“Notice that Autumn is more the season of the soul than of Nature.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

TomThomson-Moonlight-and-Birches-1916-17
“Moonlight and Birches” (1916-17?, oil on wood panel)
by Tom Thomson

                   

“We’re all, all of us in this world soon to spoil.
Copper leaves are tumbling coyly from the maples . . .
World-weary drifter, be forever grateful
To have faded fast, in early petalfall.” ~ Sergei Esenin, from “No crying, calling out, complaining . . .” (trans. James Stotts)

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy, and cool, 53 degrees.

So Thanksgiving is over, and it has taken me three days to recover. On Friday I awoke feeling as if my entire body had been slammed against a wall repeatedly. My fingers were so swollen that I feared I may have to have my wedding band cut off, and just walking was painful and tiring. I spent a lot of time in bed feeling sorry for myself and hoping that I wasn’t in the beginning of some kind of flu or virus.

Tom Thomson Autumn Foliage 1916 oil on wood
“Autumn Foliage” (1916, oil on wood)
by Tom Thomson

Saturday was a bit better only in that the swelling was gone, but it still hurt to walk, and I had a vicious sore throat. Really?

I find this turn of events completely exasperating and uncalled for . . .

Corey made me homemade chicken soup last night, which was delicious as always. Today I’m not planning to try to accomplish much of anything other than this post, and possibly writing another chapter to Mari.

“The old grieving autumn goes on calling to its summer
the valley is calling to other valleys beyond the ridge
each star is roaring alone into darkness
there is not a sound in the whole night” ~ W.S. Merwin, from “Lights Out”

I signed up for a Christmas card exchange on tumblr, something I have never done. I’ve received the names of five individuals from all over, and I’m supposed to send cards with the idea being that I’ll receive some cards as well. I thought that it was a fairly easy way to extend holiday greetings, and it fills my need to receive cards at Christmas, especially since so few people actually take the time to send cards any more, a trend that I find completely vexing.

Tom Thomson The Jack Pine 1916
“The Jack Pine” (1916-17, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

Last night I had troubling dreams about Alexis, Mike and Olivia, but I know it’s because they are driving back from Mississippi, and in the back of my mind I am anxious. Holiday travel is always iffy; two different people in my family have been involved in holiday-related accidents, both serious, and it’s one of the reasons I really don’t like to travel during the holidays, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Anyway, they are due back this afternoon, so fingers crossed.

” . . . from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn—that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness—that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” ~ Jane Austen, from Persuasion

Corey got the results from his blood work that was done for his work physical. His levels are just a bit high in four places, but not with his albumin levels, so that was a false positive. His white blood cells are a bit elevated, but it’s well within 5 percent of the normal range, which, from everything I’ve read, is fine. If they were very low, or very high, I would be concerned. I’m hoping that it all means nothing and that it’s not enough to keep him from getting the job.

Tom Thomson In the Northland oil on canvas 1922
“In the Northland” (1915, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

I know that he’s stressing out, and we’re both hoping that nothing interferes with this job. Although it does us no good to worry about such things, that doesn’t stop the worrying. Although I can say that because I’ve had unusual reading on my blood panels before in different areas, I’m hoping that it’s a whole lot of nothing.

Does that make sense?

“He says a word,
and I say a word—autumn
is deepening.
” ~ Kyoshi Takahama

By the way, Happy December—it’s snowing on my blog!

I know that it’s officially not winter until the 21st of December (winter solstice), but why does it always feel as if it’s winter when November disappears and we turn the calendar page to December? Perhaps it’s because the beauty that is fall has pretty much passed by December? I mean, most of the trees that bore beautiful cloaks of amber and gold are moving towards being bare by December. Is that why we rush the seasons alone?

Tom Thomson The Pine Tree 1915 oil on board
“The Pine Tree” (1915, oil on board)
by Tom Thomson

I just know that once November is gone, and all of the bad anniversaries have passed, I start to feel different somehow, a little less depressed, a bit more able to move from the past to the present. Although admittedly, I never quite make the leap completely.

I have been trying to tell myself over and over again to live in the moment because it all goes so very quickly, you see? The days move down to dust far faster than we realize . . . what was I saying about being less depressed? Oh well, you know what I mean.

“I’m watching the last of summer
as the leaves begin to curl
in invisible fire
and I want to tell you
just one thing, it is not urgent,
over and over again.” ~ Paul Guest, from “Practice”

Between feeling ill and not having any money we were unable to take advantage of any of the holiday sales to buy Christmas presents, something we try to do each year. Oh well, I suppose I’ll just have to venture out to stores in December, something I’m not terribly fond of doing. People are insane in December, have you noticed?

TomThomson-The-Pool-c1915
“The Pool” (1915-16, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

I watched some clip of Black Friday in a Wal-Mart, and it was idiotic. What was particularly weird was that the guy who filmed the fray was asked to leave the store, but not the people who were pushing and grabbing. You can stay in our store if it means you will spend money no matter how you manage to do it, but you have to leave if you attempt to put out to the world what goes on here . . . yep, another reason why I just love Wal-Mart.

I was thinking about it, and it really just hit me: these people are willing to do physical harm to complete strangers, and why? Because it’s a great price on a widescreen TV? Because you can get that gaming system for 50 percent off? Oh, of course. It makes so much more sense when I consider it that way—a bargain is worth the trade-off of your dignity . . .

More later. Peace.

P.S. Here’s hoping that John recovers from his surgery without any complications and is on the road to recovery swiftly.

