“My heart wants roots. My mind wants wings. I cannot bear their bickerings.” ~ E. Y. Harburg

Resting Polar Bear by Daniel J. Cox (Polar Bears International)*
Resting Polar Bear
by Daniel J. Cox (Polar Bears International)*

                   

“If a woman writes about herself, she’s a narcissist. If a man does the same, he’s describing the human condition” ~ Emily Gould

Friday, early evening. Partly cloudy and cold, 45 degrees.

I had big plans to take down the Christmas tree today, but now, not so much. I don’t take the tree down on New Year’s Day, partly out of a superstition that says that whatever you are doing on New Year’s Day is what you will spend most of your time doing in the coming year. I do not want to spend a year tackling a rather large sorting, cleaning and storing job. Also, I like to look at the tree for a while after New Year’s.

Maybe tomorrow.

Polar Bear and Cubs USFWS WC
Polar Bear and Cubs
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Wikimedia Commons)

I mean, if I were feeling productive, I could also tackle the large pile on the left side of my desk that has begun a landslide onto the floor, but it’s so much easier to push the pile back into a pile and pretend that it’s not there. However, I really need the black nail file that is usually in my pen cup, but seems to have disappeared beneath the mass of papers, so I may have to do something. I’m one of those people who has nail files and calendars in almost every room; Corey’s family has tissues in every room. Quirks.

I really need an assistant, or an intern, or an assistant intern. Like that’s ever going to happen. How does one persuade someone to be an intern to the job of life? If anyone has an answer for that, I would love to hear it. Anyway . . .

“Misunderstanding is my cornerstone. It’s everyone’s, come to think of it. Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver, from The Poisonwood Bible

Olivia spent the day here yesterday as Lex had a doctor’s appointment and wanted to try to get some things taken care of, so we agreed to sit. One thing I have to say about this baby is that she doesn’t sleep for long stretches, which is odd for me as all of my babies loved to nap, Alexis the most, and we would often have to wake her from her afternoon nap. She says that even when she was in kindergarten, the teacher had to wake her from rest time. No wonder the teachers loved her (kidding).

(By the way, the poem choice arises from a new thing that Olivia is doing: Mike’s stepmother taught Olivia how to shake her head back and forth when someone says, “No, no, no, no, no.” And then she laughs . . .)

Polar Bear by Daniel J Cox Polar Bears International
Polar Bear
by Daniel J. Cox (Polar Bears International)

Olivia has had a bit of a cold, and the pediatrician told Lex to use nose drops (saline) and the sucking thing (aspirator?), which Olivia loves (not). My mom is also sick with what sounds like bronchitis or pneumonia, but try to get her to see a doctor? Not happening. I have wanted her to change her primary care doctor for years as I don’t feel that he really pays attention to everything that’s going on with her, but she loves him and won’t change.

My, I have a lot of parenthetical asides today. Sure sign that my mind is going too fast.

Anyway, I did want to know what you think of the new theme. I can’t afford to get one of those custom themes in which you can select all of the colors and all of that other coding, but WordPress does offer a fairly nice selection of free themes. Only problem was that when I changed themes, I lost my rotating globe and all of those stats. Many thanks to Izaak Mak at I Want Ice Water for providing me with the coding needed. So the globe is back. Funny the kinds of things you get attached to on a page.

“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” ~ Douglas Adams, from Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

I got a little distracted looking up music from the television show “Fringe,” which I’ve started watching again. Somehow, I lost track of it, but it’s being rebroadcast on cable, so I’m watching again. I love the quirkiness of it, almost (not quite) like “X Files,” but a different kind of quirky. I also happen to love both John Noble and Joshua Jackson. Why mention this? Who knows . . . I also had to stop to find quotes for today’s post because I realized that all of the quote that I had previously selected bore absolutely no resemblance to today’s post, which, by the way, has no clear theme.

Polar Bear, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska WC
Polar Bear
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (Wikimedia Commons)

My back has been killing me for the past week. The new doctor gave me a referral for physical therapy, but I haven’t made the appointment yet,mostly because of funds. The post-Christmas dearth of money has hit, that and the fact that Corey is on job hiatus.  But I’m hoping that I’ll be able to start with the PT sometime this month. Honestly, I haven’t had that much success with PT, but I’m willing to give it a go one more time. Out of the five or so different people who have worked on my back, only one actually succeeded in lessening my pain.

Of course, I need to get back to some kind of physical activity, but the motivation has been seriously lacking in that department. I’d like to start walking with Tillie so that both of us get some exercise in this cold weather. Maybe next week.

“Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from A Wild Sheep Chase

I haven’t been doing well with giving up chocolate, what with the abundance of sweets throughout the house, but this one is a must-do, especially because of my blood sugar and my triglycerides. I have been easing off day by day, but the other morning I was shoving Reese’s miniatures in my mouth like they were a supply of oxygen. So glad no one else was up at the time. I mean, who eats peanut butter cups at 7 in the morning?

olar Bear paren sow paren, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska WC
Polar Bear (sow),
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (Wikimedia Commons)

I do.

Anyway, almost all of the holiday sweets are gone, and that makes me very happy in a weird sort of way. Although, I do still have a keen hankering for cookies, especially those Pepperidge Farm gingerbread men. Delish.

Okay. I’ll stop. I mean, you really didn’t come here to read about my strange cravings and my constant internal debate over whether or not to go over to the dark side where Russell Stover caramel bites and Danish butter cookies reside.

“There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.” ~ Tom Robbins, from Still Life with Woodpecker

So other than the above inanity, not much going on.

Polar Bear by Craig Taylor Polar Bears International
Polar Bear
by Craig Taylor (Polar Bears International)

I ordered everyone’s calendars after Christmas when the prices dropped by 50 percent. But here’s the thing that kills me: Amazon offers free shipping to Prime members and for orders over $25, which is great, but they sent two different boxes, each one containing only one (count it) one calendar and a sheet of pillow wrap. Both boxes arrived simultaneously, so just look at the waste:

  • Two cardboard boxes (recyclable)
  • Two sheets of pillow wrap (or whatever you call that packing stuff that isn’t bubble wrap but is filled with air) (not recyclable)
  • Two calendars (which will ultimately be recyclable)
  • and shipping for two boxes that had the exact same weight.

Am I the only one who doesn’t see the logic in that? Of course, this isn’t the first time Amazon has done something like this. I remember one time when I ordered Brett some special pens; Amazon shipped them in (I kid you not) a box that was roughly 24 x 6 x 6 inches for a box that measures about 7 x 4 x 3/4.

Whatever.

More later. Peace.

Music by My Morning Jacket, “Thank You Too”

(*Today’s images of polar bears—because I was thinking of Shakes who always reminded me of a miniature polar bear, especially in the way that he lay and tucked his tale under). Some images taken from Polar Bears International site.)

                  

Counting The Mad

This one was put in a jacket,
This one was sent home,
This one was given bread and meat
But would eat none,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one looked at the window
As though it were a wall,
This one saw things that were not there,
This one things that were,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one thought himself a bird,
This one a dog,
And this one thought himself a man,
An ordinary man,
And cried and cried No No No No
All day long.

~ Donald Justice
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“I can’t exactly describe how I feel but it’s not quite right. And it leaves me cold.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, from “The Love of the Last Tycoon”

Dark Night of the Soul
by David Hepworth (FCC)

                    

“He is like an old ferry dragged on to the shore,
a home in its smashed grandeur, with the giant beams
and joists. Like a wooden ocean out of control.
A beached heart. A cauldron of cooling melt.” ~ Jack Gilbert, from “Refusing Heaven”

Very early Friday morning. Cloudy and cold. 2:30 a.m.

I had thought that after I wrote the last post I might be able to find sleep. I was wrong. Apparently my attempts to purge my grief did not succeed. Each time I laid back and tried to close my eyes, my mind began that headlong rush into a miasma of thoughts, thoughts that I cannot control, so here I am. I can change the channel on the television, or play another hand of spider solitaire, or walk out to the kitchen. But I know what is wrong, why sleep eludes me: There is no warm snoring body curled into the crook of my knee.

Twisted Tree in Mist, Stanmer Park Great Wood, UK
by dominic’s pics (FCC)

Oh, he was smelly, between the ongoing crud in his ear and his perpetual halitosis, Shakes was a smelly dog. But I knew that smell. That smell followed me from room to room, sat patiently as I washed dishes. Daily spritzing with Febreze helped, but the smell persisted. Now that smell is gone.

You might find this an odd thing to think about, but smell does that to me. After Caitlin died I carried the outfit she had worn to the hospital in a plastic bag. I took that bag everywhere with me, and once in a while, when I felt the need to torment myself, I would unseal the bag and inhale deeply. It took a long time for her smell to fade.

“My brother once showed me a piece of quartz that contained, he said, some trapped water older than all the seas in our world. He held it up to my ear.

