“We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.” ~ Aristotle Onassis ”

Flight of Birds on Pérolles Lake, Fribourg, Switzerland by Claude-Olivier Marti (FCC)

“The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking . . . the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” ~ Ken Kesey

Tuesday, early evening. Partly cloudy and mild, high 50’s.

So . . . Singulair is my new best friend.

Winter Pond with Black Swans by jajoll (FCC)

I went to my PCP yesterday, who listened to my two-month long tale of woe, listened to my lungs (which are clear), and added Singulair to my long list of regular medications. I took my first dose last night before bed, and actually slept fairly well for the first time in I can’t remember. Coughing was minimal, as was the raspy, paper-crackling sound that’s been coming from my lungs.

How very unexpected but wonderful.

So today I’ve been coughing once in a while, still a bit painful, but overall, I feel 100 percent better than I did two days ago, which is saying quite a lot. I feel that the whole ER visit was a waste of time and money (once I get the bill), but the ER doctor did prescribe a cough medicine that helped, so I suppose it wasn’t a total waste of five hours of my life . . .

Tomorrow I’m supposed to go for a pulmonary function test (PFT), which I was hoping to get out of, but my doctor still wants me to go even though I feel better. I’m so very tired of medical tests, especially since they almost never reveal anything new about my decrepit body.

“Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.” ~ Henry James

Lake Ontario Swan by Tony the Misfit (FCC)

So yesterday was my birthday, and as usual, it sucked. I’m not quite sure why this is almost always the case, but it is. Perhaps it’s because of my complete dislike for my birthday, something that has been going on for as long as I can remember. The last birthday I remember liking was my 16th, and trust me when I say that was an age ago.

But aside from my own feelings about my birthday, it seems that so few people remember it that it feels like more of an imposition than a reason to celebrate. I got a lovely card from Corey’s parents. My mother did not bother to call or send a card, which is not surprising but nevertheless, disappointing. I mean, she’s my mother . . . Two of my children were too broke to buy me a card, which doesn’t bother me, but I know that at least one of my children forgot that it was my birthday.

Perhaps I’m being hyper-sensitive; it’s been known to happen once or twice . . . but geez. If I treated everyone else’s birthday’s so cavalierly, you can bet I’d hear about it.

Is it a mom thing, this seeming lack of appreciation, or perhaps, lack of attention to detail might be more accurate? I’m not looking for a party or even a cake, although a cake would be nice (this coming from the woman who has yet to bake Corey’s homemade carrot cake for his last birthday). I don’t know exactly what it is I’m looking for, and perhaps I sound like a selfish bitch, and perhaps I am that, after all. Perhaps being sick for two months has worn down the sunnier side of my disposition (if such a side ever existed), or perhaps I feel a need to bitch where no need truly exists.

Perhaps I should just keep my feelings to myself and get on with life.

Whatever.

“By the fire, when the wind pauses, little is said.
Every phrase we unfold stands upright. Outside,
The visible cold, the therapy of moonlight.” ~ Anne Stevenson, “The Wind, the Sun, and the Moon”

So while I was sick—as in bedridden sick—I read Stieg Larrson’s Millenium Series, all three books. They were great. It’s the finest writing I’ve come across in a long time. It’s so sad that he died before he could complete more novels. But now I’m ready to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie. I don’t like to see the movie before I’ve read the book.

Snowy Owl in Flight by pbonenfant (FCC)

I ordered two other series, even though I have no idea as to whether they are any good: Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games. I used one of my gift cards that Corey’s parents bought me for Christmas. So cool being able to buy new books. I’m planning to start one of the series tomorrow, but I haven’t decided which one.

I also read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which I hadn’t realized that I’d never read until I picked up P. D. James’s new book Death Comes to Pemberley. Corey bought me the James book as a Christmas present, and even though it didn’t feature the author’s signature character Adam Dalgliesh, it was quite good, but as I was reading it, I kept thinking that I really should have read Austen’s book first.

