“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

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No longer under construction . . .

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

Tuesday evening, cloudy and very cold, 23 degrees.

No real words today. Spent hours customizing this particular theme and creating a new header. One of my goals is to try to incorporate more of my own photography with my posts, especially as we continue to develop and grow our little spot of mountain paradise. For instance, we now have four horses in the pasture, and two more to come (more on the horses later). And then there will be the goats, and chickens, and . . . well . . . you get the idea.

Anyway, one of the reasons that I didn’t like the other theme was that it didn’t adjust for screen size. This one is supposed to do that. Let me know if it doesn’t seem to be fitting on your screen, or if you see any glaring omissions or errors.

I’ve updated my widgets, but I still need to clean up a few more outdated links. Even though a few of the links are to sites that aren’t currently active, I just hate to delete them. It feels a bit like deleting old friends, so you’ll excuse my sentimentality, won’t you?

So that’s all for today. I’m still trying to get back into a daily posting mode. Not going so well so far, but as with all things, it will take time. Baby steps, as it were.

More later. Peace.


Music by Hozier, “Take Me to Church,” featuring Sergei Polunin, directed by David LaChapelle

“Nothing human is finally calculable; even to ourselves we are strange.” ~ Gore Vidal, from Julian

Filippo De Pisis  1933 Paesaggio con passero e casolare
“Paesaggio con passero e casolare” (1933, oil on canvas)
by Filippo de Pisis

 


 “I have dreamed much and done very little.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

Tuesday night. Partly cloudy, 58 degrees.

In this dream I have been placed on my back in a solution that is slowly killing me. As the minutes pass, I keep thinking that I can’t die because that wouldn’t make sense. There is a woman who is pure evil, and apparently, she’s the one ordering people to be put into this solution. As I feel myself dying, I start to give away my jewelry, holding a piece out and declaring that it is for x, and another and another, until I have no jewelry left on my body. I know that someone is going to save me, but I don’t know how I have this knowledge.

Filippo De Pisis Natura Morta Marina con Ali di Gabbiano 1929 oil on canvas
“Natura morta marina con Ali di Baggiano” (1929, oil on canvas)
by Filippo de Pisis

Is it any wonder I walk through my days as if lost?

I did manage to get out of the house today and vote. Made Brett go with me. Too many people don’t place enough importance on mid-terms. Eamonn went fishing instead. At least Corey did an absentee ballot before he went back.

Skipping Two for Tuesday again today. You might not believe it, but putting together that kind of post takes thought, more thought than I am capable of at the moment. So some randomness instead:

  • Just three days after Halloween, and people in my neighborhood are putting up Christmas decorations.
  • Would it be okay to shoot these decorations with a paint gun?
  • I do not own a paint gun, for the record, but the thought of doing something radical is oddly comforting.
  • Days before Halloween, stores were already stocking Christmas decorations . . . I just can’t, just can’t even . . .

“I wanted the moments of my life to follow and order themselves like those of a life remembered. You might as well try and catch time by the tail.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from Nausea

Filippo de Pisis La Felana 1945
“La Felana” (1945)
by Filippo de Pisis
  • My mother collected clowns—figurines, dolls, pictures
  • I am terrified of clowns, so are all of my children
  • I used to absolutely hate the color yellow, so much so that I would protest if the graphic designer chose a Pantone shade of yellow for a design.
  • I now love yellow and all of its various hues.
  • I cannot explain any of the above.
  • White noise (noise that is so constant that you forget that it’s there) that fills my days: the cooling fan of my CPU overworking itself, the very loud window unit air conditioners throughout the house
  • The kind of white noise I would prefer: running water, bird songs

“We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.” ~ D.H. Lawrence, from Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Filippo de Pisis Natura morta con calamaio 1951 oil on masonite board
“Natura morta con calamaio” (1951, oil on masonite board)
by Filippo de Pisis
  • I have never gotten my paper degree from GWU for my publishing master’s. I think I owe them $50.
  • Throughout most of my adulthood, I have had a very hard time with mail, as in opening it when I get it. It bothers me a great deal, and I have no idea as to why.
  • I have so much paperwork that I need to do, but again, this is something that I put off and put off until I cannot possibly put it off any longer.
  • I have an abiding antipathy towards paperwork, i.e., completing forms, responding to requests for information, filing, etc.
  • The above is a direct result of years and years of having to fill out medical paperwork, going all the way back to Caitlin

“Give me a report on the condition of my soul.” ~ Anne Sexton, from “Anna Who Was Mad”

Filippo de Pisis Foglia nella tempesta 1940 oil on canvas
“Foglia nella tempesta” (1940, oil on canvas)
by Filippo de Pisis
  • I need (no, really) a new purse.
  • I am lousy at small talk.
  • I have always been a bag lady. I asked for and got my first leather briefcase when I was five. True story.
  • Alexis, and now Olivia are both bag ladies. One of Olivia’s favorite things to do is to go through my purse, take everything out, and put it into one of her bags.
  • This is not taught behavior. Is there a gene for an affinity for purses and carryalls?

