“The snow was endless, a heavy blanket on the outdoors; it had a way about it. A beauty. But I knew that, like many things, beauty could be deceiving.” ~ Cambria Hebert, from Whiteout

Napoleon and Sassy in the side yard, waiting for hay, by C. Fickel

The ice-covered branches of the hemlocks sparkle
Bending low and tinkling in the sharp thin breeze,
And iridescent crystals fall and crackle on the snow-crust
With the winter sun drawing cold blue shadows from the trees. ~ Sara Teasdale, from “Places”

Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and still cold, 30 degrees.

We lost power yesterday until mid afternoon. Luckily, we have a couple of small generators; although, we didn’t really need then for more than coffee. It was cold enough that everything in the freezer and fridges was fine, and we had the wood stove for heat. So I read a book—The Good German, by Joseph Kanon—and Corey and the dogs napped. It was that kind of day. And then once again last night, I couldn’t sleep, wide awake at 3 a.m., 4 a.m., etc.

My car under the snow near the grand old oak, by C. Fickel

Today everything is still snow covered, but the temperatures are supposed to start climbing in the next few days, which means we’ll probably have a muddy mess. The last time that it rained a lot, my car got stuck in the mud when I tried to go up the driveway. Eventually, we’re going to have to invest in some kind of gravel or shale.

The first four of today’s images were taken by Corey on the first day that it snowed, and the last two are by me. I spent almost two hours trying to convert a short video that Corey shot into a format that WordPress would accept but to no avail. Sorry.

No stars tonight; the snowflakes came down out of the dark, rushing towards him, endless, uncountable. Silent, too, but not like the stars. Falling snow whispered secrets to itself. ~ Diana Gabaldon, from Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Another view from the back deck, by C. Fickel

My other mother Yvonne gave me the book The Good German years ago, but for some reason, I never picked it up. I think that I thought that it was some kind of family saga, but it’s more of a mystery. She had told me that it was good; now, I wish that I had read it then so that we could have talked about it.

That’s what we used to do: swap books and then talk about them. We were the two big readers in the family. When she died, I was supposed to get all of her books, but that didn’t happen, for various reasons. But she had told me that no one else would want them and that she wanted me to have them.

The funny thing is that I had given her many of the books in her collection. We used to give one another books as presents for Christmas and birthdays. Now, I have no one to swap books with or to discuss them with over cups of coffee or tea. I miss her every single day.

“Since it has quietly began to snow,
new distances have awakened within me.” ~  Gerrit Achterberg, from Snow Passage

Anyway, I’m waiting for the weather to get a bit more temperate before venturing out for a long walk with the dogs. I haven’t been out for one in days.

Top of the ridge, by C. Fickel

I had mentioned to Corey before we moved that I wanted a small ballet barre to exercise on inside the house, and then I forgot about it until the weather got cold quickly. I know how to do basic barre exercises, and I always enjoyed doing them, so today I mentioned it again. There’s really no need to purchase a kit; I mean, I’m not a dancer who needs a professional barre and full length mirrors; I always hated all of the mirrors at the gyms I frequented. Who wants to see themselves sweat and strain, besides body builders, that is . . . Anyway, it should be fairly simple and cheap to make one that’s about 48″ long using supplies from Home Depot.

A wooden rod, probably a closet rod, would come closest to the 1.5″ diameter of a barre, and then all that you need are some heavy-duty brackets, again, probably closet brackets and some bolts to anchor the bar on the brackets. A barre is great for stretching, which is what I’m mostly limited to, but you can do core exercises as well. So here’s hoping I can get that barre sometime in the next month or so.

The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence . . . It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed.” ~ Frederick Buechner, from  Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale

I do have something on my mind that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit: For the first time in my entire life, I’m not looking forward to Christmas. In fact, the idea of decorating for Christmas does not appeal to me at all.

The huge holly tree in the front yard with St. Francis standing watch below, by L. Liwag

Dear reader, you’ve never seen my house at Christmas, but I decorate everything, every doorknob in the house, even the bathroom and kitchen. But this year? I just don’t think that I can do it, and there are several reasons. First, we still haven’t finished organizing the house, and every time that I think that I might have the energy, I just don’t, so there’s no place for a tree.