‘Listen,’ he said, ‘life and no escape.’” ~ Anne Carson, from  Plainwater

Shakes could also be mean. He hated to have his nails cut, and his ear problem never fully resolved because he fought attempts at cleaning and medicating. I bear a few scars from when he bit me. In fact, on my right arm, I have a c-shaped scar that I have seriously contemplated having a crescent moon drawn around. Turning a scar into a badge, if you will.

Forest after Fire
by Steve Slater (Wildlife Encounters) (FCC)

So he could be mean, and he smelled. But he was also fiercely loyal, very jealous, and quite funny. I know that I’ve posted pictures of him as he lay with his head upon my pillow, or tented beneath the quilt, or sitting by the window.

In these last few months, I tried to take him on car rides when I could, and I didn’t scold him when he stole a piece of French bread. He knew that he was being spoiled, and he probably took advantage of it. Who cares. I just hope that he had a good life, one filled with memories of cookies and treats, doing army crawl across the grass to scratch his belly, playing games of tennis ball and jumping into the pool. I hope he knew how much he was loved, in spite of his grouchy old man demeanor. I hope that I did right by him.

“There are still days you can catch me
tape recording eternal silence
and playing it backwards for an empty room” ~ Buddy Wakefield, from “Human the Death Dance”

I suppose I am trying to write myself into oblivion. If I type enough words, if I confess enough, if I reveal everything—bad and good and in between—if I do all of these things, perhaps then my soul may find some rest.

Winter Trees in Mist at Dawn, Stamner Park Great Wood, UK
by dominic’s pics (FCC)

Perhaps.

Or perhaps I’ll just keep writing and keep feeling and keep scratching off that thin veneer of a scab that is only just forming, worry it in that way that I do, pull on it until the wound that is bared is deeper than it originally began. If you tear at something long enough, it will fray. Mess with it long enough, the fabric will wear, erode, crumble. Perhaps I will do all of these things enough times that when I finally lay back and close my eyes, I will see . . . nothing. And (one can only hope) be blessed with dreamless sleep.

Too bad the waters of Lethe are not accessible in this sphere. Forgetfulness would be a good thing.

“Even in a place you know intimately,
each night’s darkness is different.” ~ Anne Michaels, from Miner’s Pond

Friday afternoon. Cloudy and cool, 50’s.

So I eventually found sleep around 4 a.m. Awoke around 7 with another headache. Actually, Tillie woke me at 7, then again at 9:30. At 7 she wanted out, but at 9:30 she wanted to play. I asked Corey to wake me no later than 11 so that I could try to sleep tonight.

Blandford Nature Center
by mikemol (FCC)

The headache is gone for now, but my back muscles are like a basket of walnuts—all crammed up against one another and compressed into a space that is too small to accommodate them. In spite of the pain, I feel a bit better emotionally. I haven’t cried once since waking, and I don’t appear to be leaking incessantly. My chest also seems to have loosened, as in it doesn’t feel so constricted and painful. I suppose I have begun the long process of healing yet again.

But we all know not to expect too much of that. Right?

So my dog Shakes was smelly and temperamental and funny and loyal and fluffy in spots where dogs shouldn’t be fluffy, and his mouth looked like it had been lined with black eyeliner, giving him perpetual lipstick. He would do spite pees in the house, as in if I left him for too long alone, he would mark something, usually the end of my iron bed. He was a Jack Russell without spots and with long legs. For some reason, I remember the sire’s name was Simon, from the litter into which both Shakes and Alfie were born. They were the last two pups left, and the woman sold both of them to my mother for the price of one pup, which is how I came to own two male dogs.

“And he told stories about the stars above, about the earth below. He told them to make the night pass, and also because his heart was all reflections in which the soul of the world moved.” ~ Jean Giono, from The Serpent of Stars

I think that when I’m finished here, I’ll curl up beneath a blanket and read. I’ve abandoned NaNoWriMo mostly because I’m so far behind that I know I cannot catch up, especially as it is past the mid-point of the month. However, I have not abandoned the story. As I mentioned, I like my protagonist, and I like the sketchy plot that I have so far. I just know that I’m not in the frame of mind in which to flesh out characters and plot lines.

Macclesfield Forest in Winter, UK
(Wikimedia Commons)

I need to spend the weekend cleaning and polishing silver, getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner. I think because we’re going to have so many people that we’re going to cook a turkey and a ham, at least that’s the plan for now. When I first began planning the meal in my head, I had considered trying to bake a special cake. Not going to happen now. Apple and pumpkin pies from Costco—always a good plan.

