“We are unusual and tragic and alive.” ~ Dave Eggers, from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Cy Twombly Untitled 1990 acrylic
Untitled (1990, acrylic on unknown medium)
by Cy Twombly

                   

“Sometimes she seemed like a woman without skin. She felt everything so intensely, had so little capacity to filter out pain that everyday events often seemed unbearable to her . . . Her eyes were astoundingly blue and astoundingly sharp. Nothing escaped her. She saw everything, and since most of what there is to see in the world is painful, she often lived in pain.” ~ Erica Jong, from Remembering Anne Sexton

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and hot, 89 degrees.

So, long time, no real post. In the meantime, it went from early spring to blazing hot early summer temperatures. I guess this post is going to be a mostly good news/bad news kind of thing as so much has happened in the last week or so.

Cy Twombly Iris 1990
“Iris” (1990)
by Cy Twombly

The bad news is that last Friday my mother went to the ER because she was having bad stomach pain. Turns out she has growths inside her colon and a mass on her kidneys. Please understand my frustration in that my mother has cancelled two appointments to have a colonoscopy and to go to a liver specialist. She complains, gets appointments, feels better, cancels appointments.

I did my best not to freak over the words “mass on her kidneys.” I made her promise to call her PCP’s office to get an appointment as soon as possible and not to be put off for a month or two.

Today she saw her PCP who says that once she finishes the course of antibiotics the ER doc put her on for the diverticulitis that was causing some of the pain, then they will have to do a colonoscopy. And he’s going to find out who he should send her to for the mass on her kidneys. So I guess we are now in wait mode.

Great…………………..

“Afraid of decision, I buried my finer feelings in the depths of my heart and they died there.” ~ Mikhail Lermontov, from A Hero of Our Time

Also last week Mike closed on the house on Friday morning. They began moving on Friday afternoon. I took Olivia for Friday and Saturday nights, and it turned into Sunday night also. Their house is smaller than ours with three bedrooms and one bath but no dining room, but the hardwood floors have been refinished, and they look beautiful. The kitchen cabinets look like the originals, and they, too, have been refinished. There is a small detached garage, which is also nice.

Cy Twombly Wilder Shores of Love 1985, oil-based house paint, paint stick, coloured pencil and lead pencil on wooden panel
“Wilder Shores of Love” (1985, oil-based house paint, paint stick, coloured pencil and lead pencil on wooden panel)
by Cy Twombly

The good news is that I got to spend lots of time with Olivia. The bad news is that I was completely stressed about my mother. Then I was completely stressed by the move. And by Monday, Olivia was really out of sorts because she’s not used to being away from her parents. She’s also teething, so between the two, there was more crying and fussing than usual as she is a really happy baby, happier than any of mine ever were. It’s distressing when she gets distressed. I’ve forgotten a lot of baby interpretation.

Other good news is that my mother gave Mike and Lex a queen mattress and bed, both of which are in great shape with the mattress set looking almost new; the bad news is that my mother felt that I was the only one who could take down the old bed. Why she thought this I will never know. The bad news is that I took down the old bed while my mother complained that I would hurt my back. The good news is that I only hit my head once on the old iron bed . . .

Then, of course, there was the new bed to be put together. The bad news is that I ended up putting together this bed by myself. The worse news is that I also ended up putting the mattress and box springs onto this new bed frame by myself. I have no real idea as to how I managed to do this.

The worst news is that I was unable to move the following morning, which was not at all unexpected or surprising.

“It’s like this . . . All your life you’re yellow. Then one day you brush up against something blue, the barest touch, and voila, the rest of your life you’re green.” ~ Tess Callahan

The good news is that I had another appointment with my new pain management group, and I really like them. We are finessing my dosages on the new drugs, and I have an appointment scheduled for my Botox injections next Monday, the same day that Corey is due in port—which is good news and bad news all together.

Cy Twombly Note III 2005-7 acrylic on wood panel
“Note III” (2005-7, acrylic on wood panel)
bu Cy Twombly

In between all of this stuff I’ve had to deal with eldest son’s shenanigans. He’s watching his dad’s house for the week while the ex is in Aruba at his time share. Such a hard life. I had asked both sons if they could help Mike with the moving. Eldest son got all bent out of shape assuming I was only asking him. Brett helped me with the moving of the old mattress and box springs to the new house and moving the very old mattress and box springs from the apartment for disposal. He (Brett) was planning to help me with the assembly of new bed Sunday night, but I was just too exhausted.

