“Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.” ~ Albert Camus

Hadrian’s Wall (from northumbria-byways.com)

                   

“I have walked much to the sea, not knowing what I seek.” ~ Loren Eiseley, “The Inner Galaxy,” from The Unexpected Universe

Friday early evening. Partly cloudy and mild, low 60’s.

Hadrian's Wall, Northumbria, by Diego's sideburns (FCC)

Still not feeling great. I suppose that I’ll have to go back to the doctor next week. I keep putting it off in the hopes that this blasted cough will finally subside, but instead, it seems to be getting worse again. So tired of coughing and coughing.

It looks as if Corey is on track to leave sometime soon after the New Year. I have very mixed feelings about all of this, as I’ve said, but in the past few days, the reality has really begun to settle into the forefront of my consciousness, and I’m not liking the reality. There’s nothing to be done, of course. This is the way that it has to be, at least for the next three months.

He’s both excited and apprehensive—I’m not sure which feeling is dominant, probably a vacillation between the two.

His current boss gave him a stellar recommendation, saying that he was the hardest worker that he had and that he wished that he had a whole crew of Coreys. High praise indeed.

Anyway, he’s gotten out his big suitcase, and has begun the search for his flannel lined work pants and such. So there’s no more denying that it’s happening, no matter how much I try to move it to the background.

“You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.” ~ Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Last night I had a very strange dream in which I was going to some kind of holiday party with my friend Jammi, who lives in Texas. I had this really beautiful outfit and access to antique jewelry and accessories, but the outfit was quite tiresome to put on as it had closures in odd places and a long scarf, and each time I went out of the room, Jammi would change into another dress. It was most strange. And then the person who was lending me the jewelry said, “Don’t forget the choice of weapons.” Someone opened a cabinet, and there were things like small daggers and such, and they gave me a ring that had an antidote in case someone drugged my drink.

Hadrian's Wall by Stuandsam (FCC)

How very strange.

In the middle of all of this, my mother reminded me that I owed her $86 (where did this number come from?), and she wanted payment before I left the house. To pay her I gave her a necklace that still bore the original price tag ($80), and a pair of earrings. She seemed satisfied. The necklace was turquoise and very unattractive . . .

There was a lot more to the dream, but those are the weirdest parts. There was another dream that involved some of our German relatives, a glass of half-finished milk, and mixed nuts. Make of that what you will.

“God, give us a long winter
and quiet music, and patient mouths,
and a little pride—before
our age ends.
Give us astonishment
and a flame, high, bright.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from “A Flame”

I have a feeling that I’ve used this particular Zagajewski quote before, but that’s okay. It’s beautiful enough to be worth repeating.

I’m not entirely certain what it is about winter that I love. I mean, perhaps it’s the idea of winter that appeals to me. I love snow, the emptiness of a snowy path that has yet to bear footprints, human or otherwise. I love the starkness of the trees. But since I have never lived in a really cold region, one that is frigid and icy and has unmelted snow for extended periods, I’m not certain that I would like it so much if it were my reality.

Hadrian's Wall (bbc.co.uk gallery)

Does that make sense?

I mean, I love azure seas, so clear that what lies beneath is visible. I love white sand. But I don’t think that I’d like to live in very hot weather all year long. The heat would probably be much better for my bone pain, but I really don’t like to be hot. I like heat if I’m in the water. Then I can bear it. But I can remember being in heat that was so unbearable that it was hard to breathe. Perhaps it’s a memory from when I was in the Philippines. I don’t know.

Corey has no desire to live in a very cold climate, and I understand that because he spent a big chunk of time on a Coast Guard ice breaker in the Great Lakes—definitely cold, but I think that I do want to live in such a climate, that I do harbor this desire, and I will probably not be able to rid myself of this longing until I have experienced it. Just as I say that I would love to live in Ireland, but people tell me that it’s rainy more often than not . . . again, I don’t know. I only know what my dreams and desires are made of, what seems to me to be the perfect environs.

I know that when I was in my 20’s, and a friend of mine moved across country to live in Washington state, I was appalled. I mean, who would leave living by the ocean to live in a place that is misty and rainy? But now? Now the idea of living in Oregon or Washington state does not seem in the least farfetched.

