“I put out my hand and the dark falls through it.” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “Before That”

A winter coated Aukštaitijos National Park, Lithuania


“I like the dark part of the night, after midnight and before four-thirty, when it’s hollow, when ceilings are harder and farther away. Then I can breathe, and can think while others are sleeping, in a way can stop time, can have it so–this has always been my dream–so that while everyone else is frozen, I can work busily about them, doing whatever it is that needs to be done, like the elves who make the shoes while children sleep.” ~ Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Monday, later afternoon. Much warmer, 50’s.

A bad weekend as far as sleeping goes. I realize the insomnia is probably stress-related, the anticipation of what’s coming, but geez it’s a pain.

Stripeikiai Honeymaking Museum, Lithuania

Saturday night Corey convinced me to watch 28 Days Later, a zombie movie. Normally, I don’t like zombie movies, but what he failed to mention was that this particular movie was more of a drama, so I actually liked it, enough to say, “let’s watch the sequel,” 28 Weeks Later, which we did, which meant that by 5:30 in the morning, I was wide awake, and watching special features.

Consequently, I awoke with a headache yesterday afternoon, and the headache progressed into a migraine. Lovely.

Last night wasn’t much better, even though we weren’t watching any movies. What was particularly bad was that I actually fell asleep around 11:30, but then I woke up an hour later and couldn’t get back to sleep . . . so 4 a.m. and another headache today. We were awakened by Eamonn coming into our room to show us the flowers that he had bought for his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day and his demand that I do something with them for him. Great.

How did it get to be Valentine’s Day is really the question that I need to ask . . .

“For me, one of the most important knowings I have now . . . it’s literally beyond words. It comes from a place of silence. There’s no way in words to capture what it is. And so the challenge of writing is how do you capture what has no words. Because in the expression, you lose it.” ~ Dr. James Orbinski, Triage: Dr.James Orbinski’s Humanitarian Dilemma

So Corey is not leaving today, obviously. His plans have changed—no, really? Quelle surprise . . .

Apparently, the shipping company is having some problems with the Coast Guard inspection, hence the delay. Corey spoke with his contact today, and there is nothing definite yet. This is both good and bad news: good because we get a few more days together, bad because we were already in the mindset that he was going, good because we can get a few more things done around here, bad because Corey had himself taken off the schedule for his other job . . .

Trakai Castle, Lithuania

In other words, nothing new in the lovely existence that is our world, the world of topsy turvey.

But towards the goal of taking care of things, last night Corey bathed all three dogs. Then the real fun began: we needed to cut the boy dogs’ nails. This involves putting on a muzzle as neither of them are well-behaved when getting their nails cut. We did Shakes first as he is the worst, and somehow he managed to get out of his muzzle and bite Corey’s hand. The whole ordeal was a fiasco from start to finish. The only thing that we have to show for it is clean dogs with trimmed nails and a sore hand for Corey.

I did my first aid thing and applied lots of antibiotic ointment, sterile gauze and tape. This outcome is precisely why we wait so long to cut their nails.

I remember that I had the same problem with my old dog Ascot; the vet gave me a tranquilizer to give her before I cut her nails the next time. I gave her the tranquilizer, and she appeared to be sufficiently stoned, but then when I cut the first nail, she came to life and bit me. Had to get a tetanus shot that time. I know that the dogs must sense apprehension in me, which heightens their own apprehension, but I just can’t help it. Perhaps I should have taken the tranquilizer.

“What did you think,
that joy was some slight thing?” ~ Mark Doty, from “Visitation

So over the weekend the temperature dropped, and we had snow flurries, but by the morning, the snow was gone. The wind kicked up significantly, which made the sliding door rattle and shake. One of the things on our to-do list in the house is to replace the insulation, which I know is shoddy. I had to stop watching “Holmes on Holmes” because the list of new products that I want to try in the house when we proceed with the renovation has gotten ridiculous, but I love that spray on insulation that he uses. Very cool.

Jesuit Church, Kaunas, Lithuania

Yes, I can even get excited over insulation. Sad, I know, and yet more proof that I do not leave this house nearly enough.

All of this reinforced for me that I do not like the cold unless it is accompanied by snow. Bitter cold is nasty, and such weather always brings to mind those movies in which men appear with frost in their moustaches, and everyone’s breath comes out like exhalations of smoke. And while that is all very romantic in the movies, it is not nearly so in real life.

