Irene, Goodnight . . .

NASA Satellite Image of Irene off Coast of Eastern Seaboard

“Goodnight, Irene, goodnight, Irene. I’ll see you in my dreams . . .” ~ American Folk Song (1932)

Sunday afternoon, post Irene. Sunny and hot.

We were very, very fortunate. Irene blew through here and left downed trees and power lines, crushed cars, upended swimming pools, downed fences and sheds, street flooding, and loss of power for over 800,000 homes.

Even though we live mere feet from an inlet, we did not have any flooding. We lost power for about six hours, with intermediate flickers for a minute or two. We have power, water, and minimal tree damage. Our biggest loss was a picnic table that my former father-in-law built for us in 1988. I count us very, very lucky. No one in the family suffered any major damage, and as far as I know, none of our family friends or acquaintances suffered losses.

Here are some images of the area and the devastation in the wake of the storm (pulled from the wavy.com site) :

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I believe this is off Granby Street, one of the local rivers.

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Tree damage and street flooding were common in the area.

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The Chesapeake Bay from Ocean View as Irene approached.

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An example of car damage

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Coastal flooding

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Regular post later. Peace.

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“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.” ~ Norman MacLean

  

           

“Many a time have I merely closed my eyes at the end of yet another troublesome day and soaked my bruised psyche in wild water, rivers remembered and rivers imagined. Rivers course through my dreams, rivers cold and fast, rivers well-known and rivers nameless, rivers that seem like ribbons of blue water twisting through wide valleys, narrow rivers folded in layers of darkening shadows, rivers that have eroded down deep into the mountain’s belly, sculpted the land, peeled back the planet’s history exposing the texture of time itself.” ~ Harry Middleton
Currituck Sound, NC

Sounds of soft rain outside the window, punctuated occasionally by quiet birdsong. Much cooler temperatures. The perfect day to read a book . . . or perhaps not. 

I have been thinking about water—rivers, lakes, oceans. I was reading Janson’s blog today, and he was talking about his affinity for the Atlantic Ocean, how it is so much a part of him. I can relate to that. The Atlantic is my ocean. I have lived on both sides of it. I have seen its brown-green hues to the north and its amazing blues to the south. I have swum in it, floated in it, dived beneath its waves, and traversed it in different crafts. 

I have sat on the shoreline and let the waves roll over my feet, tickled by the froth of receding water. I have watched fiddler crabs scurry away from the waves, and open-beaked pelicans dip below its surface to catch food. 

No matter where I go, I always feel that I am home when I exit the Hampton Tunnel and see the Chesapeake Bay spreading out before me. No other air smells like sea air; no other air feels like the salt-infused spray of sea air. 

“Rivers are magnets for the imagination, for conscious pondering and subconscious dreams, thrills, fears. People stare into the moving water, captivated, as they are when gazing into a fire. What is it that draws and holds us? The rivers’ reflections of our lives and experiences are endless.” ~ Tim Palmer
Dark Hollow Falls, Skyline Drive, Virginia

It is no coincidence that when I choose to go somewhere for vacation, it is almost always to a destination that is near water. Even in the foothills of Virginia, I can get the two things I love to see the most: water and mountains. Peaks of Otter in Bedford, Virginia overlooks Abbott Lake. This mountain retreat is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Guests can sit on their porches at sunset and look out on the beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains. 

When we go to Skyline Drive, I love most those paths that lead to water, like Dark Hollow Falls, a small natural waterfall. Chincoteague is an island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia where Corey and I have spent a few long weekends. A short drive to the south is the Outer Banks, a favorite day-trip to see the dunes of Kitty Hawk where hang gliders try their skills. 

I know that I get my love of the water from my father, whose hometown in the Philippines bordered on a powerful river. My mother is terrified of the water and cannot abide boats. Yet one more way in which they were opposites. 

My father taught me to swim in the Chesapeake Bay. My mother would always worry that I would fall into a sinkhole and drown, which actually does happen. 

But it’s more than just bodies of water. I love rainstorms, thunderstorms. One of my favorite memories of my father was sitting on my parents’ back porch with my dad, both of us silent, just watching the lightning and listening to the rain and thunder.  There is something mystical and magical about water. It holds the power to create and the power to destroy. It nurtures, and it kills. 

“But I also know that in places, the river still runs deep, and though I’ve floated it in these places, it hasn’t revealed itself in such obvious ways. I know that it might be months—years, even—before I understand what it has to teach me. I still need to give myself over to the flow and pattern and rhythm of it to learn its lessons and hear its messages. The river is inside me now, I know, and I need only wait and see where the current takes me, and what lies beneath it.” ~ Jeff Wallach
Mountain Swimming Hole Similar to St. Mary's

I know that I’ve mentioned diving naked into a deep pool of mountain water while hiking on St. Mary’s trail near Steele’s Tavern, Virginia. It was probably one of the most sensuous moments of my life—sensuous, not sensual. All of my senses were heightened: the feel of the cool, clear water on my skin, the way that mountain water has a smell like no other water. It was like being bathed in the water of life. I mean, who knows how old that body of water actually is, when it was formed. 

