“There is something miraculous in the way the years wash away your evidence, first you, then your friends and family, then the descendants who remember your face, until you aren’t even a memory, you’re only carbon, no greater than your atoms, and time will divide them as well.” ~ Anthony Marra, from A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

This is the post that I was writing on Monday that I stopped. I mulled over whether or not to continue it or just post it . . . so, just posting it.


“We experience life as a continuity, and only after it falls away, after it becomes the past, do we see its discontinuities. The past, if there is such a thing, is mostly empty space, great expanses of nothing, in which significant persons and events float.” ~ Teju Cole, from Open City

Monday afternoon, sunny and mild, 71 degrees.

It’s an absolutely beautiful day today after two days of rain over the weekend. Truthfully, though, the whole concept of weekend has changed so much in my life. No longer is weekend the only time in which I can do things around the house, or catch up on laundry, or run errands, or all of those other ways in which I used to fill those two days. Gone is the need to rush to accomplish everything by Sunday evening in order to get some rest before beginning the work week once more.

And truthfully, I kind of miss that structure. Even though it’s been more than 11 years since I left my full-time job, my career, whatever you want to call it, I still miss work. I miss having deadlines, having places to go, even doing mundane paperwork. I don’t miss my last group of coworkers as they were undoubtedly the most dysfunctional group of people I have ever encountered in an office: one was uber passive aggressive, another was a smile-in-your-face-stab-you-in-the-back master, and the person with whom I worked most closely was a full-blown sociopath.

Hindsight. It’s such a clarifier.

But I never saw that job as the end of my working career. I still had goals, still wanted to accomplish more things, explore more avenues, but that all ceased to be possible in the spate of one week. Even now, all of these years later, I still think about what jobs I’d like to do, what degrees I’d like to earn. It’s hard to let go of it all.

“I can’t explain the goings,
or the comings. You enter suddenly,
and I am nowhere again.
Inside the majesty.” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi

One of the worst decisions I ever made was to have that major back surgery in 2007. Essentially, it wrecked my body and began my long road down a path of chronic, unremitting pain. Had i waited even five years, I’m convinced the surgery and recovery would have been simpler, and my results might have been better.

I know that it’s more than a cliche to say that when you’re young you approach life as if you are infallible, but it’s so true for me. As a teenager I taxed my body as a cheerleader; when I was married the first time, I ended up lifting and carrying more weight than I should have, mostly because my marriage was such a game of one-ups-manship: I would ask my spouse to take care of something; he would ignore it; I would do it to spite him, never realizing that I was only hurting myself. When I taught, I carried around huge stacks of books and papers all of the time. Then when I worked as a retail manager, I used to routinely move fully-loaded fixtures around the floor. In my mind, it took too much time to unload the clothes, so why bother.

Of course, I was very physically fit at the time. It never occurred to me that I might suffer the consequences somewhere down the line, so of course, I did.

Youth and stupidity go hand in hand in oh so many ways.

“I saw the first light, fore-running the sun, gather in a cup of the eastern cloud, gather and grow and brim, till at last it spilled like milk over the golden lip, to smear the dark face of heaven from end to end . . . the clouds slackened, the stars, trembling on the verge of extinction, guttered in the dawn wind, and the gates of day were ready to open at the trumpet . . .” ~ Mary Stewart, from Madam, Will You Talk?

Ever since Dallas took Napoleon, Sassy has become incorrigible. Each day, she comes onto the front porch and stamps her hooves, demanding to have food. I tell Corey that he doesn’t understand that she’s pregnant, so she’s hungry all of the time. In his mind, there’s a pasture filled with fresh grass just ready to be grazed, so why isn’t she cooperating with that? I don’t know if horses get funny food cravings when they are pregnant, but wouldn’t it funny if they did? What if she’s craving sunflowers? Or Kentucky Fescue?

I remember that with each pregnancy, I had different cravings: first it was hot fudge sundaes from McDonald’s and olives, but not together; second was soft pretzels (I think); third was Mexican food, and fourth was mustard.

But as I try to type this, Sassy is on the porch stamping, which causes Maddy to bark like crazy. It’s very distracting, but then, pretty much everything out here is distracting: the small spider crawling up the side of my screen, all of the different bird songs, including the hawk that just flew over, the podcast that I have running in the background, the way all of the pups suddenly decide to chase the goats, just out of the blue.

That’s another thing that’s changed with me: I used to be able to concentrate so fully on a task that I would forget to go to the bathroom. Single-minded was a good description. Now, scattershot comes to mind.

More later. Peace.


Music by Iron & Wine, “Muddy Hymnal”

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“Between me and life is a faint glass. No matter how sharply I see and understand life, I cannot touch it.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Dubrovnik Rooftops, Croatia
by will clayton (FCC)

                   

“I don’t have a word to say. Why don’t I just stay quiet, then? But if I don’t force myself to talk, silence will forever engulf me in waves. Word and form will be the plank on top of which I shall float over billows of silence.” ~ Clarice Lispector, from The Passion According to G.H. (trans. Ronald Sousa)

Saturday, early evening. Sunny and mild, high 60’s.

Another day of catch-up—laundry, writing, playing with the dogs. My back was hurting before I began. Woke up in pain. Hate that.

I completely forgot to watch the VP debate this past week, but apparently, Joe Biden did a good job. Just hoping Obama gets his groove back before this week’s re-match with Romney. But that’s not what this post is about. Not going to do political today. Just not up for it.

Falmouth Rooftops, UK
by Tim Green (FCC)

Shakes is hanging in. When he has his coughing spells, his whole body seems wracked. It’s terrible to watch. But he’s eating, and this morning, he enjoyed himself doing army crawl across the backyard (that’s when he lies on his belly and pulls himself about with his front legs only). It’s how he scratches his belly. Funny to watch, and he enjoys it.

I took Tillie the Lab outside for modified stick. Tried to keep her from getting over-exerted so that I don’t have to worry about seizures.

In the meantime, I’m sitting here with one of my heated neck wraps around my neck and shoulders, trying to burn the pain out. Not really. Just trying to use heat to make the muscles untense. So far, it’s not working.

This past week, I accidentally rear-ended someone at a read light. Not a big collision, small and stupid. Her truck was completely unharmed. The rodeo, on the other hand, decided to act up, and the lights went out. Turns out I had mashed the light relay against something. Easy enough to fix. Lights back on. I just felt really, really stupid. I wasn’t paying attention, noticed that the light had turned green, started to go before she did. Fortunately it wasn’t anything worse than that.