“I carry from my mother’s womb
A fanatic heart.” ~ William Butler Yeats, from “Remorse For Intemperate Speech

Last night/this morning around 4 a.m. I caught the end of Tom and Viv on one of the movie channels. It’s a movie about T. S. Eliot and his long-suffering wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot. The marriage was not a happy one, and for the last decade of her life, Viv was committed to Northumberland House mental hospital. The movie stars Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson, and I’ve wanted to see it forever, but never think about it, so of course, it’s not scheduled to repeat anytime soon.

Hadrian's Wall at Sycamore Gap (featured in 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) by stevemonty (FCC)

The problem with finding out too much about the personal lives of writers that I love is that it’s hard to think of them in the same way after learning too much. I mean, Eliot was really horrible to Viv, but I love Eliot’s poems, as witnessed by my frequent use of quotes from his work, and I believe that he’s probably one of the first true poetic influences on my writing style, or rather, poetic style. Eliot uses a lot of internal rhyme with his vowel sounds, and is partial to alliteration, as am I.

And then of course, there’s my love affair with Yeats. After seeing a picture of him years ago, it only cemented my love for his work.

Don’t call me shallow. I loved his words before his face. In fact, Yeats penned my all-time favorite lines from a poem (from “When You Are Old”):

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

When I first read those lines in college, I longed to find someone who would love the pilgrim soul in me and the sorrows of my changing face . . . Years later, I did.

“What is the water in a lake? A blank page. The ripples are its wrinkles. And every one is a wound.” ~ Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions II, trans. Rosmarie Waldrop

Anyway, not really sure what took me off on that poetic tangent, probably indicative of the way that my mind if flitting from subject to subject without  any long pauses for any one thing in particular to take hold.

Hadrian's Wall: Housestead Fort Looking East (smithsonian.com)

Today’s post features images of Hadrian’s Wall. As a passing fancy, I thought that I would see how many different perspectives I could find of this ancient edifice.

For those of you who may not know, Hadrian’s Wall was built between 122 and 128 AD and remains one of the finest example of ancient Roman architecture in Britain. Built of stone and sod by Roman troops under the orders of Emperor Hadrian, the wall was approximately 15-feet high and 8 to 10-feet wide, and it extends approximately 73 miles (80 Roman miles) across open country. Forts were built at seven-mile intervals, and milecastles, or guard posts, were built at one-mile intervals. Two turrets were placed between pair of milecastles. A ditch fronted the wall, and in the three locations in which the wall crossed rivers, bridges were built.

Hadrian’s Wall was built to help keep the Picts of the north (Scotland) out. It stretches from the North Sea to the Irish Sea (from the Tyne to the Solway). The wall remained the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire until the Romans abandoned Britain in the early 5th century (around 410 AD).

Hadrian's Wall from illuminatinghadrianswall.com

The Wall is now a World Heritage Site. You may have seen it featured in the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (above), and a representation of the wall with garrisons in King Arthur, starring Clive Owen.

For your edification. As I said, I’m all over the place today.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sia, “I’m In Here”

                   

Fork with Two Tines Pushed Together

It’s fast and cool as running water, the way we forget

the names of friends with whom we talked and talked

the long drives up and down the coast.

I say I love and I love and I love. However, the window

will not close. However, the hawk searches

for its nest after a storm. However, the discarded

nail longs to hide its nakedness inside the tire.

Somewhere in Cleveland or Tempe, a pillow

still smells like M_____’s hair.

In a bus station, a child is staring

at L____’s rabbit tattoo. I’ve bartered everything

to keep from doing my soul’s paperwork.

Here is a partial list of artifacts:

mirror, belt, half-finished 1040 form (married, filing jointly), mateless walkie-talkie, two blonde eyelashes, set of acrylic paints with all the red and yellow used up, buck knife, dog collar, camping tent (sleeps two), slivers of cut-up credit cards, ashtray in the shape of a naked woman, pen with teeth marks, bottom half of two-piece bathing suit, pill bottles containing unfinished courses of antibiotics, bank statements with the account number blacked out, maps of London, maps of Dubuque, sweatshirts with the mascots of colleges I didn’t attend, flash cards for Spanish verbs (querer, perder, olvidar), Canadian pocket change, fork with two tines pushed together.

Forgetfulness means to be full

of forgetting, like a glass

overflowing with cool water, though I’d always

thought of it as the empty pocket

where the hand finds

nothing: no keys, no ticket, no change.