While I’m stripped down to my t-shirt working with piles of washers, screws, and Allen wrenches, eldest son sticks his head in the door to see what’s going on then leaves. No assistance offered or given. Who is this child? Why does none of my DNA rear its head when needed? How does this even work? I mean, everything is score-keeping for him, as in “I helped them move on Saturday, and Brett didn’t do anything, so it’s his turn, even though I’m here, and he’s not because he’s at school.”

The logic, or complete lack of it, mystifies and stymies me. So I guess that’s bad news, eh?

“Writing, painting, singing — it cannot stop everything. Cannot halt death in its tracks. But perhaps it can make the pause between death’s footsteps sound and look and feel beautiful, can make the space of waiting a place where you can linger without as much fear. For we are all walking each other to our deaths, and the journey there between footsteps makes up our lives.” ~ Ally Condie, from  Reached

Monday night after the exercise in power-lifting a queen-sized mattress, I came home and consumed mass quantities of junk food: cheese puffs, kettle corn, a beer, some chocolate, and pretty much anything else I could shove into my mouth without the benefit of cooking. Yesterday I felt a need to scrape my tongue and cleanse my body, so I stuck to yogurt and fresh fruit.

Cy Twombly Hero and Leandro 1984 (A painting in Four Parts) Part I, 1984, oil, house paint, paint stick on canvas
“Hero and Leandro (A painting in Four Parts) Part I” (1984, oil, house paint, paint stick on canvas)
by Cy Twombly

Add to this entire bad news Monday is that I was just too exhausted to go to a poetry reading that Brett had told me about. It was open mic, and I was actually thinking of reading something, which I haven’t done in years, a reading, that is. Apparently this place has open mic night every Monday, so I’m going to try very hard to get my lazy ass there soon.

Oh, and also on the eldest son bad news-related front: He called at something like 8 in the morning to tell me that the phones had been turned off, which made no sense to me as I paid the bill last Friday. I was in an exhaustion stupor and really don’t remember what I said to him other than I would take care of it, ya da ya da ya da. Boy, if he wants something, it needs to be pronto, as in this very second, or his world is going to collapse. Must be nice to have a world in which everything runs on your schedule. I wouldn’t know about that.

Anyway, every time I sat down here to write, I just kind of zoned out because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say. Did I want to gripe about X? Did I want to cry about Y? Better not to do anything, that is until I finally lost it and sent Corey an e-mail in which I lambasted the state of affairs on the home front, which actually made me feel better.

Today, I’m still pretty puny physically, but not in as much pain. Mostly just feeling weak, but after finishing my latest Kathy Reichs’ novel, I thought I might be able to tap out some cogent words and phrases, and so far, it seems to be working.

“There are some people who could hear you speak a thousand words, and still not understand you. And there are others who will understand—without you even speaking a word.” ~ Yasmin Mogahed

The stress and exhaustion have led to some very weird dreams. In one, my ex was trying to kill me with a butcher knife. This was while I was part of some kind of spy group that was on a mission. In this dream I stabbed someone else. Don’t like stabbing dreams. Last night I dreamed I was in a museum, and I ran into the artist whose work was being exhibited. At first I didn’t realize he was the artist, and I was going on and on about how much I loved the works, and then when I realized that he had created them, I was so embarrassed.

Cy Twombly Untitled Part VIII (a painting in 9 parts) 1988, acrylic on wood panel
“Untitled Part VIII (a painting in 9 parts)” (1988, acrylic on wood panel)
by Cy Twombly

He was cool though and handed me one of two ferret like animals that he was carrying. He asked me if I had done any art research, and I told him that I had. He offered me a ferret; I told him my dogs would say no. He was signing autographs. I got something autographed but then I had to leave because my shopping cart was missing, and it had a bunch of family antiques in it, and I had left my kids on bleachers watching a movie. Do not ask me how the two are related as I have no idea.

Oh, another thing on the good news front: Brett introduced me to a wonderful new treat: Mochi ice cream. Mochi (Japanese) is a kind of sweet glutinous rice cake. Insert ice cream and serve frozen. Oh such good thrills. Only 80 calories a piece, about the size of a small cupcake and very refreshing. I’ve had mochi filled with red bean paste and with green tea ice cream. I’m loving the green tea flavor.

So, to sum up: New beds all around, new house looking good, major changes for everyone, new refreshing treat. Conversely, worrisome news regarding my mother’s health, troublesome attitude from eldest son, and I haven’t even touched on Lex’s disposition during all of this.

Is it too soon to say that I need a vacation, mostly from myself?