“All of the influences were lined up waiting for me. I was born, and there they were to form me, which is why I tell you more of them than of myself.”~ Saul Bellow, from The Adventures of Augie March

Yesterday I stopped into Marshall’s to see if they had any good clearance items. Made the mistake of taking a few things into the dressing room. I really, really hate it when I think that my body is smaller than it is. I see nothing but sausage in the mirror. Yes, it keeps me from buying anything, but boy does it do a number on my self-image. It was a whole lot of yuck, no way, and this is terrible. I think that I’ve been watching too much “Project Runway,” which makes me think that I can wear cool clothes.

Rooftops in France
by ifraud (FCC)

Not so much.

Actually, I could be content with myself if I lost 20 to 25 pounds. Don’t ask me how I’m going to go about that. I’ve already given up sugar (mostly). I’m staying away from chocolate (really, mostly), and I’m trying to eat small meals throughout the day. I know that I’m thinner than I was this time last year, but thinner is perhaps not the best word choice.

I don’t know. My body-image is so warped (thanks, Mom). I saw one of my cousins a few weeks ago, and she looks great. She has one of those naturally slender body frames, you know, the kind that normal women do not have. So the visit was bittersweet: great to see all of them, but left feeling like I’m fat and ugly and my mother dresses me funny. This is precisely why I don’t like to leave the house. Bumping up against these harsh realities is taxing.

“What is your life about, anyway? Nothing but a struggle to be someone. Nothing but a running from your own silence.” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi

I am in desperate need of a shower. Too much information?

When my kids were little, they had this saying, “Something’s sticking” to describe if their shoes didn’t feel quite right or if a label was bothering them. Well, something’s sticking in this shirt that I’m wearing. I think that I have it narrowed to the clear rubber/plastic thread they used. It’s poking me in the chest. Why, mass manufacturers of affordable garments, why? Again, too much information?

Zhouzheng Rooftops, China
by Praziquantel (FCC)

I do apologize, but obviously I am quite uninspired today. Perhaps I should really wait until nothing’s sticking, the back isn’t aching, and I’m not feeling slovenly. Truthfully, each time I got in the mindset to shower, one of my sons beat me to the bathroom—a major drawback to living in an older home with one bathroom. How did families survive in the 1950’s. They had an average of two children. Did those children not take ungodly long showers? Were those children trained not to hog the bathroom because someone else might be in need?

I fear that by the time I am finally able to get out of this paean to 1950s suburbia, I will no longer need to as my children will be out in the world on their own. Every time I ride into this neighborhood with its floral subdivision names so full of hope and promise I find myself thinking of “Leave it to Beaver,” with all of the neat houses in a row, everything in its place, impeccable yards and garages, and everyone in his or her assigned niche. It’s frighteningly stagnating.

“I see the mountains in the sky; the great clouds; and the moon; I have a great and astonishing sense of something there, which is “it”—it is not exactly beauty that I mean . . . A sense of my own strangeness, walking on the earth is there too: of the infinite oddity of the human position; with the moon up there and those mountain clouds. Who am I, what am I, and so on: these questions are always floating about in me.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated February 27, 1926

Seriously, though, were architects and planners of these ‘burbs so completely uninspired? Or were they secretly warped, laughing to themselves, as if to say, “This will keep people in line: row after row of cookie cutter houses with slight variations in window placement? Or was everyone just so glad to be in a post-war boom that any thought of creativity took a back seat to production values—developers churning out suburbia like baked bread because the masses couldn’t get enough of it.

Tallin Rooftops, Estonia
by samipaju (FCC)

Not much has changed, though. In fact, it may be worse. I swear that when I was the marketing director for a local realtor, I got so sick of seeing the same basic design for McMansions, maybe a different gable here, a double dormer there, but all the same.

But isn’t this how it is all over the world? People live in neighborhoods (interesting term, that) that are nothing more or less than mirror images with different door colors, whether the house is brick or tin or wood. We conform so easily, without thought, into these nice, neat niches, never questioning why.

Whoa. Getting a tad too philosophical there.

“A man’s truest self realizations might require him, above all, to learn to close his eyes: to let himself be taken unawares, to follow his dark angel, to risk his illegal instincts.” ~ Jean Cocteau

But think about it. Beneath the slate or concrete or thatch or mud or tile or shingles, haven’t we always tried to conform, most of us? When we lived in caves, how soon did the competitions for the best caves begin? Graduate to huts, how soon before the need arose to make this hut just like that hut, or to make this hut a tad bigger than that hut?

Uncastillo Rooftops, Spain
by lostajy (FCC)

The need to compete outweighing the need to conform? Row after row of black and white townhouses, and then bam, one with a red door. How long before the community association slaps the homeowners with a notice to comply?

We humans are so predictable. We want to fit in, but we want to stand out. We need to be accepted, but we ache to surpass. We search for meaning in a cesspool of sameness. Is it any wonder that nothing ever changes?

When we bought this house, it never occurred to us to look for something different. So conditioned have we been to seek what was available. Then, a decade or so later, the era of 2,000 square feet and above as standard made my little brick ranch obsolete. Then downsizing. The realization that so much square footage came encumbered with any number of unspoken needs. A whole generation of house poor people, now upside down in their grand suburbs, so similar to the one next door and the one three doors down from that.

I always wanted a log cabin on a plot of land with a natural lake, lots of trees, the smell of mountain air only faintly overtaken by an ocean breeze wafting in from near by.

Damn. I went and made it philosophical after all.

More later. Peace.

Music by Stuart Murdoch, “Another Saturday”

                  
Apple
I wake and remembered
nothing of what I was dreaming
The day grew light, then dark again —
In all its rich hours, what happened?
A few weeds pulled, a few cold flowers
carried inside for the vase.
A little reading. A little tidying and sweeping.
I had vowed to do nothing I did not wish
to do that day, and kept my promise.
Once, a certain hope came close
and then departed. Passed by me in its familiar
shawl, scented with iodine woodsmoke.
I did not speak to it, nor it to me.
Yet still the habit of warmth traveled
between us, like an apple shared by old friends —
One takes a bite, then the other.
They do this until it is gone.
~ Jane Hirshfield

“If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light. If I lose paper and ink, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always. I will capture nights all over the world and bring them to you.” ~ Henry Rollins

“Sapphires and Amethysts” (1925, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie*

                   

“I sleep. I dream. I make up things that I would never say. I say them very quietly.” ~ Richard Siken

Saturday afternoon. Hazy, hot, and humid. Liquid air.

Wow, such a week. Brett started fall semester on Monday, which meant a brand new schedule, one in which he has to be on campus by 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. That’s 9 in the morning. I don’t do 9 in the morning, at least, not very well, and especially not well after the dogs have gotten me up several times during the night.

“The Cove” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

And of course, in between, I’m still going over to help Lex. Mike is on the night shift, and everyone’s schedules are very out of sync, most especially mine, and it’s taking its toll.

