I am going to be a college professor . . . no, really, no . . .

To celebrate my return home, I am stealing this vid from my compatriot Janson Jones on Floridana Alaskiana v4.0. I know several of you out there will love this as much as I do. Enjoy:

Real post tomorrow. Promise. Peace.

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

Medieval Illustration: Astrology and the Body

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More later. Peace.

Eric Clapton, “Change the World”

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.” ~ Norman MacLean

  

           

“Many a time have I merely closed my eyes at the end of yet another troublesome day and soaked my bruised psyche in wild water, rivers remembered and rivers imagined. Rivers course through my dreams, rivers cold and fast, rivers well-known and rivers nameless, rivers that seem like ribbons of blue water twisting through wide valleys, narrow rivers folded in layers of darkening shadows, rivers that have eroded down deep into the mountain’s belly, sculpted the land, peeled back the planet’s history exposing the texture of time itself.” ~ Harry Middleton
Currituck Sound, NC

Sounds of soft rain outside the window, punctuated occasionally by quiet birdsong. Much cooler temperatures. The perfect day to read a book . . . or perhaps not. 

I have been thinking about water—rivers, lakes, oceans. I was reading Janson’s blog today, and he was talking about his affinity for the Atlantic Ocean, how it is so much a part of him. I can relate to that. The Atlantic is my ocean. I have lived on both sides of it. I have seen its brown-green hues to the north and its amazing blues to the south. I have swum in it, floated in it, dived beneath its waves, and traversed it in different crafts. 

I have sat on the shoreline and let the waves roll over my feet, tickled by the froth of receding water. I have watched fiddler crabs scurry away from the waves, and open-beaked pelicans dip below its surface to catch food. 

No matter where I go, I always feel that I am home when I exit the Hampton Tunnel and see the Chesapeake Bay spreading out before me. No other air smells like sea air; no other air feels like the salt-infused spray of sea air. 

“Rivers are magnets for the imagination, for conscious pondering and subconscious dreams, thrills, fears. People stare into the moving water, captivated, as they are when gazing into a fire. What is it that draws and holds us? The rivers’ reflections of our lives and experiences are endless.” ~ Tim Palmer
Dark Hollow Falls, Skyline Drive, Virginia

It is no coincidence that when I choose to go somewhere for vacation, it is almost always to a destination that is near water. Even in the foothills of Virginia, I can get the two things I love to see the most: water and mountains. Peaks of Otter in Bedford, Virginia overlooks Abbott Lake. This mountain retreat is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Guests can sit on their porches at sunset and look out on the beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains. 

When we go to Skyline Drive, I love most those paths that lead to water, like Dark Hollow Falls, a small natural waterfall. Chincoteague is an island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia where Corey and I have spent a few long weekends. A short drive to the south is the Outer Banks, a favorite day-trip to see the dunes of Kitty Hawk where hang gliders try their skills. 

I know that I get my love of the water from my father, whose hometown in the Philippines bordered on a powerful river. My mother is terrified of the water and cannot abide boats. Yet one more way in which they were opposites. 

My father taught me to swim in the Chesapeake Bay. My mother would always worry that I would fall into a sinkhole and drown, which actually does happen. 

But it’s more than just bodies of water. I love rainstorms, thunderstorms. One of my favorite memories of my father was sitting on my parents’ back porch with my dad, both of us silent, just watching the lightning and listening to the rain and thunder.  There is something mystical and magical about water. It holds the power to create and the power to destroy. It nurtures, and it kills. 

“But I also know that in places, the river still runs deep, and though I’ve floated it in these places, it hasn’t revealed itself in such obvious ways. I know that it might be months—years, even—before I understand what it has to teach me. I still need to give myself over to the flow and pattern and rhythm of it to learn its lessons and hear its messages. The river is inside me now, I know, and I need only wait and see where the current takes me, and what lies beneath it.” ~ Jeff Wallach
Mountain Swimming Hole Similar to St. Mary's

I know that I’ve mentioned diving naked into a deep pool of mountain water while hiking on St. Mary’s trail near Steele’s Tavern, Virginia. It was probably one of the most sensuous moments of my life—sensuous, not sensual. All of my senses were heightened: the feel of the cool, clear water on my skin, the way that mountain water has a smell like no other water. It was like being bathed in the water of life. I mean, who knows how old that body of water actually is, when it was formed. 

