“. . . we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never looking inside.” ~ John Green, from Paper Towns


“I am not what you see.
I am what time and effort and interaction slowly unveil.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich, from Slaying Dragons

Thursday afternoon, sunny and beautiful, 74 degrees.

I thought that today’s post should be a Throwback Thursday, as in, do one of those get to know me surveys. I’ve taken one that I found somewhere years ago and  made a few changes. Let me know if you like any questions/answers in particular. I’d love to know some of your responses to any of these questions if you feel like sharing.

Enjoy!


  1. How many pets do you own?
    Such a subjective question. Are horses pets? Goats? Currently, 5 dogs, 2 cats, 2 goats, 2 horses, and there’s a bee that finds me fascinating.
  2. What’s your least favorite season? Favorite season?
    Probably winter, unless it snows. I love snow, but I don’t like to be cold. My favorite season is autumn. February is my worst month.
  3. Most embarrassing moment?
    That time in junior high when I snorted and snot came out of my nose. I wanted to melt into the floor. Why do I still remember that?
  4. Do you believe in reincarnation?
    Yes. I do think we’ve all lived past lives. I’m not certain that I believe in the idea that we keep coming back until we get everything right. I also don’t believe that we’ve all been kings and queens and generals. But I do think that I was a torch singer in a dark bar. Don’t ask me why because I have no explanation.
  5. What do you do to relax at the end of a stressful day?
    Take a long, hot bath with bath salts, staying until the water is cool.
  6. Are you politically active or apathetic?
    Is yelling at the television being politically active? Actually, I have big plans to volunteer in the 2020 election, so yeah, active.
  7. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
    Introvert. I don’t like people, but I love my few friends and family. When I used to go to parties, once upon a time, I would find one person to talk to until I felt comfortable enough to walk around, which didn’t always happen. The odd thing is that I used to be very friendly and chatty and had tons of friends and acquaintances. Perhaps it’s an age thing.
  8. Do you believe in ghosts?
    Yes, I do. I’ve actually had a few weird experiences, but I have no idea if they were paranormal. One in particular involved my aunt’s dog who sat staring and growling at something that I couldn’t see in the corner of the den. This went on for several minutes, and the hairs on his back were raised. Pretty freaky.
  9. What is your favorite thing to drink during the day? In the evenings?
    I try to drink a lot of flavored soda water during the day to make sure that i get my water intake. I gave up Pepsi years ago, but once in a while a really have to have some kind of cola. In the evenings, I have to have my peppermint tea, and once in a while I’ll have wine or cider.
  10. Do you play any instruments?
    I trained as a classical pianist for 14 years. At one time, I really wanted to go to the Boston Conservatory of Music. I also worked on my voice for a few years and had a secret dream of running away and trying to make it on Broadway. Neither thing happened, obviously.
  11. Which do you prefer: numbers or words?
    I love the exactness of numbers, their purity, and I can still do math in my head, but words are my life. Words are life itself. Words encompass every love, every hate, every boon and every misfortune. Without words, we are nothing but empty vessels.
  12. Are you scared of anything?
    I’m terrified of centipedes. Spiders don’t bother me, but centipedes make me shriek out loud. And snakes. How could I forget snakes. Just . . . no . . .
  13. Do you believe in aliens?
    How could I not? With the countless galaxies out there containing countless systems, it would be incredibly arrogant of us to believe that we are the only sentient beings in existence.
  14. What is something you hate?
    I hate racism, fascism, sexism. I cannot abide people who think that they are the only ones who have the right to something based on the color of their skin or their gender or their politics or their religion. There is far too much diversity in this world to be so myopic. In discounting others simply because of their beliefs or their physiology or their spirituality, we only cheat ourselves.
  15. What is something you have given a lot of thought to lately?
    The current state of our democracy. I fear what is happening to this country and its people. Xenophobia is rampant. Our current administration pays no attention to the Constitution or the laws that have ruled this country effectively since its inception. No one is above the law. No one should believe he or she is above the law. Nationalism as it is currently being touted is not synonymous with patriotism, and too few people realize that.
  16. What do you like to read?
    Depends. I love poetry and history, but I also love science fiction and fantasy. I don’t really believe in the genre Young Adult because, well, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and countless others. I’m not a big romance person, but I have read all of the Outlander books. I love mysteries, especially British ones, and I also have rekindled my love for Stephen King, who I gave up after Pet Cemetery because it scared me so much. I’ve also read most of the Walking Dead graphic novels, and I love Neil Gaiman. So I’m all over the place. What I love most is good, engaging writing of any kind. The loss of most of my library a few years ago still really pains me.
  17. Are you currently where you thought you’d be ten years ago?
    Absolutely not. I never thought that my dream of living in the mountains away from most other people would ever become a reality.
  18. Which do you prefer: pie or cake?
    Ooh, this is hard. I love sugar, chocolate, whipped cream . . . but if I had to choose, and I can’t choose Tiramisu, I’d say pie. I still really miss my other mother’s homemade apple pie. It was the best, ever, and I’ve never been able to duplicate it.
  19. Do you have any tattoos? Do you want more?
    Yes, one. I’ve been wanting a few more for several years (a tree, a bird, some words), but I could never justify the expense.
  20. What are you looking forward to?
    In the short term, walking around the property, exploring, finding new trails. In the long term, fixing up the house and doing some major landscaping. In my life, finally finishing and submitting a manuscript, for god’s sake.
  21. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
    This one is hard . . . Aside from where I am right now, I’d love to live on an island or maybe some place like Costa Rica. But I’ve also always wanted to live somewhere in the UK, like Ireland, Wales, or Scotland. That’s been a dream for as long as the mountains.
  22. Are you stronger mentally or physically?
    Um . . . neither? I mean, my physicality is fine, not incredibly strong but not incapacitated. My mind, I suppose, is strong in that I’ve survived some really horrible things, but at the same time, it is fragile. Like I said, this is a really hard one.
  23. Who are you missing right now?
    Caitlin. Brett. My mom. My other mother. My dad. Olivia. Alexis. Eamonn . . . in no particular order. I miss all of them every single second of every single day. I also miss my fluffy boy Shakes.
  24. Do you think you’re a good person?
    I hope so. I try to be. I try very hard to be the kind of person I told my children they should be: honest, honorable, kind, loving. If we cannot strive for this, then what else is there?
  25. Current favorite television show or movie?
    A tie between “The Magicians” and “Game of Thrones.” Although, I have to say that the season finale of “The Magicians” broke my heart so much that I’m still not over it. Quentin . . . Also, I still really love “The Walking Dead.” I miss “Orphan Black.” That was a great show.
  26. Favorite place to go when you are upset?
    Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk. I really miss it. In the past I would drive here whenever I was upset and just drive slowly down the lanes, taking in the incredible lonely beauty.
  27. Do you have any phobias?
    I’m probably a borderline agoraphobic as I really don’t like to leave home. I’ve been this way for quite a while. It takes a lot for anyone to get me to go somewhere. But I’m definitely claustrophobic. I panic in crowds, and cannot stay in a full elevator.
  28. Do you have any hobbies?
    Aside from writing and photography, I used to make journals, collecting images and then pasting them in blank books. I really enjoyed that. This was before the big scrapbook craze, and my therapist told me that I should try to find a way to make money with my books. I told here that I didn’t think that anyone would be interested . . . Wrong again on that one. I also really love karaoke but haven’t been in years.
  29. What is your favorite genre of music?
    Hmm . . . really depends on my mood and/or the circumstance: I love classical music when I play the piano. I love listening to the blues when I’m writing. I love classic rock or reggae on road trips. I love sad country love songs when I’m depressed. I love opera on Sunday afternoon. I love soundtracks when I feel like singing.
  30. Name one thing you wish you could change about your life right now.
    I really, really wish that we could finish getting everything painted and unpacked. The disarray is really getting to me, but I hate to push because Corey has so much to take care of, and there is only so much that my back will allow. I also really wish that I could get back into my writing groove completely; I mean, into a groove in which the words just flow, and I don’t have to think about them so much. And finally, I really, really wish that I would stop selling myself short and just send out my work already. Time is slipping away, and no one is going to do it for me; are they?

