“My heart wants roots. My mind wants wings. I cannot bear their bickerings.” ~ E. Y. Harburg

Resting Polar Bear by Daniel J. Cox (Polar Bears International)*
Resting Polar Bear
by Daniel J. Cox (Polar Bears International)*

                   

“If a woman writes about herself, she’s a narcissist. If a man does the same, he’s describing the human condition” ~ Emily Gould

Friday, early evening. Partly cloudy and cold, 45 degrees.

I had big plans to take down the Christmas tree today, but now, not so much. I don’t take the tree down on New Year’s Day, partly out of a superstition that says that whatever you are doing on New Year’s Day is what you will spend most of your time doing in the coming year. I do not want to spend a year tackling a rather large sorting, cleaning and storing job. Also, I like to look at the tree for a while after New Year’s.

Maybe tomorrow.

Polar Bear and Cubs USFWS WC
Polar Bear and Cubs
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Wikimedia Commons)

I mean, if I were feeling productive, I could also tackle the large pile on the left side of my desk that has begun a landslide onto the floor, but it’s so much easier to push the pile back into a pile and pretend that it’s not there. However, I really need the black nail file that is usually in my pen cup, but seems to have disappeared beneath the mass of papers, so I may have to do something. I’m one of those people who has nail files and calendars in almost every room; Corey’s family has tissues in every room. Quirks.

I really need an assistant, or an intern, or an assistant intern. Like that’s ever going to happen. How does one persuade someone to be an intern to the job of life? If anyone has an answer for that, I would love to hear it. Anyway . . .

“Misunderstanding is my cornerstone. It’s everyone’s, come to think of it. Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver, from The Poisonwood Bible

Olivia spent the day here yesterday as Lex had a doctor’s appointment and wanted to try to get some things taken care of, so we agreed to sit. One thing I have to say about this baby is that she doesn’t sleep for long stretches, which is odd for me as all of my babies loved to nap, Alexis the most, and we would often have to wake her from her afternoon nap. She says that even when she was in kindergarten, the teacher had to wake her from rest time. No wonder the teachers loved her (kidding).

(By the way, the poem choice arises from a new thing that Olivia is doing: Mike’s stepmother taught Olivia how to shake her head back and forth when someone says, “No, no, no, no, no.” And then she laughs . . .)

Polar Bear by Daniel J Cox Polar Bears International
Polar Bear
by Daniel J. Cox (Polar Bears International)

Olivia has had a bit of a cold, and the pediatrician told Lex to use nose drops (saline) and the sucking thing (aspirator?), which Olivia loves (not). My mom is also sick with what sounds like bronchitis or pneumonia, but try to get her to see a doctor? Not happening. I have wanted her to change her primary care doctor for years as I don’t feel that he really pays attention to everything that’s going on with her, but she loves him and won’t change.

My, I have a lot of parenthetical asides today. Sure sign that my mind is going too fast.

Anyway, I did want to know what you think of the new theme. I can’t afford to get one of those custom themes in which you can select all of the colors and all of that other coding, but WordPress does offer a fairly nice selection of free themes. Only problem was that when I changed themes, I lost my rotating globe and all of those stats. Many thanks to Izaak Mak at I Want Ice Water for providing me with the coding needed. So the globe is back. Funny the kinds of things you get attached to on a page.

“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” ~ Douglas Adams, from Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

I got a little distracted looking up music from the television show “Fringe,” which I’ve started watching again. Somehow, I lost track of it, but it’s being rebroadcast on cable, so I’m watching again. I love the quirkiness of it, almost (not quite) like “X Files,” but a different kind of quirky. I also happen to love both John Noble and Joshua Jackson. Why mention this? Who knows . . . I also had to stop to find quotes for today’s post because I realized that all of the quote that I had previously selected bore absolutely no resemblance to today’s post, which, by the way, has no clear theme.