When I awoke earlier to let the dogs out, I found that my legs hurt all the way down to the soles of my feet. No lie. It may be from all of the running I was doing in my dream in which I was trying to get away from lions, then tigers. I had gone to Japan with a group of girls from school, and we had a hotel suite right on the beach. We could see Mt. Fuji from our balcony, but I realized that I had left my camera at home. As we were looking out over the beach, I noticed two lions at the shoreline, and then when I looked down, I saw three white dogs evenly spaced in the water. I realized that the lions saw the dogs at the same time I did, and one of the lions jumped in the water and swam towards the dogs.

I wanted to try to rescue the dogs, but my roommates talked me out of it. I watched in horror as the lion devoured each dog. Then the lion came into our hotel room. We ran to the hotel office, which was in a separate building, and that’s when the dream got really weird. One lion became attached to me. Simultaneously wanting to sit next to me and attack me. I think that one of the dogs must have been trying to awaken me at this point. From there, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to flee by climbing roofs and pipes, but the lions had learned how to jump straight up. As I was fleeing, I was trying to get the lions away from the hotel which had turned into an elementary school. At one point there were tigers and a panther and electric lines.

I never did get my photograph of Mt. Fuji.

“if i can only recount
the story of my life
right out of my body
flames will grow” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi

That was my night, or rather, my late morning.

“Out to Sea” (1924, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

Alexis had wanted me to watch Olivia for a bit today while she went to a neighbor’s cookout and Mike slept, but I just had to pass. I am feeling completely drained today, and the thought of putting on real clothes and leaving the house just overwhelms me and makes me hurt more.

Corey should be arriving in Antigua any day now. He was in Ascension last weekend. We talked briefly, but I didn’t want to talk for too long as our phone bill already has an extra $300 in telephone calls on it. I can sense that he is down, which could be from his birthday or could be from being away from home when so many things have happened in his absence. I’m not really sure. I’m actually trying not to pay attention to the date or the days as it makes his absence a bit easier to handle.

Anyway, when he gets home he can enjoy watching the new seasons of “Grimm” and “Dr. Who,” both of which I have recorded for him and am foregoing watching until he is home (well, at least “Grimm”). I know that I will be unable to avoid watching “Dr. Who” as I’ve been waiting for this new season for soooo long. You would have to be a Whovian to really understand the madness inherent in such dedication to a show.

“They wished to flower,
and flowering is being beautiful:
but we wish to ripen,
and that means being dark and taking pains.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

I was going to say that I will try to resist from getting too political in the coming weeks, but with the DNC coming up next week, it will probably be hard. I do apologize to those of you who have no real interest in my rantings about politics and politicians, but they all just make it so easy. Part of me truly wishes that we had more of a campaign season like the UK’s, which only lasts a few weeks.

“Off on the Breeze” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

These weeks and weeks of ads, exaggerations, and outright lies really get to me. I find myself talking back to the television more than usual. That being said, I had planned to do a real post last night, but I lost the first section when I went to save and was redirected to login, which peeved me to no end, so I decided to watch television for a bit and then post. And then . . . holy cow, the empty chair and Clint Eastwood—it was beautifully comedic and somewhat sad at the same time. I have always loved the squinty-eyed Eastwood, loved all of his spaghetti Westerns, but nothing beats his performance at the RNC.

Hence, I posted the footage as Jon Stewart presented it. I mean really. Does anything beat an academy-award actor having a dialogue with a chair? Surreal. And yet, too real. But Eastwood’s performance was only beaten by Stewart’s commentary, which was almost poetic in its incision. As Brett reminds me, it’s kind of sad that the most honest political reporting is on Comedy Central.

“Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again . . .” ~ Frank O’Hara, from “Mayakovsky

So a little bit of good news. I picked up the frames that I ordered at Wal Mart a few weeks ago, and quell surprise! I still like them. Now I just have to wait for Corey to get paid so that I can actually order the glasses and sunglasses. I am still waffling about the contact lenses.

“Maine Seascape” (ca 1920’s, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

I know that I went on and on about how wonderful it was to have contacts that I could actually see with, but after wearing them for a few days, I had to face the harsh reality: Yes, I can see wonderfully when they are in, but my near vision, such as reading labels, it compromised. I am fortunate for an individual of my age, shall we say, in that I have no problems whatsoever in reading close up. I do not use glasses for reading, for using the computer, when I’m in the kitchen. I don’t need them.

So when I went to make formula for Olivia while I was wearing the news lenses, and I realized that I couldn’t really see the lines on the bottle, not distinctly, I was dismayed. I could pump up that vision by wearing a pair of reading glasses, I suppose, but then, what would be the point in wearing multi-focal lenses? I don’t need nor want reading glasses. I have nothing against them except that I don’t need them.

So do I order contacts so that I have them on hand when/if Corey and I go out, and I don’t want to wear glasses? Probably, but I really hate that my eyes have gotten to this point, whatever point that is. And I know that I’ll never have vision correction surgery as I am just way too scared when it comes to anyone messing with my eyeballs.

Whatever . . .

“All the means of action—the shapeless masses—the materials—lie everywhere about us. What we need is the celestial fire to change the flint into the transparent crystal, bright and clear.

That fire is genius.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In this past week, I have composed the beginnings of a poem and the beginnings of a story in my mind. Wonderful, you say?

“Boats at the Pier” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

Not really as I did not bother to write either of them down. Have no record of them, and hence, no memory. Haven’t the vaguest what either of them were about. I know that one poem came to me after driving Brett to school, but I cannot remember the context, and I know that the story came to me after a dream, but again, that’s all that I remember.

So much for my big plans to do anything with anything.

I stopped in a discount store last weekend looking for one thing. As I was walking down the book aisle, because of course, if there is a book aisle, I have to traverse it even if I’m looking for antifreeze, a title jumped at me, something about contacting literary agents. It was insanely cheap, and I put the book in my cart, but then, I couldn’t find the one thing that I was looking for, so I left the cart with the book sitting in an aisle, and I walked out of the store.

Now consider: Does this make any sense to you? I found a very affordable book listing literary agents and what their specialties, a book from 2011, for under eight dollars, and I did not purchase it. Wat it because I can find this same information on the Internet? No. That’s not the reason. I actually talked myself out of buying this book because what was the point in standing in line when I couldn’t find antifreeze? But which was really more important in the grand scheme: the antifreeze (which I really needed immediately) or the book (which I could actually use to do something with my writing)?

Obviously, I opted for antifreeze, and for the life of me, I have no idea as to why. Genius, thy name is not mine.

