“I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.” ~ Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, Surrender Speech, October 5th, 1877

Horses in a Pasture by Nannette Turner (FCC)

“Who will remember you but the body that birthed you.
Who will remember you but the clouds that swallowed you.
Who will remember you but the moon you threw sticks at.
Who will remember you but your double buried under the apple.” ~ Marion McCready, from “Ballad of the Clyde’s Water”

Monday afternoon, warm and humid with showers, 80 degrees.

Merton’s Horse by Lisa Pownall, Oceania (FCC)

I’m not really sure how far I’ll be able to get with this post. Between everything that’s happened and dealing with the aftermath, the best way to describe it would be pure chaos with a lot of drama and pain.

Let me back up.

Corey went over to see Dallas on Friday last, but couldn’t find him anywhere. It was around 4 in the afternoon. You can usually tell if Dallas is home or not depending upon where his various vehicles are parked and where all of the dogs are hanging out. Corey didn’t see the tractor, and the Geo was there, so he assumed that Dallas was somewhere on his tractor. When Corey returned on Saturday around 2 p.m., everything was exactly the same, so he began to get worried.

When he looked around, he saw Dallas’s tractor sitting upside down at the bottom of the hill on the side of the property; it’s a fairly steep decline. Corey’s first thought was that Dallas had been taken to the hospital, but something made him go down the hill. He found Dallas laying about 20 feet from the tractor, and he was dead.

Corey ran to the neighbor’s house, which abuts the property, and someone called 911. From that point on, it’s been pure chaos as news spread very quickly, as it tends to do around here. Unfortunately, the human vultures have been hovering near the property, ready to claim anything that isn’t bolted down. It’s truly repulsive.

“HUMAN SONG: Perhaps it is the case that you never get over things. You decide you will no longer engage with them. You answer with 
silence until you are reminded once again of the wound and requested 
to be human.” ~ Ken Chen, from “You May Visit the Cosmos but You May Not Speak of It (or on the Tackiness of Elegy).”

Corey came home late Saturday afternoon to tell me the news. Obviously, he was very shaken as his immediate thought was that if he had looked around more on Friday, he might have been able to find Dallas. I tried to assure him that it would have been virtually impossible for someone Dallas’s age to survive such an accident. The general consensus is that Dallas probably crawled from the tractor, but didn’t get very far. One of his puppies was by his side when he was found. It’s likely that Dallas swerved to avoid one of the dogs, and that’s how he fell.

Belgian Draft Horses Nuzzling by fishhawk (FCC)

We went back to the property to find a wrecker crew trying to bring up the tractor, so we went next door to see the neighbors, Brian and Robin. It’s funny. They’ve been in an ongoing feud with Dallas for months now over various things, but you’d never surmise it from their comments.

People are strange. People around her are an entirely different breed of strange.

Animal control had been called, and they scooped up all of the smaller puppies, which still left about 12 dogs. Corey and I brought home four puppies, one of which is a girl from the same litter as Freddy, and the neighbors were able to find about five of the dogs, but not all of the dogs had been found. It was a stopgap measure, at best.

“In the mind there is a thin alley called death
and I move through it as
through water.” ~ Anne Sexton, from “For The Year Of The Insane”

Tuesday morning, cloudy and cooler, 71 degrees.

The autopsy showed that Dallas had a heart attack but no broken bones; he had been dead 24 to 36 hours before Corey found him on Saturday. The reality is that Dallas would have absolutely hated it if he had been found after the accident but then had been incapacitated in some way, and he would have loathed dying in a hospital. We have to console ourselves as best we can, and I like to think that he died as he would have wanted: outside, under the open sky on a summer day, near his animals and on his property.

Animals in a Tennessee Pasture by Lindsey Turner (FCC)

We have no idea what his blood alcohol level was, but Corey had found half a bottle of brandy near the trailer, so he may or may not have been drunk. But I’ve seen Dallas drive that tractor drunk many times, so I still think that he may have swerved to avoid a dog as all of them ran loose all over the property.

