“My real self wanders elsewhere, far away, wanders on and on invisibly and has nothing to do with my life.” ~ Hermann Hesse, from Siddhartha


“A cold grey morning—houses have a faraway look; a bluejay screams; imminent sunshine from east light up palely the eastsides of houses.” ~ Charles Burchfield, Journal entry 3 November 1917

Tuesday afternoon, partly cloudy, 52 degrees.

Happy New Year, everyone. Hope 2019 is safe, happy, and healthy for you.

Yesterday when I realized that I couldn’t gather my thoughts adequately to write, I spent many hours going through my drafts, pairing quotes and poem for future posts. I try not to repeat quotes or poem or music selections within posts, but after so many years, I’m certain that I’ve had some repeats inadvertently.

Tumblr is a great source for the quotes and poems that I use. Several of the people who I follow always post wonderful things that serve as a source of inspiration for me. But when I first began posting, before the advent of tumblr, I used to do quotes searches on subjects, like water, or spring, or whatever I was thinking about.

The internet has a plethora of quote sites, but I would caution any of you who choose to use these sites that the attributions are not always accurate. I always try to verify any quotes that I use so that I can be sure to list the correct work or individual from which the quote was taken. Goodreads is also a source for quotes, but again, as the site itself does not verify sources, anyone who belongs can post quotes, and I have found several that are inaccurate. Just a bit of housekeeping information

“My road, that I do not understand, leads me
Toward a blue, lost distance” ~ Hermann Hesse, from “Holiday Music in the Evening” (trans. James Wright)

We think that Tink is getting better slowly. Today, she managed to keep down a bit of mashed rice and chicken that Corey made. So far, the fluffy boy shows no signs of being sick, but both Tillie and Bailey are a bit lethargic today. They’ve had all of their shots, so they cannot get canine parvovirus (CPV), but we’re thinking that maybe they can get a mild form of a virus. At least, that’s what we’re hoping is the case.

The vet said that once a dog has had the virus, they will never get it again, so if we can just get her out of the woods, we’ll be okay. Here’s hoping. There’s a lot of hoping going on in our house right now.

Dallas says that he vaccinated all of the puppies at six weeks, so if that’s accurate, Maddy cannot get the virus. The most interesting part of all of this is how the older dogs, as well as the male cat Ash are treating Tink. Maddy has been seen curling around her as she sleeps. Ash approached her very slowly and licked her, and neither Tillie nor Bailey have growled at her since she came home. The older girls are impatient with the ongoing puppy frolicking between Maddy and fluffy boy (no name seems to stick to him; it’s the strangest thing), but they all seem to know that Tink is sick.

Animals are amazing.

“And only the wildest of the forest creatures continued to hear the echo of a despairing, tortured wail in the soft whisper of the wind.” ~ Diane Hoh, from The Accident

It’s now almost four hours since I first began this post. At first, I thought that I had it in me, but apparently not. I don’t really know what to say, other than we’re taking it slowly, hoping no one else gets sick, working with the puppy, and kind of ignoring the whole idea of holidays.

Obviously the stress of such a sick animal is taxing, in many ways. I just try not to think about all of the implications, and focus instead on the good: watching Maddy and the fluffy boy have play fights; watching Tink sleep soundly on the couch, hoping that the sleep brings her rest and energy.

You might think me extreme for this focus on my dogs, and perhaps I am, but truthfully, I do not care. They are our family for now. They bring me great joy and much needed company. I cannot imagine any of these animals deliberately breaking my heart, and so I will care for them with everything that I have.

Perhaps tomorrow will allow me to write more.

Peace.


Music by Nirvana, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (Unplugged version)


Today’s poem is by someone I don’t know much about; I found her on tumblr: Ingeborg Bachmann. For more information on her life and work, you can visit this very good article on Alejandra de Argos.

[Everything is lost, the poems first]

Everything is lost, the poems first,
then sleep, then after that the day
then everything else, what belonged to the day
and what belonged to night, then when nothing
more could be lost, more was lost, and then more,
until there was less than nothing, not even myself,
and there really was nothing more.

Time to retreat to an inner hinterland
with all the promised years and pictured places
still before one’s eyes, where the earth
no longer exists nor the shame, far
back when there is still space, open stretches
covered with doves, silent and bright beneath
the talon, within calling range of him,
the arrival, the silencer.

For the silence, there is desolation
with its perceivable web
that softly spins its madness
until it creates its glass hotel.

