“The mind is constantly trying to figure out what page it’s on in the story of itself.” ~ Ikko Narasaki

Egon Schiele Trees Mirrored in a Pond 1907
“Trees Mirrored in a Pond” (1907, oil on cardboard)
by Egon Schiele

                   

“You will either step forward into growth or back into safety.” ~ Abraham Maslow

Saturday afternoon. Sunny and too warm, 84 degrees.

So I just spent the better part of the morning getting this blog caught up. I know. I know. It’s been a week since my last post. Such a week.

Hermann Max Pechstein Autumn Sea 1933
“Autumn Sea” (1933, oil on canvas)
by Hermann Max Pechstein

First, let me start off by saying it’s too damned hot for October. We already owe Virginia Power our souls because of running the AC, so I’d really like a break from that whole routine. You know? But no. Hot and humid equal need for AC, otherwise, I sweat and get too hot, and my head begins to hurt more. Plus, my esse is already acclimated for fall.

Speaking of heads, the migraine still hasn’t left completely. My pain management doctor thinks it’s so bad because it’s time for Botox again. Who knows. All I know is that light hurts and the pain is constant, although with the levels abating.

Also speaking of heads, it should be illegal to go to a pain management center wearing a smelly perfume. I walked into the waiting room and was immediately assaulted by a powerful fragrance. I haven’t been laid low by a perfume so badly since Giorgio was popular. Before the doctor got to my room, I was hanging my head over the sink splashing cold water on my face, trying not to throw up. It’s been that kind of week.

“I might enjoy being an albatross, being able to glide for days and daydream for hundreds of miles along the thermals. And then being able to hang like an affliction round some people’s necks.” ~ Seamus Heaney, from the Art of Poetry No. 75

Two hours between the last sentence and this one. I have a feeling that this post may take me well into the night. I want to write, but concentrating is hard. I’m in the midst of another bout of insomnia—difference this time is that I can fall asleep but not stay asleep. Yesterday I was fully awake at 7 a.m., and by 7:30 I was organizing the hall closet. Insomnia + OCD makes for a very bad situation.

Boats at Night 1947 by Patrick Heron 1920-1999
“Boats at Night” (1947, oil on wood)
by Patrick Heron

Today I am trying to force myself to sit here and finish something, but I keep getting distracted. Our neighbor across the street who helps when Corey is away came over to help me figure out why my water pressure was down to nothing. Yesterday the city was out in the street between our two houses working on the pipes. His water is fine, but mine is down to a trickle. Of course, I cannot get the city back out here until Monday.

I heard them out there working, but was in the midst of a meltdown and didn’t bother to go outside and investigate, so by the time I really noticed that the water was almost non-existent, the crew had already left. Friday afternoon, after all.

So I was sure I would be able to get to sleep early last night because I haven’t pulled an 18-hour day in years, but no . . . it was not to be.

The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Sonnets of Orpheus, trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Marcy

Last night I had the strangest dream: I opened the door, and Corey was there. He had gotten home and surprised me. But it wasn’t Corey; I mean, it was, but physically, it was my Catholic boyfriend Johny. Corey/Johny had come home, but he had brought his entire platoon with him.

Cecilia Beaux Half-Tide, Annisquam River 1905
“Half-Tide, Annisquam River” (1905, oil on canvas)
by Cecilia Beaux

There was a reception, and at the bar there were all of these orange alcoholic shots in test tubes stuck in crushed ice. Surreal image, but it matches the field of sliced carrots that appeared later in the dream (don’t ask).

Several of the women from the platoon were surprised that I was there as they were unaware that Corey was married. But after the platoon in its entirety departed, I found a stash of medicine that belonged to one of the women, and I was worried that she had left without her medicine. Then one of Corey’s friends from the unit offered to take the medicine to her, but I didn’t trust him to do it. Michelle Rodriguez (the actor) made an appearance in her usual role of tough female.

It was all just too, too, bizarre.

Your only problem, perhaps, is that you scream without letting yourself cry.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Elmer Nelson Bischoff Boats
“Boats” (1967, oil on canvas)
by Elmer Nelson Bischoff

I’m feeling very in-between: in-between times, in-between moods, in-between states of physical being. There is a restlessness about me that is permeating everything I touch. I begin to do something only to find myself absorbed in some minutiae in less than half an hour. This state is directly tied to my inability to read. I realized that two whole months have passed without my immersing myself in a single book. A very unusual state of affairs, to say the least.

It isn’t quite ennui, as I am too frenetic for that. I am reminded vividly of a time during my tenure at ODU (not as in academic tenure, oh no) when I had morning classes to teach, but I found myself at 3 a.m. sitting in the middle of the dining room floor sorting and categorizing coupons. It was a completely inane thing to be doing, yet I could not stop myself.

That is how I find myself now.

