“ . . . She had wild eyes, slightly insane. She also carried an overload of compassion that was real enough and which obviously cost her something.” ~ Charles Bukowski, from Women

Leon Spilliaert, “Tree Trunks” (1929 watercolor and gouache on prepared board)

“As if keening on your knees
were somehow obscene
As if there were a control
so marvelous
you could teach it
to eat pain.” ~ Maggie Nelson, from Jane: A Murder

Wednesday, late afternoon. Cloudy and 52 degrees.

I’ve been sitting at this keyboard for hours, trying to figure out what to say, or if I had anything to say because I feel guilty that I haven’t posted in a few days. There’s that operational word: guilt. But the truth is that I don’t think that I really have anything to say. I answered a long email from my daughter this morning, and then I put together a small package of things for her so that Corey could take it to the post office for me; in that, I also included a handwritten note.

I seem to have run out of words.

Only this: two days ago, I was on a cleaning binge, and I thought to myself, I can put up a tree. I can do this. That was two days ago. I realize now that I was only deluding myself. Unless Corey helps me to decorate it, and he really doesn’t get much out of decorating the tree, then I cannot do it. Look. I’m forcing myself to wash my face and get dressed. I just don’t think there’s enough energy for more than that. Just as there just isn’t enough energy for here. Maybe tomorrow.

Peace.


Music by The Dixie Chicks (I always think of this song when I think of my daughter)

 


Postscript: I will share a poem from a poet who I haven’t posted in too long: Lisel Mueller. I cannot believe that I haven’t posted one of her poems for over five years. For a good description of her background and thoughts, go here.

Why We Tell Stories
……….For Linda Foster

I
Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery
of dreams, and because we awakened

and learned to speak

2
We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

3
Because the story of our life
becomes our life

Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently

and none of us tells it
the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them

and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story
with the word and

~ Lisel Mueller

 

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“The human heart is like a night bird. Silently waiting for something, and when the time comes, it flies straight toward it.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

(c) Perth & Kinross Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Blyth Autumn” (1963, oil on canvas)
by Robert Henderson

Two for Tuesday: October

Thursday evening. Partly cloudy and humid, 81 degrees.

Argh. Heat and humidity. What gives? I want it to feel like October, to feel like autumn.

Corey has spent the day working on the side yard again. All of the random trees have been cut down. He has mulched a huge pile from the wood, and today, he put up a make-shift fence until he has the funds to rent an auger and do all of the post holes. At some point he’s going to work on getting some of the stumps out or cut level, don’t know which, but removal requires a grinder, which costs money. Anyway, I know that he’s happy with what he’s accomplished. As am I.

We’re working on getting done the things we have to get done so that we can put this house on the market. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner the better. But, of course, everything takes money, so it’s here and there. It would be so nice if we had the funds to just take care of everything all at once, but alas. Not for now.

He goes back next week, and it’s been really nice to have him home for a full three weeks. With this set schedule, he’ll be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and somehow we have to fit in holidays and a trip to Ohio to see the new baby. I long for easier days. Oh well . . . Baby tonight, which is always nice.

More later. Peace.

MSKG - Zonnige boom - Emile Claus (1900)
“Tree in the Sun” (1900, oil on canvas)
by Emil Claus

Late October

Carefully
the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
to black
for comfort.

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order to begin
again.

~ Maya Angelou

                   

Léon Spilliaert October Evening, 1912
“October Evening” (1912, pastel on paper)
by Léon Spilliaert

October, Mon Amour

The first dead leaves lie like sea urchins

browned on the asphalt drive.

It’s got to be October,

Slayer of living things, refrigerator of memory.

Next to the wilted lettuce, next to the Simone Weil,

Our lives are shoved in,

barely visible, but still unspoiled.

Our history is the history of the City of God.

What’s-to-Come is anybody’s guess.

Whatever has given you comfort,

Whatever has rested you,

Whatever untwisted your heart

is what you will leave behind.

~ Charles Wright

                   

Music by Esthero, “Crash” (featuring Johan Johnson)

“I’ve spent so much time in my head and in my heart that I forgot to live in my body.” ~ Tara Hardy, from “Bone Marrow”

Anne Redpath Border Landscape
“Border Landscape” (c1930s, oil on panel)
by Anne Redpath

                   

“If you go on valuing recognition and praise of others, you’re asking to be ruined. The only value in expression is its inherent value. The object is the object, and will continue well after you’re dead. Even when the world burns up and even the object no longer appears, you were who you were, you made what you made, you valued what you valued, and nothing else.” ~ Blake Butler, from Sky Saw

Saturday, late afternoon. Cloudy and cold, 44 degrees.