Water is timeless, which is what is meant by the saying that you can never step into the exact same body of water in the same way because the water has moved, shifted, traveled, and so have you. Neither is the same as at the first meeting. Still, water never seems to forget those who are at home in it. Slipping into a pool of water is completely natural to me; for me, there is nothing to fear. 

The human body is between 55 to 78 percent water. Almost 71 percent of the earth is covered by water. The human brain is 70 percent water, and the lungs are almost 90 percent water. 

Water of life. Water is life. The two are inextricably intertwined. 

“No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath . . .We get one story, you and I, and one story alone.” ~ Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts
Cascades, Virginia

Water has been the source of inspiration for writers, painters, and poets since time began. Claude Monet devoted years of his life to the water and water lilies surrounding his home in Giverny. His water lilies paintings ranged from small to room-sized. The hues and shading in this series are so deep and luminous that it is not hard to imagine seeing what Monet saw. 

Water is infused into every part of our lives: songs (“Cry Me a River”), books (Peace Like a River), poems (“At Blackwater Pond”), movies (Titanic). One of the books that I used to teach in my literature classes was Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. It’s a lovely little book about one woman, Edna Pontellier, and her gradual awakening to life and its possibilities. Throughout the book, Edna undergoes a series of encounters with water that leave her both enervated and rejuvenated. Water and Edna’s relationship to it is the primary liet motif of the novel. 

In one of my favorite movies and books, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, the two main characters are destroyed by their all-consuming love. Katherine dies in the desert, but in the last lines that she writes, Katherine speaks of life and death in terms of the senses: “We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.” 

That description has stayed with me for years. The people who have come into and left our lives throughout the years are like rivers of wisdom, each of them teaching us something, not necessarily something we wanted to learn or to face, but some piece of knowledge nevertheless. We swim through the waters of our own experiences, each day, each month, each year, moving with the flow of time, not smoothly but like water over rocks. A force that cannot be stopped.  

“I am one of the searchers . . . We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know—unless it be to share our laughter.” ~ James Kavanaugh 
 
 

Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay 

In my life, I have walked beside many waters, tasted the brine and the sweetness. I have sailed atop the water in small 16-foot sailboats and aboard huge ships. I have dived in fearlessly, and I have stood back, content to watch the ebb and flow of the water in its endless movement.  I have decided that when I die, I want to be cremated and to have half of my ashes spread on the Atlantic Ocean, and the other half spread on the foothills of Virginia, the places I have loved the most. 

I do not desire to be planted in the earth, to take up space in some container. I wish to return to the soul of the earth, to the very hollow of existence, to become part of the ever-changing beauty, the evolving mysteries, the eternal rhythm that is the essence of nature, this life, this world. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Great Lake Swimmers, “Mariner’s Song” 

                                                                                                          
At Blackwater Pond
  
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
 
~ Mary Oliver

  

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ Carl Jung

Lone Sakura Cherry Blossom, Japan

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” ~  Crowfoot’s last words, 1890

Cherry Blossoms over the Potomac, Washington, D.C.

A heartfelt welcome to my new readers. In the last few days, I have had another spurt of comments from new readers, which is always wonderful. I love to receive comments of all kinds, so if you are just stopping by for the first time, please take a minute to let me know what you think.  

Moving along . . . I’m not sure what possessed me, but I went into the bathroom a few hours ago and cut my hair. It feels better, not as heavy, but I messed up the front a bit. I have to say, though, that I’m not upset because my hair is growing so fast that within a month, it will probably be out of control again. I long for a really good haircut, actually a totally new style. Not short as I look horrible with short hair but something just below the shoulders. It really sucks not being able to pay for a good hair cut, but since I’m not really going anywhere that matters, I can’t justify the expense.  

I don’t know how much of a post this will be. I’m not sleeping again. Yesterday, I finally fell asleep at 7:30 in the morning, and then last night, I fell asleep around 5:30 in the morning. Corey was working 11 to 7 last night, which is a bit unnerving because once I finally fall asleep, I’m alone in bed, but if I wake up in between, which I inevitably do, he’s in bed next to me. You can imagine how that might be a little unsettling.  

“I found a journal in the coffee shop that said, ‘write something and leave me behind’; the open page read: ‘If you want to experience time travel, look into the face of the night because the stars illuminate the past—breathe in their stories.’” ~ C. Troise

Weeping Cherry, Newark, NJ

I’m not sure where I found the above quote, but I love it because it’s the kind of thing that I would do if I were going to coffee shops on a regular basis. One of my favorite places to write in my journal is the Starbucks on Shore Drive, which runs parallel to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This Starbucks, which has a deck, faces the water, making it the perfect spot to sit in the spring sunshine, sip coffee, and write or read.  

One time when I was hiking and camping with some friends, we came across a small shack on a trail. Inside was a hiker’s journal containing comments from people from all over the world, people who had stopped for a moment in their journey to add a few thoughts, read some of the entries. It was like finding a little treasure in the most unexpected place.  