Water is timeless, which is what is meant by the saying that you can never step into the exact same body of water in the same way because the water has moved, shifted, traveled, and so have you. Neither is the same as at the first meeting. Still, water never seems to forget those who are at home in it. Slipping into a pool of water is completely natural to me; for me, there is nothing to fear. 

The human body is between 55 to 78 percent water. Almost 71 percent of the earth is covered by water. The human brain is 70 percent water, and the lungs are almost 90 percent water. 

Water of life. Water is life. The two are inextricably intertwined. 

“No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath . . .We get one story, you and I, and one story alone.” ~ Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts
Cascades, Virginia

Water has been the source of inspiration for writers, painters, and poets since time began. Claude Monet devoted years of his life to the water and water lilies surrounding his home in Giverny. His water lilies paintings ranged from small to room-sized. The hues and shading in this series are so deep and luminous that it is not hard to imagine seeing what Monet saw. 

Water is infused into every part of our lives: songs (“Cry Me a River”), books (Peace Like a River), poems (“At Blackwater Pond”), movies (Titanic). One of the books that I used to teach in my literature classes was Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. It’s a lovely little book about one woman, Edna Pontellier, and her gradual awakening to life and its possibilities. Throughout the book, Edna undergoes a series of encounters with water that leave her both enervated and rejuvenated. Water and Edna’s relationship to it is the primary liet motif of the novel. 

In one of my favorite movies and books, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, the two main characters are destroyed by their all-consuming love. Katherine dies in the desert, but in the last lines that she writes, Katherine speaks of life and death in terms of the senses: “We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.” 

That description has stayed with me for years. The people who have come into and left our lives throughout the years are like rivers of wisdom, each of them teaching us something, not necessarily something we wanted to learn or to face, but some piece of knowledge nevertheless. We swim through the waters of our own experiences, each day, each month, each year, moving with the flow of time, not smoothly but like water over rocks. A force that cannot be stopped.  

“I am one of the searchers . . . We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know—unless it be to share our laughter.” ~ James Kavanaugh 
 
 

Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay 

In my life, I have walked beside many waters, tasted the brine and the sweetness. I have sailed atop the water in small 16-foot sailboats and aboard huge ships. I have dived in fearlessly, and I have stood back, content to watch the ebb and flow of the water in its endless movement.  I have decided that when I die, I want to be cremated and to have half of my ashes spread on the Atlantic Ocean, and the other half spread on the foothills of Virginia, the places I have loved the most. 

I do not desire to be planted in the earth, to take up space in some container. I wish to return to the soul of the earth, to the very hollow of existence, to become part of the ever-changing beauty, the evolving mysteries, the eternal rhythm that is the essence of nature, this life, this world. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Great Lake Swimmers, “Mariner’s Song” 

                                                                                                          
At Blackwater Pond
  
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
 
~ Mary Oliver

  

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins — not through strength, but through persistence.”

This was my Cinco de Mayo post . . .

Recently I read a post on Janson’s blog (Floridana v3.0) that really got my ire going in full swing. I am reposting a bit of his copy and the image in honor of Cinco de Mayo to show just how appreciative certain Arizona legislators are, especially when it comes to things like Constitutional free speech. Apparently Judy Burges thinks that being rude to anyone with an opposing opinion is perfectly acceptable behavior for a  state representative. So glad I don’t live in Arizona at the moment for so many reasons.

Janson’s comments:

A friend of mine recently forwarded an email exchange between her brother-in-law and Arizona State Representative for District 4, Judy Burges. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by Burges’s response to Mark (she’s a Birther, after all)—and yet I was. I’m surprised by how utterly unprofessional her response to Mark was. Is this the best representation District 4 can come up with? Does Burges really represent the people of Arizona? I think not, I hope not.

What strikes me most about this email exchange is how Burges’s own political beliefs seem to supersede her ability to effectively and productively represent her constituents. Like an oil slick covering the ocean (an unfortunate and sad simile at this moment), this kind of arrogant, self-serving thinking does nothing to actually help or serve her constituents. Instead of trying to convince Mark to reconsider visiting Arizona again in the future (which would economically benefit her constituents), she decides to insult this potential source of income for the people of her state. Mark is far less likely to visit Arizona as a direct result of Judy Burges’s nasty response.

She just solidified more loss of money for her constituents.

