“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.” ~ David Benioff, from City of Thieves


“I have started to dream profusely day and night. The blood is circulating again. I write in my head.” ~ Anaïs Nin, from Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary; 1939-1947

Sunday afternoon, partly cloudy, 54 degrees.

Last night was a real bugger. The dogs wanted to go out frequently; it seems like it was every five minutes. Around 7 a.m., I took half a sleeping pill and tried to get a few hours. This afternoon,  I’m zombie-fied.

Let me back up. Last night, Corey came home with a breeding pair of miniature Nubian goats. We’ve been talking about starting with the goat thing, and yesterday afternoon, he was really at loose ends, so I told him to go buy some goats. Problem solved.

When he got home, we had some pretty strange reactions from the various animals: Sassy the horse began snorting, tossing her head and generally acting unhappy. She’s never done that before; I wonder if she has some antipathy towards goats. All of the dogs wanted to see what was in the truck, and when they were put in the house, Maddy scratched at the door and whined like mad to get out. During the night, Bailey kept wanting to go outside, and when I opened the door, she would immediately turn left and head down the side yard. I didn’t follow her, but I assumed that she was going towards the chicken run, which is where Corey had put the goats last night so that they would be safe. Then Bailey would come back inside and whine at me.

Over and over and over. So annoying, and I was very not amused. And then I realized that I was mindlessly looking out the window and only to see the very dense dark that surrounds the property at night fade as dawn began to appear. (It is lovely, however, that from the side living room windows we can watch the sun set over the ridge, and from the side window of the spare bedroom we can see the sun rise.)

I was not greeting the dawn on purpose as anyone who knows me can attest that morning and I are not on the best of terms. I am even less amused today as my head feels like it’s in a vise, and my hands hurt like crazy (I’m currently out of my eggshell membrane).

“Even when
I sleep I dream I can’t sleep and I’m standing there looking
down at them, the night pouring from my hands.” ~ Emily Berry, from “Arlene and Esme”

Today Corey has the goats out in the yard, both of them on long leads so that they don’t bolt. The end of the yard before the dropoff was apparently a goat pasture as there is still a small goat shed down there. Unfortunately, that’s one part of the yard in which the fence hasn’t been repaired, so we cannot put them there as of yet, hence the leads. I am ambivalent about that far pasture, though. I mean, what about bears and coyotes?

I know. That whole worrying thing.

Apparently, the guy from whom Corey bought the goats kept them on long leads and moved them around his property each day. It’s not an ideal solution, but I suppose that it will work for us temporarily. However, the goats need to have room to move freely, preferably in areas that are overgrown.

As soon as I saw the pair last night I immediately named the female Daisy, but I haven’t figured out who the male is yet. Daisy is quite gentle with a very pretty face, which might be an odd thing to say about a goat. She is black with sable markings. The male is mostly white with black markings and a pair of beautiful horns.

The only thing about goats that I don’t like are their pupils: horizontal. Weird and kind of freaky. I probably feel that way because too many horror movies use goat imagery for demons, and that’s stuck in my head somehow. But Daisy is the farthest thing from demonic looking, and she is very sweet-natured. I still have to work on the male.

“It’s good to fall asleep here. I lie on my back and don’t know if I’m asleep or awake. Some books I’ve read pass by like old sailing ships on their way to the Bermuda triangle to vanish without trace . . .” ~ Tomas Tranströmer, from “How the Late Autumn Night Novel Begins”

Yesterday was Eamonn’s birthday. I sent him a text, which was much harder than it needed to be. The phone situation around here is no better, and frankly, I’m at my wit’s end over it. I need to call some doctors and pharmacies, and I simply cannot get a freaking signal that will last more than 15 seconds, which is why I didn’t even attempt to call Eamonn and chose to text instead.

I realized later in the afternoon that yesterday was probably at the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Norfolk, something that Eamonn, Alexis, and their father have traditionally made a point to attend. I’ve never been to the parade, nor have I wanted to—too much noise and way too many drunk people on a Saturday morning.

I plan to write Eamonn later today to see how his birthday went and if he did anything besides the parade. It goes without saying (so I’ll say it) that I really miss seeing him, especially on his birthday, something I would have normally made him a special meal for, at the very least.

“I can still see the dark
blur at the edges. I don’t sleep anymore, my head is full
of this insomniac light.” ~ Emily Berry, from “Arlene and Esme”

At the moment, the house is quiet as most of the dogs are outside with Corey. Tink is the only one inside, and she’s deep into her afternoon nap. She has gotten too big to sleep in my lap while I type, but that didn’t stop her from trying to do so yesterday afternoon. Neither of us were comfortable, so I moved her to the couch, and she immediately fell back to sleep. She’s really grown so much since we first got her, and Freddy has really grown. We’re certain that he will end up being our largest dog, but he’s still a little scaredy-cat over pretty much everything, and he doesn’t realize that he isn’t small any more. At least he isn’t afraid of towels any more.

Anyway, I’m enjoying the quiet, but I’m chilly. We’re trying not to build any more fires, but the last few nights have been quite chilly. I always get cold when I’m not feeling great, and at the moment my legs, my fingers, and my nose are cold. The legs I can cover, but what do you do about a cold nose when you’re sitting in the house? And as for the fingers? I mean, I can’t really put on gloves and hope to type with any accuracy.

I have no plans to go for a walk today; I just don’t have the energy or the inclination. It’s already going on 3:30. It took a bit to find today’s poem and song, so I’m already behind before I even start. I don’t think that I’ve ever posted anything by this particular poet or performer before, so that’s new.