So after Christmas I picked up a very nice collection of the Austen novels at Sam’s Club for under $15, and now that I’ve read P&P, I think that I’m going to reread the James book so that it seems more connected. I mean, we’re only talking about an afternoon of reading, so why not?

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” ~ Franz Kafka

I recently discovered a band called Girls, who remind me very much of earlier Beatles, same kind of music. Always wonderful to find a new band or new voice. I think that I heard something of theirs on the television show “Revenge,” which is not a half-bad series about one woman’s search for . . . you know, revenge for her father’s frame-up for some dastardly crime that he did not commit. It’s not high drama, but it’s enjoyable, and it features songs from musicians I’ve never encountered before, which is the best part.

Birds in Winter, Irondequoit Bay by Tony the Misfit (FCC)

I regularly find new musicians from the shows “House” and “Bones,” but it’s great when an unexpected source of music crosses my radar.

Speaking of radar . . . Eamonn was stopped by cops the other night, and the consequences are going to cost major money. Thankfully for him, his father has agreed to pay and allow Eamonn to pay him back. He’s rather down about the whole thing. Understandable.

Alexis still owes for a speeding ticket that she received during one of her trips to see Mike when he was working in Maryland. I’ve been bitching at Brett because he’s made no effort to get even his learner’s permit yet, but perhaps I should be thankful. My children seem to have inherited my predisposition for a heavy foot, although I can say honestly that it’s been many years since I have gotten a ticket.

Of course, now that I’ve put that into words, you watch. Something will happen. Testing fate. Never a good idea.

Anyway, it would be really great if Brett would make an effort to get his license, as he has classes two nights this semester, and I really hate driving at night, especially since I need to get new glasses, another thing that I have yet to take care of. I know that from his point of view (Brett’s), there’s no real need to rush the whole driving process as he always has someone to take him where he needs to go.

Odd, though. I remember that I counted the days until I was legal so that I could get my license. Corey and I were talking about how different it is now. In fact, I read an article that said that fewer teenagers are in a hurry to drive because they don’t really go anywhere as they spend so much time on the computer. I think that’s a good and bad thing.

“A process blows the moon into the sun,
Pulls down the shabby curtains of the skin;
And the heart gives up its dead.” ~ Dylan Thomas, from “A process in the weather of the heart”

Let’s see . . . what else has been happening while I’ve been non-functioning? Corey has an approximate ship-out date: somewhere after January 27, which is when the ship is due to be finished in the yard. Of course, that’s a tentative date. He’s getting restless, ready to start on this new adventure, which is quite understandable.  His route has changed from Germany to Russia to something much warmer: Cape Canaveral to the Ascension Islands, south of the equator.

Blue Swans on Lake Macatawa, Michigan, by Images by Arnie (FCC)

The warmer weather will be nice, but he’s really bummed about not seeing Europe. He’s also bummed about not being able to visit with the Germans in Hamburg. Apparently my nephew Phillip is still quite sick, so it’s a shame that Corey won’t be able to visit with them.

The new route means that all of the cold-weather gear that Corey spent time hunting down now has to be repacked, and he needs to shift his focus. I tried to make him feel better by pointing out that he’ll come home with a tan before summer . . .

Other than those things, a few minor bumps in the road: The motherboard that we bought for my computer a while ago is the wrong size for my computer, which we found out when Corey took it in to be installed finally. One of the risks of not installing soon after purchase. Somehow, we need to find a way to sell the motherboard that doesn’t fit.

Corey’s truck is fixed, well almost. The new transmission and transfer case have been installed. He had to buy a new batter because the one in the truck had died from disuse and refused to take a charge. Just one small problem: no brakes. The brake lines have rusted and consequently are leaking brake fluid. So yet another hiccup in the very long and complicated truck saga. Replacing the lines is not an inexpensive fix. I’m hoping that it’s something that I can have taken care of while he’s gone so that when he gets home, he can finally drive his truck.

We’ll just have to see.

Other than that, same old, I suppose—bills, illness, kids, and constantly shifting schedules.

More later. Peace.

(P.S. Thanks to all of you who sent well wishes for my recovery. They were much appreciated.)