Polar Bear, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska WC
Polar Bear
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (Wikimedia Commons)

My back has been killing me for the past week. The new doctor gave me a referral for physical therapy, but I haven’t made the appointment yet,mostly because of funds. The post-Christmas dearth of money has hit, that and the fact that Corey is on job hiatus.  But I’m hoping that I’ll be able to start with the PT sometime this month. Honestly, I haven’t had that much success with PT, but I’m willing to give it a go one more time. Out of the five or so different people who have worked on my back, only one actually succeeded in lessening my pain.

Of course, I need to get back to some kind of physical activity, but the motivation has been seriously lacking in that department. I’d like to start walking with Tillie so that both of us get some exercise in this cold weather. Maybe next week.

“Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from A Wild Sheep Chase

I haven’t been doing well with giving up chocolate, what with the abundance of sweets throughout the house, but this one is a must-do, especially because of my blood sugar and my triglycerides. I have been easing off day by day, but the other morning I was shoving Reese’s miniatures in my mouth like they were a supply of oxygen. So glad no one else was up at the time. I mean, who eats peanut butter cups at 7 in the morning?

olar Bear paren sow paren, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska WC
Polar Bear (sow),
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (Wikimedia Commons)

I do.

Anyway, almost all of the holiday sweets are gone, and that makes me very happy in a weird sort of way. Although, I do still have a keen hankering for cookies, especially those Pepperidge Farm gingerbread men. Delish.

Okay. I’ll stop. I mean, you really didn’t come here to read about my strange cravings and my constant internal debate over whether or not to go over to the dark side where Russell Stover caramel bites and Danish butter cookies reside.

“There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.” ~ Tom Robbins, from Still Life with Woodpecker

So other than the above inanity, not much going on.

Polar Bear by Craig Taylor Polar Bears International
Polar Bear
by Craig Taylor (Polar Bears International)

I ordered everyone’s calendars after Christmas when the prices dropped by 50 percent. But here’s the thing that kills me: Amazon offers free shipping to Prime members and for orders over $25, which is great, but they sent two different boxes, each one containing only one (count it) one calendar and a sheet of pillow wrap. Both boxes arrived simultaneously, so just look at the waste:

  • Two cardboard boxes (recyclable)
  • Two sheets of pillow wrap (or whatever you call that packing stuff that isn’t bubble wrap but is filled with air) (not recyclable)
  • Two calendars (which will ultimately be recyclable)
  • and shipping for two boxes that had the exact same weight.

Am I the only one who doesn’t see the logic in that? Of course, this isn’t the first time Amazon has done something like this. I remember one time when I ordered Brett some special pens; Amazon shipped them in (I kid you not) a box that was roughly 24 x 6 x 6 inches for a box that measures about 7 x 4 x 3/4.

Whatever.

More later. Peace.

Music by My Morning Jacket, “Thank You Too”

(*Today’s images of polar bears—because I was thinking of Shakes who always reminded me of a miniature polar bear, especially in the way that he lay and tucked his tale under). Some images taken from Polar Bears International site.)

                  

Counting The Mad

This one was put in a jacket,
This one was sent home,
This one was given bread and meat
But would eat none,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one looked at the window
As though it were a wall,
This one saw things that were not there,
This one things that were,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one thought himself a bird,
This one a dog,
And this one thought himself a man,
An ordinary man,
And cried and cried No No No No
All day long.

~ Donald Justice
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“I would like to do whatever it is that presses the essence from the hour.” ~ Mary Oliver, from The Poet’s Notebook

Curon in Alto Adige (from meinsuedtirol.com)

                   

“The slate is wiped clean.  It is almost as if the discouragement were necessary, that one has first to encounter despair before one is entitled to hope.  Then a time comes when one takes a pencil and a fresh sheet of paper and begins.  Begins, really for the first time.” ~ Walker Percy, “From Facts to Fiction” in Signposts in a Strange Land

Sunday afternoon. Sunny and warm, high 70’s.