“I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.” ~ Franz Kafka, from his Diaries

Whenever I come across a song or poem that I want to post, but it seems too familiar, I do a search on key terms within my old posts to make sure that I’m not repeating myself, which is how I came across a post from this past spring that really brought me up short. The post is from April 29 and features a picture from my friend over at Titirangi Storyteller. Why do I mention this? Only because of this: When I reread it, I felt disembodied.

“Fishing Boats at Sunrise” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

Who had written these words? Where did they come from?

You see, I really felt like I hadn’t written it, couldn’t have written it, could not have possibly said these things in this way. It was just too . . . well, too lyrical, for want of a better word.

I hate it when that happens, hate it and love it when I surprise myself like that. Hate it when I realize that perhaps I really can write, and then hate it more when I think that that’s how I write sometimes, but I do nothing with it. Hate it when I sense that those words are within me, yet I do not let them out most of the time. You have no idea how painful it is to realize that somewhere inside are poems and stories, and yet, they only surface occasionally.

Or is it that I only let them surface occasionally? Or do I not work hard enough at letting them surface? Or am I just lazy? These are the kinds of things on which I obsess, the kinds of things that make me crazy and give me headaches. Between this and the literary agents book, I’ve worked myself into a conundrum: Why do I do the things that I do? No, really. Why?

Why? Why? Why?

More later. Peace.

*All images by Norwegian-born American painter Jonas Lie (1880-1940), known for his New England seascapes and American landscapes.

Music by Cass McCombs, “Harmonia”

                   

Between Going and Coming

Between going and staying
the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.

All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.

Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.

Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.

The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.

I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.

The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.

~ Octavio Paz

“In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.” ~ Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop

"Tiergarten im Winter," by Lesser Ury (German, 1892)

                   

“Truth doesn’t run on time like a commuter train, though time may run on truth. And the Scenes Gone By and the Scenes to Come flow blending together in the sea-green deep while Now spreads in circles on the surface.” ~ Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion

Saturday evening. Cloudy and mild, high 50’s.

6:30 a.m., I heard the songbirds outside my window and watched the sky begin to lighten. Sleep eluded me for the longest time, possibly because I stayed up to finish the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockinjay, but more likely because I found it impossible to get comfortable in any position. Unfortunately, my back has been quite out-of-sorts in the past few days. Of course. My headache has subsided, so the back decides to kick in.

"Gardasee mit Monte Baldo," by Lesser Ury (1914)

I had almost forgotten how painful my back could get, and it actually took me a while to connect this new source of pain, so focused have I been of late on the head pain. Now, the pain is centered squarely on the operation site at the base of my spine, and when this happens, there is actually little that I can do other than to have Corey apply patches and keep myself plastered to my heating pad.

When I finally got up this afternoon, I went into the garage to the get the dogs’ food and dropped the cup that I use to scoop out their servings from the big bag. When I bent over to retrieve the cup, this pain shot straight up my spine. And as always when some part of my body really acts out or up or whatever, I think oh so fondly of the Social Security judge who declared that I was not disabled.

Like the character Katniss from the books that I just finished, I think often of revenge. Think.

“Where does a thought go when it’s forgotten?” ~ Sigmund Freud

A few days ago when I sat down to do my mini posts, I was quite perturbed as I had had a thought as to what I might write an actual post about the next time I got a chance, but for the life of me, I could not remember what this great thought was. Of course, I had the thought as I was lying in bed trying to will myself to sleep, and since I was awake, I thought that surely I would remember the idea.

"London im Nebel," by Lesser Ury (1926)

It took me three days to remember, and when I did, I realized that it wasn’t the wonderful creative spark that I had thought that it was.

Memory is tricky like that: one minute something enters the brain and seems brilliant, full of promise, and then later, when recalled, the original idea has lost its luster. The brain, after having a bit of time to mull over the concept, throws it out, rejects it as nothing more than fodder. That used to happen to me a lot when I fancied myself a poet: I would come up with concepts for new poems, and then as I sat down to write the masterpiece there would be . . . nothing, or what came out was so much less than I had originally envisioned.

I don’t know about others, but I do know myself, and when I force an idea or concept, it never works. Never. The result is garbage that I wouldn’t let my dogs read as I am certain that my dogs are much more discerning than most of the general public, the only problem being in the actual physicality of reading; although Alfie, the smallest, has taken to jumping into the dining room chair at the end of the table and staring at the screen on Corey’s laptop as if he is perusing the pages.

“These are reprieves. Respites
in the demands of sensation
and flow. Know this: you can you can
you can you can you can.” ~ Margot Schilpp, from “Advice in the Form of Confusions

So Friday came and went, and Corey still did not hear anything from the shipping company. I think that it is safe to assume that he is not leaving tomorrow or Monday.

"The River Thames, London," by Lesser Ury

He is getting so frustrated, second-guessing himself as to whether or not he should have taken the Pacific ship, as to whether or not this is actually going to happen or if he is just being strung along again as he was with Vane Brothers, who never came through after promises and promises.

I tried to reassure him that the company must be more frustrated as the longer the Coast Guard holds up the vessel in the shipyard, the more money that the company is losing. The other thing that I did not mention is that even though the hold-up is because of the Coast Guard, I am happy if they are in fact being stringent about the seaworthiness of the ship. Just saying.

But he still feels as if he’s on tenterhooks, swinging in the breeze.

He was involved in a bit of excitement the other day, though, albeit on the periphery: He had gone to Best Buy to see about having my new motherboard installed, and the price has gone up again, from $100 to something like $220, but that’s not the story. As he was leaving the parking lot, several police cars pulled up, and there was much running. As it turns out, a couple of kids tried to steal some games; they were chased by a store security guard and a couple of concerned customers. When the teens were confronted, one of them pulled out a sword and cut someone. Here’s the link.

Needless to say, we didn’t put the computer in for service with them, and luckily, Corey was at the front of the store when all of the excitement was happening in the store’s rear. Wild.

“The lightning has shown me the scars of the future.” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “The Nails

One thing we did learn from the Best Buy computer tech is that my graphics card is also fried. No telling why no one pointed that out the other two times the computer has been in their hands. Corey can replace the graphics card, but we’ll have to find somewhere else to take  the computer to have the motherboard installed as that is definitely more complicated.

"Am Gardasee," by Lesser Ury (1897)

Fortunately, a new graphics card is not expensive. By the time everything is done to my computer, it will have a new power supply, a new cooling fan, a new motherboard, and a new graphics card. The darned thing had better work after all of this. I’m just a wee bit (more than a wee) frustrated with more delays as I would very much like to be at work on my own system at my own desk. But I suppose in the grand scheme of things, this delay is relatively minor.

