“The scent of moist dirt and fresh growth washes over me, watery, slippery, with an acid taste to it like the bark of a tree. It smells like youth; it smells like heartbreak.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Blind Assassin

 


“there were times when I could believe
we were the children of stars
and our words were made of the same
dust that flames in space,
times when I could feel in the lightness of breath
the weight of a whole day
come to rest.” ~ Mark Strand, from “For Jessica, My Daughter” 

Saturday afternoon, sunny and warm, 69 degrees.

Too nice to concentrate on my words today, so I’m offering some new pictures of the animals.

Everyone was outside in the bright sunshine as Corey did more work on the pasture fence. We’re trying to let Max and Ruby wander around like the dogs, and so far, they stay close; although, they are just as mischievous as the puppies: Ruby jumped inside Corey’s truck, but I couldn’t get a good picture of that particular moment; then both goats figured out how to get inside the front door because, yep, that’s what goats do.

Ruby made a beeline for the horses’ apple treats, which I had to snatch before she inhaled them. Max has a hard time with the treats because they are too big, and he has a jaw problem.

Man, how do I always end up with animals with too much personality, animals who don’t know they’re animals? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

More later. Peace.


Music by John Denver, “Today” (I cannot begin to tell you what this song means to me)


Animalistic Hymn

The red sun rises
without intent
and shines the same on all of us.
We play like children under the sun.
One day, our ashes will scatter—
…………………………………….it doesn’t matter when.
Now the sun finds our innermost hearts,
…………………………………….fills us with oblivion
intense as the forest, winter and sea.

~ Edith Södergran (Trans. Brooklyn Copeland)

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“This is what I miss, Cordelia: not something that’s gone, but something that will never happen.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from Cat’s Eye

Theodor Kittelsen, Øde, 1904
“Øde” (1904, illustration)
by Theodor Kittelsen


“And you wait, you wait for that one thing
that will infinitely enlarge your life;
the gigantic, the stupendous,
the awakening of stones,
depths turned round toward you.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Memory,” trans. by Edward Snow

Thursday night. Partly cloudy, 73 degrees.

Another lovely day. The temperatures continue to drop, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Theodor Kittelsen Dragen 1904
“Dragen” (1904, illustration)
by Theodor Kittelsen

So I finally called the repair place that had my phone because Corey hadn’t heard from them. When he took it in for repair, they had said two days for the part to come in and seven days before it would be ready, so I figured yesterday at the latest. I called, and they said that it had been ready for a week and that they had tried to call the number given (Corey’s), but it didn’t work.

Such complete ca ca (one word or two?) . . .

Before I left to get the phone, I looked for the SIM card, which I was pretty sure Corey had said that he put on my dresser. Trouble is that when I dusted the furniture last week, I didn’t think about the SIM card, so it’s probably been dusted into some strange place in my bedroom. I decided to pay the $10 to get a new one and save my back the pain of looking under things for something thinner than a dime.

Anyway, phone is back, but it wasn’t charged when they gave it to me (would that really have been that hard to do?), and I discovered that the USB port I keep in my car is broken. Always something. So glad to have my phone back, though, mostly because I hate being tied to a house phone in one room of the house, in this case, the dining room where I spend very little time. We have other phone connections throughout the house, but it would have meant moving furniture to get to them, and frankly, I just didn’t have that in me.

“On the beach the sadness of gramophones
deepens the ocean’s folding and falling.
It is yesterday. It is still yesterday.” ~ Mark Strand, from “Nostalgia”It is yesterday. It is still yesterday.” ~ Mark Strand, from “Nostalgia”

Last night I had some crazy dreams, or maybe all one dream:

I dreamed that there had been an earthquake in downtown, and the only way to get about was through a chute. I got to the opening of the chute, but I realized immediately that I would never be able to put myself in it without having a complete claustrophobia-induced panic attack, so I walked on the top of it. I got to the center of the city, and it was a mess. There were piles of things everywhere, and there were people looking for their belongings.

Theodor Kittelsen Nøkken_som_hvit_hest The Nix as a white horse 1909
“Nøkken som hvit hest aka The Nix as a White Horse” (1909, illustration)
by Theodor Kittelsen

At first, I kind of randomly looked for my things, first my books, which I was somehow able to summon from the wreckeage by simply saying something like “Shakespeare,” and all of my Shakespeare would stack up in front of me. Of course, it meant that I got everyone else’s Shakespeare as well, which didn’t make me very popular, so I stopped summoning.

Then I began to look for other things, mostly antiques. As order began to be restored, people began to set up impromptu shopping stalls. One of my long-deceased English professors told me that he was only communicating by Twitter these days, but he wanted to give me some old statues of famous writers, like Poe. I found a pair of garnet earrings that were 50 percent off, and Brett found a cool carved pipe.

I happened to run into an old beau of mine, and when I went to introduce him to Corey, Corey refused to shake his hand, claiming that he had just smoked a cigarette. It was very awkward.

I ran into my ex and his sister, and there was a fight about an old turntable and some china.

The dream finished with me trying to find a tire store to replace my tires because I had bought the wrong size, and we needed to drive to Ohio. The whole thing was utterly bizarre. I awoke with a headache . . . as usual.

