“How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.” ~ Khaled Hosseini, from A Thousand Splendid Suns

A view towards the far end of the pond

“Here I saw the truth of the horizon,
the way of coming and going in this life.
I never drifted up from my beginning:
I rose as inexorably as heat.” ~ Denis Johnson, from “The Confession of St. Jim-Ralph”

Monday afternoon, partly cloudy and absolutely lovely, 76 degrees.

Apologies. It’s been a few days since I wrote anything here. I’ve been distracted, more than usual. I began listening to a podcast, “A New Winter.” I began listening last week, and then became so absorbed that I binged right through the weekend. Unlike the true crime genre to which I’m partial, it’s a creepy dramatization, and I was hooked, all the way through 62 episodes. Yep. Sixty-62.

Red Bud in bloom

I know. Too much, right?

Anyway, I had a Two for Tuesday planned, and then on Wednesday, I had another one of those doctor’s appointments that didn’t happen because my appointment had been changed somehow, or I changed it somehow, thinking that I was actually changing my neurologist’s appointment. I honestly don’t know, but I got ready, put on real clothes, arrived on time, only to be told that my appointment was on June 5. From that point on my week was wrecked.

So here I am, trying to start over, get back into the rhythm of writing, creating, putting something out there. Anything. We’ll just have to see how this goes. I do have new pictures of the farm and the animals, at least.

“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” ~ Eckhart Tolle, from an interview with The Guardian (10 April 2009)

So I’m sitting outside at yet another makeshift work station, kind of hunched over, and my back is protesting mightily. But it doesn’t matter because the birds are serenading, and the sun is peeking through the clouds, and the air is clean, and there’s a light breeze making the Dogwood tree sway and the bamboo wind chimes clatter in a non-jarring way. The goats and the dogs are outside, as well, and Ruby, the female goat just came by to have her ears scratched; Max isn’t quite as loving, and his crooked jaw makes him look, well, a little goofy, but he’ll eventually come to have his ears scratched.

Not sure what this is, but it looks cool

I was sitting here a little while ago just listening to music and the birds and absolutely nothing else—no car horns, no sirens, no airplanes, no leaf blowers—nothing. Sometimes I forget to notice this nothingness, forget to appreciate what it took to achieve it. The last few years have been so freaking tumultuous, and sometimes it seemed like there was no end in sight, but there was, for the most part, perhaps not the ending that we had envisioned, but an ending of sorts, and now I’m here, sitting on property that is mine, and my nearest neighbors are far away.

No judgmental next-door neighbors peering over the fence, no city ordinances, no community rules. Of course, we also don’t have curbside recycling or trash pickup, and that is a definite loss, but in the grand scheme of things, I suppose we are still firmly on the plus side of the columns.

“Lift up your dark heart and sing a song about
how time drifts past you like the gentlest, almost
imperceptible breeze.” ~ Jim Harrison from “Cold Poem”

Corey needs to call the gas company to let them know that part of the driveway washed away with the most recent rain; they’re responsible for the upkeep of the drive since they have wells along the way—it’s a weird setup. But first he’s gone to Coeburn and Norton to pick up an ink cartridge for the printer so that I can send yet more forms to the IRS, trying to get us a waiver for Corey not having health insurance because, well, money.

Wildflowers growing all over the ridge

I mean, I’m completely for the Affordable Care Act, but I’ve never understood penalizing people for not having health insurance if they cannot afford to have health insurance, and the only way that those same people can get out of the penalty is if they ask for it and justify the lack. That doesn’t even make sense. I’m fairly certain that a majority of people would have health insurance if they could actually afford it. Not having it really, really sucks. There should have been a built-in opt-out function for those of us without the funds to afford the coverage instead of a built-in penalty that you can only get rid of once you’ve been granted a waiver.

Anyway, I need to print those and another form, and something else. Honestly, it’s been a few days since I first tried to print only to find out that we were out of ink, so now I’ve forgotten. I’ll have to go back and look at my notes. I make lots and lots of notes, and the fact that I still don’t have my desk set up means that my post-its are still in a box somewhere, as are my colored paper clips that I used to organize papers, and all of that other helpful stuff that I’ve come to depend on over the years. Truthfully, I’ve had a long-standing love-affair with office products; don’t ask me why. Alexis has the same penchant, as well as an unhealthy attachment to large, oversized bags and purses. I cannot imagine where she got any of that from.