I haven’t written in a journal in ages. I mean, with this blog, there really isn’t a need for my journal. However, once Corey goes back to sea (here’s hoping), we plan to begin  keeping journals again. The idea is that I write in mine while he’s away, and he writes in his, and then we exchange them when he gets home. We have filled two journals in this way, and we were in the middle of two others, but we decided that since we’ll be starting a new chapter of our lives when he finally gets a boat, that we are going to start new journals instead of picking up where we stopped.  

If you have never kept a journal, you might want to think about doing so. I used to make my literature students keep reading journals, which I know was not a small assignment. However, that being said, if they worked on their journals in the way that they were supposed to, then they would have no problems with tests and the final exam. I’ve never believed in teaching literature in a vacuum, just standing in front of a room full of people and lecturing to them about what something means. Meaning is subjective, depending upon numerous factors, and anyone who tries to tell you that X poem means exactly Y is full of baloney.  

“When you are older you will know that life is a long lesson in humility.” ~ J. M. Barrie

  

Yoshino Flowering Cherry, Forest Lawn, Norfolk, L. Liwag

Tonight is my reality show night—the finale of Project Runway, another episode of cat fights on RHNY. Speaking of which, I was reading my online news sources today, and somehow I ended up on a page about the newest housewife on RHNY. I honestly don’t know how I landed on this page, and I cannot remember the name of this latest entry into the supposedly real world, but one thing that I do remember is that when I first saw her, I did a double take because she looks so much like someone I was friends with years ago.  

Same thin nose and thin lips, same color hair (although it was a natural color for my friend), even the same body shape. This was another one of my friends who dated my ex and who he left by the wayside. We remained friends for many years, even though she left the area. And then something happened when she was in town for a reunion, and we haven’t spoken to each other since. One of those things that you don’t really know the reason for but you aren’t concerned enough to actually do something about. Too much time had passed between us, and we really didn’t have much to say to one another.  

Anyway, so I had a bit of deja vu when watching last week’s episode, and it made me stop in my thoughts and wonder whatever happened to her, if she finally found the person she was looking for, if she finished the degree she finally pursued. I have a vague memory of someone telling me that she had cancer, but I might have dreamed it. I have that problem with confusing dreams with memories.  

Speaking of dreams, the other night I had a right strange dream in which I was trying to find a job for a realtor I knew, and I took her to my old boss, but he was in a new building, and didn’t really want to talk to me. Last night, I dreamed that I was in a hotel for some kind of conference, and I ended up going into the kitchen to find lemon slices and cinnamon sticks as garnishes for some wine bar. You see? I cannot even relax and have fun in my dreams; instead of drinking wine and wearing beautiful gowns with the rest of the people in my dream, I go searching for lemon wedges. That must be significant somehow.  

That’s all for now. More later. Peace.  

“Let Her Cry,” a classic from Hootie and the Blowfish 

  

  

Let us give thanks . . .

 

Shadows and Reflections

 “Once you have tasted the sky, you will forever look up.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

I’ve written several posts on the subject of being thankful, including the Grace in Small Things series. Today, I thought that I would focus on things, events, and people that I have encountered in my life that have helped to shape me into the person I am.

  • Having the opportunity to see original masterpieces by Renoir, Monet, Glackens, Bernini, Van Gogh, Klimt, Morisot, Wyeth, Hopper, Sargent, Kadinsky, Pollock, Caravaggio, Tiffany, Manet, Leighton, Rembrant, Tissot, Matisse, Veronese, Rothko, as well as ancient Ethiopian art, tribal masks dating back to the 12th century, real Samurai armor and weapons, and photography by Brady, Stieglitz, Bourke-White, Mann, Strand.
  • Walking through a tropical rain forest in Africa and seeing shades of green that I never knew existed. Crossing a hanging rope bridge that was situated high in the air above a stream.
  • Sitting in the dark and listening to live performances by Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Seeing Nureyev and Margot Fontaine perform.
  • Hiding in the trunk of a car to get into a drive-in movie for free and then not watching the movie because it was too scary.
  • Going snorkeling in the Caribbean
  • Walking among the ruins of Tulum amid the huge iguanas and then eating fresh guacamole with cold Sol atop a small mountain.
  • Seeing the volcano in Baguio, Philippines
  • Riding up a mountain to get to Baguio in a bus very much like the ones you see in the movies, which was filled with villagers, chickens, a pig, old women, and my very American mother.
  • Reading some of the best literature ever written: all of Shakespeare, Michael Ondaatje, Marlow, and far too many others to mention.
  • Meeting some of my favorite poets and writers in person at literary festivals, including Chris Buckley, Mary Oliver, Tim O’Brien, Barry Lopez, Caroline Forché, Bruce Weigl, and many others
  • Working in a newsroom right at the crest of computers. Watching the paper be printed, smelling the ink.
  • Attending three wonderful universities: The George Washington, Virginia Tech, and Old Dominion.
  • Doing on-camera interviews for the museum, which sometimes meant being at the studio at 5 a.m, but still fun.
  • Performing for the Queen Mother in London in a Dances of Asia program.
  • Starring as Rizzo in Grease.
  • Participating in a drum-making ceremony with a drum master.
  • Working in a donut shop for a few months during high school and getting to bring home the leftovers.
  • Dancing on the runway at a go go bar for a story on the Norfolk nightlife.
  • Hanging out over the water in a trapeze while sailing on a catamaran in the Chesapeake Bay
  • Going cave tubing and not feeling the least bit claustrophobic
  • Hiking on the trails at Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Getting my four-cylinder Pontiac Sunbird up to 80 mph while driving home from Blacksburg one Sunday night
  • Attending grade school in London
  • Going to a military tattoo in Scotland and sitting in the outdoor stadium wrapped up in blankets because it was so cold.
  • Seeing huge statues in the mountains of Spain as we drove through the country.
  • Seeing live concerts by The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Sarah McLachlan, The Beach Boys, The Doobie Brothers, Sugarland, Norah Jones, and a bunch of other people I can’t remember.
  • Playing Chopin and Mozart on a grand piano at a recital in front of 100 people.

