” . . . and all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Late Summer Sky, Kentucky (FCC)

“I’m walking through goldenrod
in new shoes, shoes I got for a song—
like the one I’m singing now
that pleases the cicadas, the one
that would make Schubert cry.
And I love the way the ash
is the first tree always
to turn” ~ Keith Ratzlaff, from “Yellow Landscape”

Monday afternoon, cloudy and warm, 86 degrees.

So the forecast was wrong, of course. More warm weather in store, but fall is definitely looming. The Gold Finches are buzzing the late summer thistles, and the air is taking on that clear expectancy—not the stillness of a hot summer afternoon, but hesitant, as if awaiting  autumn’s redolent aspect. Right after I mentioned how certain trees are already losing their leaves, I came across Keith Ratzlaff’s poem that mentions ash trees losing their leaves first. Serendipitous.

Last night I dreamed about Eamonn; he had just broken up with someone he had been dating, and she was a real piece of work. She sent someone to kill me with a knife. My dreams can be truly frightening at times. Anyway I chose today’s lovely song to go with today’s poem, which reminds me so much of my father, and it is bittersweet to think of him naked to the waist in his backyard on a late summer afternoon, taking a bite out of something he has just picked from his garden. God I miss him so very, very much.

Late Summer Color, Sierra Nevada (FCC)

Corey is cutting down trees in preparation for cold weather so that we don’t run out of wood this winter. Last year we were able to rely on Dallas to supplement what we had. This year that won’t be an option, so he’s getting ready. It’s odd to think of all of the small ways in which we depended upon Dallas and he on us, and now he’s gone. I still haven’t grieved for him. There has been no sense of closure, and I find myself angry at people I don’t even know, his kids, but I also do not know the circumstances of their estrangement. I don’t kid myself that Dallas was innocent, as I knew him too well to think that.

Nevertheless, I am still angry, and things feel incomplete, a caesura in time, if you will.

“There was a time, usually late in August, when summer struck the trees with dazzling power and they were rich with leaves but then became, suddenly one day, strangely still, as if in expectation and at that moment aware. They knew. Everything knew, the beetles, the frogs, the crows solemnly walking across the lawn. The sun was at its zenith and embraced the world, but it was ending, all that one loved was at risk.” ~ James Salter, from All That Is

Odd little thing around the homestead: We have swarms of flies that we can’t seem to get rid of; they are everywhere, every room, and not just a few. There are too many to count. Corey has put up fly strips (which I really hate, but they work), and they are covered in dead flies within hours. It’s very strange. It’s as if there are unseen carcasses hanging around the house, attracting these swarms, and you might assume that the house is filthy with waste and masses of trash, but I assure you that it is not.

Late Begonias and Fallen Leaves (FCC)

The flies buzz me as I sit typing; they buzz me as I try to sleep. It’s making me crazy. I really, really hate flies. They are nasty creatures, living on manure and rotting flesh. I have a fly swatter in the bathroom, and I swipe at them each time I go in there, even to wash my hands. The dogs are afraid to follow me into the bathroom now, which bothers them as they think that I may go in and disappear forever. I wonder if flies are just a common pest around these parts, as the saying goes, just another part of living in the country with which I am still unfamiliar.

I remember that last summer we had masses of ladybugs, and I worried about the dogs then as ladybugs can infest the roof of a dog’s mouth, and it’s something to be wary of, but that never happened. So are the swarms of flies like the swarms of ladybugs? Corey did a bit of reading, and there is something that can be added to the big bug zapper that hangs outside; I wonder if it’s worth spending the extra cash to get something like that.

“And I’m singing
because who else but a dog
could be so happy at finding me here?
And I’m singing because yesterday
I needed something to hold,
and he laid his gold head in my hands.” ~ Keith Ratzlaff, from “Yellow Landscape”

Other strange things: I remember saying to Corey months ago before Dallas kidnapped him for stud that Napoleon was such a spoiled horse that I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to come inside. Well . . . he did. The other day I walked into the living room holding my lunch on a plate, and Napoleon saw me and proceeded to walk through the front door and stand expectantly in the living room. It was crazy—a horse in the house? Really? Who has such things happen?

