“It’s a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.” ~ Naguib Mahfouz

Pierre de Clausade Pont Neuf, Neige sur Paris, 1959
Pont Neuf, Neige Sur Paris (1959, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

                   

The slow mornings of coffee and newspapers
and evenings of music and scattered bits
of talk like leaves suddenly fallen before
one notices the new season.” ~ B. H. Fairchild, from “The Dumka”

Thursday afternoon. Sunny and mild, 54 degrees.

Well, it’s been a wild week so far. Where do I start?

Pierre de Clausade, The Seine
“Quai des Orfèvres” (1974, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

Dreams first: Last night, I had this very strange dream in which Corey and I were at his parents’ house in Ohio, and I had gotten up late, and there was no coffee left. I got so upset that there wasn’t any coffee. I took it personally—they had drunk all of the coffee before I woke up to punish me, but then I realized that Corey hadn’t had any coffee either, so it was okay . . .

No snow here. In fact, it’s absolutely beautiful today, big change from last night. The winds were absolutely wicked: one panel of our fence was blown off. It was part of the old fence on the side of the house. And on my way to pick up Brett at school, the major artery to campus was flooded, really flooded. People were acting crazy, and I just kept thanking the stars that I had relatively new brakes and tires. I made it to campus through the water, but the way home was a nightmare as the cops had closed off the boulevard by then, and everyone was trying back roads. I was so tense that I arrived home with a headache.

No surprise there.

“To touch and feel each thing in the world, to know it by sight and by name, and then to know it with your eyes closed so that when something is gone, it can be recognized by the shape of its absence. So that you can continue to possess the lost, because absence is the only constant thing. Because you can get free of everything except the space where things have been.” ~ Nicole Krauss, from “Man Walks Into a Room”

So Corey left Sunday. Everything happened quite fast. The ship got into port on Saturday afternoon. Corey and I had both thought that the ship/he would probably be in port for several days, maybe even a week as that’s usually the case.

Pierre de Clausade Neige Sure La Rive oil on canvas
“Neige Sur La Rive” (1964, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

Not so much.

He drove to the ship around 3 in the afternoon and was back home by 6 that same evening. Seems they were planning to leave port at midnight. We had to get everything packed and ready in a matter of hours. The good news is that he’ll only be gone about two weeks. They are only doing a run to Ascension and back. Not sure how many runs they’ll be doing, but he’ll be back and forth every two weeks or so, maybe three times.

Because of the quick turnaround, I didn’t really have time to prepare myself emotionally for what was happening, which meant that by Monday, I was kind of paralyzed emotionally. By that I mean that just the effort to get out of my pajamas and drive Brett to school was more than I was prepared to do, so posting was out of the question. I was in a mild stupor, just wandering through the empty house. Between Tillie and myself, I don’t know who was more downtrodden.

“I say: let the trifles that strangle us be seen merely as
trifles, remediable inequities.  Then when the wind has had its way with us
we can see ourselves as we are, face to face with the invisible.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “A Heavy Surf”

Pierre de Clausade Neige au Pont Neuf
“Neige au Pont Neuf” (1959, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

The house has been so quiet during the day, just the dogs and me. Yesterday I took my mother to the orthopedic group to get a cortisone shot in her knee. She had been saying that the pain was excruciating, but when I told her that she should get a shot, she freaked, saying that the shots were too painful, that I had no idea how painful they were. I explained to her that I’ve had cortisone shots pretty much all over my body. I wanted to tell her not to be such a big baby, but I didn’t. Anyway, took her, she got the shot, everything was fine.

Speaking of pain, these patches that the new doctor prescribed seem to be helping with the overall pain, but they aren’t lasting a week like they’re supposed to. Month two doubles the dose, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m scheduled for the migraine Botox shots at the end of the month. Wouldn’t it be something if I manage to get to a place in which I am no longer coasting along between a 3 and 5 on the pain scale, that I actually hover more at 1 or even zero?

I can’t even begin to conceive of such a thing.

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.” ~ J. M. Barrie, from Peter Pan

I just took a break to drop off prescriptions and to have a quick game of stick with Tillie, who has been soooo restless these past few days. Her sad face absolutely wounds me to the quick.