All images are by Italian painter and poet, Filippo de Pisis (11 May 1896 – 2 April 1956). Something in these somber images calls to me.

Music by Beth Hart, “Sister Heroine”

                   

Death Comes to Me Again, a Girl

Death comes to me again, a girl
in a cotton slip, barefoot, giggling.
It’s not so terrible she tells me,
not like you think, all darkness
and silence. There are windchimes
and the smell of lemons, some days
it rains, but more often the air is dry
and sweet. I sit beneath the staircase
built from hair and bone and listen
to the voices of the living. I like it,
she says, shaking the dust from her hair,
especially when they fight, and when they sing.

~ Dorianne Laux

“She loved the sea only for the sake of its storms, and the green only when it was scattered among ruins.” ~ Gustave Flaubert, from Madame Bovary

I didn’t notice until today that the system posted this in April. I knew that something funky happened when the power went out, but didn’t realize it had moved it…..

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1909 oil on canvas Promenade by the Sea
“Promenade by the Sea” (1909, oil on canvas)
by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

                   

“All we are is representation, what we appear to be & are, & are not,
And representation is all we remember,
……….
We go without a trace, I am thinking. We go & there’s no one there,
No one to meet us on the long drive lined with orange trees,
Cypresses, the bleaching fronds of palm trees” ~ Larry Levis, from “Elegy For Whatever Had A Pattern In It”

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida GIrl with Flowers nd
“Girl with Flowers” (nd, oil)

First, let me apologize for the dearth of original material. It’s just not flowing from my fingertips. Second, thanks if you’re still sticking with me in the hopes that I do something interesting soon.

In that vein, I’ve decided to do this list of questions that I copied and modified from tumblr a few weeks ago in the hopes that it will jump start my juices. So here goes . . .

  • The last five songs you listened to on whichever device:
    • Birdy, “Not About Angels”
    • M83, “I Need You”
    • Elenowen, “No Such Thing as Time”
    • Ed Sheeran, “All of the Stars”
    • Lily Kershaw, “Maybe”
    • Ólafur Arnalds, “Beth’s Theme” (Broadchurch OST)
  • If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be? Neil deGrasse Tyson, just because he seems like he’d be fascinating to spend some time with.
  • Turn to page 23 in the book closest to you; what is line 17? “I still wasn’t looking at him, but I felt him tighten to hold back a wince.” (Tana French’s Broken Harbor)
  • What do you think about most? How my life is slipping by so quickly, and I still haven’t done anything purposeful.
  • Ever had a poem or song written about you? Two poems and one song
  • Do you have any strange phobias? Centipedes freak me out; I cannot take crowded elevators (claustrophobia), and I fear that someone will stab me in the eye.

“She had studied the universe all her life, but had overlooked its clearest message: For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” ~ Carl Sagan

  • What’s your religion? I’m a pantheist if I’m anything.
  • What/who are you missing right at this moment? That’s actually a list: talking to Corey, sleeping with my dog Shakes, arguing with my mother, and having friendship on a daily basis.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Rose Bush at the Sorolla House 1918 oil on canvas
“Rose Bush at the Sorolla House” (1918, oil on canvas)
  • What is the last book that you read? Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight. I didn’t like the ending. It felt rushed and staid.
  • What was the last lie you told? I really don’t remember because I try very hard not to lie to my loved ones. Strangers are up for grabs.
  • Do you believe in karma? Hmm….I think so. I would like to think that the ills that we do people will come back to us threefold, but I don’t think that it actually happens nearly enough to nasty people, like the guy in the red car who followed me.
  • What does your URL mean? It’s the moniker that I have been using for years, and it’s an ancient Greek word for poet or maker.