I did want to mention that I enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy more than I had expected. After I ordered it, I heard from a few people that the writing wasn’t that great. It’s considered a young adult (YA) series, which brings up comparisons to J. K. Rowling, and admittedly, it wasn’t Harry Potter level, but the dystopic scenario was believable, and I sped through all three books. There was a quiet strength to Katniss.

Next on my reading list is the Game of Thrones four-book set that I ordered. In between I might read the book that I bought Eamonn for Christmas about the Bataan death march during WWII. He’s finished it and passed it along to me.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ~ Epicurus

Let’s see, in other news . . . Eamonn has asked for Rosetta Stone French for his birthday, which is in March. As it’s his 21st birthday, we’re going to try to get it for him. I’ve managed to find it at a relatively good reduced price (down from the $300-400 retail price). His friend Sean, who is Army reserves, has free access to any Rosetta Stone, which I think is a really great perk for our service people.

"Landscape," Lesser Ury

Brett is coming along in school. He likes two out of four of his classes. His math and computer science classes are basic classes, so he is bored out of his mind. But he is enjoying his creative writing and art classes. I’m glad that he has decided to take up his sketching and drawing again as I found it very disheartening when he let the comments of his high school teacher dissuade him from drawing. Her emphasis was on trying to meet the standards for the IB exam, which didn’t leave all that much room for personal creativity—yet another instance of teaching for testing.

Alexis is doing well. We speak to each other much more than we were, and she has taken to dropping by unannounced again. We have all missed her, so the change is nice. At the moment, she is waiting for her updated registration to arrive in the mail to make her car legal again. In Norfolk (perhaps all of Virginia, unsure), the city government does not allow drivers to renew their annual registrations if they are behind in their personal property taxes, which was one of the things that we had let lapse in order to pay other bills, like the mortgage and groceries. When Corey went to register his truck, you know, the one that is still not on the road, we had to pay our back taxes, which was a huge chunk of change.

It’s hard to shell out money for personal property taxes when you are just making enough to get by. I find the whole idea of personal property taxes abhorrent in that I don’t feel that the Commonwealth of Virginia uses the money for the right things, but what do I know?

“At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.” ~ Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Well, tonight I’m hoping for a more restful, normal night. Although, normal in my world is anything but. It seems that I am always pinning my hopes on something to come: When Corey leaves, I will start my walking regimen. When Corey leaves, I will try to get to sleep by midnight and awaken in the morning instead of the afternoon. When this stuff clears out of my lungs, I will try to be more active. If . . . when . . .

"Landscape," Lesser Ury

At the moment, I don’t want any changes in my routine as I am too concentrated on spending as much time with Corey as possible, so if that means that we start watching a movie at 2 a.m., so be it. I’ll have time to change my schedule later.

Later.

Such a seemingly innocuous word. As if there will always be laters, as if there will always be tomorrows. At what point in our lives to we begin to accept that we have had more yesterdays than we have tomorrows in store for us? Is acceptance of such a thing resignation? I hope not.

Later. Tomorrow. Whenever.

Words that imply promise, words that connote hope, possibly? We must have hope, even if the sunsets loom closer than the sunrises.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cary Brothers, “Something”

                   

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone.  As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions.  To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings.  Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice.  You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation.  The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last.  All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves.  Everything is waiting for you.

~ David Whyte

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

Cosmos by Arapy

                   

“I’m not a girl—I’m a woman. I want things. Shall I ever have them? To write all the morning and then to get lunch over quickly and to write again in the afternoon and have supper and one cigarette together and then to be alone again till bedtime—and all this love and joy that fights for outlet, and all this life drying up, like milk, in an old breast. Oh, I want life! I  want friends and people and a house. I want to give and to spend.” ~ Katherine Mansfield,  May 15, 1915

Tuesday late afternoon. Sunny and very warm.

Field of Wild Flowers by Valeri Simov (Pixdaus)

I’ve spent several hours online looking for a transmission for the Dodge. Vic, our neighbor, is ready to start work on the truck. We need to buy a transmission and a transfer case. I’m tired of speaking to men who talk too quickly, mumble, then get agitated if I ask them to repeat what they said. You know the kind of person of whom I am speaking—they don’t like speaking on the phone, so they rush to try to get off as soon as possible.

As a result, I have a dull headache in the back of my skull.

Speaking of which, I don’t remember if I mentioned it, but my lumbar puncture came back normal, no fungus, no infection. So now what?

I rescheduled my appointment with my gastro guy, which was supposed to be yesterday. I rescheduled for next Monday, and I must keep this one as I really need to know the results of my last two tests, that and tell him that the new medication that he gave me has stopped working. I wake up every morning with my mouth tasting like acid. I can’t keep eating Tums all day long to supplement the new medicine, which is supposed to be so much better than Nexium, but for me at least, it’s not.

Last night I dreamed that I had taken up smoking again, which is so far-fetched. I’ve been trying to get Corey to stop for years, to no avail. I’ve never been hooked, but I used to smoke in college during exams, and I tend to want to smoke if I’m in a bar or singing karaoke (neither of which has happened in quite a while).

Yesterday I decided to sweep the doggy hair tumbleweeds that were all over the wood flooring. After I did that, I decided that the floors really needed to be cleaned, so I mopped the kitchen, bathroom, and entry way, and cleaned the wood floors with Murphy’s oil wax, all of this on top of keeping the laundry going all day. By 9 p.m. I was hot, hurting, and exhausted, so no posting for me even though I had already picked out my quotes.

“You want to live—but do you know how to live? You are  scared of dying—and, tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead?” ~ Seneca

VIctorian Walled Garden, Bellahouston Park, Glascow, Scotland by dalbera (FCC)

Last night, Eamonn picked up Brett, and the two of them went with Alexis to see their grandfather in the hospital. Once again, I did not see Alexis. Brett said that his grandpa looks bad and that he was really tired, but he did recognize everyone. I know that for Brett anyway, having his grandfather be more cognizant helped to make the visit a bit more bearable.

I’m going to try to go with Ann later in the week if possible. I’m hoping that I don’t run into my ex or my step-m-in-law while I’m there. The prospect of seeing either or both makes me cringe, but it won’t keep me from visiting

My gardenia bush is in bloom, so perhaps I’ll cut some blooms to take when I go. My f-in-law got into raising roses when he married his second/current wife. Ann told me that when she went to see him, he mentioned that he needed to cut some roses for her mother because she would like that. I’m thinking that in his final days, he may be feeling a bit of guilt about how he left my m-in-law for the other woman, but I am only surmising. Who knows how the brain works when the body begins to shut down.

I would imagine that the past and the present begin to comingle, that time ceases to be linear and reverts to being circular, that things long forgotten come back to the forefront and that the most recent memories fade most easily. It’s all part of the mystery.

“Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given the door will open.” ~ Jalal-al-Din Rumi

Wildflowers, Oro Valley, Arizona

Our brains are such interesting organs. They are the seat of our emotions and the housing for our logic. Everything that we know, that we feel, that we think—it all comes from our brains. Our very consciousness arises from the little grey cells. Our dreams, passions, likes, and dislikes all reside within this three-pound organ, give or take a few ounces. We are born with the capacity for such emotions as joy, happiness, fear, and shyness, but the nurturing we receive affects how these emotions are developed.

Our brains are almost full-sized when we are born, and a newborn’s brain contains most of the brain cells for life. Interestingly, our brains stop growing around age 18. Does this explain why teenagers act they way that they do?

Some disorders originate from the brain, like my m-in-law’s Parkinson’s Disease. Psychiatric conditions such as my depression are thought to arise from a brain dysfunction. My brother-in-law’s brain damage from the car accident has resulted in his impaired vision, and cerebral cortex damage means that he cannot speak. My daughter Caitlin’s malignant ependymoma was located in the fourth ventricle of her brain.

Because the human brain is about 75 percent water, it is very susceptible to damage from alcohol and drugs, something my ex should probably consider when he’s on his sixth beer. Alcohol also weakens the connections between neurons. Also consider that smoking is bad for the brain as it causes brain cells to die and stops neurogenesis, the process of creating new brain cells.

And then, of course, there is love, which does not reside in the heart as the ancients believed, but rather in the brain. Specifically, fight, flight, anger, and love all reside in the most primitive part of the brain, the brain stem, or the lizard brain, so called because it resembles the entire brain of reptiles. This area of the brain, located near the base of the skull, hearkens back to the dinosaur brain, interestingly enough.

“The silence one hopes for, no echoes of recrimination. Dreams reside there.” ~ Robert Gibbons, from “XI,” Rhythm of Desire and Resistance

Field of Poppies

I read a mind-blowing article (pun intended) called “Humans Have Three Brains,” by James Thornton. According to Thornton, human have three brains: the lizard brain, the dog brain, and the human brain.

The lizard brain, which developed first, is the smallest. It controls “breathing, vision, bodily movement” and also allows “fierce territorial fights, lusty bouts of mating, and displays of anger.” Thornton also contends that lizard brains do not allow for complex states such as loyalty, which is why an alligator mother will leave her eggs. Loyalty comes from the dog brain.

Mammals came into being about 100 million years ago. The mammalian or dog brain that resides atop the lizard brain is the complex limbic system. Thornton says that the dog brain accounts for the richer experiences, such as love and loyalty.

Then there is the human brain, the neo-cortex, which developed a few hundred thousand years ago with the appearance of the apes. This brain  gives rise to poetry, art, language, and reason: “It is inside this human brain that mathematics and music, deception and politics, religion and racism live. It is the Machiavelli as well as the Mozart brain, the Eichman as well as the Einstein brain.”

Thornton posits that these brains work inter-dependently; the human brain contains language, but the separate dog and lizard brains contain emotions:

The older brains cannot speak. They can only feel and act. This is where the self-contradictory nature of so much human behavior comes from. It explains why we can cheat on someone we love: each of our brains is pursuing different kinds of satisfaction.

The lizard brain is moved to lust. The dog brain is moved to love and loyalty. The human brain is moved to the idea of romance and a dream of ethics. (The human brain is also moved to sadomasochism and premeditated murder.)

Apparently, humans have different kinds of memory also. According to Thornton, there are “independent memory systems in the neo-cortex and the limbic system. The big human brain has the intellectual memory where we remember facts and phone numbers. The dog brain has an emotion-based memory. It is slower to learn but retains memories longer. In fact it never forgets your experiences. As we age the neo-cortical memory degrades and we have senior moments. This doesn’t happen to the limbic brain.”

“Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world,
pierced by a ray of sunlight,
and suddenly it’s evening.” ~ Salvatore Quasimodo

Echoes by KarolZ

Our brains are soft and fatty. They create enough wattage to illuminate a light bulb. They are the actual seat of power in the human body, but they are also fragile even though the organ itself can feel no pain. A stroke can do irreparable harm to a brain, as can bruising of the brain and oxygen deprivation.

We can choose to enhance our brain’s capabilities by reading more and learning other languages, and we can stint the growth of another’s brains through sensory deprivation and abuse. Eating seafood regularly can decrease our susceptibility to dementia. Oxytocin can make us feel love and be more receptive to sex; it can make us feel content and reduce anxiety. Endorphins can relieve pain and control our appetites, and our brains produce both of these hormones.

The brain is an enigma. It is wiredrawn like a finely spun web: intricate, beautiful, strong and simultaneously fragile. I knew a woman who worked at Old Dominion, seemingly healthy, in her 30’s, who died in an instant from a brain aneuryism. There was no warning. She was in the kitchen, and her husband heard her say, ‘Oh.” By the time he got there from the bedroom, she was dead.

What it boils down to for me is the mystery, how the scope of emotions can reside in something that only makes up about 2 percent of our total body weight.  How misery and elation can both come from the same place. How our ability to reason logically is in proximity to our ability to be devious. How the invisible, the intangible, and the immeasurable—love, loyalty, hate, and happiness—are manifest along with the tangible—blinking, yawning, talking, and seeing.

I will tell you this: Of all the parts of my body, I think my brain is the sexiest, and it’s the part that I like the best.

More later. Peace.

Music by Michelle Branch, “Are You Happy Now?”

                   

Gradual Clearing

Late in the day the fog
wrung itself out like a sponge
in glades of rain,
sieving the half-invisible
cove with speartips;
then, in a lifting
of wisps and scarves, of smoke-rings
from about the islands, disclosing
what had been wavering
fishnet plissé as a smoothness
of peau-de-soie or just-ironed
percale, with a tatting
of foam out where the rocks are,
the sheened no-color of it,
the bandings of platinum
and magnesium suffusing,
minute by minute, with clandestine
rose and violet, with opaline
nuance of milkweed, a texture
not to be spoken of above a whisper,
began, all along the horizon,
gradually to unseal
like the lip of a cave
or of a cavernous,
single, pearl-
engendering seashell.

~ Amy Clampitt

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

                   

“Where you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.” ~ Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Wednesday night. Day 9 of the headache from hell.

Reboot Universe

Bonne Année! Buon Anno! Happy New Year . . . five days late.

As I said above, I am now on day nine of this particular migraine, and quite frankly, it’s driving me to distraction. I had wanted to do my new year’s post, well, on new year’s day, but stabbing pain in one’s eye coupled with extreme light sensitivity make approaching the computer for more than a few minutes impossible. At the moment, I seem to be in a lull from the pain; I wouldn’t dare say that it’s over as that would just reignite the curse; nevertheless, I thought that I would write while I am able.

