“My heart has always beat thunderstorms instead of blood.” ~ Gabriel Gadfly, from Supercell

Rapeseed field barn, Cotswold, UK by Eri Hossinger (FCC)

“Our hearts teach us how to fly with wings of pain.” ~ Frank Lima, from “Felonies and Arias of the Heart”

Saturday afternoon, sunny and warmer, 57 degrees.

This afternoon Corey is adding a modified barbed wire to the pasture enclosure so that we can move the goats there. It should keep them in and keep predators out, at least, that’s the intent. I really don’t like barbed wire, and I know that part of that is because of how it looms darkly through the movie Legends of the Fall. Hey, at least I’m being honest.

Spring wildflowers at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma by USFWS (FCC)

On Thursday, Corey and I made the trip to Bristol, Tennessee so that I could have an  echocardiogram and ultrasound. The echo was to check out a suspected murmur, and the ultrasound was for my thyroid. But as usual, things did not go as planned. I did have the correct day this time, but I did not know that I would have to pay the copay upfront for the ultrasound. While it was only $16.78, I did not have the local bank card with me; Corey had it, so I had to cancel the ultrasound; this was the second time I had to cancel it. However, when I reschedule I might be able to have the test done somewhere closer to home. Here’s hoping.

Anyway, it seems that the echo went fine; the tech said that my heart pictures were “beautiful,” which was about all that she could tell me, of course, because they aren’t allowed to say anything as the test has to be read by a cardiologist. I wasn’t too worried about the murmur as such things are supposedly fairly common, and obviously, it wasn’t something that I’ve had all of my life.

However, years ago, my heart used to click whenever I lay on my side. It did that for a couple of years and then went away. I remember telling some doctor and was told that it was nothing, and since it went away, I never thought about it again until the echo.

“We’ve paid our dues. Our hearts are inscribed
with loss after loss.” ~ Luci Tapahonso, from “The Holy Twins”

So after leaving the hospital and while I still had a 3G signal, I tried to call my insurance company to see if I could change my PCP. I’ve tried a couple of times to do so online, but I’ve locked myself out of the account. Turns out, the doctor with whom I have an appointment on Monday isn’t even in network, even though she’s part of the local medical network. It’s all such bullshit. I ate up minutes trying to clarify with the insurance rep, only to find out that the echo that I had just had done wasn’t covered; the urgent care visit that I had when my fingertip was bitten off wasn’t covered either.

I did not wail uncontrollably into the telephone, which was my internal reaction; instead, I just asked the rep to transfer me to tech support, but when she did, I was put on hold. I just didn’t have it in me to stay on hold any longer and eat up valuable minutes just to have the online account unlocked. Frankly, I’d had more than enough stress for one day.  I don’t even want to know what my blood pressure was at that point.

I’m keeping the appointment on Monday with the out-of-network PCP because I’ve had such a horrendous time finding competent doctors around here. Apparently, the co-pay will only be $5 instead of $0 for an in-network doctor, so that’s not prohibitive (she says even though we are currently broker than broke and sorely lacking in things like, oh, milk . . . whatever).

“And I knew you, a swelling in the heart,
A silence in the heart, the wild wind-blown grass
Burning—as the sun falls below the earth—
Brighter than a bed of lilies struck by snow.” ~ Brigit Pegeen Kelly, from “Elegy”

In other news, Max and Ruby (the goats) are finally beginning to forage, which they weren’t doing initially. The pair of them are actually very quiet. For some reason, I always thought that goats were loud when they bleat, but I’ve only heard them bleat quietly. Maybe different breeds of goats bleat at different levels. I suppose we shall find out.

Dallas hasn’t been around here since the dog fight. Apparently, the fight frightened him. I’m not complaining as it’s been an unexpected boon for me. It’s been quiet, but that’s not to say that he still doesn’t call Corey frequently for rides to various places or for help, and of course Corey so generously assists..

Spring in Bornich, Germany by Mark Strobl (FCC)

Speaking of animals, we’ve been dragged into the periphery of a local feud of sorts. Dallas has a nephew who has property on the ridge. This is the same guy whose livestock has been frequently found grazing and roaming on the road in search of food, something we’ve witnesses ever since we rounded a corner and almost hit a horse the first time we came here.

Well apparently this guy had a cow and its calf who wandered onto someone’s property, and the idiot son of the property owner shot the cow, leaving the nursing calf without a mother. Unbelievable. Corey and I heard about it, and I was livid at the ignorance that would make someone think that this was an okay thing to do. I mean, what happened to saying shoo and waving your arms?