I saw my psychiatrist this past week, as well, and we talked about adding a mood stabilizer to my anti-depressant, but I really don’t want to do that. I take far too many medications now, and to add yet another one, to risk more side effects, just seems like a bad route. For now, she prescribed trazodone for me to take at night to help with the sleep. Of course, I have yet to go pick it up from the pharmacy . . .

“If we are to make reality endurable, we must all nourish a fantasy or two.” ~ Marcel Proust from In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower: In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 2

Have you noticed how I tend to include water imagery whenever I am feeling restless, leading me to post an image by Dali, one of the few of his that I actually like? A definite correlation, she said, apropos of nothing . . .

Salvador Dali Moonlight over the Bay at Cadaques c1920
“Moonlight over the Bay at Cadaques” (c1920)
by Salvador Dali

Since Corey left this time I have cleaned out and reorganized the front part of the garage in the area of the washer and dryer. I have done some more cleaning in the backyard. I have completely reorganized the hall closet, and I’m about to tackle my closet to do my seasonal switch in sweaters and shoes. I had to force myself not to start on the closet before I sat down to write.

It’s easier mentally to throw myself into a completely mindless project than it is to concentrate on placing one word after another. Speaking of which, I have been referred to a hand surgeon because my ability to use my left hand has diminished so much that writing with a pen is an exercise in pain if I hold the pen for more than a few minutes. Of course, as with most things, I have to go through a bunch of forms and releases before this new specialist will take me on. It almost makes me not want to bother.

Which, of course, leads to the whole health insurance thing. It’s open season for me; I contemplated for about 10 seconds adding Brett to my health insurance (as he still doesn’t have any; ask his father, beh) until I read the chart and saw that it would cost approximately $700 a month to add him. But no, this country does not need affordable health care. But that, my friends, is a topic for another time.

More later. Peace.

Music by Camera Obscura, “Your Picture”

                   

Photograph

I wish I was a photograph
tucked into the corners of your wallet
I wish I was a photograph
you carried like a future in your pocket
I wish I was that face you show to strangers
when they ask you where you come from
I wish I was that someone that you come from
every time you get there
and when you get there
I wish I was that someone who got phone calls
and postcards saying
wish you were here

I wish you were here
autumn is the hardest season
the leaves are all falling
and they’re falling like they’re falling in love with the ground
and the trees are naked and lonely
I keep trying to tell them
new leaves will come around in the spring
but you can’t tell trees those things
they’re like me they just stand there
and don’t listen

I wish you were here
I’ve been missing you like crazy
I’ve been hazy eyed
staring at the bottom of my glass again
thinking of that time when it was so full
it was like we were tapping the moon for moonshine
or sticking straws into the center of the sun
and sipping like icarus would forever kiss
the bullets from our guns

I never meant to fire you know
I know you never meant to fire lover
I know we never meant to hurt each other
now the sky clicks from black to blue
and dusk looks like a bruise
I’ve been wrapping one night stands
around my body like wedding bands
but none of them fit in the morning
they just slip off my fingers and slip out the door
and all that lingers is the scent of you
I once swore if I threw that scent into a wishing well
all the wishes in the world would come true
do you remember

do you remember the night I told you
I’ve never seen anything more perfect than
than snow falling in the glow of a street light
electricity bowing to nature
mind bowing to heartbeat
this is gonna hurt bowing to I love you
I still love you like moons love the planets they circle around
like children love recess bells
I still hear the sound of you
and think of playgrounds
where outcasts who stutter
beneath braces and bruises and acne
are finally learning that their rich handsome bullies
are never gonna grow up to be happy
I think of happy when I think of you

so wherever you are I hope you’re happy
I really do
I hope the stars are kissing your cheeks tonight
I hope you finally found a way to quit smoking
I hope your lungs are open and breathing your life
I hope there’s a kite in your hand
that’s flying all the way up to orion
and you still got a thousand yards of string to let out
I hope you’re smiling
like god is pulling at the corners of your mouth
cause I might be naked and lonely
shaking branches for bones
but I’m still time zones away
from who I was the day before we met
you were the first mile
where my heart broke a sweat
and I wish you were here
I wish you’d never left
but mostly I wish you well
I wish you my very very best

~ Andrea Gibson

“Things don’t change, but by and by our wishes change.” ~ Marcel Proust

San Carlos Wildflowers (Wikimedia Commons)

                   

“We must talk now. I am no longer sure of the words,
The clockwork of the world” ~ George Oppen, from “Leviathan”

Wednesday, late afternoon. Sunny and mild. Beautiful outside.

California Wildflowers by Kevin Cole (FCC)

Pollen, pollen everywhere. Yellow dust on the cars, everything. Lots of sneezing.