Now there are all kinds of people showing up, talking about how they were friends with Dallas, how they had known him for years. I was telling Corey yesterday that a lot of these people reminded me of the goblins in Harry Potter: the goblins believed that if they made something, that it belonged to them in perpetuity, that anyone who bought an item from them only owned it through their life and couldn’t pass it on to descendants, that it should be returned to the goblin who made it. We’re hearing a lot of things like “I sold him those horses, so I’d like them back,” or “I gave him that dog, so he’s mine.” It’s weird and very repugnant, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

“See,
there are degrees of loss–
speeds at which pain travels
through the body.” ~ Caitlin Roach, from “Gardening, a Mother Gives a Daughter a Lesson on Mass Loss”

Months ago, I had made a promise to Dallas that if anything ever happened to him, I would be sure to take care of his animals. I had meant it at the time; I still meant it, but the reality of it was overwhelming. We’re talking at least a dozen horses, a couple of foals, about eight cows, a bull, three donkeys, about six pigeons, several fully grown dogs and lots of puppies from two different litters.

Sonya, by Tim Fuller, Germany (FCC)

Our house has been pretty chaotic the last few days. At one point, we had 11 dogs in the house, far too many. Yesterday, we spent two hours trying to find the Dickenson County animal control so that we could drop off three of the puppies. When we were looking around the property on Sunday, we found another puppy all alone and hiding in the barn. Robin had wanted to try to keep on of the puppies that we had, a beautiful boy named Charlie, so we took him to her house first.

Neither Corey nor I were thrilled about going to the shelter as it’s not a no-kill shelter, and it used to have the highest kill rate in the state. Fortunately, we found out that an organization called Brother Wolf helps the shelter in placing animals, and we were told that the puppies go quickly. Once we finally found the shelter, the guy there told us that they had rounded up the last of the dogs on the property that morning, but fortunately, most of the first group had already been placed in homes or with the other organizations, so that made it easier to leave the three puppies there.

We decided to keep Freddy’s sister as she is very sweet and calm, and then we decided to find a dog that Dallas called Boy as he’s fully grown and might be hard to place. He, too, is very sweet and relatively calm around all of the dogs except for Freddy, so we’ll have to see how that goes. Once the rambunctious puppies were gone, things got much calmer in the house; I know that our dogs were pretty stressed from all of the animals and noise. The humans were extremely stressed, too.

“Sometimes there is no darker place than our own thoughts; the moonless midnight of the mind.” ~ Dean Koontz, from Fear Nothing: A Novel

Ultimately, there’s a lot of guilt to go around. I had just told Corey on Thursday that I wanted nothing else to do with Dallas, that I was tired of all of his bullshit and heartbroken over Napoleon. And I had really meant it. I had resolved that I wouldn’t go to his house again. The only consolation I have is that I never had any bad words with Dallas even though I had wanted to do so. The truth of the matter is that Corey and I, but especially Corey, did a lot for Dallas and put up with a lot. We were often tired of trying, but there was always the sense that he had no one else but us. He was estranged from his son and daughter for reasons that are unclear, but we never once saw them at his house.

Foggy Day at the Farm by OakleyOriginals (FCC)

Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I just want my horse back, and a few old things that I know that no one else would want, like an old chair that was in his basement, and the saddle the he promised me. I did say that if no one else wanted it, I would really like to have a silver and garnet ring that he wore all of the time; it would be a nice keepsake. Apparently, his kids don’t want any keepsakes from him; I’m saddened by how fractured his relationships were, and it scares me that my own relationships with my kids won’t be repaired.

Ultimately, I think that we’re both still in shock. Corey is having a harder time than I am as Dallas’s death is more immediate for him. I think this will all hit me more at the funeral, at least, I’m hoping there’s a funeral. Dallas wanted to be cremated, but we have no idea if his son or daughter will even want a funeral. It’s best now if we just keep our distance from the immediate drama and ultimately hope we can get Napoleon back home soon. I’ll update if anything major changes.

More later. Peace.

