“You, in your innocence, what do you know of this world?” ~ Louise Glück, from “Quince Tree”

Pillars of Maymont Park, VA, by Watson Media (FCC)

                   

“Change, when it comes, cracks everything open.” ~ Dorothy Allison

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and warm, mid 70’s.

I had a very weird spike in my stats yesterday, with over 1300 hits in one day. I have no idea as to why.

So . . . the past three days have been so incredibly stressful that I couldn’t sit still long enough to write, so I immersed myself in chores long overdue: cleaning out the Rodeo completely, cleaning the leather seats, putting protectant on the dash, cleaning the windows, using a wisk broom to clean up most of the stuff on the carpeting, scrubbing (really scrubbing) the wheel rims.

Black and White Drip by Peter Baker (FCC)

Of course I overdid it, leaving my back screaming at me, and having sore muscles in places that I had forgotten I had muscles. But at least I was able to sleep.

The cause of my misery? Corey forgot his Merchant Mariner’s Document. Very important. Late Sunday/early Monday he called me very upset because they were threatening to put him off the ship. On Monday, I called around and no one overnights to Lithuania, the fastest would be Wednesday sometime, no guaranteed delivery time. So I decided to use UPS as I thought that it might be cheaper than Fed Ex. I never even thought of the USPS; isn’t that terrible?

Okay, this next part is my own stupidity: Who knew that you were supposed to lie about the value of the items that you’re shipping overseas? I didn’t. As a result, the package, which weighed 1.6 pounds, cost $233 to send two-day to Lithuania; add to that the number of phone calls that Corey has made at roughly $4/minute, and the bills just keep expanding. I beat myself up pretty bad over shipping error, but at least I knew that Corey would have what he needed well before the anticipated Saturday departure date for the Ship.

Right? Wrong.

“What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain.” ~ René Descartes

Corey called me yesterday while I was at ODU waiting for Brett. I was in the middle of cleaning the car, and he told me that he was sitting in a hotel. They had put him off the ship and given him a ticket home. What???

Esso Black and White by Beadmobile (FCC)

He told them that the package was due to arrive on Wednesday, only not actually, as the tracking showed that there had been an unexplained delay . . . I got in touch with the captain, who said to send him the tracking number and he would take care of it. Did taking care of it mean that they would let Corey wait, or did it mean that they were sending him home anyway, and they would reroute the package? Sending him home will cost the company another $1300; even I can see that they would save money by putting him in a hotel for possibly another night, but no. What the hell?

I have no idea.

So the last I heard, Corey was due home at 11:27 tonight. I’ve been unable to get in touch with him, with anyone, so I don’t know if he’s on an airplane halfway across the Atlantic, or if he’s sitting in a hotel in Lithuania. I don’t know anything except that if he is indeed on an airplane flying over the Atlantic, then when he arrives, he is in going to be in bad shape.

I don’t know how it is that we went over our checklists so many times, and neither of us remembered the damned MMD. How did that happen? Why did that happen? Are we cursed?

“We are less permanent than thought” ~ Basil Bunting, from “Villon

Was it too much to hope that our luck had really changed, that we might actually be making headway towards getting back on a normal path? I suppose so.

Swan in Black and White by Martyn Wright (FCC)

I broke out in hives on both Sunday and Monday nights. That hasn’t happened in a long time. And in spite of my attempts, I don’t think there’s enough manual labor in the world—little of which I am capable of performing, I have to add—that would tamp this stress and worry. And trust me when I say that this is not helping with my attempts to cut most of the sugar from my diet. On Monday morning around 8 when I got up to let the dogs out, I found myself standing in front of the fridge with a fork, eating Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake straight from the box (thanks, Mom).

To be honest, I feel quite like an old watch spring that has been too tightly wound, as if at any second the winding will stop and I will spring backwards and kind of bob back and forth. And while I have slept from exhaustion, the dreams have been bad. Take last night, I dreamt that one of my former students had put a hit out on me, and several different people were making attempts to fulfill the contract, not just one contract killer, but three. All of this happened at the local grade school. Guns were involved. It was not pretty.