The only good news is that I think that I’ll be able to post the pictures that I took the other day. When I sat Corey down yesterday to help me with the problem I was having with importing, I showed him what I had been trying to do, and of course the first time that I tried, I was able to import a photo without any problems.

I really hate it when he gets that told-you-so, smug grin on his face . . .

“It was that sort of sleep in which you wake every hour and think to yourself that you have not been sleeping at all; you can remember dreams that are like reflections, daytime thinking slightly warped.” ~ Kim Stanley Robinson, from Icehenge

I realize that this post isn’t incredibly engaging or revelatory (you wouldn’t believe how many times I just misspelled that word, and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why: relevatory is not a word, dumbass). Blame the brain fog and the cold nose and fingers.

I was tempted to skip posting entirely, but if I did that, then there would be the recriminations and regrets and general bashing of my otherwise solid self-image, and we wouldn’t want that, huh?

So let’s see . . . goats, insomnia, spelling errors, cold body parts, dogs, kids . . . Anything else? The daffodils are blooming. Hooray. Exciting podcasts? More of “Case Files” (out of Australia) and “Root of Evil” (the Hodel/Black Dahlia legacy). YouTube videos? Not really. Skincare discoveries? No? Well, damn. Boring as usual.

More later. Peace.


Music by WILLN’T, “Four O’clock in the Morning”


Winter Insomnia

How many winter mornings waking wrongly
at three or four
my mind the only luminosity
in the darkened house . . .
my wife richly breathes
her eyes turned deeply in
on dreams.

I am alert at once
and think of the cat
coasting on its muscles
from closet shelf to bureau
grave and all-seeing
caring not at all.

The face…..the faces
waiting
toward ponds
empty-handed and with tenderness
hoping the hourly day might melt and flow.
One could reach out,
there might be a daily salvation

Out the windows slowly
a dull light is covering the
world without end:
snow patches and mud ruts,
the neighbor warming up
his car.
The world refuses
to bless
or to be blessed.

~ Richard Tillinghast

 

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“She loved the sea only for the sake of its storms, and the green only when it was scattered among ruins.” ~ Gustave Flaubert, from Madame Bovary

I didn’t notice until today that the system posted this in April. I knew that something funky happened when the power went out, but didn’t realize it had moved it…..

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1909 oil on canvas Promenade by the Sea
“Promenade by the Sea” (1909, oil on canvas)
by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

                   

“All we are is representation, what we appear to be & are, & are not,
And representation is all we remember,
……….
We go without a trace, I am thinking. We go & there’s no one there,
No one to meet us on the long drive lined with orange trees,
Cypresses, the bleaching fronds of palm trees” ~ Larry Levis, from “Elegy For Whatever Had A Pattern In It”

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida GIrl with Flowers nd
“Girl with Flowers” (nd, oil)

First, let me apologize for the dearth of original material. It’s just not flowing from my fingertips. Second, thanks if you’re still sticking with me in the hopes that I do something interesting soon.

In that vein, I’ve decided to do this list of questions that I copied and modified from tumblr a few weeks ago in the hopes that it will jump start my juices. So here goes . . .

  • The last five songs you listened to on whichever device:
    • Birdy, “Not About Angels”
    • M83, “I Need You”
    • Elenowen, “No Such Thing as Time”
    • Ed Sheeran, “All of the Stars”
    • Lily Kershaw, “Maybe”
    • Ólafur Arnalds, “Beth’s Theme” (Broadchurch OST)
  • If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be? Neil deGrasse Tyson, just because he seems like he’d be fascinating to spend some time with.
  • Turn to page 23 in the book closest to you; what is line 17? “I still wasn’t looking at him, but I felt him tighten to hold back a wince.” (Tana French’s Broken Harbor)
  • What do you think about most? How my life is slipping by so quickly, and I still haven’t done anything purposeful.
  • Ever had a poem or song written about you? Two poems and one song
  • Do you have any strange phobias? Centipedes freak me out; I cannot take crowded elevators (claustrophobia), and I fear that someone will stab me in the eye.

“She had studied the universe all her life, but had overlooked its clearest message: For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” ~ Carl Sagan

  • What’s your religion? I’m a pantheist if I’m anything.
  • What/who are you missing right at this moment? That’s actually a list: talking to Corey, sleeping with my dog Shakes, arguing with my mother, and having friendship on a daily basis.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Rose Bush at the Sorolla House 1918 oil on canvas
“Rose Bush at the Sorolla House” (1918, oil on canvas)
  • What is the last book that you read? Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight. I didn’t like the ending. It felt rushed and staid.
  • What was the last lie you told? I really don’t remember because I try very hard not to lie to my loved ones. Strangers are up for grabs.
  • Do you believe in karma? Hmm….I think so. I would like to think that the ills that we do people will come back to us threefold, but I don’t think that it actually happens nearly enough to nasty people, like the guy in the red car who followed me.
  • What does your URL mean? It’s the moniker that I have been using for years, and it’s an ancient Greek word for poet or maker.

“A thick frenzy of blossoms shrouding the riverside,
I stroll, listing dangerously, in full fear of spring.” ~ Tu Fu, from Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the River

  • What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength? My greatest weakness is my lack of self-confidence, and my greatest strength is my undying loyalty.
  • Which of the five senses affects you the most? That’s a hard one—a tossup between smell (fresh flowers and herbs) and sound (songs closely associated with certain memories can absolutely slay me in an instant).