Okay, must pause here. What exactly does the quick mean? A quick (sorry, groan) search yields the following: the living flesh (as in the flesh beneath the finger nail). But cutting to the quick means to get to the point, or the heart of the matter. The quick and the dead—the living and the dead. Language is amazing.

Pierre de Clausade Mer du Nord oil on canvas
“Mer du Nord” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

What else is new?

Yesterday I had to do a complete scan on my computer and redo my Mozilla Firefox profile because everything was acting wonky. I could only open one window of Firefox at a time, which is problematic when I’m doing searches on images as I rely on the drag and drop from one window to the next (for example, from Tumblr to Google images). Apparently, I didn’t have any viruses, but I cleaned out all of the extraneous files, shredded my recycle bin and restarted a couple of time. Everything seems to be back to normal.

Thank the gods for discussion boards. You can put even the most obscure phrase in Google regarding a computer problem, and you’re bound to get at least five hits on discussion boards dealing with the same problem. It’s just a matter of reading carefully and being selective. I have come so far when it comes to figuring out computer issues, a far cry from the woman who got her first PC back in the 90’s and found the whole concept of screen savers amazing. As I was saying to Brett, it’s amazing how much has changed: my first computer measured memory in megabytes, and now his phone has more memory than I had on a PC.

“Here is a handful
of shadow I have brought back to you:
this decay, this hope, this mouth-
ful of dirt, this poetry.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “Mushrooms”

In other news, I finished another Ian Rankin novel last night. I’ve read four in the past two weeks. The main character is Scottish CID officer John Rebus, who is quite the curmudgeon. Any wonder I love his character? I’ve read just about every book in the series; I think there are 12 total. I need to figure out which ones I have left and add them to my book wish list.

Pierre de Clausade Notre Dame in Winter
“Notre Dame in Winter” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

Brett is going to NYC this weekend on a school trip. The art department at ODU is sponsoring a weekend trip for students to visit museums. I am so envious. It’s been years since I was last in New York. I want to take Corey for a long weekend, just meander through the museums. I know that he would love it.

Next week is birthday week for Eamonn and my mother. Have no idea what I’m going to do yet. My other m-in-law’s birthday was on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve never been a big Saint Paddy’s day celebrant. The idea of drinking green beer just appalls me. Around here there is parade in Ocean View that has become quite a tradition. What is probably the bigger tradition is being drunk before noon. I don’t think I would have enjoyed that even when I was young enough.

Whatever.  I’ll close for now.

More later. Peace.

(All images by French painter Pierre de Clausade. I was unable to find dates for all works shown.)

Music by Taylor Swift, featuring The Civil Wars, “Safe and Sound” (not normally a Taylor Swift fan, but I love this song)

                   

The Afterlife

They’re moving off in all imaginable directions,
each according to his own private belief,
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal:
that everyone is right, as it turns out.
you go to the place you always thought you would go,
the place you kept lit in an alcove in your head.

Some are being shot into a funnel of flashing colors
into a zone of light, white as a January sun.
Others are standing naked before a forbidding judge who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other.

Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they have been doing this forever,
while the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air conditioned room full of food and chorus girls.

Some are approaching the apartment of the female God,
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string.
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door.

There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals – eagles and leopards – and one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit,
ready to begin another life in a more simple key,

while others float off into some benign vagueness,
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere.

There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves.
He will bring them to the mouth of the furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three-headed dog.

The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins
wishing they could return so they could learn Italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain.
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees,
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow.

~ Billy Collins

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ Carl Jung

Lone Sakura Cherry Blossom, Japan

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” ~  Crowfoot’s last words, 1890

Cherry Blossoms over the Potomac, Washington, D.C.

A heartfelt welcome to my new readers. In the last few days, I have had another spurt of comments from new readers, which is always wonderful. I love to receive comments of all kinds, so if you are just stopping by for the first time, please take a minute to let me know what you think.  

Moving along . . . I’m not sure what possessed me, but I went into the bathroom a few hours ago and cut my hair. It feels better, not as heavy, but I messed up the front a bit. I have to say, though, that I’m not upset because my hair is growing so fast that within a month, it will probably be out of control again. I long for a really good haircut, actually a totally new style. Not short as I look horrible with short hair but something just below the shoulders. It really sucks not being able to pay for a good hair cut, but since I’m not really going anywhere that matters, I can’t justify the expense.  

