“The enormous silent poem of color and light…of sea and sky, of the woods and the peaks, so far surpasses imagination as to paralyze it.” ~ Lafcadio Hearn, Two Years in the French West Indies

One of the Nereids, Court of Neptune Fountain, Library of Congress, DC, Artist Roland Hinton
by jcolman (FCC)

                   

“Winter dawn is the color of metal,
The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves.
All night I have dreamed of destruction, annihilations” ~ Sylvia Plath, from “Waking in Winter

Saturday afternoon. Cloudy, drizzle, high 60’s.

When I let the dogs out around 4 a.m., the sky was beautiful—streaked with clouds and a kind of purplish hue. The moon looked like it was covered with gauze. Oh to have a camera that would capture such a sky.

The Channel Gardens: Nereid Thought, Rockefeller Center, NYC
by artist Rene Paul Chambellan

Last night I dreamed I was babysitting for a couple who were renovating their home. The husband was morphing into something with wings. He would bend and contract, and then the faint impression of wings would appear on his back. The baby was eating rice. The mother was getting ready for an interview with Oprah. I had nothing to wear. My sister-in-law Alana had a beautiful cream-colored sweater that she had just bought from Hecht’s, but I knew that I would look like a sausage in it. The husband had concave grooves on his back where the wings would go.

Make of that what you will.

So Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm and then upgraded right back into a hurricane. It’s going to be one of those. My biggest worry is the back door; other than that, I’m as prepared as I’m going to be.

I really don’t feel like leaving the house today, but I’m supposed to drive Brett and Em to a Halloween party this evening. We shall see . . .

“We depend on nature not only for our physical survival. We also need nature to show us the way home, the way out of the prison of our minds. We got lost in doing, thinking, remembering, anticipating; lost in a maze of complexity and a world of problems. We have forgotten what rocks, plants and animals still know. We have forgotten how to be – to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: here and now.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Why was I awake at 4 a.m.? The dogs, of course. Unfortunately, Shakes is wheezing more and more, and his breathing is ragged. But the big culprit last night was Tillie the Lab, who wanted to go out every hour. I don’t know if the impending storm is making her antsy, but for some reason, she will not be still.

Underwater Amphitrite, Grand Cayman, BWI
by Simon Morris

I’m on the fourth (fifth?) day of this headache. I have intermittent respites from the pain, but this is a bad one. Probably the swaying barometric pressure combined with anxiety of weathering a hurricane and worrying about Corey, although he is out of the storm’s path.  Around here, all of the ships have left port, standard procedure when there is a hurricane coming. They go out of port to ride out the storm, to avoid getting buffeted against the piers. That’s a lot of ships.

The governor has already declared a state of emergency, and closings were being flashed on the television screen last night. Forecasters are predicting damages in the billions—that’s with a b, not an m, and everyone is bandying about that phrase “perfect storm” again. Images are all over the Interwebs and television of rising tides and ferocious seas. I think of my friend Sarah and hope that she does not suffer another flood with this storm.

I guess everyone is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, but nature will do what she will, regardless of the humans. I’m just hoping selfishly that we don’t lose power for an extended time like we did back in 2003 with Hurricane Isabel. I think we were without power for days then. We really should have brought home that generator that Corey’s parents were going to give us.

“I like to live in the sound of water, in the feel of the mountain air. A sharp reminder hits me: this world still is alive; it stretches out there shivering toward its own creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing enters into this elaborate give-and-take, this bowing to sun and moon, day and night, winter, summer, storm, still—this tranquil chaos that seems to be going somewhere. This wilderness with a great peacefulness in it. This motionless turmoil, this everything dance.” ~ William Stafford

So, what else is going on besides hurricane news?

Channel Gardens: Nereid Imagination, Rockefeller Center, NYC
by Rene Paul Chambellan

Ooh, a memory from Hurricane Isabel: The boys and I set up Risk and played by candlelight. We played for days, and never finished the game. I was winning. Those were good times. I bought the boys a Lord of the Rings version of Risk. We have never played it. That makes me a bit sad. I doubt that we shall ever play it. They have grown up, moved on, changed so much since those powerless afternoons of almost a decade ago.

The longer I write, the more my head hurts, but I’m determined to get a real post up today. The earlier satellite images do not count as today’s post because . . .. well, they just don’t.

I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t feel better about the hurricane if Corey were home with us. Of course I would, but we’ll just have to muddle along without him, at least for another couple of weeks.