*All image are by Canadian artist Tom Thomson (August 5, 1877 – July 8, 1917), who is widely associated with the Group of Seven

Music by Radiohead, “The Tourist”

                   

Descent

Gian Giacomo Caprotti  to Leonardo Da Vinci

The money gone, I followed you
to the edge of love—only to find the city
sinking. Streets lit with dawn’s blue
ashes. But it was the flecks of amber
slipping between the chimneys
that had us running. Dim alleys leading
to nowhere—or water. Then
the Piazza San Marco opening
the Mediterranean. That sudden
brightness. Pigeons crumbling
from the angels’ rusted shoulders
in the hour before Venice vanished
beneath the crowd. Hour of birdsong
falling like pebbles on the promenade.
And the year’s first widow chanting a new
god’s name into the sea. Her body a stitch
in the shore. Brief inventor, make me
new again. For the heart fails not in its breaking
but the tightening. For the sun came on.
The plaza erupted in panels of blood.
And you were still my king. And I, still—
your king.

~ Ocean Vuong

 

“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of φ Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of φ
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

                   

“At the end of this day there remains what remained yesterday and what will remain tomorrow: the insatiable, unquantifiable longing to be both the same and other.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy and not quite as hot, 90 degrees. Possible thunderstorms.

So were we? Oh yes, joists, mold, swelling, heat wave, water damage, no toilet . . .

The bathroom is coming along. All of the joists have been replaced. The subfloor is going down. A few studs left to replace, and then the repair part is mostly done. Corey replaced all of the water lines, did some moving around, extended the water pipes to outside the bedroom window so that if we ever get around to building the deck out there, we can have a rustic outdoor shower, something I’ve always hankered after but never had an excuse to have.

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of the accidental similarity number
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of the accidental similarity number
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

I have to say once again how very impressed I am with my hubby’s abilities. He looks at things, thinks about them, and then presto! Voila! He makes it work (in the words of the estimable Mike Holmes). That’s not to say that Corey hasn’t wondered more than once if he’s in over his head, but I have reassured him that as compared to a lot of other people, he’s really done an amazing job.

Mike has helped out over the weekend, which has sped up some aspects of the work, but still, it’s slow going. It is a full gut, after all, which I don’t think everyone fully comprehended.

“Someone, and no matter who, inhabits my head like it’s an empty house, he enters, he leaves, he bangs each door behind him, powerless I put up with this ruckus.” ~ Claude Esteban, from “Someone, and no matter”

As to the wonderful Botox-related facial swelling? Yes, still here. The heat really exacerbates it. I can walk outside and feel the skin on my face tighten and tingle. Lovely. Absolutely lovely.

Supposedly, when I spoke to the doctor’s office the other day, I was through with the worst of it. Only not so much. I’m taking antihistamines and ibuprofen mostly because I don’t know what else I should take. Fortunately, I have finished with the prednizone, but the fact of the matter is that my face has this patches of puffiness, and I finally figured out what it reminded me of: Harry Potter.

Progression of the first 10,000 digits of pi Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski
Progression of the first 10,000 digits of pi
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

There is a scene in The Chamber of Secrets in which the three main characters take some polyjuice potion to assume others’ identities. In the film, the changing process is shown through this bubbling of the facial skin as it morphs from one face to another. That’s how my face feels.

Bubbly. As if it’s changing from one thing to another. It’s really, really uncomfortable, and these side effects are making me rethink the whole Botox for migraines regimen. Corey says it’s too soon to decide, but his face isn’t bubbling and sliding around, is it?

“I am excessively diverted.” ~ Jane Austen

Brett has been spending the last week away from home as the renovations seem to bother him on some deeper level that I cannot quite understand. I don’t know if it’s the extent, that he wasn’t expecting it, or the disarray, which is unnerving.

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of e
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of e
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

Would that I could spend the time away from the house, but then again, that would mean leaving, wouldn’t it? The constant banging is obnoxious, but at least the migraine is gone for now. I’ve only gone to my mom’s house once to take a shower. The rest of the time, we use the pool to get wet and then shower via garden hose in the backyard under the night sky, which is actually very refreshing.

Good thing we have a privacy fence, not that I really care about the neighbors.

Anyway, I expect that I’ll be able to begin the tile work in a couple of days, and I’m really looking forward to it. Once I start, I can stop obsessively looking up articles on hanging tile and reading all of the forums on do’s and don’ts and why and why not. It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of these discussions. This substrate is good . . . no This substrate is good . . . but you should use this kind of mortar . . . but what about . . .

It’s enough to drive a sane person to drink.

“One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in the same pattern, but in different colors.” ~ Robert Graves, from The Art of Poetry No. 11, The Paris Review

I had the strangest dream last night about neighbors who don’t exist. They invited us over for a quick casual dinner after we had all gone to a theme park for the day. I was really tired but thought it would be rude not to accept the impromptu invitation. During this, my mother disappeared, and I didn’t know it until I answered the phone and she was on the other end telling me that she had gone out with some friends to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I told her that I’d take care of the dogs, and suddenly, there were four dogs, not two, and I hadn’t remembered to give them food or water, so I had to excuse myself from the company to take care of the dogs.

Progression and transition for the first 2,000 digits of e
Progression and transition for the first 2,000 digits of e
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

Then, the museum curator wanted to compare a document, and I knew that it was a problem because the original document had gotten water spots on it from the water damage, and we had been hiding that. The curator was very miffed, and we had to take the document off display because it couldn’t be authenticated. Meanwhile, the company wanted to drink margaritas, but I told them the tequila gave me a migraine, so they drank something that was the color of Midori liqueur.