I need my notes. I just can’t function without them. I know my mind too well. I have no problems with long-term memory, or memories of most important events, or things like song lyrics, but ask me what I had planned to do in a few hours, and, well . . . not so much . . .

“The future was a dark corridor, and at the far end the door was bolted.” ~ Gustave Flaubert, from Madame Bovary

I’m curious, actually. Does anyone even read these quotes? Does anyone out there find them as fascinating as I do? I mean, I spend a lot of time looking for my quotes, and then I spend an inexorable amount of time planning posts thematically, taking into consideration the kinds of posts that I tend to write the most, or thinking about something that I think that I might want to tackle in the future.

Tink and Ash snuggling

I’m asking because my tumblr meanderings, when I do them, are mostly in search of quotes, new poems and poets, and images. I’m not much for the other kinds of posts, but I’ve been thinking that perhaps I should post the quotes there and leave them out of my posts.

The problem, for me, as I see it, is that I’ve been using this format since almost the beginning: five quotes, a header quote, six images, a poem, and a song. It’s worked, or at least, it works for me—most of the time. The quotes are my springboard, as it were, a way to tap into my muse and see what comes out.

Who knows, really? Certainly not I.

“It had occurred to me that all human beings are divided
into those who wish to move forward
and those who wish to go back.” ~ Louise Glück, from “Faithful and Virtuous Night”

I’m thinking that the only thing that would make being outside today better would be if we had a hammock set up. I really miss my hammock. I’ve always had a hammock, ever since I was first married to my ex. When I was living with my parents. they had this hammock thing that fit on a metal frame, but it was canvas. I used to spend a lot of time on that in the backyard, reading in the sun. I had actually forgotten about that.

I actually have a brand new cheap hammock that came in one of my subscription boxes; I doubt that it’s terribly comfortable, but I wouldn’t know because there isn’t anywhere here to attach it. We have a lot of trees, but they are either too close together, like the apple trees, or too far apart. Ideally, I’d love to get on of those frames from Costco and the big, double rope hammock. Ah yes, that would be the ticket.

Sine I first began this post, the sun has become obscured by more clouds, and the wind has picked up. I think that I’ll stay out here for a little longer and then go inside and try to do a bit of cleaning. I still haven’t figured out where all of the dust comes from that settles in the house so quickly. We don’t have the furnace running, no ceiling fans on, so where does all of the dust come from? I’m reminded of the importance of dust in Philip Pullman’s series His Dark Materials, but unfortunately, my dust isn’t magical. It’s been years since I read that, and I still haven’t gotten a copy of La Belle Sauvage, the first book in the follow-up trilogy even though it was published in 2017. It on my to-read list, which probably has about 200 things on it.

So much to do, so much to do . . . Books to read, cabinets to sand and paint, rooms to paint and unpack . . . And then there’s my car, which needs work, a barn that needs to be built . . . Ugh, enough for now.

More later. Peace.


Music by The Civil Wars, “Dust to Dust” (acoustic)


To Drink

I want to gather your darkness
in my hands, to cup it like water
and drink.
I want this in the same way
as I want to touch your cheek—
it is the same—
the way a moth will come
to the bedroom window in late September,
beating and beating its wings against the cold glass,
the way a horse will lower
his long head to water, and drink,
and pause to lift his head and look,
and drink again,
taking everything in with the water,
everything.

~ Jane Hirshfield

“The enormous silent poem of color and light…of sea and sky, of the woods and the peaks, so far surpasses imagination as to paralyze it.” ~ Lafcadio Hearn, Two Years in the French West Indies

One of the Nereids, Court of Neptune Fountain, Library of Congress, DC, Artist Roland Hinton
by jcolman (FCC)

                   

“Winter dawn is the color of metal,
The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves.
All night I have dreamed of destruction, annihilations” ~ Sylvia Plath, from “Waking in Winter

Saturday afternoon. Cloudy, drizzle, high 60’s.

When I let the dogs out around 4 a.m., the sky was beautiful—streaked with clouds and a kind of purplish hue. The moon looked like it was covered with gauze. Oh to have a camera that would capture such a sky.

The Channel Gardens: Nereid Thought, Rockefeller Center, NYC
by artist Rene Paul Chambellan

Last night I dreamed I was babysitting for a couple who were renovating their home. The husband was morphing into something with wings. He would bend and contract, and then the faint impression of wings would appear on his back. The baby was eating rice. The mother was getting ready for an interview with Oprah. I had nothing to wear. My sister-in-law Alana had a beautiful cream-colored sweater that she had just bought from Hecht’s, but I knew that I would look like a sausage in it. The husband had concave grooves on his back where the wings would go.

