“Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light. And, with each swallow, time is sublimed.” ~ Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Honister Pass Stone Bridge, Cumbria, UK (WC)

                   

“My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.” ~ Dylan Thomas, from “Clown in the Moon”

Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and mild, low 60’s.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter Caitlin’s death. The weather this week is very much as it was 23 years ago: sunny and mild, and the entire time I thought that there should be storms, massive gales and torrential downpours. But no, sun. I remember standing at the cemetery after the service in just my long-sleeved dress, thinking that it should be cold, but it wasn’t.

Old Stone Bridge at Twizell, UK (WC)

The little things that come back to you.

I had very intense dreams last night, quite a detailed one in which I was having a conversation with my deceased m-in-law in her dining room, and she was talking about the treatment that she had received in the first long-term facility, and she commented that they managed to neglect her until it was too late. I told her that I had tried to help, but I knew that I hadn’t done enough.

Then she told me that she had an envelope full of checks for $10 each, all made out to the grandchildren for when they won things at school or had recitals. But she couldn’t remember where she had put them, and asked me to find them for her.

At some point I got in Corey’s truck to drive to school to  take an exam, but I couldn’t see over the dash.

The dream switched, and I was in a big room that turned into a nursery, and I was showing the babies to my friend Sarah, and I pointed out a little girl, and I told Sarah that no one had been in to feed the baby girl all day, and I just didn’t understand how people could act that way. Then I was showing Sarah pictures of the kids, and there was one of me standing in front of my m-in-law’s house, which was decorated for Christmas, and I was holding a baby. Then the nursery turned into one of my old offices, and I was alone, but I was supposed to be at the other location.

I hadn’t called in, and it was 2:30 in the afternoon, and I knew that I was in trouble, but my speech kept coming out garbled. I had a meeting with someone from a company that I was supposed to be reviewing a proposal for, and she pulled away from me even though I told her that I wasn’t contagious, but I couldn’t get my words out straight, and I’m certain that she thought that I was drunk.

Then a runner from the newspaper brought me proof pages for a Christmas ad, and I knew that he had been looking for me earlier in the day.

“I am a part of all whom I have met.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, from “Ulysses”

So much of my past in these dreams, so many people, too many to name. So many things left undone, responsibilities that I had shirked, that I knew that I had shirked. So much like life itself.

Old Stone Bridge over the Allt Shuas in Fin Glen, UK, (WC)

I had very much wanted to write yesterday, but Eamonn came home and wanted his room. C’est la vie, I suppose. So I read instead, Stephen King’s The Shining, a book that I read a lifetime ago. It holds up fairly well, one of his better books, before he began churning them out like cookies. But I didn’t really find it scar.y. Perhaps I’ve read so much true crime in the years between that the tale of a man possessed by a hotel full of ghosts pales somewhat in comparison.

Or perhaps there is no going back. More likely, the latter.

I did not make it to the floral warehouse to buy new silk flowers, nor did I make it to the cemetery as I had no vehicle. Perhaps that’s why I was trying so earnestly to drive a vehicle in my dreams.

As I sit here, I have a huge pile of dishes awaiting me in the kitchen. But the smell of last night’s scrapings is making me feel rather ill. I haven’t had a migraine since the botox, but I awoke with a killer sinus headache today. You know the kind: when you touch your eyeballs, they sound crunchy from all of the built-up fluid. I’m telling myself that I’m waiting for the Sudafed and Ibuprofen to kick in before I tackle the kitchen, but the truth is that I simply do not want to do it.

I’ve gone out to the kitchen three times to survey the wreck, if you will, and each time, I walk out and come back here.

“And I always thought: the very simplest words
Must be enough. When I say what things are like
Everyone’s heart must be torn to shreds.
That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself—

Surely you see that.” ~ Bertolt Brecht, “And I Always Thought”

Random thoughts:

  • I should have used yesterday afternoon to write a few cards, but it seemed too hard.
  • I greatly fear for the future of this country, that we will see more of the bad times before it gets better.
  • I need a haircut.
  • We will probably not make a trip to the mountains again this fall.
  • The spider in the corner of the bathroom is still there, and I have decided to see just how long he survives if left alone.
  • I can go an entire day without speaking to another human being as long as the dogs are around to listen to me babble.
Stone Bridge at Wycoller, Lancashire, UK (WC)
  • I’m moving towards another birthday, and I have yet to do anything substantial with my life.
  • I do not want to die without having lived, as Thoreau said, but the marrow of life eludes me.
  • I miss friendship on a daily basis.
  • Oreos are actually soul food.
  • Tillie thinks that peanut butter is doggie crack, and it probably is.
  • I have to stop snacking in the middle of the night when the dogs awaken me.
  • It would be nice if the dogs did not awaken me in the middle of the night.
  • I wonder if I could be one of those women who looks stylish with grey hair . . .
  • I’ve decided to name my fancy-tailed Beta (if I ever get him) Captain Jack after Captain Jack Harkness from “Torchwood,” not Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, although either captain would do.

“Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that’s not how it works. A human’s life is a beautiful mess.” ~ Gabrielle Zevin from Elsewhere

More random thoughts:

  • Some of my personalized ringtones include “No one said it would be easy,” “Wreck of the day,” and “Why?” Do you sense a theme?
  • When I lived in my small apartment near ODU, I would put Janis Ian on my record player, and sing “Seventeen” at the top of my voice without any inhibitions.
  • I just remembered that both my dad and my Uncle Nick were in my dreams last night.
  • I wish that I knew someone who had all of the answers because I would go up to that person and say, “Get over it. No one has all of the answers.”
  • Not really.
Stone Bridge at Low Crag, UK (WC)
  • I stack the dishes at our table when we eat in a restaurant. I’ve always done this.
  • Eldest son is taking dance lessons. I’ve always wanted to take dance lessons, to dance a real waltz at a real ball.
  • My bucket list is overflowing.
  • I want so much and so little.
  • Are my expectations too high?
  • I had a strand of purple love beads that are long since lost. I loved them because everyone else had grey love beads.
  • I used to climb trees every chance that I got.
  • The more stories I read on the 99 percent, the luckier I feel.
  • I shouldn’t have to feel lucky because I have healthcare and a house.
  • My father, who traveled the world, never go to see the Great Wall of China.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere—on water and land.” ~ Walt Whitman,  from Leaves of Grass

Just a few more:

Stone Bridge, Clare Glen, Tanderagee, Ireland, UK (WC)
  • I wonder how many times I have chosen the wrong side of the fork in the road . . .
  • I wonder how many times I have chosen the right side . . .
  • How can you ever know?
  • I once had an English professor tell me that Emily Dickinson was the only female poet worth anything.
  • He pronounced the w in my last name as a Germanic v, and I despised him.
  • I once had an English teacher tell me that my poem wasn’t a poem because it didn’t have a da-duh da-duh da-duh rhythm.
  • He had dandruff and smelled.
  • If I had listened to every man who ever told me that I couldn’t, I would have never.
  • What happened to that fortitude that I used to possess?
  • I should have bought that catamaran when I had the chance.
  • Few of us realize how much our lives shift permanently because of the decisions we make between 18 and 22.
  • I was never 18 mentally or emotionally.
  • Exactly what constitutes a marketable degree any more when no one is hiring in any field?
  • Four o’clock in the morning is a very lonely hour.
  • Some people are born evil, others good, and then the rest of us struggle to figure out the difference.
  • I’m afraid it’s all been wasted time.

Enough navel-gazing for today. Dirty dishes await, and the sky has turned white.

More later. Peace.

Music by Peter Gabriel, “I Grieve” from City of Angels OST

                   

Solitude

The changing seasons, sunlight and darkness,
alter the world, which, in its sunny aspect
comforts us, and with its clouds brings sadness.

And I, who have looked with infinite
tenderness at so many of its guises,
don’t know whether I ought to be sad today

or gladly go on as if a test had been passed;
I’m sad, and yet the day is so beautiful;
only in my heart is there sun and rain.

I can transform a long winter into spring;
where the pathway in the sun is a ribbon
of gold, I bid myself  ”good evening.”

In me alone are my mists and fine weather,
as in me alone is that perfect love
for which I suffered so much and no longer mourn,

let my eyes suffice me, and my heart.

~ Umberto Saba, (Trans. by George Hochfield and Leonard Nathan)

Advertisements

My Version Of The Bucket List

starry_night-400

Starry Night by Van Gogh

The Bucket List

 This list has been circulating for a few months, and I posted it with my answers already. However, this list has a few new questions, and I added a special question the end. But for the sake of this post, I thought that I would elaborate a little on my answers to some of these questions.

Things you have done during your lifetime.

(X) Gone on a blind date: I have done this twice in my lifetime. The first time was such a disaster that it is still imprinted in my memory after all of these years. I was working at the newspaper, and a friend (using the term loosely here) wanted me to come to a Halloween party. I didn’t really want to go, so I made the excuse that I didn’t have a date. She said that that wouldn’t be a problem as she knew the perfect guy for me. Those are scary words, people.