Finally, everyone left while I tried to tape together the transcript with red sealing tape, this after assuring all parties that homework had to be completed before there could be any playtime.

“I have moved to the edge of the world for two years. If I am not careful, I will fall.” ~ Roxane Gay, from North Country

And you wonder why I have migraines . . .

I awoke to banging in the bathroom and pressure in my forehead and a curious sense that I hadn’t finished what I had started.

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of π. Created with Circos
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of π.
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

Anyway, that’s life around the homestead for the past several days. The puppies are managing well, and Bailey has seemingly potty trained herself overnight, which is one less thing to worry about.

In between all of this, Corey has job applications out, and I’m revisiting the idea of taking the GREs so that I can apply to a doctoral program. I haven’t seen le bebe since the birthday party, and there’s no way she can be in the house with all of the wood and nails and what-have-you everywhere. It’s enough to keep the wood chips out of the puppy’s mouth.

Here’s hoping the next few days see a domino effect in getting things done . . . but I won’t hold my breath.

More later. Peace.

All images are taken from The Creator’s Project, Visualizing the Infinite Beauty Of Pi And Other Numbers. No, I don’t even begin to understand the principle behind this, but I found the images quite beautiful regardless.

Music by Sara Jackson-Holman, “Cartography”

                   

Richard Silken Meanwhile

“I am half agony, half hope.” ~ Jane Austen, from Persuasion

Aurora over Grøtfjorden, Norway
by Tor Even Mathisen

                   

“But for pain words are lacking. There should be cries, cracks, fissures, whiteness passing over chintz covers, interference with the sense of time, of space; the sense also of extreme fixity in passing objects; and sounds very remote and then very close; flesh being gashed and blood spurting, a joint suddenly twisted—beneath all of which appears something very important, yet remote, to be just held in solitude.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves

Tuesday, late afternoon. A bit warmer, low 50’s.

Northern Lights over Murphy Dome, Alaska, by Taro Nakai CC
Northern Lights over Murphy Dome, Alaska
by Taro Nakai (CC)

So the past two days have been spent in lots of cleaning. On Sunday, Corey helped me to take down Christmas, which included the tree, my Santa collection, my snowman collection, and various other decorations. Each time we thought we’d gotten everything, we found one more piece. Everything is finally packed and ready to go to storage. What I wouldn’t give for a large attic or basement.

After, the house was quite dusty, and glitter was in odd places, which meant furniture polishing, sweeping, and various other things. Corey still needs to vacuum the carpeted places, and I need to clean the fish bowls, but everything else is done. I even did my desk, sorted the junk mail, and cleaned out some files.

I got a label maker as one of my Christmas presents, which might sound odd, but I asked for it, and if you knew my penchant for office supplies, you wouldn’t find this weird at all. So last night I was still in full-blown OCD clean mode, so I used my label maker to create some new files and to condense others. Sweet. I now have a nice, small pile of things needing attention, and Corey, even thought he didn’t really want one, now has a to-do file and a list next to his laptop.

“Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

By the time I forced myself to stop, I hurt all over. I woke up with very sore legs in addition to the expected back aches and knots. But at least I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Northern Lights over Finland by timo_w2s CC
Northern Lights over Finland
by timo_w2s (CC)

Night before last Corey got very sick. He had told me that he felt like he had a rock in his stomach; then he threw up all over the kitchen floor. I didn’t know until after, which is silly. It’s not like I haven’t cleaned up other people’s puke a thousand other times. Anyway, afterwards, we decided to watch something calming, so I suggested Pride and Prejudice, with Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen. It’s such a good movie. If you like period dramas and haven’t seen this, you should watch it.

He was just fine by yesterday, and he made a delicious pot of homemade vegetable soup, which made everyone feel better.

The two of us have been trying to catch up on all of the shows I recorded for him while he was gone. Most recently we’ve been watching “Luther,” with Idris Elba, who I love. The show is on BBC America as part of their Dramaville series. It’s such a well-written and well-acted show. I have realized that I could pretty much live with just two television channels: BBC America and ID. Oh, wait. There’s PBS, of course. Kind of sad, really, to define my life through television channels, not that I actually do.

Once we finish “Luther,” the only thing left on the queue is “Copper,” another BBC America show.

“I bear the wounds of all the battles I avoided.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Olivia was officially six months old on the 6th. Wow. She has changed so much from the tiny little thing with dark hair when she was born. She truly is the happiest baby I’ve ever been around. None of my babies were like that. I’m really hoping that she stays that way—happy.  I am amazed by how easily she laughs and smiles with her whole face. Being around her really calms me.

Northern Lightsby Varjisakka (CC)
Northern Lights
by Varjisakka (CC)

Smiling has never come easily to me. Always so serious, even now. I wonder, is it genetics? Socialization? What defines a person’s disposition? Actually, I would imagine that people can be born happy and easy-going and then something happens to change them to make them morose and dispirited, but I wonder if the reverse is true, if an individual who is born very serious can have something happen that then changes the entire outlook on life, makes it easy to laugh and smile and remain upbeat? I just don’t see that happening.

I mean, I’m not serious all of the time, and I can laugh and smile and be happy, but I don’t see anything happening to make me be easy with life. Easy I guess is the best word. Easy as in comfortable, carefree, better able to let things roll and to roll with things.