Make of that what you will.

So Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm and then upgraded right back into a hurricane. It’s going to be one of those. My biggest worry is the back door; other than that, I’m as prepared as I’m going to be.

I really don’t feel like leaving the house today, but I’m supposed to drive Brett and Em to a Halloween party this evening. We shall see . . .

“We depend on nature not only for our physical survival. We also need nature to show us the way home, the way out of the prison of our minds. We got lost in doing, thinking, remembering, anticipating; lost in a maze of complexity and a world of problems. We have forgotten what rocks, plants and animals still know. We have forgotten how to be – to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: here and now.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Why was I awake at 4 a.m.? The dogs, of course. Unfortunately, Shakes is wheezing more and more, and his breathing is ragged. But the big culprit last night was Tillie the Lab, who wanted to go out every hour. I don’t know if the impending storm is making her antsy, but for some reason, she will not be still.

Underwater Amphitrite, Grand Cayman, BWI
by Simon Morris

I’m on the fourth (fifth?) day of this headache. I have intermittent respites from the pain, but this is a bad one. Probably the swaying barometric pressure combined with anxiety of weathering a hurricane and worrying about Corey, although he is out of the storm’s path.  Around here, all of the ships have left port, standard procedure when there is a hurricane coming. They go out of port to ride out the storm, to avoid getting buffeted against the piers. That’s a lot of ships.

The governor has already declared a state of emergency, and closings were being flashed on the television screen last night. Forecasters are predicting damages in the billions—that’s with a b, not an m, and everyone is bandying about that phrase “perfect storm” again. Images are all over the Interwebs and television of rising tides and ferocious seas. I think of my friend Sarah and hope that she does not suffer another flood with this storm.

I guess everyone is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, but nature will do what she will, regardless of the humans. I’m just hoping selfishly that we don’t lose power for an extended time like we did back in 2003 with Hurricane Isabel. I think we were without power for days then. We really should have brought home that generator that Corey’s parents were going to give us.

“I like to live in the sound of water, in the feel of the mountain air. A sharp reminder hits me: this world still is alive; it stretches out there shivering toward its own creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing enters into this elaborate give-and-take, this bowing to sun and moon, day and night, winter, summer, storm, still—this tranquil chaos that seems to be going somewhere. This wilderness with a great peacefulness in it. This motionless turmoil, this everything dance.” ~ William Stafford

So, what else is going on besides hurricane news?

Channel Gardens: Nereid Imagination, Rockefeller Center, NYC
by Rene Paul Chambellan

Ooh, a memory from Hurricane Isabel: The boys and I set up Risk and played by candlelight. We played for days, and never finished the game. I was winning. Those were good times. I bought the boys a Lord of the Rings version of Risk. We have never played it. That makes me a bit sad. I doubt that we shall ever play it. They have grown up, moved on, changed so much since those powerless afternoons of almost a decade ago.

The longer I write, the more my head hurts, but I’m determined to get a real post up today. The earlier satellite images do not count as today’s post because . . .. well, they just don’t.

I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t feel better about the hurricane if Corey were home with us. Of course I would, but we’ll just have to muddle along without him, at least for another couple of weeks.

“How to photograph this,
the dark when one has said
too much. The dark
of sudden feeling. Love’s
darkness.” ~ Anne Michaels, from “Fontanelles”

I have put Anne Michaels on my list of poets whose books I would like to own, a list that continues to grow and grow. Speaking of which, I still have not shared anything with you about the two poets I saw during the literary festival. I’ll get to that, just as I’ll get to the three book reviews for the books that are sitting on top of the pile.

Sea Nymph Riding Sea Horse, Court of Neptune Fountain, Library of Congress, DC
by Roland Hinton Perry (Wikimedia Commons)

I remember the first time that I went to Mari’s house, I was so pleasantly surprised to see that she had piles of books in every room in much the same way that I do. That was how I knew that I had found a kindred soul. Speaking of which, the other night I dreamt that I had missed a week’s worth of classes for some graduate literature class, and then I showed up right as it was time for the final exam (usually these are math dreams). Mari was in the class with me, but she refused to share her notes with me, and she wouldn’t talk to me.

