“The heavenly solitude, the pacifying trees, the blue night that was a good counsellor, the peace of wild animals—” ~ Colette, from Claudine and Annie

Orage vu de Petit-Croix by Thomas Bresson (FCC)

But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence . . .” ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, from The Little Prince

Monday afternoon, partly sunny, 82 degrees.

Well yesterday was interesting. Temperatures in Roanoke were hotter, and the AC in the truck doesn’t work; by the time we got home, my eyes were dry and hurting from the wind coming in the windows. We picked up the two female Nubian goats. They already have names: Sylvia and Roberta. Sylvia I can handle, but Roberta? Never liked that name. She’s young enough that maybe we can switch her name to Bobby. We’ll see.

Unfortunately, Sylvia had her babies prematurely, and neither survived. One died on Saturday, and the other died before we got there yesterday. Bobby is still pregnant, so we’re hoping that everything goes okay with her. The woman from whom we bought them says that she thinks it may have been a mineral deficiency. As Bobby is Sylvia’s daughter, we know that Sylvia can have successful pregnancies, so at least there’s that.

All of the animals were worked up by the time we got home. Tillie and Bailey went for each other, but luckily, Corey and I were both on hand to break it up. Roland is hoarse today, so he must have been bleating for hours, which makes me feel guilty, but we couldn’t take him with us because we thought we’d be bringing a baby goat home. At the moment, Roland thinks that he’s one of the dogs; it will be interesting once he’s bigger to see if he still acts the same way—i.e., wanting to take an afternoon nap on the couch.

“Not only rational and irrational, but even inanimate creatures have a voice, and speak loudly to men, and it is our duty to learn their language, and hearken to them.” ~ Ralph Austen, from The Spiritual Use of an Orchard or Garden of Fruit Trees

We’ve learned that the temperatures here on the ridge tend to be a bit cooler than surrounding areas. I think that it’s because we’re pretty much situated in a bowl, so we always have a good breeze. The downside is that breeze can really be a fierce wind at times. We’ve been discussing shelter issues for the outside animals, and we had talked about one of those metal buildings, but I’m afraid that if it isn’t fixed properly, the wind will just pick it up and drop it.

Thunderstorm in Victoria by Ryk Neethling (FCC)

More than once we’ve wished that we could have a barn building like the Amish. Remember that beautiful scene from the Harrison Ford movie Witness? But we’re missing one or two of the key components for such a thing: people and lumber.

Ah me . . .

Yesterday, just as we were getting ready to leave for Roanoke, Dallas showed up. I knew that he would because Corey had slipped and told him that we were going to Roanoke. I was afraid that he’d come while we were gone to try to take Sassy back, but he didn’t bring the horse trailer. Instead, he said that he was coming to fish in the ponds, which is fine, as long as he doesn’t try to take back the last horse that we have.

“I must wash myself clean with abstract thoughts, transparent as water.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from Nausea

I took the opportunity of having him in front of me to confront Dallas about still having Napoleon, but he claims that he still needs him for stud. Originally, he had told me that he’d only have Napoleon for two weeks, but I should know by now that he just tells you what he thinks you want to hear and that the truth rarely escapes his lips. I did tell him that Sassy is lonely as horses need the company of other horses, and I pointed out how overgrown the pasture is getting, so he ultimately agreed to bring over some more horses. We’ll just have to see, I suppose.

Storm over Cayuga by Adam Baker (FCC)

Look, I know that technically, the horses belong to him; I’m not unaware of the reality. But we take much better care of the animals that are here than he ever could, not to mention the fact that when he first brought the horses here, he said that he was giving them to me. But again, it’s the matter of him saying one thing while meaning something completely different. We’ve learned that he has a habit of taking things back when he gets mad at someone; he’s done it repeatedly with different people—he giveth and then he taketh away.

Dallas is a prime example of being both a boon and a curse. And quite frankly, we’ve had way to many curses in the last few years. I tire of them. I tire of never getting ahead, never making forward progress.

“Animals, at least, don’t experience fear until it’s upon them, immediately. But our nerve reactions can convey worry about the future, until the fear insinuates itself into the present, into everything.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from a letter to Eddie Cohen, September 11, 1950

We hit rain on the way home even though the forecast had not called for any, and then as we neared the ridge, it was apparent that there had been a big storm while we were gone. I think that’s part of the reason the dogs were so riled when we got home. Tillie is very afraid of storms, especially if no one is around to comfort her, and I think that Bailey senses that unease.