I have chicken cacciatore simmering on the stove, something that I haven’t made in years. The idea popped into my head, and since I had chicken in the freezer, I thought, ‘why not?’ I’m using boneless chicken breasts, but thighs are better as they give the dish more flavor. Some of you may know the dish as Hunter’s Chicken—same dish, different name. Essentially, it’s an Italian chicken stew with wine, onions, garlic, and preferably, fresh herbs and tomatoes. The only fresh herb that I have is Rosemary, but I made do. From the aromas wafting from the kitchen, I think that I may have just nailed it even though I couldn’t find my recipe and had to cobble together something from a few different recipes on the Internet.

Why such excitement over a dinner? Well if you know me at all, you know that I don’t cook often any more, mostly because the standing for prep work really gets to my back, so when I am able to put together a meal, I add it to the victory column, a column that reads mostly empty.

(Aside: Have you ever fed a dog a spaghetti noodle? Too funny.)

Oh well. Small steps.

“Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.” ~ Louise Erdrich, “Advice to Myself”

Word Art

Corey is working tonight until 11. Yesterday he had to fly to D.C. for a medical transport. Luckily, he didn’t get snowed in like last time, and he was up and back within a day. I know that he’s tired—physically and mentally. Now that the holidays are over, he’s hoping that something will happen on the shipping front. It’s so hard not to place too much stock in what he has been told, not to pin our hopes on assertions and predictions by people who have not idea as to just how much they hold our future in their hands.

Yesterday Brett had his IB ceremony at Granby. Kind of strange since the graduates have finished one semester of college, but it has to be this way since the IB grades aren’t calculated until after graduation. IB diplomas and certificates are awarded to those who graduated from the program in the preceding academic year. It was a nice, short ceremony, fairly informal, and Brett was able to catch up with some people, which was nice for him.

He’s had a good Christmas break, seeing some friends, relaxing, and wreaking havoc on “Call of Duty.” Haven’t seen much of Eamonn since Christmas Day, and Alexis hasn’t been around since losing her car. I have no idea as to what she is going to do; every time I call her she’s asleep.

Not even going to go there . . . My mother does enough fretting over the situation for the both of us.

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.” Jalal al-Din Rumi

"Someday this pain will be useful to you"

Having really strange dreams of late. Only vague memories of people from my past, and of course, the ongoing work dreams in which I have returned to work, but in recent dreams, I keep getting fired from whatever job I’m doing.

I have a fairly good idea as to why my dreams are moving in this direction: Up until a few weeks ago, I had been feeling much better in the pain department. Then the migraine hit, and about five days ago, my back really began to act up again, so much so that I spent two straight days in bed. The retreat to my bed for consecutive days hasn’t happened in a few months, and I had forgotten how much I really, really detest it.

I mean, in trying to recapture somewhat of a normal (whatever that is) life, I am trying to do more, not overdo, just do. So when my body rebels, I take it quite personally: a betrayal, a direct assault on my sensibilities.

Let me explain: The two months during which I took care of my mother I had to shunt aside my own health concerns to focus on her needs. Admittedly, there were days in which I was exhausted—physically and emotionally—but I had no choice but to do what was necessary, and in so doing, I found that I felt more necessary, not just to my mother, but in this world as a whole. Then, when faced with the reality of my own physical limitations, I find that I highly resent it.

Does that make sense? Resent myself, or rather, my physicality?

“I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.” ~ Mary Oliver, from “Starlings in Winter”

Plato Word Art

I suppose that I still cling to the idea that one day I will be my old self again—the self who could work 12 hours a day, get by just fine on five hours of sleep, take yoga classes, clean my own house, wash my car, plant flowers—that person. It’s hard to settle for less when you know exactly what you used to be capable of accomplishing in your own.

I don’t want that person to be gone completely from this world as that is a reality that would sadden me and make me feel useless.

Another oh well . . .

So instead of resolutions for 2011 (since I never keep resolutions), I am going to list just a few things that I would like to see as being within the realm of possibility in my life at some time in the near future (in no particular order):

  • Visit the Humpback Mountain in western Virginia and trying to walk/hike the basic trail
  • Get back into yoga
  • Plant flowers this spring
  • Paint the living room
  • Treat myself to a good haircut and a massage
  • Contact a few people from the publishing program at GW just to catch up
  • See Mari again
  • Put new batteries in my watches that have died (I know, pitiful huh?)
  • Get away for a weekend with Corey, just the two of us, anywhere
  • Write a few poems
  • Watch less television
  • Take Tillie for walks around the neighborhood

I don’t see this as an impossible list, and I’m not even saying that I’ll do all of this in 2011, but damn. If I don’t put some ideas out there, then I’ll never focus. It’s not that I lack motivation, or at least I don’t think that’s what it is. I could be kidding myself. I mean, I had to really think to come up with 12 separate items.

This is by no means my bucket list. This is my memento vivere list, my reminder to myself to live, that I still live, that life is truly still mine for the taking. Perhaps it’s sad that I must remind myself of this, but at least I am self-aware enough to know that I need to be reminded.

Understand?

Headache is returning. Time to retreat.

More later. Peace.

Music by Greg Laswell, “And Then You”

“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” ~ John Green

Medieval Illustration: Astrology and the Body

  

“We all get lost once in a while, sometimes by choice, sometimes due to forces beyond our control. When we learn what it is our soul needs to learn, the path presents itself.” ~ Cecelia Ahern
Medieval Medicinal Herbs

It seems that I was just talking about the number of people I have come across who are giving up blogging. For some people, the time just seems right to close a chapter in their lives. For other, it is less a matter of timing and more a matter of  giving up the ghost, as it were. Blogging no longer offers the sense of accomplishment, or the challenge, or the outlet for release that it once did, and so, the blog dies—sometimes naturally, and sometimes with assistance. I find it sad no matter what the cause.

So extremely sad news, not just for me but for all fans of one of my favorite blogs: Floridana, by Janson Jones. Janson, whose life is very full with his family and his full-time job teaching at the University of Alaska, has decided to end his current blog.

I’ve been following Janson’s blog since I first began blogging myself. To not have it available for weekly reading is going to be a loss. The good news is that Janson plans to keep posting his beautiful photographs on deviantArt. DeviantArt is a wonderfully eclectic site that features submissions in many categories: digital art, photography, traditional art, film and animation, manga/anime, flash, and fan art.  If you’ve never visited this site, you might want to take a stroll through the submissions, many of which can be purchased.

Janson’s link on deviantArt can be found on my blogroll under Visual Stimulation or by clicking here. Janson, I’m really going to miss your posts and your incredible photography of Alaska, Florida, and other parts. Take care.