But secondly, and more importantly, I just don’t see the point, and that might sound harsh, but why, really? None of my kids will be here, and Olivia will not be here. It will just be Corey, me, and the animals. I know that Corey is thinking about going to Ohio for the holidays, and actually, that’s fine with me. I’ll stay here with the animals.

The idea of a beautiful Christmas with decorations and packages only makes me feel more acutely what isn’t here, and I really don’t want to feel that. To feel that would make me also feel ungrateful for what I do have. Being here on this piece of land is everything I ever wanted. Looking out my window and seeing snow and horses and trees? How can I not appreciate that?

That fact is that I do. I do truly appreciate that. It’s just that right now, what isn’t here is standing out more.

“Small, red, and upright he waited,
……….
while the first snows of winter
floated down on his eyelashes and covered the branches around him and silenced
all trace of the world.” ~ Anne Carson, from Autobiography of Red

I do so wish that there was a way that I could truly compartmentalize everything, but I’ve never been able to do that even though I’ve tried. And right now I’m just past trying to pretend that everything is okay.

View of the small pond from the pasture, by L. Liwag

I mean, every time I think about youngest son, I just want to cry. I really want to understand the state of my relationship with him, but I don’t. I want to call him, but I can’t. I cannot contact him until he is ready, and you cannot imagine the pain that causes me. And then eldest son has been removed for years, yet I crave to hear his voice, see his goofy smile, hear his stupid jokes.

I cannot even attempt to discuss the lack of Olivia for Christmas as it’s too acute, and I cannot imagine how Alexis is handling it this year, being so far away from her for the holidays, connected only by phone and texts. And of course, there is the lack of Alexis, the lack of a family Christmas dinner, all of the stress of preparation and the satisfaction of seeing everyone sitting around the table with their constant chatter. It just hurts too much.

And so I have absolutely not idea as to what I’ll do. Maybe I’ll cave right before Christmas and want to decorate, or maybe I’ll just spend the days reading books and trying not to think about the time of year. Am I ungrateful? No. Yes. I don’t know. Who knows? Certainly not I.

More later. Peace.


Music by Natalie Taylor, “Come to This”


Antilamentation

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.

You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it. Let’s stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

~ Dorianne Laux

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“While I fear that we’re drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we’re defined by what embraces us.” ~ J. R. Moehringer, The Tender Bar

Bedruthan Steps by Alex37 (deviantART)

                   

“There were moments, of course. Those small spaces of time,
too soon gone, when everything seems to stand still, and existence is balanced
on a perfect point, like the moment of change between the dark and light when
both and neither surround you.” ~ Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

Broken Not Beaten II by Alex37 (deviantART)

Thursday, early evening. A lovely 60 degrees with puffy clouds.

Yesterday, it was 88 degrees and very humid. Today, 28 degrees cooler. I love the temperature change, but I awoke with a killer migraine. No surprise there. I’ve been in bed most of the day, but am feeling a bit better now, so I thought that I would take advantage of the respite.

I had wanted to post yesterday; in fact, I spent an hour collecting images for a post with different quotes, but in the end, I just didn’t have it in me. I think that I was still recovering from two more tests this week: sleep apnea and another GI test, ordered by two different doctors, of course.

The neurologist ordered the sleep apnea test as she thinks that that may be what’s causing my daily headaches (not the migraines). When I looked at the poster in the sleep disorders clinic that listed all of the symptoms of sleep apnea, I had about half. I never really thought that I might have sleep apnea; I suppose it’s because I have always associated sleep apnea with my father. Apparently, Filipinos, especially males, are predisposed to sleep apnea, a particularly dangerous type that causes death.

When I lived with my parents, I remember vividly my father’s snoring: very loud, glass-rattling, and then there would be pauses in which he didn’t seem to be breathing at all. My mother woke him up more than once because of this. I snore, not as much as I used to, but I don’t recall waking up gasping for breath afterwards, which is why I never thought I had sleep apnea. Anyway, the test involved wearing a monitor, a pulse oxymeter, and an air tube in my nose like the kind for oxygen.