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So that’s life at the moment. Too full, too intense, too much on the razor’s edge. Fast or feast, but not like this. Not like this. I should be reveling in the warmer weather and the sunshine. I should be appreciating the fresh air that I’m pushing into my lungs and savoring the feeling of having a vehicle that is sort of mine, again.

Black and White Boat Ruins by cubanjunky (FCC)

But I cannot, and that sucks.

Eamonn just called, and he won’t be home for a while, so I don’t have to rush through this post as I had originally thought. So in a lame attempt to try to still the madness of my mind, I thought that I would just throw out some randomness:

  • What is going on with all of these words on Tumblr, WordPress, and wherever else that are highlighted all by themselves? Who asked for you Enhance, anyway? It’s like fairies are dusting everything with link dust, and I don’t like it. Let me add my own links and emphasis, thank you.
  • Is my hair thinning? I don’t want to be one of those old ladies whose parts are about an inch wide. Yuck.
  • The soundtrack from A Knight’s Tale is awesome, and I had forgotten that tidbit until I unearthed the CD recently: “Low Rider” and other classics.
  • Alexis called me last night to complain that she had to buy a bra as big as her head because of her expanding chest size. She wanted to know if I got that big when I was pregnant. Nope, not even close, and truly thankful for that. I hate to wear a bra. I gave them up in the 8th grade, and concede only when going to work, which is not any more.
  • I still haven’t done the taxes or FAFSAs. Had planned to do so this Sunday, but well, you know where that went.
  • I used to give up chocolate for Lent, not for religious reasons, but because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I never once made it all the way through.
  • Did you know there is a show on SciFi called “Face Off”? It features contestants who want to make it big in character special effects. They do things like prosthetics, masks, latex, body paint, whatever. I mention this only because I caught a few minutes of one episode solely because of one of the judges. I couldn’t change the channel because this guy looked like he was wearing some kind of special effects make-up, but turns out it was just his face. Weird.

“You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?” ~ Rumi

Here is some more nothing fluff:

  • Today I used my last $10 to put gas in the Rodeo. I got exactly 2.7 gallons. What the hell? The gauge didn’t budge. Okay, maybe it budged a millimeter, but definitely not more.

    South Georgia Ice Company by holia (FCC)
  • My ex takes up way too much space in my dreams; admittedly, the dreams in which he appears are almost always violent, but still . . .
  • I probably read more poetry now on a regular basis than I did while I was an undergrad, grad, or instructor. I find that a bit odd.
  • Man I hate Fox Noise.
  • Eamonn wants to move to France. Brett wants to move to New Zealand or Australia. I want to move to Ireland. Alexis wants to move into a house. Corey does not want to move. This scenario could become problematic at some point.
  • I wonder if published and/or famous writers are as tortured as those of us who remain wannabes? I wonder if Tolkien ever sat around thinking, “What’s the point? No one is going to read this anyway.”
  • I wonder when I’ll get motivated enough to get off my ass and do something.
  • Did I mention that I hate everything?

I think I’ll go take a muscle relaxer and take the dog for a walk—no worries, they affect me not at all other than to make the spasms stop, so I won’t be walking into street signs; that’s the kind of thing that I do all by myself, without any pharmaceuticals.

Seemed like a good day for black and white, especially the “Not for Human Consumption” sign. Kind of like my mood and this post.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cary Brothers, “Take Your Time” (this might be a repeat, oh well . . .)

                   

Trillium

When I woke up I was in a forest. The dark
seemed natural, the sky through the pine trees
thick with many lights.

I knew nothing; I could do nothing but see.
And as I watched, all the lights of heaven
faded to make a single thing, a fire
burning through the cool firs.
Then it wasn’t possible any longer
to stare at heaven and not be destroyed.

Are there souls that need
death’s presence, as I require protection?
I think if I speak long enough
I will answer that question, I will see
whatever they see, a ladder
reaching through the firs, whatever
calls them to exchange their lives—

Think what I understand already.
I woke up ignorant in a forest;
only a moment ago, I didn’t know my voice
if one were given to me
would be so full of grief, my sentences
like cries strung together.
I didn’t even know I felt grief
until that word came, until I felt
rain streaming from me.