His name was Mark, and he sold spices, as in salt, pepper, seasoned salt. He also drove a white Corvette which he told me that he liked to drive very fast. The street that I lived on at the time was a dead end and not very long, but somehow, he managed to top 40 mph in just a few seconds before hitting the brakes at the stop sign. I was supposed to be impressed. I wasn’t. The night went downhill from there.

(X) Skipped school: In my senior year of high school I skipped French class 17 times in one grading period and still managed to get an A. Madame Thomas was, shall we say, oblivious. I would stick my head in the door and say, “Madame, I have rehearsal for the senior play today,” and she would wave at me. Very nice woman.

(X) Watched someone die

( ) Been to Canada

(X) Been to Mexico

(X) Been to Florida

( ) Been to Hawaii

(X) Been on a plane: When Alexis was one, her father and I took her on a plane with us. We were flying to Massachusetts for a family vacation to see his grandparents on his dad’s side and to introduce the first great grandchild. Alexis was fairly good until she had a messy diaper right as the fasten seatbelt sign came on because of turbulents. She was most unhappy that I wasn’t changing her, and made her unhappiness known to everyone on the plane. It was a wonderful flight.

(X) Been lost: I would just like to say that Corey deserves some kind of award for this, and as soon as we are able, I’m going to buy him a phone that has a buit in GPS.

(X) Gone to Washington, D.C.

(X) Seen and/or swam in the ocean. Which one(s)? Atlantic, Pacific

(X) Cried yourself to sleep

(X) Played cops and robbers

( ) Recently colored with crayons

(X) Sang Karaoke: I am a karaoke ham. Lola really comes out to play when there’s a microphone around.

(X) Paid for a meal with coins only

( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch?

(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t

(X) Made prank phone calls

(X) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Before or after Katrina? Before. When I was a teenager, my parents and I went to New Orleans to visit his cousin. We went down Bourbon Street one night, and it was pretty incredible. All of the doors were open to the bars, and since I was behind my parents, I managed to catch glimpses of things I had never seen before. The best one was this man dressed in drag coming down a ramp from the ceiling to the middle of the bar. He had this wonderful feather headdress on and a few pasties and strategically placed feathers. I still remember that they were peacock green.

Bourbon Street was wonderful in those days. My daughter and her boyfriend visited just before Katrina hit.  When I saw the devastation on television, I was so overwhelmed with sadness at the destruction of New Orleans and the deaths of all of those people.

(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue

(X) Danced in the rain: I love rainstorms, but I hate cold rain. Often during summer storms, I am tempted (or at least I used to be) to run outside in a bathing suit and wash my car in the rain. It makes perfect sense to me.

(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus

(X) Been kissed under the mistletoeblowing-bubbles

(X) Watched the sunrise with someone

(X) Blown bubbles: My old lab Mokie was an absolute fiend for bubbles. When the kids were all younger, they had those bubble wands that would make hundreds of bubbles at once. Mokie used to bark in delight and jump high into the air trying to catch as many as possible. It was so much fun to watch her, but we would have to stop her because she would completely exhaust herself.

( ) Gone ice-skating

(X) Gone to the drive-in movies: One of the drive-in movies that I went to was The Exorcist. I went with several friends. They watched. I hid behind my hands the entire time. I was a real coward when it came to scary movies when I was younger, and that’s because my dad let me stay up one night and watch a scary movie with him, and I had nightmares about it for months. I still remember there was a coffin scene and maggots. Scarred for life.

( ) Been deep sea fishing

( ) Driven across the United States alone

( ) Been in a hot air balloon

( ) Been sky diving

( ) Gone snowmobiling

(X) Lived in more than one country. Which one(s)? U.S., England, Philippines

(X) Visited another country. Which one(s)? Scotland, Spain, France, Morocco, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Philippines

starry-sky(X) Laid outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets

( ) And watched a full lunar eclipse while listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”

(X) Seen a falling star and made a wish

( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Ole Faithful Geyser

(X) Seen the Statue of Liberty

(X) Been to the top of the Empire State Building

( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle

(X) Been on a cruise

(X) Traveled by train

( ) Traveled by motorcycle

(X) Been skiing or snowboarding: I used to love to snow ski and water ski, and believe it or now, I was actually pretty good at it. I used to go snow skiing a lot during college. If I got on a pair of skis now, I would probably end up in traction for life, and that kind of makes me sad because I loved the feeling of racing down the slopes.

(X) Been horse back riding: We won’t discuss the time the horse threw me the first time I went riding with a person of the opposite sex that I was trying to impress with my horse back riding skills. Damned horse knew it, too.