Yes, I have definitely mellowed as I have grown older. I am not nearly so quick to anger, and I actually do avoid some confrontations. I don’t dwell as much on the major slights that have happened along the way. All of this is good. But still, I am not easy-going, and I am not easy with life.

“I’ve cried, and you’d think I’d be better for it, but the sadness just sleeps, and it stays in my spine the rest of my life.” ~ Conor Oberst

I don’t often use song lyrics for my section header quotes, but this one? This one is spot on. Seriously.

Northern Lights, Tromso, Norway by GuideGunnar Arctic Norway FCC
Northern Lights, Tromso, Norway
by GuideGunnar Arctic Norway (FCC)

I know that I’ve mentioned more than once ancient theories about illness and medicine, the humours, etc., but if I were living hundred of years ago, well, for one thing, I’d probably be dead. But aside from that, my back pain? Does it not make sense that I carry around this constant back pain because I have sadness in my spine? Because I carry around all of the sadness of my life inside, and then outside, it manifests itself as actual pain?

Waxing a bit philosophic, I know, but when I came across this lyric from a Bright Eyes’ song, it really struck home. Perhaps I’m just rationalizing again, but I don’t think so. I know that I have an ancient sensibility in a lot of ways, that the ways in which I view various things doesn’t exactly scream contemporary. Yet, I am a walking contradiction. I live in the past and the present. I crave the past, some of the past, and yet other parts I would not reclaim for anything.

How do we end up here? I have no answers.

“…throw roses into the abyss.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

I also do not use a lot of quotes by Nietzsche because he was such a misogynist. However, if I were to apply that logic to all of the people I quote here, I would not be able to use most of them, because as is the case with just about anyone, everyone has his or her bad parts; it’s just that some bad parts are easier to overlook than others.

For example, Rilke was an unconscionable human being, an anti-Semite, a philanderer, and many other less-than-flattering things, but his poetry seems almost ethereal in its stark beauty. So do I shun quotes from Rilke’s works because I truly cannot abide the person he was? Obviously, I haven’t as my posts are peopled with Rilke’s words and worlds.

Kattovouma Northern Lights by apgroner FCC
Northern Lights, Kattovuoma, Sweden
by apgroner (FCC)

Other examples include Gandhi and Mother Theresa, both of whom could be particularly cruel. But their writings? Seemingly from saints.

This is the crux, essentially, in using other people’s words. What do we ignore, and what do we highlight? Personally, I choose to use the products of most of these people. Who am I to judge, yet judge, I do. Constantly. Scrupulously. Yet I pick and choose from this and that and place it here as some kind of totem for my words that follow.

Look. I only know this. If someone were ever to analyze my life (and I find the prospect highly unlikely), the person revealed would be a mixture of bad and good. No, no one could claim that I’m anti-Semitic, or racist, or sexist. But they could say that I have been cruel, that I have hurt people, that I have been judgmental, that I have curried favor, and on and on and on and on.

I don’t like the historical Nietzsche. I don’t like the histories of many, many people. But in most cases, I overlook that because their words, even though the speakers themselves were not always true to them, their words touch me, move me, rally me, comfort me, and so I pass them along to you, hoping that you might have the same reaction.

We are, all of us, fate’s fools, simply balancing on the edge as best we can.

More later. Peace.

(Images today of Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis  (another thing on my bucket list, can’t remember if I included), are all creative commons works.)

Music by Nina Simone, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”

                    

II, 11 (The Book of Hours)

No one lives his life.

Disguised since childhood,
haphazardly assembled
from voices and fears and little pleasures,
we come of age as masks.

Our true face never speaks.

Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away
like suits of armor or old carriages
or clothes hanging limply on the walls.

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

“We are increasingly fluent in images with no handhold, images freighted with all the orphanhood in the world, fragments, fragments.” ~ Bolaño

Orange by learydotmark (FCC)

“We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible.” ~ Ann Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Saturday, late afternoon. Rainy and cool, 61°F. Fall is impending.

Autumn Leaves, by muffett (FCC)

So here I am again. I thought that I might have something to say today, but I’m not certain that’s the case. The house is quiet, the kind of quiet that can only happen on a rainy Saturday in fall, when the mood is lazy and the energy is low.

Officially fall in one week, but there is no mistaking the scent in the air: fallen leaves and something else, unnameable.  If I were in the mountains, perhaps it would be the scent of apples, but around here, it’s more the whispers of summer grass changing into winter Fescue. Each day, more flocks of Canada Geese fly overhead, creating commas in the sky.

Last night I dreamt of swimming nude in cool water, first in a lake, and then in a pool. The water enveloped me, embraced me, and it felt like home. I walked up a hill, and I saw a rust-colored owl. In the background, someone said, “This is the seat of where America was founded.” Water. Owl. History. Non-linear, unconnected.

“Sometimes life just seems like chapters of goodbyes.” From a country song. Doesn’t it sound like a country song? It is. Rascal Flatts. I love them, but Corey doesn’t much care for them, not since he found out that the lead singer is a man who has a high voice. He swore that the lead singer was a woman. Nope.

Funny how preconceptions/misconceptions can sway our attitudes.

“Everyone must come out of his Exile in his own way.” ~ Martin Buber

Autumn in Kyoto, by Daily Picture (FCC)

Time for boots and sweaters. Time for yoga pants and socks. Fall is like coming home, and I don’t really know why that is except that it is and always has been. I have memories of walking the trail to the Humpback Rocks, the boys with us, Eamonn bitching the whole way. Earlier memories, climbing the trail as a young woman. Smelling the crisp mountain air, the loam, the soil. Stopping along the way to look at interesting rock formations, fungi.