“How to photograph this,
the dark when one has said
too much. The dark
of sudden feeling. Love’s
darkness.” ~ Anne Michaels, from “Fontanelles”

I have put Anne Michaels on my list of poets whose books I would like to own, a list that continues to grow and grow. Speaking of which, I still have not shared anything with you about the two poets I saw during the literary festival. I’ll get to that, just as I’ll get to the three book reviews for the books that are sitting on top of the pile.

Sea Nymph Riding Sea Horse, Court of Neptune Fountain, Library of Congress, DC
by Roland Hinton Perry (Wikimedia Commons)

I remember the first time that I went to Mari’s house, I was so pleasantly surprised to see that she had piles of books in every room in much the same way that I do. That was how I knew that I had found a kindred soul. Speaking of which, the other night I dreamt that I had missed a week’s worth of classes for some graduate literature class, and then I showed up right as it was time for the final exam (usually these are math dreams). Mari was in the class with me, but she refused to share her notes with me, and she wouldn’t talk to me.

Then I was meeting with the class’s professor who was very upset with me for missing so many classes, and she didn’t want to let me take the exam, even though I told her I was ready, but I knew that truthfully I wasn’t.

How weird is it that I still have classroom dreams so many years later? What does that say about me, about my inability to move on? Probably way too much, I fear.

“I liked the solitude and the silence of the woods and the hills. I felt there the sense of a presence, something undefined and mysterious, which was reflected in the faces of the flowers and the movements of birds and animals, in the sunlight falling through the leaves and in the sound of running water, in the wind blowing on the hills and the wide expanse of earth and sky.” ~ Bede Griffiths

So, let me end this post, yet another disjointed one, by talking a bit about the Nereid, sea nymphs in Greek mythology. Why Nereids? Why not? Well, mostly because they embodied the sea.

Amphitrite
(artist and location unknown, ??)

There were 50 Nereids, daughters of Nereus and Doris, and they were specific to the Mediterranean, as opposed to the Naiades, the nymphs of fresh water, or the Oceanides, the nymphs of the great ocean. Nereus and his 50 daughters dwelt on the bottom of the Aegean Sea in a silvery cavern. The Nereids were considered good fortune to seamen as they supposedly came to the aid of sailors in distress. Individually they represented aspects of the sea such as the foam, the brine, the waves, the currents, etc. In ancient art, the Nereids were depicted as beautiful young maidens riding on the backs of dolphins or as having small dolphins or fish in their hands.

The Nereid Amphitrite was the queen of the sea, and all of the Nereids made up the retinue of Poseidon, god of the sea. Together with her sisters Kymatolege (end of the waves) and Kymodoke (steadying the waves), Amphitrite possessed the power to still the winds and calm the sea. One other Nereid worth mentioning is Sao, the Nereid of safe passage, or the rescue of sailors.

So here’s hoping the Nereids are doing their respective jobs in the coming days.

More later. Peace.

(Images include the beautiful Nereid fountainheads in the Channel Gardens of Rockefeller Center, NYC)

Music by Peter Bradley Adams, “Keep Us (from the storm)”

 

                   

You are Tired

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we’ll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)

You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah, come with me!
I’ll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I’ll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

~ e. e. cummings

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“We inhabit ourselves without valuing ourselves, unable to see that here, now, this very moment is sacred; but once it’s gone—its value is incontestable.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates

 

 Judy Garland

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be a little more gentle with each other, and a little more loving, have a little more empathy, and maybe we’d like each other a little bit more.” ~ Judy Garland, Little Girl Lost

I had never before seen the following passage by Judy Garland (1922-1969), and I must admit that I don’t remember where I found it (sorry), but I thought it so poignant that I wanted to share it with you. I must mention, though, that after doing a little digging, I realized that it is in fact not one passage, but rather a collection of Garland’s more memorable quotes.

Behind every cloud is another cloud.
I think there’s something peculiar about me that I haven’t died.

I was born at the age of twelve.

When I walk onstage you should hear my balls clank.

I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I’ve spent my entire life trying to get over it.

If I am a legend, then why am I so lonely?

I am a chemist. I know what pills I am taking!

The most nightmarish feeling in the world is suddenly to feel like throwing up in front of four thousand people.

At least one wall is shaking.

There is fat and there is bloat.

I’ve either been an enormous success or just a down-and-out failure.

I’m not drunk. I am glazed.

I want to finish this, do you mind?


~ Judy Garland

Judy Garland (Library of Congress)

                   

I don’t claim to be a Garland aficionado, but I have always felt a great deal of empathy and sympathy for the woman who spent almost her entire life manipulated and molded by people—including her own mother—who did not necessarily care about Judy the person, Judy the woman, only Judy Garland, the bankable star.