“It is the finely wrought
detail that captivates us; not
the thing you’ve said, but how you’ve said it.” ~ Amy Glynn Greacen, from “Sword Lily”

Other than the phone fiasco and the mind-blowing dreams, not a lot else going on. I’ve been perusing the web looking for affordable kitchen cabinets and other things. Since we’re preparing the house to sell, I don’t want to install the knotted pine cabinets I had in mind. It would just be a waste.

Theodor Kittelsen Nøkken, 1887–92 aka The Water Spirit
“Nøkken aka The Water Spirit” (1887–92, illustration)
by Theodor Kittelsen

I’ve been reading books by Dominick Dunne in recent days. Not sure how I got on that tangent, but I finished The Two Mrs. Grenvilles last night, based on the 1955 Woodward shooting, and before that I read A Season in Purgatory, An Inconvenient Woman, and Another City, Not My Own.

The thing I like about Dunne’s books is that they are thinly-veiled retellings of famous true events, but he is able to get away with more because he disguises them as fiction. I find Dunne’s handling of these romans à clef (novels in which real characters/situations are disguised) quite skillful, but at times his name-dropping gets a bit tedious, especially with Another City, Not My Own, which has his narrator Gus Bailey covering the O. J. Simpson murder.

Still, it’s enjoyable and fast reading.

Not much else to say. Life goes on . . .

More later. Peace.

All images are by Norwegian artist and illustrator, Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914).

Music by One Two, “Without You”

                   

Canary

for Michael S. Harper

Billie Holiday’s burned voice
had as many shadows as lights,
a mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
the gardenia her signature under that ruined face.
(Now you’re cooking, drummer to bass,
magic spoon, magic needle.
Take all day if you have to
with your mirror and your bracelet of song.)
Fact is, the invention of women under siege
has been to sharpen love in the service of myth.
If you can’t be free, be a mystery.

~ Rita Dove

 

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” ~ Sylvia Plath

Marianne von Werefkin Schneewirbel 1915
“Schneewirbel” (1915, oil on cardboard)
by Marianne von Werefkin

“My pen was idle for a long time, perhaps only because the words found it difficult to cross the hostile space of the minute where man is without memory, where life hangs on a thread, a breath.” ~ Edmond Jabès, from The Book of Questions Volumes 2 and 3: The Book of Yukel Return to the Book, trans. Rosmarie Waldrop

Sunday evening. Partly cloudy and very mild, 76 degrees.

First, I want to welcome those of you who have recently subscribed to my blog. Thanks ever so much.

Marianne von Werfkin Nuit Fantastique, c1910
“Nuit Fantastique” (c1910)
by Marianna von Werefkin

However, I feel I might have done you a disservice. In normal years (whatever those are), my posts are mostly written by me about, well, me, my life, my family, my foibles. This year has been quite different. After my mother’s death in January, I never seemed to be able to get back into my writing groove, and as a result, my posts are frequently reblogs of articles I find interesting, silly/funny Friday leftovers, and lots of poems and art, with very little of what is actually me in between.

So if you’ve hitched a ride onto my fading star because my blog seems to be more about being entertaining than being about musings, I sincerely apologize for how I plan to change things: I’m going to try to write more and reblog less. You see, even I have grown tired of my rabbit trails here and there, almost everywhere but where I need to be, by which I mean inside my head, sifting and culling thoughts and ideas and generally opining to my heart’s content. I do plan to keep my Friday leftovers and my Two for Tuesday poems, but aside from that, I’m going to begin the last quarter of this year trying to do more of what I need to do: create, write, actually think about things, ponder the relationships between words and phrases, and with any luck, I might be able to recapture some of what I think I have lost recently.

“I shall never know why
Our lives took a turn for the worse, nor will you” ~ Mark Strand, from “The Man in the Tree”

Anyway . . .

This past week has been quite an endurance test for me: I ended up watching Olivia every day from last Saturday through Thursday, with only one night off. Circumstances in my daughter’s household kind of imploded, and out of respect for their privacy, I shall not delve into details except to say that I was left reeling, and I felt that volunteering to watch le bébé was the best way in which I could help everyone muddle through.

Marianne von Werefkin Autumn paren School 1909
“Autumn (School)” (1907, tempera on paper)
by Marianne von Werefkin

You all know that I love Olivia beyond words, but boy is my tired body not up to the challenge of keeping up with a very curious, very active two-year-old. Add to that the challenge of buckets of stress causing my insomnia to rear its ugly head, and the sleep deprivation coupled with the very full days and nights resulted in a physical and mental meltdown for me, one that I couldn’t really share with anyone.

And in between I had to deal with trying to get Brett to the DMV to get his license before ODU starts, finding out that it’s going to cost an arm and a leg to switch around plates on vehicles, and trying to finalize the whole Social Security thing. Not to mention surviving the day on which Brett’s tail lights decided to all die at the same time, ending up with us looking for shade under which I could try to splice wires and change out bulb harnesses (which I did, but it didn’t work).

Man.

Hence, no real posts for the past few days, and more than the usual level of stress and anxiety. My only respite was my evening bath with a backdrop of my blues playlist and a chilled wine spritzer.

“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end that’s all there is: love and its duty, sorrow and its truth. In the end that’s all we have—to hold on tight until the dawn.” ~ Gregory David Roberts, from Shantaram

Thankfully, the week ended much better than it began, with the exception of my pain management appointment on Friday, better known as the pain management appointment that didn’t happen. Yep that medical group that has been playing havoc with my body since March of this year finally ended our relationship on a bruising note: I showed up for a Friday appointment at an office that had shifted to Portsmouth in the middle of the month, and apparently, I was told this . . . not.