So it’s a full 30 degrees colder than yesterday. Yesterday fall. Today winter. And so my sinuses rebel loudly.

Not sure if I’ll finish this post today as so much is going on, but I thought that I could at least start. With any luck the internet will hold a few more days, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not the case.

Károly Patkó, Trees 1924
“Trees” (1924, mixed media on paper)
by Károly Patkó

We have Olivia today; Lex and Mike are going out tonight, and Corey leaves tomorrow afternoon, so the timing is good. It’s very weird that’s he’s leaving tomorrow. I think that we are all still heavily in denial. I mean, he hasn’t even packed yet. Last night he put up the Christmas tree for me so that I don’t have to struggle with that on my own. I’ll probably decorate it tomorrow or the next day. Olivia likes the lights.

Yesterday Brett spent all day switching bedrooms. He has wanted to move into Eamonn’s old room for some time, and since Corey and Eamonn cleaned out all of the tools and bathroom reno stuff, it seemed like an opportune time. Unfortunately, he didn’t paint before he moved in, and the room definitely needs to be painted. The walls are covered in Sharpie where all of Eamonn’s friends and girlfriends past have signed. I really don’t know how that tradition began, but there was already quite a bit up there before I really noticed it. Anyway, the walls are probably going to need a primer to cover up the Sharpie.

Of course. Nothing is ever easy in this house.

“The river’s auscultations keep pace
with my lungs. Blame the ear for its attention. Blame
the body for not wanting to let go, but once a thing moves
it can’t help it. There is only instinct, that living ‘yes.’” ~ Oliver de la Paz, from “Insomnia as Transfiguration”

So a new word: auscultations, which means the act of listening, or to listen to the body’s sounds made by internal organs. Cool word. Amazed that someone worked it into a poem.

Carel Weight, R A Snow, Putney
“Snow, Putney” (oil on board)
by Carel Weight, RA

I used to know how pneumonia sounded through a stethoscope. That’s the kind of knowledge that lay people shouldn’t have. I also used to know how to spot pneumonia on an x-ray. Again, not something you should know. I wonder if there is a term for knowledge forced on you by circumstance, knowledge that you would rather not have but have anyway. Probably. There’s a word for everything. If anyone knows, let me know.

So where was I? Oh yes, Corey’s leaving.

He flies out at 2:30 tomorrow. The most recent communique from the company said that they were going to try to put him on vessel a, but they weren’t 100 percent certain, but it sounds like he is going right from training to a ship. I do know that at some point he is supposed to get helicopter training, as in how to embark and disembark safely from a helicopter. Tell me that doesn’t just scare the bejeezus out of me . . .

“Ask her what she craved, and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music. Plants and the seasons. Also freedom. Not being bought and sold by some idiot employer, not having the moments of her days valued in fractions of a dollar by somebody other than herself.” ~ Charles Frazier, from Nightwoods

Normally before he leaves we try to go out to dinner, but not this time. We’ve run out of both time and money. I guess all of those good meals in New Orleans will have to suffice. I get hungry just thinking about those crabcakes.

Leon Spilliaert Branches 1912
“Branches (Boomtakken)” (1912)
by Léon Spilliaert

New Orleans was a great trip, for so many reasons. I definitely want to go back and spend more time. I didn’t take that many photographs, and I would love to visit the old cemeteries.

On the crabcake night, before we went to dinner, a guy came up to us and said that he could give us directions to anywhere (we obviously looked a bit lost). I told him that we were looking for a locals restaurant that had good food and wasn’t too pricey. He took us to a diner.

His heart was in the right place, and we rewarded him for his trouble. But about two hours later we ran into him again, and he started to do his spiel, but I reminded him that we had already donated to the cause. I don’t mind helping out people when I can, and yes, he may have used the money for booze, but you know? I don’t care. We had enough money to have a wonderful dinner; five dollars was not going to matter one way or another.

“Clear moments are so short.
There is much more darkness. More
ocean than terra firma. More
shadow than form.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, “Moment,” trans. Renata Gorczynski

Sunday evening. Rainy and cold.

As I predicted, I was unable to finish this post. Corey left this afternoon. Everything was last-minute panic mode.

Giovanni Giacometti Albero aka Tree 1920 watercolor on paper
“Albero (Tree)” (1920, watercolor on paper)
by Giovanni Giacometti

Did he have his papers? His passport? Yes.

Everything? No, forgot to pack work boots.

Everything? No, forgot to pack a belt.

Got to the airport. Momentary panic. Where are my papers?

In my hand . . .

Poor boy. He was so nervous. I can’t say that I blame him. This is a very, very big step. He’s going to work for the #2 company in the entire industry. I’d say that’s a big deal. Add to that the stress of having absolutely no idea of when he will be home, whether or not they are sending him directly to a ship, or more training, or home. It’s a lot to process. We were both nervous.