These are just a few of the highlights. I deliberately did not include anything personal about my children, husband, family, or friends as that is an entirely different list. But putting these things down in words makes me realize how very many opportunities I have had in my life to travel, to embrace other cultures, to see stunning natural and man-made beauty.

I have done things that I never thought that I would do, and I have seen in person things that I had only dreamt of.

I have not led a life of privilege, but I have been privileged to have had these experiences. There is nothing on this list that is earth-shattering, nor is there anything that changed humanity. But individually and collectively, these moments in time have changed me in ways seen and unseen. They have moved me to tears and made me cry with delight. Trite as it may sound, I have had a wonderful life.

More later. Peace.

 

Itzhak Perlman performing Massenet’s “Meditation from Thais,” a song that I performed in recital at Virginia Wesleyan College.

 

“Weather is a great metaphor for life—sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.” ~ Pepper Giardino

John Constable Rainstorm Over the Sea 1824 oil on canvas

“Rainstorm Over the Sea,” John Constable (1824-28, oil on canvas)

 

“a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand.  I think i too have known
autumn too long” ~ e.e. cummings

Satellite Image of Noreaster 11-11-09
Satellite Image of November 11 Nor'easter

Well, we’re in the middle of a massive nor’easter here. Heavy rain and strong winds gusting up to 50 mph. Our electricity and cable were knocked out at 7:20 this morning, but the electricity is back now.

Do you want to know how I know exactly when the electricity went out? Well, it’s because I was awake.  Well who isn’t awake at 7:20 in the morning, you might ask? Normally, not me because I go to sleep so late, but you see, once again, I have not been to sleep. It’s now going on 11:30 a.m., and I have yet to close my eyes for more than 30 minutes or so. I’ve decided that I’m going to try to stay awake as long as possible so that I might be able to go to sleep later—really go to sleep. Not this minute-by-minute crap.

So I’m writing my post now, hoping that my eyes will start to get heavy soon.

I enjoy listening to a good storm. The wind chimes are playing wildly as the wind whips around and through them. Luckily, the wind gusts aren’t enough to move things about the yard. That’s always scary.

“Only those in tune with nature seem to pick up on the energy in wind.  All sorts of things get swept off in the breeze—ghosts, pieces of soul, voices unsung, thoughts repressed, love uncherished, and a thousands galore of spiritual ether . . .” ~ Drew Sirtors

Willoughby Spit
Aerial View of Willoughby Spit

I remember when I used to live in Willoughby Spit a long time ago; we lived on Lea View, the last road in Willoughby, right next to the Chesapeake Bay. Willoughby Spit, as the name implies, is a neighborhood that was actually created during a hurricane. The area, which is a peninsula bordered by the Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads, and Willoughby Bay, is approximately 7.3 miles long. Major storms, including the huge Ash Wednesday storm of 1962, which lasted over three days, further eroded the spit.

Anyway, we (my ex and I and our dog) woke up one morning to a brutal nor’easter—so named because the winds come from the northeast, hitting the East Coast of the Atlantic U.S. and Canada. Nor’easters can cause as much and sometimes more damage than a hurricane, mostly because they can last through several tide cycles, dumping more and more water on land. Depending upon conditions, snow and/or ice can accompany a nor’easter.

What at first appeared to be another storm soon became cause for evacuation. Apparently, the storm caused a gas leak in one of the homes, and the entire neighborhood was evacuated in amphibious half-tracks. By the time we left, the water level on our cars was half-way up the doors. It was pretty incredible and more than a little frightening to watch the water continue to rise unabated.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, but many people traded in their water-logged vehicles. We, however, did not, and the floor panels of my ex’s old Toyota rusted through. One day they were there, and then our feet went through. Unlike some of our neighbors who lived on the waterfront side of the street, we did not end up driving new Saabs and Audis after the storm, but that was okay because we all made it out.