The boys and I are sort of settling into a routine. We’re taking turns making dinner. Everyone has his or her assigned tasks. Somehow, I still have dishes, all day, every day. One of these days, we’ll replace the broken dishwasher, probably when we rip out everything in the kitchen to remodel. One day.

I’m actually not feeling to terribly awful emotionally. Might be because it’s too beautiful outside to feel awful. Beautiful, that is, except for the pollen. All of the trees that bloom are bursts of color, especially the cherry trees and red buds. So gorgeous. I thought about visiting the cemetery, but didn’t. Something is stopping me.

Corey got everything straightened out with our cellular carrier, and now he can text, which is definitely cheaper than calling. It costs about $.40 for him to text me, and $.20 for me to text him, as opposed to $3 or $4/minute for a call. Anyway, it looks like the ship is going to be headed to Florida sometime next week, that is if the Coast Guard signs off on Fridays inspection. Who knows how that will go.

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large—I contain multitudes.” ~ Walt Whitman

Actually now that I’ve started this post, I’m not sure that I’m actually in the right frame of mind to write. My mind is kind of blank. I’m sitting here at Brett’s computer, for a change. Eamonn is off work today, and he’s in his room and would prefer some privacy. So I’m sitting here at Brett’s small desk, and all I can think is that it really needs to be dusted, not just the desk, but everything.

Barbed Wire and Wildflowers, Gorman, CA

It has only been in the last year or so that Brett has actually taken an interest in making this room his, by that I mean adding posters and things. So I’m looking around, and there are two Shawshank Redemption posters, a Fight Club poster and a Star Wars poster, a framed old map that Alexis got him. an old Chinese paint on wood  picture from the thrift store, and several other things. It’s definitely his room, dust and all.

It’s funny how different my sons are: Eamonn is very particular about keeping his room neat; he puts away his clean laundry in a timely manner and changes his sheets regularly. With Brett, not so much. I see cobwebs and Chinese fortunes laying about. I don’t know why I’m really going into detail here except that it is yet one more way in which my two sons differ as individuals.

At one time, when they were toddlers, the whole point was for them to try to be like each other. People thought that they were twins as they were so close in age, and definitely looked like they could be fraternal twins. I think the real separation began in middle school, that bastion of emerging hormones and attempts to establish oneself as a person by trying to look like everyone else.

Oh the agony of puberty.

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” ~ Wendell Berry

I’ve set some goals for myself while Corey is gone: I want to try to give up sugar completely (or nearly completely), which means no more regular sodas, no more chocolate. I’m already doing quite well, believe it or not in that I am using only Splenda in my coffee and tea. I’m weaning myself from Pepsi and trying to drink more water with Mio, which is quite tasty and has no calories.

Seattle Wildflowers

I also want to begin to walk on a regular basis with a goal towards getting my body ready to go back into a yoga class. With the warmer weather, I feel the need for oxygen and sunshine, and this is definitely a good sign, a sign that I may be willing to leave the house again. My other goal is that I want to get something written while he’s gone.

I have a concept that I’m mulling over, and the more that I ponder it, the more that I like it. It’s completely doable; it’s something that I would enjoy doing, and it would be a great starting point for me to begin to write with goals in mind, you know, goals like getting published, or at least noticed.

Lately, I’ve been having these dreams in which I’m writing things. The other night I wrote a complete short story in a dream. I came up with a concept; I created character names, and I developed the story. I mean, I literally wrote this thing in a dream, and the horrible part is that I dreamt that I was actually writing it down, so I didn’t know that I wasn’t writing it down, which meant that when I finally awakened, there was no story, just the memory of one. It’s still there somewhere, just beyond my grasp. I keep getting glimpses of what it may have been, but not quite.

Another recent dream involved writing a poem. Same basic situation. Sleeping = creating, but Waking ≠ product. I have absolutely no memory of the poem’s theme, contents, development. Nothing.

“The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” ~ Paul Coehlo, from The Devil and Miss Prym

But surely this is a sign? Why would my mind be moving in creative hyperdrive unless it was filled to the brimming with something? Anything?

Mountain Wildflowers by Andrea Schafthuizen (Public Domain)

I do believe in signs. I do believe that the universe gives us hints and nudges us in directions. I believe that if I see something repeatedly, then I am meant to pay attention to it, whether it’s a type of bird, or a word or phrase, or a color. Just as I believe, however falsely, that hearing a crow caw when I first get out of bed is an augury of a bad day. The only problem with believing in signs is interpreting said signs.

Crow equals bad day is fairly straightforward for me. Everything after that becomes sort of blurry and undefined. My dreams, which tend to be on the vivid side, don’t necessarily mean anything. I might have eaten something too spicy. I might be too tired. Who knows . . . But sometimes, now and then, I get the feeling that my dreams are trying to tell me something, and this is one of those times.

So I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see how these signs evolve over the next few weeks.