I don’t remember my dreams from last night or the night before, an exceedingly rare occurrence for me, but it could be because I’ve had a headache that is moving around my head, currently at the edge of my right eye. This morning I got a text from Corey; he’s off the coast of Dover, England and got a signal. He sounds good. I asked him if he was close enough to the coast to see lighthouses, but he said not quite. We just exchanged a few texts as he was about to go to dinner and then sleep.

Resia, Italy by Angelo C (found on Google Earth, share alike license)

I’m hoping that I can finish this post before Eamonn gets home from work. The pool store has started keeping its Sunday hours, so his work schedule is full. Last night, we got Chinese takeout, and I ordered what I thought was the dish that Corey always gets for me, but it turns out that I ordered the wrong thing, and I didn’t like it much. Such a disappointment.

Today I really need to do laundry and filing—both tasks that I abhor, but as the chances of a maid brigade volunteering to come into my house are slim to none, I suppose it’s left to me. I also need to finish the paper work that I started earlier in the week and send that off. Oh crap.

“I speak best and most fully in my sleep.  When my heart
is not wrapped in layer after layer of daylight, not prepared
like some fighter’s taped fist.” ~ Mark Cox, from “The Word”

I heard on the radio that Alison Krauss is going to be here at the end of the month. I love her music. This is one of those cases in which I wish that Corey were going to be home as that is a concert that he would enjoy too. Oh well.

Resia, Italy by AlSanin (found on Google Earth, share alike license)

I just remembered a snippet of my dream: I was in a doctor’s office, and she wouldn’t give me trigger shots because it was too soon, but she felt a knot on my neck, and said that I had gotten it because I hadn’t taken nsaids (like ibuprofen or Alleve). Then she told me that my EEG showed that I had lung problems. I told her that I thought it was weird that an EEG would show something like that. Then there were elevators again, and of course, they wouldn’t take me where I wanted to go.

What is it with elevators? In life, I hate cramped elevators and will not get on one that is already full of people. The sensation of being trapped inside a small compartment with people pressed in truly terrifies me. But in dreams, what is an elevator? A means of travel? A closed-in space? Being unable to control things if only for a few minutes? All of these? None? And the fact that these dream elevators will not take me where I want to go, what’s up with that?

“I felt for an instant
that the vast star-clustered sky was mine, and I heard
my name as if for the first time, heard it the way
one hears the wind or the rain, but faint and far off
as though it belonged not to me but to the silence
from which it had come and to which it would go.” ~ Mark Strand, from Man and Camel

Shakes just came into the room, sat down by my feet, and said “arf.” I mean, literally, arf. I didn’t know that dogs actually said that except in comics. My dogs are so funny.

I had a realization today that pleased me: I may actually be able to keep off this weight that I’m losing because it’s not a diet but a change in lifestyle. Giving up sugar and sodas and increasing my physical activity—these aren’t things that I plan to stop doing. So perhaps I may be able to get of this yo-yo weight coaster. That would be nice.

Il Campanile della vecchia Curon Venosta nel Lago di Resia

Yesterday Brett and Em made brownies, and admittedly I did have one, but it was less than one-inch square, and I was satisfied with that. Now that’s change I can live with, she said oh so smugly . . .

Last night/early this morning when I got up to let the dogs out, I stuck my head out the door and inhaled deeply. It smelled of earth and trees. The night was beautiful, a slight breeze, clear skies, and I realized that just a few months ago I would have still been awake at 3:30 a.m. Except for a few nights, I’ve been able to get to sleep before one in the morning. I would like to bring that back one more hour, and then I might actually be living my life within the same 24-hour cycle. Does that make sense?

I mean, waking and going to sleep within the same day, kind of like what other people do; although I’m not sure why it matters to me that I sleep like other people. I suppose I’m just trying to be a bit more normal, whatever that is. Normal is such a nothing word when it comes to a definition. Remember that commercial: “What’s normal is what’s normal for you”? Probably about a laxative or something like that. But seriously, normal? Normal is completely dependent upon the individual. Normal and status quo are not synonymous. Normal and ordinary are not one in the same. Normal and traditional are not interchangeable.