We’re (Corey and I) going to try to make a trip to the mountains at the end of October. We haven’t bee in years, and I would really like to go. Of course, the trip depends on so many things, not the least of which is getting new brakes on the Rodeo. Money. Always a factor. Money controls everything. Hate that.

I think that both Corey and I are a bit depressed, and a key reason is money, or the lack of it. He’s still waiting to hear on two jobs for which he applied. He’s very qualified for either one, but that doesn’t mean anything. So are hundreds of other people, all of whom are competing against him.

I have this image of President Obama standing up there with his jobs bill, an orange-skinned Boehner sitting smugly behind him, a look on his face that says, “not in my lifetime.” Obama has regained some of the fire in his speeches, but it’s because he’s campaigning again. I don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to talk about politics in this country and just how far out of touch the entire system is. I can be depressed about other things.

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” ~ Alan Watts

Autumn Sunset, by Superior National Forest (FCC)

I just lost my train of thought. Big surprise there. I haven’t been focused since I began this post. It’s hard to concentrate in here because Eamonn came home and started bitching. What I wouldn’t give to have my computer working again so that I could have my workspace back to myself. Had to turn off my playlist so that he could listen to his Rolling Stones album. He’s decided that he wants a turntable so that he can listen to albums. He’s borrowing Alexis’s turntable for now, one that I got her for Christmas ages ago. It’s here at the house instead of with her for space reasons, because we have so much freaking extra space in this 1100 square foot house.

Right.

I’m going to have to stop writing for now as it’s impossible to think.

Sunday later afternoon. Cloudy, high 67°F.

Obviously, I was not able to get back to this post yesterday. Eamonn hass gone this evening to a Blink 182 concert, so I have the room to myself again. My Blues playlist is going in the background. Corey is going to do errands before he has to work third shift tonight, and Brett and Em are doing homework, which means the house is once again blessedly quiet.

I woke up today with a headache, mostly sinus, I think, not a migraine. I’ve put a call into the neurologist’s office to set up an appointment for Botox shots for my migraines now that my health insurance has been straightened out. I need to call tomorrow to see if they’ve gotten the pre-approval necessary. I don’t know what to expect with the Botox. A woman I used to work with at GW got Botox when it was still experimental; she had doctors in her family. It did wonders for her, so I’m hoping that it helps me. The injections go directly into my scalp . . .

“The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.” ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Höstsonaten: Autumn Sonata, by guldfisken (FCC)

So where was I . . .

Money? Politics? Fall? Let’s move on to something else, shall we?

I gave passing thought to submitting an application to become a Notary Public, since members of this family are constantly needing to have things notarized. However, I cannot notarize anything that contains my name or anything for my spouse, so I’m not entirely certain that it would be worth it. It costs $45 to apply, $10 to be sworn in, and then the cost of the seal, which is unknown. We get things notarized at our credit union for no charge, so I would have to weigh the pros and cons. We’ll see, I suppose.

Corey is pondering the pros and cons of going back to sea. He would need to renew his licenses, get a physical and drug test, all of which is not inexpensive, but the reality is that he’s making so little money with his maritime security job. He’s already lost at least on shift this week. He’s not even making half of what I make on disability, and it’s really hurting us. In fact, we’re in trouble with our mortgage again, something we never thought would happen again.

It’s not because we’re being negligent; it’s because we simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet. We’re one of those families on the edge that the politicians are talking about, living paycheck to paycheck.

We don’t charge our sons rent, although I know that many people charge their kids rent after they turn 18. It’s just not done in Filipino households. My dad would be highly affronted at the thought of doing something like that to family, and I concur completely. Family is family, no matter what. The kids are in school, and that’s the most important thing.

Sure, we could use help with the bills, but I just can’t see imposing that kind of pressure on the boys. We didn’t do it with Alexis. I used to think about winning the lottery, having a windfall of cash. Now, I just hope that we can hold it together until 2012.

“You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.” ~ Erin Morgenstern, from The Night Circus

Fall Foliage in Central Park, NYC, by Alaskan Dude (FCC)

I suppose that I feel acutely the need to be the kind of parent to my children that my parents were to me. My mom and dad paid for my college and my graduate school (for my first master’s degree). They didn’t have to do that, but they wanted to do that. I wasn’t saddled with student loans, and I did not have to pay to live with my parents. I did work full time from the time I was 17, but that was by my choice. I used my money to buy a car, to pay my car insurance, to buy my clothes and to pay for my expenses.

I did move out of the house for a year when I was a sophomore, but when I wanted to move back home, it was never an issue. I lived at home, and I helped out by cleaning the house and doing anything else that was asked of me, but my parents never asked me for money. Granted, my dad made a very good living as a merchant marine, plus he had his Navy retirement. But I was brought up in a household that instilled in me a deep respect of learning, that placed a value on a college education, probably because neither of my parents had one.

I want that for my kids. I want them to know that we support them unconditionally, that we want to help them to gain a foothold in society. We cannot bestow them with trust funds; we cannot buy them expensive cars or send them to Europe, but we can love them and support them. It’s what my dad would have wanted, so it’s what I want.

Maybe I’m naive, or maybe I am old fashioned when it comes to certain things. Who knows, but I want my children not to have to worry about their education. They are already being assaulted with so many of the other realities of growing up.

“You like it under the trees in autumn,
Because everything is half dead.
The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves
And repeats words without meaning.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “The Motive for Metaphor”

Fall in Seneca Creek State Park, by Anosmia (FCC)

Anyway, my musings about fall . . .