Add to this that the cold has quite deleterious effects on my body—stiff hands, aching back and neck. Joy, joy, joy. (Oh, unintentional play on the quote . . .)

“First, he says, you have to go out into the world. This is not a simple matter of going outside one’s door. No, that is simply going out. That’s what one does when one is on the way to the store to buy a loaf of bread, some cheese, and a bottle of wine. When one goes out into the world, one is shedding preconceptions of past paths and ideas of past paths, and trying to move freely through an unsubstantiated and new geography. ” ~ Jesse Ball, The Way Through Doors

Speaking of getting out, Corey did a little research on Lithuania and discovered these two disconcerting facts: The country has the highest suicide rate in the world, and the highest homicide rate in Europe. Those are not good statistics no matter how you look at it.

Hill of Crosses Near Siauliai, Lithuania, by percivalsmithers (FCC)

I told him that he should not leave the boat while he is there. Of course, most of Europe views the U.S. as one large old West expanse in which everyone owns a gun, and simply walking around leaves one at risk for attack. We fear that which we do not know.

But what do I know, anyway? To prove myself wrong, I decided to search for images of Lithuania, which I have included in today’s post (of course I put the snowy one on top). What I discovered was some lovely Medieval architecture, beautiful churches, and this place called the Hill of Crosses, which is located in northern Lithuania near Šiauliai, the fourth largest city in the country.

According to one site, “There are tens of thousands of crosses planted on a hillside in Lithuania in Kryžiu Kalnas. No one knows for sure why the custom started, but the crosses began appearing in the 14th century . . . The city of Siauliai was founded in 1236 and controlled by Teutonic Knights during the 14th century. The tradition of placing crosses seems to date from this period and may have risen as a symbol of Lithuanian defiance toward foreign invaders. Since the medieval period, the Hill of Crosses has represented the peaceful resistance of Lithuanian Catholicism to oppression.”

“The pact between page and voice is different from the compact of voice and body. The voice opens the body . . . The page wants proof, but bonds. The body cannot keep the voice. It spills.” ~ Rosmarie Waldrop, from Reluctant Gravities

So I’ll close with this little section on the Grammy Awards. I don’t usually watch awards shows as I find them very boring, but I tuned in last night for two reasons, we don’t have cable at the moment, so I couldn’t watch my regular channels, and also, I wanted to see Adele’s live performance (post-surgery). I never made it that far into the show.

Russian Orthodox Church, Lithuania, by AntoniO BovinO (FCC)

I mean, I loved hearing the Jason Aldean/Kelly Clarkson duet, and I thought that I would like Sir Paul’s performance, but instead, I found it rather sad: his voice has lost something in recent years.

But what did it for me, what made me turn off the show was the whole Chris Brown thing. As with most things, I haven’t forgotten that Chris Brown beat the crap out of his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. However, it seems that the industry has forgotten this little aspect of his personality. Perhaps he’s cured in their eyes . . . not. He not only performed (on the same stage that Rihanna later performed on), but he won a Grammy.


I don’t expect celebrities to be perfect, nor do I idolize them. I do, however, know that many, many impressionable young minds look up to people in the music industry. So what does this turn of events say? That it’s okay to very publicly abuse your significant other as long as you have anger-management treatment, and then everyone can just go ahead with their lives as if nothing happened? And in fact, we’ll reward you three years later because you are just that good?

Puleez. I mean, really. Apparently, I’m not the only one who felt this way, angered by seeing Brown strut like a peacock across the stage, as this article in the Chicago Tribune attests:

In an op-ed, Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post said that while people deserve second chances, “That doesn’t mean they deserve a chance to strut around the Grammy stage a few years after being convicted of felony assault.”

Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic tweeted: “I don’t look for the Grammys for moral clarity, but, really? Do the words ‘felony assault’ mean anything at all?”

Enough said.

More later. Peace.

One more image:

Senamiestus, Vilnius, Lithuania, by Sarunas Burdulis (FCC)

Music by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Want to Stay” (seems appropriate)


From Moral Proverbs and Folk Songs

The deepest words
of the wise men teach us
the same as the whistle of the wind
when it  blows
or the sound of the water when it is

Mankind  owns four things
that are no good at sea:
rudder, anchor, oars,
and the fear of going down.

Beyond living and dreaming
there is something more important:
waking up.

Pay attention now:
a heart that’s all by itself
is not a heart.

~ Antonio Machado (trans. Robert Bly)