So why do I care about being normal? I don’t, actually. I just care about being more like the person I used to be, to be honest.

“Since we must and do write each our own way, we may during actual writing get more lasting instruction not from another’s work, whatever its blessings, however better it is than ours, but from our own poor scratched-over pages. For these we can hold up to life. That is, we are born with a mind and heart to hold each page up to, and to ask: is it valid?” ~ Eudora Welty, On Writing

My book wish list continues to grow as I come across more titles and authors that I want to have in my personal library. Is it obnoxious to tell my kids that I want a book for Mother’s Day? I guess it is a bit, but geez, they get to give me lists for Christmas and their birthdays. Why don’t moms get to make requests once a year?

But I mean, what’s the point of an Amazon wish list? Santa sure as hell isn’t going to make it happen. And don’t even get me started on the whole concept of the Easter Bunny and presents. I find the Easter Bunny at malls incredibly creepy, but that’s another story (ooh, I will add that I heard that a mall Easter Bunny was popped for being high on the job—see? Creepy. Couldn’t stay sober for a few weeks?)

Lago di Resie from (Garni Platzer website)

Anyway, one book keeps appearing on my Tumblr dash from someone I follow who I happen to know likes the same kind of poetry that I do. It’s called The Poet’s Notebook, and even though it was published in 1995, some of the passages that he’s been posting are really interesting. I used to buy books on the craft of writing all of the time. I remember one of my writing professors as an undergraduate said that it was our obligation was wannabe writers and poets to support those who were actually publishing, and it was a profound statement, really.

I mean, who buys books of poetry? Certainly not the general public. Long before the Internet I used to buy my poetry books from a mail order service that, oddly enough, Christopher Buckley told Mary and me about. It was called Spring Hill Books (I think), and a woman actually ran it out of her house. I don’t think that she’s still around, probably having been put out of business by Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She was a lovely, kind woman who used to write me when she got a new title that she thought that I would like. I miss her. I miss independent booksellers who are quickly fading from the landscape.

By the way, happy belated birthday Eudora Welty.

“There is a basic iconographic pattern in the universe (the seasons, for example), but our relationship to it is our own.  How we hear it is our own, and is therefore unpredictable . . . No one needs to confirm our experience, which is unconditional.  We confirm it.  The only magic that exists is personal, real, direct.” ~ Gail Sher, from “My White and Your White Aren’t Necessarily the Same,” from The Intuitive Writer: Listening to Your Own Voice

When I worked at the Museum, we used to order lunch from a cafe inside an independent bookseller in downtown Norfolk. They had the best homemade hummus and focaccia bread. Prince Books. I wonder if they are still there . . .

Val Venosta, Resia, Italy by Davide Bedin (FCC)

Just the other day I was thinking about working at the Museum. How wonderful to be surrounded by such beauty, to be able to wander the galleries to clear my head, to joke about putting the Bernini bust in my purse and take it home (this thing is huge). I loved that job. Of course there were parts that were hard to take, like working with the board (class warfare, anyone?), but spending time with creations that were hundreds of years old? Works of art by Renoir and Tissot? That was magical. And because I worked there it meant that on some days I had all of the galleries to myself. Can you imagine?

Speaking of jobs, I had that dream again in which I realize that I’ve gone to work teaching (public school), but then quit, and I haven’t told my disability provider, and now I’ve probably lost my coverage. I hate that dream. I mean, think about it—who would actually choose teaching in public school as the job to return to after all of this time? Not me, that’s for sure. Maybe teaching in a tony private school in which, as Alexis used to say, the biggest different is that the student body can afford better drugs, but you know what I mean—teaching in a school in which the students assault the teachers versus teaching in a school in which parental pressure for the prodigy to make grades worthy of Harvard. Hmm . . .

