“The heavenly solitude, the pacifying trees, the blue night that was a good counsellor, the peace of wild animals—” ~ Colette, from Claudine and Annie

Orage vu de Petit-Croix by Thomas Bresson (FCC)

But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence . . .” ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, from The Little Prince

Monday afternoon, partly sunny, 82 degrees.

Well yesterday was interesting. Temperatures in Roanoke were hotter, and the AC in the truck doesn’t work; by the time we got home, my eyes were dry and hurting from the wind coming in the windows. We picked up the two female Nubian goats. They already have names: Sylvia and Roberta. Sylvia I can handle, but Roberta? Never liked that name. She’s young enough that maybe we can switch her name to Bobby. We’ll see.

Unfortunately, Sylvia had her babies prematurely, and neither survived. One died on Saturday, and the other died before we got there yesterday. Bobby is still pregnant, so we’re hoping that everything goes okay with her. The woman from whom we bought them says that she thinks it may have been a mineral deficiency. As Bobby is Sylvia’s daughter, we know that Sylvia can have successful pregnancies, so at least there’s that.

All of the animals were worked up by the time we got home. Tillie and Bailey went for each other, but luckily, Corey and I were both on hand to break it up. Roland is hoarse today, so he must have been bleating for hours, which makes me feel guilty, but we couldn’t take him with us because we thought we’d be bringing a baby goat home. At the moment, Roland thinks that he’s one of the dogs; it will be interesting once he’s bigger to see if he still acts the same way—i.e., wanting to take an afternoon nap on the couch.

“Not only rational and irrational, but even inanimate creatures have a voice, and speak loudly to men, and it is our duty to learn their language, and hearken to them.” ~ Ralph Austen, from The Spiritual Use of an Orchard or Garden of Fruit Trees

We’ve learned that the temperatures here on the ridge tend to be a bit cooler than surrounding areas. I think that it’s because we’re pretty much situated in a bowl, so we always have a good breeze. The downside is that breeze can really be a fierce wind at times. We’ve been discussing shelter issues for the outside animals, and we had talked about one of those metal buildings, but I’m afraid that if it isn’t fixed properly, the wind will just pick it up and drop it.

Thunderstorm in Victoria by Ryk Neethling (FCC)

More than once we’ve wished that we could have a barn building like the Amish. Remember that beautiful scene from the Harrison Ford movie Witness? But we’re missing one or two of the key components for such a thing: people and lumber.

Ah me . . .

Yesterday, just as we were getting ready to leave for Roanoke, Dallas showed up. I knew that he would because Corey had slipped and told him that we were going to Roanoke. I was afraid that he’d come while we were gone to try to take Sassy back, but he didn’t bring the horse trailer. Instead, he said that he was coming to fish in the ponds, which is fine, as long as he doesn’t try to take back the last horse that we have.

“I must wash myself clean with abstract thoughts, transparent as water.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from Nausea

I took the opportunity of having him in front of me to confront Dallas about still having Napoleon, but he claims that he still needs him for stud. Originally, he had told me that he’d only have Napoleon for two weeks, but I should know by now that he just tells you what he thinks you want to hear and that the truth rarely escapes his lips. I did tell him that Sassy is lonely as horses need the company of other horses, and I pointed out how overgrown the pasture is getting, so he ultimately agreed to bring over some more horses. We’ll just have to see, I suppose.

Storm over Cayuga by Adam Baker (FCC)

Look, I know that technically, the horses belong to him; I’m not unaware of the reality. But we take much better care of the animals that are here than he ever could, not to mention the fact that when he first brought the horses here, he said that he was giving them to me. But again, it’s the matter of him saying one thing while meaning something completely different. We’ve learned that he has a habit of taking things back when he gets mad at someone; he’s done it repeatedly with different people—he giveth and then he taketh away.

Dallas is a prime example of being both a boon and a curse. And quite frankly, we’ve had way to many curses in the last few years. I tire of them. I tire of never getting ahead, never making forward progress.