I know that I have said this many times before, but autumn appeals to me in a way that I cannot quite define. I think that’s part of the reason why I think that I would love to live in Ireland. I know that it’s rainy there and that it doesn’t get hot in the way that it gets hot here. Something about cloudy days, drizzle, how comforting it is to be inside with a book or a movie.

Something about sitting down at this computer to write while the wind whistles through the increasingly bare limbs of the trees. Something about the lushness of the berries that abound. Something about the song birds that flit from bush to bush. Something about wrapping the body in comforting clothes, sipping tea, eating soups and stews.

Perhaps this longing for fall comes from another life, one in which I lived a harder life but more immediate life, faced the elements directly. Perhaps I’m just being whimsical. But is anything more beautiful than the pageant of leaves that are deep crimson, gold and orange, even brown? The way nature seems to collude to create beauty out of a season that harbors death—it appeals to me.

And if I am to be honest, autumn also brings to the forefront those I’ve lost, those in my past. They are very much with me, and even though there is sadness, there is also comfort. Memories of Alan, my father, my daughter, and now my mother-in-law. All gone, all tied to the fall. It is the juxtaposition of death and rebirth, the idea that without the death that autumn brings, we could not have the renewal of spring.

That we ourselves imbue this season with so much promise is a very contradiction, but an understandable one. In the fall, we begin to walk a bit more slowly, no longer needing to move through the heat of summer as quickly as possible. We pause more, see more. We inhale the smoke from wood fires that no longer burn. We cocoon ourselves in warm blankets and give ourselves over to Lethe, and in the forgetting, we remember.

As Fitzgerald said, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

Music by Rascal Flatts, “Here Comes Goodbye”

                   

The Farmer

Each day I go into the fields
to see what is growing
and what remains to be done.
It is always the same thing: nothing
is growing, everything needs to be done.
Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray
till my bones ache and hands rub
blood-raw with honest labor—
all that grows is the slow
intransigent intensity of need.
I have sown my seed on soil
guaranteed by poverty to fail.
But I don’t complain—except
to passersby who ask me why
I work such barren earth.
They would not understand me
if I stooped to lift a rock
and hold it like a child, or laughed,
or told them it is their poverty
I labor to relieve. For them,
I complain. A farmer of dreams
knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams
knows what it means to be patient.
Each day I go into the fields.

“ . . . I am with fire between my teeth and still nothing but my blank page.” ~ Monique Wittig

André Kertész, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Desk at Bernard Lamotte’s Home, ca 1960

“I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday evening. Overcast, feels like rain.

Flannery O'Connor's Desk and Typewriter at Andalusia, GA

I have wanted to write a post for days now, but just haven’t had it in me. I feel completely enervated—weak and listless. It took everything I had to go to the concert on Wednesday, which really sucks. I hate feeling as if I have to steel myself to go somewhere or to do something.

The house is quiet. Corey is at work, and Brett has gone to see his friends Gordon and Tailor. Tillie is hanging out on the couch, looking out the window, and the two Jack Russells are probably on the bed being lazy. Good day for it. Today I’ve consumed Nilla wafers and Pepsi (caffeine free). Just one of those days.

Well, supposedly the world is going to end tomorrow . . . again. The guy who is predicting this also predicted the end of the world sometime in the 90’s, but says that he got his math wrong. Yep. I’m surely going to trust my future to someone who cannot do math properly. Excuse me for being flippant, but if the world is going to end, does that mean that I don’t have to worry about bills any more?

End of the world, you can stockpile books, or you can stockpile canned green beans. I know what I’m hoarding. I can’t eat the books, but I’ll never be bored. Besides, canned vegetables have no nutritional value and taste like tin.

“No one forces you to write. The writer enters the labyrinth voluntarily . . . ” ~ Roberto Bolaño

André Kertész The Way a Poem of Ady’s began on a Café Table in Paris, 1928

So many things to not write about. So many words tumbling around inside me, none floating to the surface. As a child eating alphabet soup, I used to make letters sink by pushing them down with my spoon. That’s how I would rid myself of the excess letters that did not fit the pattern I was trying to make. If only life were still so easily manipulated. Perhaps if I keep writing, something will float to the surface.

Then there were the boxes of animal crackers. Why were they called crackers when they were in fact cookies? Did you ever wonder how they decided which animals to use? Camels? Now there’s an animal you see everyday. Monkeys? If you took the empty box once you had finished biting the heads off the animals, supposedly you could make a circus cage (back in the days when they acknowledged using cages). I never made the cage as I had enough of a moral dilemma in eating the animals. Truly.

I was a complicated child.

Writing, always writing, even before I knew words, I wrote. I would take scraps of paper and write notes to our neighbors in the large apartment building in London. Then I would slip the pieces of paper beneath their doors and wait for them to reply. They never did. Some of the neighbors thought that someone in the building was a bit mental until my mother explained that I was the source of the mysterious notes.

My first poem in first grade. So proud of it. I read it out loud for one of my mother’s friends, who suggested that I jazz it up by adding some more words. I was highly affronted and told her so. Even then I could not abide criticism.

Words. So many words. So much paper. So much that I felt that I needed a satchel to carry them all in. I lost a tooth and convinced my father that instead of a shilling, he should give me 10 shillings so that I could buy the leather book satchel in Mr. Higgins’ store that I had been coveting for months but which my mother would not agree to buy for me. He did, and I ran to the store and bought it. I filled the tan leather briefcase with paper, pencils, and Barbie dolls. I carried the satchel to Flora Gardens school even though the school supplied all of our necessities.