Marianne von Werefkin Le Chioffonnier 1917 tempera on paper
“Le Shioffonnier” (1917, tempera on paper)
by Marianne von Werefkin

They asked me at 2:20 if I wanted to try to drive to Portsmouth for the 2:40 appointment, to which I replied a resounding no as I do not do Portsmouth. My driving relationship with Portsmouth is not the best as I have yet to enter that city and find any location without first getting lost, so I knew that to try to make an appointment that was 20 minutes from the time I stepped into the defunct beach office was impossible.

Two things happened as a result: First, I was finally given the contact information for the pain management doctor who left the practice in March, you know, the one who I adore, the one who actually makes my back and head feel better, the first one in quite a while who actually listens to me (this information for which I have been begging everyone and anyone with whom I had any contact). Yep, he has opened his own practice, and I finally have the phone number (can I get a hallelujah?)

Second, when asked if I wanted to reschedule, I replied, “No. I’ll be seeing Dr. X from now on.” And I carried my weary, achy body out the door and to the nearest Target, where I spent at least an hour looking at makeup and nail polish that I didn’t need, but I felt better afterwards, nevertheless.

“. . . I recognize the lazy
murmur of August, the carmine of the sea.” ~ Eugénio de Andrade, from “You Are Where My Gaze Begins”

So tomorrow is Corey’s birthday, and he’s spending it on the ship. However, he will be home on Wednesday, and we plan to have a family dinner in honor of his and Brett’s birthdays, neither of which we were able to celebrate. I’m so looking forward to his homecoming, even though he’ll only be home for two weeks this time so that his schedule can finally be synced with his other crew mates who are going to be on the new ship.

Marianne von Werefkin House with Lantern c1913 tempera on cardboard
“House with Lantern” (c1913, tempera on cardboard)
by Marianne von Werefkin

I can tell by his voice that he’s tired, but at least it hasn’t been six weeks this time, which was unbearable for both of us. Now that his sister Alana has had her baby, and we know that everyone is fine and healthy, I think that takes care of one of his major worries. And now that the situation with Alexis seems to have been resolved for the time-being, that is another thing he can stop fretting over.

It’s so hard for him when things are troublesome at home and he is away, and I try not to dump anything on him if I can help it as his focus needs to be on his job when he’s out there. Unfortunately, I am horrible at hiding pain in my voice, no matter how I try. It goes both ways, though. I can read him just as easily from a thousand miles as if he were across the room. It’s that double-edged sword of loving someone completely, which is good, but loving them so completely that hiding anything is impossible, which can be bad.

Oh well . . .

“What would become of us if everything that happens out there were quite clear to us?” ~ Erich Maria Remarque, from All Quiet on the Western Front

Look, I never said this was going to be a deep post, or a moving post, just a real post. I’m working on it. Okay? It’s a process . . .

So I’m trying to begin this week by getting my groove back, as it were (but not as Stella did). I also plan to try to write something to Mari, and to get caught up on paperwork. Okay. Maybe too much for one week, but we’ll just have to see how I do, won’t we?

I do have to say that in recent weeks/months I’ve accumulated a plethora of quotes, art, and songs, so much so that I have about 20 drafts ready to go; I just need to fill them in with my words (just that one minor detail). Additionally, I have that post about Robin Williams that I began about ten days ago, and I do want to finish that, for a number of personal reasons. So let’s just say that I have a loose game plan, and I in coming days I need to remind myself that I’m the only one hanging deadlines over my head, proverbial swords of Damocles, as it were.

Marianne von Werefkin Moonlit Landscape 1907 mixed media on cardboard
“Moonlit Landscape” (1907, mixed media on cardboard)
by Marianne von Werefkin

At the moment, I really need shots from my neck to my butt, and everything in between. I need botox for my migraines, and I need a vacation, but for now I’ll settle for the first two (sometime in the next few weeks, oh please, oh please) with plans for the third some time next year.

I will tell you this: Corey and I might have a short road trip planned to look at some property somewhere in the western part of the state. That’s all that I’ll say about that for now. Can’t reveal all of my cards in one round, now can I?

I certainly asked a lot of rhetorical questions in this section, didn’t I?

More later. Peace.

All images are by Russian/Swiss artist, Marianne von Werefkin (1860-1938)

Music by Rebecca Roubion, “Break”

                   

Summer Solstice

I wanted to see where beauty comes from
without you in the world, hauling my heart
across sixty acres of northeast meadow,
my pockets filling with flowers.
Then I remembered,
it’s you I miss in the brightness
and body of every living name:
rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.
You are the green wonder of June,
root and quasar, the thirst for salt.
When I finally understand that people fail
at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,
the paper wings of the dragonfly
aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?
If I get the story right, desire is continuous,
equatorial. There is still so much
I want to know: what you believe
can never be removed from us,
what you dreamed on Walnut Street
in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,
learning pleasure on your own.
Tell me our story: are we impetuous,
are we kind to each other, do we surrender
to what the mind cannot think past?
Where is the evidence I will learn
to be good at loving?
The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond
for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.
There are violet hills,
there is the covenant of duskbirds.
The moon comes over the mountain
like a big peach, and I want to tell you
what I couldn’t say the night we rushed
North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers
and the way you go into yourself,
calling my half-name like a secret.
I stand between taproot and treespire.
Here is the compass rose
to help me live through this.
Here are twelve ways of knowing
what blooms even in the blindness
of such longing. Yellow oxeye,
viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms
pleading do not forget me.
We hunger for eloquence.
We measure the isopleths.
I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.
The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.
Fireflies turn on their electric wills:
an effulgence. Let me come back
whole, let me remember how to touch you
before it is too late.