Well, I suppose I had better get to the real life chores that await me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, “Your Long Journey”

                   

Del Lago di Resia (1949)

Images of Campanile di Curon and surrounding area: Flooded by the waters of il Lago di Resia (Reschensee), situated in Val Venosta in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy, the Campanile di Curon is a vestige of the old town of Curon Venosta. This small alpine town was buried shortly after World War II when three pre-existing lakes (Lago di Resia, Lago di Curon, and Lago di San Valentino alla Muta) were joined together to create one bigger artificial lake. The town is still sitting under water, but the tower was so tall that it juts out, marking the central location of a place many once called home.

                   

And I Said To My Soul, Be Loud

Madden me back to an afternoon
I carry in me
not like a wound
but like a will against a wound

Give me again enough man
to be the child
choosing my own annihilations

To make of this severed limb
a wand to conjure
a weapon to shatter
dark matter of the dirt daubers’ nests
galaxies of glass

Whacking glints
bash-dancing on the cellar’s fire
I am the sound the sun would make
if the sun could make a sound

and the gasp of rot
stabbed from the compost’s lumpen living death
is me

O my life my war in a jar
I shake you and shake you
and may the best ant win

For I am come a whirlwind of wasted things
and I will ride this tantrum back to God

until my fixed self, my fluorescent self
my grief–nibbling, unbewildered, wall–to–wall self
withers in me like a salted slug

~ Christian Wimen, from Every Living Thing

“Very superstitious, writings on the wall,/Very superstitious, ladders bout to fall” ~ From Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”

supersense-us-cover

The U.S. Book Cover for Supersense

“There is superstition in avoiding superstitions.” Sir Francis Bacon

Supersense: Bruce Hood’s Book Hits the Shelves

I know that several people who follow my blog also follow Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable (http://brucemhood.wordpress.com/), which is hosted by researcher, scientist, and author Bruce M. Hood.

supersense-uk-cover
Supersense U.K. Cover

Bruce’s blog is always entertaining, very often educational, and the comment streams can be great fun. I have been visiting Bruce’s blog for a while now, and I will freely admit that it is one of my favorites. I think that I enjoy the comments as much as the blogs themselves. Those of us who comment regularly are an irreverent bunch, mostly from the UK and the US, but people drop in from all over the world.

Bruce is currently on the U.S. leg of his promotional tour for his book, which has the same name as his blog site; unfortunately for me, Bruce’s tour dates didn’t come anywhere near the Mid-Atlantic, or I would have traveled to see him. As it is, once I am able to purchase is book, I am probably going to send it to Bruce so that he can autograph it for me.

I’ll probably order the UK version as I really prefer that cover to the US cover. (Decisions on cover designs for different countries is fodder for an entire class on design. Don’t get me started.)

Here is a brief description from the Amazon site:

Why is it that Tony Blair always wore the same pair of shoes when answering Prime Minister’s Questions? That John McEnroe notoriously refused to step on the white lines of a tennis court between points? And that President-elect Barack Obama played a game of basketball the morning of his victory in the Iowa primary, and continued the tradition the day of every following primary? Superstitious habits are common. Do you ever cross your fingers, knock on wood, avoid walking under ladders, or step around black cats? Sentimental value often supersedes material worth. If someone offered to replace your childhood teddy bear or wedding ring with a brand new, exact replica, would you do it?

It has been wonderful keeping up with him and his promotions people in the big lead up to the publication dates in the UK and in the US. And in spite of his busy and hectic schedule, he still finds time to post to allow his regular readers to keep up with his goings on.

He was on NPR on April 7 with Brian Lehrer, but I missed the show. If I hadn’t missed it, you can bet that I would have called in and asked Bruce about mummified mermaids. But since I missed the show, I wanted to take this opportunity to post the youtube of the show, called “Are You Superstitious?”

 

 

“Men are probably nearer the central truth in their superstitions than in their science” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Personally, I am very superstitious about some things but not others, but I don’t really think about it until someone points it out. For example, I have no problems in opening an umbrella inside of the house or a building, but this drives my poor mother crazy. However, I do not like to walk under ladders; but to be perfectly honest, I think that this dislike arises more from clumsiness than superstition.