~ Ingeborg Bachmann (trans. Peter Filkins)

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“A dream gives what the day wore out . . .” ~ Hermann Hesse, from “Holiday Music in the Evening: Adagio,” trans. James Wright Yesterday the wind took our picture

George Frederick Watts The Sower of the Systems 1902 oil on canvas
“The Sower of the Systems” (1902, oil on canvas)
by George Frederick Watts

                   

Pouring buckets outside. Came across this image and am fascinated with it.

Have Olivia tonight . . .

Manifesto

Before I’d fallen through,
I’d hated all unhappiness.
The brassy sing-song doorbell,

the basement’s rude ceiling.
But a door countered
and the basement steps forgave.

*

An accident, a big blue
smiling cat untreed by a sandstorm.
Birches swung and bending.

Under weather-repellant jackets
there was nothing
but claws, digging through a surface.

*

Buckets of hoarded feed,
yard grown high and wild,
it was early June when I started

whacking at the grass with a stolen scythe.
Got goats and turned
the shoulder of the road.

*

Now I’m a windup toy
steadily clouding steam.
The way I love

is to pace your pen
alone, pounding
on my cymbals.

*

All the blinds inside buildings
create their certain moods.
Give me a balsa easel

to right that wrong.
When they tell you
“Real life is not the time

for originality,”
stop and spin the wheel
of your body.

Follow the dust-whirl
beneath your heels.
Milling around only tracks it in.

*

A handkerchief wiped
brusquely over a crane had caught
some delicate criticisms,

private affairs deserving
quick condolences.
Bobbing in and out of rain

squirrelesque begins to rattle
the pioneer spirit. My mission
is the beauty of schooling fish

without the constant dark dreams.

*

I like having a locker to jump out of
when nothing chimes.
I like having a well to jump into

when I’m all rung up.
Sometimes, when I am dying,
oxen-dotted landscapes soften

a gravel-pathed circling,
heavy boots slapped down
at the lip of the door.

*

Into a folding chair
snaps my happy place
like an overexcited dog,

its thick, ridiculous lashes
suddenly slack and intimate.

~ C. J. Sage

“No permanence is ours, we are a wave that flows to fit whatever form it finds.” ~ Hermann Hesse, from The Glass Bead Game

Catching up around the house and Olivia today, so just this:

Reblogged fromword-stuck

I thought it appropriate . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Weeknd, “Devil May Cry”

                   

Shovel

Davis, California

Planting bulbs last December, I had to cut
the cold, taut skin of ground, churn it into
wet yogurt-clods with my shovel. I felt sad
about that, the lopsided garden bed, the messy
swirls on the sidewalk. Shovel:
I love the word the way I love
tools—because of the hard silver edge at the end
that makes the tongue dip and rise again,
scraping the bottom of the mouth. Poets
do that too: dig down for the winter
beneath—and sometimes we plant
a word there, or two, though mine usually die
from neglect, a late frost, or poor planning.
I wonder sometimes about language
before the word shovel and I think then
we said digging stick, prying the round soaplant
bulb from the wet April soil—
& then someone thought of metal, and not long
after, shovels. Last week someone I love very much
became ill and the doctor scissored out a whole part
of his body. Afterwards, my friend wanted it back,
but the doctor needed to cut to sections,
for slides. Well, can I have the slides? he asked.
Sometimes we dig a thing out because
it’s needed elsewhere. Like mercury,
shoveled out from these blue oak hills,
to gather gold fines. Later, men held
shovel-fuls of mercury-gold over
fire, the mercury soon disappearing into sky and rain.
A scientist on mercury: Once you dig it out out
you can never get rid of it. It stays
on the surface forever. (In one winter,
a ton of mercury came down Cache Creek).
It helps sometimes to think of the lines
of the shovel itself, the handle oiled with my
own thumbs, the jut of the heel, the muscled curve
tarnished with rust. I envy the face of the shovel,
which hides, so well, all emotion. Lately, the word
shovel isn’t enough, so we say bulldozer,
tractor, motor grader. These things are needed,
but what is removed goes elsewhere: small streams
and the few pennies on the map we call lakes.
My friend? The doctor says he can have
a prosthesis, later, if he likes. And so I think—
another thing a shovel does: puts back. So this morning
I am here, shovel deep in the dirt,
planting a stick of willow. I am sorry it is such
a small one, and I am sorry I will probably
neglect it, though dirt carries on sometimes,
without us, and in astonishing ways. Today, I dig
down for deeper words, a darker way
to explain all my takings, but I hit rocks early, and tire.
If you find the ones I’m looking for, dig them up.