~ Stacie Cassarino

“Dazed and dramatic ignorance” ~ G. K. Chesterton

Two for Tuesday: What is not known

Mark Strand the crux of the matter

                   

“One of the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night, or deep in sloping meadows, the feeling that every flower and leaf has just uttered something stupendously direct and important, and that we have by a prodigy of imbecility not heard or understood it. There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

                   

A Hand

A hand is not four fingers and a thumb.

Nor is it palm and knuckles,
not ligaments or the fat’s yellow pillow,
not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins.

A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines
with their infinite dramas,
nor what it has written,
not on the page,
not on the ecstatic body.

Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping—
not sponge of rising yeast-bread,
not rotor pin’s smoothness,
not ink.

The maple’s green hands do not cup
the proliferant rain.
What empties itself falls into the place that is open.

A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question.

Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.

~ Jane Hirshfield

                   

Music by Kodaline, “All I Want”

“Are you interested in catastrophes?” ~ Paul Leppin, Blaugast: A Novel of Decline

Waterfall in Suriname Rain Forest
by Robert Caputo (National Geographic Travel)

                   

“This enormous, murky river with its deep current, this is the familiar river, but familiar from where.” ~ Péter Nádas, from Parallel Stories (trans. Imre Goldstein)

Photos of Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, Paramaribo
Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, Paramaribo
Oldest Wooden Church in South America
(source: tripadvisor)

Thursday afternoon. Cloudy, warmer, and very humid.

I got up early to get my fasting lab work done (finally) before Alexis’s ultrasound appointment. Of course there was a backup at the lab, so I left so that I wouldn’t be late for the appointment only to arrive before Alexis and to find out that her appointment was 15 minutes later than she told me. I had forgotten that she does that—writes down her appointments as being 15 minutes before the scheduled time so that she won’t be late.

So anyway . . . went back to the lab after her appointment only to have the lab technician tell me that I needed to register because I wasn’t in the system. Luckily, Alexis noticed that the lab tech had called me by the wrong name. I was still in the system because it hadn’t been that long.

When I got home, Tillie wouldn’t leave me alone until I took her outside to play, which distracted me and made me lose my train of thought, so when I got back to the computer, I looked up songs from the “Revenge” soundtrack, but I’m back now.

My back is killing me, by the way. I could chalk it up to just about anything: the barometric pressure, the rain, the heat . . . whatever.

“So I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “100 Love Sonnets: Cien sonetos de amor”

Corey texted me this afternoon. He’s in Suriname (I was unaware that the country was spelled with an e on the end, but it is, which is odd as certain things from the country do not have an e on the end, like the Surinam Toad, or Surinam Airways).

Paramaribo Open Market by permanently scatterbrained (FCC)

Anyway, he’s just 1 degree above the equator, and it’s hot.  From there they will go to the Ascension Islands, which are in the South Atlantic, between the Horn of South America and Africa. Then from there they go back to Suriname for fuel, and then he’s not sure, maybe back to the U.S. or possibly Columbia, SA, wherever the ship is going into the yard, so about another 31 days or so.

He had shore leave for a few hours, and he wandered around Paramaribo (a former Dutch Colonial town), which is the capital and the largest city in the small country. He said that there were lots of open air markets. I read that shrimp are supposed to be wonderful there. Most of the population lives in the north, and there is a rainforest in the south that covers up to 80 percent of the country.

“There are ways of naming the wound.

There are ways of entering the dream.
The way a painter enters a studio:

To spill.” ~ Tracy K. Smith, from “History”

Friday afternoon. Sunny and humid.

Fort Zeelandia, Paramaribo, Suriname by madmack66 (FCC)

I just couldn’t finish yesterday. For some reason, I was quite weepy, and a song came on my playlist, and I got that feeling, and then I couldn’t write any more. Just as well, probably. Who knows what I would have said.

Very bad night. I dreamt that Tillie ran through plate-glass and was blinded in one eye, and Corey renamed her Joe, and I didn’t understand why, and I walked out of the house and didn’t lock the front door, so I turned around and went back inside, but it was a different house, and before I could lock the door, a man pushed his way inside, and he tried to grab me but I pushed him, so he pushed me back, and I thought to myself, “this is very weird.”

Corey called last night, and we tried to keep the conversation short so that we do not owe our carrier a second mortgage. He sounded tired as he had just come off watch and had to be back on at 4 in the morning. He’s still liking this job very much and is getting along well with his co-workers. That’s a really good thing, especially when you’re confined with people 24/7.

“Wherever I am
I am what is missing.” ~ Mark Strand, from “Keeping Things Whole”

I do want to take a moment to apologize to my followers whose own blogs appear on my blogroll. I have not been a regular visitor of late, but not by choice. This computer in Eamonn’s room is truly on its last leg, and I am very limited in what I can do. Sometimes as I’m writing, the letters appear on the screen one at a time very slowly, much like a typewriter. I had planned to put my CPU in for repairs this paycheck, but then we had that huge hiccup with T-mobile, and well, more of the same.