That’s all folks!

More later. Peace.


Music by Boygenius, “Souvenir”

“I am always tuning my orchestra. Somewhere deep inside there is a sound that is mine alone, and I struggle daily to hear it and tune my life to it.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, from My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging

Thomas Alexander Harrison La Mer nd oil on canvas
“La Mer” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Thomas Alexander Harrison

                   

“There is not so much, not so much as I had thought, not much though it is enough, I thought, though I think, though I say, though I will never say it cannot be enough, I was once a child, it is enough to have been a child and to have known this, to know and to be, to ferry, to cross, to apprehend is to remember and it is enough, I know.  And so the music makes me.” ~ G. C. Waldrep, from “What is a Hexachord”

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy and mild, 72 degrees.

Well, it took two days, but Corey’s ship finally got under way last night around 9 p.m. On Friday morning I was in my doctor’s office when Corey called to find out where I was. He had been told to take his truck home and get back right away because the ship was going to get under way at 3 p.m. It was impossible for me to leave, so we decided that he would just park the truck, and I would get one of the kids to help me pick it up later.

Lowell Birge Harrison Fifth Avenue at Twilight
“Fifth Avenue at Twilight” (1910s, oil on canvas)
by Lowell Birge Harrison

I left the doctor’s office as soon as I could and went to the pier where I sat around for two hours waiting for Corey to be able to come out and say goodbye. Then he realized that he had forgotten his shaving kit, so I drove back home, grabbed it and Tillie, and drove back to the pier. Tillie and I said goodbye (again), and we left. That was around 2:40.

