“I dream of lost | vocabularies that might express some of what | we no longer can.” ~ Jack Gilbert, from “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart”

Aleksandr Golovin Birch Trees oil on canvas
“Birch Trees” (oil on canvas)
by Aleksandr Golovin

Jan Mankes Maanacht 1914
“Maanacht” (1914)
by Jan Mankes

 Two for Tuesday: Jack Gilbert

Horses at Midnight without a Moon

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there’s music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.

                   

Umberto Moggioli Sera di Primavera aka Spring Evening, Venezia 1914
“Sera di Primavera, Venezia” (1914)
by Umberto Moggioli

Bring in the Gods

Bring in the gods, I say, and he goes out. When he comes
back and I know they are with him, I say, Put tables in front
of them so they may be seated, and food upon the tables
so they may eat. When they have eaten, I ask which of them
will question me. Let him hold up his hand, I say.
The one on the left raises his hand. I tell him to ask.
Where are you now, he says. I stand on top of myself, I hear
myself answer. I stand on myself like a hilltop and my life
is spread before me. Does it surprise you, he asks. I explain
that in our youth and for a long time after our youth we cannot
see our lives. Because we are inside of that. Because we can
see no shape to it, since we have nothing to compare it to.
We have not seen it grow and change because we are too close.
We don’t know the names of things that would bind them to us,
so we cannot feed on them. One near the middle asks why not.
Because we don’t have the knack for eating what we are living.
Why is that? she asks. Because we are too much in a hurry.
Where are you now? the one one left says. With the ghosts.
I am with Gianna those two years in Perugia. Meeting secretly
in the thirteenth-century alleys of stone. Walking in the fields
through the spring light, she well dressed and walking in heels
over the plowed land. We are just outside the city walls
hidden under the thorny blackberry bushes and her breasts naked.
I am with her those many twilights in the olive orchards,
holding the heart of her as she whimpers. Now where are you?
he says. I am with Linda those years and years. In American
cities, in Copenhagen, on Greek islands season after season.
Lindos and Monolithos and the other places. I am with Michiko
for eleven years, East and West, holding her clear in my mind
the way a native can hold all of his village at one moment.
Where are you now? he says. I am standing on myself the way
a bird sits in her nest, with the babies half asleep underneath
and the world all leaves and morning air. What do you want?
a blonde one asks. To keep what I already have, I say. You ask
too much, he says sternly. Then you are at peace, she says.
I am not at peace, I tell her. I want to fail. I am hungry
for what I am becoming. What will you do? she asks. I will
continue north, carrying the past in my arms, flying into winter.

                   

Music by Plumb, “Cut”

“I can’t exactly describe how I feel but it’s not quite right. And it leaves me cold.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, from “The Love of the Last Tycoon”

Dark Night of the Soul
by David Hepworth (FCC)

                    

“He is like an old ferry dragged on to the shore,
a home in its smashed grandeur, with the giant beams
and joists. Like a wooden ocean out of control.
A beached heart. A cauldron of cooling melt.” ~ Jack Gilbert, from “Refusing Heaven”

Very early Friday morning. Cloudy and cold. 2:30 a.m.

I had thought that after I wrote the last post I might be able to find sleep. I was wrong. Apparently my attempts to purge my grief did not succeed. Each time I laid back and tried to close my eyes, my mind began that headlong rush into a miasma of thoughts, thoughts that I cannot control, so here I am. I can change the channel on the television, or play another hand of spider solitaire, or walk out to the kitchen. But I know what is wrong, why sleep eludes me: There is no warm snoring body curled into the crook of my knee.

Twisted Tree in Mist, Stanmer Park Great Wood, UK
by dominic’s pics (FCC)

Oh, he was smelly, between the ongoing crud in his ear and his perpetual halitosis, Shakes was a smelly dog. But I knew that smell. That smell followed me from room to room, sat patiently as I washed dishes. Daily spritzing with Febreze helped, but the smell persisted. Now that smell is gone.

You might find this an odd thing to think about, but smell does that to me. After Caitlin died I carried the outfit she had worn to the hospital in a plastic bag. I took that bag everywhere with me, and once in a while, when I felt the need to torment myself, I would unseal the bag and inhale deeply. It took a long time for her smell to fade.

“My brother once showed me a piece of quartz that contained, he said, some trapped water older than all the seas in our world. He held it up to my ear.

‘Listen,’ he said, ‘life and no escape.’” ~ Anne Carson, from  Plainwater

Shakes could also be mean. He hated to have his nails cut, and his ear problem never fully resolved because he fought attempts at cleaning and medicating. I bear a few scars from when he bit me. In fact, on my right arm, I have a c-shaped scar that I have seriously contemplated having a crescent moon drawn around. Turning a scar into a badge, if you will.

Forest after Fire
by Steve Slater (Wildlife Encounters) (FCC)

So he could be mean, and he smelled. But he was also fiercely loyal, very jealous, and quite funny. I know that I’ve posted pictures of him as he lay with his head upon my pillow, or tented beneath the quilt, or sitting by the window.

In these last few months, I tried to take him on car rides when I could, and I didn’t scold him when he stole a piece of French bread. He knew that he was being spoiled, and he probably took advantage of it. Who cares. I just hope that he had a good life, one filled with memories of cookies and treats, doing army crawl across the grass to scratch his belly, playing games of tennis ball and jumping into the pool. I hope he knew how much he was loved, in spite of his grouchy old man demeanor. I hope that I did right by him.

“There are still days you can catch me
tape recording eternal silence
and playing it backwards for an empty room” ~ Buddy Wakefield, from “Human the Death Dance”

I suppose I am trying to write myself into oblivion. If I type enough words, if I confess enough, if I reveal everything—bad and good and in between—if I do all of these things, perhaps then my soul may find some rest.