Late Summer Globe Thistles with Bees, Chesterfield, England UK (FCC)

We do, obviously.

Corey backed him out and put up the gate that we use to keep dogs and goats outside, and the irony is that Napoleon could step over the gate or knock it down quite easily, but it was enough to stop him. So now he stands outside the door and pokes his head inside as if to say, “where’s my treat?”

I have now managed to spoil dogs, cats, goats, a bee, and now a horse. I regret nothing.

“The other day the ash tree lost its leaves in a single afternoon.” ~ Keith Ratzlaff, from “Creation Story”

I searched high and low for the source of the Oscar Wilde quote in the header, but alas, my search was in vain. I don’t believe that it comes from De Profundis or Dorian Gray; I rather think that it’s from one of his poems, but I don’t know which one. Anyone out there have a clue?

Late Summer Swallowtail (FCC)

Speaking of Oscar Wilde, I really liked the depiction of Dorian Gray in the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, as depicted by Reeve Carney. He was beautiful and thoroughly charming but also a bit scary, just as Wilde depicted him. I happen to think that the series was well done and ended too soon after only three seasons. The show’s creator, John Logan felt that the series should end with the death of Vanessa Ives, portrayed by the wonderful Eva Green. I’ve always loved her; she’s so intense looking, which is what made her perfectly cast for that particular series. I also liked her in the 2011 series Camelot as Morgana, but that one only lasted one season.

Bit of trivia for you: Josh Hartnett from Penny Dreadful has two children with Tamsin Egerton, who played Guinevere in Camelot.

On that note, I think that I’ll close for now. More later. Peace.


Music by Foo Fighters, “Home”


Green Pear Tree in September

On a hill overlooking the Rock River
my father’s pear tree shimmers,
in perfect peace,
covered with hundreds of ripe pears
with pert tops, plump bottoms,
and long curved leaves.
Until the green-haloed tree
rose up and sang hello,
I had forgotten. . .
He planted it twelve years ago,
when he was seventy-three,
so that in September
he could stroll down
with the sound of the crickets
rising and falling around him,
and stand, naked to the waist,
slightly bent, sucking juice
from a ripe pear.

~ Freya Manfred (found on Poetry Foundation)

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“Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “Tree”

Neverland by Hannes Flo, (FCC)

“My life is a crystal teardrop. There are snowflakes falling in the teardrop and little figures trudging around in slow motion. If I were to look into the teardrop for the next million years, I might never find out who the people are, and what they are doing.” ~ Joan Baez, as found in Joan Didion’s “Where the Kissing Never Stops”

Friday afternoon, snow and rain, cold, 39 degrees.

During the night when I was letting the dogs out, I looked out to see snow covering the ground, which was a surprise. The weather forecast did not call for snow, only more rain. Corey and I agree that the weather here is actually quite depressing. I can only hope that as the weather gets warmer that we are finally able to dry out around here. The mud is overwhelming, as is the near constant rain.

So we lost internet Wednesday night, right as I was watching that new documentary on HBO about Michael Jackson, Finding Neverland. It’s actually quite disturbing as it features two men who were childhood victims of abuse at Jackson’s hands. Truthfully, I’m surprised that they were able to make it. I know that Jackson’s estate sues people all of the time. Nevertheless, it’s more than time that these victims were able to tell their stories.

Anyway, I can’t believe the nerve of some companies, wanting to be paid for their services as opposed to offering them for free. I remember reading something sometime ago about how Tesla wanted electricity to be free, and someone who wanted the internet to be free. Such radical ideas: actually giving the public something that they can use as opposed to making a profit.