Corey texted me at 4:35 to see if his truck was still in he yard. It was. Apparently, they were not getting under way until 1 p.m. the next day (Saturday). I drove to the yard, gave him his keys, and we went back home. Saturday morning I drove him back to the ship and said goodbye again. The ship didn’t leave at 1 p.m. Pushed to 3 p.m. Didn’t leave at 3 p.m. Finally, finally, left last night.

It was an exhausting goodbye. It’s hard enough when we have to leave one another, but to have to do it three times is just nerve-wracking.

“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking how you’ll escape 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, from Looking for Alaska

Last night I slept fitfully, waking every two hours or so. The dogs were so confused. I had spent a lot of yesterday trying to keep busy, trying to get caught up on here, spending some time with Tillie one-on-one because she gets so sad when Corey leaves. Then she jumped in the pool after we played stick, so I went ahead and gave her a bath, and since I was giving Tillie a bath, I gave Bailey a bath. I was soaking wet when it was all over.

Thomas ALexander Harrison Venice in Moonlight
“Venice in Moonlight” (c1885)
by Thomas Alexander Harrison

I thought that I had exhausted myself, but apparently not. Today, I’m sore, and that shot that my doctor gave me on Friday to try to alleviate the pain has had absolutely no effect. There is a spot on my left shoulder that is simply one big knot, and no matter what I do, it won’t release. It’s hard to stick your own thumb into a spot on your back to try to effect a release in a muscle, and obviously, it’s not working.

So today I’m trying to go easy, not make any plans to accomplish much of anything other than some laundry and some writing. We’ll see how those plans go. I was supposed to watch Olivia last night, but that fell through, and even though I miss any chance in which I do not get to spend time with her, I was really not in the best shape to have her here, so I guess that worked out for the best.

“Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding
and beauty. ~ Linda Hogan, from “The Way In”

On Tuesday, I have an appointment with the long-term disability guy again to go over my current status. I was turned down by Social Security yet again. This when I am about to be referred to a hand surgeon because of the constant pain in my left hand which is exacerbated anytime I try to write anything (left-handed, you know). I was appalled by how my penmanship looked on the latest form I had to complete, but hey, they get what they get. I tried.

Lowell Birge Harrison Moonlight on the River
“Moonlight on the River” (1919)
by Lowell Birge Harrison

In the short time that Corey was home he was able to do a few things, like change the igniter in the oven, except he changed the wrong one and had to do it over, and the one that he took out mistakenly broke when he removed it, so I need to order two more because the damned double oven takes three in all. He didn’t have the time or energy to do any kind of work on the bathroom, not that I expected him to do so, but he did get a chance to switch out the old television in our bedroom for the older television in Eamonn’s former bedroom because ours was on its last leg, and even though Eamonn’s was older, it still works. Get all of that?

Mostly he tried to relax when he could and to spend some quality time with Tillie. He enjoyed spending time with Olivia, who really loves him. Unfortunately, while I had her I took her over to my mom’s house, and Olivia didn’t seem to recognize her and wouldn’t let my mom hold her, which was sad for my mom, I know.

“The simple things come back to us. They rest for a moment by our ribcages then suddenly reach in and twist our hearts a notch backward.” ~ Colum McCann, from Let the Great World Spin

Anyway, what else is new?

I’m trying to stave off this depression, and sometimes it seems as if it’s working, and then I’ll be somewhere, like in the car, and I suddenly tear up because of a song on the radio, or a smell that wafts in through the open window. Fall just kills me.

Lowell Birge Harrison The Evening Star nd oil on canvas
“The Evening Star” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Lowell Birge Harrison

I feel as if I have so much on my plate right now, but I suppose as compared to most people, it isn’t that much. I don’t know. My ability to handle things when I’m feeling like this is pretty much altered for the worse. I spend my time watching things like “What Not to Wear” and wonder how these women have a hard time spending $5,000 on a new wardrobe. As I said to Corey, I could do that in an afternoon just buying shoes, boots, and purses. He nodded knowingly.

I want ………………………., hell, I don’t know what I want, cannot even begin to formulate what I want, what I need, what I feel. I know that I’m kind of lopsided emotionally at the moment because Corey has just left again, and neither of us want him to be going to sea forever, but for now it’s the best, perhaps only option. I hate having no options. Just makes me feel so trapped.

“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from To the Lighthouse

Thomas Alexander Harrison Seascape nd oil on canvas
“Seascape” (nd)
by Thomas Alexander Harrison

I’m remembering Falls from the past, when the air would begin to cool, and the Literary Festival was just around the corner, and the campus was full of life and possibilities. That’s the word: possibilities.

I wonder when my life stopped having possibilities. If it did stop, or if I’ve just forgotten how to latch onto them, forgotten how to recognize them. I wonder so much that I’m whirling around in a maelstrom of my own construction. I just want to come up for air.

Bah. Bah, I say. Blue art by the artist brothers Thomas Alexander and Lowell Birge Harrison (American), and blue music for my mood.