Winter Trees in Mist at Dawn, Stamner Park Great Wood, UK
by dominic’s pics (FCC)

Perhaps.

Or perhaps I’ll just keep writing and keep feeling and keep scratching off that thin veneer of a scab that is only just forming, worry it in that way that I do, pull on it until the wound that is bared is deeper than it originally began. If you tear at something long enough, it will fray. Mess with it long enough, the fabric will wear, erode, crumble. Perhaps I will do all of these things enough times that when I finally lay back and close my eyes, I will see . . . nothing. And (one can only hope) be blessed with dreamless sleep.

Too bad the waters of Lethe are not accessible in this sphere. Forgetfulness would be a good thing.

“Even in a place you know intimately,
each night’s darkness is different.” ~ Anne Michaels, from Miner’s Pond

Friday afternoon. Cloudy and cool, 50’s.

So I eventually found sleep around 4 a.m. Awoke around 7 with another headache. Actually, Tillie woke me at 7, then again at 9:30. At 7 she wanted out, but at 9:30 she wanted to play. I asked Corey to wake me no later than 11 so that I could try to sleep tonight.

Blandford Nature Center
by mikemol (FCC)

The headache is gone for now, but my back muscles are like a basket of walnuts—all crammed up against one another and compressed into a space that is too small to accommodate them. In spite of the pain, I feel a bit better emotionally. I haven’t cried once since waking, and I don’t appear to be leaking incessantly. My chest also seems to have loosened, as in it doesn’t feel so constricted and painful. I suppose I have begun the long process of healing yet again.

But we all know not to expect too much of that. Right?

So my dog Shakes was smelly and temperamental and funny and loyal and fluffy in spots where dogs shouldn’t be fluffy, and his mouth looked like it had been lined with black eyeliner, giving him perpetual lipstick. He would do spite pees in the house, as in if I left him for too long alone, he would mark something, usually the end of my iron bed. He was a Jack Russell without spots and with long legs. For some reason, I remember the sire’s name was Simon, from the litter into which both Shakes and Alfie were born. They were the last two pups left, and the woman sold both of them to my mother for the price of one pup, which is how I came to own two male dogs.

“And he told stories about the stars above, about the earth below. He told them to make the night pass, and also because his heart was all reflections in which the soul of the world moved.” ~ Jean Giono, from The Serpent of Stars

I think that when I’m finished here, I’ll curl up beneath a blanket and read. I’ve abandoned NaNoWriMo mostly because I’m so far behind that I know I cannot catch up, especially as it is past the mid-point of the month. However, I have not abandoned the story. As I mentioned, I like my protagonist, and I like the sketchy plot that I have so far. I just know that I’m not in the frame of mind in which to flesh out characters and plot lines.

Macclesfield Forest in Winter, UK
(Wikimedia Commons)

I need to spend the weekend cleaning and polishing silver, getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner. I think because we’re going to have so many people that we’re going to cook a turkey and a ham, at least that’s the plan for now. When I first began planning the meal in my head, I had considered trying to bake a special cake. Not going to happen now. Apple and pumpkin pies from Costco—always a good plan.

Look. I’m just holding on at the moment. I’m better, but not there yet. I’ll spend my time this weekend doing mindless chores, and with any luck, I can burn away the pain. I don’t want to be a complete emotional wreck when Corey’s parents get here.

For now, we’ll just see how the days unfold.

More later. Peace.

Music by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, “Sophie”

                   

A Journal of the Year of the Ox (excerpt)

It is as though, sitting out here in the dwarf orchard,
The soul has come to rest at the edge of the body,
A vacancy, a small ache,
the soul had come to rest
After a long passage over the wasteland and damp season.
It is as though a tree had been taken out of the landscape.
It is as though a tree had been taken out
and moved to one side
And the wind blew where the tree had been
As though it had never blown there before,
or that hard.

~ Charles Wright

“What if I told you I’m incapable of tolerating my own heart?” ~ Virginia Woolf, from Night and Day

Eye of Horus
L. Liwag

” . . . and your absence is the strongest scent in the air.” ~ Madison Maheni

Thursday afternoon. Cloudy and chilly, low 50’s.

I have come to detest with a fierce cold hatred the entire month of November. To feel such abhorrence for a month is illogical, I realize, yet knowing does not diminish the antipathy, the execration I bear it.

Night Sky: Moon and Clouds
L. Liwag

So yes, here I am, trying once again to make sense of life, a folly at best, for there is no making sense of life unless one is willing to accept that death is part of life, that we all are dying from the moment we are born, that nature is relentless, that nothing escapes. Nothing.

Certainly there are those of you who will not understand how I allow my grief to define me, who simply cannot understand such a thing. No matter. It is. I am.

Yet because I am human, I will open myself to loss again and again, despite my firmest resolutions to the contrary. But today, this moment, I will sit here and let all of the conflicting emotions run rampant on this page because it is the only thing I can do. Human contact is painful. Any contact is painful. The only thing for me at this moment is this screen, the unfolding of letters, the soft click of the keys. This, here, is all that I can allow myself to touch.

“What if the heart does not pale as the body wanes,
but is like the sun that blazes hotter each day
on these immense, perishing fields? What then?” ~ Jack Gilbert, from “Getting Ready”

Yesterday I knew that it was time, that my dog Shakes would not be able to make it through another night as the one before, and so I readied myself as best I could, and I tried to ready the family. I made telephone calls, looking for a place that would allow me to be with him and would allow me to bring him home afterwards because city ordinances forbid the burying of pets in yards, and I knew that I had to get around this. And then, after all of this, after hours of anguished coughing and wheezing, he went to sleep on the bed and slept deeply and seemingly without struggle.

Forced Eclipse
L. Liwag

And then the resolve that I had girded myself with faded, and I thought that perhaps he had more time, that I had moved ahead of him, that he was telling me that it was not yet time.