Hmm……..Things that make you go hmm……

“I hear two sibilants—here silk,
the snowstorm outside. Beating soul
and breathing blood. We both got what
we wanted” ~ Marina Tsvetaeva, from “Playacting” (Trans. Christopher Whyte)

I decided to be proactive for a change, and rather than wait for the internet to become available again, I decided to go ahead and write some posts on Microsoft Word until we can get it restored on Monday. Then I’ll just post and backdate, which I know is cheating, but hey, when you’re me, and you never know what day it is, does it really matter?

So no podcasts for me for a bit, so I’ve been listening to some of my old music playlists. I made the mistake of putting on an old country playlist while I was taking a bath, and boy, some of those songs are just heartbreaking. For example, there was Blaine Larsen’s, “How Do You Get so Lonely,” which is about a boy who commits suicide, and then there was “Alyssa Lies,” which is about child abuse.

Boy, I know how to put together a playlist that makes you want to cut your wrists with a rusty razor blade—that was a Kathleen saying, or maybe it was a Gail saying. Can’t remember. But those two women were big friends of mine once upon a time.

“I’m tired of my life, my clothes, the things I say. I’m hacking away at the surface, as at some kind of gray ice, trying to break through to what is underneath or I am dead. I can feel the surface trembling—it seems ready to give but it never does..” ~ James Salter, from a letter to Robert Phelps (July 6, 1969-70)

Yesterday, I wrote a letter to another long-time friend of mine, the woman who taught me piano for almost eight years. I always looked up to her, and when she got melanoma years ago, I was so afraid that she would succumb to it, but fortunately, she didn’t, and she went on to have a son by a man who later betrayed her big time.

She was such a classy, talented woman, and oddly enough, she’s the one who made me love Bach, who I had always eschewed before she started teaching me. I was intimidated by Bach—too many notes on the page, as it were, but I learned to master his Two-Part Inventions, and went on to the Three-Part Inventions before I stopped.

I really miss playing, but my piano is in terrible shape. I hope that one day I can find a decent used piano to purchase. Corey’s parents had a beautiful piano in their basement that I always coveted, but then his brother threw out the keys that had come loose, and they got rid of the piano. I miss learning new pieces. I mean, I could teach myself, but there is something special about learning from someone who really knows music. God I loved to play the piano, and I was relatively good at it. I wasn’t one of those naturals who can sit down at a keyboard and just play what they hear in their brains, nor could I ever master changing keys on my own.

I went to school with a couple of people like that, incredibly talented both of them. The one who played the cello died of AIDS during the height of the epidemic, and the other, who played any instrument she touched, ended up having a major tragedy in her life that she never recovered from.

“My wound existed before me;
I was born to embody it.” ~ Joë Bousquet, from “Traduit du silence”

Which just proves that no one is immune from life’s travails, regardless of talent, and here I am still, even when I never imagined being this old, never thought that I would make it this far, and I still feel mediocre every single day of my life. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching for months now, trying to figure out why I can’t be happy. Honestly, I still don’t have an answer, and my inability to find one just makes me madder and madder at myself.

Granted, the last few years have been majorly stressful, and that I even made it out in sort of one piece still amazes me. I remember years ago, after I lost Caitlin, and I went to that first psychiatrist (who I loathed), and he told me that losing a child is ranked as the second or third biggest stressor in life, with being in a concentration camp ranking as first. How did people even survive that when they were finally liberated? How did they not hate everyone and everything?

Anyway, I had a point, which was that other life stressors include moving, starting a new job, and getting married. I got married (the first time), moved to Blacksburg, and started graduate school and teaching composition all within two weeks of each other.
I supposed I’ve never been one to do things half way. It’s all or nothing. Or maybe, it’s everything or nothing. Who knows.

“All I can hear now is the sound of my own heart, opening and closing, opening and closing, opening.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Handmaid’s Tale

But getting back to the idea of being happy: I know that only I can control my happiness. I’m not naïve enough to think that someone else can make me happy. No matter how much Corey loves and cares for me, he cannot control what is inside of me, nor does he try to.