I have come to drag you out of yourself and take you in my heart. I have come to bring out the beauty you never knew you had, and lift you like a prayer to the sky.” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi
Medieval Illustration: Veins in the Body

In other news around the blogosphere, I came across a few posts in recent days that deserve mentioning. First, there was a wonderfully-insightful post on Truth and Rocket Science called “Glass Full of Oil.” John, the author of the post, is originally from New Orleans, so he feels the acute dismay of this spill keenly. The post deals with the ethical issues of a country dependent upon fossil fuels, oil, and the oil business. Ultimately, it asks the hard question:

This isn’t rocket science.  It’s a matter of will.  We are the richest country on Earth, and we can do this if we want to.  While we’re at it, we can finally clean up the mess and set things to right from Katrina.  What America does shows the world—and more importantly, ourselves—what we really want and what we really care about.   What shall we do this time?

Another wonderful post comes from Rodibidably, who recently posted about healthcare reform. This post includes videos from Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow, and Representative Barney Frank. The author is worried that the American people have become complacent about reform, and as a result, the opposition is gaining ground. He posits five action points on what still needs to be done about healthcare reform:

  • Ensure that EVERYBODY is covered and has equal access to health care
  • Ensure that medical professionals are making the decisions for what treatment should be given, and not accountants at an insurance company
  • Ensure that NOBODY goes broke due to health care costs
  • Ensure that everybody has access to medical treatment, regardless of the providers’ personal feelings about such treatment (i.e. don’t allow pharmacists to refuse to give women “the pill”)
  • Ensure that “Science Based Medicine” is the basis of treatment

And finally, Titirangi Storyteller featured a post on the 6th of June called “Women Time Forgot.” Unlike the previous two, this is more of a personal post in which the author talks about how we as women are supposed to age as compared to how we really age. Witty and ultimately enjoyable. Here is a taste:

Who are we? Where do we belong? We are the women that time forgot.

There is no name for us. No single word or box we fit into. There is only one acceptable definition – we are The Wild Women!

We’ve paid our dues. We’ve proven everything we need to prove. They ain’t got anything on us! The reason it’s been kept a secret is – we are the most dangerous people alive… We’re no longer living for them – whoever they may be.

Wild women. Women of a certain age. Women time forgot. All of these or perhaps none. Only the woman herself can know.

By the way, Titirangi is in Auckland, New Zealand.

Sometimes inspired thoughts weave themselves into the finest fabrics,
And grow ever fresher and more comely as they expand,
Glistening with colors of the most exquisite embroidery,
And tuned to the poignant music of a thousand strings. ~ Lu Chi
Medieval Illustration: Bloodletting

So last night, just as I was adding the images to my post about feverfew and sunflowers, the Internet went out. The post itself isn’t anything special, but it was one of those that took every ounce in me to write as I was feeling less than creative, downright listless, in fact. So when my computer stopped working, I was royally torqued out of shape. It had taken me almost two hours to write less than 1,000 words. The entire process reminded me of bloodletting.

You know, what they used to do to get rid of illnesses in people: cutting them open and letting the blood drip out so as to rid the body of ill humours, those four things that resided in the body and controlled a person’s health. Never heard of it? Then you didn’t study Medieval and Elizabethan literature because doctors in literature were always bleeding someone or using leeches to cure the ill. Hamlet, for example, is ripe with allusions to his ill-humour.

Even though medicine in the Middle Ages was derived from ancient Greek and Roman texts, elements of Islamic medicine were also incorporated, particularly during the Crusades. Hand-in-hand with the pervasive suspicions and beliefs in the supernatural, Medieval medicine was also based on the idea that factors such as destiny, sin, and astral influences could affect the human body.

The underlying principle of medieval medicine was the theory of humours, which was derived from ancient medical works. The idea of humours, which dominated all western medicine up until the 19th century, stated that within every individual there were four humours, or principal fluids: black bile (earth), yellow bile (fire), phlegm (water), and blood (air). These fluids/humours were produced by various organs in the body, and they had to be in balance for a person to remain healthy.

For example, my melancholy would have been diagnosed as too much earth. Too much phlegm in the body, for example, caused lung problems; so the individual would have been told to cough up the phlegm to restore a balance. The balance of humours in humans could be achieved by diet, medicines, and by blood-letting, using leeches. The four humours were also associated with the four elements and the four seasons, black bile-autumn, yellow bile-summer, phlegm-winter and blood-spring. The signs of the zodiac were also associated with certain humours. Even now, some still use words “choleric”, “sanguine”, “phlegmatic” and “melancholy” to describe personalities.

Aries Avoid incisions in the head and face and cut no vein in the head.
Taurus Avoid incisions in the neck and throat and cut no veins there.
Gemini Avoid incisions in the shoulders, arms or hands and cut no vein.
Cancer Avoid incisions in the breasts, sides, stomach and lungs and cut no vein that goes to the spleen.
Leo Avoid incisions of the nerves, lesions of the sides and bones, and do not cut the back either by opening and bleeding.
Virgo Avoid opening a wound in the belly and in the internal parts.
Libra Avoid opening wounds in the umbellicus and parts of the belly and do not open a vein in the back or do cupping.
Scorpio Avoid cutting the testicles and anus.
Sagittarius Avoid incisions in the thighs and fingers and do not cut blemishes and growths.
Capricorn Avoid cutting the knees or the veins and sinews in these places.
Aquarius Avoid cutting the knees or the veins and veins in these places.
Pisces Avoid cutting the feet.
Treatment According to Zodiac Sign
 
“Man is a microcosm, or a little world, because he is an extract from all the stars and planets of the whole firmament, from the earth and the elements; and so he is their quintessence.” ~ Parcelus, 16th Century Physician
Medieval Doctor's Bloodletting Blades

Historically, physicians believed that many illnesses were caused by an excess of blood, and bloodletting was a frequent prescription for a wide range of conditions. As far-fetched as it may sound, the bloodletting may have actually been beneficial in some cases, as, for example, in cases of high blood pressure. Lowering blood volume would lower blood pressure. On the other hand, the loss of too much blood could make  patients sicker, and unfortunately, repeated bloodletting was often employed if a patient did not show improvement.

Therapeutic bloodletting was accomplished by puncturing veins punctured with knives or needles, or by using leeches to suck blood from a patient. Leeches are still used in modern medical treatment to treat specific conditions, such as poor circulation. In some cases, leeches can actually restore the flow of blood to a damaged extremity, potentially preventing the loss of that extremity.

So, bearing all of that in mind, I need to avoid cutting my knees, and I need an infusion of lemon balm (insomnia), chamomile (headaches), and yarrow (pain relief).

More later. Peace.

Eric Clapton, “Change the World”