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Coast at San Sebastian 1918 oil on canvas
    “Coast at San Sebastian” (1918, oil on canvas)
  • How do you vent your anger? I’m a door slammer, but I don’t resort to it very often. When I was young and immature, I threw things, like teacups, and there was that one vase, all directed at my ex. Now, I mostly write it out of my system.
  • Do you have a collection of anything? Hmmm….booksbooksbooks, nail polish and DVDs
  • Are you happy with the person you’ve become? Not really because I don’t feel that I’ve become anything tangible. I feel unfinished, if that makes any sense.
  • What’s a sound that you hate; a sound that you love? I hate the sound of loud machines, especially jackhammers and leaf blowers, but in the spring, the sound I hate the most is the ice cream truck that plays Christmas carols loud enough to shatter glass. I love listening to thunderstorms and pre-dawn birdsong.

“If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience and creation.” ~ Anaïs Nin

  • Most sensitive spot on your body? Nape of my neck
  • Earth, air, fire, or water? Water and air. I love looking at the sky, and I love hearing the water. I cannot imagine ever living somewhere without some kind of water, and one of my biggest goals is to live somewhere where I can really see the night sky.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Esmeradas de la Cala San Vicente
“Esmeradas de la Cala San Vicente” (
  • What’s your biggest “what if”? What if I had gotten my doctorate way back when when I had planned to do so . . . what if I hadn’t had to go out on disability . . . what if I had been able to have another baby . . . I could do this one all day . . .
  • Your five favorite movies, in descending order:
    • Lord of the Rings (I know it’s three, but I count it as one)
    • The English Patient
    • Silence of the Lambs
    • Braveheart (I can ignore Mel Gibson’s horribleness for this one)
    • Gladiator
    • (five runners up: Henry V, Pride and Prejudice (Kiera Knightly/Matthew McFadyen version), Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, The Usual Suspects, and all the Harry Potters)
  • Favorite movie or television genre? I’m not big on comedies; I prefer action or fantasy or sci fi. I’ve also developed a renewed interest in horror movies thanks to my spouse, and I really, really have an obsession (probably unhealthy) with true crime.
  • What’s the worst place you have ever been? Stuck on an overcrowded city bus in Mexico. My claustrophobia kicked in big time.

“I carry deserts in my chest,
the hot sand of silence.” ~ Edmond Jabès, from The Book of Questions: Volume I

  • Do you participate in social media? Although I have this blog and my tumblr, I stay away from Facebook and Twitter. No one needs to know that I’m in line at Target, and I think that Zuckerberg is an ass.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida The Yellow Rosebush of the Sorolla House c1920 oil on canvas
    “The Yellow Rosebush of the Sorolla House” (c1920, oil on canvas)
  • Truth or justice? There is no justice without truth.
  • What’s the last thing you downloaded? Helmer Ossland’s “Torne Träsk”
  • What was the last movie you saw? Did you like it? Divergence, and I liked it a lot more than Noah.
  • What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had? The one I keep doing to myself: wrenching my back
  • Do you have any obsessions right now? Finding the perfect mascara (lame, I know)

“Overflow gently — don’t drown.” ~ Albert Camus, from Notebooks

  • Have you ever had a rumor spread about you? I’m sure that most everyone falls victim to this at one time or another, but I did work with one colleague who took great liberties with the truth, especially when speaking with my boss.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida On San Sebastian Beach circa 1895-1900 oil on canvas
    “On San Sebastian Beach” (c1895-1900, oil on canvas)
  • Do you tend to hold grudges against people who have done you wrong? See above . . . Seriously, though, I’ve mellowed quite a bit over the years, but I will admit that I still hold grudges against three people who caused me great pain, and I honestly don’t know what I would do if I ran into one of them.
  • Do you and your significant other have a special song and/or place? “Amazed” by Lonestar, and anyplace in which we can spend quality time together, like a beach on an island with an umbrella drink.
  • What’s the last thing you purchased? Besides groceries and prescriptions, nail polish.
  • Love or lust? Lusting after the one I love
  • Paper or pixels? I’m a purist—paper all the way.

“Make a name for the dark parts of you.” ~ Lisa Marie Basile, from “Paz”

  • If you could move anywhere in the country, where would it be?  I would love to move to Oregon or Vermont, but don’t ask me why; they just seem like they would be so different from where I am now, and that appeals to me greatly. I do not want to spend another decade in this house in this city.
  • If you could move anywhere in the world, where would it be? If I could move anywhere in the world, it’s a tossup between Ireland and New Zealand.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Storm over Peñalara, Segovia 1906 oil on canvas
” Storm over Peñalara, Segovia” (1906, oil on canvas)
  • Where is your best friend? My best friend from high school lives in the same city; my best friend with whom I have kept in touch the most lives outside of Richmond, and my soul compatriot lives in Massachusetts.
  • What were you doing last night at 12 AM? Watching the remake of “Rosemary’s Baby”
  • Are you the kind of friend you would want to have as a friend? I believe so because I am loyal to a fault.
  • You are walking down the street on your way to work. There is a dog drowning in the canal on the side of the street. Your boss has told you if you are late one more time you get fired. What do you do? This is a stupid question.

“I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul de sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadows under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of people’s eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from The Bell Jar

  • You are told that you have approximately one month to live. Do you tell anyone/everyone you are going to die? What do you do with your remaining days? Would you be afraid? I would only tell my family. I would travel to as many places as I could in the time I had left. And of course I would be afraid.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Playa 1906 oil on cardboard
    “Playa” (1960, oil on cardboard)
  • Which song always makes you happy when you hear it? “Across the Universe”
  • Which song always tugs at your heart strings? That’s hard to narrow to just one: “Colorblind,” by Counting Crows; “I’m Already There,” by Lonestar; and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” by Bonnie Raitt. Those three always, always get to me.
  • What does it take to make a lasting relationship? Trust, loyalty, friendship, and passion
  • Can a lie ever be justified? No.
  • Do you believe in revenge? See grudges above . . . well, actually, I do believe in revenge in theory, but not sure about in practice.

