending I’m some kind of writer.

Obviously, I’m feeling off today, but then, when am I not feeling this way? Like French author Houellebecq (below), I feel as if things are “falling apart within me.”

“The days slip by indifferently, leaving neither trace nor memory; and then all of a sudden they stop.” ~ Michel Houellebecq, from Whatever

I don’t think I’m as much of a nihilist as Houellebecq, who was quite vocal about hating the world and the nothingness of everything. I don’t hate the world. I don’t hate life. I just sometimes feel out of place and time.

Emil Nolde Autumn Sky at Sea ca1940 watercolor on Japan paper
“Autumn Sky at Sea” (ca1940, watercolor on Japan paper)
by Emil Nolde

I mean, shouldn’t I know by now? You know, know?

I feel as if my life is one long line of I don’t knows—I don’t know if I’m a writer . . . I don’t know if I should go back to school . . . I don’t know if I should try to go back to work . . . I don’t know where I want to live . . . I don’t know.

Questions. So man frigging questions. A brain could explode from the preponderance of ponderings.

Ah, me.

More later. Peace.

All images are by Emil Nolde (German, 1867 – 1956), my current favorite artist

Music by Sleeping at Last, “Embers”

                   

Practice

Love, my faith is vague. When others speak
of how they practice it, I think of kung fu
and plywood split by pajamed banshees,
how they always say you learn
such force through practice, pain repeated until
pain isn’t pain. It’s the piccolo
with its reed humming slivers
of sound that won’t ever be music
no matter the fervor of practice,
no matter the pursed poise
of your lips. When I write you, when I peel
away the stamps one no longer
need lick, I’m careful. Careful
for ounces of ink and pulp
and minutes shaved from time
if it exists at all and these words
I strung together beyond needful elaboration
only to say I thought of you
today beside the humming fountain
and had no change to wish
you some better life,
some cloud of shade to be
at your infinite beck, your always and immediate
call. A form of faith I follow
is the sky because it never falls,
despite the testimony of chickens
snuffed by hail, ragdolled by the rain
and through my window
I’m watching the last of summer
as the leaves begin to curl
in invisible fire
and I want to tell you
one thing which has within it no urgency at all
over and over again.

~ Paul Guest

 

Treading Water in a Waterfall

Panchghat Waterfall 

Camels’ Backs, Quicksand, and Occam’s Razor

Treading water in a waterfall is similar to slow dancing in quicksand: No forward motion. Movement without gaining ground. Empty gestures. Hopeless endeavors that do not compel any sort of resolution or solution, only convolution, dissolution, disillusion.

Quicksand
Slow Dancing in Quicksand

When I was married to my ex, I had regressed to a point at which my life was balanced precariously on eggshells: One wrong move, and everything would come crashing down about my ears. His anger, always keenly beneath the surface, could arise at any given moment. The spectre of it loomed, clouded everything. The arguments grew exponentially in caliber and sound, until at last, I realized that neither of us could thrive in such an existence, and those with the most to lose—our three chidren—were powerless to effect a change.

It was not until later that I began to realize that this constant assault on my psyche had changed me in terrible ways. I was quick to anger, loathe to retreat. I would assess blame even when blame was not justified. And the most horrible aspect was that I was unable to forgive, to apologize and mean the words truly. Apologies had become a sign of weakness: I would never admit weakness.

It took years for me to learn how to apologize and mean the words wholeheartedly. It has taken what seems like eons not to blame everyone but myself, and at times, I think that I have flipped a complete 180° in that I am willing to blame myself for so many things.

These things are touchy, personal, private, perhaps not for general consumption, but they reflect my inability to see things clearly. For example, Corey’s desire to look at pictures of other women I blame on my weight gain, my feelings that I am no longer sexy, no longer desirable. The time that Corey spends on the computer I blame on the fact that I do not offer stimulating conversation, am not good company.

But what if Corey is just bored? Does it follow that he is bored with me? To assume so is pretty egotistic, to say the least. What if Corey spends so much time on the computer because he doesn’t have a job and feels completely lost? Should I not afford him that benefit of the doubt? These, too, are possibilities.

However, the anger that is boiling in Corey—to what do I attribute that? Is it me? Have I once again driven another spouse to distraction with my incessant bitching, with my neediness? Is this who I really am? Perhaps. I honestly do not know, do not have perspective. I have lost my true north. I feel as if I am traveling back in time to a period that is best forgotten. I feel as if I am being tugged, inexorably, to a situation that had no winners, only losers.