It seems that calling the police and suing one another is another local pastime around here, and Dallas and this nephew do not get along. The day after this happened, and to be neighborly, Corey stopped while he was out and asked the guy if he had found the calf yet. The guy hadn’t found the calf, but he had accusations to throw, mentioning Dallas’s name and insinuating that Corey might have something to do with it.

Corey assured him that he knew nothing at all about the situation other than hearing about the cow being shot, and then he drove off. When Corey told me about this, I did not have a good feeling, and Corey described this guy as being incredibly arrogant. Nevertheless, we had hoped that would be the last we would hear of things.

“It’s raining in my heart.” ~ Tim Dlugos, from “Come in from the Rain”

Listen, we moved here to get away from nosy neighbors, petty comments, and city regulations, and we’ve made it a point to mind our own business. We’re friendly, and will wave and say hello, but for the most part, we don’t know or care to know who is doing what to whom at any given time, including the saga of the cow and her calf.

Unfortunately, things did not end there.

Dallas took the cow carcass to his property supposedly to get rid of it, but not quite. And then the next day he and Travis, another neighbor we know, wanted Corey to help them load up the calf. Dallas said that he was going to let the calf nurse on his milk cow. Neither Corey nor I wanted any part of this, but Corey agreed to help round it up but nothing else.

Pared y Cefn-hir and Cregennan lakes, Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, UK by Welsh Photographer (FCC)

I had real misgivings about all of this and was still really upset about the jackass who murdered the mother cow. Corey helped load the calf and came home. When Dallas and Travis got down the ridge, the police were waiting for them and wanted to know where they were taking the calf. Smooth talker that he thinks he is, Dallas said that they had found the calf and were returning it to his nephew. The cops had them unload the calf and then let them go.

That night, Dallas said that around 1 a.m. he heard horns honking, and he went out to find his nephew’s horses in the road. Dallas said that he rounded up the horses and put them in his pasture for the night and then went back to bed. The next morning, the local cops showed up with a warrant (kind of fishy, the timing of that), claiming that Dallas had stolen his nephew’s horses. Corey happened to be at Dallas’s at the time. They took Dallas in, and said that he’d be released that afternoon.

“She treats the dark like a cathedral.
She is all swallow, the heart working
under every scale to outgrow a fortified spiral.
The cathedral swallows the heart.” ~ Amber Flora Thomas, from “Shed”

This whole situation is unbelievable, but that’s not the end. That night, one of Dallas’s RV campers was set on fire. Dallas sometimes sleeps in this particular camper, which is behind his house and on the edge of his property; fortunately, he didn’t happen to be in it on this particular night.

Now Dallas is talking about getting his lawyer involved, and he still has to go to court over the horses, and his nephew has apparently moved his horses and cows somewhere else. I’m just hoping that wherever he has relocated his livestock, that he takes better care of them and feeds them better because they were always breaking out and wandering in the road looking for areas in which to graze.

Canola Flower at Showa Commemorative National Government Park, Tokyo by Takashi M (FCC)

All in all, I’m really over all of this. These people around here need to find better ways to spend their time and leave us out of it. I know that it’s a small-town mentality to be up in everyone else’s business, but seriously? WTF, people?

I had thought that  my old neighbors on Benjamin were busy bodies, but they were small time compared to these people. I’m just glad that we had already been pulling back in our dealings with Dallas. The whole “painted by the same brush” mentality apparently applies: if you associate with someone, then obviously you are guilty by association.

Give me a break.If this is how it’s going to be, then perhaps my decision to become a hermit has not been ill-founded after all.

More later. Peace.


Anniversary

2

I lied a little. There are things I don’t want to tell you. How lonely
I am today and sick at heart. How the rain falls steadily and cold
on a garden grown greener, more lush and even less tame. I
haven’t done much, I confess, to contain it. The grapevine, as
usual, threatens everything in its path, while the raspberry canes,
aggressive and abundant, are clearly out of control. I’m afraid the
wildflowers have taken over, being after all the most hardy and
tolerant of shade and neglect. This year the violets and lilies of
the valley are rampant, while the phlox are about to emit their
shocking pink perfume. Oh, my dear, had you been here this
spring, you would have seen how the bleeding hearts are thriving.

~ Madelon Sprengnether (from Angel of Duluth)


Music by Jane Olivor, “Come in from the Rain” (a favorite song from my past)

 

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“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.” ~ Evelyn Waugh, from Brideshead Revisited

“Autumn, Rowan Tree and Birches” (1906, oil on canvas)
by Igor Grabar

                   

“Remembered landscapes are left in me
The way a bee leaves its sting,
hopelessly, passion-placed,
Untranslatable language.” ~ Charles Wright, from “All Landscape Is Abstract, and Tends to Repeat Itself”

Sunday night. Rainy and cool, blessedly cool.