~ Louise Glück


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“The sound of the rain needs no translation.” ~ Quoted by Alan Watts

Rain on the Fountain by stopthegears (FCC)

                   

“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Tuesday afternoon. Rainy, moderate temperatures in low 50s.

It’s been a week since my last post. I’ve been in bed since Friday afternoon with bronchitis. I’m just glad that it didn’t hit completely until after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s been full blown: the painful cough, nasty stuff in my throat and chest. I’ve been putting off going to the doctor, first because it was the weekend, and then because I started to feel better.

Rain Bokeh by andymatthewsphotography.com (FCC)

Then last night, I felt absolutely horrible again, probably because I tried to do a few things yesterday. Today, my big accomplishment was doing the dishes and putting a load of clothes in the washing machine. I’m hoping to make it through this post, mostly because I miss sitting here, but the idea of sitting here, upright was really too much to contemplate for several days.

And then, there was the added strain of Eamonn getting sick also. His did not seem to be bronchitis, more of some kind of virus that hit his stomach and left him quite ill. I will spare you the details, but at one point, I was seriously considering taking him to the ER because I was afraid that he was dehydrated, but he came through okay, and even went to work today.

So at the moment, it’s just the dogs and me and the rain outside. Let me put it into perspective for you: I was so sick that I didn’t even want my daily coffee. Just the thought of coffee made me feel nauseous. But I’m hoping that the worst has passed and that I won’t need to make that trip to the doctor. Fortunately, I’ve been able to control the cough enough so that it hasn’t caused a headache, which almost always happens when I get bronchitis: I cough madly, and end up with a migraine, which gets worse the more that I cough. The ensuing migraine this time was short-lived (I’m really liking the effects of the Botox if this is all that I have to deal with).

Funny that, being thankful for a migraine that only lasts four hours.

“The world about us would be desolate except for the world within us.” ~ Wallace Stevens, The Necessary Angel: Reality & the Imagination

So Thanksgiving dinner was fairly successful. My mother didn’t complain too much. In fact, she was on her best behavior. The turkey was perfection, and of course, we had too much food. Something to be thankful for, I know. Although next year I need to remember to get a slightly bigger turkey so that there are more leftovers for sandwiches.

Winter Rain by dibytes (FCC)

I worked myself into a frenzy right into the middle of the afternoon, even though my back rebelled in a big way. I just get that perfectionist thing going and can’t stop myself. However, I did leave myself enough time to paint my nails and put on a bit of makeup so that I didn’t look like a total hag. But I was glad that everything went well, and there was no major family drama.

Corey had to work until 4 p.m., so everything was pretty much up to me. Brett helped with moving things, which I never could have done alone.

Of course, my mother called the next day with her questions and criticisms, but even these were kept to a minimum. Could she be mellowing?

Nah, probably not. Still, Corey and I agreed that overall, things went much better than expected, which is a sad commentary in itself—to be prepared for the motherly criticism of everything from the food to the state of the house. Oh well. What can you do? Nothing, really.

And so it goes.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

Actually, other than dinner and being sick, I don’t have much to say. I finished reading the book that I had already read; although I must admit that knowing who the villain was in advance did detract from my overall enjoyment, but I was reading mostly because I couldn’t do anything else, so it turned out okay. I wouldn’t have wanted to start a new book that required too much concentration as I was quite unable to devote too many brain cells to concentration.

The Rains, Singapore, by vishy-washy (FCC)

Yesterday because of the vehicle situation, I had to drop Corey off in one place and then take Em and Brett to ODU. I swear that I almost fell asleep on the return trip from ODU, which is not good. I was full of cold medicine and running on restless sleep, which did not make for a good combination. I opened all the windows and prayed until I got home.

I really don’t like doing that. I remember towards the end of my stay at GW, making that trip to Newport News each day was really taking a toll on me, and more than once I found myself driving while unconscious (not really), but you know what I mean—arriving somewhere without having any memory of the trip to get there. Hate, hate that.