One night, riding the train home from the city,

will I see a familiar face across from me? How many times

will I ask Is it you? before I realize

it’s my own reflection in the window?

~ Nick Lantz

“She had burning things inside her that would not keep quiet.” ~ Kerem Mermutlu

Italian Winter Night
                   

“I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It’s the universe’s way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It’s how life is.” ~ Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Friday afternoon. Not too cold, 40’s. Melting snow.

Big Ben in the Fog

Well, I have had a fairly productive afternoon. I called my gynecologist’s office to see how much an out-of-network visit for an established patient would cost, and quelle surpise! Turns out they do accept my new health insurance—even though they weren’t on the website’s list of providers.

When I spoke with one of the women in the billing office, I think that I confused her by saying that I wanted to pay the out-of-network price for an exam, but then she said, “We do accept XXX insurance.” Really? You’re not kidding, are you because that would be too cruel . . .

Hmm. Things that make you go hmm . . .

So I called my gastroenterologist’s office just out of curiosity. Turns out, they also accept my new health insurance, and no, they were not on the list of providers on the company’s website.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I called the mental health provider that I want to change to, but seems they take Friday afternoons off. Lucky them. So two out of three today isn’t bad at all. I must say. Not that I’m going to take back any of my ranting and railing at the complete and utter nonsense that I went through the other day. I don’t do take backs for corporations or politicians just on principle (since neither the former nor the latter have any, principles, that is).

“L’acte d’écrire prend le dessus et devient son propre sujet.” (The act of writing takes over and becomes its own subject.) ~ Robert Wasler

Charles Bridge at Dusk, Prague, Czech Republic

One thing that I forgot to mention in my last real post (Dr. Who poster doesn’t count as a real post, at least not in my mind, even though it’s fun) is that I submitted my poem for the contest. After leaving it alone for several days, I went back to it and found that it was a completely different poem than the one with which I had begun. The new poem actually hummed in its rhythm. I realized that my first concept for the poem was truly too structured for me to progress.

Quatrains. I have written in quatrains before, but the subject of this poem did not require such structure. It needed to be allowed to flow and to roam, and the words needed to be married and separated and allowed to run into each other if need be.

Then I left it alone for a few more days while I pondered an appropriate title. I’m still not certain about the title that I chose to use for the submission, but unlike some writers, I am not always loyal to titles when I revise. I have gone back years later to a poem and realized that the very thing that kept the poem from working was the title that I had originally bestowed upon it.

Anyway, I submitted it a few days before the deadline, and now we’ll just have to wait and see. I may or may not post the poem on this blog, just depends on . . . well, depends on lots of things.

“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is.” ~ Saul Bellow, Herzog

Castel Sant'Angelo and Bridge, Rome

All of the snow from two nights ago has melted. In fact, most of it was gone when I woke up yesterday. I remember looking out the bathroom window around 3 a.m. (Thursday), and it was absolutely beautiful. Part of me wanted to run outside and take photographs. The other part of me, the cold part, decided against shooting photographs in my pajamas (as if my neighbors don’t already think that I’m more than a bit whacky).

Now that it’s gone, I sort of wish that I had followed my impulse. It’s probably because I don’t live in an area that gets lots of snow, but I just love it when it snows here. The air has a certain clean smell, unlike anything else, and in the middle of the night, when no cars are about, it’s completely silent. The world is blanketed and beautiful and seemingly full of possibilities.

I suppose if I lived up north somewhere, like Michigan or Alaska, I would probably not find the snow quite so mystical. Who knows.

I remember a particular snowfall in Blacksburg. It had snowed hard during the night and all of the next day. That night my ex and I went walking. It was very quiet as we were just about the only people out. We climbed one of the hills, and looked out. The sky had cleared, and the stars were out. I still remember that night so clearly. Everything looked and smelled so perfect. One of those moments in time, I suppose. 

