Post hoc, ergo propter hoc . . .

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


Two for Tuesday: Post hoc

Tuesday afternoon. Cloudy and cooler, 66 degrees.

It’s a “West Wing” kind of day . . .

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

C.J. Cregg: What’s his problem?

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

Toby Ziegler: We heard.

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

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

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

                   

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

After All This

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

~ Richard Jackson

                   

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

The Layers

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

~ Stanley Kunitz

                   

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

Advertisements

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer . . . and everything collapses. ” ~ Colette

Henri Martin FLowering Garden in Spring oil on canvas 1920
“Flowering Garden in Spring” (1920, oil on canvas)
by Henri Martin

                   

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” ~ Iris Murdoch

The Bradford pears and Tulip trees are in full bloom, and I am reminded of the year I made mother’s day cards from photos I had taken of the trees in bloom—I was very pleased with how they had turned out, but my mother looked at hers and said, “What’s this?” Lex later told me that Mom had complained that I was too cheap to buy a card; Lex tried to explain to her that I had shot the photograph, worked with it on Photoshop, and had the print made. I had thought the gesture special. Oh well.

Anyway, I have to admit that when I was clearing out the thousands of cards in my mother’s drawers, I came across almost every card I had given her in the past decade and sometimes beyond, and the flimsy free homemade card I had made her was there.

Here. Have some flowers of spring:


Music by Mussorgsky,  “Pictures at an Exhibition” (Promenade), performed by The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

“I’ve spent so much time in my head and in my heart that I forgot to live in my body.” ~ Tara Hardy, from “Bone Marrow”

Anne Redpath Border Landscape
“Border Landscape” (c1930s, oil on panel)
by Anne Redpath

                   

“If you go on valuing recognition and praise of others, you’re asking to be ruined. The only value in expression is its inherent value. The object is the object, and will continue well after you’re dead. Even when the world burns up and even the object no longer appears, you were who you were, you made what you made, you valued what you valued, and nothing else.” ~ Blake Butler, from Sky Saw

Saturday, late afternoon. Cloudy and cold, 44 degrees.

So it’s a full 30 degrees colder than yesterday. Yesterday fall. Today winter. And so my sinuses rebel loudly.

Not sure if I’ll finish this post today as so much is going on, but I thought that I could at least start. With any luck the internet will hold a few more days, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not the case.

Károly Patkó, Trees 1924
“Trees” (1924, mixed media on paper)
by Károly Patkó

We have Olivia today; Lex and Mike are going out tonight, and Corey leaves tomorrow afternoon, so the timing is good. It’s very weird that’s he’s leaving tomorrow. I think that we are all still heavily in denial. I mean, he hasn’t even packed yet. Last night he put up the Christmas tree for me so that I don’t have to struggle with that on my own. I’ll probably decorate it tomorrow or the next day. Olivia likes the lights.

Yesterday Brett spent all day switching bedrooms. He has wanted to move into Eamonn’s old room for some time, and since Corey and Eamonn cleaned out all of the tools and bathroom reno stuff, it seemed like an opportune time. Unfortunately, he didn’t paint before he moved in, and the room definitely needs to be painted. The walls are covered in Sharpie where all of Eamonn’s friends and girlfriends past have signed. I really don’t know how that tradition began, but there was already quite a bit up there before I really noticed it. Anyway, the walls are probably going to need a primer to cover up the Sharpie.

Of course. Nothing is ever easy in this house.

“The river’s auscultations keep pace
with my lungs. Blame the ear for its attention. Blame
the body for not wanting to let go, but once a thing moves
it can’t help it. There is only instinct, that living ‘yes.’” ~ Oliver de la Paz, from “Insomnia as Transfiguration”

So a new word: auscultations, which means the act of listening, or to listen to the body’s sounds made by internal organs. Cool word. Amazed that someone worked it into a poem.

Carel Weight, R A Snow, Putney
“Snow, Putney” (oil on board)
by Carel Weight, RA

I used to know how pneumonia sounded through a stethoscope. That’s the kind of knowledge that lay people shouldn’t have. I also used to know how to spot pneumonia on an x-ray. Again, not something you should know. I wonder if there is a term for knowledge forced on you by circumstance, knowledge that you would rather not have but have anyway. Probably. There’s a word for everything. If anyone knows, let me know.

So where was I? Oh yes, Corey’s leaving.

He flies out at 2:30 tomorrow. The most recent communique from the company said that they were going to try to put him on vessel a, but they weren’t 100 percent certain, but it sounds like he is going right from training to a ship. I do know that at some point he is supposed to get helicopter training, as in how to embark and disembark safely from a helicopter. Tell me that doesn’t just scare the bejeezus out of me . . .