After that storm, whenever a nor’easter was forecast, everyone parked their cars out on the main road.

“No one but Night, with tears on her dark face,
Watches beside me in this windy place.” ~
Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Perfect Storm
Image from Movie The Perfect Storm

So right now, the wind is still at work outside. In our current neighborhood, we do not border the water, but half-way around the block, the houses abut Little Bay. Our neighborhood has flooded, but nothing like what I saw in Willoughby.

Just a bit of trivia: The movie The Perfect Storm is based on the true story of the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat that was caught in a nor’easter in October 1991.

Earlier this morning, I spent a bit of time on the phone with my health insurance company (such a pleasant representative . . . not), and then with my pain management doctor’s office. Apparently, my health insurance was cancelled at the end of May, which is why my doctors have not been receiving payment.

Now, how can that be, you ask? Well, I don’t know. I do know that we have been paying my expensive premium each month and that someone was getting the money, but Blue Cross/Blue Shield claims that it wasn’t them. Have I mentioned lately how much I intensely dislike bureaucracies.

As a result, 13 claims have to be reprocessed, and most of those are with my pain management group. Unfortunately for me, I cannot make an appointment until some money changes hands between my provider and my insurer. This really sucks—being at the mercy of individuals who control the fate of my health and welfare. I mean, we make that payment every month by the grace period due date; as it is, I still cannot use my prescription coverage, but you would think that ADP might have wondered why I was still paying them for a policy that had supposedly been cancelled . . . you would think.

“Once more I am the silent one
who came out of the distance
wrapped in cold rain and bells:
I owe to earth’s pure death
the will to sprout.” ~ Pablo Neruda

tropical storm waves

Think being the operative word here. Anyway, more hurry up and wait, and in the meantime, my back is full of knots and spasming like a crazed Tasmanian Devil. And then there’s that little problem of not being able to fall asleep and stay asleep. I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t have to get up and drive anywhere in the morning because I don’t know if that would be possible in my current state.

I do know that I woke up in fits and starts, one time singing (yes, singing . . .), and another time because I was certain that I had heard a rustling sound. I have no idea what I was singing or why, but I do remember scratching my chest a lot. Don’t ask me why I do any of this because I really don’t know. I mean, my personal hygiene is just fine. I think that the scratching that I do in my sleep is probably another reaction to one of my medications, but who knows which one.

One of these days, all of my medications will be straightened out. My insurance will be fixed, and I will have no problems with my doctor’s offices. I will no longer be hounded by social security, and I will be able to pay what I need to pay when I need to pay it . . . one of these days. But until then I suppose I will continue to sleep in multi-minute interludes as opposed to hours as other people are able to do, and I will continue to have wild dreams that cause me to awaken singing, scratching, and screaming.

By the way, Corey can sleep through most of this, and the dogs don’t even wake up any more.

Piano music by Yiruma: “Kiss the Rain”

 

 

More later. Peace.

One Hundred Things

A dock at sunset on White Sands Island in the Maldives.

These are the things . . .

I realized that even though I’ve done a few memes on here, I haven’t ever really talked about myself completely, honestly. So I thought that I would compose a random list, just to see where it takes me. So here we go:

  1. I like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. About the only vegetable I really hate is okra, and that’s because it’s slimey and hairy.
  2. I’ve never eaten escargot. No matter how much garlic you put on it, it’s still a snail.
  3. I love shrimp, but I will not eat lobster. If someone around me orders lobster, I make clawing motions with my hands and say “help me” in a high-pitched voice so as to shame them for eating something that could live for years and years in the ocean.
  4. I also will not eat lamb or veal. Do you know how they make veal? If you did, then you couldn’t possibly eat it.
  5. I love chocolate. I have tried to give up chocolate many times as it is not good for my headaches, and it is full of calories, but it keeps coming back and jumping into my mouth when I’m not looking.