“A thick frenzy of blossoms shrouding the riverside,
I stroll, listing dangerously, in full fear of spring.” ~ Tu Fu, from Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the River

  • What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength? My greatest weakness is my lack of self-confidence, and my greatest strength is my undying loyalty.
  • Which of the five senses affects you the most? That’s a hard one—a tossup between smell (fresh flowers and herbs) and sound (songs closely associated with certain memories can absolutely slay me in an instant).

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Coast at San Sebastian 1918 oil on canvas
    “Coast at San Sebastian” (1918, oil on canvas)
  • How do you vent your anger? I’m a door slammer, but I don’t resort to it very often. When I was young and immature, I threw things, like teacups, and there was that one vase, all directed at my ex. Now, I mostly write it out of my system.
  • Do you have a collection of anything? Hmmm….booksbooksbooks, nail polish and DVDs
  • Are you happy with the person you’ve become? Not really because I don’t feel that I’ve become anything tangible. I feel unfinished, if that makes any sense.
  • What’s a sound that you hate; a sound that you love? I hate the sound of loud machines, especially jackhammers and leaf blowers, but in the spring, the sound I hate the most is the ice cream truck that plays Christmas carols loud enough to shatter glass. I love listening to thunderstorms and pre-dawn birdsong.

“If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience and creation.” ~ Anaïs Nin

  • Most sensitive spot on your body? Nape of my neck
  • Earth, air, fire, or water? Water and air. I love looking at the sky, and I love hearing the water. I cannot imagine ever living somewhere without some kind of water, and one of my biggest goals is to live somewhere where I can really see the night sky.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Esmeradas de la Cala San Vicente
“Esmeradas de la Cala San Vicente” (
  • What’s your biggest “what if”? What if I had gotten my doctorate way back when when I had planned to do so . . . what if I hadn’t had to go out on disability . . . what if I had been able to have another baby . . . I could do this one all day . . .
  • Your five favorite movies, in descending order:
    • Lord of the Rings (I know it’s three, but I count it as one)
    • The English Patient
    • Silence of the Lambs
    • Braveheart (I can ignore Mel Gibson’s horribleness for this one)
    • Gladiator
    • (five runners up: Henry V, Pride and Prejudice (Kiera Knightly/Matthew McFadyen version), Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, The Usual Suspects, and all the Harry Potters)
  • Favorite movie or television genre? I’m not big on comedies; I prefer action or fantasy or sci fi. I’ve also developed a renewed interest in horror movies thanks to my spouse, and I really, really have an obsession (probably unhealthy) with true crime.
  • What’s the worst place you have ever been? Stuck on an overcrowded city bus in Mexico. My claustrophobia kicked in big time.

“I carry deserts in my chest,
the hot sand of silence.” ~ Edmond Jabès, from The Book of Questions: Volume I

  • Do you participate in social media? Although I have this blog and my tumblr, I stay away from Facebook and Twitter. No one needs to know that I’m in line at Target, and I think that Zuckerberg is an ass.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida The Yellow Rosebush of the Sorolla House c1920 oil on canvas
    “The Yellow Rosebush of the Sorolla House” (c1920, oil on canvas)
  • Truth or justice? There is no justice without truth.
  • What’s the last thing you downloaded? Helmer Ossland’s “Torne Träsk”
  • What was the last movie you saw? Did you like it? Divergence, and I liked it a lot more than Noah.
  • What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had? The one I keep doing to myself: wrenching my back
  • Do you have any obsessions right now? Finding the perfect mascara (lame, I know)

“Overflow gently — don’t drown.” ~ Albert Camus, from Notebooks

  • Have you ever had a rumor spread about you? I’m sure that most everyone falls victim to this at one time or another, but I did work with one colleague who took great liberties with the truth, especially when speaking with my boss.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida On San Sebastian Beach circa 1895-1900 oil on canvas
    “On San Sebastian Beach” (c1895-1900, oil on canvas)
  • Do you tend to hold grudges against people who have done you wrong? See above . . . Seriously, though, I’ve mellowed quite a bit over the years, but I will admit that I still hold grudges against three people who caused me great pain, and I honestly don’t know what I would do if I ran into one of them.
  • Do you and your significant other have a special song and/or place? “Amazed” by Lonestar, and anyplace in which we can spend quality time together, like a beach on an island with an umbrella drink.
  • What’s the last thing you purchased? Besides groceries and prescriptions, nail polish.
  • Love or lust? Lusting after the one I love
  • Paper or pixels? I’m a purist—paper all the way.