And this is what kills me. It’s not so much that she’s a birther. It’s not so much that I so deeply disagree with what I view to be racism in the legislation she supports… In this case, it’s that she is allowing her own vitriol to override her ability to actually serve her constituents productively. She, like so many others, is so in love with her own perverse distortion of ideology, she is either no longer willing or able to actually serve her constituents’ best interests. It wouldn’t be hard to have responded to Mark in a productive manner without compromising her own values.

It’s called Rhetoric. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. And sometimes it’s completely absent.

Arizona deserves better than Judy Burges of District 4.

Here’s a link to the Arizona Representative Judy Burges is a Moron Facebook group page. Join them to show your solidarity—but be sure to also email and phone Burges directly! Her email is jburges@azleg.gov and her office phone is 602-926-5861. Feel free to share this graphic/story with anybody and everybody.

 

 

More later. Peace.

“The wind lashes the surface of the sea and makes it rough and turbulent, but in the deep there is calm.” ~ Cardinal Basil Hume

   

Weeping Willow   

 

“Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.” ~ Karl Von Clausewitz
Japanese Red Maple

It is April 30. That’s incredible to me. One quarter of the year has passed, and I have nothing to show for it. Do you have any idea how depressing that is? I have no reliable method of tracking time any more—no scheduled meetings, no deadlines, no appointments with students. I am loathe to admit that I measure time by evening television shows: If CSI is on, then it’s Tuesday.   

I have calendars everywhere: on my desktop, on the wall next to the desk, in the kitchen, in my purse, but I never have any idea as to the date, which is why I was so surprised to see that today is April 30.   

Perhaps one of these days the fog will lift, and I will see things clearly again. Until then, I will continue to measure out my life “in coffee spoons,” as Eliot put it.   

Corey worked last night and got home at 8 this morning.   

ARGHH. I went to save, and WordPress kicked me back to the sign in page, which means that I just lost THREE PARAGRAPHS. NOOOOOOOOOO………..   

“Life is not an easy matter . . . You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” ~ Leon Trotsky

Let’s try this again, shall we?   

Corey worked last night and got home at 8 this morning. Then the guy who makes the schedule called him at 11 and asked if he could come in until 3. Apparently, they have several people out today. It’s now 4:45 and he isn’t home yet; he’s running on about three hours of sleep, and he was tired before he went in last night. I just hope that he doesn’t have to work too long.   

Eastern Redbud Tree

Of course, the more hours that he works, the bigger the paycheck. I just wish that the schedule could be more even, not 30 hours in three days, and then nothing for five days in a row. Of course, who am I to complain?   

Speaking of jobs, Alexis began her new job with a manufacturing company in Virginia Beach. When I asked her what they build, she said that she didn’t know; all she knows is that she adds wires to some kind of component. It’s a job. She is working with a large group of Filipino women, so I told her that at least she’ll eat well. Filipino people love their food, at home or at work.   

Of course, my mother is beside herself over Alexis losing her job. When Alexis told her about it, my mother proceeded to rant about how I had lost a few jobs—almost a decade ago. Mom told Alexis that she didn’t want her to turn out like me. Lovely, just lovely. Then, without fail, my mother called me to complain about Alexis. When she asked me how much money Mike makes, I told her that truthfully I didn’t know because it wasn’t any of my business, and it’s not any of my business. My mother is of the belief that anything and everything in my life and the lives of my children is her business. It’s more of that privacy issue that I was talking about before, as in, there is none with my mother.    

Today she called and started to talk about the same things all over again. I reminded her that we had already had this conversation, so she turned it around to be a commentary on the relationship between Alexis and Mike. She just doesn’t understand it. Has he ever asked her to marry him? I don’t know, not my business. And so it goes once again. I know that if Mike had proposed, Alexis would tell me, but by the same token, should I be asking her constantly when/if they are going to get married? As I told my mother, they’ve been together for seven years, and it seems to be working for them.   

“Be gentle with yourself. You are the truth unfolding.” ~  Joseph Goldstein

I just made a shocking discovery: We are out of Pepsi. How do I go on?   