Garland, who died at 47, suffered from a lifelong battle with self-doubt. Studio executive Louis B. Mayer, misogynist that he was, often belittled her, referring to her as his “little hunchback.” Garland, like other female stars of the time, was put on diet pills to control her weight, and then she was given sedatives so that she could sleep. Little wonder that she became drug and alcohol dependent. Her nose was reshaped in some films, and she was made to wear removable caps on her teeth.

Garland’s adult life was a series of emotional and mental breakdowns, failed relationships and marriages, and suicide attempts. Nevertheless, her acting and singing talents firmly place her among the best performers of all time.

I was never big on The Wizard of Oz, but “Over the Rainbow” holds a special place in my heart as it is one of the songs that I sang to Caitlin over and over as she slept in my arms. In spite of my fondness for “Rainbow,” one of my favorite Garland performances is her rendition of “Smile,”  from “The Judy Garland Show,” followed closely by her performance of “Ol Man River.”

My god, what a voice. Perfect and heartbreaking simultaneously.

More later. Peace.

 

“Veritum dies aperit” (Time discovers the truth) ~ Seneca

Staying Put Zink Arkansas 1935 by Ben Shahn

One of the few remaining inhabitants of Zinc, Arkansas, October 1935 by Ben Shahn

Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.” ~ Max Frisch

“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

I think that Corey took a smartass pill when he woke up today. He’s showing all of the classic signs. I could tell that it was going to rain as soon as I woke up because I had  a sinus headache. When I commented that everytime the barometric pressure drops, I get a headache, Corey replied, “Aren’t you glad that you are so in tune with mother nature?” Funny. Very funny.

My husband the wit.

So Izzie the Trooper is going to be coming home tomorrow. We still need to buy a new battery and a spare tire before our trip to Ohio. I’m not driving through the mountains of West Virginia without a spare tire. Not with our luck. But once the Trooper comes home, I plan to try to clean her insides top to bottom, rid of her of the tobacco atoms that are clinging to everything. Of course, once Eamonn starts driving her again, it will all be for naught, but until that time, she’s still mine, and I want her to smell clean, even if it means that I Febreze the hell out of her.

Itenerand photographer in Columbus OH by Ben Shahn 1938
Itinerant Photographer in Columbus, OH, by Ben Shahn (1938)

We haven’t been able to make the trip to Ohio in years, mostly because of my back problems. This will be the first time that I have been on such a long car journey. I’m hoping for the best, but if I arrive shaped like a pretzel, I won’t be surprised. The trip is to celebrate Corey’s dad’s birthday, and our arrival is supposed to be a surprise. The whole family is going to Indian Lake.

Corey took us to Indian Lake one year when the boys were still relatively young. Corey and the boys rented a paddle boat and went all around the lake. I sat on a blanket in the sun and read a book. Everyone was happy. But I’m pretty sure that we ran out of gas either to or from the lake. That was when we owned the big gnarly Buick that I hated, and if I remember correctly, Corey ran out of gas with that car more than once.

He still does that—runs out of gas—only not as frequently. He also gets lost, but won’t admit it. Don’t ask me why he does these things. It’s just one of those Corey things. The first time that he did it with the boys in the car, they were young, and they became very anxious. They kept asking us if we were in a bad part of town. We were somewhere in Richmond on our way to Ohio. Eamonn had obviously learned the term “bad part of town” from somewhere, so I explained to him that being out of gas and lost is always a bad part of town.

One of these days I’m going to be able to afford a Magellan for Corey, which will at least take care of the getting lost part.

Oh well. Not really what my subject is today.

“Time is not a reality (hypostasis), but a concept (noêma) or a measure (metron).” ~ Antiphon from On Truth

A few months back David Bridger, one of the writers who I visit frequently, posed a question on his blog: If you could go back in time, where would you go? Who would you see? What would you do? Good idea for a post David (who is busy working on his book, preparing for two fall weddings, and taking care of wife Janette: Hello to everyone).

I’ve kept that post in the back of my mind for a while now without tackling it because my answer (of course) wouldn’t be just one point in time. I have managed to narrow it to three different points in time: the Renaissance, the Great Depression, and France during WWII, all for very different reasons.

The Tudfors S3 Henry
The Tudors (season 3) Jonathan Rhys-Davies as Henry VIII

Being a writer and a lover of great literature, the Renaissance is probably the most predictable answer for me. Granted, the Renaissance is a pretty broad time period, beginning after the Middle Ages and ending with the Reformation (approximately 1450 to 1600). However, the time in which I would be most interested would be during the Elizabethan period of literature, during which writers such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, and Spenser were prolific.