More later. Peace.

Music by Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, “Ain’t No Way”

                   

Fragments for the End of the Year

On average, odd years have been the best for me.

I’m at a point where everyone I meet looks like a version
of someone I already know.

Without fail, fall makes me nostalgic for things I’ve never experienced.

The sky is molting. I don’t know
if this is global warming or if the atmosphere is reconfiguring
itself to accommodate all the new bright suffering.

I am struck by an overwhelming need to go to Iceland.

Despite all awful variables, we are still full of ideas
as possible as unsexed fruit.

I was terribly sorry to be the one to explain to the first graders
the connection between the sunset and pollution.

On Venus you and I are not even a year old.

Then there were two skies.
The one we fly through and the one
we bury ourselves in.

I appreciate my wide beveled spatula which fulfills
the moment I realized I would grow up and own such things.

I am glad I do not yet want sexy bathroom accessories.
Such things.

In the story we were together every time.

On his wedding day, the stone in his chest
not fully melted but enough.

Sometimes I feel like there are birds flying out of me.

~ Jennifer K. Sweeney

“How strange and lovely it is to be anything at all.” ~ John Green

It hasn’t been a great week for writing, mostly because my left hand/wrist is very, very painful (I have De Quervain’s tynosynovitis in both hands). So forgive me for the fill-in posts. I’m scheduled to get a shot on Wednesday. I’ll write this weekend if it isn’t too painful.

So in the meantime, I thought I’d put together a little warm fuzzy to share.

Thursday Things I Like:

  • Having someone to watch the wind with

  • Open windows and curtains flapping in the breeze
  • Beauty in unexpected places
  • Proof that animals have personalities
    madamescherzo: Sealed with a kiss!
  • Unexpected kindness

                   

But most especially, finding a new poem:

Horses at Midnight without a Moon

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there’s music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.

~ Jack Gilbert

                   

Music by Vashti Bunyan, “Here Before”

“We need the tonic of wildness.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Snowy Owl against White Sky by Mark Miller (Finger Lake Times)

                   

“I am
the sun and moon
and forever hungry
the sharpened edge
where day and night shall
meet and not be one.” ~ Audre Lorde, from “The House of Yemanjá

Sunday evening, rainy.

(“House of Yemanja” was one of my favorite poems to teach in my American lit class.)

White Skies in Dubai by untitled blue (FCC)

6:54 a.m., the time I last glanced at the clock on the computer. Heard the clock in the living room chime 7 a.m. Looked outside at a pearly white sky, the kind of morning sky when no sun pierces through the clouds, the kind of sky that follows a night of rain. The white sky most associated with winter. Luminous white, without color, or is white all color? I always forget that basic color principle, black, white, all color, absence of color.

I thought about beginning this post then but knew that if I did, I would probably never go to bed, and my body simply cannot tolerate such things any more.

This insomnia is killing me.

And my sinuses are in revolt. It was in the 80’s this past week; tonight they are calling for rain and snow with temps in the low 30’s. By mid-week, it’s supposed to be back in the 60’s. I feel like banging my head against a wall. It might actually make me feel better, between the no-sleep, the sinus headaches, and the ongoing computer lockups and snafus (ARGH) . . .

Diy-um, as they say in the south.

“That’s who you really like. The people you can think out loud in front of.” ~ John Green

Anyway, when I couldn’t sleep, I went out into the dining room and played with Tumblr on Corey’s computer until my body felt heavy. Unfortunately, while Corey and I were watching the backlog of “Bones” on the DVR, I ate Fritos, the honey BBQ swirls, which I used to eat all of the time when I was going to GW. Not so much any more. They left this coating on my tongue that I felt like scraping off with a blunt edge, even after brushing and using mouthwash. The coating stayed after chewing Tums and drinking water. Then I felt them in my chest.

Monochrome Morning by goingslo (FCC)

I’ve been out of my Dexilant for about a week, and consequently, the GERD is acting up. Apparently, Fritos at 3 in the morning are not a good diet choice. Who knew?

After sitting up in the dining room chair for an hour or so the heaviness in my chest was gone, and I decided to try sleeping again. Grabbed an eye pillow out of the ziplock bag in the freezer and headed back to bed, only to find that all of the dogs had migrated to my side of the bed. Luckily, Corey has become quite proficient in moving Tillie in his sleep if I give him a nudge; otherwise, I am left to try to reposition the dead weight of a sleeping labrador. Not an easy task. I made myself get up this afternoon even though I really could have kept sleeping.

I so hate this—inching back the hours until I’m going to bed at a reasonable time for a night owl, only to lose traction and wind up staying up past dawn. Who lives like this?

“Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no. If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

I have so much to do that sitting here writing this post is probably irresponsible. I went through the mail basket a couple of nights ago and sorted the unopened bills, junk mail, and flyers, shredded what needed to be destroyed and put the rest in recycling. Now I really need to get back to organizing the family records. Our label maker died a while ago, and I need to set up new files. Add this to the pending taxes and FAFSAs . . . crap.