    kayaking-at-first-landing-state-park-by-karen-roberts
    Kayaking at First Landing State Park by Karen Roberts
  6. The last time I was timed, I typed 126 words a minute. That was a long time ago, and I type much faster now.
  7. I have gone kayaking, and actually really enjoyed it. If I had the opportunity, I would own my own kayak and use it on the Chesapeake Bay.
  8. I like to go hiking in the foothills of Virginia, but I haven’t done it since I hurt my back. My ex and I once went hiking/camping with some friends of ours. The girl wore penny loafers to go hiking. That was her idea of old shoes. I ended up carrying the guy’s pack on the hike back. Not outdoor people.
  9. I love my dogs and treat them like children. Dogs are meant to be loved and talked to. People who abuse dogs should be put in jail as far as I’m concerned. A man who will beat a dog will beat a child or a woman. Don’t ever believe any differently.
  10. I enjoy the smell of fresh cut lilacs, rosemary, gardenias, and lavender.
  11. Butterflies are small miracles.
  12. tiger-swallowtail-on-lantana
    Tiger Swallowtail on Lantana by L. Liwag
  13. My three children, who are no longer small, are still my pride and joy, even when they screw up. After all, who doesn’t screw up once in a while?
  14. I would love to have more children, even though I am considered past my childbearing years. But what does that mean, anyway? I really don’t care.
  15. If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live somewhere where I could see water and mountains at the same time.
  16. I believe in nationalized medicine and a flat tax rate.
  17. I am a liberal liberal. I don’t mind paying more taxes if it means that there will be better schools and better healthcare. My only protest against paying more taxes is that I want the rich to pay their fair share, too, and to stop having so many loopholes so that they end up paying less than those of us in the middle of the road.
  18. I miss my father every day of every week of every year. I see him in my dreams often. I believe that he is looking out for me as best he can.
  19. When I was at the beach once, I asked god for a sign that things were going to be all right, and then the waves pulled back, and a perfect shell was there at my feet.
  20. I believe in angels.
  21. I wish that I remembered more from my publishing class on computer systems, but it was such a painful experience the first time that I think that I have blocked everything that I managed to learn.
  22. I love Beowulf (not the movie, the written version)
  23. I wish that I looked like Angelina Jolie, but I wish more that I had her ability to go to poor countries and do something for the people who live there.
  24. angelina-jolie-goodwill-ambassador
    Angelina Jolie as Goodwill Ambassador
  25. I collect stuffed bears, and I buy the ones who look like they need a home.
  26. I have a calendar fetish. I always have at least three calendars of my own: one next to my desk, one in my purse, and one in the kitchen. If I had more places to put them, I would have more.
  27. I am a speed reader, but I don’t scan in order to read more quickly. For example, I read each of the Harry Potter Books, even the longest one, in just one day.
  28. I have read The Lord of the Rings more times than I can remember.
  29. The English Patient is one of the most beautiful books ever written, and the movie is still one of my favorites.
  30. I get silly drunk about two times a year, but otherwise, I drink very seldom.
  31. I don’t do illegal drugs, and the worst thing I ever did when I was a teenager was speed, and I hated the way that it made me feel.
  32. I love to learn. I have one bachelor’s degree, and two master’s degrees. I would go for another degree in a heartbeat.
  33. I miss being in the front of the classroom but not enough to teach in the Norfolk Public School system.
  34. I’ve never been in a girl fight. How utterly stupid.
  35. I am very sentimental. I can cry at a Hallmark commercial, a Lifetime movie, or a YouTube clip. Sarah McLachlan’s commercials about animals in shelters just kills me.
  36. I am fiercely loyal and protective.
  37. I am an Aquarius.
  38. Eamonn and Caitlin’s birthdays are within ten days of each other in March (Pisces); Alexis and Brett’s birthdays are within three days of each other in July (Cancer).
  39. It’s far easier to give birth in March than in July.
  40. I’m not afraid of needles, as in having blood drawn, but I hate it when I get someone who is not good at putting in an IV. That hurts.
  41. I talk back to the computer and other inanimate objects. I also carry on conversations with other drivers, but they don’t know it.
  42. I love coffee and hot tea. I drink cream in most types of hot tea except for Earl Gray and Oolong.
  43. claire-lerner-blue-tea-cup1
    "Blue Tea Cup," by Claire Lerner
  44. My favorite dessert is Tiramisu, followed closely by real New York cheesecake.
  45. I used to be a shopaholic but have since reformed, for a variety of reasons.
  46. I believe that psychopharmaceuticals were developed for a reason and that no one should be ashamed of having to take them.
  47. I hate it when people jump to conclusions.
  48. I have a terrible habit of correcting other people’s English.
  49. My husband is younger than I am, and when we first got together, no one thought that it would last. We’ve been together for nine years, and it is the best relationship of my life.
  50. My mother is without a doubt the one person in this world who can get to me more than anyone else. She knows exactly what buttons to push.
  51. I wish that Alexis believed in herself more, but at this point, I have to let her be who she is and try not to interfere.
  52. My last beta, Mulder, decided that he didn’t like me and wouldn’t look at me any more. I took it very personally. He doesn’t live here any more.
  53. blue-beta
    Blue Beta: Mulder Did Not Look Like This
  54. I am hooked on crime shows: CSI, Without a Trace, Law & Order. I do not like sitcoms.
  55. Heidi Klum is über gorgeous, especially when she is pregnant.
  56. American society is fixated on how people look and doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to educating its children.
  57. Someday, I want to go to Australia, Ireland, and Greece.
  58. I love to take pictures but don’t like to have my picture taken.
  59. Cruises cease to be fun when you run out of money.
  60. My big goal in life is to be debt-free and to have good credit again.
  61. All of my children inherited my propensity for depression as I inherited it from my father. Sometimes genetics really sucks.
  62. I wish that Mari lived nearby so that we could spend time together again.
  63. I need to get off my ass and put together my book, but I am too scared of the whole rejection process.  
  64. point-woronzof-sunset-2-by-janson-jones
    Point Woronzof Sunset by Janson Jones of Floridana Alaskiana
  65. I managed a newsroom when I was 19-years-old.
  66. One day, I will figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
  67. Ending sentences in a preposition really bothers me.
  68. I love to use quotations by other people in my own work. It helps me to focus.
  69. I love sunsets and sunrises. I cannot think of anything more beautiful than a painted sky.
  70. I miss getting dressed, putting on make-up and going to work everyday. I love make-up.
  71. I hate dreaming that I am at work.
  72. I believe that men and women can be friends, but sooner or later, sex tries to get in the way.
  73. I love music: classical, pop, classic rock, country, new age (whatever the hell that means), opera, blues, even some hard rock.
  74. My birthstone is garnet, which I love, but I also love pearls, aquamarines, and diamonds.
  75. One day, I am going to have a big diamond ring, just because.
  76. I used to love to wear hats, but now I just look silly.
  77. I have long wavy hair, and I would like a new hairstyle, but I look like a monkey when I have short hair.
  78. I usually eat one big meal a day (dinner), and maybe a snack, but I cannot lose weight. I hate that.
  79. I can be very impatient, which can lead to my being snarky, especially when I’m driving.
  80. I find that I always end up telling Corey where to park, even though he doesn’t need my help. I wonder why I do that?speed-limit-sign
  81. I speed on the interstate, but I obey the speed limit in the city.
  82. I desperately need a new old car that is just mine because Eamonn ruined Izzie the Trooper, and it smells like cigarettes.
  83. I love ankle bracelets and earrings, and I love watches, but am down to about four now that still work.
  84. I smoked during college exams, but I hate cigarettes, and cigarette smoke.
  85. I don’t look my age, but that is because of good genes and Oil of Olay Regenerist, and I don’t ever tell people how old I really am.
  86. Writing my blog posts is my daily therapy.
  87. Both Shakes and Tillie snore, but Tillie snores louder. I snore louder than anyone in the house.
  88. I hate my body. I feel like a sausage most of the time.
  89. I really love shoes and boots, especially boots.
  90. I wear Christmas socks all year long.
  91. We are not friendly with most of our neighbors. I wonder why.
  92. I have never really wanted to own a horse, but I have considered living on an old farm.
  93. I am a hoarder when it comes to books and sentimental things like old cards and letters.
  94. I used to own a yard tractor and would mow the yard in my bathing suit. Of course, that was when I was in good shape. My nasty neighbor to my left thought that it was scandolous.
  95. I hold a grudge, expecially if I feel that I have been wronged unfairly.
  96. I think about revenge, but have never actually taken it.
  97. Bad manners offend me, and my sons know this and use it to drive me crazy.
  98. I wash my hands a lot, but I don’t think that I am OCD about it.
  99. One day, my bedroom will finally be painted, and I will be able to put in my new furniture.
  100. I like antiques even though my mother calls them “tired, old things” and believes that people should move on.  
  101. yoda-1
    Original Yoda
  102. I have a hard time moving on, and don’t adjust to change very well.
  103. I like the first three Star Wars movies (chronologically) a lot better than the last three (numerically).
  104. Corey brings me a cup of hot mint tea every night before bed. Isn’t that thoughtful?
  105. I am a pantheist: I believe that god, some kind of god, exists in all things: people, animals, trees, water, and that if we listen carefully enough, we can become one with all things in nature.
  106. One day, I will finally go on a poetry retreat.
  107.  