“Animals, at least, don’t experience fear until it’s upon them, immediately. But our nerve reactions can convey worry about the future, until the fear insinuates itself into the present, into everything.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from a letter to Eddie Cohen, September 11, 1950

We hit rain on the way home even though the forecast had not called for any, and then as we neared the ridge, it was apparent that there had been a big storm while we were gone. I think that’s part of the reason the dogs were so riled when we got home. Tillie is very afraid of storms, especially if no one is around to comfort her, and I think that Bailey senses that unease.

Storm by Jim Sorbie (FCC)

As we came down the drive, the trees were heavy with rain. So everything was close to the sides of the drive, almost as it was the first time that we came to the ridge, and everything was so overgrown. At least the gas company fixed the part of the drive that had washed out, but they just cut into the side of the mountain, which is essentially compacted soil, so it’s a temporary fix at best. The next big wind and rain storm will undoubtedly wash out more. It would be nice if they’d build up the embankment with rock, but unfortunately, we have no control over what they do with the drive.

I saw the big excavator that the company had parked on the side after carving more of the mountain side on the drive, and I told Corey that it’s too bad that we don’t know how to hot wire it and use it for a few days. We could scoop up some of the loose gravel that’s around the wells and dump it on the drive. Or we could dig out a hole for an in-ground pool. I’ve always wanted to drive something like an excavator—how awesome would that be? It’s an interesting fantasy.

“The sky is lowering and black, a strange blue-blackness, which makes red houses pink, and green leaves purple. Over the blowing purple trees, the sky is an iron-blue, split with forks of straw-yellow. The thunder breaks out of the sky with a crash, and rumbles away in a long, hoarse drag of sound.” ~ Amy Lowell, from “Before the Storm (III)”

This morning the dogs were doing their fierce, alert barks, and Corey looked out the window to see a bear in the pasture again. Oddly enough, Sassy didn’t seem to be afraid of it. She was at the trough and took a few steps towards the bear. I’m hoping that it’s the same bear and not another one. Knowing that one bear is nearby is unnerving enough; I’d hate to have to wonder about several.

I do wonder, though, where he or she was hibernating; I’m hoping the bear is male because a female with cubs can be very vicious when in protection mode. We haven’t really come upon any caves in our walks, but I would imagine that there have to be some around here. Here’s hoping the dogs will be enough to keep the bear from coming too close. Corey says that Llamas and Alpacas are good to have for herd protection. That’s something to think about for the future.

Thunderstorm over Nevada by Stuart Seeger (FCC)

The future is something I don’t really want to think about at the moment. We find ourselves in a precarious position yet again, and truthfully, I’m really tired of living this way, never really knowing how we’re going to survive, pay the bills. The fear of losing everything yet again never seems to be far away, and the really weird aspect of all of this is that I know that we make more money than many people around here, and trust me when I say that living on my disability is not making a lot of money.

Again, I know that if we can survive the year, that things will change, that getting started on a farm is precarious at best, but damn I’m tired of precarious. I’m tired of always worrying. I suppose I’m just tired, but who isn’t any more?

More later. Peace.


Music by Welshly Arms, “Legendary”


The Trees are Down

—and he cried with a loud voice:
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees—
(Revelation)

They are cutting down the great plane-trees at the end of the gardens.
For days there has been the grate of the saw, the swish of the branches as they fall,
The crash of the trunks, the rustle of trodden leaves,
With the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas,’ the loud common talk, the loud common laughs of the men, above it all.
I remember one evening of a long past Spring
Turning in at a gate, getting out of a cart, and finding a large dead rat in the mud of the drive.
I remember thinking: alive or dead, a rat was a god-forsaken thing,
But at least, in May, that even a rat should be alive.
The week’s work here is as good as done. There is just one bough
   On the roped bole, in the fine grey rain,
             Green and high
             And lonely against the sky.
                   (Down now!—)
             And but for that,
             If an old dead rat
Did once, for a moment, unmake the Spring, I might never have thought of him again.
It is not for a moment the Spring is unmade to-day;
These were great trees, it was in them from root to stem:
When the men with the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas’ have carted the whole of the whispering loveliness away
Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.
It is going now, and my heart has been struck with the hearts of the planes;
Half my life it has beat with these, in the sun, in the rains,
             In the March wind, the May breeze,
In the great gales that came over to them across the roofs from the great seas.
             There was only a quiet rain when they were dying;
             They must have heard the sparrows flying,
And the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were lying—
             But I, all day, I heard an angel crying:
             ‘Hurt not the trees.’