All images by American artist Cy Twombly, 1928-2011

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Peony Blossom Paintings), 2007, acrylic, wax crayon, penil on wood
“Untitled (Peony Blossom Paintings)” (2007, acrylic, wax crayon, pencil on wood”
by Cy Twombly

Music by Aidan Hawken and Carina Round, “Walking Blind”

                   

The Starry Night

That does not keep me from having a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars. Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother

The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die.
It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die:
into that rushing beast of the night,
sucked up by that great dragon, to split
from my life with no flag,
no belly,
no cry.

~ Anne Sexton

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“I put out my hand and the dark falls through it.” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “Before That”

A winter coated Aukštaitijos National Park, Lithuania

                    

“I like the dark part of the night, after midnight and before four-thirty, when it’s hollow, when ceilings are harder and farther away. Then I can breathe, and can think while others are sleeping, in a way can stop time, can have it so–this has always been my dream–so that while everyone else is frozen, I can work busily about them, doing whatever it is that needs to be done, like the elves who make the shoes while children sleep.” ~ Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Monday, later afternoon. Much warmer, 50’s.

A bad weekend as far as sleeping goes. I realize the insomnia is probably stress-related, the anticipation of what’s coming, but geez it’s a pain.

Stripeikiai Honeymaking Museum, Lithuania

Saturday night Corey convinced me to watch 28 Days Later, a zombie movie. Normally, I don’t like zombie movies, but what he failed to mention was that this particular movie was more of a drama, so I actually liked it, enough to say, “let’s watch the sequel,” 28 Weeks Later, which we did, which meant that by 5:30 in the morning, I was wide awake, and watching special features.

Consequently, I awoke with a headache yesterday afternoon, and the headache progressed into a migraine. Lovely.

Last night wasn’t much better, even though we weren’t watching any movies. What was particularly bad was that I actually fell asleep around 11:30, but then I woke up an hour later and couldn’t get back to sleep . . . so 4 a.m. and another headache today. We were awakened by Eamonn coming into our room to show us the flowers that he had bought for his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day and his demand that I do something with them for him. Great.

How did it get to be Valentine’s Day is really the question that I need to ask . . .

“For me, one of the most important knowings I have now . . . it’s literally beyond words. It comes from a place of silence. There’s no way in words to capture what it is. And so the challenge of writing is how do you capture what has no words. Because in the expression, you lose it.” ~ Dr. James Orbinski, Triage: Dr.James Orbinski’s Humanitarian Dilemma

So Corey is not leaving today, obviously. His plans have changed—no, really? Quelle surprise . . .

Apparently, the shipping company is having some problems with the Coast Guard inspection, hence the delay. Corey spoke with his contact today, and there is nothing definite yet. This is both good and bad news: good because we get a few more days together, bad because we were already in the mindset that he was going, good because we can get a few more things done around here, bad because Corey had himself taken off the schedule for his other job . . .

Trakai Castle, Lithuania

In other words, nothing new in the lovely existence that is our world, the world of topsy turvey.

But towards the goal of taking care of things, last night Corey bathed all three dogs. Then the real fun began: we needed to cut the boy dogs’ nails. This involves putting on a muzzle as neither of them are well-behaved when getting their nails cut. We did Shakes first as he is the worst, and somehow he managed to get out of his muzzle and bite Corey’s hand. The whole ordeal was a fiasco from start to finish. The only thing that we have to show for it is clean dogs with trimmed nails and a sore hand for Corey.

I did my first aid thing and applied lots of antibiotic ointment, sterile gauze and tape. This outcome is precisely why we wait so long to cut their nails.

I remember that I had the same problem with my old dog Ascot; the vet gave me a tranquilizer to give her before I cut her nails the next time. I gave her the tranquilizer, and she appeared to be sufficiently stoned, but then when I cut the first nail, she came to life and bit me. Had to get a tetanus shot that time. I know that the dogs must sense apprehension in me, which heightens their own apprehension, but I just can’t help it. Perhaps I should have taken the tranquilizer.

“What did you think,
that joy was some slight thing?” ~ Mark Doty, from “Visitation

So over the weekend the temperature dropped, and we had snow flurries, but by the morning, the snow was gone. The wind kicked up significantly, which made the sliding door rattle and shake. One of the things on our to-do list in the house is to replace the insulation, which I know is shoddy. I had to stop watching “Holmes on Holmes” because the list of new products that I want to try in the house when we proceed with the renovation has gotten ridiculous, but I love that spray on insulation that he uses. Very cool.

Jesuit Church, Kaunas, Lithuania

Yes, I can even get excited over insulation. Sad, I know, and yet more proof that I do not leave this house nearly enough.

All of this reinforced for me that I do not like the cold unless it is accompanied by snow. Bitter cold is nasty, and such weather always brings to mind those movies in which men appear with frost in their moustaches, and everyone’s breath comes out like exhalations of smoke. And while that is all very romantic in the movies, it is not nearly so in real life.