“Make a name for the dark parts of you.” ~ Lisa Marie Basile, from “Paz”

  • If you could move anywhere in the country, where would it be?  I would love to move to Oregon or Vermont, but don’t ask me why; they just seem like they would be so different from where I am now, and that appeals to me greatly. I do not want to spend another decade in this house in this city.
  • If you could move anywhere in the world, where would it be? If I could move anywhere in the world, it’s a tossup between Ireland and New Zealand.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Storm over Peñalara, Segovia 1906 oil on canvas
” Storm over Peñalara, Segovia” (1906, oil on canvas)
  • Where is your best friend? My best friend from high school lives in the same city; my best friend with whom I have kept in touch the most lives outside of Richmond, and my soul compatriot lives in Massachusetts.
  • What were you doing last night at 12 AM? Watching the remake of “Rosemary’s Baby”
  • Are you the kind of friend you would want to have as a friend? I believe so because I am loyal to a fault.
  • You are walking down the street on your way to work. There is a dog drowning in the canal on the side of the street. Your boss has told you if you are late one more time you get fired. What do you do? This is a stupid question.

“I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul de sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadows under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of people’s eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from The Bell Jar

  • You are told that you have approximately one month to live. Do you tell anyone/everyone you are going to die? What do you do with your remaining days? Would you be afraid? I would only tell my family. I would travel to as many places as I could in the time I had left. And of course I would be afraid.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Playa 1906 oil on cardboard
    “Playa” (1960, oil on cardboard)
  • Which song always makes you happy when you hear it? “Across the Universe”
  • Which song always tugs at your heart strings? That’s hard to narrow to just one: “Colorblind,” by Counting Crows; “I’m Already There,” by Lonestar; and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” by Bonnie Raitt. Those three always, always get to me.
  • What does it take to make a lasting relationship? Trust, loyalty, friendship, and passion
  • Can a lie ever be justified? No.
  • Do you believe in revenge? See grudges above . . . well, actually, I do believe in revenge in theory, but not sure about in practice.

“Listen to me. I am telling you
a true thing. This is the only kingdom.
The kingdom of touching;
the touches of the disappearing, things.” ~ Aracelis Girmay, from “Elegy”

  • What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far? To allow myself to love again after hurting for so long
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Rocks and white boat, Javea 1905 oil on canvas
”Rocks and White Boat, Javea” (1905, oil on canvas)
  • What would you want to be written on your tombstone? I’m going to be cremated, but if I were to have a tombstone, I would want a quote by Woolf or Fitzgerald
  • Name the one thing that has been on your bucket list the longest. Riding in a hot air balloon.
  • What is your current desktop picture? “Rocks and white boat, Javea” by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
  • If you could press a button and make anyone in the world instantaneously explode, who would it be? Well obviously Pol Pot or Hitler, but they’re both dead. I wouldn’t mind giving a serious jolt to the Koch brothers, Fox Noise, and most of Congress.
  • What is the first childhood memory that pops into your mind? A marketplace in Morocco

I have the sluggish inertia of a great big ship. When the port’s in sight there’s no point aiming for the harbour, I’ll pile straight into the sea wall. Even though it’s slow and unremarkable, my existence has caused terrible damage. And yet I did see the lighthouse flashing its anxious message in the distance. I got its warnings and said, yes, yes, I know, I’m going to break everything; but it was too late.” ~ Agnès Desarthe, from Chez Moi

  • Superpower of your choice? Flying
  • If you could relive any half-hour period in your life, what would it be? The first half hour I held each of my children
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida The Waves at San Sebastian 1915 oil on canvas
“The Waves at San Sebastian” (1915, oil on canvas)
  • If you could erase one horrible experience in your life, what would it be? The suffering and death of Caitlin
  • If you had a TARDIS, where and when would you go? I’d go to France in the 1880’s and buy a van Gogh.
  • If you were offered a free plane ticket to anywhere, where would you go? And if you had to leave in half an hour, would you still take the ticket? I’d go to Ireland, and of course I would still go.
  • If you could choose anyone in the world to be your mentor for a year, who would it be? Tana French because I love the way that she writes; her prose is so lyrical that I often find myself pausing after passages just to drink them in. I would choose her because she has become successful in writing the kinds of fiction that I would love to write myself.

All images are by Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923)

Music by Birdy, “Not About Angels”

                   

May Day

I’ve decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,

Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,

Be a cell where a struggling tendril
Utters a few spare syllables at dawn.
I’ve decided to waste my life
In a new way, to forget whoever

Touched a hair on my head, because
It doesn’t matter what came to pass,
Only that it passed, because we repeat
Ourselves, we repeat ourselves.