“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” ~ Cheryl Strayed, from Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Piet Mondrian Village Church 1898
“Village Church” (1898, charcoal, gouache, pastel, pencil, and watercolor on paper)
Piet Mondrian

So I’m going to finish this and then watch some television until I feel sleepy. I’m not going to bet on when that will happen, though, as I always have a horrible time getting to sleep the first night after Corey leaves.

So many things are going on in so many different areas of our lives. I must admit that I’m feeling all over the place. I feel bad that I haven’t even checked in with Corey’s family since his dad had his operation. I’m just getting my news on everything secondhand.

Add to all of this that I think my mother must be mad at me because she hasn’t called me since the whole care thing was finally settled. Perhaps she sensed my displeasure at everything. I don’t hide my displeasure very well, which I know will probably surprise you tremendously . . .

Anyway, I’ve kind of run out of steam, so I’ll close for now. I hope you enjoy the tree images. I love them.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ben Howard, “Oats in the Water”

                   

Last Meeting

The day begins with a fog
that will not unroll. The weather
is falling everywhere, everywhere
we sit the grass bleeds to the touch.

What we have not yet said will not get said.
When you unzip your dress
a thousand insects run for cover,
the goldenrod breaks into a slow swoon.

Your touch is like the touch
of the wasp undulating in its nest,
your tongue the quick lash
of a mirror breaking on the wrist.

Everything else can wait, but will not.

~ Ira Sadoff

“The weather varies between heavy fog and pale sunshine; My thoughts follow the exact same process.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 21 April 1918

Leon Spillaert, L'Arbre au Bout de l'Escalier
“L’Arbre au Bout de l’Escalier” (nd)
by Léon Spilliaert

                   

“Who will you be tonight in your dreamfall into the dark, on the other side of the wall?” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, from Dream, trans. Alastair Reid

Monday, early evening. Intermittent thunderstorms, high humidity, high 70’s.

It was nice to sleep later today after having Olivia for two days, but it was nice to have her on Saturday and Sunday as I had really missed spending time with her. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the best circumstances in which to introduce a baby . . . Awoke last night several times with a headache, a different headache each time. It was very strange, but all included extreme light sensitivity and nausea. Not sure if it’s the barometric pressure or the powder keg pressure that is the current state in our house.

Leon Spilliaert Clair de lune et lumières vers 1909
Clair de Lune et Lumières vers (1909)
by Léon Spilliaert

Even Corey, even-keeled as he is, admits that the stress is really getting to him, and he wants nothing more than to be left alone.

It’s an amalgation of many things: Tillie’s heightened stress over the battle with Jake; the whole idea of taking Jake back to the shelter from which we adopted him; the futile attempts at training the puppy (whose name is still not quite fixed because no one (myself included) seems to find Kopi fitting); Corey’s upcoming trip to Ohio, which, coming at a really bad time, means that we need to resolve so much before he goes; the broken air conditioner in the living room, which is making the front part of the house unbearably hot and uncomfortable . . . and on and on and on.

It’s no surprise that we are all feeling the pressure, and less of a surprise that the dogs are reading it and reacting to it.

“There are a thousand things I want.
Each begins with going back in time.” ~ Jill Alexander Essbaum, from The Devastation

I suppose much of it goes back to bringing home two dogs at once. If we had just brought home the puppy, she and Tillie might be bonding by now, and the puppy might have been able to pick up on Tillie’s demeanor. Instead, the puppy and Jake seem to bring out the worst in one another, and Tillie spends most of her time hiding and trying to get away from both of them.

XIR213998
“Green Seascape” (1909, pencil and watercolor on paper)
by Léon Spilliaert

When we brought Tillie home, we had both Jack Russell boys, but everything integrated so smoothly that I suppose we have been thrown off-kilter by how very different this experience has been so far. Tillie seemed to house train herself. She never chewed on furniture or shoes. She was an amazing puppy, and she has grown into an amazing adult dog.

The recent additions? Not so much.

I have taken to spritzing hairspray on the bottoms of some pieces of furniture to try to curb the chewing. Water mixed with hot sauce only seemed to make the furniture more tempting somehow. If the hairspray doesn’t work, I’ll buy some bitters. Granted, our furniture is far from top of the line, but we do have a few pieces that I really cherish, like my Bentwood rocker, which seems to having glowing lights around it serving to lure in the two miscreants. That rocker is over 30 years old, and I love it.