Outside my door, the low October sky looms. I would like to say looms largely, but it seems to contrived, somehow. But it’s true. It’s low. It’s looming, and it’s large.

“Autumn Landscape” (1903, oil on canvas)
by Henri Edmond Cross

Heavy. Gravid.

It is gravid in its heaviness.

I’m not trying to be coy. That’s just how it is, how it seems: low, looming, large, heavy, gravid—as if expectant.

Expectant for what, I do not know. But if I peer into the clouds long enough, I can feel the air gathering around my face, the descent of minute particles of moisture collecting in my brows. And I must say, it is heavenly. A respite from the thick humidity, more like August than October. And so I delight in this evening, despite the unending wall of clouds the color of pale rust.

You see. I have not forgotten how to live in the moment upon occasion. I can still summon that still, small voice that says to the universe in its infinite wonder, thank you.

“Ah, it is here now, the here.” ~ Jorie Graham, from “The Covenant

“Poplars, Row in Autumn” (1891)
by Claude Monet

You might find it strange that I can delight in such dismal weather, but I have spent too much of recent days wiping sweat from my face, feeling as if my skin is covered in a thin coat of oil, the kind that sprays from a can, as if I have been misted, not with mineral water, but soul-clogging oleo.

So even though it is raining, even though the cover for the grill is completely soaked and lying on the ground instead of protecting the gas grill we bought for Corey, even though the dogs will not venture outside, I am delighted, delighted that it is almost 30 degrees cooler than yesterday, that the air conditioners are off, and the ceiling fans are still. Fall is finally here. Autumn has arrived.

I can feel it. But more importantly, I can smell it, smell the beginnings of loam from the fallen leaves that have collected in piles across the grass. There is no other smell quite like it unless it is the smell of freshly fallen snow on a plot of land far away from the city.

Fall. The season of poets and painters. The time for words and golden washes.

Too much? Perhaps, but I think not.

“The low song a lost boy sings remembering his mother’s call
Not a cruel song, no, no, not cruel at all. This song
Is sweet. It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness.” ~ Brigit Pegeen Kelly, from “Song”

“October Morning” (nd)
by Guy Rose

My best October?

To tell you would be to reveal too much, but I can say that it was the year I began graduate school in the mountains of Virginia, a place where Autumn is a rite of passage, where people stop and pay attention to leaves changing color. It was a season filled with change, exciting discussions about literature, Brunswick stew cooked over a fire in an iron pot, a gathering of graduate students drunk on cheap wine and heady conversation.

My worst October?

Oh. The autumn of great loss. Caitlin. Felt hats and rain coats. New friends and old. Heartbreak before the intense pain and anguish.

My most memorable October?

The year Corey and I sailed around the Caribbean, played tourist in far-away places, saw waters so blue I wanted to weep.

“overtaken
by color, crowned
with the hammered gold
of leaves.” ~ Linda Pastan, from “The Months

What is it exactly that I love about autumn (aside from the incipient melancholy)? Nostalgia? Oh yes, the melancholic gets very nostalgic indeed.

But what specifically? Another list?

  • It’s finally cold enough for Christmas socks and sweaters
  • The color burgundy isn’t too dark to wear.

    “October Gold” (1922)
    by Franklin Carmichael
  • Velvet. I don’t know why, but I associate the softness of velvet with autumn
  • Dark nail polish. Do you know how many shades of dark red there are?
  • Classical music. My taste in music is seasonal, and cool weather heralds Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart.
  • Books. There is nothing that I like to do more than read on a cold, rainy afternoon.
  • Poetry. I write more poetry in the fall.
  • Black yoga pants and white cotton sweaters. I am nothing if not a creature of habit.
  • Beef stew, homemade vegetable soup and Brunswick stew in the crock pot simmering all afternoon. And corn bread.
  • The piano. I am drawn to play again, even though doing so locks up my back and wrists for days.

I know that everything isn’t golden in the way it is depicted in art, but somehow, it seems that way. Even if I don’t make it to Skyline Drive, something I haven’t done in too many years, the golds and deep reds of the changing leaves are firmly imprinted in memory.

As I draw to a close, the sky is no longer visible. The air is cool and damp, and everything smells a little bit like bread and wet dog, and it’s a strangely comforting combination.

More later. Peace.

Music by Darius Rucker, “It Won’t Be Like This Forever”

                   

Du siehst, ich will viel (You see, I want a lot)

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. Robert Bly)