Then I was meeting with the class’s professor who was very upset with me for missing so many classes, and she didn’t want to let me take the exam, even though I told her I was ready, but I knew that truthfully I wasn’t.

How weird is it that I still have classroom dreams so many years later? What does that say about me, about my inability to move on? Probably way too much, I fear.

“I liked the solitude and the silence of the woods and the hills. I felt there the sense of a presence, something undefined and mysterious, which was reflected in the faces of the flowers and the movements of birds and animals, in the sunlight falling through the leaves and in the sound of running water, in the wind blowing on the hills and the wide expanse of earth and sky.” ~ Bede Griffiths

So, let me end this post, yet another disjointed one, by talking a bit about the Nereid, sea nymphs in Greek mythology. Why Nereids? Why not? Well, mostly because they embodied the sea.

Amphitrite
(artist and location unknown, ??)

There were 50 Nereids, daughters of Nereus and Doris, and they were specific to the Mediterranean, as opposed to the Naiades, the nymphs of fresh water, or the Oceanides, the nymphs of the great ocean. Nereus and his 50 daughters dwelt on the bottom of the Aegean Sea in a silvery cavern. The Nereids were considered good fortune to seamen as they supposedly came to the aid of sailors in distress. Individually they represented aspects of the sea such as the foam, the brine, the waves, the currents, etc. In ancient art, the Nereids were depicted as beautiful young maidens riding on the backs of dolphins or as having small dolphins or fish in their hands.

The Nereid Amphitrite was the queen of the sea, and all of the Nereids made up the retinue of Poseidon, god of the sea. Together with her sisters Kymatolege (end of the waves) and Kymodoke (steadying the waves), Amphitrite possessed the power to still the winds and calm the sea. One other Nereid worth mentioning is Sao, the Nereid of safe passage, or the rescue of sailors.

So here’s hoping the Nereids are doing their respective jobs in the coming days.

More later. Peace.

(Images include the beautiful Nereid fountainheads in the Channel Gardens of Rockefeller Center, NYC)

Music by Peter Bradley Adams, “Keep Us (from the storm)”

 

                   

You are Tired

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we’ll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)

You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah, come with me!
I’ll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I’ll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

~ e. e. cummings

“We need the tonic of wildness.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Snowy Owl against White Sky by Mark Miller (Finger Lake Times)

                   

“I am
the sun and moon
and forever hungry
the sharpened edge
where day and night shall
meet and not be one.” ~ Audre Lorde, from “The House of Yemanjá

Sunday evening, rainy.

(“House of Yemanja” was one of my favorite poems to teach in my American lit class.)

White Skies in Dubai by untitled blue (FCC)

6:54 a.m., the time I last glanced at the clock on the computer. Heard the clock in the living room chime 7 a.m. Looked outside at a pearly white sky, the kind of morning sky when no sun pierces through the clouds, the kind of sky that follows a night of rain. The white sky most associated with winter. Luminous white, without color, or is white all color? I always forget that basic color principle, black, white, all color, absence of color.

I thought about beginning this post then but knew that if I did, I would probably never go to bed, and my body simply cannot tolerate such things any more.

This insomnia is killing me.

And my sinuses are in revolt. It was in the 80’s this past week; tonight they are calling for rain and snow with temps in the low 30’s. By mid-week, it’s supposed to be back in the 60’s. I feel like banging my head against a wall. It might actually make me feel better, between the no-sleep, the sinus headaches, and the ongoing computer lockups and snafus (ARGH) . . .

Diy-um, as they say in the south.

“That’s who you really like. The people you can think out loud in front of.” ~ John Green

Anyway, when I couldn’t sleep, I went out into the dining room and played with Tumblr on Corey’s computer until my body felt heavy. Unfortunately, while Corey and I were watching the backlog of “Bones” on the DVR, I ate Fritos, the honey BBQ swirls, which I used to eat all of the time when I was going to GW. Not so much any more. They left this coating on my tongue that I felt like scraping off with a blunt edge, even after brushing and using mouthwash. The coating stayed after chewing Tums and drinking water. Then I felt them in my chest.

Monochrome Morning by goingslo (FCC)

I’ve been out of my Dexilant for about a week, and consequently, the GERD is acting up. Apparently, Fritos at 3 in the morning are not a good diet choice. Who knew?