That’s quite enough for today. Peace.

And the Sun Shines Again

fog-at-the-beach-by-marge-levine-pastel

I love this pastel by Marge Levine entitled “Fog on the Beach”

“The art of art, the glory of expression, and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.” ~ Walt Whitman

“The fog comes in on little cat feet . . .” ~ Carl Sandburg

Finally, after eight long, muddy days, the sun came out today. At first, the area was covered with a very thick blanket of dense fog, but by noon, it had burned off, and the sun came out, and the temperatures rose. May I just add a hallelujah here?

Tillie the lab was so happy that it stopped raining that she convinced Brett to take her to the park for a walk and some running action. They’ve both missed their park time. As have I. When Tillie doesn’t get a workout during the day, she wants to play all night, which includes trying to help me type when I’m on the computer. You may not know this, but Labradors like to type with their noses, which are quite big.

I had to have my blood work done this morning before my checkup next week. I’m hoping that all of my levels are much better this time, especially the triglycerides, which were through the roof three months ago. My doctor is in Hampton, which means that I have to drive through the Hampton Roads Tunnel to get there. It was a very cool trip on the way to the doctor as the fog had not burned off yet, and the Bay was covered in this white layer.

fog-over-westminster-bridge-and-parliament
London Fog Over Westminster Bridge With Parliament in the Background

I love to see fog on the water. It is a very ethereal sight. At the same time, I hate to see fog on the water when I know that Corey is on a boat because fog is so dangerous for people who work on the water.