~ Katie Redding

“I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.” ~ Jeffrey McDaniel

Three of Usby Ilona Wellman*
Three of Us
by Ilona Wellman*

                   

“I couldn’t live where there were no trees—something vital in me would starve.” ~ L.M. Montgomery, from Anne’s House Of Dreams

The following is by Hermann Hesse, from Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte (Trees: Reflections and Poems)

A Visual Poesy by Ilona Wellman
A Visual Poesy
by Ilona Wellman

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

The Stranger by Ilona Wellman
The Stranger
by Ilona Wellman

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

Winter Solitude by Ilona Wellman
Winter Solitude
by Ilona Wellman

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

(*Images by German photographer Ilona Welmann from photo.net)

Music by George Winston, “Joy”

                   

I,5

I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that’s wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots
embrace:a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke from The Book of Hours

“I wish I could live underwater. Maybe then my skin would absorb the sea’s consoling silence.” ~ Cristina Garcia, from “Dreaming in Cuban”

“Поворот” (Turn)
by Andre Ermolaev (500px)*

                    

“Don’t think that the person who is trying to comfort you now lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes give you pleasure. His life has much trouble and sadness, and remains far behind yours. If it were otherwise, he would never have been able to find those words.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To A Young Poet

Sunday late afternoon. Cloudy and low 70’s.

I actually had to look at the calendar to see if it was Saturday or Sunday. That kind of week. That kind of weekend. That kind of day.

“Лепестки” (Petals)
by Andre Ermolaev (500px)

I just came in from playing stick with Tillie the Lab. I had sat down to write, and she tried to crawl into my lap. Look at me, Mom. Right. Labrador Retrievers are not lap dogs. Now that I’ve worn her out for the next half hour or so, she’s under the bed, and I can sit here for a bit.

I gave all of the dogs baths today. Had to as I needed to apply flea medicine. I found out that the medicine that I ordered for Shakes’s cough is unavailable without a prescription from a veterinarian. I even looked on Canadian sites, but no joy. This means that I’m going to have to pay the vet to tell me what I already know. I’m going to the vet at the animal shelter, which should save me a bit of money, but I don’t look forward to actually taking Shakes there as he does not do well on car rides nor at the vet’s office.

I also did the floors, the bathroom, and the ceiling fans/light fixtures. Yes, I know. I’m a glutton for punishment. My hand was feeling better, so I decided to take care of these things while I could. Corey is due in port towards the end of the week, and I didn’t want to be scrambling to do this stuff when he calls. Of course, not sure how he’s going to call without a phone . . .

“My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.” ~ Hermann Hesse,  from Demian

At the moment, I’m trying to resist the urge to scratch my calves as I must have been bitten by a thousand mosquitoes while I was out with the dog. Yes, a thousand.

“Разлив” (Flood)
by Andre Ermolaev (500px)

The pool is a lovely shade of green. The hose that I bought to replace the leaking hose is still in the box, and the yard needs to be mowed. All chores for eldest son. Need I say more?

I have to try to keep Tillie from jumping into the pool as I don’t want that brackish swamp water on her, especially now that she’s had a bath and flea medicine. I’m going to resist the urge to cut the grass myself. Actually, I don’t think that I could do it with my wrist in the shape that it’s in.

Speaking of which, the guy from my long-term insurer came on Wednesday to chat. He asked me a bunch of questions, took a bunch of notes; I gave him copies of what I had sent Social Security, including my typed statement. He asked me to sign a release for my therapist’s notes. I did, but I’m not sure how I feel about that. I mean, what is the point of privacy between a therapist and a patient if anyone can read the notes. I didn’t really have a choice, though. He was nice enough, a former cop from North Carolina, but the whole process was exhausting, having to go over things that I’ve gone over so many times before. Trying to remember dates that have faded in the five years since this whole ordeal began.

I suppose since so much time has passed they had to see if I was faking or whatever. I don’t know, I only know that I resented it, but I tried very hard not to let that show.

“Cicadas on the olive trees rage in brevity.
When I go out at night, the stars and quiet
smell of jasmine and I long for a life” ~ Jack Gilbert, from section III of “Threshing the Fire”

I really wish that our windows were new so that I could open them in the evenings to let in the cool air and listen to the chirps of crickets and other insects. I think that I’d probably sleep better. But windows are yet another thing on that very long list of things needing replacing in this house.