When the tech gave me the test kit, she said that I needed to have six hours of uninterrupted sleep. I laughed and told her that I hadn’t had one night of uninterrupted sleep since my first child was born. Typically, I get up at least three times a night, although with the new med that the psychiatrist ordered, and I am sleeping more soundly and am able to get back to sleep pretty quickly after waking.

As for the GI test, it was another one of those that I refuse to talk about. Enough said.

“Any idiot can face a crisis—it’s day to day living that wears you out.” ~ Anton Chekhov

Devon Wildflowers by Alex37 (deviantART)

I’m pretty sure I’ve used this quote before, but it felt very apropos in this particular post. So sue me.

Strange and interesting things are happening in our household now. I need to go back a few weeks: After Corey took the job with PreCon, his Sergeant from the maritime security company told him that he should stay in touch. Then he called Corey and had a long conversation with him in which he said that Corey should really consider coming back.

Apparently, the company is on the verge of getting a major contract that will call for 11 guards, 24-hours-a-day at a shipyard. The job would also require a site supervisor. If the contract came through as described, Corey would be guaranteed 40 hours a week, and almost definitely at least eight hours of overtime. The guy in charge hinted strongly that Corey would be a supervisor if not the supervisor, which would mean more money.

His hourly wage with the security company and with Precon were within pennies of each other. Such a dilemma.Corey had to think long and hard about this, and there were a few factors at play: While he loved being back on the boat, he didn’t much care for the day-work (normally on a tug he worked six on and six off; day work was 12 hours straight). Also, his Coast Guard credentials all need to be renewed, and he wanted to take the mate’s class again since it’s been so long since he drove a boat.

We talked it over, and I think the deciding factor came from me (not intentionally). I told Corey that if he stayed with the maritime security company and had regular hours, he could finally go back to school. More than once we have talked about how if we had known he would not be on a boat for three years, he could have taken the classes to get his associate’s degree, but there was no way of predicting such a thing. The possibility of finally going back to school, one of his longtime goals, really excited him, so he went back to his old job.

The new contract doesn’t start until May, but he wanted to be positioned well so that he could get the supervisor’s job, that and he let the head guy know that he wanted to be involved in the training and hiring, which they seemed to think was a good idea.

So after years of waiting for a tug, he’s postponing going back to sea for at least a year. I think that it’s the right move, and he’s feeling very comfortable with his decision, which is not usually the case as he tends to second-guess himself entirely too much. In the meantime, he can take classes, and he can try to fit in a mate’s training class before renewing his quals with the Coast Guard.
It’s really funny how fate works sometimes.

“I must see new things and investigate them. I want to taste dark water and see crackling trees and wild winds.” ~ Egon Schiele

Wilderness Twilight by Alex37 (deviantART)

So while some things still suck out loud, one major thing is going in a bold, new direction.

I wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who commented and e-mailed me regarding the post I wrote about the situation with Alexis. Your kind words do matter, and I appreciate all of the support.

I went to see my other m-in-law at the rehab place on Tuesday after the GI test because I am a glutton for physical and emotional punishment. When I walked in the room, she was lying on her side weeping. Her glasses were on the floor. I asked her what was wrong, and she said that she just didn’t have any reason to go on.

Intense.

I told her that she did indeed have reasons to go on, that she would be coming home soon, and even though someone would need to stay with her, her garden and all of the flowers in bloom were waiting; her cat was waiting for her. I told her that being home in comfortable surroundings would surely make her feel better.

As I talked, I held her hand and rubbed her arms. She got calmer, and then we talked some more. She mentioned a few names with which I was not familiar, but I pretended to know who they were. Her roommate, who is a chatterbox, talked to me the entire time that I was trying to talk to my m-in-law, which made it hard to hear her as the roommate was talking over her. I made myself be patient and nice as the other woman was obviously lonely, too.