This is the fate that befalls humans who take animals into their hearts. We make a tacit agreement that we will care for them, feed them, shelter them, assist them if they are hurt or sick, and finally, that we will not let them suffer. This is the agreement that we make, or at least, the one we should make, for far too many who become humans to dogs or cats or fish or whatever, far too many take on this relationship and fall short. That is unkind.

Before last night, I had lived through the intimate deaths of three of my dogs, the last being my lab mix Murphy, who, much like Shakes, was my dog, who followed me from room to room and settled only when and where I settled. In recent weeks, I had mistakenly called Tillie by Murphy’s name several times, and despite what you may think, I knew that it was a sign that Shakes was nearing the end of his days.

“Thus I spoke, more and more softly; for I was afraid of my own thoughts and the thoughts behind my thoughts.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from Thus Spoke Zarathustra

So after making preparations to help ease Shakes from this life, we decided to wait one more day, and even as that decision was made, everything changed. He began to get restless, and because he was weak, I carried him to the backyard and sat him in the grass. He did not move. I picked him up again and walked to my bedroom and sat down with him in my arms, and he began to fade. I called Corey and the boys and told them that it was time.

A House Divided
L. Liwag

And I held him as his breathing slowed and his heartbeat faded beneath my hands, and then finally, his body went limp. And I did something I have not done in over a decade: I keened, great heaving sobs and wails, the kind that slice through the heart of the night, beyond any other sounds, and the only thing in the world was what I held in my arms—the now small body of one of the best friends I had ever known.

It is at moments such as this that the human heart is truly a burden. Yes, the seat of emotions does not reside in this organ, but in the brain, but why then does the pain radiate from this seat in the chest? Why does the implosion, when it comes, why does it begin in the heart, so far from the brain?

“How do you get so empty? Who takes it out of you?” ~ Ray Bradbury, from Fahrenheit 451

As I held my boy dog in my arms, as he took his last breath, I was so grateful that he had died here, that we were with him, and selfishly, I was so glad that I had not had to take him to someone else, to watch as a needle was inserted, to have to contain my grief in a public space.

Wolf Moon
L. Liwag

And then the guilt comes: Should I not have waited so long? We he suffering? Did I extend his suffering because I was not yet ready?

And with the guilt comes my father. You see, my dad pleaded to come home. I asked my mother if we could not take him home to die. I said that I would take care of him. She refused as I knew that she would. My mother fears death, dying in any form. She would have been unable to stay in a house in which someone had died. I knew this, but still, because I am selfish, I asked, and because I am selfish, I have harbored a resentment that she said no. I wanted to be with my father when he died. I asked the nurses to call me when he was moved to another room so that I could come. They did not call, and I went home and went to sleep. And for years, I have felt guilty.

My father wanted nothing more than to come home. He begged me, again and again, and I? I lied to him and said that he would be coming home soon, and despite the morphine, he knew that I was lying. I could see it in his eyes. And so my father died alone in an empty hospital room, and my dog Shakes died in my arms.

“But I know I live half alive in the world,
Half my life belongs to the wild darkness.” ~ Galway Kinnell, from “Middle of the Way”

So here I sit, pouring my heart onto this page. The place in my chest in which my heart resides burns and aches. My throat constricts each time I try to swallow. The very thought of food makes me ill. I awoke with my head splitting as if it had been cleaved with a battle axe. I feel everything too much. And I feel nothing.

Sailor Moon
L. Liwag

I am unable to offer comfort to my family, even though I know that they need it as much as I do. Human touch is more than I can bear, and so I feel myself closing off, blinking madly as if it will stem the tears. And you know what? I hate everything that I am saying. I hate all of these words. I hate my frailty. I hate my sorrow. I hate my guilt. I hate feeling. But most of all, I hate the empty place at my feet where my boy used to snore comfortably as I sat her and pretended to be some kind of writer.

Dogs offer the purest kind of love. Humans love in this way initially before they begin to become tainted by the world, but dogs? They love this way as it is the only way that they know how. Yes, I know that I am generalizing. Of course I am generalizing. Not every dog is loved or has love, just as far, far too many humans are not gifted love of any kind. But this is not an examination of the cruelties of the world. This is much closer to home, and so I generalize.

Memory: My ex and I lived in an apartment that fronted the Chesapeake Bay. A huge nor’easter blew in and flooded the street. We were evacuated. They would not let us bring our dog Ascot with us, so my ex put on his hip-waders and carried her out. We were told in the shelter that we could not have our pet, and I felt fortunate that we did not have to make the choice between shelter and our pet because we had family in the area, because it would not have been a choice.

“When I speak
My lips feel cold—
The autumn wind.” ~ Matsuo Bashō

I honestly don’t know if this post has said any of the things that I wanted to say or if it has done any of the things that I had hoped to do. These are the things that I know as I sit here on this grey, cold afternoon:

Total Eclipse of the Heart
L. Liwag

The last breath is quiet.

You cannot close a dog’s eyes once he dies in the same way that films always show the eyes of the dead being closed.

It takes time between the last breath and the last heart beat. An interminable amount of time.

My sons’ hearts are bigger than I ever thought possible.

I don’t know how Corey will survive the loss of Tillie.

Our other dogs know that something is wrong.

My dog Shakes is buried beneath my bedroom window; it’s as close as he can be to the place he spent so much time with me, especially in those early days when I first became so ill, and I spent hour upon hour in my bed.

This house, as small as it is, feels desperately empty.

It is well and proper that Shakes was laid to rest beneath a full moon.

Grief is the echo that resonates within the four chambers of the heart, mixing with the salt of our tears and the blood of our loss.

What we lose defines us.

I hate November.

(I had a very hard time figuring out what the images should be for this post. Finally I decided to use some of my own. These are pictures I shot of a full moon with a corona several months ago. Unfortunately, I did not date them.)