That’s about all for now. So . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Sleeping at Last, “Chandeliers”

                   

The Ghazal of What Hurt

Pain froze you, for years—and fear—leaving scars.
But now, as though miraculously, it seems, here you are

walking easily across the ground, and into town
as though you were floating on air, which in part you are,

or riding a wave of what feels like the world’s good will—
though helped along by something foreign and older than you are

and yet much younger too, inside you, and so palpable
an X-ray, you’re sure, would show it, within the body you are,

not all that far beneath the skin, and even in
some bones. Making you wonder: Are you what you are—

with all that isn’t actually you having flowed
through and settled in you, and made you what you are?

The pain was never replaced, nor was it quite erased.
It’s memory now—so you know just how lucky you are.

You didn’t always. Were you then? And where’s the fear?
Inside your words, like an engine? The car you are?!

Face it, friend, you most exist when you’re driven
away, or on—by forms and forces greater than you are.

~ Peter Cole

“The essential thing is to etch movements in the sky, movements so still they leave no trace. The essential thing is simplicity. That is why the long path to perfection is horizontal.” ~ Philippe Petit

Sailing Port Stephens by NSW Maritime (FCC)

                   

“Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play… I tell you, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Wednesday, early evening. Drizzly and cool, mid 40’s.

Well yesterday was kind of a strange post. I was feeling very scattered and restless, and it came through in my writing. I realized this morning that I haven’t been taking my Cymbalta regularly in the past week or so as I’ve been stretching out the capsules to make them last until payday. This is not the healthiest way to use antidepressants, but sometimes, you just have to make do, but as a result, my moods have been marked by manic periods of energy (all of the cleaning), followed by spells of inertia.

Sunrise in Formentor, Mallorca by meironke (FCC)

Today when I drove Brett to school, traffic was just plain stupid. It’s as if the people on the road turned off their brains when they turned on their wipers. And then I was stopped at a crosswalk on campus, and as it was during change of classes, large groups of students were making their way across the road. To my amazement, some douche-bag in a Mercedes behind me blew the horn for me to move. Was I supposed to run over the kids in the road?

Brett and I had the same reaction: we both flipped him off. Brett was grouchy because he closed his hand in the door (ouch), and I was over the whole stupid driver while raining fiasco.

Consequently, the headache is omnipresent, not quite morphing into migraine territory, but painful enough that I just realized that I’m squinting at the screen.

“You have to let things
Be as they are.
Who knows which of us
Deserves the world more?” ~ Robert Bly, from “What Things Want

I had to drive Eamonn’s car today as Corey had the Rodeo at work, and the truck is still . . . not working . . . The neighbor bought (supposedly) the brake lines to replace the rusted lines, but has yet to make his way all the way across the street to install them. Never again. Neighbor sure, but mechanic, no, no, no.

Sailing by ricardodiaz11 (FCC)

Anyway, Eamonn is bent because I used his gas, and he needed to go to a meeting. As I have no money, I told him that Corey would give him cash for gas when he got home, but I forgot that Corey was working until 4 and not 3, so lots of stomping and huffing about by eldest son. Oh well, it’s not like he hasn’t driven our vehicles down below the big red E.

So in more of my latest cleaning binge in which I am trying to declutter one thing at a time, I took everything down from the top shelf in the glass cabinet to see what could be thrown out or donated, and I found a martini glass (??? only one ???), a set of four tall, thin shot glasses whose origins I am unsure of (probably a leftover from the Dillard’s Homestore days), a chipped souvenir glass from the Spirit of Norfolk, which I am quite sure belongs to Alexis, and two goblets from our wedding reception (I made the table centerpieces in oversized goblets).

Another thing to check of my to-do list. My life is so full . . .

“That is why the better part of our memory exists outside ourselves, in a blatter of rain, in the smell of an unaired room or of the first crackling brushwood fire in a cold grate: wherever, in short, we happen upon what our mind, having no use for it, had rejected, the last treasure that the past has in store, the richest, that which when all our flow of tears seems to have dried at the source can make us weep again.” ~ Marcel Proust

So these are things that I’ve been pondering:

Sunset Sell by Nick Chill Photography (FCC)
  • While Eamonn’s car is a junker, it still reminds me of how easy it is to drive a little car and zip in and out of lanes, which I miss; however, getting out of the car reminds me of why I will never again own a low-to-the-ground vehicle. Awkward and uncomfortable.
  • I have nothing in my wallet, absolutely nothing—no bills, no coins, nothing. Sad, really.
  • People in the south tend to add extra syllables to words, which I rarely notice, but this manner of speaking can become quite humorous in curse words, as in when damn becomes diy-um (pronounced as written).
  • I remember my father, with his Filipino accent, always said shee-et, kind of a blend of southern and Tagalog, I guess.
  • A favorite line from a song: “Your best friend in life is not your mirror.” Apropros of nothing . . .
  • I dreamed that Corey, Alexis and I were in some store buying Christmas decorations, and the store stocked candle tops (just the top part of the candle and nothing else), and really cheap ornaments.
  • I also had a dream in which a friend’s father had died, and a group of us were (for some strange reason) taking a shortcut through the dead man’s backyard. The oddest part is that this house has been in many of my dreams, but in this dream, a fence now stood where no fence had been before, and I declared that I was not climbing a chain link fence in heels.
  • I have rerun dreams in which the action may be different, but the settings have been in other dreams. One particular recurring dream involves me coming into a lot of old furniture and antiques, sometimes a piano, but not always. Sometimes the antiques have been given to me by a museum board member, and sometimes not.
  • My dream life is much more interesting than my real life.

“ . . . and you look at the things in the room, offscreen, unwebbed, the tissued grain of the deskwood alive in light, the thick lived tenor of things, the argument of things to be seen and eaten, the apple core going sepia in the lunch tray, and the dense measures of experience in a random glance, the monk’s candle reflected in the slope of the phone, hours marked in Roman numerals, and the glaze of the wax, and the curl of the braided wick, and the chipped rim of the mug that holds your yellow pencils, skewed all crazy, and the plied lives of the simplest surface, the slabbed butter melting on the crumbled bun, and the yellow of the yellow of the pencils . . .” ~ Don DeLillo, from Underworld

This DeLillo quote is actually quite apt for my state of mind. When I’m writing, I often find myself looking around at various objects in the different light of the waning day. Sometimes my eyes are drawn to the grain of the wood; other times, a smell catches my attention. Everything becomes significant, even the most insignificant of things. It’s a matter of heightened senses.

Into the Blue by Daniel John Buchanan (FCC)

I much prefer ambling through life with heightened senses as opposed to an innocuous sense of numbness—the light outside my window, the sound of raindrops falling from the eaves, the occasional bird call, the unwelcome sound of someone’s engine—these things reside in my subconscious all of the time, but occasionally, they surge to the forefront, demand my attention.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that while I may protest that I am moving through life without any purpose, moving as if on auto-pilot, the truth is that this it not true, and I must remind myself of this. While my goals may not be the ones I had at another stage of my life, that does not mean that these goals are not important, that my dreams and desires do not bear witness to my life’s purpose.

What I care about, all of the many, many things that I care about, while they may be insignificant to some, these things keep me grounded, help me to move through my days with my own sense of grace.

“Hope: the following page. Do not close the book.” ~ Edmond Jabès, From the Book to the Book (trans. Rosmarie Waldrop)

With that in mind, I thought that I’d spell out just a few of the items still on my bucket list, if you will. These are the things that I want to do and see and have before I die:

Sailing to Sunset by Mike GL (FCC)
  • To see Ireland and Wales
  • To witness the Northern lights
  • To ride in a hot air balloon (even though I’ve given up on the idea of skydiving, the balloon still remains)
  • To have a writing hut that is all my own
  • To own an old IBM Selectric, preferably red or black
  • To go to the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay
  • To ride the Orient Express (yes, this one is pricey, but one day I will do this, even if I’m 82)
  • To have a claw-footed bathtub in which I will take many, many hot baths, submerged in lavender water up to my chin and surrounded by candles, while Beethoven plays in the background
  • To have a view of the sea and a pair of Adirondack chairs in which to recline
  • To finish a 5k, even if I have to walk it
  • To have a really good camera that I can use to shoot pictures of the night sky
  • To publish a book, a real book, not one that I’ve written under contract for an institution
  • To see every episode of Dr. Who
  • To read Proust in the original French
  • To visit Australia and see the Great Barrier Reef
  • To go to Weta Studios in New Zealand and meet Peter Jackson
  • To own a sailboat (Corey and I once spoke of owning a charter service in the Caribbean, which I think that I would still like to do)
  • To make a difference in just one life.

More later. Peace.

Music by Foy Vance, “Be the Song”

                   

You Can’t Have It All

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam’s twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can’t count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.

~ Barbara Ras

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

Just stole this from I Want Ice Water who found it on Metousiosis. It’s called Finding Oregon, and it’s from Uncage the Soul Productions:

                     

Attempts to deck the halls today. More later. Peace.

“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

“There are mountainous, arduous days, up which one takes an infinite time to climb, and downward-sloping days which one can descend at full tilt, singing as one goes.” ~ Marcel Proust

“Les Tulipes,” by Pierre Auradon (c. 1950s)

“There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.” ~ Anaïs Nin, Journals of Anaïs Nin Volume 3

Monday, late afternoon. Hot and hazy.