White Sky Angel, Tyne, Gateshead UK by smlp.co.uk (FCC)

Earlier this week Corey received a departure date—today. Obviously, it didn’t happen. New date is sometime at the end of this week. I don’t even know if I should put that out there as the fates might find it too tempting and switch us up yet again. The bad thing (for me) is that when he gets actual travel orders, I start to get really down and withdraw, initially, and then I compose myself and remind myself that this is a good thing. So by the time I adjust my thinking to him actually boarding a plan and leaving, everything gets put on hold, again.

The bad thing for him is that he moves into near-panic mode only to be put on pause, which leads to more pacing and heavy sighs. When we think that we have a date, we plan the few days before, decide on the things that we really need to take care of, which is a good thing, but then when the plans change, we toss everything by the wayside, as if we’ve moved a pile of dirt from one place to another, and then instead of doing something productive with it, we just leave it in the new place where it can erode and get muddy and whatever.

“The imperfect is our paradise.
Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
since the imperfect is so hot in us,
lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “The Poems of Our Climate

Anyway, that’s where we are. My body thinks that it’s afternoon, and the clock says that it’s 7:34 pm.

White on White by audreyjm529 (FCC)

“Flawed words and stubborn sounds”—some of the quotes that I’ve been coming across seem to be thrown into my lap propitiously in that they are so very appropriate in reflecting what I’m feeling. One of the bloggers who I visit made a comment about how she finds some people’s blogs so hard to follow, as if there is no real point, and it made me pause . . . Was she talking about me? Not being paranoid, more like reflective and analytical. Are my words too flawed to be worth anything to anyone else? Are my posts too full of stubborn sounds so as to be enigmatic, didactic, problematic?

Should I change up? Should I stay or should I go (old song lyrics)? Should I . . .

The section of the Joan Didion essay that I posted a couple of days ago has had me thinking quite a bit. Why do I write? It’s a topic that I’ve covered several times from different angles, but I’ve been mulling over the whole process for me, its origins, its evolution. I know that it’s a post-in-waiting, and perhaps after some sleep I’ll be able to tackle it. Didion stole the title from George Orwell, and I’ll steal the title from her. After all, stealing in writing is high praise—supposedly.

But the point? I’ve quite forgotten at the moment. I only know that I’ve got an idea rolling around in my brain. Cogitating as it were.

“Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.” ~ John Updike, A Month Of Sundays

I had an interesting comment on my A to Z bucket list post regarding my classification of the French as xenophobes. Of course, I was generalizing, something that I do when I’m not being careful. Nevertheless, I apologize for any offense. As I responded, I know that all French people are not xenophobes, just as I know that all Irish people do not drink Guiness, and all Australians don’t  throw shrimp on the barbie.

Tree and Berries Against White Sky

But the point is that when we write these posts, when we put things out there for public consumption, unless we are intentionally attempting to be controversial (which I know I can be), or we are trying to be bigoted (which I really try not to be), we need to be mindful of our words.

To be honest, the word xenophobe crept into my subconscious as it is one of the few words beginning with the letter x that I really like, not the definition, but the sound of it. X is such a problematic letter, sounding like z in the English language, and sh in many Asian languages, etc. So in the back of my mind when I was thinking about possible entries for X (which I know I copped out on), xenophobe planted itself firmly in my subconscious data file. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

Sorry this has been such a fluff post, but I’m on auto-pilot. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cass McCombs, “Broken”

                   

Wait

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Wait.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

~ Galway Kinnell

“The sound of the rain needs no translation.” ~ Quoted by Alan Watts

Rain on the Fountain by stopthegears (FCC)

                   

“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Tuesday afternoon. Rainy, moderate temperatures in low 50s.

It’s been a week since my last post. I’ve been in bed since Friday afternoon with bronchitis. I’m just glad that it didn’t hit completely until after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s been full blown: the painful cough, nasty stuff in my throat and chest. I’ve been putting off going to the doctor, first because it was the weekend, and then because I started to feel better.

Rain Bokeh by andymatthewsphotography.com (FCC)

Then last night, I felt absolutely horrible again, probably because I tried to do a few things yesterday. Today, my big accomplishment was doing the dishes and putting a load of clothes in the washing machine. I’m hoping to make it through this post, mostly because I miss sitting here, but the idea of sitting here, upright was really too much to contemplate for several days.

And then, there was the added strain of Eamonn getting sick also. His did not seem to be bronchitis, more of some kind of virus that hit his stomach and left him quite ill. I will spare you the details, but at one point, I was seriously considering taking him to the ER because I was afraid that he was dehydrated, but he came through okay, and even went to work today.