Music by Orenda Fink, “Why is the Night Sad?”

                   

Another Birth

My whole being is a dark chant
which will carry you
perpetuating you
to the dawn of eternal growths and blossoming
in this chant I sighed you sighed
in this chant
I grafted you to the tree to the water to the fire.

Life is perhaps
a long street through which a woman holding
a basket passes every day

Life is perhaps
a rope with which a man hangs himself from a branch
life is perhaps a child returning home from school.

Life is perhaps lighting up a cigarette
in the narcotic repose between two love-makings
or the absent gaze of a passerby
who takes off his hat to another passerby
with a meaningless smile and a good morning .

Life is perhaps that enclosed moment
when my gaze destroys itself in the pupil of your eyes
and it is in the feeling
which I will put into the Moon’s impression
and the Night’s perception.

In a room as big as loneliness
my heart
which is as big as love
looks at the simple pretexts of its happiness
at the beautiful decay of flowers in the vase
at the sapling you planted in our garden
and the song of canaries
which sing to the size of a window.

Ah
this is my lot
this is my lot
my lot is
a sky which is taken away at the drop of a curtain
my lot is going down a flight of disused stairs
a regain something amid putrefaction and nostalgia
my lot is a sad promenade in the garden of memories
and dying in the grief of a voice which tells me
I love
your hands.

I will plant my hands in the garden
I will grow I know I know I know
and swallows will lay eggs
in the hollow of my ink-stained hands.

I shall wear
a pair of twin cherries as ear-rings
and I shall put dahlia petals on my finger-nails
there is an alley
where the boys who were in love with me
still loiter with the same unkempt hair
thin necks and bony legs
and think of the innocent smiles of a little girl
who was blown away by the wind one night.

There is an alley
which my heart has stolen
from the streets of my childhood.

The journey of a form along the line of time
inseminating the line of time with the form
a form conscious of an image
coming back from a feast in a mirror

And it is in this way
that someone dies
and someone lives on.

No fisherman shall ever find a pearl in a small brook
which empties into a pool.

I know a sad little fairy
who lives in an ocean
and ever so softly
plays her heart into a magic flute
a sad little fairy
who dies with one kiss each night
and is reborn with one kiss each dawn.

~ Forugh Farrokhzad

“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

“Basically we are all looking for someone who knows who we are and will break it to us gently.” ~ Robert Brault

NOTE: For some reason, WordPress keeps deleting the images that I have put in this post. I will try to reupload later because this is driving me crazy………..Later: Seems to be a Ghostery problem…………

                   

Standing at the End
by Southern Heart (FCC)

                   

“After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It’s better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” ~ Sophia Loren

Sunday afternoon. Cloudy and humid. Pending storms. High 70’s.

Very strange day emotionally. I have had an epiphany, a very unwanted epiphany: I have closed off my heart. I did not realize just how much until today. I mean, I knew that I was deliberately not allowing myself to feel things so as to not let myself become too wounded by Corey’s absence, but then I realized that in so doing, I have put up a wall. I can only hope that it is a wall that I can take down as easily as I erected it.

I have done this before, of course, put up walls so as not to get hurt. I know that before Corey and after the ex, in that in-between time, I deliberately did not let myself feel too much, which is why I was taken quite by surprise when I began to feel emotions towards Corey.

Night Thunderstorm
by OneEighteen (FCC)

Part of me thinks that my efforts not to feel too much have arisen in part because he is so emotional right now—an attempt at balance in the universe, I suppose. However, that rationale only goes so far.

I don’t like feeling like this, or rather, feeling little if anything too keenly. It’s a very hollow sort of state in which to find myself.

“Can you understand being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the well
so you could feel something down there
tug at the other end of the rope?” ~ Jack Gilbert, “The Abandoned Valley”

Don’t misunderstand. This feeling nothing does not meal that I don’t feel anything. Rather, I am trying to feel only the minimal, as if my heart is rationing just how much it can hold in this interim between his going and coming. Did I send my heart with him when he left? Possibly. If only it were that simple or that obtuse.

If I revert to that state in which I placed my emotions in a kind of stasis, if I go back to that state in which I cloaked myself in a kind of thick emotional armor, will I be able to make it through, and more importantly, will I be able to discard this armor upon his return?

Lightning over Mexico
by Brujo+ (FCC)

After my ex and I separated, at first I was in a state of hyper emotions, fancying myself in love with anyone who paid me passing attention. It was a very manic phase, which I realize now. I wasn’t in love with anyone, but I was starved, completely starved for attention, so I made bad decisions in my attempts to sate that hunger. It was a short-lived, temporary state, and I was able to pull myself out of it mostly because I worked all of the time and had very little time for personal reflection. I was in survival mode: single parenting, working 60 hours a week, split in so many directions that looking for any kind of balm for my heart was only done wistfully and with little to no effort.

What was the point?

So I muddled along alone except for my children and my friends, and I was fine. I had no desire for personal complications, having made my life far too complicated once upon a time.

And then he came along, and everything changed, and I had to let go of my fear and let down my guard. A line from Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” (my anthem) immediately comes to mind: “So afraid to love you, more afraid to lose, clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose.” It might seem trite, but it is so accurate.

“And I should mention the light
which falls through the big windows this time of day
italicizing everything it touches . . .” ~ Billy Collins, from “Ballistics”

So today I came to the realization that my heart it cocooned? Asleep? Bereft? All of them?

The last time he was gone, I counted the days. This time, I have deliberately not paid attention to the calendar. I don’t know how many days he has been gone, and I only know that he will be back in port here some time at the end of the month. It’s September, and August is a complete blur. I honestly don’t remember the date on which he departed.

Tesla
by Irargerich (FCC)

But why does it have to be this way? Why must I be too keenly aware or unaware, one or the other? Stasis. Now that’s a concept with which I am totally unfamiliar.