P.S. Wrote but couldn’t post until this evening. Had to go out and then had a helluva time downloading images for the post.


Music by Saint Claire, “Haunted”


Animalistic Hymn

The red sun rises
without intent
and shines the same on all of us.
We play like children under the sun.
One day, our ashes will scatter—
…………………………………….it doesn’t matter when.
Now the sun finds our innermost hearts,
…………………………………….fills us with oblivion
intense as the forest, winter and sea.

~ Edith Södergran (Trans. Brooklyn Copeland)

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“Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, December 25, 1856

"Fresh Snow, Yosemite Valley, California," by Ansel Adams (c. 1947)

                   

“I keep following this sort of hidden river of my life, you know, whatever the topic or impulse which comes, I follow it along trustingly. And I don’t have any sense of its coming to a kind of crescendo, or of its petering out either. It is just going steadily along.” ~ William Stafford

Wednesday, late afternoon. Rainy, mid 50’s.

"Cedar Tree, Winter, Yosemite Valley," by Ansel Adams (c. 1935)

Listening to Vienna Teng in the background. She’s a recent discovery. Voice like silk, beautiful lyrics. The perfect backdrop. I’ve been adding her songs here and there to my other playlists, but I decided to save the entire playlist; she’s that good. Here’s the link if you’re interested.

So, three days later, four days of antibiotics . . . how do I feel? Badly wrung and hung out to dry in the rain. The only way to describe my chest is wet. Coughing is still quite painful. Luckily, I’m not coughing as much, but when I do, my whole body feels wracked. Monday, I had a little burst of energy, felt better than I had in days, so what did I do? Act sensibly? Of course not. I did laundry, the dishes, and wiped down the bathroom. Consequently, I felt worse.

I always do that when I’ve been really sick—the first little glimmer of recovery, and I go overboard, attempting to cram in as much as possible during the energy spurt. You would think that after all of these years that I would know better. Of course, the operative word here is think . . .

Unfortunately, Corey seems to have a chest cold now. He insists that it is not bronchitis, but it sure sounds like it. Of course, his ability to rebound from such things is much better than mine. Here’s hoping that the cold/not bronchitis has resolved itself before he has to go to the colds of Europe.

“Even as a child, she had preferred night to day, had enjoyed sitting out in the yard after sunset, under the star-speckled sky listening to frogs and crickets. Darkness soothed. It softened the sharp edges of the world, toned down the too-harsh colors. With the coming of twilight, the sky seemed to recede; the universe expanded. The night was bigger than the day, and in its realm, life seemed to have more possibilities.” ~ Dean Koontz, Midnight

I have spent some of my down time reading. Corey bought me the Stieg Larsson Milennium Trilogy as an early birthday present. I’ve been wanting to read this series for quite a while. I finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Monday evening and handed it over to Eamonn, who also wants to read the series because he saw the movie.

"Locust Strees in Snow, Yosemite Valley," by Ansel Adams (1929)

It’s intense reading, lots of characters, densely written, but most excellent. I read that Larsson, a Swedish journalist, signed a contract for three books, a rare opportunity for an unpublished writer. Unfortunately, Larsson died right before the first book in the series was published. He had written books one and two before trying to find a publisher, and had apparently had conceived of ten books.

I know that I’m coming to the series late, but I’m so glad that I’m finally reading the books contain one of the most intriguing characters I’ve come across in a long time in crime/mystery novels, Lisbeth Salander. The other really great thing for me was that I did not figure out the plot halfway through, which, unfortunately, is usually the case.

Now that I’ve read book one, I can see the movie, which is the good side. The bad side is that there are only three books to read. How cool it would have been to read ten of these.

“The misery and greatness of this world: it offers no truths, but only objects for love. Absurdity is king, but love saves us from it.” ~  Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1942

So in just the past few days I’ve found a new singer/songwriter and a new author. At least the days haven’t been a total wash.