Look. I’m just holding on at the moment. I’m better, but not there yet. I’ll spend my time this weekend doing mindless chores, and with any luck, I can burn away the pain. I don’t want to be a complete emotional wreck when Corey’s parents get here.

For now, we’ll just see how the days unfold.

More later. Peace.

Music by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, “Sophie”

                   

A Journal of the Year of the Ox (excerpt)

It is as though, sitting out here in the dwarf orchard,
The soul has come to rest at the edge of the body,
A vacancy, a small ache,
the soul had come to rest
After a long passage over the wasteland and damp season.
It is as though a tree had been taken out of the landscape.
It is as though a tree had been taken out
and moved to one side
And the wind blew where the tree had been
As though it had never blown there before,
or that hard.

~ Charles Wright

“More and more I found myself at a loss for words and didn’t want to hear other people talking either. Their conversations seemed false and empty. I preferred to look at the sea, which said nothing and never made you feel alone.” ~ Paula McLain, The Paris Wife

The Needles, Cannon Beach, Oregon
by Steven Pavlov (Wikimedia Commons)

                   

“I am obsessed at nights with the idea of my own worthlessness, and if it were only to turn a light on to save my life I think I would not do it. These are the last footprints of a headache I suppose. Do you ever feel that? — like an old weed in a stream. What do you feel, lying in bed? I daresay you are visited by sublime thoughts. Dearest, do write to me; for I long for your words. Do tell me you wish to see me.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a letter to Vita Sackville-West dated 18 August 1929

Friday afternoon. Cloudy, drizzle, low 70’s.

Seaside Beach Oregon Sunset
by The Knowles Gallery (FCC)

It’s been a hellacious few days. My dog Shakes is not doing well. That I am alone in this, or rather, without Corey, is exacerbating the pain. I spent last night intermittently listening to him wheeze, a strange reassurance that he was still breathing. Sleep, when it came, was uneven and troubled.

We humans are a funny lot, what with our emotions, our needs, our desires. But I do not believe that we are the only sentient beings in existence. Each day, science reveals yet another way in which members of non-human species possess the ability to reason, the ability to care, the ability to protect. Sentience, though, is truly a double-edged sword: it makes us aware, even when remaining ignorant would be so much easier, even when an ability to emote sometimes results in feelings akin to being slammed against a cement wall, the wind knocked from our lungs.

Sentience is the price we pay for free will, I suppose, and sometimes, it is an exorbitant price.

I think that I finally understand that line from Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”—”I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” After all, if that were my only lot in life, I would not care about everything happening around me, would not be aware that the world is so much more—bad and good.

What you can’t get over,

You must get past. Through a haze of smoke and rum,
What’s left of me squints at the odds and ends.” ~ Elton Glaser, from “Downloading the Meltdown”

Of course, because I’m already vulnerable, I came across a Springsteen song that I had completely forgotten about—”If I Should Fall Behind.” Man, what a song. And because I have a very morose personality, such songs pierce my heart quite acutely, make me think about what ifs, whens. hows.

Sunset at Haystack Rock
by Wes Rogers (FCC)

The other day I was trying to tell Brett about the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, what a force he was, how he played the saxophone  like he had a direct pipeline to the gods. How Springsteen and Clemons were an incomparable duo. Man, I miss Clemons.

Music has always been one of my primary ways of reflecting my mood, but of course, this is a trait many humans share. Music has been a part of life far longer than most people realize. In 1995, a Slovenian archaeologist discovered a bone carving with evenly spaced holes. This carving, believed to be about 43,000 years old, was named the Divje Babe flute. Other flutes made of bird bone and mammoth ivory have been carbon-dated as being approximately the same age.

I find it fascinating that early humans integrated musical sounds into their societies for whatever reasons. It is entirely possible that we have sought sounds to soothe for millennia. And we are not alone. Consider whale songs—those intricate, long underwater melodies.

“What uniform can I wear to hide my heavy heart?
It is too heavy. It will always show.” ~ Jean Cocteau, from The Holy Terrors

Don’t really know how I got off on that particular tangent. My mind is not exactly cohesive of late. More often than not, I realize that I am sitting in front of this computer screen, and nothing is happening—no music, no words, just my wallpaper and icons.

An example of the state of my mind? Yesterday I went to pick up prescriptions. I got home with only one, even though I had paid for four, and didn’t realize it until hours later. I haven’t been back to get the others as that would take so much effort. Just writing about it makes me tired all over.