“Listen to me. I am telling you
a true thing. This is the only kingdom.
The kingdom of touching;
the touches of the disappearing, things.” ~ Aracelis Girmay, from “Elegy”

  • What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far? To allow myself to love again after hurting for so long
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Rocks and white boat, Javea 1905 oil on canvas
”Rocks and White Boat, Javea” (1905, oil on canvas)
  • What would you want to be written on your tombstone? I’m going to be cremated, but if I were to have a tombstone, I would want a quote by Woolf or Fitzgerald
  • Name the one thing that has been on your bucket list the longest. Riding in a hot air balloon.
  • What is your current desktop picture? “Rocks and white boat, Javea” by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
  • If you could press a button and make anyone in the world instantaneously explode, who would it be? Well obviously Pol Pot or Hitler, but they’re both dead. I wouldn’t mind giving a serious jolt to the Koch brothers, Fox Noise, and most of Congress.
  • What is the first childhood memory that pops into your mind? A marketplace in Morocco

I have the sluggish inertia of a great big ship. When the port’s in sight there’s no point aiming for the harbour, I’ll pile straight into the sea wall. Even though it’s slow and unremarkable, my existence has caused terrible damage. And yet I did see the lighthouse flashing its anxious message in the distance. I got its warnings and said, yes, yes, I know, I’m going to break everything; but it was too late.” ~ Agnès Desarthe, from Chez Moi

  • Superpower of your choice? Flying
  • If you could relive any half-hour period in your life, what would it be? The first half hour I held each of my children
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida The Waves at San Sebastian 1915 oil on canvas
“The Waves at San Sebastian” (1915, oil on canvas)
  • If you could erase one horrible experience in your life, what would it be? The suffering and death of Caitlin
  • If you had a TARDIS, where and when would you go? I’d go to France in the 1880’s and buy a van Gogh.
  • If you were offered a free plane ticket to anywhere, where would you go? And if you had to leave in half an hour, would you still take the ticket? I’d go to Ireland, and of course I would still go.
  • If you could choose anyone in the world to be your mentor for a year, who would it be? Tana French because I love the way that she writes; her prose is so lyrical that I often find myself pausing after passages just to drink them in. I would choose her because she has become successful in writing the kinds of fiction that I would love to write myself.

All images are by Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923)

Music by Birdy, “Not About Angels”

                   

May Day

I’ve decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,

Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,

Be a cell where a struggling tendril
Utters a few spare syllables at dawn.
I’ve decided to waste my life
In a new way, to forget whoever

Touched a hair on my head, because
It doesn’t matter what came to pass,
Only that it passed, because we repeat
Ourselves, we repeat ourselves.

I’ve decided to walk a long way
Out of the way, to allow something
Dreaded to waken for no good reason,
Let it go without saying,

Let it go as it will to the place
It will go without saying: a wall
Against which a body was pressed
For no good reason, other than this.

~ Phillip Levine

“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason . . . Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” ~ Anaïs Nin

 

Dedrick Stuber Silver Afternoon semi colon Poetry of Evening oil on panels
“Silver Afternoon; Poetry of Evening” (nd, oils on panels)
by Dedrick Stuber

Saturated

Heavy drops, carrying more
than they can bear, fall from no-
where, bending leaves already
sagging, and one by one,
the leaves let go.

They drift to the earth,
each quiet as a master
juggler missing everything so
completely that he realizes
he is being juggled.

Surrender is like this.
Not giving up, but
missing and letting go.

~ Mark Nepo

                    

Music by London Grammar, “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak cover)

“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of φ Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of φ
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

                   

“At the end of this day there remains what remained yesterday and what will remain tomorrow: the insatiable, unquantifiable longing to be both the same and other.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy and not quite as hot, 90 degrees. Possible thunderstorms.

So were we? Oh yes, joists, mold, swelling, heat wave, water damage, no toilet . . .

The bathroom is coming along. All of the joists have been replaced. The subfloor is going down. A few studs left to replace, and then the repair part is mostly done. Corey replaced all of the water lines, did some moving around, extended the water pipes to outside the bedroom window so that if we ever get around to building the deck out there, we can have a rustic outdoor shower, something I’ve always hankered after but never had an excuse to have.

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of the accidental similarity number
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of the accidental similarity number
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

I have to say once again how very impressed I am with my hubby’s abilities. He looks at things, thinks about them, and then presto! Voila! He makes it work (in the words of the estimable Mike Holmes). That’s not to say that Corey hasn’t wondered more than once if he’s in over his head, but I have reassured him that as compared to a lot of other people, he’s really done an amazing job.

Mike has helped out over the weekend, which has sped up some aspects of the work, but still, it’s slow going. It is a full gut, after all, which I don’t think everyone fully comprehended.

“Someone, and no matter who, inhabits my head like it’s an empty house, he enters, he leaves, he bangs each door behind him, powerless I put up with this ruckus.” ~ Claude Esteban, from “Someone, and no matter”

As to the wonderful Botox-related facial swelling? Yes, still here. The heat really exacerbates it. I can walk outside and feel the skin on my face tighten and tingle. Lovely. Absolutely lovely.