Eastern Hemlock Tree

Truths for Friday:   

  • Oprah is on a toot to eliminate texting while driving. I absolutely agree. Is anything that important? Just remember the train engineer who caused that fatal crash because he was texting—25 people died, including the texting engineer
  • Is it weird that I still miss Izzie the Trooper? I loved that vehicle, and even though SUV sales are declining, I would own another Trooper.
  • Have you heard about “Marysville, OH, 43040”? It’s a Facebook group that is praying for the death of President Obama. Call me crazy, and I probably am, but I was never taught to pray for someone else’s misfortune, let alone death. The group has over one million members.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that the legislators in Arizona are on crack? I mean, that is the only logical explanation for their recent blatant racist, xenophobic legislation. An article in the Huffington Post reveals that the Arizona Department of Education has told schools that “teachers with ‘heavy’ or ‘ungrammatical’ accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes, this after the state spent 10 years recruiting teachers for whom English was a second language.
  • As the pictures continue to pour in revealing the devastation caused by the recent oil spill in the Gulf, Rush Limbaugh lets loose with his latest conspiracy theory: “Environmentalist whackos” may have blown up oil rig to “head off more oil drilling.” Really Rush? Gave that one a lot of thought, didn’t you?
  • And finally, on Gawker.com I found one of the best blogs ever about the Real Housewives of New York. Richard Lawson’s post, “Everyone Kills the Messenger,” is so much more entertaining than the show. To wit: “Meanwhile over in Bitchington Acres, everyone couldn’t believe what had just happened. Naturally when one is confused about a situation one turns to the very sage Kelly Bensimon, who is always good at unpacking an issue and making it understandable to the common laypeople below her.” To paraphrase the article would not do it justice, so I will leave you the link. Anyone who is interested in excruciatingly funny sarcasm and incisive wit, especially when it comes to the vacuous Housewives, should take a few minutes to peruse this post. Truly. The only bad thing I have to say is that I cannot believe that I didn’t find Lawson sooner.


Looking Skyward by Janson Jones   

Happy Arbor day, the annual celebration of trees. In honor of this holiday, I am featuring pictures of some of my favorite trees: Eastern Hemlock, Eastern Red Bud, Weeping Willow, Japanese Red Maple, Flowering Crabapple. I also love Yoshino Cherry and Weeping Cherry trees, but I just featured pictures of those in a recent post.   

More later. Peace.  

Mazzy Star, “Into Dust”  

“I have loved to the point of madness; That which is called madness, That which to me, is the only sensible way to love.” ~ Francoise Sagan

April Snow-Covered Mountains over Portage, Chugach National Forest, Alaska by Janson Jones

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” ~ Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Sepia Docks (Wikimedia Commons)

Very melancholy today. I sense the stirrings of an impending fall. The days before a fall are always so precarious—I feel out of sorts but for reasons that I cannot quite discern. My senses are heightened; loud sounds unnerve me, and food does not taste exactly right. In other words, lots of things that are non specific, that I cannot quite grasp, hovering just beyond the periphery. 

I have wondered many times in my life how people who are even-tempered make their way through the days, never falling into the depths of despair, never flying on the wings of mania. I have wondered what my life would have been like if I had been blessed with an even temper, how much I might have missed if that had been my reality instead of this reality. 

I chose Janson’s picture of the mountains over Portage because I find it so incredibly intriguing. It’s spring snow, but because of the sepia tones, it could be sand. The picture itself undulates with its shadows and patches of light, which reminds me of my life, and how it moves in ripples, little peaks, sometimes deep vallies. And then again, moving through my life often feels like walking on sand: the slow trudge to make headway without losing my footing, the strain of climbing against grains that fall away with nothing to hold onto, the slow slide when going downhill. 

“Oh soul,
you worry too much
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
Of anything less,
why do you worry?
You are in truth
the soul, of the soul, of the soul.” ~ Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Josef Sudek Still Life (w/sepia tones), 1954

I have been thinking about love for the past few days. Love in general. Love specifically. Motherly love. Passionate love.

Why do some people love so passionately while others are more reserved? Is it a matter of control, as in loving too much is giving up control? Do men love differently than women? In a relationship, are women the ones who love more? You know what I mean—there is always one person in the relationship who loves more than the other person. I think that being able to recognize this and accept it is a sign of maturity. 

Perhaps.

I mean, when you are young and newly in love, you want the other person to love you just as much as you love him or her, and nothing less will do. I think that once you have had some experience, you realize that no two individuals love in the same way, ever. But loving in the same way is not the same as loving less. I think that loving less reflects an unwillingness to give over the self to another, and this, I think, is directly tied to trust. 

As in Do I trust myself enough to lay myself bare to this other person? Do I trust this person enough to lay myself bare, to risk everything? It’s a tricky path, one that has no clear markers. 

“Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Stranger,
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.” ~ Hafiz of Persia, The Gift

In looking back over past relationships, I realize that I used to fall in love easily, but that I did not stay in love unless there was an equity in the relationship. In my relationship with the pathological liar—which happened when I was quite young—my mind constantly sent warning signs that my heart overruled. It was not until I was willing to face the truth that I was able to break the cycle. 

Solitary Bench (w/sepia tone)

In my relationship with my ex, my love grew and adapted over the years, which is how it should be in a long-term relationship. However, my mind sent me warning signs that I chose to ignore: Yes, he drank, but was it really too much? Who says what is too much? Was I really the one who always took care of the details, or was I making too much out of things? I think that in the end, I needed the break as a result of exhaustion as much as anything else. I was bone-weary from fighting constantly, and the love I had within me felt drained and tainted. 

Now, with Corey, I am aware of many differences from past relationships, one of the main being that I feel a sense of protection that I never felt with anyone else, and I am not sure if that is because I have changed enough to let someone protect me, or if Corey’s protection allowed me to change. Another aspect that differentiates our relationship is the tenderness that Corey shows me. It is blissful to feel such tenderness.

That being said, there is still a part of Corey that I cannot touch, a part that he holds back in reserve for himself. I try not to see that as a statement about our relationship, but sometimes it’s hard. 

“Love is an attempt at penetrating another being, but it can only succeed if the surrender is mutual.” ~ Octavio Paz

I understand why he would feel a need to protect himself. I understand the deep wounds that he has. But understanding and accepting, unfortunately, are not the same. To reveal the self completely is to open the door to vulnerability. Few people will willingly walk towards vulnerability. It’s much too frightening. And then there is the sense that if a person holds something back, in reserve, then he can never be completely broken. 

Paris Street (ca 1925, w/sepia tone)

Yet if I am to be completely truthful, then I must admit that I long for him to be as open with me as I am with him, which makes me feel as if I am expecting something unreasonable. I mean, love is not ownership. Two individuals who love each other do not have to be completely immersed in each other in order for their relationship to succeed. In fact, it is usually better if each person has outside interests, things to occupy time away from each other. But this separateness can be taken to the extreme. 

I think of my own parents whose relationship was supremely dysfunctional, and I am amazed that I have ever been able to have a healthy relationship given what I witnessed. My father spent more of their marriage at sea than at home. When he retired from the Navy, he couldn’t stand being on dry land, and they couldn’t stand that much togetherness, so he became a merchant marine. My mother had her own interests, and my father had his. They only began to do things together when they were older. Still, my father was unfaithful numerous times, and my mother tolerated it, and I don’t understand that at all. 

My ex and I spent the first part of our marriage doing things together and the last part of our marriage with separate friends, going out separately, and it was rare that we came together to do something as just a couple. I hated that. Corey and I enjoy each other’s company, which is a good thing as we have spent the last two years practically living in each other’s skin, which is problematic all by itself. 

“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.” ~ Zelda Fitzgerald

White Rose (w/sepia tone)

In the end, though, this is what I believe: Love is not necessarily patient and kind and all of the other things Corinthians says that it is. Love is complex and intense. It is so much like dancing naked in the rain. It is risk and faults and failures. It is learning to love sushi and learning to appreciate things in life you may have never considered before. Love is as solid as it is ephemeral; it can burn like a dragon’s fire and soothe like the coldest mountain stream. Love takes courage, and it can be terrifying in the way it consumes. Love demands respect and in its deepest essence it hearkens to our finest natures. 

The human heart, both fragile and strong, is only amplified by love. And while the heart is a solid vessel, in its abstract form, it is an empty vessel, waiting for the elixir of life to fill it to satisfaction. Handled without care, the human heart can break into a million pieces, while at the same time, its ache can be taken away with a simple phrase. As Ondaatje says, “the heart is an organ of fire.” 

We can no more choose who we love than we can choose our natures. If we are lucky enough to find that true companion, the one who will take our hearts and hold them close, keep them safe, and refill their occasional emptiness, then we are fortunate indeed. 

Love is hard. Life is hard. To expect otherwise is to be naive. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Sarah Bareilles, “Gravity” 

 

“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” ~ Jean Boudrillard

Rock Spring Run at Kelly Park, Florida, by Janson Jones

“That’s the news from Lake Woebegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” ~ Garrison Keiller

Rock Spring Run: Wish I Were There

Another very warm day here. The dogs are aching to get in the pool, but since our filter died at the end of last season, I fear that the pool may be off-limits for a bit.