Add to this that the cold has quite deleterious effects on my body—stiff hands, aching back and neck. Joy, joy, joy. (Oh, unintentional play on the quote . . .)

“First, he says, you have to go out into the world. This is not a simple matter of going outside one’s door. No, that is simply going out. That’s what one does when one is on the way to the store to buy a loaf of bread, some cheese, and a bottle of wine. When one goes out into the world, one is shedding preconceptions of past paths and ideas of past paths, and trying to move freely through an unsubstantiated and new geography. ” ~ Jesse Ball, The Way Through Doors

Speaking of getting out, Corey did a little research on Lithuania and discovered these two disconcerting facts: The country has the highest suicide rate in the world, and the highest homicide rate in Europe. Those are not good statistics no matter how you look at it.

Hill of Crosses Near Siauliai, Lithuania, by percivalsmithers (FCC)

I told him that he should not leave the boat while he is there. Of course, most of Europe views the U.S. as one large old West expanse in which everyone owns a gun, and simply walking around leaves one at risk for attack. We fear that which we do not know.

But what do I know, anyway? To prove myself wrong, I decided to search for images of Lithuania, which I have included in today’s post (of course I put the snowy one on top). What I discovered was some lovely Medieval architecture, beautiful churches, and this place called the Hill of Crosses, which is located in northern Lithuania near Šiauliai, the fourth largest city in the country.

According to one site, “There are tens of thousands of crosses planted on a hillside in Lithuania in Kryžiu Kalnas. No one knows for sure why the custom started, but the crosses began appearing in the 14th century . . . The city of Siauliai was founded in 1236 and controlled by Teutonic Knights during the 14th century. The tradition of placing crosses seems to date from this period and may have risen as a symbol of Lithuanian defiance toward foreign invaders. Since the medieval period, the Hill of Crosses has represented the peaceful resistance of Lithuanian Catholicism to oppression.”

“The pact between page and voice is different from the compact of voice and body. The voice opens the body . . . The page wants proof, but bonds. The body cannot keep the voice. It spills.” ~ Rosmarie Waldrop, from Reluctant Gravities

So I’ll close with this little section on the Grammy Awards. I don’t usually watch awards shows as I find them very boring, but I tuned in last night for two reasons, we don’t have cable at the moment, so I couldn’t watch my regular channels, and also, I wanted to see Adele’s live performance (post-surgery). I never made it that far into the show.

Russian Orthodox Church, Lithuania, by AntoniO BovinO (FCC)

I mean, I loved hearing the Jason Aldean/Kelly Clarkson duet, and I thought that I would like Sir Paul’s performance, but instead, I found it rather sad: his voice has lost something in recent years.

But what did it for me, what made me turn off the show was the whole Chris Brown thing. As with most things, I haven’t forgotten that Chris Brown beat the crap out of his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. However, it seems that the industry has forgotten this little aspect of his personality. Perhaps he’s cured in their eyes . . . not. He not only performed (on the same stage that Rihanna later performed on), but he won a Grammy.

P’shaw.

I don’t expect celebrities to be perfect, nor do I idolize them. I do, however, know that many, many impressionable young minds look up to people in the music industry. So what does this turn of events say? That it’s okay to very publicly abuse your significant other as long as you have anger-management treatment, and then everyone can just go ahead with their lives as if nothing happened? And in fact, we’ll reward you three years later because you are just that good?

Puleez. I mean, really. Apparently, I’m not the only one who felt this way, angered by seeing Brown strut like a peacock across the stage, as this article in the Chicago Tribune attests:

In an op-ed, Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post said that while people deserve second chances, “That doesn’t mean they deserve a chance to strut around the Grammy stage a few years after being convicted of felony assault.”

Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic tweeted: “I don’t look for the Grammys for moral clarity, but, really? Do the words ‘felony assault’ mean anything at all?”

Enough said.

More later. Peace.

One more image:

Senamiestus, Vilnius, Lithuania, by Sarunas Burdulis (FCC)

Music by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Want to Stay” (seems appropriate)

                   

From Moral Proverbs and Folk Songs

1.
The deepest words
of the wise men teach us
the same as the whistle of the wind
when it  blows
or the sound of the water when it is
flowing.

2.
Mankind  owns four things
that are no good at sea:
rudder, anchor, oars,
and the fear of going down.

3.
Beyond living and dreaming
there is something more important:
waking up.

4.
Pay attention now:
a heart that’s all by itself
is not a heart.

~ Antonio Machado (trans. Robert Bly)