Storm by Jim Sorbie (FCC)

As we came down the drive, the trees were heavy with rain. So everything was close to the sides of the drive, almost as it was the first time that we came to the ridge, and everything was so overgrown. At least the gas company fixed the part of the drive that had washed out, but they just cut into the side of the mountain, which is essentially compacted soil, so it’s a temporary fix at best. The next big wind and rain storm will undoubtedly wash out more. It would be nice if they’d build up the embankment with rock, but unfortunately, we have no control over what they do with the drive.

I saw the big excavator that the company had parked on the side after carving more of the mountain side on the drive, and I told Corey that it’s too bad that we don’t know how to hot wire it and use it for a few days. We could scoop up some of the loose gravel that’s around the wells and dump it on the drive. Or we could dig out a hole for an in-ground pool. I’ve always wanted to drive something like an excavator—how awesome would that be? It’s an interesting fantasy.

“The sky is lowering and black, a strange blue-blackness, which makes red houses pink, and green leaves purple. Over the blowing purple trees, the sky is an iron-blue, split with forks of straw-yellow. The thunder breaks out of the sky with a crash, and rumbles away in a long, hoarse drag of sound.” ~ Amy Lowell, from “Before the Storm (III)”

This morning the dogs were doing their fierce, alert barks, and Corey looked out the window to see a bear in the pasture again. Oddly enough, Sassy didn’t seem to be afraid of it. She was at the trough and took a few steps towards the bear. I’m hoping that it’s the same bear and not another one. Knowing that one bear is nearby is unnerving enough; I’d hate to have to wonder about several.

I do wonder, though, where he or she was hibernating; I’m hoping the bear is male because a female with cubs can be very vicious when in protection mode. We haven’t really come upon any caves in our walks, but I would imagine that there have to be some around here. Here’s hoping the dogs will be enough to keep the bear from coming too close. Corey says that Llamas and Alpacas are good to have for herd protection. That’s something to think about for the future.

Thunderstorm over Nevada by Stuart Seeger (FCC)

The future is something I don’t really want to think about at the moment. We find ourselves in a precarious position yet again, and truthfully, I’m really tired of living this way, never really knowing how we’re going to survive, pay the bills. The fear of losing everything yet again never seems to be far away, and the really weird aspect of all of this is that I know that we make more money than many people around here, and trust me when I say that living on my disability is not making a lot of money.

Again, I know that if we can survive the year, that things will change, that getting started on a farm is precarious at best, but damn I’m tired of precarious. I’m tired of always worrying. I suppose I’m just tired, but who isn’t any more?

More later. Peace.


Music by Welshly Arms, “Legendary”


The Trees are Down

—and he cried with a loud voice:
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees—
(Revelation)

They are cutting down the great plane-trees at the end of the gardens.
For days there has been the grate of the saw, the swish of the branches as they fall,
The crash of the trunks, the rustle of trodden leaves,
With the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas,’ the loud common talk, the loud common laughs of the men, above it all.
I remember one evening of a long past Spring
Turning in at a gate, getting out of a cart, and finding a large dead rat in the mud of the drive.
I remember thinking: alive or dead, a rat was a god-forsaken thing,
But at least, in May, that even a rat should be alive.
The week’s work here is as good as done. There is just one bough
   On the roped bole, in the fine grey rain,
             Green and high
             And lonely against the sky.
                   (Down now!—)
             And but for that,
             If an old dead rat
Did once, for a moment, unmake the Spring, I might never have thought of him again.
It is not for a moment the Spring is unmade to-day;
These were great trees, it was in them from root to stem:
When the men with the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas’ have carted the whole of the whispering loveliness away
Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.
It is going now, and my heart has been struck with the hearts of the planes;
Half my life it has beat with these, in the sun, in the rains,
             In the March wind, the May breeze,
In the great gales that came over to them across the roofs from the great seas.
             There was only a quiet rain when they were dying;
             They must have heard the sparrows flying,
And the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were lying—
             But I, all day, I heard an angel crying:
             ‘Hurt not the trees.’

~ Charlotte Mew

“The truth is, I pretend to be a cynic, but I am really a dreamer who is terrified of wanting something she may never get.” ~ Joanna Hoffman

The wild horses of David Thompson Country, Alberta, by kevinmklerks (FCC)
“I know I have conquered nothing
I have simply outgrown everything” ~ James Broughton, from “Aglow in Nowhere”

Wednesday afternoon. Party cloudy and cold with melting snow, 27 degrees.

So the house is quiet, just me, the dogs, and the (now) two cats. We acquired a new black girl cat with topaz eyes a few weeks ago. She took a few days to actually come to the door, another couple to come inside, and another few to let me touch her. Now, though, she has made herself quite at home, spending most afternoons curled up on an old flannel duvet cover in front of one of the heaters. Her name is Cleo because of the very exotic looking eyes.