"Arbre au Début du Printemps," by Pierra Auradon (ca. 1930)

I haven’t posted in a few days because, well, first I didn’t feel like it, and then I went on this cleaning binge in our bedroom. I’m halfway done, but my back has given out on me, too much bending and stretching. So instead of finishing the bedroom today, I’m sitting my butt in this comfortable chair and writing, that is, if Tillie will leave me alone long enough to get something done. Poor thing, never gets any attention.

Right.

Also, Eamonn has come home for a bit, so the room that is usually my workroom is now filled with black trash bags full of eldest son’s belongings. He says that it’s just temporary, but I’m not going to try to define temporary. It’s just nice to have him here for however long it will be.

What this means to the computer situation is anyone’s guess. After all, this computer that I’ve been using for a while is actually Eamonn’s desktop. Corey’s desktop in the dining room died several months ago, so both of us have been sharing this computer. My computer in our bedroom still needs to have the hard drive installed, which we were actually planning to take care of this summer. We may have to move up the plans to do that since once Eamonn is ensconced in this room, access to this computer will be nil.

After all, he is entitled to his privacy. He’s an adult, not my little boy, and I need to respect that. Corey and I did warn him, though, that this computer is on its last leg. It really needs to be wiped and then to have the essential programs reinstalled. Guess that’s on the list of things to do.

“Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere—be decietful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.” ~ Betty Smith

"Narcisses," by Pierre Auradon (1939)

Speaking of things to do . . .

Apparently, my blog stalker is still active. He/she is calling/e-mailing people and strongly suggesting that they take a look at my blog to see how insane I am, how dangerous I am.

At first, I was furious. Now, I just find it entertaining. I mean really? Dangerous? Bitch, please.

I may be a lot of things—sarcastic and snarky, bitchy and biting, moody and meandering—but dangerous?

This individual is also calling into question my parenting skills. Now this one has me baffled, really. I’ve raised three children to legal age. None of them has ever been arrested. Two are in college full time. I’ve given them basic life skills (they know how to clean, do laundry, cook a bit, manage a bank account, among other things). But more importantly, I have taught each of them the importance of being compassionate for the less fortunate, thoughtful towards those they love, and mindful of the laws of common decency.

I have instilled in them the ideas of truth, honor, and respect, and I know that I can say most assuredly, that if nothing else, each of my children has a kind and good heart.

That I have allowed them to go their own ways as individuals has not been easy; it’s never easy for a parent to first loosen and eventually cut the apron strings and to allow a child to break free. But this I have done.

Children need space and trust to become the people they are going to be. At a certain point, it is no longer about parenting full time; rather, it is about respecting that as a parent, you have done what you should and what you could, and then realizing that it’s no longer up to you as to what your child will be when he or she grows up.

“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies . . . It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.” ~ Albert Einstein

"Pivoine (peonies)," by Pierre Auradon (c. 1930s)

Has it been easy to stand by and watch Alexis floundering in her life? Most assuredly not. Do I want to step in and make everything okay for her? Of course I do. But is that in her best interest? No. If I do not allow my daughter to gain her own ground, if I continually make things easier or better for her, how will she ever learn to be strong? And how will she ever learn to respect her choices, to stand firm in her convictions? Does this mean that I do not love her with every fiber of my being, that I would not throw myself in front of danger to protect her? Need I even answer such questions.

I don’t agree with all of the choices that Eamonn has made, but I love him beyond breathing. And he is proving to be a capable young man, holding down a full-time job, planning a career. And Brett, too, is making great strides. He has been thrown into a situation for which he was not completely prepared, but he is showing grace under pressure, and I watch him day by day becoming stronger and more assertive.

These are all good things.

You birth your children, hold them close, sing them lullabies and read them stories. You salve their wounds, both physical and emotional. You feed them their vegetables and you make them brush their teeth. You take them to the doctor when they are ill, and you sit by their beds in the middle of the night when they have nightmares that seem too real. You buy them shoes to support their ankles as they learn to walk, and you buy warm winter coats. Do they always eat their vegetables? Do they always button their coats as they go outside for recess?

Of course not. If they did, they wouldn’t be children.

Are my children perfect? Dear god, don’t be silly. They have their faults, and they have their shortcomings. They have friends who I don’t particularly care for, and they do things that I don’t necessarily agree with—it’s called growing up, and it’s an ongoing process.

“Action is the thing. We are what we do and do not do.” ~ Ralph Ellison

"Pavées de la Rue," by Pierra Auradon (c. 1940s)

No one prepares a parent for those first few days after leaving the hospital. You stand there, looking down on this small creature with incredibly soft skin, and you wonder how all of this happened. I mean, how is it that you have been entrusted with the care of this incredibly beautiful, sometimes loud, and occasionally smelly little person? But it comes to you, day by day, and you grow together.