It was the start of my history as a bag lady. In love with words and bags to hold the pens, pencils, and notebooks.

“The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.” ~ Jules Renard

Virginia Woolf's Writing Desk

I think that satchel is still somewhere in my mother’s attic. Wouldn’t that be grand? Wouldn’t it be grand if I opened it and found something that I had written a lifetime ago? Conversely, wouldn’t it be sad if I opened it and found nothing? Perhaps I shan’t look for it after all.

Carl Sandburg once wrote that the past “is a bucket of ashes.” If I remember correctly, that’s one of the first quotes that I collected. The rest of the quote is something about living for the present, ya da ya da ya da, nothing nearly as eloquent as the bucket of ashes. But consider, if we truly relegated our pasts to the ash pile, if we burned the memories, charred the moments, what would we have to build upon?

Everyone needs a foundation upon which to build. That’s what the past is. That’s what my little leather satchel is: all of the words that my young mind possessed at that time and how I committed them to paper in my early attempts to make things last.

This is not to say that I have not thrown moments of my past upon the pyre, that I have wished them to be gone forever, that I have poured enough kerosene to ignite the pages, only to find that my mouth tasted of ashes, but the past was still there, could not be unwritten no matter how hard I tried.

Fire destroys. Fire cleanses. I think that I fear death by fire more than any other kind.

“Schizophrenia may be a necessary consequence of literacy.” ~ Marshall McLuhan

Do not look for coherence in this post. There is none.

Jane Austen's Writing Table

T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” (1922) is heavy upon my mind tonight. Yes, I do think like this sometimes, like the Penelope chapter in James Joyce’s Ulysses—Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, words tumbling out without internal punctuation, stream-of-consciousness, free association and complete nonsense.

Yes, I remember my Eliot, but not by heart, except for the Shakespeherian Rag that Susan (long gone from my life) and I used to recite on our way to Blacksburg. Four hundred thirty-four lines of poetry, prose, prophecy, reflection, repudiation, the parsing of life itself. Just a few, here:

  • “I will show you fear in a handful of dust” (30) — If only fear could be reduced to dust and blown into the wind. I carry my fear with me.
  • “I knew nothing/Looking into the heart of light, the silence” (40-41) — We seek out light, thinking that it will bring truth, but in reality, light is silent, just as dark is silent. The layers in between light and dark harbor the truth.
  • “Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,/Unguent, powered, or liquid” (87-88) — The sense of smell is deeply connected to memory. I inhale essence of spring lilacs and am transported to the side of a mountain, to the cup of fresh lilacs my first husband brought me to atone for his deception. It was a salve, an unguent for my soul.
  • “My nerves are bad to-night. Yes bad. Stay with me./Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.” (111-112) — My nerves are bad tonight, every night, all of the time, some of the time, sometimes. I get so tired of speaking of it.
  • “‘Do/You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember/’Nothing?'” (121-123) — My mother-in-law remembers nothing most of the time, some things, some of the time. I ask Alexis if she sees anything. . .
  • “O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag—/It’s so elegant/So intelligent” (128-130) — Can be sung to many different tunes.
  • “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME” “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME” “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME”(141, 152, 165, etc.) — Said in pubs and bars worldwide, but do they ever specify just exactly what it is time for? Time to go? Time to pack up your troubles and smile, smile, smile as we march off to war? Time to make time? Time for change? No more time?
  • “By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept . . .” (182) — From “The Fire Sermon,” not Psalm 137, weeping will not be enough to quench the fires of my soul.
  • “Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.” (432) — Three Da’s: give, be compassionate, be self-controlled. No explanation needed.

Enough already.

Shantih. Shantih. Shantih. (Children of Men, bearded Jasper (Michael Caine) and his strawberry cough.)

More later. Peace.

Music by Damien Rice, “9 Crimes”

                   

From “Miner’s Pond

1

A caver under stalactites,
the moon searches the stars.

In the low field, pools turn to stone.
Starlight scratches the pond,
penetrates in white threads;
in a quick breath, it fogs into ice.
A lava of fish murmurs the tightening film.

The crow is darkness’s calculation;
all absence in that black moment’s ragged span.

.

Above Miner’s Pond, geese break out of the sky’s
pale shell. They speak non-stop, amazed
they’ve returned from the stars,
hundreds of miles to describe.

It’s not that they’re wild, but
their will is the same as desire.
The sky peels back under their blade.

Like a train trestle, something in us rattles.
All November, under their passing.

.

Necks stiff as compass needles,
skeletons filled with air;
osmosis of emptiness, the space in them
equals space.

Their flight is a stria, a certainty;
sexual, one prolonged
reflex.

Cold lacquering speed, feathers oiled by wind,
surface of complete transfluency.
The sky rides with tremors in the night’s milky grain.

.

Windows freeze over like shallow ponds,
hexagonally blooming.
The last syrup of light boils out from under the lid
of clouds; sky the colour of tarnish.
Like paperweights, cows hold down the horizon.

Even in a place you know intimately,
each night’s darkness is different.

They aren’t calling down to us.
We’re nothing to them, unfortunates
in our heaviness.
We watch at the edge of words.

At Miner’s Pond we use the past
to pull ourselves forward; rowing.

~ Anne Michaels

“If you’re listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; it’s purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever more wonders.” ~ Andrew Harvey

                       

“Basically, the only thing we need is a hand that rests on our own, that wishes it well, that sometimes guides us.” ~ Hector Bianciotti

Monday afternoon. Unseasonably warm and sunny. Valentine’s Day.