“Z”
by Andre Ermolaev (500px)

The nights are so lovely at this time of year, cool, crisp. It’s beginning to smell like autumn, which reminds me that I need to put flowers on Caitlin’s grave, something I’m determined to do this week.

I picked up my glasses on Friday, and I’m still getting used to them. These progressive lenses are kind of weird because you have to move you head, not your eyes to focus. The first time I sat down to watch television, I couldn’t see anything until I positioned my head in the right way so that I was looking out at the part for distance. I’m actually wearing them now, even though I don’t really need glasses for computer work. I’m very happy with the frames that I picked, even though I got them in the mens’ section at Wal-Mart. I couldn’t find what I wanted anywhere else.

So I can mark glasses off my list of things that I need. Now I can get back to fixating on my hair. Do I let someone else give me a perm, or do I crawl back to Kathy and beg forgiveness? Decisions, decisions. Frankly, I don’t trust my hair to just anyone. I need a good cut and a loose perm. I’m tired of some strands being curly and some strands being straight. It’s bizarre.

My life: so much minutiae and so little depth.

“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.” ~ Arthur Miller

“I will follow you into the dark” by Death Cab for Cutie is currently playing. I love that song. It’s my ringtone for Brett. Don’t ask me why other than one time he said that he liked that song.

“Узоры” (Patterns)
by Andre Ermolaev (500px)

Speaking of Brett, I’m hoping to go to a few of the events in this year’s Literary Festival. I can remember when the lit festival was such a big event for Mari and me. We’d go to the readings and the receptions afterwards.  I met some really wonderful writers from the lit festival and the Visiting Writers’ Program. The festival has expanded over the years to include artists and performing artists, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I mean, perhaps they should just rename it. I’m not against having other artists, but I’m against using the term Literary Festival. Why not Fine and Performing Arts Festival? Probably because it’s going into its 35th year, and that’s the brand.

I’m just being picky.

I’ll never forget the student who gave me a bad evaluation, saying that I had made fun of a visiting modern dancer. I hadn’t made fun. I had made the statement that I didn’t know enough to understand modern dance. A statement of fact, not opinion.

Whatever.

Why do I remember that? I mean, really, in the grand scheme of things, why that?

“Once I wished
to be a verse of gorgeous sinuosity,
a lyric poem, some tightly belted
perfect sonnet or deftly figured
villanelle. ~ Kate Daniels, from “Farewell to the Maiden”

I remember the year Kate Daniels came to campus for the Literary Festival. I had never read any of her poetry before that, but I became a big fan. I suppose it’s because she came the year after Caitlin died, and she had written a series of poems called the Niobe poems, which were about the Niobe myth (Encyclopedia Mythica):

Niobe was the queen of Thebes, married to Amphion, King of Thebes. They had fourteen children (the Niobids), and in a moment of arrogance, Niobe bragged about her seven sons and seven daughters at a ceremony in honor of Leto, the daughter of the titans Coeus and Phoebe. She mocked Leto, who only had two children, Apollo, god of prophecy and music, and Artemis, virgin goddess of the wild. Leto did not take the insult lightly, and in retaliation, sent Apollo and Artemis to earth to slaughter all of Niobe’s children. Apollo killed the seven sons while they practiced their athletics. The last son begged to be spared, but the arrow had already left Apollo’s bow, and the boy was struck dead. Artemis killed the seven daughters with her lethal arrows.

“Речные узоры 1” (River Pattern 1)
by Andre Ermolaev (500px)

At the sight of his dead sons, Amphion either committed suicide or was also killed by Apollo for wanting to avenge his children’s deaths. In any event, Niobe’s entire family was dead in a matter of minutes. In shock, she cradled the youngest daughter in her arms, then fled to Mt. Siplyon in Asia Minor. There she turned to stone and from the rock formed a stream (the Achelous) from her ceaseless tears. She became the symbol of eternal mourning. Niobe’s children were left unburied for nine days because Zeus had turned all of the people of Thebes into stone. Only on the tenth day did the gods have pity and entomb her children.

Niobe is weeping even to this day. Carved on a rock cliff on Mt Sipylus is the fading image of a female that the Greeks claim is Niobe (it was probably Cybele, the great mother-goddess of Asia Minor originally). Composed of porous limestone, the stone appears to weep as the water after a rain seeps through it.