Supposedly, when I spoke to the doctor’s office the other day, I was through with the worst of it. Only not so much. I’m taking antihistamines and ibuprofen mostly because I don’t know what else I should take. Fortunately, I have finished with the prednizone, but the fact of the matter is that my face has this patches of puffiness, and I finally figured out what it reminded me of: Harry Potter.

Progression of the first 10,000 digits of pi Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski
Progression of the first 10,000 digits of pi
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

There is a scene in The Chamber of Secrets in which the three main characters take some polyjuice potion to assume others’ identities. In the film, the changing process is shown through this bubbling of the facial skin as it morphs from one face to another. That’s how my face feels.

Bubbly. As if it’s changing from one thing to another. It’s really, really uncomfortable, and these side effects are making me rethink the whole Botox for migraines regimen. Corey says it’s too soon to decide, but his face isn’t bubbling and sliding around, is it?

“I am excessively diverted.” ~ Jane Austen

Brett has been spending the last week away from home as the renovations seem to bother him on some deeper level that I cannot quite understand. I don’t know if it’s the extent, that he wasn’t expecting it, or the disarray, which is unnerving.

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of e
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of e
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

Would that I could spend the time away from the house, but then again, that would mean leaving, wouldn’t it? The constant banging is obnoxious, but at least the migraine is gone for now. I’ve only gone to my mom’s house once to take a shower. The rest of the time, we use the pool to get wet and then shower via garden hose in the backyard under the night sky, which is actually very refreshing.

Good thing we have a privacy fence, not that I really care about the neighbors.

Anyway, I expect that I’ll be able to begin the tile work in a couple of days, and I’m really looking forward to it. Once I start, I can stop obsessively looking up articles on hanging tile and reading all of the forums on do’s and don’ts and why and why not. It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of these discussions. This substrate is good . . . no This substrate is good . . . but you should use this kind of mortar . . . but what about . . .

It’s enough to drive a sane person to drink.

“One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in the same pattern, but in different colors.” ~ Robert Graves, from The Art of Poetry No. 11, The Paris Review

I had the strangest dream last night about neighbors who don’t exist. They invited us over for a quick casual dinner after we had all gone to a theme park for the day. I was really tired but thought it would be rude not to accept the impromptu invitation. During this, my mother disappeared, and I didn’t know it until I answered the phone and she was on the other end telling me that she had gone out with some friends to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I told her that I’d take care of the dogs, and suddenly, there were four dogs, not two, and I hadn’t remembered to give them food or water, so I had to excuse myself from the company to take care of the dogs.

Progression and transition for the first 2,000 digits of e
Progression and transition for the first 2,000 digits of e
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

Then, the museum curator wanted to compare a document, and I knew that it was a problem because the original document had gotten water spots on it from the water damage, and we had been hiding that. The curator was very miffed, and we had to take the document off display because it couldn’t be authenticated. Meanwhile, the company wanted to drink margaritas, but I told them the tequila gave me a migraine, so they drank something that was the color of Midori liqueur.

Finally, everyone left while I tried to tape together the transcript with red sealing tape, this after assuring all parties that homework had to be completed before there could be any playtime.

“I have moved to the edge of the world for two years. If I am not careful, I will fall.” ~ Roxane Gay, from North Country

And you wonder why I have migraines . . .

I awoke to banging in the bathroom and pressure in my forehead and a curious sense that I hadn’t finished what I had started.

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of π. Created with Circos
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of π.
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

Anyway, that’s life around the homestead for the past several days. The puppies are managing well, and Bailey has seemingly potty trained herself overnight, which is one less thing to worry about.

In between all of this, Corey has job applications out, and I’m revisiting the idea of taking the GREs so that I can apply to a doctoral program. I haven’t seen le bebe since the birthday party, and there’s no way she can be in the house with all of the wood and nails and what-have-you everywhere. It’s enough to keep the wood chips out of the puppy’s mouth.

Here’s hoping the next few days see a domino effect in getting things done . . . but I won’t hold my breath.

More later. Peace.

All images are taken from The Creator’s Project, Visualizing the Infinite Beauty Of Pi And Other Numbers. No, I don’t even begin to understand the principle behind this, but I found the images quite beautiful regardless.

Music by Sara Jackson-Holman, “Cartography”

                   

Richard Silken Meanwhile

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” ~ T.S. Eliot

Natural Rock Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey6
The Natural Rock Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey

                   

“There is a fissure in my vision and madness will always rush through. Lean over me, at the bedside of my madness, and let me stand without crutches.” ~ Anaïs Nin, from “House of Incest”

Friday, late afternoon. Cloudy, drizzle, liquid humidity, 80 degrees.

Now on day 8 of this particular migraine. Would someone please explain to me how this is even possible? My body is so full of pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, steroids, Botox, and nausea medication that I couldn’t pass a drug test in any quarter of this world, yet I am still in pain. Added to this was a brand new twist with my vision—as in I was rendered temporarily blind, could only see lines for about 15 seconds.Pamukkale Photos

Very, very freaky.

Do not like stuff messing with my vision. I remember well the onset of a migraine while I was out on my daily walk (years ago when I did that); suddenly, layers were coming off the hot street, and I saw horizontal bands everywhere. Today’s visual anomaly was a hundred times more unsettling.

Not good. Not good at all. So I’m sitting here typing blind, hoping that my fingers on are on the right keys because I’m trying not to focus on anything.

“When I can’t make you understand I repeat myself
I repeat

If you don’t stop asking me all these questions how
Will I understand anything” ~ Robert Polito, from “Please Refrain from Talking During the Movie”

Monday evening. Sunny, hot and humid, 90 degrees.