“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways . . . Without it, no species would survive.”~ Yann Martel, from Life of Pi

That paralyzing lethargy that I spoke of in the last post? Well it’s traveled to Corey, and now he feels completely unmotivated to do any of his projects, including installing the new air conditioner. I can hardly say anything to him as my own desire to accomplish anything is fueled only by the compulsive desire for the house not to be in a constant state of disarray, and a keen need for the living room not to smell like a kennel.

Leon SPillaert, Longing
“Longing” (nd)
by Léon Spilliaert

I keep washing throw rugs and pillows, and am doing a lot of moving things out of reach, but the puppy grows more each day, which means that things which were inaccessible three days ago are now within reach.

We had moved the dry dog food into the dining room this past winter to keep the raccoons from getting into it. Unfortunately, the puppy has realized that if she hurls herself at the bag, she has a good chance of knocking it over, which means FOOD NOW! Yeah, I know.

This morning we woke up to find that the whole house had been t-p’d—inside. One or both of them had unrolled a full roll of toilet paper from the bathroom to the dining room.

To say that I’m hating life right now is a massive understatement.

“What remains of its beauty yesterday?
I have kept all its feathers.” ~ André Gide, from Prometheus Illbound

I suppose I should be happy at the good news, which is that I seem to have lost a few pounds since Alfie died, but I’m too stressed to be looking at the glass half-full thing. I mean, I spent an hour sweeping the floors and wiping things down once I was able to get out of bed this morning.

Leon Spilliaert 1908 The-Royal-Galleries-of-Ostende
“The Royal Galleries of Ostende (1908)
by Léon Spilliaert

The guilt-infusing reality is that we have made arrangements to surrender Jake to the shelter on Wednesday. The woman with whom I spoke yesterday was able to reassure me a bit by telling me that all of Jake’s brothers have already been adopted, so chances are good that he’ll be able to find a new home, but I’m so worried that he’s going to end up back in that cage just wondering why? I’d be wondering why, and yes, I’m human, but dogs are sentient beings. Never doubt that.

Every time that I think about it I can see him sitting there with his beautiful dark eyes filled with sadness. Coward that I am, I don’t think that I can go with Corey when he takes Jake back. I mean, I actually started to tear up on the phone when I was explaining the situation to the woman on the phone. I have never in my life given up a dog, taken a dog to a shelter, albeit a no-kill, extremely clean and well-maintained shelter with lots of volunteers.

It’s all too much, and the thought of Corey going off and leaving me in a few days, even though it’s for a good reason, just makes me sad and more stressed.

Stressed. Stressed. Stressed.

“I’ve always been dark with light somewhere in the distance.” ~ Dallas Green

Leon Spilliaert-Wharf-with-Fisherman-on-a-Mooring-Post-1909-large-1340860501
“Whart with Fisherman on a Mooring Post (1909)
by Léon Spilliaert

So let’s recap shall we?

  • I made the mistake of adopting two dogs at once too soon after the loss of Alfie
  • The dog who has been queen of her doman is now living in constant fear
  • The dogs we adopted are feeding off each other’s energy, resulting in massive entropy
  • The little decent furniture we have has become chew toys
  • The barometric pressure is wreaking havoc on my sinuses
  • The humidity is thick enough to bottle
  • Everyone in the house is overwrought
  • The house that I have been OCD’ing over cleaning seems to be falling to pieces before my eyes
  • The puppy still needs a name.

Yep. That’s about right.

More later. Peace.

All images by Belgian artist Léon Spilliaert (I was able to find the associated medium for only one image).

Music by Lucie Silvas, “Place to Hide”

                    

At Half Past Three in the Afternoon

On one side of the world
I was watching the waterfall
shake itself out, a scroll unfurled
against a grey sky slate wall,
when on the other side—
it would be half past nine, and you
in bed—when on the other side
the night was falling further than I knew.

And watching the water
fall from that hole in the sky
to be combed into foam, I caught
a glimpse in the pool’s dark eye
of us, eating our bread
and cheese, watching the fallen light
crash into darkness. “Look” you said,
“a rainbow like a dragonfly in flight.”

On one side of the world
at half past five in the afternoon
a telephone rang, and darkness welled
from a hole in the sky,
darkness and silence. Soon,
in search of a voice—how to recall
“a rainbow like a dragonfly
in flight”—I walked back to the waterfall.

The trees had lost their tongues—
as I did, coming face to face
with the glacial skeleton hung
behind our picnic place.
The spine was broken, cracked
the rib-cage of the waterfall.
The pond under its cataract
knew nothing of us, knew nothing at all.

And what did I know, except
that you, the better part of me,
did not exist? But I have kept
your anniversary
today—or there, tonight—
returning to the creek, and trying
to understand. I saw the light
falling, falling, and the rainbow flying.

~ Jon Stallworthy