For some reason, I had never heard of the Niobe myth before reading the poems, and they affected me greatly. In fact, Daniels’s book The Niobe Poems remains one of my favorite books of poetry. It was out of print for a while, but I believe that it is back in print. However, I can find no poems from the book anywhere on-line, and today, I’m too tired to type them, perhaps for Tuesday.

More later. Peace.

*Today’s post features beautiful aerial photography of a river draining into the ocean from a volcano in Iceland by Andre Ermolaev. His photographs remind me of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings with the curves and colors.

Music by Lex Land, “What Happens Now”

                   

More Than Halfway

I’ve turned on lights all over the house,
but nothing can save me from this darkness.

I’ve stepped onto the front porch to see
the stars perforating the milky black clouds

and the moon staring coldly through the trees,
but this negative I’m carrying inside me.

Where is the boy who memorized constellations?
What is the textbook that so consoled him?

I’m now more than halfway to the grave,
but I’m not half the man I meant to become.

To what fractured deity can I pray?
I’m willing to pay the night with interest,

though the night wants nothing but itself.
What did I mean to say to darkness?

Death is a zero hollowed out of my chest.
God is an absence whispering in the leaves.

~ Edward Hirsch

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

“(Art as Idea as Idea) (Water),” (1966)
by Joseph Kosuth

“The heart’s the eye
we cry
the body through.” ~ Graham Foust, from “Poem”

Sunday, early afternoon. Overcast, high 70’s, but still humid.

Let’s subtitle this post, “Cleaning One’s Floors the Hard Way,” or perhaps, “Avoiding the Realization that Your Homeowner’s Insurance Has a Ridiculously High Deductible,” shall we?

“Flood Water” (1896)
by Claude Monet

Yesterday was, well, strange is the only word that fits.

I awoke and looked at the clock, and squinting to decipher the time, thought that I had slept until 3 in the afternoon, which didn’t make any sense. Then I squinted harder and realized that the 3 was a 9 and that when I had reset the clock, I had mixed up the am/pm setting. I felt a bit better that I hadn’t slept so late, and was just relaxing when I heard the unmistakable sound of water suddenly gushing. The sound was coming from the bathroom.

That’s how I began my day.

Oddly enough, the dream that I was having just before I awoke was about Corey’s very old washing machine, the one that he had in his apartment. It was an archaic affair, with a very small bin for washing, and then you had to move the clothes to the other side for the rinse cycle. Anyway, in the dream, this washer is sitting in the middle of the living room, and Corey is mad because he told me not to use it because it would flood. I did, and it did.

Then there was the real flood.

“It always takes a long time
to decipher where you are.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “The Ottawa River by Night”

It took me few minutes to realize that I wouldn’t be able to recap the water source and that I needed to turn off the main water valve in the front yard post haste. By the time I had done so, water was puddling on the hard wood floor in the hall and running into the master bedroom and under the bed. I grabbed towels from everywhere (fortunately, we keep a large stack of old towels for the dogs), and then I waded towards the water source.

“Finale (Sonata of the Sea)” (1908, tempera on paper)
by Mikalojus Ciurlionis

Apparently, the washer or rubber gasket within the connecting PVC that runs from the water source to the toilet decided to fray, hence allowing the entire assembly to be propelled from the wall with a lot of force.

Ah yes, plumbing on a Saturday morning.

I cursed the fact that I was home alone, and then I called the only person who I knew would be available: Alexis. What could she do? At least she could help me to clean up the sopping towels and vacuum the water. I will admit I got a bit hysterical with her, but she finally made it over, with Olivia in tow, crying loudly at having her routine disturbed, and so began the plumbing repairs and the ensuant clean-up. While waiting for her to arrive, I thought that I should at least make myself some coffee, so I turned on the faucet in the kitchen and got . . . nothing, of course. Thank the gods for bottled water.

All in all, I will admit that it wasn’t pretty, and that it took two trips to the local hardware (which were a complete waste of time as I knew more about plumbing than the supercilious man who attempted to help me), and then two trips to a nearby plumbing supply store that was open until 3 on Saturday (thank goodness as most local business owners close early on Saturday) before I was able to finish the repair. In between were two ill-fated attempts to turn the water main back on and more flooding.

“Loneliness clarifies.  Here silence stands
Like heat.  Here leaves unnoticed thicken,
Hidden weeds flower, neglected waters quicken,
Luminously-peopled air ascends;” ~ Philip Larkin, from “Here”

So six hours later . . .