Obviously, never got back to the post on Friday. So many good things have happened since then that I feel a need to share them with you . . .Natural Rock Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey5

Let’s see, first, I’m having a severe reaction to the Botox, at least that’s what I think it is. I cannot get my doctor’s office to return my call, so let’s just hope that I don’t go into anaphylactic shock over this. The soft tissue above my eyebrows is very swollen; my cheeks feel taut, and I cannot open my mouth all the way. My eyes feel as if something is inside both of them burning. I looked up my symptoms and it’s either the Botox, or an extreme mold reaction, or cellulitis. All good things . . .

But believe it or not, this is the good news. You see, we have water damage and rot down to the joists. Yes, the joists. You know those big pieces of lumber that keep the house up, that make it possible for the house not to sink into the crawl space, the ones that are long and unwieldy. Yes, the joists.

I tried to put this into perspective for Corey by telling him that had we hired a contractor, that discovery would have tacked on at least another $6k to the job. Perspective is not exactly what he’s looking for. Help would be the operative word. I cannot help in the wood replacement, just don’t have the strength. It’s definitely not a one-person job. At times like these, Corey really misses his brothers and cousins, all of whom are very, very handy.

“A trap is only a trap if you don’t know about it. If you know about it, it’s a challenge.” ~ China Miéville, from King Rat

We knew we had water damage, and we suspected that it was in the studs, but not the joists. That just seems too traumatic somehow. It’s a wonder that no one fell through the floor before now. If you could only see this—it’s amazing in it’s thoroughness, complete and total breakdown of the foundation. It’s everywhere.Pamukkale Photos

As I sit here, I can actually feel all of the muscles in the top of my back and shoulder contracting. What does anaphylactic shock look like? I know. I’m a drama queen, but hey, now’s the time, if ever.

So in between trying to identify my symptoms as some new rare disease, I’m researching joist repair, adding it to the list of E-How printouts that are piling up on the dining room table. We might get to tiling sometime next week. Meantime, did I mention this is our only bathroom? Only. Bathroom.

I’ve raised three children, three teenagers with only one bathroom. It seemed like quite an achievement before. Now the real achievement is that no one has been killed by the structural failure that is our house.

“Your home is regarded as a model home, your life as a model life. But all this splendor, and you along with it… it’s just as though it were built upon a shifting quagmire. A moment may come, a word can be spoken, and both you and all this splendor will collapse.” ~ Henrik Ibsen, from A Doll House

I don’t know. Somehow, I’m not really terribly surprised by this turn of events. Our life tends to unfold based on the application of Murphy’s law and all of its corollaries. Not by choice, mind you, but by happenstance. I knew that once we pulled things up and off that what lay beneath would be ugly, but I never thought that it would look like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie in which basic structures have disintegrated into something indeterminate.

Anyway, as I try to complete this post it is now Tuesday, but I saw no point in declaring that with yet another subhead. I stopped writing this post last night to go and cook dinner and then got completely distracted in researching joist replacement, calculating wood needed, etcetera ad nauseum.Natural-Rock-Pools-Of-Pamukkale--Turkey

This whole project has turned into one massive pain in the tuckus. The only good thing that I can say about all of this is that I am so glad we are undertaking this at a time in which finding out the correct way to do something is only a mouse click away. I cannot imagine trying to do a major renovation without Internet access. By the way, the people who frequent DIY forums are seriously serious about their opinions. Every thread that I have followed has had some element of one-upsmanship as well as snarky comments along the lines of “I can’t believe you just told X to do that! Everyone knows that’s now how you do it!”

Just want to point out that most of the DIY forums are inhabited by people with XY chromosomes. Perhaps that’s why there is so much competition, such a need to have a bigger . . . wrench (not saying that women aren’t competitive, so don’t even go there).

“I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken—and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.” ~ Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

I suppose I’ll close with a bit of good news: My doctor’s office finally called me back yesterday evening to reassure me that I am not suffering from a progressive case of anaphylactic shock (which I knew, really, I did, it was just the whole vision thing), just good old side effects from the Botox. My eyebrows aren’t quite as huge today, and the lower half of my face/neck/throat no longer feels as if it’s closing.Natural Rock Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey9

You know, I really just want to take a Xanax and lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, and since Brett is on campus, and Corey is out buying wood, I just might do that. I mean, I began the day by taking a shower at my mother’s house, which is enough of a story for a post of its own, and the day does not promise to get any better as the hours pass, so why not just bypass all of that? Don’t you agree? I thought that you might.

Besides, if I can’t float in the pool (because of the prednizone and sun being a bad mixture), and I can’t soak in the tub because it’s in a box in the living room, I’ll just have to settle for thinking abou floating in these natural pools until my skin is all wrinkly.

More later. Peace.

*All images are of the Natural Rock Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey.