Okay, let’s back up.

I have known for most of my life that I exist between two poles: high or low. I have never been able to coast comfortably in the middle. Never, and I mean never. Even as a child it was one or the other. But as a child, it was much simpler. If I was in a lull, I would simply stay inside and read. The headaches hadn’t appeared yet, and I could read and read and read and simply close out everything else.

I have a keen memory of being in high school psychology, and the teacher was talking about manic depression (the old term for bipolar), and I thought to myself, “Wow. That’s me. That’s completely me. Happy one minute, and crying the next.” Now I know that a lot of people hear about a disease or disorder and immediately have the symptoms. That’s not what I’m talking about here. When I heard about this psychological disorder, I felt such a sense of relief. Other people felt this way too. It wasn’t just me, and it wasn’t just growing pains. There was a name for what was wrong with me.

But of course, mine was not a home in which such things were discussed, at least not then, and I hid this knowledge from my mother and father. It wasn’t until I was an undergraduate that I actually approached the idea of counseling, and then it was at the free counseling center on campus. Real treatment did not come until years later. I lived with my extreme highs and lows, and I did it while married to a man who cannot abide any kind of illness, viewing it as a weakness.

“This is the moment in which we live. Alienated, unmoored, we seek our salvation, one by one, from the artist who brings us the comforting news: I see you. I weep when you weep. The mystery, and the miracle, is that you exist.” ~ Francine Prose

And I survived, but only just.

Then the long trial with medication began, and it took years to finally find one that actually helped, that allowed me to be more even, to sleep, to have my mind not racing all night long. But even with medication, then and now, the highs and lows still came, only more controlled, less acute, allowing me to have a life that was on a more even keel, even if I did list one way or the other at times.

Malta: Lightning Strike
by Owen Zammit (FCC)

Have I ever told you that I thought about dropping out of college when I was a sophomore? Yep, actually considered it as a real life choice. Stopped going to classes for a few weeks. Made all C’s one semester. I cannot remember why I thought this was the right things for me, just remember it happening. Why mention this?

Only because it is yet one more indicator of how my life has gone from one extreme to another.

How did I get here, in life, in this post? Hell if I know. It seems that I have been searching forever—searching for the right career, the right person, the right time, the right major, the right circumstances—to do what exactly? Go to graduate school? Apply for a job? Move? End my marriage? Date again? Remarry? Have another child? Get my doctorate? Write that book? Write that book? Write that book?

You get the point.

“Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances . . .
There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.” ~ Robert Hass, from “Meditation at Lagunitas

So many questions, so few answers.

I need . . . mountain air, a running stream, the smell of fallen leaves and loam. I need not to be here, not to feel this way, not to always be wondering.

Lightning in Brisbane, Australia
by Matthew Stewart (FCC)

Another moment of truth: I’ve been waiting for the right time to move, and now I don’t know if it will ever come. Now that Olivia is here, can I leave here? How can I not leave here and still be true to myself? Of course, the desire to move is purely selfish, but I just don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this house, in this city, in this state, even in this country. I still want to spend some time in Ireland, some time in Australia or New Zealand, some time in Oregon.

The means to travel, wouldn’t that be nice? The wherewithal to make a plan and stick with it, wouldn’t that be a change?

Waiting, still waiting, mostly for myself, for my soul to finally say, “Enough! Enough of this blathering. Do something, already.”

Veronica, I know what your mean about mojo. Mine has taken an extended holiday.

More later. Peace.

Music by Radiohead, “Street Spirit”

                   

for women who are difficult to love

you are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.

~ Warsan Shir

“Could it be, that this was life? — startling, unexpected, unknown?” ~ Virginia Woolf, from To The Lighthouse

“Stillleben mit Spiegel und Feuerlilien (Still Life with Mirror and Tiger Lilies),” by Max beckmann (1950)*

“Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.” ~ Mary Oliver, from “When I Am Among Trees

Thursday afternoon. Sunny and mild. Night thunderstorms moved out the heat and humidity.

Woke up early this morning with massive migraine, nausea, extreme light sensitivity, but the weather is beautiful . . .

Corey is scheduled to leave port on Saturday. He plans to stay on for the full run, which may take him to Antigua (obvious envy) and a few other islands, as well as Brazil. I am simply overcome with jealousy. If he does the full run, he’ll be getting back just in time for le bébé, which will be nice.

“Rote Tulpen und Feuerlilien (Red Tulips and Tiger Lily),” by Max Beckmann (1935)

It has been to nice to have him home even though he has to work during the day. Brett made homemade pizza for dinner last night as he wanted to cook for Corey, which was sweet. Both boys are glad to have him home, as are the pups. I think that everyone will be massively sad when he has to go again, but I’m so glad that they made port here first.

He is liking his job very much, and his co-workers all seem to like him. He said that he is bothered by things on the boat less than some guys, probably because he is used to working for a dysfunctional shipping company. But he assures me that the ship is safe, which is my primary concern. He took some pictures off the coast of Dover and also got some nice shots of Klaipeda, the town in Lithuania that he visited while in port there. I hope to post some of the pictures soon, but I cannot open Photoshop on this computer or it will freeze indefinitely. I know that some of you can relate.

“We are faithful
only to the imagination. What the
imagination
seizes
as beauty must be truth.  What holds you
to what you see of me is
that grasp alone.” ~ Denise Levertov, from “Everything That Acts Is Actual”

So, shall I share with you a funny story?

I read somewhere, don’t remember, that turmeric was a natural astringent, and this actress said that she mixes a small amount of it in with her moisturizer to get a natural glow. So I thought, why not?