I was left with two full loads of wet towels, rags and rugs. Alexis used the Shop Vac on as much as possible. The dusty objects beneath my bed were removed to dry.

“Ocean Waves” (nd)
by Katsushika Hokusai

Dryness restored in the bathroom, I set about cleaning the floors, first the tile in the bathroom, and then some Murphy’s Oil Soap on the hardwood. There is no apparent warping or bowing, which I am eternally grateful for as I don’t think that I could take one more thing in this house that is out-of-whack.

Alexis went by Ann’s house, my s-in-law, and borrowed her big Shop Vac, as ours (which I know that we own) is buried somewhere in the garage. This realization led me to a not-so-kind epiphany: When Corey gets home, the first thing on his major list of things to do is to clean out the garage, even if we have to rent a storage space. I cannot take not being able to find anything when I need it. Ever. Not ever. (My dad, who was obsessive about keeping his tools and garage in order, would shudder at the sight.)

So I did laundry until 1 in the morning. In between, I managed to shower and eat some rather bad fast food. I also downed two Coronas. Two! (I do like to drink beer in the summer as I find it very refreshing, but should I be concerned that I drink one a day? Seriously? Is this a sign of some kind?) Of course that was over the span of seven hours, but still I felt somewhat guilty as I took the two empty bottles into the kitchen to rinse for recycling.

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” ~ Hermann Hesse, from Peter Camenzind

Late last night, as the muscle pain really began to take over, I made the mistake of applying too much topical pain ointment, which resulted in a terrible burning feeling on my neck. I didn’t realize that I had applied too much until I was lying on my bed, which I had stripped of all linens, and I began to feel this horrible sensation. Truly, it felt as if I were on fire. I found the aloe (in the hall closet, the bottom of which is newly cleaned and organized) and applied it liberally, which helped a bit. I probably should have taken another shower, but I was just too damned tired.

“Water” (nd)
by Erte

This morning, I’m sore, but I can move—slowly.

So far, my repairs are holding, no drips, no leaks. So glad that my dad taught me some things about plumbing. Can you imagine if I were some helpless female type?

Nah, I can’t imagine it either, so why bother to go there? Except that too many females still don’t take the initiative to learn as much about as many things as possible, preferring to think that someone will come to their rescue. That bothers me. Knowledge, any kind of knowledge, is power. Who would willingly choose not to have a taste of that? It’s not a mindset to which I can relate at all.

As I was walking back to the main turn-off valve, I thought to myself, “It’s all just a matter of logic, really. If this part does this, then this part does that, and to connect them I need . . . ” No, I don’t have Brett’s mathematical mind, but I can employ linear thought fairly well when I need to. Of course, such intense thinking takes its toll on my brain, and later, all I want to do is find a chocolate source and ingest it quickly, which I did, only to feel first horribly guilty and then smugly satisfied.

“That summer I did not go crazy
but I wore
very close
very close
to the bone.” ~ Dorothy Allison,  from “To the Bone”

“After the Water, the Clouds” (1926)
Rene Magritte

This post has taken a bit longer than normal as I’ve been stopping between sections to search for songs that I’ve heard recently so as to add them to my various playlists. I’ve surprised myself with the realization that I actually like a Carrie Underwood song, “Blown Away,” the subject of which is what led me to post the Patrick Stewart quote about violence against women and girls (there’s a connection there). If I ever get a new-old car, I must be sure that it has auxiliary input so that I can plug in my non-existent MP3 player and listen to all of these playlists that I’ve been compiling over the past few years.

Anyway, today I’m trying to go slowly. I still need to do the kitchen floor and finish cleaning beneath the bed—a chore that will require much bending, hence, the drawing out of the post so as to postpone the last bit of cleaning.

Just realized that my head is actually quite tight, something of which I was unaware until I noticed that I’m squinting terribly at the screen, and I paused to figure out why. Hate that—pain that creeps up like that—but I suppose it signals a good time to wrap this up. I hope to be a bit more regular in posting this week. I actually did have three posts written for this past week, but forgot to set them up to publish—another thing I hate (okay, hate is a strong word, but you know what I mean).

Hoping for an extremely quiet week. I should know better.

More later. Peace.

All images taken from wikipaintings.org, water-related, what else?

Music by Ron Pope, “Reason to Hope”

                   

I Don’t Miss It

But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.

Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps,
Or more likely colorless light

Filtering its way through shapeless cloud.