I’ve decided to walk a long way
Out of the way, to allow something
Dreaded to waken for no good reason,
Let it go without saying,

Let it go as it will to the place
It will go without saying: a wall
Against which a body was pressed
For no good reason, other than this.

~ Phillip Levine

“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.” ~ Gustave Flaubert


I might read

                   

“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.” ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Saturday, early afternoon. Chilly and drizzly.

So what do you think of the new header? Many thanks to my friend Veronica McLaughlin, aka Titirangi Storyteller for a) being a wonderful photographer, and b) being willing to share the beauty she captures with me.

Not sure if I like the header with this particular WordPress theme, but also not sure if I want to go through the agony of trying to find a new theme. Opinions and ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Not much else for today. Need to do bills and go grocery shopping . . .

Music by Gabrielle Aplin and Bastille, “Dreams”(Fleetwood Mac cover)

                   

Prayer in My Boot

For the wind no one expected

For the boy who does not know the answer

For the graceful handle I found in a field
attached to nothing
pray it is universally applicable

For our tracks which disappear
the moment we leave them

For the face peering through the cafe window
as we sip our soup

For cheerful American classrooms sparkling
with crisp colored alphabets
happy cat posters
the cage of the guinea pig
the dog with division flying out of his tail
and the classrooms of our cousins
on the other side of the earth
how solemn they are
how gray or green or plain
how there is nothing dangling
nothing striped or polka-dotted or cheery
no self-portraits or visions of cupids
and in these rooms the students raise their hands
and learn the stories of the world

For library books in alphabetical order
and family businesses that failed
and the house with the boarded windows
and the gap in the middle of a sentence
and the envelope we keep mailing ourselves

For every hopeful morning given and given
and every future rough edge
and every afternoon
turning over in its sleep

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

1,000 . . . 1,001 . . . 1,002 . . . 1,003

Somewhere in Lisbon, Portugal
(I really tried to find the origin of this photograph. Please let me know if I have violated any copyright.)

                   

“Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from The Bell Jar

Tuesday afternoon. Sunny, hot, and humid, high 80’s.

Today marks my 1000th post. I am simply agog. How did I get here? Why did I come here?

Lek Albania Note from 1949
(Did you know that Grover Cleveland is on the $1,000 US bill?

And since this particular post marks such an auspicious occasion (really?), I shall not fill it with running commentary about the ongoing plumbing saga in our sole bathroom. I shall not comment on how the attachment to the water source popped off not one but three times last night. I shall not comment on how I finally succumbed and kept the main water valve shut since last night around 10 p.m., and I shall not state that I finally gave in and called a plumber this morning, nor that I am now sitting here waiting for said plumber to arrive out our house sometime before 3 this afternoon, nor that the proposed bill will hover somewhere around the $300 mark (there go my new glasses again).

No. None of that from me.

I shall not go on and on about this situation because this is supposed to be a celebratory post. Right?

“Thought is the greatest of pleasures—pleasure itself is only imagination—have you ever enjoyed anything more than your dreams?” ~ Gustave Flaubert

So getting back to the whole concept of having posted 1,000 times—truly, it boggles the mind.

When I first began this venture in 2008, I never dreamed I would reach this milestone. I mean, I was dabbling those first six months or so. It probably took almost a year (more) to reach a format in which I truly felt comfortable: a mixing of quotes and images (loosely tied to the post section in which they appear), a related poem, and a companion song. I’m sure there are countless other people out there doing something similar to what I’m doing here, but I like to think that my combination approach gives readers a taste of what they like.

Portugal 1000 Banknote featuring Queen Filipa de Lancastre (1961)

You like quotes? I’ve got plenty of them, everything from the lyrical to the cynical, from the political to the comical. You have an interest in words? I try to find new words to post, obviously words that other people have fleshed out before me, but I also try to incorporate a broad vocabulary within my posts because I love words. You enjoy photography? So do I, which is why I spend a lot of time looking for commons-licensed and fair use photographs to complement my words. Art? I try to find artists with whom not everyone might be familiar, and in looking for them, I come upon some real treasures.

And of course, there are the reviews, which, granted, have been quite sparse of late, but I’m hoping to get back to that, and then the political commentary, which I have moved away from in the past few years but still occasionally am compelled to post because of some ongoing stupidity.

