“. . . 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”