And when I begin to believe I haven’t left,
The rest comes back. Our couch. My smoke

Climbing the walls while the hours fall.
Straining against the noise of traffic, music,

Anything alive, to catch your key in the door.
And that scamper of feeling in my chest,

As if the day, the night, wherever it is
I am by then, has been only a whir

Of something other than waiting.

We hear so much about what love feels like.
Right now, today, with the rain outside,

And leaves that want as much as I do to believe
In May, in seasons that come when called,

It’s impossible not to want
To walk into the next room and let you

Run your hands down the sides of my legs,
Knowing perfectly well what they know.

~ Tracy K. Smith

“In music, in poetry, in life, the rest, the pause, the slow movements are essential to comprehending the whole.” ~ Maryanne Wolf

“Winter Morning,” Igor Grabar* (1907, oil on canvas)

                   

“There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.” ~ Sir Francis Bacon quoted in E. A. Poe’s “Ligeia”

Wednesday afternoon. Rainy and 64 degrees.

Yes. I know. It’s been a full week since my last post. I haven’t been completely idle, though. The house is decorated inside and out. My collection of santas are on the hearth, and the holly swags are hung. Most of the packages are wrapped. The Christmas cards have been addressed, just need to get stamps and pop them in the mail.

"Frost," Igor Grabar (1905, oil on canvas)

Unfortunately, it seems that I’m kind of limited to doing one thing a day, so sitting here and posting has had to take a back seat to holiday preparations, especially since wrapping presents just kills my back, so I’m only doing a little at a time. We’re doing Christmas day dinner here, but fortunately, everyone is making a major dish. We’re doing Filipino food instead of turkey or ham. We did the same thing last Christmas, and it was nice. So there will be pancit, rice, tuppa (marinated beef), stir fry green beans, lumpia, and perhaps a pork roast.

Most of the presents that I had to order online have been delivered, except for Corey’s big present, which is being ground shipped from California. I’m really hoping that it gets here in time. He has no idea that I’ve ordered this particular thing, so it will be a true surprise. It’s something that he’s wanted for a very long time but hasn’t mentioned in a while. I’m hoping that I ordered the right thing. Suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.

“. . . every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~ Basho

We got some interesting news this afternoon. The representative from the shipping line that hired Corey called to say that he won’t be on the ship that he was originally slated to crew. Instead, he’s going to be on a big tanker that runs between Russia and Germany. The runs last for 90 days.

"Clearing Skyes," Igor Grabar (1928, oil on canvas)

Major pause here for deep breath.

It is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. I mean, he’s going to get the deep sea time that he wanted. He’s going to see some new countries. He’s going to be making good money. But . . .

Ninety days straight. We’ve never been apart that long in our entire time together. None of us.

I know that he’s happy at the thought of a new experience, but he is also very worried about the unknown. Going from a tug boat to a tanker is a major jump. He has no idea as to what he’ll be doing. Fortunately, he’s working a shift at the boatyard where the company’s other tanker (the one we thought he’d be on) is coming into port this weekend, so he hopes to speak to some of the crew members about the company, what they’re like to work for, etc.

I’m trying very hard to keep my freaking out to myself. I mean, this is a classic case of being careful of what you wish for . . . We’ve both bemoaned our fate for so long, complained about the lack of shipping when the recession hit, the dearth of jobs available, so now that this has landed in our laps, we need to look at it as the gift that fate has accorded us.

But still . . .

“Vague fatigued promise hangs
in the low darkened sky
when bunched scrawny starlings
rattle up from trees,
switchback and snag
like tossed rags dressing
the bare wintering branches,
black-on-black shining” ~ W. S. Di Piero, from “Chicago and December”

My dad was a deep-sea mariner, traveling all over the world, sailing in just about every ocean and in many seas. He routinely had hitches that lasted months at a time. During the Viet Nam war he was gone for nine months straight. He liked it. My mother liked it. They liked each other better from afar.

"Frost," Igor Grabar (1918, oil on canvas)

That always struck me as so bizarre. They had separate lives, separate friends. It wasn’t until he finally retired that they began to do things together, but it was always an uneasy peace, one that could blow at any second. And the blowouts were horrible, not physical, but loud and hateful. And even as an adult living my own life with my own family my mother still tried to draw me into the middle of the fray.

I’ll never forget the one time that my mother came to my house and announced that she was going to make my father leave. I told her that if she did that, then I would take him in. She was completely taken aback. I knew that she was yet again making an empty threat for effect, but if was the first time that I had ever called her on it.