I remember when I was small and we lived in London, there used to be fog so thick that it was virtually impenetrable. Pea soup fog it was called. My mother and I were out once when a very heavy fog descended on the city. As a child, I thought that it was a great adventure, but my mother still talks about how frightening the whole experience was—not being able to see anyone until they were right upon you.

I suppose that even at a young age I had a flair for the dramatic, which is why I loved the fog so much. I conjured up the possibilities of all kinds of strange things happening in the fog: people snatching children, wild dogs, and who knows what else. Need I mention that I had a very vivid imagination, which probably did not help my mother’s state of mind at the time.

I do have to admit, though, that I have never quite understood Sandburg’s quote about fog being like little “cat feet.” What is that about? Fog descends. It cloaks. It obfuscates. Cats pounce or slink or retire to another room when an obnoxious person is around. Besides, I have known very few cats who love water, and fog loves water. Okay, so I’ll stop on Sandburg now.

On the Lighter Side . . . Perhaps . . .

42-19062324
You want me to take what?

As I mentioned earlier, ever since I started taking my new migraine medicine I have been having the wildest, most vivid dreams. So today I thought that I would go on the web to see what some of the common side effects are for this particular medicine. I’m not talking about the list of “possible side effects” printed by the pharmaceutical company and included with the medicine. I’m talking about a blog on which people who are taking this medicine report their side effects. Not to my surprise, the list is long and a bit distressing:

  • Vivid dreams; nightmares (so this is not an offshoot of my vivid imagination?)
  • Night sweats (really don’t find this one even remotely attractive but am told that this will happen to me sooner or later . . . great)
  • Short-term memory loss (already have that one from the last medicine)
  • Memory lapses, as in drifting off while people are speaking to you (I thought that was natural for me)
  • Loss of hair (another reason I stopped taking the last medicine)
  • Weight gain (audible gasp and horrors)
  • Weight loss (much better)
  • Excessive clumsiness (now this is too much; I already trip on air when walking through the house)
  • Diminished libido (not in favor of this one)
  • Migraines (excuse me????? I thought that this was why I was taking this medicine)
  • Nausea (or as  my children used to say: naudeous, as in “I’m feeling naudeous”)
  • Acne (now that’s always attractive: acne in a grown woman)
  • Back acne (could that be why there is a diminished libido?)
  • Sensitivity to alcohol (good thing I only drink about four times a year)
  • Temperature sensitivity (puleez, tell me something new)

So in essence, the big ones that are possible are the same big ones for which I stopped taking the last medicine. The other possibilities seem so delightful that I can hardly contain myself. Right now, I’m on the lowest dose with a plan to increase the dose in increments. Almost everyone on the site mentioned that the worst side effects started kicking in at about 100 mg. This gives me something to look forward to, and if nothing else, I’ll have new topics for my blogs.

The Great Lighter Debacle

Every time I buy a double pack of those long disposable lighters—you know, the ones used to light grills or candles—they disappear. The culprit is my son, Eamonn. He takes them and leaves them in the Trooper, a once non-smoking zone. So the other night when the power went out, and I was searching for a lighter to illuminate the various candles around the house (he also steals those and puts them in his room), I could not find a single long lighter.

disposable-candle-lighter
Disposable Lighter: A Valuable Commodity in My House

After some swearing and hunting for matches in the dark, I managed to light the candles that were in shallow jars or dishes, but I was mightily vexed—resulting in my decision to purchase at least four of these buggers and hide them around the house. The problem was that with my short-term memory loss (see section above), I kept forgetting to ask Corey to pick some up when he went to the store.

I finally remembered a few days ago when Corey was going to that horrible bastion of low low prices and killer of small businesses, Wal Mart. But Corey came home without the lighters. He said that they were just too expensive there and that he was sure that he could find them cheaper somewhere else. Fine by me.

So when he went to Target to get special dog cookies (the ones with eucalyptus that help with the dogs’ sewer breath), Corey picked up two packs there. He walks in the bedroom with one and says, “Can you light this thing?” I look at him as if he has grown a third eye and grab the thing out of his hand, only to realize three short seconds later that whoever designed this damned lighter has not only made it child-proof but adult-proof as well. First, you are supposed to move the child-proof lever to the side (of course there is no picture, and nothing is labeled on the lighter). Then, while holding that lever to the side, you are supposed to push in the button to ignite the lighter. Except this maneuver does not work. At all. No flame. No blue butane hue. Nothing. Nada.

Two grown adults and one gifted youth could not make these lighters work. I kid you not. We put them back in the package, and Corey took them back to Target today. The woman at the customer service center asked if there was anything wrong with them. Corey told her that there was nothing wrong besides the fact that some idiot had made them impossible to light. (I think that she may have thought that he was exaggerating; just wait until someone at the store tries to light one).

The end result was that we had to further our search for a long lighter that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and, if the planets were aligned correctly, would light on demand. Fortunately, Corey found some.

We now have them hidden in various parts of the house. Meanwhile, I bought Eamonn a new candle for his room and a small disposable lighter. We’ll see how long it takes him to find the good lighters.

On that note, more later. Peace.