“Ask her what she craved, and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music. Plants and the seasons. Also freedom. Not being bought and sold by some idiot employer, not having the moments of her days valued in fractions of a dollar by somebody other than herself.” ~ Charles Frazier, from Nightwoods

Normally before he leaves we try to go out to dinner, but not this time. We’ve run out of both time and money. I guess all of those good meals in New Orleans will have to suffice. I get hungry just thinking about those crabcakes.

Leon Spilliaert Branches 1912
“Branches (Boomtakken)” (1912)
by Léon Spilliaert

New Orleans was a great trip, for so many reasons. I definitely want to go back and spend more time. I didn’t take that many photographs, and I would love to visit the old cemeteries.

On the crabcake night, before we went to dinner, a guy came up to us and said that he could give us directions to anywhere (we obviously looked a bit lost). I told him that we were looking for a locals restaurant that had good food and wasn’t too pricey. He took us to a diner.

His heart was in the right place, and we rewarded him for his trouble. But about two hours later we ran into him again, and he started to do his spiel, but I reminded him that we had already donated to the cause. I don’t mind helping out people when I can, and yes, he may have used the money for booze, but you know? I don’t care. We had enough money to have a wonderful dinner; five dollars was not going to matter one way or another.

“Clear moments are so short.
There is much more darkness. More
ocean than terra firma. More
shadow than form.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, “Moment,” trans. Renata Gorczynski

Sunday evening. Rainy and cold.

As I predicted, I was unable to finish this post. Corey left this afternoon. Everything was last-minute panic mode.

Giovanni Giacometti Albero aka Tree 1920 watercolor on paper
“Albero (Tree)” (1920, watercolor on paper)
by Giovanni Giacometti

Did he have his papers? His passport? Yes.

Everything? No, forgot to pack work boots.

Everything? No, forgot to pack a belt.

Got to the airport. Momentary panic. Where are my papers?

In my hand . . .

Poor boy. He was so nervous. I can’t say that I blame him. This is a very, very big step. He’s going to work for the #2 company in the entire industry. I’d say that’s a big deal. Add to that the stress of having absolutely no idea of when he will be home, whether or not they are sending him directly to a ship, or more training, or home. It’s a lot to process. We were both nervous.

“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” ~ Cheryl Strayed, from Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Piet Mondrian Village Church 1898
“Village Church” (1898, charcoal, gouache, pastel, pencil, and watercolor on paper)
Piet Mondrian

So I’m going to finish this and then watch some television until I feel sleepy. I’m not going to bet on when that will happen, though, as I always have a horrible time getting to sleep the first night after Corey leaves.

So many things are going on in so many different areas of our lives. I must admit that I’m feeling all over the place. I feel bad that I haven’t even checked in with Corey’s family since his dad had his operation. I’m just getting my news on everything secondhand.

Add to all of this that I think my mother must be mad at me because she hasn’t called me since the whole care thing was finally settled. Perhaps she sensed my displeasure at everything. I don’t hide my displeasure very well, which I know will probably surprise you tremendously . . .

Anyway, I’ve kind of run out of steam, so I’ll close for now. I hope you enjoy the tree images. I love them.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ben Howard, “Oats in the Water”

                   

Last Meeting

The day begins with a fog
that will not unroll. The weather
is falling everywhere, everywhere
we sit the grass bleeds to the touch.

What we have not yet said will not get said.
When you unzip your dress
a thousand insects run for cover,
the goldenrod breaks into a slow swoon.

Your touch is like the touch
of the wasp undulating in its nest,
your tongue the quick lash
of a mirror breaking on the wrist.

Everything else can wait, but will not.

~ Ira Sadoff

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~ Ray Bradbury, from Zen in the Art of Writing

Anne Redpath The Sitting Room
“The Sitting Room” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Anne Redpath

                   

I so wanted to write today, could feel the need in my bones, yet when I sat down at the keyboard, there was nothing, so I found myself playing spider solitaire and finding other ways to spend my time. This wall is killing my spirit. And then I came across this poem on my tumblr dash, and decided to post it because it really speaks to my current inability to write. I just cannot seem to find the words, to arrange the words, to make any kind of meaningful link with the words . . .

havoc

For months, I couldn’t write. It was the loveliest vertigo, sort of like drinking tequila but without the hysterical blindness. My blackbirds were wingless, legless. They sputtered on the ground like firecrackers while you played flare gun, fire engine. I smelled like grass and rabbits, waited in the field for days for lightning, wanted that spark, the mailbox sticky with wasps. I could say I wanted order, all my ducks lined up like a carnival, playing hide and seek, patty cake, with the wedding rings. Shiny, sharp toothed and singing. But I meant I wanted us strung together like lanterns. A sort of morse code in my molars. Once for no, twice for yes. Meant I wanted turbulence, trouble, to be sawed in half by wanting it.

Kirsty Bowenfrom Vinyl Poetry online (vol. 1)

                   

Music by Rosi Golan, “Been a Long Day”