Music by Future of Forestry, “Someone”

                    

Daily

These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips

These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares

These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl

This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out

This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky

This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it

The days are nouns:  touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

“The mistake is to look for explanations where we should just watch the slow fuse burning. Nerve of confession. What we let go we let go.” ~ Rosemarie Waldrop, from Lawn of Excluded Middle

Anais Nin my own world

                   

Two for Tuesday: It’s All Relative

The Relativity of Sorrow

Mercy is the combing of tangled hair
the sewing up of a split lip
the staying of an execution.
So the prisoner remains alive
until he or she dies a natural death
and the priest returns to say the last rites
one more time like an encore
of rednecks shouting Freebird.
Mercy Mercy Me
sang Marvin Gaye,
but he was shot in the head anyway.
Thomas Hardy only wrote love poems
to his wife after her death. When she lived,
she lived in the attic, closer to the clouds.
Domesticated is such a risk: a false wall,
toothpick fence, the mute swan in the playpen.
Grandpa reading dirty magazines in the outhouse
near to fields of melon and corn
and lynchings in July with blue snow cones.
Or the days of just take the thief down
to the chopping block.
Mercy seat is the resting place of God.
On the Sabbath he sits in the lap of a loving infidel.
When forgiven a heart fractures
into fallow fragments of birdshot.
Having arrived after the hunter,
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
broke the necks of the injured pheasants.
Mercy is the sap of pine,
popsicle sticks stacked to make a palace.
Reading and re-reading the Runaway Bunny
when you’d rather be exfoliating or shopping online.
Mercy is sometimes the smothering with a pillow,
or kindness to an ex. Compared
in some ancient text to a sword

~ Joann Dominique Dwyer

                   

In Dreams

After eighteen years there’s no real grief left
for the man who was my father.
I hardly think of him anymore,
and those dreams I used to have,
in which he’d be standing in a room of people
I didn’t know—maybe his new friends,
if the dead have friendships—
those dreams no longer trouble my sleep.
He’s not in the crooked houses I wander through
or in the field by the highway
where I’m running, chasing down
some important piece of paper,
desperate to reach it
as it’s lifted in the wake of trucks
or flattened and marked by passing cars,
as it’s lifted again to swirl over
a broken wood fence. I don’t know why
the paper’s so important, or if anything
is even written there.
I don’t know where the dead go,
or why it’s good to forget them,
not to see them if they come crowding
the windows or trying to lay themselves down
and press along our bodies at night
and ask that we love them again,
that our sorrows include them once more.
This morning I couldn’t get up.
I slept late, I dreamed of the single
sheet of paper, which I never managed to reach
as it stuttered and soared over the grass
and a few flowers, so that I woke
with a sense of loss, wondering who
or what I had to mourn besides
my father, whom I no longer mourn,
father buried in the earth beneath grass,
beneath flowers I trample as I run.
~ Kim Addonizio

                   

Music by Gustavo Santaolalla, “De Ushuaia a la Quiaca”

“I feel like I’ve swallowed a cloudy sky” ~ Haruki Murakami, from Sputnik Sweetheart

William Degouve de Nuncques La nuit à Bruger, 1897 oil on canvas
“La nuit à Bruger” (1897, oil on canvas)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

                   

“Sometimes moods of indescribable anguish, sometimes moments when the veil of time and fatality of circumstances seemed to be torn apart for an instant.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and hot, 88 degrees.

(Forewarning: It’s long and rambling)

A day filled with sadness for several reasons.

William Degouve de Nuncques Parc-de-Milan-1895
“Parc de Milan” (1895, pastel)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

Jake was surrendered to the shelter from which we adopted him. I did not go with Corey; instead, I began to clean as soon as I awoke (9 a.m., very early for me), which has once again become my solution to anything. That I have added yet another column to my lifetime table of guilt should surprise no one. I can only hope that Jake finds a family in which he can be the only child because I know that he would thrive in such an environment, as he has so much love and devotion to offer a lucky human.

Chalk up another major screw up. It’s not a pity party, exactly, more like a hating-life party. Or more specifically, hating my life, or hating how I live, or hating what I’m not doing in life, or hating how life has unfolded.

Circumstances. Sometimes, I really, really hate that word.

I don’t know. It’s all so tangled and gnarly, like a fishing net piled into a ball and left to dry in the sun—the result is a smelly mess needing much patience to disentangle the knots and snarls. I am sorely lacking in patience.

“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” ~ Milan Kundera, from Ignorance

William Degouve de Nuncques The Black Swan, pastel 1896
“The Black Swan” (1896, pastel)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

What do you do when someone you know simply cannot let go of something? I have no doubts that many people who have known me have wondered the same thing, given my tendency to cling so firmly to what was, affecting my ability to move into the what may be. But for a change, it is someone else whose desires for something from the past that is affecting the present.

The particulars are not mine to disclose as it is a private matter. I can only say that I wish more than anything that I had never heard about this, this, thing? Event? Point in time? I wish that I had never been made privy to this information, so disturbing is it and all of its implications.

I can only say that if this individual chooses to pursue this path back into the past, many, many people will be hurt, perhaps beyond repair. I say this knowing that the heart wants what the heart wants, fully aware that the heart is selfish and very often, callous.

This person believes that he/she has a right to venture down this path. I disagree. Believe me, my reaction is not from the gut but from the heart and the head. I have mulled over this possibility more than once over the years. I have wondered what might happen should these circumstances arise, and I have lived with a buried sense of dread because knowing this person as I do, I know that he/she has only one thing in mind.

“I am carrying such weights of absolute sadness that I must at any moment be dragged down into the deepest sea and the person trying to seize or even ‘rescue’ me would give up, not from weakness, not even from hopelessness but from sheer annoyance.” ~ Franz Kafka, Letters To Milena

William Degouve de Nuncques Nocturnal Effect 1896 pastel on paper
“Effet de Nuit” (1896, pastel on paper)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

So I’m having a visit with my old compatriot—regret. The two of us go back far too many years. All of the what-ifs, the might-have-beens, the why-nots, the if-only. Sometimes I feel that I should have the two words IF ONLY tattooed prominently on my body for all to see. It might keep me from trying to explain myself. Or maybe not.