~ Charlotte Mew

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer . . . and everything collapses. ” ~ Colette

Henri Martin FLowering Garden in Spring oil on canvas 1920
“Flowering Garden in Spring” (1920, oil on canvas)
by Henri Martin

                   

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” ~ Iris Murdoch

The Bradford pears and Tulip trees are in full bloom, and I am reminded of the year I made mother’s day cards from photos I had taken of the trees in bloom—I was very pleased with how they had turned out, but my mother looked at hers and said, “What’s this?” Lex later told me that Mom had complained that I was too cheap to buy a card; Lex tried to explain to her that I had shot the photograph, worked with it on Photoshop, and had the print made. I had thought the gesture special. Oh well.

Anyway, I have to admit that when I was clearing out the thousands of cards in my mother’s drawers, I came across almost every card I had given her in the past decade and sometimes beyond, and the flimsy free homemade card I had made her was there.

Here. Have some flowers of spring:


Music by Mussorgsky,  “Pictures at an Exhibition” (Promenade), performed by The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

“If the Olive Trees knew the hands that planted them, Their Oil would become Tears.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish

e. e. cummings Bench in Oregon by Tony the Misfit (FCC)


“Often what I need is even a darker darkness.” ~ Valzhyna Mort, from “Mocking Bird Hotel

Thursday evening. Low 70’s, humid.

Brighton Beach Bench by Elsie esq. (FCC)

I have not been writing, not only because of my emotional state, but also because my left hand seems to have frozen or something. It’s not carpal tunnel, but it may be a recurrence of De Quervain’s tynosynovitis, or what used to be known as washer woman’s hand. It’s a syndrome that is akin to carpal tunnel, but is focused on the thumb.

All I know is that I’ve been wearing an immobilizing brace on both my wrists, but my left wrist is definitely much worse. I have an appointment with the pain doctor on Tuesday. When I called to see if I could get in this week, they told me that everyone, everyone was on vacation. Glad it’s not an emergency.

So keyboarding is quite painful, as is anything else involving my wrist, which is . . . just about everything. I’ve been swallowing ibuprofen like they are Sweet Tarts, and it gives me a bit of relief, which I am taking advantage of at this moment to try to put together a post.

Earlier today my mother called and scared the crap out of me. I thought that she had had a stroke, and of course, no vehicle. I called Alexis, who eventually got here and drove me over. I didn’t call 911 because I had mom do the basic tests for a stroke while I was on the phone with her. If you don’t know what these are, you should. The acronym to remember is FAST:

  • FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop downwards?
  • ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms above the head. Does one arm drift downward?
  • SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange (nonsensical)?
  • TIME: If you observe any of these symptoms, call 911

Fortunately, she did not exhibit any of the above. She had been sick to her stomach and dizzy. I reminded her that she had some nausea medicine. When I got to her house, I had her do the tests again, and she was fine. Her blood pressure was fine as was her blood sugar. My blood pressure, however, was way above normal.

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer . . . and everything collapses.” ~ Colette

Empty Bench by lovstromp (FCC)

So other than that bit of excitement, I’ve been trying to stay busy, but it’s not really working. I have so much paperwork that I need to do. I started it during the hurricane while we didn’t have electricity. I thought that mundane tasks were as good as anything else to do to pass the time. Of course, I didn’t finish it, and everything is in a neat pile on the dining room table (which I cleaned, also during the hurricane).

I found out that my lifelong friend Sarah suffered severe damage from Irene. Unfortunately, she suffered severe damage from the last hurricane to hit this area, and once again, she is without a livable abode. Thankfully, her mother still lives in the area, just down the street from my mom.