I aim high, I know, and sometimes I fall short. I know that as well.

“I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind. I should not be ungrateful to these teachers.” ~ Khalil Gibran

By the way, I found the Nin quote below on a new site that I discovered today: Literary Jukebox, which is all about marrying a literary quote to a song. It’s the brainchild of Maria Popova, who curates Brain Pickings, a self-described “LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces across art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, you-name-itology.”  Now why didn’t I think of that?

Suriname 1000 Gulden Featuring Toucan on Reverse
(Why does everyone else have such colorful currency, and we only have green?)

I like to find new sites to visit, and it’s wonderful when I stumble upon a site that is very much in keeping with my own way of thinking, however obtuse that may be. If I get excited by a new find, I hope that by including a link, my readers may enjoy the site as well. I try to update my blogrolls regularly, but unfortunately, if I realize that someone seems to have disappeared for several months, I remove the link. It’s my own way of trying to offer timely content. I mean, why have a sidebar if it’s not going to be relatively current?

Speaking of the blogrolls, admittedly I have not been the best visitor in recent months, but now that I’m back on my own computer, and things seems to be working well (hope I didn’t just jinx myself), I’m trying to get back into the habit of visiting and commenting regularly. I don’t actually subscribe to the blogs that I visit only because I’m terrible at checking my email, not because I don’t want to support my compatriots.

My four blogrolls appear as they do simply because I want to give visitors an idea of what they are clicking on: Photography? Visual Stimulation. Politics? Left-Leaning List. Like-minded bloggers? Perhaps you might enjoy someone on my Recommended Reading blogroll.

“You are most powerful when you are most silent. People never expect silence. They expect words, motion, defense, offense, back and forth. They expect to leap into the fray. They are ready, fists up, words hanging leaping from their mouths. Silence? No.” ~ Alison McGhee, from All Rivers Flow To The Sea

On those days on which I post something from someone’s else blog, usually Tumblr, it’s not that I don’t have anything to say. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough time to sit here and go through the whole creative process, which is a major cop-out, I know. Sometimes, though, I really have nothing to say, or perhaps, I have something to say but cannot find the words. Other times, unfortunately, I am feeling a bit too poorly for the process.

Copernicus on 1000 Polish Zloty (1982)

Normally, a post takes at least two hours to complete, from start to finish—writing, finding the images, choosing a song, proofing, and revising. Sometimes it can take as much as four hours, and sometimes, all day, that is if I stop in between sections to do things around the house, oh, say like plumbing or other such stuff.

I’m not complaining. It’s a good way to spend my time. I don’t want to become one of those individuals who, because she no longer works full time, becomes addicted to the fodder of daytime television: Maury Povich, Judge Judy, and all of the rest. I would rather be sitting here writing, if for no other reason than to keep my mind limber.

Admittedly, since spending so much time at Alexis’s apartment, I have found myself sitting in the rocking chair with Olivia while some idiot on television is blathering about her baby daddy. Truly, have you seen these shows? It’s one long litany of unfaithful partners, DNA and lie detector tests, and countless bleeps to cover the cursing. These individuals, the ones who expose their darkest secrets to the world on a television show, they know nothing of the concept of less is more.

“It is true that I create over and over again the same difficulties for myself in order to struggle over and over again to master them [but] to continually struggle against the same problem and to continually fail to dominate it brings a feeling of frustration and a kind of paralysis. What is necessary to life, to livingness, is to move on, in other words to move from one kind of problem to another.” ~ Anaïs Nin, from A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953

Perhaps you found that last statement a bit ironic? So did I.

What am I doing here if it is not exposing the deep, sometimes dark minutiae of my life to anyone who happens by? Yes, I know it to be true. But at least I’m not picking up chairs, or taking off my shoes in preparation to jump on the man/woman who wronged me in front of a crowd that is nothing if not a recreation of the spectators in the Colosseum. These people are zealots in their quest for a good fight. They (the audience members) boo, heckle, chant, and put their thumbs down. I wonder if they realize how close they come to reenacting actions of people who lived millennia ago?

Obverse Marco Polo 1000 Lire 1982

And the hosts? They, too, resemble the lanista (owners) who created their individual Familia gladiatorium. These men and women cull from the loudest, most foul, most fearful and most feared. Maury et al. realize the fortunes that can be made from such spectacles, much like their ancient forebears. According to one site, “The lanista made a profit by renting or selling the troupe. This was a very lucrative business, but on the other hand, he was viewed as among the lowest of the low on the social scale. The objection was that these men derived their whole income from treating human beings like animals.