So at the moment, it’s just the dogs and me and the rain outside. Let me put it into perspective for you: I was so sick that I didn’t even want my daily coffee. Just the thought of coffee made me feel nauseous. But I’m hoping that the worst has passed and that I won’t need to make that trip to the doctor. Fortunately, I’ve been able to control the cough enough so that it hasn’t caused a headache, which almost always happens when I get bronchitis: I cough madly, and end up with a migraine, which gets worse the more that I cough. The ensuing migraine this time was short-lived (I’m really liking the effects of the Botox if this is all that I have to deal with).

Funny that, being thankful for a migraine that only lasts four hours.

“The world about us would be desolate except for the world within us.” ~ Wallace Stevens, The Necessary Angel: Reality & the Imagination

So Thanksgiving dinner was fairly successful. My mother didn’t complain too much. In fact, she was on her best behavior. The turkey was perfection, and of course, we had too much food. Something to be thankful for, I know. Although next year I need to remember to get a slightly bigger turkey so that there are more leftovers for sandwiches.

Winter Rain by dibytes (FCC)

I worked myself into a frenzy right into the middle of the afternoon, even though my back rebelled in a big way. I just get that perfectionist thing going and can’t stop myself. However, I did leave myself enough time to paint my nails and put on a bit of makeup so that I didn’t look like a total hag. But I was glad that everything went well, and there was no major family drama.

Corey had to work until 4 p.m., so everything was pretty much up to me. Brett helped with moving things, which I never could have done alone.

Of course, my mother called the next day with her questions and criticisms, but even these were kept to a minimum. Could she be mellowing?

Nah, probably not. Still, Corey and I agreed that overall, things went much better than expected, which is a sad commentary in itself—to be prepared for the motherly criticism of everything from the food to the state of the house. Oh well. What can you do? Nothing, really.

And so it goes.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

Actually, other than dinner and being sick, I don’t have much to say. I finished reading the book that I had already read; although I must admit that knowing who the villain was in advance did detract from my overall enjoyment, but I was reading mostly because I couldn’t do anything else, so it turned out okay. I wouldn’t have wanted to start a new book that required too much concentration as I was quite unable to devote too many brain cells to concentration.

The Rains, Singapore, by vishy-washy (FCC)

Yesterday because of the vehicle situation, I had to drop Corey off in one place and then take Em and Brett to ODU. I swear that I almost fell asleep on the return trip from ODU, which is not good. I was full of cold medicine and running on restless sleep, which did not make for a good combination. I opened all the windows and prayed until I got home.

I really don’t like doing that. I remember towards the end of my stay at GW, making that trip to Newport News each day was really taking a toll on me, and more than once I found myself driving while unconscious (not really), but you know what I mean—arriving somewhere without having any memory of the trip to get there. Hate, hate that.

So yesterday’s trip made me quite anxious, and I came home and collapsed into the bed and immediately fell asleep. I did not wake up again until Corey called to say that he was ready to be picked up.

He took a refresher test for his merchant mariner’s credentials. Actually, it was two tests, both of which he scored 100 percent. So proud of him. He is slowly passing each hurdle, and we are just holding our collective breaths that everything will move smoothly towards him being able to go back to sea in 2012.

“We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

You know, our luck hasn’t been the best these past few years, so when something actually does go our way, we seem to move in a state of disbelief, waiting for the incipient bad news to arrive on our doorstep. It’s hard to adjust our thinking to the concept that we might actually be making headway.

Falling Rain on Leaves by elvis_payne (FCC)

I suppose a lot of it is that we don’t want to get our hopes up only to have them come crashing down about our ears again. If one doesn’t hope, then one cannot be disappointed. Right?

But I keep telling Corey that his time has come, that he deserves a change for the better. And I’m not just saying these things as a pep talk. I truly believe that he is due for some better fortune. We have both become so used to living in a state of constant uncertainty that it is hard to accept that we may be facing better days. It’s a bit like that poor abused dog, the one who is so used to a slap instead of a treat that he cowers whenever a hand comes within proximity.

But perhaps what that hand is proffering is in fact good? Dare we hope? I honestly don’t know, the old cart before the horse way of thinking. So I try to think good thoughts but temper them with a cold dose of reality.

I mean, think about the explorers of old: they looked for the horizon each time they put that glass to their eyes; they hoped that it was there, but they tried not to hope too much so that the disappointment wouldn’t quash them completely. But then one day, they caught a glimpse of something. They put the glass down, shook their head, paused. Then they looked again, and yes, it was in fact something besides the vast sea before them.

Can you imagine the kind of determination it must have taken to board a boat without any kind of computerized navigational systems, just a sextant, a compass, and a piece of parchment on which to plot courses to the unknown? To set sail with only an inkling that there was something out there? To hope against hope that the inkling would prove true?

“I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.” ~ John Green, Looking for Alaska

In a way, our family has been at sea for a while. Our provisions have been slight but sufficient. We have been voyaging, like so many others, in the hopes that we will find terra firma sooner than later.

Umbrella Leaves by mysza831 (FCC)

We are now at the point at which we believe that we have espied something. Exactly what, we are still unsure. But just the hope that it’s out there—it’s enough to keep us going. And the reality is that we have one another.