And the first time your child cries real tears, my, how your heart breaks. And the first time your child gets hurt, how you wish that kisses really did make things all better. And the first time your child looks at you and calls you mama or dada, you wonder how it is that your insides can feel like jelly and still stay inside of you.

Of course, the painful reality is that not everyone is cut out to be a parent. The statistics tell us that. For every child who grows up healthy and well-adjusted, how many children out there have gone to bed hungry? How many have cried themselves to sleep after being beaten? How many feel worthless because that’s all they have ever heard? How many never make it into double digits?

The world is actually a very scary, harsh place. It is up to us to make it safer for those we love, those who have been entrusted to our care. I have no patience for anyone who harms a child—physically or emotionally. I believe that such people should be locked up, or at the very least, have their parental rights rescinded.

Unfortunately, no one has to take a test or get a license to become a parent. And it is usually not until things have escalated that outsiders are brought in to try to fix the situation. These people, who are overworked and underpaid, cannot do it all. The courts cannot make everything right. And unfortunately, children slip through the proverbial cracks, but the pain they feel as a result is not proverbial. It is real.

I find it abhorrent that supposedly advanced societies do so little for the least among us, the children who have no voice.

“It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them—the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas.” ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"Tulipes Ouverte," by Pierre Auradon (c. 1940s)

I know. I know. I’m on another one of my soap boxes, but you have to understand that I simply cannot abide child abuse in any form. And the idea that I might be harmful or dangerous to a child, a young adult, or to any person is ludicrous, and quite frankly, insulting.

Right now, I’m simply biding my time. I am handling the situation in which I now find myself with all of the patience that I can muster. The young woman who has come under our care is flourishing: She laughs freely, and her conversation is intelligent and witty. She talks eagerly about her art, about school, about friends. I see little of the introverted, unsure young woman I was told about.

That’s not to say that she does not have moments in which she feels helpless against the forces that continue to assail her. But even in these moments I have seen a strength of character emerging. She demands that she not be coddled, that she be allowed to make her own choices.

I am standing back and simply allowing her to be. She does not need me to intervene, but I will if she asks. She does not need me to advise, but I do when she requests it. I do not judge as it is not my place to do so. Judging is for someone else.

In the meantime, I will keep my peace. For now. But only for now. It is simply not in my character to allow someone to continue to make defamatory statements about me, statements not based in fact, statements based on pure fantasy and conjecture. I will see to matters. Just not yet. Patience. Fortitude. My white whale will come to me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Mason Jennings, “The Light”

                   

“so that each day penetrates each night
so that each word runs to the other side of truth
so that each verse comes out of itself
and gives off its own light
so that each face leaning on a hand
sweats into the skin of the palm

So that this pen
changes into pure silence
I wanted to say into love”

~ Anna Kamienska, from “Transformation,” (trans. Grazyna Drabik and David Curzon)

“This, they say, is what we live by—this unseizable force.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

One of My Dream Houses

                   

“The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions that we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it; and habit fills up what remains.” ~ Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Times

Saturday evening. Temperatures still in the 90’s.

Priors Wood by Alex37 (DeviantArt)

The dogs and I spent some time in the pool today. The other raft did not have a hole in it, thankfully, so I was able to float on my belly. It was really quite nice—the sun, the dogs, the birds, and no other noise.

Tillie the lab has this thing that she does when she’s tired of sharing the pool with Shakes: She goes after his ball and then drops it over the side of the pool, out of his reach. Then she grabs the free ball. I think that she thinks that she can make him disappear in the same way that she makes the second ball disappear. If I scold her, she just looks at me as if I’m telling her she’s beautiful and wags her tail.

Dogs and kids . . . go figure.

Anyway, not much else happening around the homestead today. Corey had third shift last night and then lost his shift today because the boat left at 6 a.m. That’s the way it goes. He worked a whopping 13 hours last week. We try not to dwell on it too much.

I’ve been listening to country music today, which is probably not the best idea as my country playlist is a cliché of country song themes: heartbreak, longing, loss, and regret. So after a few hours of this, I’m feeling like sobbing into my shirt. Of course, the fact that YouTube is acting up and stopping every few minutes to buffer does keep me from becoming completely engrossed in the lyrics.

I know that this computer (Eamonn’s old one) is on its last leg, and maybe after we get the truck fixed we can get the new hard drive installed on my computer. We’ll just have to way to see how all of that goes.

“I’ve forgotten the words with which to tell you. I knew them once, but I’ve forgotten them, and now I’m talking to you without them.” ~ Marguerite Duras, Emilie L.

Mature Oregon Camas by russell.tomlin

In sitting here, I realize that I don’t actually have much to say tonight. Or perhaps I have many things to say but cannot give them words. It is not one of those situations in which I thought of what to say and then immediately lost the words somewhere in the tangle of my thoughts; rather, it is that the words run too deeply tonight, which has caused my mind to freeze, to stop processing.