I don’t believe in throwing salt over my shoulder or knocking on wood (more because everything is laminate, and that kind of defeats the purpose of wood), but I do believe in ghosts, more because of events that have happened in my life. I’ll pick up pennies whether they are heads up or heads down, just because I view a penny as part of a larger whole; is that in itself a superstition?

arnold_6661Friday the 13th passes by without my acknowledgement, but I wouldn’t want to stay on the 13th floor of a hotel, nor would I want to stay in room 666. I don’t believe in the seven years of bad luck associated with breaking mirrors, but I might want to rethink that one considering the string of bad luck that we’ve had.

I don’t believe in lucky clothes, but I’m not an athlete. My former husband used to be a competitive runner, and he had a lucky t-shirt. And I’ve known other people who play sports who have lucky socks or lucky shirts. However, I do have an old sweater from the sixth grade that I refuse to rid myself of, as well as a t-shirt from high school that is faded and wouldn’t fit on my thigh, but I cannot bring myself to throw that away either. Superstition or sentimentality? Is there a difference?

walking-on-broken-glass
Walking on Broken Glass by L. Liwag

I am not afraid of black cats; in fact, I find them rather beautiful. But I do believe in angels or angelic presence. I don’t believe in things commonly referred to as “old wives’ tales,” but my mother still clings to many of these.

For example, my mother still has a thing about the night air, as in people who are sick shouldn’t go out in the night air. This “old wives’s tale” actually dates back to the Renaissance and before. People used to believe that ill humours floated about in the night air, and those who actually chanced a nightly constitutional among the humours would be affected adversely by catching diseases and ailments. As a result of this, my mother would never let me go out at night when I was younger for fear that my asthma would be affected by the night air.

Okay, then.

I can tell you that since my operation, my back now is a very good predictor of rain and snow, just as people for years have claimed that their arthritis predicts bad weather.

“Like it or not, we’re still a primitive tribe ruled by fears, superstition and misinformation.” ~ Bill Maher 

My father used to have this funny superstition, but I’m not sure if he really believed it or just found it funny enough to pass on. Apparently, an ancient Filipino, perhaps Asian cure for when people were choking on fish bones was to pat them on the head. I’ll never forget when Alexis seemed to have something caught in her throat, and my dad said, “Pat her on the head. It will go away.” Luckily, she wasn’t really choking. We’ve laughed about that one for years.

Another superstition among many tribes and religions is that of a woman being unclean when she is menstruating. In some cultures, these women were/are made to go stay in a separate hut or room until her menses passes. Often the superstition is that the woman can contaminate the rest of the village somehow, or, that the menstruating woman is a little bit mad. I can vouch for the latter: Men should try having bloating, cramps, headaches, insomnia, and mood swings every month of their lives . . .

full-moon-croppedThen there are the serial killers. Now there’s a superstitious bunch for you. What do I mean? How about those who will only kill under the full moon? Or those who will only kill women with blond hair? Or those that will bury their dead in the same place because it’s lucky? Icky, huh?

Or cultural superstitions: not eating cows because they are sacred (India), throwing coins in a fountain while facing away from a fountain will grant three wishes (Argentina), or not sleeping with your head pointed north because that’s the direction that dead people face (Japan).

Or doomsday cults. That’s another superstitious subculture. The world will end at the new millennium. The world will end when women get the vote. The world will end when blacks are integrated into society. The world will end when I finally publish a book. No wait, that one is mine. Sorry.

I’m not even going to touch on the superstitions tied to various religions. That is a book all by itself. Scientology anyone?

I could go on, but it would be much better if you ordered Bruce’s book (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your independent bookseller), and read about these things as written by an expert on the subject.

I do want to close with a quote by the incredible Carl Sagan when he was pondering what would happen at the close of the millennium: “I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive.”

 “Siren song of unreason”—boy I wish that I had written that.

More later. Peace.