“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

 

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“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