There is such a feeling of deep regret within me, regret, and guilt, and a sense of being incredibly ungrateful.

Let me explain: I have wanted to live in the mountains, on my own property, for as long as I can remember, ever since the first time I drove into Blacksburg to visit Paul. I knew in that instant that my soul belonged in the mountains. So here I am, surrounded by everything I ever wanted, land, an incredible vista, animals, yet somehow, it’s not enough.

No. Let me back that up. It’s not that it’s not enough; it’s that there is such a large hole in my heart that I’m having a hard time allowing myself to be filled with the splendor with which I am surrounded. Aside from the mud, this place is everything. But I don’t have my kids, and I no longer have a home in Norfolk. I wasn’t able to keep my parents’ home in the family, and I know that many people are not able to do this, but I feel like such a failure because of that, and because I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to have it someday. And more than that, I want my kids.

It’s coloring everything, and I hate it more than I can say, so maybe I should stop trying to say anything more at the moment.

More later. Peace.


Music by Ruelle, “Slip Away”

 


Rebus

You work with what you are given,
the red clay of grief,
the black clay of stubbornness going on after.
Clay that tastes of care or carelessness,
clay that smells of the bottoms of rivers or dust.

Each thought is a life you have lived or failed to live,
each word is a dish you have eaten or left on the table.
There are honeys so bitter
no one would willingly choose to take them.
The clay takes them: honey of weariness, honey of vanity,
honey of cruelty, fear.

This rebus—slip and stubbornness,
bottom of river, my own consumed life—
when will I learn to read it
plainly, slowly, uncolored by hope or desire?
Not to understand it, only to see.

As water given sugar sweetens, given salt grows salty,
we become our choices.
Each yes, each no continues,
this one a ladder, that one an anvil or cup.

The ladder leans into its darkness.
The anvil leans into its silence.
The cup sits empty.

How can I enter this question the clay has asked?

~ Jane Hirshfield (found on Poetry Foundation)

“Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room.” ~ Stephen King

 

 

“In the end, writing is like a prison, an island from which you will never be released but which is a kind of paradise: the solitude, the thoughts, the incredible joy of putting into words the essence of what you for the moment understand and with your whole heart want to believe.” ~ James Salter

Yosemite Valley Flower in the Snow by Laurie Withers, Sunnyvale, CA

I was thinking about what I wanted to write about today, and it occurred to me (while I was in the shower contemplating how very little hot water is available from our hot water heater) that before I jump into 2010 I should probably pause to reflect on my blog itself: As in, is the format readable? Does my header grab a reader’s attention in the 10 seconds or so in which it flashes on the screen in a blogroll?

You know, earth-shattering questions such as those. So I decided that I would try to look at my blog with a critic’s eyes, find its weaknesses and strengths, etcetera.

Need I really explain how fruitless an endeavor this was? Being my own worst critic, I began to rip apart my blog (in my mind of course). Why this font? What’s up with that positioning. Why such a long title? Realizing that I could not accomplish what I wanted to do alone, I decided that I would turn to you, dear reader. Hence, the following questions for which I would appreciate true answers. 

“Writing is the most personal form of prayer.” ~ Franz Kafka

Before I begin, let me step back and explain a few things of which you may not be aware:

Crocus Flowers in Snow by Oswald Skene

The title—Lola’s Curmudgeonly Musings About Life, Love, and Other Trifles—is long, but not really if you are at all familiar with my writing. Lola is my alternate ego, so to speak. She is the one who rants and raves about politics, ignorance in society, and unbelievable atrocities and events happening all over the globe. Curmudgeonly is perhaps the one best word to describe both Lola and myself. I do not suffer fools gladly. The last part of the title, musings etc., arose from the fact that I realized that my blog was going to be about a little bit of everything.