It seems that so much is going on: another politician resigning over yet another scandal, blogs supposedly written by women unveiled as being written by middle-aged white men (what, they had nothing better to do than to impersonate a Syrian woman) . . . This world that makes news of how large Kim Kardashian’s engagement ring is—that ring could fund a library for a year or two. The world is going crazy, and quite frankly, I don’t wish to go along for this ride.

I wonder about the most recent flock of college graduates, what the world has in store for them, if anything. Perhaps I am too cynical for my own good, but I would hate to be starting out in this economy, in this world in which so many have so little and so few have so much. I worry about my kids and what kind of world will be waiting for them when they finish college.

If I could, I think that I might spend the rest of this weekend watching all of the seasons of “Dr. Who,” but we don’t have Netflix, so I can’t do that. Or better still, I would take Corey to a dark country bar and slow dance with him to sad songs, just to feel his heart beat against mine. Sometimes it’s good just to feel another person’s heartbeat to be reminded of what it is to be alive.

“A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended.” ~ Ian McEwan, Atonement

Fresh Lavender at Uzés Market, Provence by Baked Beans (FCC)

I remember that when I worked at the museum and I started to feel overwhelmed by things, I would go out into the galleries and just walk. I would gaze into the faces painted so lovingly by the old masters and I would absorb the glorious Impressionists. That was probably the best part of that job—having at my disposal access to such beauty in so many forms. It never failed to calm me, to center me, to make me feel a sense of belonging.

I think that perhaps I am feeling so out of sorts because tomorrow is Father’s Day, and while it is yet another one of those created holidays, it is a bit discomfiting for me. I found myself looking at cards from daughters to fathers. I can’t help it. I don’t want to do it, don’t want to add that little bit of salt, but I do it any way.

Daughters and their fathers . . .

Then too, I must admit that I still harbor a great sadness that Corey and I never had a child together. He is so wonderful with my kids that it makes me feel that I have stolen something from him in some way. We don’t talk about it any more, but I know that he would still love to have kids of his own.

Who knows why things turn out the way that they do . . . why and how fate intervenes, what the fates take away and what they give. Sometimes I feel as if I am just a pebble being tossed in a stream that is moving far too fast for me to keep up. The movement breaks off small pieces, and it polishes me at the same time.

“It seemed to travel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment she, too, felt that the words Darkness and Light had no meaning, and only this melody was real.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Muscari Tottori Hanakairo, Flower Park by kanegan (FCC)

These things I know:

  • The stack of bills in the basket will be the same height tomorrow as today, and no amount of worrying will make that change.
  • There is no wonder pill that will make me lose 20 pounds. Only exercise and a better diet will do that, so wishing for an alternate reality is not productive.
  • My youngest son got the longest eyelashes in the family, and isn’t that always how it is? That a male who does not covet beautiful lashes will have them just by birth?
  • I have come to realize that not everyone talks to their pets as if they are human. Why not?
  • If I suddenly came into money (not going to happen), I would pay a contractor to finish the work on this house just so that it could be done already.
  • If I suddenly came into money (again, not going to happen), the reality is that I wouldn’t have the vaguest idea as to what I should do first because the to-do list has grown so long.
  • I would still love to work for Peter Jackson in New Zealand, fetching coffee or whatever. Perhaps proximity to such brilliance rubs off.
  • My daughter will find her way one day, with or without me, and I can only wait.
  • Very soon, I am going to lose someone I love dearly, and knowing that should make me spend more time with my mother, but I have found that it has distanced me, and I wonder why that is so.
  • No matter how hard I try, I still have a hard time looking in the mirror without being critical of myself.
  • Hate is a very strong word, one for which no apology can compensate.
  • One day, I am going to see the curve of the earth, and in that moment, I will know.

More later. Peace.

Music by Susan Tedeschi “Angel from Montgomery”

                   

The Confession of an Apricot

I love incorrectly.

There is a solemnity in hands,
the way a palm will curve in
accordance to a contour of skin,
the way it will release a story.

This should be the pilgrimage.
The touching of a source.
This is what sanctifies.

This pleading. This mercy.
I want to be a pilgrim to everyone,
close to the inaccuracies, the astringent
dislikes, the wayward peace, the private
words. I want to be close to the telling.
I want to feel everyone whisper.

After the blossoming I hang.
The encyclical that has come
through the branches
instructs us to root, to become
the design encapsulated within.

Flesh helping stone turn tree.

I do not want to hold life
at my extremities, see it prepare
itself for my own perpetuation.
I want to touch and be touched
by things similar in this world.

I want to know a few secular days
of perfection. Late in this one great season
the diffused morning light
hides the horizon of sea. Everything
the color of slate, a soft tablet
to press a philosophy to.

~ Carl Adamshick