I hope that we have weathered the worst, but I cannot say for certain. In spite of this, I feel a sense of calm. I feel a sense of—dare I say the words aloud—a sense of promise of better days. Perhaps all of this is simply my body feeling better because the worse of my recent bout is behind me, but I don’t think so. I sense a change in the air, smell a fresher scent on the wind.

What it rests upon is this: In spite of all of my bitching and moaning to the contrary, I still believe. I still believe that good things are out there, that castles in the air can find weight in reality, that dreams can come true. I know that it is the romantic in me, the one who surfaces upon occasion and declares that love, peace, and good will triumph. The one who still thinks that there is indeed a balm in Gilead that will make the wounded whole.

I know that you don’t see this side often, that this aspect does not often turn its face towards the sun. But it is still there, subsumed most of the time, but not gone.

Do I still dream? Of course I do. It’s just that sometimes, I forget that there are always possibilities. That the no-win scenario is, indeed, surmountable, that it’s just a matter of perspective.

More later. Peace.

Music by the Cary Brothers, “Take Your Time”

                   

The Small Cabin

The house we built gradually
from the ground up when we were young
(three rooms, the walls
raw trees) burned down
last year          they said

I didn’t see it, and so
the house is still there in me

among branches as always     I stand
inside it looking out
at the rain moving across the lake

but when I go back
to the empty place in the forest
the house will blaze and crumple
suddenly in my mind

collapsing like a cardboard carton
thrown on a bonfire, summers
crackling, my earlier
selves outlined in flame.

Left in my head will be
the blackened earth: the truth.

Where did the house go?

Where do the words go
when we have said them?

~ Margaret Atwood

“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies . . . and to the ‘good life,’ whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson

“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.” ~ Aristophanes

Vintage Christmas Card: Christmas Song Birds (1913)

                   

“The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.” ~ Harlan Ellison

Vintage Christmas Card: Germany (1901)

Monday, early evening, Webb Center computer lab, ODU.

I arranged to pick up Brett from school today at 4:15. My phone is still not working, so I was unable to find out whether or not he wanted to stay longer. Turns out, he did, so I decided to come to the lab for a bit and work on this blog while he hangs.

We are switching my phone back to our T-Mobile plan, which means replacing the sim card. I did that, but for some reason, it takes 24 to 48 hours for my phone number (which was originally a T-Mobile number) to be transferred back from the Straight Talk plan.

Just a word of caution for anyone who is thinking of switching over to Straight Talk: Don’t. The customer service is absolutely horrible, and the plan, while it seems fairly straightforward and simple, isn’t. We had thought about switching over everyone to the Straight Talk plan to try to save some money; fortunately, we tried it with my line first while keeping the T-Mobile plan for everyone else.

The problems just weren’t worth the small savings; hence my switch back to T-Mobile. Only problem is that I don’t have service yet.

Cox Communications, our cable and Internet provider, is now offering wireless service. I suppose we’ll check that out to see what they are offering. If we can bundle all of our services, we may be able to save a bit of money. Have to see what’s going on with that.

“I responded to this development with the kind of sophisticated language for which I am famous. “Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid crap.” ~ John Green

Vintage Christmas Card: Bringing Home the Tree (date unknown)

Sunday evening, home. Windy and cold.

It is now almost two weeks since I began this particular post, and you may be wondering to yourself, ‘why bother?’ Legitimate question. Let me just say that I had already picked out all of these wonderful quotes about stupidity, and I hate to waste a good quote. So we will now be rejoining our regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

Brett finished his exams last Friday; we’re waiting for final grades, but it looks like he may be getting two A’s and two B’s. Quite happy about that. And Eamonn told me last night that he got three B’s and one C, much better than last semester. His comment was that he didn’t even try; I did not come back with the expected retort of imagine how well he would do if he did try . . .

Since I began this post, quite a few things have happened. One of which is that we learned—much to our joint consternation—that the wonderful Straight Talk phone we bought several months ago when we decided to try the switch, that phone (which is a Samsung Gravity model), cannot be used with any other system, even though it is SIM-card ready. My new T-mobile SIM card will not work in the phone. Period. Corey found out this dismaying information after several wonderful conversations with the ST customer service people. (He had to make the calls as I refuse to deal with them ever again; he now understands why that is.) We even tried some Internet sources that claim to be able to unlock any phone; well, they can’t.

So my mother, who cannot stand that she is unable to call me several times a day, is buying me a new phone for Christmas. I found a great deal on e-Bay for a similar Samsung, not one of the newer gravity models, which is fine as I don’t really like touch screens or have  need for all kinds of apps.

Once again, a word of unsolicited advice from me to you: DON’T go with Straight Talk unless you have unlimited patience and never plan to move your service again.