Suriname Rainforest Village (Wikimedia Commons)

Once I get my computer up and running, I can get back into my regular mode of visiting people and commenting, something that I truly enjoy doing. It seems that I’m always apologizing for something not being the way that it should . . .

Did I mention that eldest son truly believes that I’m lazy? He (who is very, very much like his father) has never accepted that I am on disability. Whenever we’ve had money issues, he’s said things like, “Well why don’t you just go back to work?” And he’s serious. Not matter how many times Corey or I have tried to break down the realities for him, he still thinks that I’m not working because I’m lazy. This is a very bitter pill to swallow, I have to tell you. It always makes me question myself.

His father could never accept any kind of illness or physical impairment, always believing that the individual affected was just faking. Funny, the things that are ingrained in the DNA.

“And so when all the time had leaked,
Without external sound
Each bound the Other’s Crucifix—” ~ Emily Dickinson, from “[13]

So, well, I’m still weepy. I’m taking my medication, but I did miss one day when I ran out, but that’s been days ago. Truth is I would hate to see how bad I’d really be without the meds. And as always, I am reminded of my mother’s mantra: think happy thoughts . . .

Paramaribo, Suriname by permanently scatterbrained (FCC)

At times such as these I really feel for the people who suffered from some kind of mental illness in generations past, how they had to try to hide it, how if it came to light, they were forever marked as being crazy. The Scarlet A, except it would be a Scarlet C (for crazy?). I mean, there was a time when any political candidate who had ever sought mental health counseling would immediately be out of contention for a race, and even now, few in the public arena are willing to admit that they may have had to seek help.

It’s as if mental health is still in that category of the unspoken verboten: sex scandals, counseling, depression, homosexuality. It’s okay if you ran a company or two into the ground, if you caused thousands of people to lose their retirement, but say that you once had to get help for depression? Nope. Not so much.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), in any given 12-month period, 26.2 percent of the adult U.S. population will suffer from some kind of mental disorder, and contrary to popular belief, women do not suffer more than men. That’s one-quarter of our population.

Chew on that for a moment, and think happy thoughts while you do it.

“I see my life go drifting like a river
From change to change; I have been many things —” ~ W. B. Yeats, from “Fergus and the Druid”

I have a vivid memory of being 14 and sitting on the floor of my bedroom just weeping buckets. The family down the road had moved to Tennessee, and the daughters were two of my best friends since we had moved back to the area. I spent all of my time with them. Their moving left me hollow. My mother told me that nothing was really wrong, that I just had my period.

Colonial Houses, Unesco World Heritage, Paramaribo Center
(oursurprisingworld.com)

Right. But you know, I have to say that it’s not really her fault. She’s a product of her generation, one in which such things were not acknowledged, that to admit that someone in the family was frail (euphemism) was cause for shame. Still, at 14 all I knew was that it felt as if my insides were being torn apart.

Another time when I was really in a bad state a neighbor said that I had “growing pains,” that seemingly innocuous phrase that so many adults use to categorize youthful angst. I remember being so pissed. I just wanted to scream at her that she didn’t know what she was talking about, but I didn’t. I remembered my manners and kept my mouth shut.

Those growing pains produced some of the most angst-filled, emotional bad poetry probably ever written, but at least I sought a way to unburden myself. I don’t know how I got off on this tangent, and now that I’m here, I don’t really want to pursue it any more.

“The red balloon outside rose up
to an unsuspected sky, its chains
strained by the certainty that the nearer the inferno
the greater the paradise,
the nearer the prison cell
the greater the freedom.
Cantabit vacuus coran latrone viator.” ~ Miroslav Holub, from “Interferon” (trans. Dana Habova and David Young)

The penniless traveler will sing in the presence of the highwayman . . .

Paramaribo Photos
Houses Along the River, Paramaribo
(source: Trip Advisor)

In spite of my current state of mind, I can still be amazed by the serendipitous nature of life, how I can come across the perfect quote, a new poet, a new poem—something that says exactly what I’m feeling—when I’m not even looking. I had never heard of Holub, never read this poem, but this section of the poem (quote above) is apt for today. I especially like the Latin phrase at the end of the section.

A penniless traveler has nothing to lose, some would say, and on the surface, that is true. But we all have something to lose, even if it’s hidden deep within, so deep that we have forgotten about it. We all have something to lose, even if it is ourselves.

More later. Peace.

Music by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors (from the very last episode of “House” ever and the song that keeps making me weepy), “Live Forever”

                   

Poems in Braille

1
all your hands are verbs,
now you touch worlds and feel their names—
thru the thing to the name
not the other way thru (in winter
I am Midas, I name gold)

the chair and table and book
extend from your fingers;
all your movements
command these things back to their
places; a fight against familiarity
makes me resume my distance

2
they knew what it meant,
those egyptian scribes who drew
eyes right into their hieroglyphs,
you read them dispassionate until
the eye stumbles upon itself
blinking back from the papyrus

outside, the articulate wind
annotates this; I read carefully
lest I go blind in both eyes, reading with
that other eye the final hieroglyph

3
the shortest distance between 2 points
on a revolving circumference
is a curved line; O let me follow you,
Wencelas

4
with legs and arms I make alphabets
like in those children’s books
where people bend into letters and signs,
yet I do not read the long cabbala of my bones
truthfully; I need only to move to alter the design

5
I name all things in my room
and they rehearse their names,
gather in groups, form tesseracts,
discussing their names among themselves