Haystack Rock Sunset, Oregon
by Gary Halvorson (Wikimedia Commons)

Actually, this post is making me tired all over. I don’t know that I’m getting anywhere, that I’m saying anything. If feels more like an exercise in futility. I’ll leave you with a few things that I’m pondering:

  • When will I be able to read again? I hate it when this happens, when I cannot still my mind enough to become absorbed in someone else’s words.
  • Which plot idea will I actually begin to work on when I start this project?
  • How long before I give up this project, convince myself yet again that I have nothing to say?
  • How will I ever make it through the upcoming holidays? The thought of getting the house ready, preparing the meals—it all makes me so very, very tired.
  • How can October be two-thirds over?
  • How will I ever find the energy to  make Brett’s costume for him?
  • How much of my life has been spent in dwelling on the imponderables?

“I would like a simple life
yet all night I am laying
poems away in a long box.” ~ Anne Sexton, from “The Ambition Bird

Just a few more . . .

  • I have no idea as to what kind of images I can pair with these words. Nothing fits.

    Oregon Coastal Sunset
    by Malcolm Carlaw (FCC)
  • My words feel hollow. I wonder if they read that way . . .
  • I’m already regretting signing up for NaNoWriMo.
  • At this very second, I have a spot almost in the middle of my scalp that feels like someone is picking at it with a sharp object.
  • I did not realize until now that I am squinting.
  • The last two items mean that a headache is coming.
  • Can I please just hide in my bedroom until the year is over?

(Decided that sunset on the Oregon coast seemed to fit somehow.)

Music from the Boss, “If I Should Fall Behind” (couldn’t pick my favorite version, so I posted both)

                   

The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.

~ Jack Gilbert

“It was as if some space had opened up, a little rift, between words and whatever they were supposed to be doing. I stumbled in that space, I fell.” ~ Steven Millhauser, Dangerous Laughter

Shakes Sailing Across the Water

                   

“The heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking
it is necessary to go through
dark and deeper dark
and not to turn” ~ Stanley Kunitz, “The Testing Tree”

Friday afternoon. Cloudy and humid, 80’s.

This post is very depressing. You may want to just skip it.

My dog Shakes is dying. He’s the fat, gay mama’s boy, the bigger Jack Russell, and he’s 12. He has congestive heart failure. That wheezy cough that I thought was allergies, wasn’t.

Christmas 2010: Shakes after the Packages

In the past 24 hours, he has collapsed twice, once, his heart seemed to stop. As I’m typing this, he’s at his usual spot, on the floor next to my chair. He’s been on medication for two days, but frankly, he seems worse.

I know that this happens. I know that if you have pets, the chances that they are going to die before you do are great. I know that loss is part of the process in deliberately choosing to open your heart to something. I know all of these things. Ask me if it makes a damned bit of difference.

In my lifetime, I have lost three dogs of my own, not including the deaths of those dogs who lived with my parents. Ascot was a rescue from the pound in Christiansburg, the first few months after I married my ex. She had hip dysplasia, but we adopted her anyway, knowing that she wouldn’t have a long life, but she would have a good one. Then I lost my first lab, Mokie, to old age and illness. And my second lab, Murphy, died of heart failure, and it happened on the one weekend that Corey and I decided to go to the Outer Banks with friends, so she died without me.

I won’t let that happen to Shakes.

“Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.” ~ Marianne Williamson

The two boy Jack Russells came to us from my mother, who bought them from the woman who used to live behind her. I had always wanted a Jack Russell, that is, until I found out that they are truly terror terriers. Never mind. She brought them over and announced that they were birthday presents for the boys.

Shakes Sleeping like a Human

So we welcomed William Shakespeare (Shakes), and Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Alfie) into the fold. Murphy was still alive at the time, and the boy puppies put a new spring into her step. We soon found that the boys were escape artists, managing to find any hole in the fence, regardless of size. The neighbors became aware of the two white dogs who lived on the corner, and sometimes returned them before we even knew that they had escaped.

Shakes has always been my dog, following me from room to room, sleeping by my side. Alfie, not so much. In fact, Alfie is probably a wee bit psychotic, going into prolonged growls for no apparent reason. Canine rage, it’s called. The vet prescribed meds, but said that Benadryl was just as effective. So Alfie gets his dose of Benadryl in a blob of peanut butter. Everyone is happier.

So my canine boys are old now, and I’m facing yet another loss. And as we all know, I don’t do loss well, and, well, this is coming at a time in which my defenses are already weakened, and my spirits are mighty low.