“The difference between stupid and intelligent people—and this is true whether or not they are well-educated—is that intelligent people can handle subtlety.” ~ Neal Stephenson

Vintage Christmas Card: German Elves (date unknown)

In keeping with tonight’s theme, I want to mention a very entertaining blog that I came across on blogsurfer.us: Losers I’ve Loved and Lost. The blog isn’t stupid, far from it, but the responses from the individuals on match.com who contact the blog’s author . . . well let’s just say that they are a bit lacking in the functioning grey cells category.

Essentially, the blog is a running list of selected letters the author has received via match.com and her responses to said letters. Now I’ve never tried online dating, and I know that it has become a staple in the dating world for many reasons, not the least of which is the ability to cull through the chaff for the wheat via profiles and responses. I will be the first to admit that this system would never work for me, ever, ever, as I would correct grammar and be generally bitchy and condescending, that is, my normal self.

So when I began to read the letters and her responses, I found myself laughing out loud as matchmaker (the blog’s author) comes across as my kind of woman: She does not suffer fools gladly. For example, she specifies that she is short, that she smokes, that she is not interested in an older man, a divorced man, or a man with children. She also specifies a locale. Do any of the men who write her pay attention to these specifics?

Of course not.

To wit:

Letter (intro paragraph): May I have the honor of inviting you for a dinner or lunch in San Francisco (I work in downtown) or a dinner in Berkeley (my neighborhood has all the celebrated restaurants)? I really enjoyed reading your relaxes but refreshing profile—you seem to be lovely person inside and out. (accompanied by photograph of obviously older gentleman)

Response (selected parts): dinner at a celebrated restaurant in berkeley sounds fantastic!  i love places that people celebrate or that others find celebrating or that celebrate regularly.  celebration is the essence of celebration.  the problem is i live in los angeles.  but it’s just a minor problem.  you sound very successful and i’m sure you could find a private jet to fly me up and back just for dinner.

i think you do meet all of the criteria for my partner.  except for the “within 5 mile radius of west hollywood” one, and the “between the ages of 34 – 39” one (as you’re 62).  and i’m glad you enjoyed my relaxes, because i relaxes a lot.  i relaxes all day if i can… and if i can’t, at least i make time to relaxes for at least half the day every day.

regarding me being a lovely person inside and out, well that’s a tough one.  i hate most people, pull the wings off of flies, and try to purse my lips in a frown like manner so people don’t approach me or try to talk to me as i don’t like strangers

See what I mean? She pulls no punches, which will offend some, alienate others, and put off those males looking for a traditional, sweet wifey type—which is obviously her strategy. And those of you out there who know me well know that I would take the same tack, which is why I am sooo glad that I don’t have to do this kind of thing. Visit LIL&L if you are into acerbic wit and rampant sarcasm.

“An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.” ~ Victor Hugo 

Vintage Victorian Christmas Card (via vintageholidaycrafts.com)

Let’s see . . . what else is happening? I have on my list of things to do addressing Christmas cards, with any luck, perhaps even tonight when I finish this post. May I just pause here to say that I am terribly saddened by the fact that no one, no one sends cards any more. To date, we have received two cards.

What is up with that? I read recently that more and more people are sending e-cards in lieu of paper cards. I know, a greeting of any sort is lovely, but I want that tactile sensation. I want to ooh and aah over the images, to read the short notes hastily scrawled inside in an attempt to be more personal. I mean, a recent study revealed that children are using less of their brain potential because they do not write with pens and pencils any more. We have an entire generation coming up that will have no idea as to how to pen a letter, literally.

Such a waste. I mean, what about doodling? All of those doodles with colored pens, matching your own name with some boy’s name, drawing little hearts and curlicues. Or the mad doodling in which the pen is pressed to the paper so hard that you form wholes and tears. A child who does not know how to take up a writing implement is being deprived, much in the same way as the child who is read to from an e-reader (another subject worthy of pages and pages of ranting).

Big I digress as usual . . .

Famous Louis Prant Christmas Card (ca 1882) via Card Museum

Holiday cards: Yes, that was the subject. No one sends them any more. It’s not like they are expensive. Boxes of beautiful cards can be bought at after-Christmas sales for a few dollars. I know because I’ve been doing that for years. And postage? Okay, send ten cards, just ten. It’s still about the same as the cost of a caramel machiato at Starbucks. Which one lasts, and which one goes straight to your hips?

Okay, before you accuse me of being the curmudgeon that I am, know this: I am a foolishly sentimental curmudgeon. And it’s not that I don’t embrace change. I love technology, love the gadgets and hoo-has, but I sincerely believe that in this, as with everything else, there must be balance. I mean, think about it. Are we going to progress so much that wedding announcements will be received via Blackberry and iPhone?

If you really don’t understand why I’m making such a big deal out of this, then you have never had a love affair with paper. You have never obsessed over the perfect pen. And if that’s the case, then there really isn’t any point in continuing this discussion.

More later. Peace.

Music by George Winston, “Variations on Pachelbel’s Canon in D”