“Stilleben mit Orchideen und grüner Schale (Still Life with Orchids and Green Bowl),” by Max Beckmann (1943)

Yellow. The color of curry yellow. I had to laugh out loud when I looked in the mirror. I might have had a very bad case of jaundice. It took three scrubbings to get all of the yellow off—no lie, and in between washings, I wiped my face with a paper towel that turned . . . yellow.

Who are these people who can get a nice healthy glow with turmeric? They must have no yellow tint in their melanin, that’s certain.

Oh well, so much for natural . . . It really is a shame, though. I used to hate the color yellow, probably because of my skin, but now I love it, but I simply cannot wear it anywhere near my face. I mean, I could wear yellow in a skirt, but a yellow blouse? No, nope, never. I turn this wonderful shade of squash. Totally unflattering.

“ . . . there’s this vast dangerous garden, waiting out there, undiscovered, unexplored.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, “At the Bay

“Stilleben mit Tulpen und Ausblick aufs Meer (Still Life with Tulips and Sea View),” by Max Beckmann (1938)

Let’s see, what else is noteworthy? Oh, another somewhat funny story: Yesterday, I drove Eamonn to his eye doctor’s appointment. On the way home, he wanted to stop by 7/11. As he came out, he opened the Rodeo door right into his head, creating an instant bump. That’s not the funny part.

He got in the car and said, “Pull out fast. I’m so embarrassed.”

I told him to put his cold drink on his forehead to keep it from swelling. He was so concerned with how it would look that he decided that he would tell anyone who asked that . . . and this is the outrageous part . . . I accidentally hit him in the head with the door. Oh yes, Eamonn, that’s so much better than admitting that you accidentally hit yourself in the forehead. Make me out to be the abuser. And you know what? He actually did it. He told his girlfriend that I gave him the bump. Love it.

My children (probably not cool to refer to them that way as they are all adults . . . yeah, right)—always good for a chuckle.

“The sea lies in its bed wet and naked
in the dark. Half a moon glimmers on it
as though someone had come through
a door with the light behind.” ~ Jack Gilbert, from “Adults” 

“Still Life with Flowers,” by Max Beckmann (1927)

Speaking of adulthood, I remember when I got out of graduate school (the first time) and started my first real job. I was so adamant that I not be referred to as a girl, mostly because of my traditional feminist sensibilities which point out that calling a grown woman a girl is akin to calling a grown man a boy, and no man wants to be called a boy, but everyone refers to younger women as a girl. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I worked for a government contractor with a bunch of retired military guys, and I was always trying to enlighten them. When I look back on that now I have to chuckle to myself. But you know what, they actually stopped using the word girl. I think that I kind of intimidated them. Well, actually, I know that I intimidated them as I found that out later from this 6’7″ former Navy Captain.

I just find the whole thing so humorous now, but it was deadly serious to me then. We so want to be considered mature adults when we are in our 20’s. It’s more of that foresight versus hindsight thing. If only we had the hindsight of our 40’s while still in our 20’s. I really think that argument can be made for living life backwards, starting it with the knowledge we glean from experience and age, but I suppose that would defeat the purpose of all of that angst we suffer in our youth.

“The invisibility and intangibility of that which moves us remained an unfathomable mystery . . .” ~ W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

So tomorrow night is date night for Corey and Me, to celebrate our anniversary, for which he will not be here. We’re going to eat sushi and go to a movie, our usual date. I had a hankering to go sing karaoke, but he would rather go to a movie, which is fine as I just want to have an evening out with him.

“Stilleben mit Mimosen (Still Life with Mimosa),” by Max Beckmann (1938-39)

I’ve been mulling over going to karaoke by myself like I used to. I would go early in the evening, before all of the drunks, and sit by myself, write in my journal, and sing a few songs. I was usually home by 9. Alexis used to tell me that going out on a Friday night did not mean being home by 9, but I was fine with it. So I’ve thought that I might try that again, just to try to get my voice back into shape, not that I have people banging my door for a singing contract or anything like that, but I have noticed that when I do sing along in the car, I sound, shall we way, icky.

I watched an episode of RHofOC, and Gretchen did a sting with the Pussycat Dolls in Las Vegas in which she was supposed to sing “Fever.” I say supposed to because I’m not really sure what in the hell she sang, but it did not resemble “Fever.” Poor, poor Peggy Lee was doing somersaults in her grave, I’m sure. Now “Fever” is a song that I can/used to sing as it’s the perfect key for my voice. Unfortunately, if I were to attempt it now, I would probably sound like Gretchen, which is just depressing.

I really don’t know why I still watch that show as it’s not even entertaining any more, too predictable. It’s the only one of the franchise that I still watch, but I will admit to “Bethenny Ever After,” as Bethenny is my twin sister (I wish). I mean she says exactly what’s on her mind, consequences be damned, and her poor spouse appears to be more befuddled than anything by her attitude. It’s very early in their marriage, so they’re just getting used to each other and the idea of being married, and it kind of reminds me of Corey and me in the early days, except that we’re not worth over $100 million. Just that tiny difference.

“No, my soul is not asleep.
It is awake, wide awake.
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,
its eyes wide open
far off things, and listens
at the shores of the great silence.” ~ Antonio Machado

Speaking of this POS computer—which I was a couple of sections ago (keep up)—yesterday I designed the content for Alexis’s baby shower invitation. Granted there isn’t a low of content, just the who, what, when stuff, but you would think that I was trying to get this computer to insert graphics into a 300-page manuscript.

“Schwarze Iris (Black Irises),” by Max Beckmann (1928)

Fortunately, the invitations that I bought had a website on which I could download a template so that the measurements were exact, but I had wanted to use a special font, and boy was that a nightmare. I use the dafonts.comwebsite, which is a site of downloadable free fonts. The only problem is that some of the script fonts that look good on the site do not translate well into Microsoft. I would have used Adobe InDesign to create the invitation, but this computer does not recognize real programs . . .