The top of the oak tree from the backyard is over the fence and into the bush hedge that separates the park from the houses in this neighborhood. Corey hasn’t tried his chainsaw yet to see if it works. Here’s hoping that it will work because a chainsaw is the only thing that’s going to work.

I hadn’t realized that so much of the tree had fallen. In my mind, I thought that it was just a piece of the tree, so Corey kept giving me funny looks when I suggested he just use his grappling hook to move the branch. Later, when I actually saw the damage, I realized that there is no grappling hook big enough to move that tree top. We’re talking about twelve or so feet of tree trunk with branches.

I need to call our homeowner’s policy holder as I learned that we can still get flood insurance, but it won’t be valid until 30 days after we sign up. Still, we really need to get it, and we just never seem to think about it until it’s too late. I think that we’ll be able to get a policy for under $400, but don’t ask me why that particular number is in my head. I could be imagining things again.

“The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea.” ~ Isak Dinesen

Old Wooden Bench Overlooking the Aegean Sea by horia varlan (FCC)

Ann saw the lawyer yesterday to clarify disposition of the house. She/we want to make sure the evil stepmother cannot lay any claims on it. It’s the type of thing that she would do, too, stick her unwanted nose into family business of which she is not a part. I’m more family than she is.

As it turns out, the divorce agreement could be interpreted in one of two ways, so the lawyer suggested that Ann and Paul go talk to their father to clarify what his wishes are. I have no doubts that he will do the right thing as long as his wife does not butt in.

Can you tell that she just burns me? Yes, I dislike her that intensely, for numerous reasons.

I’ve written my eulogy for the memorial service, which is on September 10. I also have written a poem, which I may or may not post here, still not sure. Ann and I have decided that after the service, we’re going back to her mom’s house and drink wine, perhaps for hours and hours. That is how I feel at the moment: I don’t want to feel.

Nothing is real to me yet. I still have yet to grieve, still have not cried. I just can’t.

All that I feel is a continuous dull pain in my chest. I recognize this pain, know it for what it is: the wall between then and now. It is taking every bit of my fortitude to hold up that wall.

Please do not tell me that I need to let myself cry. I remember running into Caitlin’s doctors in the hospital away from her room, and the two of them said (her two female neurosurgeons with whom I had developed a relationship of sorts) that I should just let myself cry. I remember looking at them and saying that once I started I wasn’t sure that I could stop.

It sounds stupid, not thinking that you will be able to stop crying, but it’s a very real feeling—that taking that one step into the void will be irreversible, because it will. Trust me. I know.

“He wanted to cry quietly, but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.” ~ James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Bench in Mobile, AL, Botanical Garden by Alwright1 (FCC)

I’m going to put together a collage of family pictures to put on display at the memorial. I told Ann that I would do it. Of course, I haven’t started it. That would be the responsible thing to do.

I’m just kind of treading water here. I get up from the bed, walk into the kitchen and look around, walk back into the bedroom, look around, completely forget what I was going to do. I sit down to this keyboard and then nothing . . .  absolutely nothing. Whatever I was thinking of doing or reading or writing is gone within seconds.

To be perfectly honest, I just zoned. I took my eyes from the screen for two seconds, and when I looked back, I couldn’t remember my train of thought.

It’s a state of perpetual hold, like being on hold with a utility company and hearing bad music over and over again until the best solution seems to be to bang your head against the wall, any wall, to make the stupid, inane songs stop, and then, just when you think the interminable wait is over, and that someone is going to respond to your needs, there is a click, and the soundtrack starts over again.

I think that I understand why people actually pull out their hair. Anything is better than this nothing.

Sorry to be so morose. It simply can’t be helped.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jets Overhead, “Where Did You Go?”

                   

Meaning

When I die, I will see the lining of the world.
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
What never added up will add Up,
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.
—And if there is no lining to the world?
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,
But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day
Make no sense following each other?
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?
—Even if that is so, there will remain
A word wakened by lips that perish,
A tireless messenger who runs and runs
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,
And calls out, protests, screams.

~ Czeslaw Milosz