Look. The current distressed state in which I currently find myself is not solely because of what happened with Jake, but god knows that plays a part. As I mentioned earlier, life in the abode has been a virtual wall-to-wall bed of nails. Step lightly lest you fall and open a lot of wounds. For a day or so, I actually thought that things were beginning to get better. I had a day in which I was able to think about floating around in the pool, reading a book, relaxing, not that I did any of these things.

I was so, so wrong.

Have you ever listened to the soundtrack from the movie Philadelphia, the one starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington? It has to be one of the saddest, most gut-wrenching soundtracks in existence. From start to finish it is a compilation of heartbreaking songs, and of course, I know each and every song by heart. The only reason the soundtrack isn’t my current writing music is that were it on I would probably not be writing but singing to myself.

I feel as if my life right now is that soundtrack on perpetual repeat.

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moment in life that are over.” ~ Paulo Coelho, from The Zahir

William Degouve de Nuncques Nocturne au Parc Royal de Bruxelles 1897 pastel on paper
“Nocturne au Parc Royal de Bruxelles” (1897, pastel on paper)

Regrets. I was speaking of them.

I regret putting my family and a sweet, lovely dog through the mill for a situation that I truly believed would turn out differently.

I regret that the depression from which I suffer spills over into every aspect of my life.

I regret that I did not tell my father that I loved him every chance that I had.

I regret that I didn’t pursue my doctorate decades ago when it would have been much more feasible.

I regret getting to this age without accomplishing even 25 percent of what I had planned.

I regret that my genetic make-up and predisposition to mental illness has been passed to my offspring.

I regret that I was never able to give Corey a child of his own.

That last one ↑? That’s a super big one. It’s the one that I always felt would deal a death-blow to my marriage. Not all at once, but as time passed. Each time he holds Olivia, I see the wistfulness in his eyes, and now that his brother Chad is a new dad to a beautiful baby boy once again, I can see the pain just below the surface. It’s there. I know it’s there. And I can do nothing, absolutely nothing about it.

“Why did everything always change, when all you wanted, all you had ever humbly asked of whatever God there might be, was that certain things be allowed to remain the same.” ~ Richard Yates, from Revolutionary Road

William Degouve de Nuncques A Venise 1895 pastel on cardboard
“A Venise” (1895, pastel on cardboard)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

I apologize for the disjointedness of this post; it comes from wanting to say so much and having to self-censor in order to respect another person’s privacy. It also comes from feeling such absolute sadness, a sadness that is born of much and little.

Much? How about an inability to give a part myself to someone who means more than life itself, and the ramifications of that inability? A real inability, not a desire not to do so—big difference.

Little? Many would see the betrayal of Jake as not being that significant. After all, he’s a dog, right? You obviously don’t know me at all.

Aside: I had told myself years ago that before I got too old to do so that I would run in a 5k race and that I would finish it, even if I came in last. I also told myself that before I got too old I would get my doctorate, even if I never got a job with it. I told myself that I would take the time to put together a manuscript and that I would look for an agent. And I told myself that some day, I would have another daughter.

How is any of this relevant? Only in how it proves how much I lie to myself, and how cruel fate can be.

“How one must be thrust over a finished cycle in life, and that leap the most difficult to make . . . The struggle to emerge out of the past, clean of memories; the inadequacy of our hearts to cut life into separate and final portions . . . the hunger for frontiers against which we might lean as upon closed doors before we proceed forward” ~ Anaïs Nin, from The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

william degouve de nuncques les paons via la-chair-et-le-sang 1898
“Les Paons” (1898)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

Do you know what I wish? I wish that the child that Corey is currently rocking in the Bentwood rocker was his. But I also wish that it didn’t matter so much to him. I wish that the unconditional love that I offer could be enough. I wish that I could be dense, could fool myself. I wish that we had had the resources a decade ago to try in vitro; perhaps if that had happened successfully, then the complete and utter despair that I feel now wouldn’t be happening. I wish that I were enough, but I know that I’m not. I wish that pain wasn’t palpable, that longing wasn’t visible, and that regret was not in my vocabulary.

I have never wished that I hadn’t gotten involved with Corey, even though there were several members of his family who wished that were so (at the time). But I have wished that I could have been someone else for him, even though I profess to be happy with myself as I am. I wish that I had a perky upturned nose and blond hair and significant ta tas and a name like Cindy or Blair. I wish that I fit squarely into the category of All-American girl.

Yeah. Most of those previous statements were lies. At least on some level. I like being different. I like my olive skin and dark hair. I like my exotic name. I like that a man once told me that I should be treated like a goddess and that another man wrote me a poem in which he compared me to a multicolored butterfly. But for every one thing that I like about myself, there are two that I don’t.

All I know is that right now, at this moment, I feel sad and lonely and more than a little insufficient. It’s times like these that the thought crosses my mind that if I were addicted to something, I could just take it and float off into oblivion.

Yeah. Not so much.

Later. Peace.

I needed blues, so all images depicted are by Belgian painter William Degouve de Nuncques (1867-1935)

Music by Tindersticks, “Sweet Memory”

                   

Translucence: An Assay

A dog implausibly large,
with fur the color of rose-quartz, slipped through my sleep

I have never seen roses that color,
or a vein of quartz move through its fissure on soft-padded feet.
This was sure, though: what she wanted was for me to follow.

She did not look back.
A shadow opened then folded behind her.
I followed as if past a gate latch
sliding closed on its own silent weight.

It was not so very different, really
More as if the narrator had turned and departed,
abandoned the story,
and each tree, each stone, stood clear in its own full fate.

The dream, like the dog, went on, travelled elsewhere.
Passed by the moment when everything might have been changed.
Passed by the moment of knowing I wanted everything changed.

~ Jane Hirshfield