Not sure when the Internet will go out, but I know that it’s coming, so I thought that I’d post while I have the chance. Although, I don’t have terribly much to say today. Kind of a slow day as far as firing the synapses. Feel sluggish and achy, and the daily headaches haven’t eased up yet. I have an appointment with the pain management doctor in a couple of weeks; had to cancel last month’s appointment since I had no money for the visit. We’ll just have to wait to see what happens with the upcoming appointment. I need my shots, though.

Alexis did get good news from her neurologist today. The tests showed no lesions on her brain, so he does not believe that she has epilepsy. He is testing her B12 levels to try to ascertain why she has so many problems sleeping. If it turns out not to be physiological, then she probably inherited her wacky sleep habits from her mother, especially in light of the fact that I did not sleep last night and was unable to accompany Alexis to her appointment. Chalk up one more thing to genetics.

Corey had port security training today, and then he went for an appointment with the Census people (you know, those communists who want to know how many people live in your house). He had to take a test, and he was a bit upset that he didn’t finish the test within the time limit, even though he did pass. I think that they’ll let him take the test again if he wants to do so. Now they have to do a background check on hin. Those tea baggers who are so anti-census should at least feel better that the government isn’t just hiring anyone off the streets as census takers.

Anyway, it seems that the census people are paying a good hourly wage for helpers. It’s all part of that big government conspiracy, I’m sure.

“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.” ~ Lao Tzu

Rock Spring Run at Kelly Park, Florida by Janson Jones

Would you believe:

  • Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell has declared that April will be Confederate History Month in Virginia. The sitting Republican brought back the practice begun by Republican governor George Allen in 1997. McDonnell’s two Democratic predecessors refused to issue the symbolic proclamation which honors the soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War. According to McDonnell, the move was done to promote tourism. Oh right, tourism.
  • In Columbus, Ohio, a 42-year-old woman has been accused of murdering her 19-year-old second cousin because of the younger woman’s attire at a family Easter gathering. Apparently the shooter didn’t like the younger woman baring her legs in front of the men folk.
  • In Texas, a father has been accused of forcing his two daughters, ages 8 and 9, to watch Internet porn. Apparently, the man’s children were visiting him for the weekend when he told the two girls to come and look at what was on the screen . . . Definitely not Dora the Explorer . . .
  • In Minneapolis, Sarah Palin is campaigning for Michele Bachmann. Those two freaky nut-jobs deserve each other.
  • The Pennsylvania lottery paid out $7.77 million for a draw of 7-7-7-7 in its Big 4 drawing on Wednesday. Freaky.
  • And then there is this:

 

“It’s [Fox News] like watching a Disney movie about the news.” ~ Stephen Colbert

In other news:

  • Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller died as a result of pancreatic cancer. She was 64. Mankiller, one of the few women to lead a major tribe, was a fierce advocate who focused on social problems.
  • A few days ago WikiLeaks released a video of a U.S. Army Apache helicopter in Baghdad in 2007 repeatedly opening fire on a group of men that included a Reuters photographer and his driver. WikiLeaks has labeled the video a case of  “collateral murder,” and viewers should be forewarned that the images are harrowing, as is the background chatter in which someone begs to be allowed to shoot at a van that, as it turns out, was doing nothing except offering aid to the downed men, none of whom were armed.
  • CNN contributor Erick Ericsson has said that he would “pull out [his] wife’s shotgun” if a census worker came to try to jail him for not filling out his census form. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has described the comments are “remarkable crazy.” I think that Gibbs was being generous.
  • At least 25 miners were killed in Monday’s explosion, the country’s worst since 1984. Massey Energy Co., which owns the Upper Big Branch mine, was cited three months ago for having fresh-air systems flowing the wrong way near two escape routes. The mine’s owner is still contesting more than a third of all its violations there since 2007. In the past year, federal inspectors have proposed more than $1 million in fines for violations at the mine in Montcoal, W.Va. Only 16 percent have been paid. Big Red Flags anyone?
  • Accused child-killer Casey Anthony may be trying to create a better image of herself by quoting the Bible in her jailhouse letters, but two different inmates have disclosed that Anthony told them she used to drug her two-year-old daughter to make her sleep, including using chloroform and antihistamines. Apparently Anthony wanted to ensure that her daughter slept whenever she wanted to go out partying. Mother-of-the-year. Not.

That’s all for today. More later. Peace.

Music by Ben Harper, “Faithfully Remain” (not sure if this is a repeat; if so, sorry)