This is not going to be a post about Valentine’s Day, nothing about rampant commercialism, no statements regarding overpriced flowers for which guilty lovers shell out copious amounts of cash in attempts to be in good graces, no judgments about how gift receivers subconsciously compare their own presents to those received by co-workers, competitor’s for the heart’s affection, or past presents from former paramours, no morality lessons on how we should love one another each and every day, say so often and earnestly and not wait for a marketing ploy to make overtly romantic gestures.

Not going to do it. Have done it before.

Besides, for those of you not up on your mythology, Cupid’s great love affair with Psyche was fraught with jealousy (his mother, her sisters), secrecy (she was forbidden to see him), drudgery (three of the four great trials Aphrodite set for Psyche),  peril (Psyche’s task to go to the underworld supposedly to steal a box of Persephone’s beauty cream), vanity and insecurity (Psyche opens the box in an attempt to make herself more beautiful to Cupid), and finally, bargaining (Cupid appeals to Zeus to restore his stricken love).

Of course, mustn’t forget the story’s coda: the vengeful mother-in-law (Aphrodite) who changes her tune once her beautiful grandchild is born: Pleasure.

In other words, the path to true love is not strewn with rose petals.

It takes hard work, trust, respect, compromise, forgiveness, devotion, and romance more than once a year. It also means knowing when to hold your peace even when not doing so might feel better momentarily (I’m talking about picking your battles, here).

And (take heed on this one) it means developing a keen sense for when your partner needs some basic TLC: encouragement, understanding and unconditional loyalty—I’m not talking about the kind your dog gives you; I’m talking about being able to mean it when you say, “You are great at your job, and your boss doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s lucky to have you.” Or, “No. You don’t look the way you looked when we got married; you look better, if that’s even possible.” Or this one: “Oh that woman over there? I was only noticing how her skin-tight black leather pants make her look really hippy. You would look so much better in those.”

Who of us doesn’t need that once in a while?

“My heart is full of so many things to say to you—ah—there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all.” ~ Beethoven from the “Immortal Beloved” letters

Vintage Wedding Bands and Poesy Rings

When writing about love, few things compare to Ludwig von Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved” letters of 1812:

July 6, in the morning
      My angel, my all, my very self—Only a few words today and at that with pencil (with yours)—Not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon—what a useless waste of time—Why this deep sorrow when necessity speaks —can our love endure except through sacrifices, through not demanding everything from one another; can you change the fact that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine—Oh God, look out into the beauties of nature and comfort your heart with that which must be—Love demands everything and that very justly—thus it is to me with you, and to your with me. But you forget so easily that I must live for me and for you; if we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I—My journey was a fearful one; I did not reach here until 4 o’clock yesterday morning. Lacking horses the post-coach chose another route, but what an awful one; at the stage before the last I was warned not to travel at night; I was made fearful of a forest, but that only made me the more eager—and I was wrong. The coach must needs break down on the wretched road, a bottomless mud road. Without such postilions as I had with me I should have remained stuck in the road. Esterhazy, traveling the usual road here, had the same fate with eight horses that I had with four—Yet I got some pleasure out of it, as I always do when I successfully overcome difficulties—Now a quick change to things internal from things external. We shall surely see each other soon; moreover, today I cannot share with you the thoughts I have had during these last few days touching my own life—If our hearts were always close together, I would have none of these. My heart is full of so many things to say to you— ah—there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all—Cheer up—remain my true, my only treasure, my all as I am yours. The gods must send us the rest, what for us must and shall be—
Your faithful LUDWIG

Evening, Monday, July 6
      You are suffering, my dearest creature—only now have I learned that letters must be posted very early in the morning on Mondays to Thursdays—the only days on which the mail-coach goes from here to K.—You are suffering—Ah, wherever I am, there you are also—I will arrange it with you and me that I can live with you. What a life!!! thus!!! without you—pursued by the goodness of mankind hither and thither—which I as little want to deserve as I deserve it—Humility of man towards man—it pains me—and when I consider myself in relation to the universe, what am I and what is He—whom we call the greatest—and yet— herein lies the divine in man—I weep when I reflect that you will probably not receive the first report from me until Saturday— Much as you love me—I love you more—But do not ever conceal yourself from me—good night—As I am taking the baths I must go to bed—Oh God—so near! so far! Is not our love truly a heavenly structure, and also as firm as the vault of heaven?

Good morning, on July 7
      Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us—I can live only wholly with you or not at all—Yes, I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul enwrapped in you into the land of spirits—Yes, unhappily it must be so—You will be the more contained since you know my fidelity to you. No one else can ever possess my heart—never—never—Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves. And yet my life in V is now a wretched life—Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men—At my age I need a steady, quiet life—can that be so in our connection? My angel, I have just been told that the mail coach goes every day—therefore I must close at once so that you may receive the letter at once—Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together—Be calm—love me—today—yesterday—what tearful longings for you—you—you—my life—my all—farewell. Oh continue to love me—never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.
ever thine
ever mine
ever ours

                    

Music by Bon Jovi (still love this man), “Want to Make a Memory”

                      

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,
without your going, that cuts noon light
like a blue flower, without your passing
later through fog and stones,
without the torch you lift in your hand
that others may not see as golden,
that perhaps no one believed blossomed
the glowing origin of the rose,
without, in the end, your being, your coming
suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,
blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:
and it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be.

~ Pablo Neruda