I will not say the cast is less than the print
I will not say the curve is longer than the line,
I should read all things like braille in this season
with my fingers I should read them
lest I go blind in both eyes reading with
that other eye the final hieroglyph

~ Gwendolyn MacEwen, from  A Breakfeast for Barbarians

“I would like to do whatever it is that presses the essence from the hour.” ~ Mary Oliver, from The Poet’s Notebook

Curon in Alto Adige (from meinsuedtirol.com)

                   

“The slate is wiped clean.  It is almost as if the discouragement were necessary, that one has first to encounter despair before one is entitled to hope.  Then a time comes when one takes a pencil and a fresh sheet of paper and begins.  Begins, really for the first time.” ~ Walker Percy, “From Facts to Fiction” in Signposts in a Strange Land

Sunday afternoon. Sunny and warm, high 70’s.

I don’t remember my dreams from last night or the night before, an exceedingly rare occurrence for me, but it could be because I’ve had a headache that is moving around my head, currently at the edge of my right eye. This morning I got a text from Corey; he’s off the coast of Dover, England and got a signal. He sounds good. I asked him if he was close enough to the coast to see lighthouses, but he said not quite. We just exchanged a few texts as he was about to go to dinner and then sleep.

Resia, Italy by Angelo C (found on Google Earth, share alike license)

I’m hoping that I can finish this post before Eamonn gets home from work. The pool store has started keeping its Sunday hours, so his work schedule is full. Last night, we got Chinese takeout, and I ordered what I thought was the dish that Corey always gets for me, but it turns out that I ordered the wrong thing, and I didn’t like it much. Such a disappointment.

Today I really need to do laundry and filing—both tasks that I abhor, but as the chances of a maid brigade volunteering to come into my house are slim to none, I suppose it’s left to me. I also need to finish the paper work that I started earlier in the week and send that off. Oh crap.

“I speak best and most fully in my sleep.  When my heart
is not wrapped in layer after layer of daylight, not prepared
like some fighter’s taped fist.” ~ Mark Cox, from “The Word”

I heard on the radio that Alison Krauss is going to be here at the end of the month. I love her music. This is one of those cases in which I wish that Corey were going to be home as that is a concert that he would enjoy too. Oh well.

Resia, Italy by AlSanin (found on Google Earth, share alike license)

I just remembered a snippet of my dream: I was in a doctor’s office, and she wouldn’t give me trigger shots because it was too soon, but she felt a knot on my neck, and said that I had gotten it because I hadn’t taken nsaids (like ibuprofen or Alleve). Then she told me that my EEG showed that I had lung problems. I told her that I thought it was weird that an EEG would show something like that. Then there were elevators again, and of course, they wouldn’t take me where I wanted to go.

What is it with elevators? In life, I hate cramped elevators and will not get on one that is already full of people. The sensation of being trapped inside a small compartment with people pressed in truly terrifies me. But in dreams, what is an elevator? A means of travel? A closed-in space? Being unable to control things if only for a few minutes? All of these? None? And the fact that these dream elevators will not take me where I want to go, what’s up with that?

“I felt for an instant
that the vast star-clustered sky was mine, and I heard
my name as if for the first time, heard it the way
one hears the wind or the rain, but faint and far off
as though it belonged not to me but to the silence
from which it had come and to which it would go.” ~ Mark Strand, from Man and Camel

Shakes just came into the room, sat down by my feet, and said “arf.” I mean, literally, arf. I didn’t know that dogs actually said that except in comics. My dogs are so funny.

I had a realization today that pleased me: I may actually be able to keep off this weight that I’m losing because it’s not a diet but a change in lifestyle. Giving up sugar and sodas and increasing my physical activity—these aren’t things that I plan to stop doing. So perhaps I may be able to get of this yo-yo weight coaster. That would be nice.

Il Campanile della vecchia Curon Venosta nel Lago di Resia

Yesterday Brett and Em made brownies, and admittedly I did have one, but it was less than one-inch square, and I was satisfied with that. Now that’s change I can live with, she said oh so smugly . . .

Last night/early this morning when I got up to let the dogs out, I stuck my head out the door and inhaled deeply. It smelled of earth and trees. The night was beautiful, a slight breeze, clear skies, and I realized that just a few months ago I would have still been awake at 3:30 a.m. Except for a few nights, I’ve been able to get to sleep before one in the morning. I would like to bring that back one more hour, and then I might actually be living my life within the same 24-hour cycle. Does that make sense?

I mean, waking and going to sleep within the same day, kind of like what other people do; although I’m not sure why it matters to me that I sleep like other people. I suppose I’m just trying to be a bit more normal, whatever that is. Normal is such a nothing word when it comes to a definition. Remember that commercial: “What’s normal is what’s normal for you”? Probably about a laxative or something like that. But seriously, normal? Normal is completely dependent upon the individual. Normal and status quo are not synonymous. Normal and ordinary are not one in the same. Normal and traditional are not interchangeable.

So why do I care about being normal? I don’t, actually. I just care about being more like the person I used to be, to be honest.

“Since we must and do write each our own way, we may during actual writing get more lasting instruction not from another’s work, whatever its blessings, however better it is than ours, but from our own poor scratched-over pages. For these we can hold up to life. That is, we are born with a mind and heart to hold each page up to, and to ask: is it valid?” ~ Eudora Welty, On Writing

My book wish list continues to grow as I come across more titles and authors that I want to have in my personal library. Is it obnoxious to tell my kids that I want a book for Mother’s Day? I guess it is a bit, but geez, they get to give me lists for Christmas and their birthdays. Why don’t moms get to make requests once a year?