In all, they were married something like 45 years. I don’t ever remember them being happy together.

“Surrounded by a deep and comfortable sea of blank space, she is right there—one end of a luminous brain-bridge—plain as day, front and center, hidden in full view.” ~ Stacey Schiff, from Vera: Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov

I’m still trying to absorb this piece of news, trying to be appropriately grateful and happy. Instead, I just feel an ache in the pit of my stomach, and that makes me angry at myself. What Corey and I have is strong enough to weather distance and time, of that I am certain. What I am less certain of is myself—my ability to not withdraw into myself.

"Sunrise," Igor Grabar (1941, oil on canvas)

I mean, I have lived alone before, alone when I was in college, and alone with the kids after my ex left. And I know that being a single parent to young children is much different from being a single parent to grown children. All of my kids are fairly self-sufficient. Eamonn loves to cook, and Brett is learning how to make more things now that he is feeling more secure about his abilities. I mean Lex doesn’t live here, but Brett and Eamonn do, and there are no plans for that to change anytime soon.

I’m hoping that I will be able to use this time to get a little bit more back on my feet, get out of the house more often, loosen myself from my safety nets. As it is, I do not leave the house daily, and that is pretty much by choice. Corey does the grocery shopping and the errands, something that started when my back gave out, and it’s something that he continues to do because he likes to do it, and I do not.

But that will have to change. Change can be good. I just have to remind myself of that.

“I do not consider myself less ignorant than most people. I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me.” ~ Hermann Hesse, Demian, trans. Michael Roloff and Michael Lebeck

I just took a break to do the dishes and eat the most delicious scone that Emilie’s uncle dropped by the house. Most people who bake scones tend to make them on the dry side, but the ones that he gets from this particular bakery are incredibly tasty and moist. The one that I ate had bits of ginger in it. Ginger is one of those tastes that you either love or hate; I don’t believe that there is an in-between in that, but I happen to love ginger, especially crystallized ginger.

"Frost," Igor Grabar (1907, oil on canvas)

Anyway, as to what I was talking about—I am very much aware that I am a creature of habit, much more so now that I do not work full time. But I think that with my sons’ help I should be fine while Corey is gone. If I make myself get back into the habit of writing for a couple of hours each day, I think that that will help considerably in keeping my mind occupied.

Of course, I really have no idea how things will play out as I can only surmise. Perhaps I will surprise myself. Perhaps I’ll use the time to put down one of the many book plots that I have had running through my brain for years. Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.

I just know that I am truly thankful for this upcoming change in our circumstances. It has been a long time in coming. We have come far too close to losing everything, which makes all of us acutely aware of just how harsh reality can be. We have been close to the edge, but never over it, and we are all stronger for it and grateful for what we have.

Today is a good day: good news, good food, good music. Today I could not ask for more.

As I’ve said before, I know that compared to many, many others, we are lucky, and now, it seems, we have more luck on our side. So let me pause here to say thank you to all of you who have been so supportive, who have sent good wishes and prayers our way. It means more than I can ever say.

More later. Peace.

*All images by Igor Grabar, born in Hungary in 1871, studied and worked in Russia until his death in 1960. Many of his paintings (several of which are entitled “Frost”) are in the Tretyakov Gallery, the biggest collection of Russian art in the world, which Grabar headed from 1913 to 1935.

Music by Rascal Flatts, another version of “White Christmas”

                   

The Letter Scale

One of the objects I’ve treasured most in my life
Is this letter scale which, long ago, you gave me.
I was an active correspondent at the time,
Even sending lots of letters overseas.
While still enjoying the pleasure of going to the post,
I now had another: assessing exactly, in advance,
At my counter, the cost of packets and envelopes,
To which, price list in hand, I stuck my stamps.
I use it less these days, this quite simple device
Graded with little marks up to a whole pound,
For my mailings rarely still exceed the price
Of an ordinary stamp. The tray of polished metal’s now
Covered with dust, without the slightest hint
That the red pointer marking the weight on the front
Has budged. But in the long run, one would, I think,
Discern a difference and see how much the months
Were worth in terms of dust, the seasons elapsed
Since the previous weighing. But having been seized,
Suddenly, just this morning, by a tremendous attack
(Annual) of cleaning, from which nothing is released,
I restored to the tray’s slightly concave stainless steel,
That ever so slightly distorted mirror, its polished shine.
It reflected all of the sky, through which clouds reeled,
And I could confirm that space does not weigh more than time.

~ Jacques Réda