Dark clouds hangin’ over me
When will they go away ~ From “Cloudy Days,” by Alison Krauss

Wave clouds over Mt Pisgah NOAA
Wave clouds over Mt. Pisgah (Image by NOAA)

Corey and I have been living with each other for almost two years now without any kind of buffer, the kind of buffer afforded by a job, the kind of buffer that comes from not spending 24 hours a day with each other, the kind of buffer that is gained by having conversations with other adults. How people who are married manage to work together is beyond me. I have never viewed such as thing as a positive situation. Even when Paul and I both worked at the medical school, we were in different departments, on different floors. Eventually, we were in separate buildings. We did not see each other unless we wanted to. We ate lunch together sometimes but not always.

Some individuals have incredible patience and an ability not to be affected terribly by circumstances beyond their control. Admittedly, I am not one of those individuals. And while Corey is patient, I know that he is well beyond his acceptance level of the current situation and all of its ramifications.

Family is not supposed to be a 24/365 proposition. It was never meant that way. Even our forebears from ages ago did not live under such circumstances. Depending upon the region, either the male or the female went out as a hunter/gatherer, and the respective partner would stay in the village and care for the younger members, keep the huts maintained.

When neither partner in the relationship is the hunter or the gatherer, an imbalance occurs. One or both become obsolete. It can’t be helped. In a home in which the only diversions are the dogs, books, music, the computer, the backyard, how does one find amusement? Or enjoy what is now coming to resemble escape? Even Brett gets to leave the house to go to school.

Alternatives? Hard to find. Spending time in fixing up the house is not possible without funds. Funds are not available without a job, and so the cycle continues.

One of my favorite pastimes, taking long drives to clear my head, is also not on the list of available things to do. Long drives require gasoline. Gasoline requires money. Money requires a job. Again, another impasse.

And still another aspect of so much imposed isolation and confinement arises unbeckoned: differences become heightened. Currently, well actually, for months now, Corey and I have been having skirmishes over one particular personal preference, his, not mine. Neither of us is willing to yield.

My reasons for opposing this preference are many fold and to go into them would be airing Corey’s business to strangers. I don’t think that I should do that. But how do I get out of my system the need to talk with someone about this particular problem? The person I would normally talk to is on the opposing side. My other avenue for working through things is limited as I do not want to violate my spouse’s personal privacy. But again, at what cost to me?

I can say that my reasons are long-standing and result from situations in which I have been involved that were not positive. These situations all involved persons who were very close to me in one way or another.

I don’t like feeling as if my marriage is being affected detrimentally by this one issue, but I also know that just one issue has caused more than one marriage to fall by the wayside, whatever that issue may have been.

Do I compromise my personal beliefs for the sake of harmony? Does he? Wouldn’t that be disingenuous? What happens in a situation in which neither side is willing to give in to the other? Nothing good, that’s fairly certain. It’s not the Gaza Strip, but it’s our Gaza Strip.

Neither of us seeks for the conversation to turn to this onerous topic. Most of the time, we pretend that there is no elephant in the living room. But one of us will bump into the elephant accidentally, usually me, and then the illusion is shattered. We retreat to our individual sides of the proverbial battle line and wait to see what happens next.

Rain is in my eyes and I can’t see
Life’s become just cloudy days~ From “Cloudy Days,” by Alison Krauss

Anglo Saxon SwordThere is a term in flying called the point of no return. This is the point at which there isn’t enough fuel to turn back, and the journey must be completed. More and more, I feel as if I am flying straight into the sun to the point of no return. The heat is both warming and deadly, but I cannot turn back. To do so would be a betrayal of self. Although, part of me has been so beaten down by this issue that I feel myself willing more and more to cede in the name of peace. I wish that I had the foresight to know how to act in order to save everyone and everything.

Discretion may be the better part of valor, but discretion does not always invoke the truth. And I don’t care who you are: A marriage cannot survive on a lie.

Hence, I feel as if I am treading water in a waterfall: to what end? Too many times in my life I have felt as if the sword of Damocles was poised above my head, just waiting for me to make the wrong move. One horse hair’s breadth away from having the brief moments of happiness in my life taken away.

If I stay in the waterfall, my vision will continue to be occluded, but perhaps that is not such a bad thing as it allows me to delude myself, escape reality. Is my desire to stay in the waterfall motivated by my belief that eventually the water takes everything and washes it clean: pebbles, bones, beliefs? I have no answers, only questions, theories, if you will, that need to be pared down to the simplest terms if they are to be seen clearly. My Occam’s Razor.

If X = harmony, and Y = friction, can Z ever result in anything that can be counted on? If X²-Y²= Z , and X and Y are considered equal, then Z, my friends, can only equal zero, which is nothing at all.

 

 

More later. Peace.