Sounds familiar? Ah well, yes, but with this extended metaphor, I have done one other thing that I try to do occasionally: impart a bit of arcane or unfamiliar knowledge that I have come across in my wanderings. And I suppose with that, I’ll close for now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ani Difranco, “When I’m Gone”

                   

Selected Sections from “Mercury Rising (A Visualization)”

3a.
soon you see that you’re coming to the center of the forest
and there’s a wide clearing with a house there.it’s your house
and it’s exactly the kind of house in which you would most like to live.

you take out the key and open the door.

you can close and lock it behind you if that makes you feel safer.

you know that your favorite room is in the basement.
you find the stairway and begin to go down:
first step, second step, third.

when you get to the bottom,
you know which door opens to your favorite room
and you go in there.

in that room is exactly what you would want in a room:
the kind of light, the temperature, everything is what you want.

in the corner is a comfortable couch.
you lie down on it and ask yourself what are your goals,
what do you hope to accomplish and create.

and you know the answers.

eventually, you get up from the couch, out of the room, and back up the stairs.
first step, second step, third.

you unlock the door, let yourself out, lock the door behind you:
you will be back.

3b.

there will be three parts that first appear separate but then form a connection of liquid silver. breathe deeply. in through the nose, out the mouth, release your metal breath into the air. control your emissions within the limits of law. the power plant incinerates coal and gold in particulate mist that is your breath. the volcanoes spike the atmosphere. you’ve come to a house of exploded debris, an emperor’s tomb; he died from the pills of eternal life. your breath is carried by wind and mixes with snow, rain, dust. in your hand is a key and you unlock the door and step down into the depths. there is light streaming, a connective world with multiple paths. your breath alloys with silver, gold and tin—but not iron. so you trade your exhalations in an iron flask for a reduction of mineral cinnabar. the room is exactly as you like it: a comfortable couch in the corner, rotating liquid on a disk that silvers the mirrors, arc rectifiers. the snow, rain, and dust layer the lakes and streams and sink with your aspirations. you think about your goals and take the jump test to check your weight. the fish absorb and swim away from the lure. you measure the temperature with thermometers, barometers, thermostats. a spider bites your silver skin. you ask yourself if you are safe in an inoculation of light. the sparrow eats the spider. listen carefully. you can hear the illegal miners refining gold and silver ore. and their fishing lures: violent poison. cumulative poison. separating the fur from the pelt. the fish return your breath as liquid silver. look at yourself in the mirror. you get up and leave the room, lock the door behind you. first the tremors in the hands, then eyelids, lips, and tongue. you take the path back into the forest and walk toward the river. vivid dreams delivered, restless sleep. you pass the clearing, now on your left, but the animal is no longer there. memory loss. you send your thanks to it anyway. cough. you pass the other clearing, now on your right, and although the animal is no longer there, you send it your thanks. psychotic reactions, delirium, hallucinations. when you emerge from the forest you look up at the sky and you can see that the light has changed and a little bit of time has passed.

~ Jena Osman 

“I go from exasperation to a state of collapse, then I recover and go from prostration to Fury, so that my average state is one of being annoyed” ~ Gustave Flaubert

Il Labirinto Villa Pisani Italy*

                   

“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.” ~ Carl Sagan

Wednesday evening. Very cold; winter storm predictions.

Maze at Reignac sur Indre, France

A bit of a strange and vexing day. Did you know that if you unplug your keyboard to clean it, and then sit the keyboard back on the desk but fail to plug it back into the CPU, typing with all your might will not produce anything on the screen? See? I can be amusing as well as informative.

I must have failed to make this connection as this afternoon I was reading my e-mail, and I started to reply to someone, but nothing happened. I thought to myself, “Stupid computer. What’s wrong with you now?” I tried typing harder. Nothing. Reopened my mail. Nothing. Rebooted the computer. Still nothing. Completely vexed, I decided to abandon the mail and do a bit of browsing on tumblr.

I swear, completely truthful here, it took me almost three hours of mulling it over in the back of my mind before I realized that the keyboard was unplugged; hence, no typing, no words on the screen. Isn’t that just pathetic? Here I had blamed the computer for obvious operator incompetence, but to be fair, it’s usually the computer. Really. It is.