Irish Horses by martie1swart (FCC)

Most certainly, she was someone’s pet as her coat is in good shape, but she was definitely too skinny when she arrived on our back porch, which probably means that she’s been missing for a bit.  Around here, that doesn’t often mean much—no one has come looking for her that we know of; of course, they’d have to be very dedicated to make it up the mountain to look here.

We’ve seen so many seemingly stray animals since moving to the mountains—cats, dogs, horses, donkeys. I had read stories for years about how people just abandon animals on or near land in the country that looks occupied, thinking that surely the landowners will take in the stray, but that just doesn’t always happen.

This area is so different from the city. There are many people out of work, and there really isn’t work to be hand anywhere nearby, so families aren’t so eager to take on more responsibilities. That, and many of the animals that we’ve seen that do belong to someone just look underfed, not anything like our spoiled rotten crew with the shiny coats and rib cages hidden within well-fed bodies. I try not to judge, but it’s hard because I’m so damned judgmental. I want to take in all of the strays and feed them until they have bellies full, but I suppose baby steps for now.

My new motto.

“Eat, sleep, sleep, eat. Exist slowly, softly, like these trees, like a puddle of water, like the red bench in the streetcar.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from Nausea

So I said that I’d tell you more about the horses, and so I will, but it’s not a short tale. But first, an aside: I’m writing on my laptop, the one that Corey gave me several Christmases ago. It’s a lovely little thing, but I still miss my desktop with the wide screen and the very clicky keyboard. My fingernails keep catching on these close together keys. I know. I’m analog . . .

But I digress . . .

Galloping Horses by Clint__Budd (FCC)

Horses. A few weeks after we finally moved here permanently after many fits and starts, Corey met a local guy, a neighbor a few miles down the road. His name is Dallas, and he’s a native, so native that he actually spent some of his youth in this house on this ridge. Fate is funny, huh?

Anyway, Dallas is as much of a character as you would imagine someone named Dallas would be, and the first time we met he offered me horses, puppies, and a stove. He’s one of those kinds of people: If he has something that you want or need, he’ll offer it to you. Well, so far, no puppy yet (promised), nor a stove as we didn’t really need one, but the four mares arrived a few days ago. It’s an arrangement that works for everyone: we have quite a bit of grazing pasture with nothing as yet to graze; his grazing land is getting sparse for the number of animals that he has. Apparently, I can expect to see at least two more, stallions this time, along with a selection of saddles.

I wouldn’t call Dallas a hoarder because he isn’t one, but he is a collector—not one saddle, but a dozen, not one dog, but 14. I think that’s what I like about him. I collect books, nail polish, and makeup; he collects pretty much everything else.

“The mountains have valleys
and I have thoughts.
They stretch out
until fog and until no roads.” ~ Yehuda Amichai, from “Poems for a Woman”

The first time Dallas came to call, he arrived on a big John Deere tractor, which he then proceeded to use to clear a huge section of our land. Before this, Corey had been doing his best with a ride-on mower, which worked for some areas, but not the really overgrown ones. We had both been quite down about not purchasing our own tractor before we encountered the bounty of Dallas. When we left Norfolk, we had much less money in our account than we had hoped for, which meant that the purchases of a tractor, and a new washer and dryer were not going to materialize any time in the near (or possibly far) future.

Brittany Horse by girolame FCC

Then in rode Dallas. And that first day he bushwhacked and mowed and whatever else you do on a tractor, and then he made Corey get on the tractor and spent the next few hours complaining that Corey wasn’t going fast enough, so Dallas kicked Corey off. Since that first day, the tractor and Dallas and Corey have been constant companions. Because of his eyes, Dallas isn’t supposed to be driving (operative phrase being supposed to), so Corey drives Dallas around and then gets introduced to all kinds of people, and in turn, Dallas comes over and clears the land, which had become horribly overgrown and impassable in places. There’s a lot of land, in case I hadn’t mentioned.

As for me? I sit around and watch and offer running commentary. Bailey still barks at Dallas like he’s a stranger, but Tillie loves him, so much so that she knocked him into the small pond while he was fishing. He thought that was hilarious, which immediately endeared him to me. Oh yeah, two ponds, one small and one much bigger, too.

“As life runs on, the road grows strange with faces new—and near the end, the milestones into headstones change, ‘neath every one a friend.” ~ James Russell Lowell

So that’s the story of the horses and Dallas. As for the puppies, he has a litter of five girls and one boy, of dubious heritage, but they definitely have some retriever in them, so I want one. The plan was always for me to get at least two more dogs once we got here. Initially, that was so that I wouldn’t be lonely when Corey went to sea, but it looks like

Cold Horses by grongar (FCC)

Corey may have become a permanent landlubber in favor of farming. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. It’s not that I want him to be gone; more, it’s that I’m afraid that he’ll regret not going some day.