“We scribble our little sentences.
Some of them sound okay and some of them sound not so okay.
A grain and an inch, a grain and an inch and a half.

Sad word wands, desperate alphabet.” ~ Charles Wright, from “When You’re Lost in Juarez, in the Rain, and It’s Eastertime Too”

Let’s add a really fine topper to this whole situation, shall we? Corey is leaving tonight. It’s been great that he’s been home, but the time spent running around trying to take care of things has made it so that we’ve hardly had any time with each other, and now he’s gone for at least another five weeks or so.

Shakes and Tillie Vying for the Ladder

And so, and this is very selfish, I know, Shakes in all probability will die while Corey is away.

I dealt with Tillie’s massive seizures without him, and lots of extraneous bullshit without him, and no, this isn’t his fault, and I’m not even close to suggesting that. It’s time and circumstance, both of which seem to be in collusion to bring about that perfect storm (a phrase which used to have real meaning before the media seized upon it and used it ad infinitum), the circumstances in which I will surely approach that point at which just one more thing, even pebble-sized, when added to the precarious perch upon which I find myself, will send me crashing.

Did you follow that?

“Thus I spoke, more and more softly; for I was afraid of my own thoughts and the thoughts behind my thoughts.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”

I know that I’ve mentioned the circumstances of my parents’ marriage more than once. Short version, my father spent most of their marriage (we’re talking decades and decades) at sea. They essentially lived separate lives until he retired, and when they were together, they fought and fought and fought.

Shakes Pulling Back the Curtains for a Peep Outside

It was never the kind of marriage to which I aspired. I mean, I’m not that kind of crazy. But now I find myself in the kind of marriage in which one of us is gone for weeks and weeks, out of touch by telephone, and yes, it’s great that there is e-mail, but it’s not the same. It’s just not the same.

Yes, he’s working. Yes, he’s making good money. Yes, we’re able to pay our bills. No, we’re not going to lose our house. No, our utilities are not going to be shut off. No, I’m not going to lose my health insurance.

The adult part of my brain, small that it is, understands all of this. But I have always been ruled by my heart, not my brain, and my heart aches. It simply cannot bear the weight of all of these things, piling on in quick succession. And, I have to say this because it’s true, I hate that, hate hate hate that about myself. Why can I not be better about all of this? Why can I not weigh the pros and cons rationally? Why can I not handle the stress with more aplomb and less angst?

I have no answers. Face it. If I had any answers, I wouldn’t be asking these stupid questions.

“All will go
And one day
We will hold
Only the shadows.” ~ Carl Sandburg, from “Losses”

Shakes Under Cover

So, full circle. Shakes is lying on the floor, head on front paws, breathing relatively well. The image seared into my retinas of his tongue hanging out of his mouth is still fresh, and it’s right there next to the horrid memory of Tillie’s face pulled back in pain and her eyes beseeching me. And all the while, I am of little more use than a lamp post.

We humans seek out animal kinship. We buy, find, rescue dogs, cats, birds, snakes, mice, lizards, even rats. We give these creatures names, and we bestow upon them human characteristics. We talk to them, play with them, feed them, and spoil them. That is, if we are decent humans deserving of animal companionship. I won’t even delve into those beastly humans who inflict great cruelty upon animals because, after all, they’re just fill-in-the-blank, and no, I have not nor will I ever forgive Michael Vick no matter how well he plays football.

I have spoiled Shakes. And in the past few days, I am deliberately spoiling him more, letting him go for car rides, giving him extra treats. I cannot control the fact that he is dying, but I can make his remaining time here as filled with love as is possible. I can say his name lovingly, rub behind his ears gently, and hold him when he has an attack.

And then I can go in the bathroom, turn on the water, and weep.

More later. Peace.

Music by Antony and the Johnsons, “Cut the World”

                   

The Wound

The shock comes slowly
as an afterthought.

First you hear the words
and they are like all other words,

ordinary, breathing out of lips,
moving toward you in a straight line.

Later they shatter
and rearrange themselves. They spell

something else hidden in the muscles
of the face, something the throat wanted to say.

Decoded, the message etches itself in acid
so every syllable becomes a sore.

The shock blooms into a carbuncle.
The body bends to accommodate it.

A special scarf has to be worn to conceal it.
It is now the size of a head.

The next time you look,
it has grown two eyes and a mouth.

It is difficult to know which to use.
Now you are seeing everything twice.

After a while it becomes an old friend.
It reminds you every day of how it came to be.

~ Ruth Stone