Yesterday I sat down and collected quotes for a post, but that was as far as I got. I just didn’t have it in me to think, actually think about anything more than staring at the screen. Tumblr is good for situations such as that, when the main function is looking and not necessarily discerning. So I ran through a couple of days of my dashboard and then went back to bed.

"Winter--Yosemite Valley, California," by Ansel Adams (1951)

ODU spring semester began on Monday and Brett and Em went back to class. Eamonn is not going to college this semester. He has submitted an application to the shipyard’s apprenticeship program, the same program that Corey applied to a couple of years ago. Corey didn’t qualify because his high school curriculum did not include advanced math classes. Luckily, Eamonn did take Algebra and Geometry in high school, as well as technology and computer science. Applicants must have four out of six or seven required classes.

Here’s hoping it works out for him.

Brett is still fine-tuning his schedule, which is unfortunate. It just turned into one of those last-minute things because he is still undecided as to what he wants to do. His first love is astronomy, which means that he will need to get his bachelor’s in physics and then do his graduate work at another university that offers astronomy.

He was seriously considering going into nursing with a goal towards becoming a nurse practitioner. Things are so unsettled in so many ways right now that I know that he is anxious and stressed, and this is not the best way in which to begin a new semester. I’ll just be glad when tomorrow is over, and we can all settle down. I can’t write about tomorrow’s anticipated drama, but will write when it’s all over.

“I saw but was not seen. I walked unshadowed; I came unheralded.” ~ Virginia Woolf, The Waves

I had asked Corey to take a picture of me in front of the Christmas tree before we took it down. You must understand, I do not often seek for anyone to take my picture, so this was an unusual request. The entire thing became kind of farcical: I would pose while trying to look as if I weren’t posing. Corey would push the button, and nothing would happen. I would turn my head, and then the camera would click. Or, right as the shutter closed, one of the dogs would nose their way into the frame.

"Oak Tree, Snow Storm, Yosemite," by Ansel Adams from Portfolio One: Twelve Photographic Prints (1948)

Consequently, there really weren’t any good shots. Corey liked a few. I hated all of them. I have a very weird hang-up about my body (other than all of the other ones that I’ve mentioned): I hate my neck. I always envied those women with swan necks—long and elegant, but I could accept that I did not have the neck of a ballet dancer, that is until my neck became flabby.

When I lose weight, I lose it in my face and belly. But how does one go about losing weight in the neck? I mean really . . . think about it. So I have these extra chins, or whatever, and along with everything else, I am terribly self-conscious about it, which means that in each photo that Corey took, I could only see this part and nothing else.

Gawd I hate my self-image, and I hate that I have such a bad one, and I hate that I bought into the commercial hype of beauty, and I hate that I cannot rise above that which I know is crippling me.

“I think I still have rain somewhere in my heart.” ~ Kelwyn Sole, from “Near Brandvlei

Anyway, I still haven’t had the strength to take down Christmas, and it doesn’t appear that anyone else is going to take the initiative since Christmas around here is a mom thing . . . Funny how that works. Brett did take down the outside lights, so at least we’re not the only family in the neighborhood to have decorations still up on our house.

"Pine Forest in Snow," by Ansel Adams (1932)

Since I first began this post, the sky has darkened, and the temperature has increased by two degrees. Go figure.

The atmosphere in the house at the moment is tense and prickly. It’s as if we’re all sitting on an unexploded bomb. Truly, I resent this intrusion into our lives. I have no doubts that the stress of this outside situation has contributed adversely to my health. I just want it all to be over so that I can go back to the normal insanity of our lives without others’ insanity stalking the periphery of what we call normalcy.

I wish at this moment that I could just enjoy the sound of the rain outside my window. Perhaps the soup that Corey is making for dinner will sweeten my disposition. It’s an old family Filipino recipe for chicken and rice soup, Arriz Caldo. It’s Corey’s first time making it, but it’s fairly simple. The key is using fresh ginger, and everyone knows that ginger is always good for what ails you.

More later (I hope). Peace.

Music by Vienna Teng, “Transcontinental, 1:30 AM”

                   

To the New Year

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

~ W. S. Merwin