I mean, he’s been over more than half the world and seen so many things, and I know that he really loved doing that. I also know that he was very proud of his accomplishments as a merchant marine, which he had every right to be. Being permanently landlocked, not seeing the ocean, any ocean or any sea again? I would miss that it if were me—in fact I do miss living near the Chesapeake bay and the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s not me. Only time will tell on that front, and there is much here to keep him occupied.

“Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward the twilight erasing statues.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “Clenched Soul,” trans. W. S. Merwin

That’s a brief synopsis of the past few months here. Lots more details, but enough for now. I am making an efforts to go walking on the property as much as possible. The recent cold has put a temporary halt to that. And you’ll be happy to hear (or not so much, who knows?) that I no longer spend most days in my bedroom. It’s a smaller house, but I manage to frequent all of the rooms! Gasp! Yep, I know, small things . . .

Icelandic Horses by Machine is Organic FCC

Anyway, I’m not doing so much as far as getting out and about, but that’s actually not just my choice. The first time we left the house, we met Bailey on the driveway on the way home; the driveway is almost two miles long. She had pushed out the screen of the open bedroom window and apparently went searching for us. The second time we left the house we closed all of the windows. When we got inside, we saw that she had pulled off the molding on the bottom of the bedroom window and had somehow begun to dig through the masonry. She is a dog with serious abandonment issues.

I haven’t left the house without her since then, but it doesn’t make too much difference at the moment because she’s fine in the car, and I don’t go that many places anyway. Still kind of a hermit. I suppose we all have things to work on here, huh?

So that’s all for now. Even though I started this post in the afternoon, it’s now almost 6 p.m., time to feed the dogs and perhaps bathe the blogger. The evening skies have cleared, but the temps have dropped to 25 degrees. Time to publish my first real post with quotes, images, music, and a poem in what? Years? Well . . . it’s about time, no?

More later. Peace.


Music by Lorde, “Writer in the Dark” (so phenomenal to be so young)


Other Horses
I wept in a stable.
I found money in the dirt.
I reenacted a car accident in the tack room.
I asked a horse van driver to let me off where the bridle path stopped.
I looked at the jockey for what he was dreaming.
I told him he was wrong about making things happen.
He couldn’t make things happen.
I couldn’t make things happen anymore.
There is exactly not enough money in the world.
Magical thinking got me where I am today.
Animals are warriors of time.
I stopped keeping things hidden.
That wasn’t a horse we saw in the winner’s circle.
I can’t stop horses as much as you can’t stop horses.
Source: Poetry (June 2015)

“I began my life as I shall no doubt end it: amidst books.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from The Words: The Autobiography of Jean-Paul Sartre

Reading Bingo Card
Reading Bingo Card
Challenge: Post your results in the comments section, if you like.

How Well Do You Know The Opening Lines Of Famous Books?

Saturday evening. Partly cloudy and warmer, 50 degrees.

Yesterday for a while it felt like this migraine was finally going away completely . . . then I woke up this morning, and . . . you guessed it . . . headache BACK!

Another short one just to let you know that I’m still alive. I found this quiz on BuzzFeed, and I’m hoping the book lovers out there will enjoy it as much as I did. Try to ignore the misspelling of Anna Karenina and the fact that they have put the book titles in quotations instead of italics.

Here is a sample:

  • Emma, by Jane Austen
  • David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
  • Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Let me know how you did in the comments section.

                   

I am also including a bit from an essay by Dylan Thomas, called “Notes on the Art of Poetry.” Over the years, extracts from this essay have been melded into a poem of sorts, but I like it better in its original prose form (click here to read in its entirety). Thomas wrote the essay in 1951 in response to a query from a college student hoping to learn more about craft. Here is my selection:

. . . What I like to do is treat words as a craftsman does his wood or stone or what-have-you, to hew, carve, mould, coil, polish and plane them into patterns, sequences, sculptures, fugues of sound expressing some lyrical impulse, some spiritual doubt or conviction, some dimly-realised truth I must try to reach and realise.) . . . I read indiscriminately, and with my eyes hanging out. I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on in the world between the covers of books, such sand-storms and ice-blasts of words, such slashing of humbug, and humbug too, such staggering peace, such enormous laughter, such and so many blinding bright lights breaking across the just-awaking wits and splashing all over the pages in a million bits and pieces all of which were words, words, words, and each of which was alive forever in its own delight and glory and oddity of light.

. . . All that matters about poetry is the enjoyment of it, however tragic it may be. All that matters is the eternal movement behind it, the vast undercurrent of human grief, folly, pretension, exaltation, or ignorance, however unlofty the intention of the poem.

. . . You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in.

More later. Peace.

                    

Music by Tom Odell, “Long Way Down”