Since I began writing, I have found that Lola does not appear nearly as often as I thought that she would. Instead, Poietes, the moniker with which I dubbed myself years and years ago seems to be the name with which most people are familiar. Poietes is an ancient Greek word meaning poet or maker, maker of words. I have had POIETES on my license plate for almost 16 years, the only exception being currently as our vehicle is not actually ours, and I cannot get the plate that I would like. People recognize the moniker as being me, both in print and in person.

One other thing, my blogs are actually blongs, i.e., very long blogs. I know this. I acknowledge this. I realized many, many entries ago that I could not say what I wanted to say in 300 words, 500 words, or even 750 words. On average, my blogs are about 1300 words long, with quotes. As for the quotes, they did not make their appearance immediately, but they have since become a mainstay. As I have said, I have collected quotes for years. I have pages and pages (translated to Word files) just filled with quotes on different topics.

“Writing is nothing but a guided dream.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that background information out of the way, here are the questions that I would like to pose to you. I understand that most of you don’t have time for deep thoughts about someone else’s blog as your deep thoughts appear on your own blogs, but I really would like to know what you are thinking. That being said, who knows how much I will alter my blog as I am fickle (pun on name, yes), but your feedback is always appreciated.

  1. Should I change the title of my blog to something shorter and catchier? What about the word musings?
  2. Should I change Lola to Poietes?
  3. Do you have a suggestion as to how to combine Lola and Poietes (no, this isn’t a way to get all of my various personalities in check)?
  4. How about the format? Should I change to a different template?
  5. I’m asking about the format as I am considering buying the upgrade for the CSS so that I can personalize the format, change default fonts, colors, etc. Would you recommend doing that, or is my current format readable?
  6. What do you think of my use of quotes?
  7. Are there any topics that you think that I should tackle?
  8. Is there one particular subject that you would like for me to write about in a post?
  9. Should I make my tags more creative?
  10. How do you feel about my use of images?

Bonus question: What was your favorite post and why?

“The only time I know the truth is when it reveals itself at the point of my pen.” ~ Norman Mailer

Snow on Flowers

To be perfectly honest, though, how this blog looks may seem to be insignificant, but I have found from years of experience that the old maxim content dictates form is actually true.  Those of us who write blogs usually do so because we want to share our thoughts with other people. We want other people to read our words, and if we are fortunate, people make comments about what we have written, which lets us know that someone out there somewhere is reading us.

Yes, the content, the words, are the most important aspect. But if something about the format makes it hard to read the words, then something needs to be altered to remedy that problem. For example, white on black lettering is extremely hard to read. If you believe in color psychology, and I do, red backgrounds appear to be antagonistic. San serif fonts are supposed to be easy to read, but books are never published in san serif fonts. These are all considerations.

“Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” ~ Stephen King

So keeping all of that in mind, what do you think about how my blog looks? But more importantly, what do you think about the blog’s content?

Admittedly though, I would continue to write this blog even if no one read it. This forum has become immensely important to me as a means in which to voice my personal truths, to share my thoughts, to expound on that which is important to me.

Snow-capped Tulips

And so it become a creative circle of writing and reading, reading and commenting, commenting and creating.

As 2009 closes, I send my thanks to those of you who have taken the time to visit, to comment, to support, to nudge, to engage. Years ago when blogging began I thought that it was one of the stupidest things I had ever heard of—putting your journal out there for anyone to read. Now I realize that blogging is so much more. Blogging has become a mainstream means of communicating about everything from recipes, to travels, to politics, to biographies, to history, to celebrity, to sports and on and on.

Thank you for sharing your lives and opinions with me. My world has been enriched through the words, images and music that you put out there for the world to see.

More later. Peace.

Loreena McKennitt, one of my favorites, performing “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which is based on the poem by the same name written by Christina Rossetti in 1872.

 

 

In The Bleak Midwinter (first stanza)

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

 

All quotes in today’s post found on Whiskey River.