After sitting up in the dining room chair for an hour or so the heaviness in my chest was gone, and I decided to try sleeping again. Grabbed an eye pillow out of the ziplock bag in the freezer and headed back to bed, only to find that all of the dogs had migrated to my side of the bed. Luckily, Corey has become quite proficient in moving Tillie in his sleep if I give him a nudge; otherwise, I am left to try to reposition the dead weight of a sleeping labrador. Not an easy task. I made myself get up this afternoon even though I really could have kept sleeping.

I so hate this—inching back the hours until I’m going to bed at a reasonable time for a night owl, only to lose traction and wind up staying up past dawn. Who lives like this?

“Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no. If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

I have so much to do that sitting here writing this post is probably irresponsible. I went through the mail basket a couple of nights ago and sorted the unopened bills, junk mail, and flyers, shredded what needed to be destroyed and put the rest in recycling. Now I really need to get back to organizing the family records. Our label maker died a while ago, and I need to set up new files. Add this to the pending taxes and FAFSAs . . . crap.

White Sky Angel, Tyne, Gateshead UK by smlp.co.uk (FCC)

Earlier this week Corey received a departure date—today. Obviously, it didn’t happen. New date is sometime at the end of this week. I don’t even know if I should put that out there as the fates might find it too tempting and switch us up yet again. The bad thing (for me) is that when he gets actual travel orders, I start to get really down and withdraw, initially, and then I compose myself and remind myself that this is a good thing. So by the time I adjust my thinking to him actually boarding a plan and leaving, everything gets put on hold, again.

The bad thing for him is that he moves into near-panic mode only to be put on pause, which leads to more pacing and heavy sighs. When we think that we have a date, we plan the few days before, decide on the things that we really need to take care of, which is a good thing, but then when the plans change, we toss everything by the wayside, as if we’ve moved a pile of dirt from one place to another, and then instead of doing something productive with it, we just leave it in the new place where it can erode and get muddy and whatever.

“The imperfect is our paradise.
Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
since the imperfect is so hot in us,
lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “The Poems of Our Climate

Anyway, that’s where we are. My body thinks that it’s afternoon, and the clock says that it’s 7:34 pm.

White on White by audreyjm529 (FCC)

“Flawed words and stubborn sounds”—some of the quotes that I’ve been coming across seem to be thrown into my lap propitiously in that they are so very appropriate in reflecting what I’m feeling. One of the bloggers who I visit made a comment about how she finds some people’s blogs so hard to follow, as if there is no real point, and it made me pause . . . Was she talking about me? Not being paranoid, more like reflective and analytical. Are my words too flawed to be worth anything to anyone else? Are my posts too full of stubborn sounds so as to be enigmatic, didactic, problematic?

Should I change up? Should I stay or should I go (old song lyrics)? Should I . . .

The section of the Joan Didion essay that I posted a couple of days ago has had me thinking quite a bit. Why do I write? It’s a topic that I’ve covered several times from different angles, but I’ve been mulling over the whole process for me, its origins, its evolution. I know that it’s a post-in-waiting, and perhaps after some sleep I’ll be able to tackle it. Didion stole the title from George Orwell, and I’ll steal the title from her. After all, stealing in writing is high praise—supposedly.

But the point? I’ve quite forgotten at the moment. I only know that I’ve got an idea rolling around in my brain. Cogitating as it were.

“Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.” ~ John Updike, A Month Of Sundays

I had an interesting comment on my A to Z bucket list post regarding my classification of the French as xenophobes. Of course, I was generalizing, something that I do when I’m not being careful. Nevertheless, I apologize for any offense. As I responded, I know that all French people are not xenophobes, just as I know that all Irish people do not drink Guiness, and all Australians don’t  throw shrimp on the barbie.

Tree and Berries Against White Sky

But the point is that when we write these posts, when we put things out there for public consumption, unless we are intentionally attempting to be controversial (which I know I can be), or we are trying to be bigoted (which I really try not to be), we need to be mindful of our words.

To be honest, the word xenophobe crept into my subconscious as it is one of the few words beginning with the letter x that I really like, not the definition, but the sound of it. X is such a problematic letter, sounding like z in the English language, and sh in many Asian languages, etc. So in the back of my mind when I was thinking about possible entries for X (which I know I copped out on), xenophobe planted itself firmly in my subconscious data file. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

Sorry this has been such a fluff post, but I’m on auto-pilot. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cass McCombs, “Broken”

                   

Wait

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Wait.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

~ Galway Kinnell