Granted, living conditions in Tudor England would be a tad hard to adapt to, what with chamber pots being emptied out of windows and a lack of a central drainage system. Threats of the plague might put a damper on things; although drinking ale for breakfast as opposed to a hot cup of tea would be interesting, if not an engaging way in which to begin the day.

Obviously, life would not be a brilliant pageant of color and intrigue like Showtime’s The Tudors (alas, alack), which, by the way, I am not enjoying as much in Season 3 as in previous seasons. Probably the lack of spark provided by Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn.

But as usual, I digress . . .

My real interest in looking in on Elizabethan England would lie in the relationship between Shakespeare and Marlowe. Did Shakespeare actually steal from Marlowe? Was Marlowe as prolific as Shakespeare? Could Marlowe have been the better playwright if he had lived longer? Actually, conspiracy theorists about the Bard contend that Shakespeare’s works could have been written by Sir Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, and Edward de Vere. Why such a reluctance to attribute to Shakespeare that which is Shakespeare’s?

Who knows? But it would be wonderful to go back in time to see the literary masters at work, to look over Shakespeare’s shoulder as he created his own version of Richard III. To visit with the man who created Falstaff.

“It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.” ~ Paul Strand

Fiddlin Bill Hensley Asheville NC by Ben Shahn
Fiddlin' Bill Hensley, Asheville, NC, by Ben Shahn

Another time that I would like to visit would be the Great Depression, specifically that period during which Roosevelt’s photographers for the WPA were in service.

The WPA was the Works Progress Administration, a government-funded program for artists during the mid 1930’s to mid 1940’s. Artists who received funding during the WPA included Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Among the writers of the Federal Writers’ Project were Zora Neale Hurston, John Steinbeck, and Claude McKay. But my interest lies with the photographers, people like Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, and Walker Evans, the individuals who created an enduring photographic record of a period in American history during the artistic period known as social realism.

I am in awe of these masters of the genre who took the art of photography to new heights with their achingly real depictions of people and places. Personally, I have never been very good at capturing the essence of a person in a photograph, which is why I tend to stay with nature and architecture. I believe that it takes an artist with great insight to be able to capture that moment of greatest personal revelation on film, and I know of none better than Lange, Evans and Shahn.

Of her famous picture of the migrant mother, Lange had this to say in an interview in 1960:

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).

The photographers worked for the WPA for about $23 a week as starting wages. Many felt fortunate to be able to plie their trade in a period in which so few had any meaningful work. But as the Library of Congress collection reveals, what may have begun as merely a way to make a living became an intense affinity for the American people, a record of their hardships, sorrows, and sometimes, their small celebrations.

So while a journey back to one of the most painful periods in our country’s history may seem like a bizarre choice, being able to watch these artists, perhaps even to emulate them would be an amazing opportunity.

“Le jour de gloire est arrivé !” ~ La Marseillaise

My last choice probably seems like the oddest of the three: France during WWII.

I do not view World War II as a particularly wonderful time in history. On the contrary. However, I would like to think that if I were living in France during this dark period in history that I would have participated in the French Resistance movement.

French Resistance Croix de Lorraine symbol
Croix de Lorraine, Symbol of French Resistance

Essentially, there were two main movements. The Conseil National de la Résistance or the National Council of the Resistance was created by John Moulin. The CNR directed and coordinated the different movements of the French Resistance: the press, trade unions, and members of political parties hostile to the Vichy France. Eventually, the CNR  coordinated with the Free French Forces, led by Charles De Gaulle

The French resistance included men, women and children from all social classes, religions, and political movements who worked against the Nazi occupation in France. Although the Resistance was responsible for blowing up key targets, members also published underground newspapers, helped Allied soldiers to freedom, collected and disseminated military intelligence, and raising awareness among the French populace.

Even though women were not allowed many leadership roles in the Resistance, I still think that it would have been admirable to work on one of the underground presses, churning out anti-Nazi propaganda. It’s that anti-establishment streak that runs through my veins, not a glorification of the Resistance that has been depicted in so many movies that makes me think that I could have participated in such a movement. Doing something, standing up for your beliefs.

“Come on and cry me a river, cry me a river” ~ From “Cry Me a River,” by Arthur Hamilton 

Other notable eras of which I wish I could have played a part: The era of great torch singers (Etta James, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne ). Oh those bluesy, unrequited love songs, like “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine” and how they just rip at the very fabric of the heart. Other eras that I wouldn’t mind visiting would be the age of the emerging confessional poets (Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich) , as well as Europe during the Impressionistic period in art—Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet, Gaugin—all of that angst amidst all of that beauty.

For now, I’m sitting here in 2009, with my old soul and my dreams of other days.

 

 

More later. Peace.