So yesterday’s trip made me quite anxious, and I came home and collapsed into the bed and immediately fell asleep. I did not wake up again until Corey called to say that he was ready to be picked up.

He took a refresher test for his merchant mariner’s credentials. Actually, it was two tests, both of which he scored 100 percent. So proud of him. He is slowly passing each hurdle, and we are just holding our collective breaths that everything will move smoothly towards him being able to go back to sea in 2012.

“We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

You know, our luck hasn’t been the best these past few years, so when something actually does go our way, we seem to move in a state of disbelief, waiting for the incipient bad news to arrive on our doorstep. It’s hard to adjust our thinking to the concept that we might actually be making headway.

Falling Rain on Leaves by elvis_payne (FCC)

I suppose a lot of it is that we don’t want to get our hopes up only to have them come crashing down about our ears again. If one doesn’t hope, then one cannot be disappointed. Right?

But I keep telling Corey that his time has come, that he deserves a change for the better. And I’m not just saying these things as a pep talk. I truly believe that he is due for some better fortune. We have both become so used to living in a state of constant uncertainty that it is hard to accept that we may be facing better days. It’s a bit like that poor abused dog, the one who is so used to a slap instead of a treat that he cowers whenever a hand comes within proximity.

But perhaps what that hand is proffering is in fact good? Dare we hope? I honestly don’t know, the old cart before the horse way of thinking. So I try to think good thoughts but temper them with a cold dose of reality.

I mean, think about the explorers of old: they looked for the horizon each time they put that glass to their eyes; they hoped that it was there, but they tried not to hope too much so that the disappointment wouldn’t quash them completely. But then one day, they caught a glimpse of something. They put the glass down, shook their head, paused. Then they looked again, and yes, it was in fact something besides the vast sea before them.

Can you imagine the kind of determination it must have taken to board a boat without any kind of computerized navigational systems, just a sextant, a compass, and a piece of parchment on which to plot courses to the unknown? To set sail with only an inkling that there was something out there? To hope against hope that the inkling would prove true?

“I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.” ~ John Green, Looking for Alaska

In a way, our family has been at sea for a while. Our provisions have been slight but sufficient. We have been voyaging, like so many others, in the hopes that we will find terra firma sooner than later.

Umbrella Leaves by mysza831 (FCC)

We are now at the point at which we believe that we have espied something. Exactly what, we are still unsure. But just the hope that it’s out there—it’s enough to keep us going. And the reality is that we have one another.

I hope that we have weathered the worst, but I cannot say for certain. In spite of this, I feel a sense of calm. I feel a sense of—dare I say the words aloud—a sense of promise of better days. Perhaps all of this is simply my body feeling better because the worse of my recent bout is behind me, but I don’t think so. I sense a change in the air, smell a fresher scent on the wind.

What it rests upon is this: In spite of all of my bitching and moaning to the contrary, I still believe. I still believe that good things are out there, that castles in the air can find weight in reality, that dreams can come true. I know that it is the romantic in me, the one who surfaces upon occasion and declares that love, peace, and good will triumph. The one who still thinks that there is indeed a balm in Gilead that will make the wounded whole.

I know that you don’t see this side often, that this aspect does not often turn its face towards the sun. But it is still there, subsumed most of the time, but not gone.

Do I still dream? Of course I do. It’s just that sometimes, I forget that there are always possibilities. That the no-win scenario is, indeed, surmountable, that it’s just a matter of perspective.

More later. Peace.

Music by the Cary Brothers, “Take Your Time”

                   

The Small Cabin

The house we built gradually
from the ground up when we were young
(three rooms, the walls
raw trees) burned down
last year          they said

I didn’t see it, and so
the house is still there in me

among branches as always     I stand
inside it looking out
at the rain moving across the lake

but when I go back
to the empty place in the forest
the house will blaze and crumple
suddenly in my mind

collapsing like a cardboard carton
thrown on a bonfire, summers
crackling, my earlier
selves outlined in flame.

Left in my head will be
the blackened earth: the truth.

Where did the house go?

Where do the words go
when we have said them?

~ Margaret Atwood