But I mean, what’s the point of an Amazon wish list? Santa sure as hell isn’t going to make it happen. And don’t even get me started on the whole concept of the Easter Bunny and presents. I find the Easter Bunny at malls incredibly creepy, but that’s another story (ooh, I will add that I heard that a mall Easter Bunny was popped for being high on the job—see? Creepy. Couldn’t stay sober for a few weeks?)

Lago di Resie from (Garni Platzer website)

Anyway, one book keeps appearing on my Tumblr dash from someone I follow who I happen to know likes the same kind of poetry that I do. It’s called The Poet’s Notebook, and even though it was published in 1995, some of the passages that he’s been posting are really interesting. I used to buy books on the craft of writing all of the time. I remember one of my writing professors as an undergraduate said that it was our obligation was wannabe writers and poets to support those who were actually publishing, and it was a profound statement, really.

I mean, who buys books of poetry? Certainly not the general public. Long before the Internet I used to buy my poetry books from a mail order service that, oddly enough, Christopher Buckley told Mary and me about. It was called Spring Hill Books (I think), and a woman actually ran it out of her house. I don’t think that she’s still around, probably having been put out of business by Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She was a lovely, kind woman who used to write me when she got a new title that she thought that I would like. I miss her. I miss independent booksellers who are quickly fading from the landscape.

By the way, happy belated birthday Eudora Welty.

“There is a basic iconographic pattern in the universe (the seasons, for example), but our relationship to it is our own.  How we hear it is our own, and is therefore unpredictable . . . No one needs to confirm our experience, which is unconditional.  We confirm it.  The only magic that exists is personal, real, direct.” ~ Gail Sher, from “My White and Your White Aren’t Necessarily the Same,” from The Intuitive Writer: Listening to Your Own Voice

When I worked at the Museum, we used to order lunch from a cafe inside an independent bookseller in downtown Norfolk. They had the best homemade hummus and focaccia bread. Prince Books. I wonder if they are still there . . .

Val Venosta, Resia, Italy by Davide Bedin (FCC)

Just the other day I was thinking about working at the Museum. How wonderful to be surrounded by such beauty, to be able to wander the galleries to clear my head, to joke about putting the Bernini bust in my purse and take it home (this thing is huge). I loved that job. Of course there were parts that were hard to take, like working with the board (class warfare, anyone?), but spending time with creations that were hundreds of years old? Works of art by Renoir and Tissot? That was magical. And because I worked there it meant that on some days I had all of the galleries to myself. Can you imagine?

Speaking of jobs, I had that dream again in which I realize that I’ve gone to work teaching (public school), but then quit, and I haven’t told my disability provider, and now I’ve probably lost my coverage. I hate that dream. I mean, think about it—who would actually choose teaching in public school as the job to return to after all of this time? Not me, that’s for sure. Maybe teaching in a tony private school in which, as Alexis used to say, the biggest different is that the student body can afford better drugs, but you know what I mean—teaching in a school in which the students assault the teachers versus teaching in a school in which parental pressure for the prodigy to make grades worthy of Harvard. Hmm . . .

Well, I suppose I had better get to the real life chores that await me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, “Your Long Journey”

                   

Del Lago di Resia (1949)

Images of Campanile di Curon and surrounding area: Flooded by the waters of il Lago di Resia (Reschensee), situated in Val Venosta in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy, the Campanile di Curon is a vestige of the old town of Curon Venosta. This small alpine town was buried shortly after World War II when three pre-existing lakes (Lago di Resia, Lago di Curon, and Lago di San Valentino alla Muta) were joined together to create one bigger artificial lake. The town is still sitting under water, but the tower was so tall that it juts out, marking the central location of a place many once called home.

                   

And I Said To My Soul, Be Loud

Madden me back to an afternoon
I carry in me
not like a wound
but like a will against a wound

Give me again enough man
to be the child
choosing my own annihilations

To make of this severed limb
a wand to conjure
a weapon to shatter
dark matter of the dirt daubers’ nests
galaxies of glass

Whacking glints
bash-dancing on the cellar’s fire
I am the sound the sun would make
if the sun could make a sound

and the gasp of rot
stabbed from the compost’s lumpen living death
is me

O my life my war in a jar
I shake you and shake you
and may the best ant win

For I am come a whirlwind of wasted things
and I will ride this tantrum back to God

until my fixed self, my fluorescent self
my grief–nibbling, unbewildered, wall–to–wall self
withers in me like a salted slug

~ Christian Wimen, from Every Living Thing

“I get deeply tired because everything touches me. I am never indifferent. Indifference or passivity are impossible to me.” ~ Anaïs Nin , Journals Volume II

"But my soul is a passionate dancer," by Katharina Pieper*

                   

“What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance?” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “In a Dark Time”

Wednesday, early evening. Thunder showers.

Tillie had two seizures today while I was out of the house. Luckily, Corey was home with her. He said that they both lasted a pretty long time. I hate it when she has seizures because there is no warning.