Anyway, I asked Brett’s opinion on my font choice, and he was so helpful. His reply (which really, really reminded me of my dad): “It’s a font.” Why do I bother?

So I finished the design and printed a sample. I had chosen a custom color to match the border, but the printer decided that everything should print in Navy. Why??? This means that I need to buy new ink cartridges before attempting to print the invitations as I really don’t want to be in the middle of printing only to have half of them turn out faded, with indecipherable text. That would put me over the edge, definitely.

But I’m happy with the finished product. Now I just have to find those poet stamps that I read about (doubt if my post office will have them as that would be too easy).

My trials and tribulations. It could be worse. That’s all for now.

More later. Peace.

(*Images by Max Beckmann (February 12, 1884 – December 28, 1950), German, identified as Impressionist, but he did not like that categorization. These oil on canvas still lifes very different from his other work.)

Music by Kathryn Calder, “Arrow” (perfect song)


                   
Tuesday, June 4th, 1991

By the time I get myself out of bed, my wife has left
the house to take her botany final and the painter
has arrived in his van and is already painting
the columns of the front porch white and the decking gray.

It is early June, a breezy and sun-riddled Tuesday
that would quickly be forgotten were it not for my
writing these few things down as I sit here empty-headed
at the typewriter with a cup of coffee, light and sweet.

I feel like the secretary to the morning whose only
responsibility is to take down its bright, airy dictation
until it’s time to go to lunch with the other girls,
all of us ordering the cottage cheese with half a pear.

This is what stenographers do in courtrooms,
alert at their dark contraptions catching every word.
When there is a silence they sit still as I do, waiting
and listening, finger resting lightly on the keys.

This is what Samuel Pepys did too, jotting down in
private ciphers minor events that would have otherwise
slipped into the heavy, amnesiac waters of the Thames.
His vigilance paid off finally when London caught fire

as mine does when the painter comes in for coffee
and says how much he likes this slow, vocal rendition
of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and I figure I will
make him a tape when he goes back to his brushes and pails.

Under the music I can hear the rush of cars and trucks
on the highway and every so often the new kitten, Felix,
hops into my lap and watches my fingers drumming out
a running record of this particular June Tuesday

as it unrolls before my eye, a long intricate carpet
that I am walking on slowly with my head bowed
knowing that it is leading me to the quiet shrine
of the afternoon and the melancholy candles of evening.

If I look up, I see out the window the white stars
of clematis climbing a ladder of strings, a woodpile,
a stack of faded bricks , a small green garden of herbs,
things you would expect to find outside a window,

all written down now and placed in the setting
of a stanza as unalterably as they are seated
in their chairs in the ontological rooms of the world.
Yes, this is the kind of job I could succeed in,

an unpaid but contented amanuensis whose hands
are two birds fluttering on the lettered keys,
whose eyes see sunlight splashing through the leaves,
and the bright pink asterisks of honeysuckle

and the piano at the other end of this room
with its small vase of faded flowers and its empty bench.
So convinced am I that I have found my vocation,
tomorrow I will begin my chronicling earlier, at dawn,

a time when hangmen and farmers are up and doing,
when men holding pistols stand in a field back to back.
It is the time the ancients imagined in robes, as Eos
or Aurora, who would leave her sleeping husband in bed,

not to take her botany final, but to pull the sun,
her brother, over the horizon’s brilliant rim,
her four-horse chariot aimed at the zenith of the sky.
But tomorrow, dawn will come the way I picture her,

barefoot and disheveled, standing outside my window
in one of the fragile cotton dresses of the poor.
She will look in at me with her thin arms extended,
offering a handful of birdsong and a small cup of light.

~ Billy Collins

(Aside: I need to get a collection of Billy Collins poems as I am really liking him.)

“Most people are on the world, not in it—have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them—undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching, but separate.” ~ John Muir

Canyon of Sumidero, Chiapa de Corzo, by Sectur

“A kiss on the forehead—erases misery.
I kiss your forehead.” ~ Marina Tsvetaeva, (trans. Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine)

Sunday early evening. Mild, 60°.

So it’s been two days since Corey boarded the plane that took him to Dulles, and then on to Copenhagen, then to Lithuania. Apparently he was late arriving in Lithuania because of fog. The plan made three attempts to land and then had to return to Copenhagen to refuel. Thankfully, he slept through most of it, and also thankfully, I did not know about it until it was over, and he was safe on the ground.

Kravice Waterfalls, Trebižat in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Wikimedia Commons)

Tomorrow I have to send him an express package with the things that he forgot, two of which are essential, and I don’t know how—between the two of us—we forgot to pack them: his merchant mariner document and his USB for his laptop.

We don’t know how long he will be in Lithuania yet, still waiting for a decision on where the rest of the repairs will be made. He said that there is a crew of about 16 on board for now.

The last two nights have been as restless as expected. Friday, Tillie was obviously upset and wouldn’t eat. I pulled a dirty t-shirt from the hamper and put it with her, and she settled a bit. Yesterday and today I’ve tried to play with her outside for a bit, and my plan it to begin walking with her tomorrow. I hope that between the physical activity and the extra attention, she won’t go into full grieving mode, leaving me with one less thing to contend with so that I can get about the business of being miserable.

“And this is one of the mysteries, that the mind can speak, and knows nothing;
and the heart knows everything, and cannot speak.” ~ Osho

The other two dogs are fine; the fat one never leaves my side long enough to pay attention to anyone else, and while Alfie knows that something is up, he seems fine as long as I let him nuzzle and sleep at my feet.

Irenggolo Waterfall, Indonesia (Wikimedia Commons)

It really hasn’t hit me yet. I mean, right now it’s just as if he’s away for a transport. We’ll revisit the issue in a week and see how I’m doing.