My m-in-law asked where Ann was, and I said that she had taken one of my nieces to North Carolina for spring break, and she said, “Must be nice,” which is the kind of thing she would have said before she got so sick. I told her that I knew the feeling, but we could have wheelchair races down the hall for fun, and she laughed.

When I left, she was asleep and seemed much calmer. I got in the car and turned the music up loud and tried not to think too much about the situation. Part of me wanted to call my ex just to talk about his mother, but there was no point. It would have been a non-conversation. Part of me wanted to call my daughter and say, “Go see your grandmother,” but that, too, would have been pointless. So I just drove home.

“Those who are willing to be vulnerable/move among mysteries.” ~ Theodore Roethke

Little Mis, Dartmoor, by Alex37 (deviantART)

We received a wedding invitation yesterday from Corey’s brother Chad. I am so happy for him that he has finally found a nice woman to be with. His first marriage ended badly, and he dated a few women who were, shall I say, not worthy? But his fiance has two kids, and Chad has a son, and they make a lovely family.

The wedding is in the middle of July, which means a trip to Ohio. The truck still isn’t fixed because we’re still waiting for Ford to come through on the buyout (don’t get me started on this). The Rodeo could make the trip, but it needs a bit of work, and besides, it belongs to Brett, who will get his license at the beginning of July.

I’ve priced flights, and if we stay over on a Saturday, they actually aren’t too expensive (well everything is expensive at this point), but compared to gas prices at nearly $4 a gallon, we really need to think about this.

Oddly enough, my uncle in Orlando called me last week. This is my dad’s older brother. He said that he had a 1999 Ford Explorer that he wanted to give me. My aunt doesn’t drive any more, and the car is just sitting there. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. He said that he knew that we needed a vehicle, and he wanted me to have it. The only problem is getting it here. I’ve begun looking into vehicle transport companies, and I think that it will cost between $500 and $700, which is still a really great price for us to pay to have another vehicle in good working order.

While it might be cheaper for both of us to fly one-way to Orlando, driving back to Norfolk is still going to take a bit of gas as it’s about 750 miles.

Ah, gas prices. We cannot complain, though. Europeans have been paying this much for gas for years. I believe the good old days of cheaper gas prices are well and truly gone.

But I digress . . .

So while the news is wonderful, it’s yet another chunk of change that we need to produce, which might be covered by the Ford buy-back money once we get the truck’s transmission, brakes, and tires done. Who knows.

Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” ~ Alan Watts

Cleave Heather by Alex37 (deviantART)


So that’s most of the news from our household. To put my life in perspective for you, the one thing that I am most looking forward to at this moment is the new season of “Dr. Who” on BBC America, which starts this Saturday at 9. I know what my weekend plans are, and they have nothing to do with going out on the town or attending a party, and you know what? I am perfectly content with that.

I mean, in spite of everything—the health issues, the money issues, the job issues, the family issues—I still appreciate my life. I love my husband madly, and I honestly don’t think that I could have a better partner in life. My sons are doing well in college, and they make me so proud. Brett has fallen in love for the first time, and it’s so endearing.

I have a house, and while it may not be zombie proof, it’s still mine. My peonies in the front yard are absolutely heavy with buds. My dogs are adorable but a bit aggravating when they wake me up in the middle of the night.

I have this forum in which to share my thoughts and feelings, and I have my mind and all of the thoughts that course through it continuously like some kind of wild river that will not be tamed. It’s a good day, all except for the computer problems that began when I stared to insert my images . . . not going there.

More later. Peace.

Music by Joe Purdy, “Good Days”

                   

A Knocker

There are those who grow
gardens in their heads
paths lead from their hair
to sunny and white cities

it’s easy for them to write
they close their eyes
immediately schools of images
stream down their foreheads

my imagination
is a piece of board
my sole instrument
is a wood stick

I strike the board
it answers me
yes—yes
no—no

for others the green bell of a tree
the blue bell of water
I have a knocker
from unprotected gardens

I thump on the board
and it prompts me
with the moralists’ dry poem
yes—yes
no—no

~ Zbigniew Herbert