"The abstract is the origin of art," by Massimo Polello

I had an appointment with my psychiatrist today, a med check. We talked about my recent anxiety attacks and agreed that it’s probably a temporary thing based on circumstances, so she prescribed me something for the interim. I remember when I used to have anxiety attacks all of the time. I was married to my ex. Maybe that explains it, but I haven’t had them in a very long time, so this backsliding is bothering me.

Anyway, I have a new television addiction: “Fashion Star” on NBC. It’s pure fluff, but the music is great. There are no scenes from the workroom like “Project Runway,” but there are lots of divas, which always makes for interesting watching. And Corey and I have started watching a new drama called “Awake,” which features Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter), who is a superb actor. The premise of the show is different, which makes it engaging to watch.

You know that my life is kind of in standstill when I’m writing about what’s on television . . .

“Is it possible . . . that we have not yet seen, known, or said anything real and important? Is it possible that we have had thousands of years to look, meditate, and record, and that we have let these thousands of years slip away. Yes, it is possible.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Today is one of those days in which possibilities seem limited as opposed to endless.

I was in the elevator after my appointment, just thinking about where I am at the moment, and it occurred to me that I haven’t been able to see Dr. K. for months now. I had suspended my therapy because I had to keep cancelling and rescheduling because of the vehicle situation, and I didn’t think that it was fair to her to be taking up slots in her schedule that I might not be able to keep. I told her that I would call her when we finally got the truck fixed and resume my sessions at that time. Now I need to wait until I get caught up in my health insurance as we are behind a month again. So no therapy for now.

"Baudelaire, Evening Harmony," by Sophia Verbeek

The doctor I saw today asked me how long life has been this way, and I told her three years, but actually, it’s now four years. I keep forgetting that it’s 2012; all of this started in 2008. Four years of ups and downs, mostly downs. Four years of an endless cycle of debt. Four years of just scraping by. Four years.

My how time flies. In four years, a person could get a degree. In four years, a baby grows from an infant to a toddler. In four years the presidency changes. So much happens in four years, and yet, nothing happens.

Forgive me. I’m quite maudlin. Perhaps I should not attempt to post, but I feel that need to write, to make these keys click or clack or whatever sound it is that a computer keyboard makes. I just had a sudden memory: the sound of 50 IBM Selectric typewriters all going madly simultaneously. That was the sound of the newsroom in the morning, in the era pre-computer. If you listened carefully, you could discern the different cadences, depending upon the user’s typing ability. There were the two-fingered reporters, the one fingered reporters, the full hands reporters, so all together, it was kind of like a schizoid percussion section: rat-a-tat-a-tat very quickly, or one beat at a time.

That’s a good memory.

“The soul is silent.  If it speaks at all it speaks in dreams.” ~ Louise Glück

Last night I had a Great Bridge dream, that’s one featuring all of my relatives on my mother’s side with whom I grew up, especially my cousins. My Aunt Ronnie was still alive, and everyone was coming over for dinner, just like they used to. Except in this dream, Corey’s family was also there, and his brother Steve arrived on a three-wheeler. Dinner was chaotic, and I was trying to feed a baby who kept spitting out the food. Then Aunt Ronnie took the baby from me, and fed her with no trouble. She told me that I was doing it wrong.

"Shakespeare Sonnet 126," by Anatoly Moshchelkov

I also remember that before dinner, we were setting up folding chairs at a very long table, and I was carrying four chairs on each arm—like that could happen now. Once upon a time, maybe, like when I worked at Dillard’s—I was kind of freakishly strong for my size, routinely picking up four-ways completely covered with clothes and moving them around the floor. Of course, that probably led to my back problems.

Speaking of once upon a time, there was something about that in another dream, but I can’t quite grasp it. But I also dreamt that I was in someone’s office, and they were telling me about this epic book that I should have read but hadn’t. It was a book about everything, and when I opened the book, the pictures moved (on the paper). I decided (in the dream) that I would buy a copy for each of my sons.

In the past few weeks, dead relatives keep appearing in my dreams: my aunts and uncles, my m-in-law, my dad, and once, my ex-father-in-law walked in and said that he’d been asleep and was wondering what was happening. That was really weird as he has rarely appeared in any dreams throughout the years. (Aside: I almost always misspell the word weird, which in itself is weird as I have always consider myself weird.)

“It is all in the mind, you say, and has
nothing to do with happiness.” ~  Mark Strand, from “So You Say”

I’ve begun reading the second book in the Game of Thrones series, having finally finished the first one, which was really quite good. Only one thing bothered me: the author used the phrase “game of thrones” at least five different times in the narrative. I love the phrase, but usually the titular phrase is only found once in the narrative, which helps to give it emphasis. I’m not sure why George R. R. Martin did that, seems like overkill.

"I was taught by water, I was taught by wind," by Katharina Pieper

But what do I know? He’s published a lot more books than I have . . . but if I ever do get published, I’m going to be sure to have two middle initials—G.R.R. Martin, kind of like J. R. R. Tolkien . . .

I know that the books have been turned into a show on HBO, but we don’t have HBO, so maybe if we ever get Netflix, I can watch the series. Sean Bean and Lena Headey are in it, among many other notable actors. I could probably download it, but I’m reluctant to download shows as they are much more prone to viruses. So I’m back to talking television. Geez.

I should probably stop now before I bore all of you beyond tears.

More later. Peace.

*All images are taken from the International Exhibition of Calligraphy, Moscow

Music by Peter Bradley Adams, “Full Moon Song”

                   

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver, from Dream Work