“I felt like an explorer who had been handed a map written in invisible ink. … The library was a place where most of the things I came to value as an adult had their beginnings.” ~ Pete Hamill, “D”Artaganan on Ninth Street”

The Imprint Maze, Gloucestershire (Footprint of a Colossus)

I also spent an inordinate amount of time today discovering that the new health insurance policy that went into effect January 1 is a great, big, piece of crap. Okay, health insurance is better than no health insurance. However . . . health insurance that does not include any of your current doctors in the list of providers is reprehensible.

I know. GW changed carriers because of cost concerns. That’s the reality. But the reality for me is that I am paying the same amount for a policy that isn’t doing me much good. I now have to decide whether to pay the out-of-network cost to see all of the doctors with whom I have established a relationship or to play craps with a list of providers with whom I am not familiar in the hopes that I can find a new gastroenterologist, a new gynecologist, and a new neurologist.

My pain doctor is also not in-network, but I really cannot even conceive of changing back doctors. The only doctor that is still in network is my PCP.

So aside from cursing at the computer for its inability to put words on the screen after I had typed them on an inoperable keyboard, I also spent a lot of time cursing at the computer screen for showing me a whole lot of nothing good. As it stands, I am six months overdue for my annual humiliation in the stirrups, three years overdue for breast-smashing, and several years overdue for a checkup on my digestive system. I will run out of my cymbalta within the next three weeks, and I don’t have an appointment with an in-network mental health care provider.

Ah, the rich pageantry of life.

“Pointless . . . like giving caviar to an elephant” ~ William Faulkner

Castlewellar Peace Maze, Northern Ireland

So in essence, the entire time that I thought that I was being productive was actually yet another exercise in futility. I should probably have those three words—exercise in futility—tattooed across my forehead, as nothing could possibly be a more fitting description of my life at the moment.

I did manage to make an appointment to get my eyes examined, something that I have really needed to do for months now. My new policy does have a vision rider, which means that my exam is covered at 100 percent, and I get a deduction on my glasses and/or contacts. Of course, the eye doctor that I had wanted to go to is not in network . . . so I settled for someone else. I’m seriously thinking of going back to contacts; I haven’t worn them for over a year now. I’ll probably do both glasses and contacts and then depending on how lazy I am in the morning/afternoon when I get up, I’ll slap on glasses or take the few extra minutes to put in the contacts.

This is what I am left with: six possible names from which to choose a gastroenterologist, and seven possible names from which to choose a neurologist. Well at least they gave me a choice. Hmm . . . choosing someone to mess with my brain and choosing someone to mess with my innards up close and personal. Excuse me if I don’t feel terribly excited by the prospects.

So many decisions. You would think that some of this stuff actually mattered. But I know better.

“I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard

Longleat Hedge Maze, UK

Other things that got on my nerves today:

YouTube suddenly turns of the shuffle mode when I am playing a playlist, and I will listen to the same song three times in a row without noticing it.

The tumblr dashboard was acting up, and whenever I tried to reblog something, I got the error page, which means that I either did not get a reblog, or I reblogged twice—and I realize that this means absolutely nothing to you if you don’t use tumblr, but it’s rather vexing, so it needed to be included in today’s list of things that make me crazy.

Oh, and Alexis dropped by this evening to grocery shop in our pantry. She also picked up the laundry that she sent over. It must be nice . . . While she was here, she also scavenged in Eamonn’s room to see if there was anything in here that she might want. Who is this person?

She moves through the house like a cyclone, grabbing things in her wake until she is satisfied, and then she leaves, after gracing us with her presence for less than a half an hour. She always says that the next time she drops by she will stay longer. I don’t know if we have enough stuff that she wants to warrant an extended stay.

Ooh. That last bit was snarky. Wasn’t it?

Honestly, this post was not meant to be one long bitch-fest, but that’s what has happened. Isn’t it? I would apologize, but I’m not really sorry. Sometimes, it’s important to vent. It keeps the stomach-aches away. Or is that yogurt that does that?

I feel a great need for chocolate and caffeine, and I don’t believe that I will restrain myself since I have been on an eating binge for the past two days, which makes sense since I have to get on doctor’s scales next week, and being weighed while bloated and full will only help my general disposition.

I think that I’ll stop now with this wonderful quote by David Suzuki which pretty much sums up the day: “We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.”

Music by Simon Wilcox , “Empty Sky”

*Today’s theme: Mazes (more than one entrance and exit) and labyrinths (only one entrance and exit), for obvious reasons