I don’t know how much of a post this will be. I’m not sleeping again. Yesterday, I finally fell asleep at 7:30 in the morning, and then last night, I fell asleep around 5:30 in the morning. Corey was working 11 to 7 last night, which is a bit unnerving because once I finally fall asleep, I’m alone in bed, but if I wake up in between, which I inevitably do, he’s in bed next to me. You can imagine how that might be a little unsettling.  

“I found a journal in the coffee shop that said, ‘write something and leave me behind’; the open page read: ‘If you want to experience time travel, look into the face of the night because the stars illuminate the past—breathe in their stories.’” ~ C. Troise

Weeping Cherry, Newark, NJ

I’m not sure where I found the above quote, but I love it because it’s the kind of thing that I would do if I were going to coffee shops on a regular basis. One of my favorite places to write in my journal is the Starbucks on Shore Drive, which runs parallel to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This Starbucks, which has a deck, faces the water, making it the perfect spot to sit in the spring sunshine, sip coffee, and write or read.  

One time when I was hiking and camping with some friends, we came across a small shack on a trail. Inside was a hiker’s journal containing comments from people from all over the world, people who had stopped for a moment in their journey to add a few thoughts, read some of the entries. It was like finding a little treasure in the most unexpected place.  

I haven’t written in a journal in ages. I mean, with this blog, there really isn’t a need for my journal. However, once Corey goes back to sea (here’s hoping), we plan to begin  keeping journals again. The idea is that I write in mine while he’s away, and he writes in his, and then we exchange them when he gets home. We have filled two journals in this way, and we were in the middle of two others, but we decided that since we’ll be starting a new chapter of our lives when he finally gets a boat, that we are going to start new journals instead of picking up where we stopped.  

If you have never kept a journal, you might want to think about doing so. I used to make my literature students keep reading journals, which I know was not a small assignment. However, that being said, if they worked on their journals in the way that they were supposed to, then they would have no problems with tests and the final exam. I’ve never believed in teaching literature in a vacuum, just standing in front of a room full of people and lecturing to them about what something means. Meaning is subjective, depending upon numerous factors, and anyone who tries to tell you that X poem means exactly Y is full of baloney.  

“When you are older you will know that life is a long lesson in humility.” ~ J. M. Barrie

  

Yoshino Flowering Cherry, Forest Lawn, Norfolk, L. Liwag

Tonight is my reality show night—the finale of Project Runway, another episode of cat fights on RHNY. Speaking of which, I was reading my online news sources today, and somehow I ended up on a page about the newest housewife on RHNY. I honestly don’t know how I landed on this page, and I cannot remember the name of this latest entry into the supposedly real world, but one thing that I do remember is that when I first saw her, I did a double take because she looks so much like someone I was friends with years ago.  

Same thin nose and thin lips, same color hair (although it was a natural color for my friend), even the same body shape. This was another one of my friends who dated my ex and who he left by the wayside. We remained friends for many years, even though she left the area. And then something happened when she was in town for a reunion, and we haven’t spoken to each other since. One of those things that you don’t really know the reason for but you aren’t concerned enough to actually do something about. Too much time had passed between us, and we really didn’t have much to say to one another.  

Anyway, so I had a bit of deja vu when watching last week’s episode, and it made me stop in my thoughts and wonder whatever happened to her, if she finally found the person she was looking for, if she finished the degree she finally pursued. I have a vague memory of someone telling me that she had cancer, but I might have dreamed it. I have that problem with confusing dreams with memories.  

Speaking of dreams, the other night I had a right strange dream in which I was trying to find a job for a realtor I knew, and I took her to my old boss, but he was in a new building, and didn’t really want to talk to me. Last night, I dreamed that I was in a hotel for some kind of conference, and I ended up going into the kitchen to find lemon slices and cinnamon sticks as garnishes for some wine bar. You see? I cannot even relax and have fun in my dreams; instead of drinking wine and wearing beautiful gowns with the rest of the people in my dream, I go searching for lemon wedges. That must be significant somehow.  

That’s all for now. More later. Peace.  

“Let Her Cry,” a classic from Hootie and the Blowfish