(X) Ridden on a San Francisco Trolley

tropical-rain-forest
Tropical Rain Forest

(X) Been to Disneyland or Disney World

( ) Truly believe in the power of prayer: Unfortunately, not in a long while. 

( ) Been to the top of an active volcano and seen hot lava

(X) Been in a rain forest

(X) Seen whales in the ocean

( ) Been to Niagara Falls

( ) Ridden on an elephant

( ) Swam with dolphins

1. Any nicknames? Not any more

2. Mother’s name? Ethelda/Babe: My mom was the baby of 12 children. She’s probably lucky they remembered to call her to dinner.

3. Favorite drinks? Hot tea, Pepsi, and wine occasionally. I used to really like microbrewed beers. I probably still would if I ever had occasion to drink them.

4. Body Piercings? ears

5. How much do you love your job? Don’t have one any more

6. Birthplace: Norfolk, VA

7. Favorite vacation spot: the Caribbean

8. Ever been to Africa? Yes.

9. Ever eaten just cookies for dinner? Yes. And I have also just eaten chocolate for dinner.

10. Ever been on TV? yes. I did a few television interviews when I worked for the Museum, but the most fun was when my former husband and my three children and I were featured in a commercial for the Museum. The kids were absolutely adorable.

11. Ever steal any traffic signs? no

12. Ever been in a car accident? yes

13. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4 door

14. Can you drive a standard shift car? yes. I love to drive standard shifts, but I’m hard on clutches, and they are expensive to replace.

15. Favorite pie? Homemade apple pie. My mom-in-law used to make me a homemade apple pie every year on my birthday because it was my favorite. She also used to make the most amazing strawberry/rhubarb pie. 

16. Favorite number: 7

17. Favorite movie(s): The English Patient and The Lord of the Rings

18. Favorite holiday? Christmas

19. Favorite dessert? Depends on mood: cheesecake or hot fudge cake

20. Favorite food? Salmon with tequila sauce

21. Favorite day of the week? Sunday afternoons are my favorite time for reading a good book. When the house is quiet and no one is around, and if I can keep the dogs from barking at air and leaves, then I can consume a novel while wrapped up in a soft blanket. Good times.

22. Favorite brand of body soap? Depends on season. Usually some kind of liquid body wash that is clean-smelling or that smells like lavendar

23. Favorite toothpaste? Colgate Total

24. Favorite smell? Lilacs or Rosemary

25. How do you relax? Read a book or write

26. How do you see yourself  in 10 years? In the islands

27. Furthest place you will send this message? Germany

28. Who will respond to this the fastest? No idea

                                                                                                                                        

 
Big Question: What is the one thing that you feel deep in your heart that you must do before you die?

great_walls
Great Wall of China

Travel. I want to see Ireland because it’s someplace that I’ve always wanted to go. I want to visit Wales for the same reason. I’d like to go to Greece because it is such a beautiful country. I also want to see the Great Wall of China. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia and Iceland, and I’ve also always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. Then I want to spend the rest of my days someplace that is warm and green and lush and near clear blue water and far away from Wal Marts and malls in general. I don’t want to be living in a cookie cutter house in the suburbs. I want to be able to go outside and get in my hammock, or sit under a tree with a laptop and write.

I don’t know that I’ll ever have these things, but this is what I wish for. I don’t want to have lived without living as deeply as possible, without sucking “all the marrow out of life and end my days as if I had never lived.” I know that it may sound like a cliché, but from the first time I heard Thoreau’s words, I knew that that was what I wanted to feel before my end of days.

Tag: You’re It

Play Along For Fun

This is an easy one to let fellow bloggers know some of the things that you have accomplished in life without answering questions. Just bold what you have done, and unbold what you haven’t done, and repost. You may want to change the pictures to highlight the adventures that are more personal to you.

humpback-rocks-in-virginia
The Summit of the Humpback Rocks in Virginia

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (Been to Disneyworld)
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (writing poetry)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb (does a baby goat count?)
26 Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

total-eclips-of-the-sun2
Total Eclipse of the Sun

29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Visited an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (I think that html  and xml should count)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (probably and just didn’t recognize it at the time)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (one of my favorites)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (wish that I had)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

moonlight-on-the-beach
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive in theater (those were fun)
55. Been in a movie (an extra in the movie Roller Coaster, totally unforgettable movie)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen (cooked for one once)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching

whale-watching-off-cape-cod
Whale Watching off Cape Cod

63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (Visited the Holocaust Museum in D.C.)
67. Bounced a cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (yuck)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
(politicians and media?)
92. Joined a book club (I read too fast for clubs and don’t have the patience)
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (four)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone (to date, five; I’m hard on them)
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day