“often i ask myself in the dark whether you feel
the glitter of words and see their souls unfurled.”~ Tzveta Sofronieva, from “(m)other words”, trans. by Chantal Wright  

Chaing Bridge at Night, Budapest

If I were ever to live somewhere where the winters were very cold, and it snowed frequently, there are a few things on my list of preferences that I would have to have:

  • A gas insert for a fireplace for warming hands and feet after being out in the cold
  • A deep, claw-footed bathtub, preferably with a fireplace or radiator in the room, for long, hot soaks, and a skylight above the tub to see the night sky
  • A towel warmer (Okay, don’t have to have this, but have you ever used one? Oooh. Pure luxury.)
  • Radiant heat below the kitchen and bathroom(s) floors. Mike Holmes (“Holmes on Homes”) swears by this stuff
  • A camera that can shoot snowflakes as they fall
  • A hot tub. Okay. I want this one no matter where I live because I know that my back would thank me for it each and every time I used it. But sitting in a hot tub while surrounded by snow is just so cool. And yes, I have done this, and I loved it.
  • Some very cool lined rubber boots. I love rubber boots, always have, but they have just come back into style in the past few years. I suppose that I could buy some to wear in the rain here, but honestly, there are so many other things that money could be spent on that I just can’t justify buying fashionable rubber boots.
  • Oh, and a Samoyed. I love those dogs, had one once for a few months but it caused a very ugly scene with a roommate. It’s just too hot and humid here for them to be really comfortable. Other than Labradors, Samoyeds and Huskies rank up there in my list of dogs that I would own.

Obviously, I’ve given some thought to this list. However, I don’t foresee moving anywhere cold anytime soon. Corey hates the cold, and is not that crazy about snow, either. Probably comes from growing up in Ohio, which can get pretty cold and tends to have snow. He wants warm to hot. I’ll settle for temperate.

Of course, all of this is pure pipe dream at this point, but that’s what we’re living on: a hope, a dream, and a prayer.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sheryl Crow and Sting, “Always on Your Side.” Love, love this.

“Time for the weather report. It’s cold out folks. Bonecrushing cold. The kind of cold which will wrench the spirit out of a young man, or forge it into steel.” ~ Northern Exposure

Winnie the Pooh and Piglit   

“I have this strange feeling that I’m not myself anymore. It’s hard to put into words, but I guess it’s like I was fast asleep, and someone came, disassembled me, and hurriedly put me back together again. That sort of feeling.” ~ Haruki Murakami

Piglit Writes a Letter (Illustration by E.H. Shepard)

I began this post two days ago. Everytime I tried to save, the Internet went out. Nothing to do with WordPress, just our Internet. I hope to get this post up tonight before any Internet/cable snafus, but we’ll just have to see.   

Yesterday was just awful on the physical front. Had to take Brett to a doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning, which I sat through squinty-eyed. Came home and promptly threw up (lovely, TMI?), and then again, and again, and again. I spent the rest of the day in bed taking pain and cold medicine. As I have used all of my secret stashes of migraine medication I had to depend on regular meds, which are about as effective as rubbing sweet tarts on my forehead.   

“The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, “Why?” and sometimes he thought, “Wherefore?” and sometimes he thought, “Inasmuch as which?” and sometimes he didn’t quite know what he was thinking about.” ~ A. A. Milne

Eeyore Sipping Water (Illustration by E.H. Shepard)

The reality is that I don’t think that this will be much of a post as I am not much myself. I keep putting my fingers on the wrong keys and not making very much progress. I don’t notice it while I’m doing it, so I have to backtrack every few lines. Bother.   

 I do feel rather like a combination of Pooh and Eeyore today: full of fluff and rather morose, which is why I have used the illustration at the top of the post. It’s from a card that Corey gave me once when I wasn’t feeling well, and it sums up so perfectly how I feel when I don’t feel all that well. I keep this card on my dresser mirror, and it always makes me smile.   

Of course, it’s hard not to smile at Winnie the Pooh. For me, though, it has to be classic Pooh with the Shepard illustrations from the books that I first read as a young girl in England. Pictures of classic Pooh characters and a cup of tea—the perfect combination for a cold day and an achy body.
   

With luck, more later. Peace.   

 Always relaxing and beautiful Enya, “Watermark” 

   

                                                                                                       

The Crystal Gazer

I shall gather myself into my self again,
I shall take my scattered selves and make them one.
I shall fuse them into a polished crystal ball
Where I can see the moon and the flashing sun.
I shall sit like a sibyl, hour after hour intent.
Watching the future come and the present go—
And the little shifting pictures of people rushing
In tiny self-importance to and fro.

~ Sarah Teasdale