I took the time yesterday to catch up on my blog reading, something I have been remiss in doing. One of my blogger compatriots gave me a suggestion for a post that I think I’ll tackle soon: the virtual hoarding that I do on Tumblr. I hadn’t really thought about it until recently, but I realize that Tumblr lets me amass lots and lots of things, but in a good way: I don’t have to dust, and I don’t have to make room. Anyway, I’m pondering that for now . . .

Last night, this morning, really, the moon was still big and bright in the sky at 6 a.m. or so. This whole spring forward thing on the time always screws me up; although, I’m not really certain as to why since my nights are my days and vice versa. I mean, I don’t even know the date unless I look at my cell phone or one of the calendars hanging throughout the house.

“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.” ~ George Eliot

Anyway, I’ve been trying to stay busy the past few days, catching up on reading blogs and Tumblr, and starting the Game of Thrones series of books. It’s hard reading, and I can’t do my usual speed reading as there are so many new names of places and characters, something inherent in fantasies. But I read until 4 this morning, and then made myself stop so that I could attempt to sleep.

Right. That really worked.

Triberg Waterfalls on Gutach River, Black Forest, Germany (Wikimedia Commons)

Before Corey left, the boys sat down with us, and we came up with a family game plan for chores and tasks. Not too many changes really, just reminders that I can do laundry, but I cannot lift the baskets. I can do the shopping, but I need someone to come with me to carry. Eamonn is taking on the yard mowing, which is good as I can’t do it, and Brett hates to do it.

But we have a plan, and my hope is that I don’t get too much grief when I do eventually ask for help and that I don’t have to be in constant mom-reminder-mode. Such a pain, especially with grown/almost grown offspring. But we’re hoping that the plan will help the three of us settle into a somewhat comfortable existence in Corey’s absence. We’re shooting for a new kind of normalcy.

I remember when Corey worked on tugs and was two weeks on/one week off—it was hard going in a lot of ways. I was still working full time, and the boys were in high school, and Eamonn was at the height of his difficult years and Brett was having so many problems. Some days, I just wanted to hide in my bedroom with the dogs. But there were dishes to do, and laundry, and all of the rest, not to mention I was going to school in DC two nights a week. I really don’t know how I survived that, but I did. I suppose we all do what we have to do when we have to do it.

It’s better if you don’t think too much about things, I suppose.

“The blue river is gray at morning
and evening. There is twilight
at dawn and dusk. I lie in the dark
wondering if this quiet in me now
is a beginning or an end.” ~ Jack Gilbert, “Waking at Night”

In this most recent mode of no-sleep, I find myself attuned to every little noise. More birds are starting their morning song, so the middle of the night is actually not very quiet.

Kjerag Waterfalls, Rogaland County, Norway (Wikimedia Commons)

I remember that when I lived in the mountains the sounds of sirens were rarely heard in the middle of the night. When I lived in northern Virginia, it was the opposite, city sounds all night long. I don’t think that I really notice the sirens around here unless I’m trying to quiet my thoughts, but sometimes in the still of the night I can still hear the train whistle, and when there’s fog, I can hear the foghorns on the bay.

I know that I would be able to quiet my thoughts better if I had the sound of waves or rippling water within earshot. Perhaps, once I get my computer fixed and set up on my new desk, I’ll go back to my old habit of listening to my Sounds of Nature CD collection: thunderstorms, waves, whale songs, even rainforests. It’s a toss up between thunderstorms and waves, pretty much.

Last summer, we didn’t have much tree frog action, and I missed that. Just as I miss the pond outside the bedroom window with the frogs singing. Anyway, with water on the brain, you can see why I chose today’s images.

“That was the strange thing, that one did not know where one was going, or what one wanted, and followed blindly, suffering so much in secret, always unprepared and amazed and knowing nothing; but one thing led to another and by degrees something had formed itself out of nothing, and so one reached at last this calm, this quiet, this certainty, and it was this process that people called living.” ~ Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out

So that’s what life has been like in the past few days. I had toyed with writing an analysis of the Kony 2012 fray, even composed some of it in my brain, but then  I just didn’t have it in me to delve into such deep political waters. It would take maximal brain cells and concentration.

Waterfall, Location Unknown (?)

I suppose I’m keeping my brain on a short-leash at the moment. Subsuming the need to think too much or ponder too deeply. Introspection poses too many problems. It’s that nagging awareness that I’m holding things at bay, not allowing any tears in front of Corey before he left, for example. If I don’t allow myself to think past the surface, if I don’t move past the dust bunnies and the dirty clothes, if I don’t sit alone with my thoughts, then perhaps this ache that is creeping into my heart can be assuaged.

I’m okay, really. I mean, more okay than I expected to be, which is what worries me. I have this tendency to build walls inside without realizing it. I mean, I admit that I exist in a constant state of grief and loss. I would be lying if I claimed anything else. That loss exists in the background of my reality—a thin membrane that cloaks everything without suffocating it. If I allow it to come to the forefront, it can be all-consuming, which is why I usually just feel the subtle vibrations of its existence.

I have taught myself postpone my confrontations with that aspect of myself, to walk carefully on the surface. At least, that is what I tell myself, and sometimes saying things silently over and over does make it so. Sometimes.

More later. Peace.

Music by Shuyler Fisk, “Waking Life”

                   

You Reading This: Stop

Don’t just stay tangled up in your life.
Out there in some river or cave where you
could have been, some absolute, lonely
dawn may arrive and begin the story
that means what everything is about.

So don’t just look, either:
let your whole self drift like a breath and learn
its way down through the trees.  Let that fine
waterfall-smoke filter its gone, magnified presence
all through the forest.  Stand here till all that
you were can wander away and come back slowly,
carrying a strange new flavor into your life.
Feel it?  That’s what we mean.  So don’t just
read this—rub your thought over it.

Now you can go on.

~ William Stafford, from The Methow River Poems in Even in Quiet Places