Music by Girls, “Love Like a River”

                   

Cardinal Rules

nourish yourself
close to the ground
but when you fly
redden the sky with bright wings

stay close
to the cover of dark branches
a red
alert to danger
but not afraid

feed peacefully
with small chickadees and sparrows
content with crumbs
the world provides
enough

when the jay comes
hungry and screaming
vanish
like a flame
extinguished in the wind

and in the cold
in the days of iron frost
do not complain
but stuff your belly with the seeds
of your own burning
life
and fluff up your feathers
to hold in heat

even with your thin feet
deep in snow

sing

~ Nancy Paddock

“We search for patterns, you see, only to find where the patterns break. And it’s there, in that fissure, that we pitch our tents and wait.” ~ Nicole Krauss, from “Great House”

Snowy, Snowy Night by Miranda Wildman (mirandawildmanart.com) 

                   

“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” ~ Frederick Douglass

Snow Glow by John Rawlinson (Flckr creative commons)

Sunday afternoon. Cold and cloudy.

It snowed last night for several hours. Snow in early December—not normal for this area. Of course all of the snow was gone this morning, but it was pretty while it lasted.

I’ve been on a cleaning binge for the past two days. It takes so much longer to do what I used to do in one Saturday afternoon. I have to clean a little and then take a break, so I usually visit my tumblr during breaks to see what has been posted most recently on the dashboard. I find that I really enjoy tumblr; I read somewhere that tumblr is the in-depth equivalent of Facebook, which makes sense to me. I mean, FB is nice for finding out how your friends in other places are doing, but the same can be accomplished with a phone call or e-mail.

Very often on tumblr, a predominant theme will show up on the dash quite by accident (e.g., book burning, war, silence). One individual starts with a few posts, and then other like-minded individuals join the thread. It’s a different kind of social networking. The most important thing is not the statement on how you are feeling, but the posts that reflect how you are feeling, or what you are doing, or what you are thinking.

For someone like me who loves quotes, photography, and art, it’s a treasure chest, and with each visit I find something new. The only problem is that as tumblr become more popular, the site’s servers are having a hard time keeping up with the traffic.

“True alchemy lies in this formula: ‘Your memory and your senses are but the nourishment of your creative impulse.’” ~ Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations

Fall Snow (Pixdaus)

So aside from Eamonn’s room, the house is clean. My intent is to decorate sometime this week so that I’m not doing everything at the last minute again this year. I have the wreath on the front door, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

I did spend some time on YouTube yesterday creating my country/folk playlist. A few nights ago I watched CMT’s songs of the decade special, which reminded me of how much I actually like country music, something I would not have said a decade ago. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of traditional country, with the twang and such; I’m more of a crossover fan, heartache, love, and betrayal Keith Urban, Rascall Flatts, and Sugarland style.

I remember watching a CMT special on the best 100 country love songs several years ago. Corey was out on the boat, and by the time the show was over I was a blubbery mess. I called Corey, and when I told him what I had watched, he understood perfectly why I was crying. Country music has a way of doing that to me.

I amassed a playlist of 86 songs in just a few hours. Who knew I knew that many country and folk songs . . .

“The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” ~ Ken Kesey 

Snowstorm (Pixdaus)

Corey is at work. He got off at 11 p.m. last night and had to go back in at 7 this morning; he works until 8 tonight. Getting hours is great, but I have to say that the scheduling lacks forethought. I know that scheduling people is hard; I had to schedule 50 people at a time, and it’s a great big headache. But this sergeant doesn’t even allow Corey to get a good night’s sleep before asking him to work 13 hours.

I know that he’s really tired of port security, and I don’t envy him having to stand watch on a ship for 8 hours in the freezing cold. As he said, at least when he’s on a tugboat, he’s never outside for eight hours at a time.

Here’s hoping that with 2011 we get to start the year on a new path. It seems that I’ve said that so many times in the past few years. I just don’t really know what to think any more, and I certainly don’t know what I should hope for

“The books we need are the kind that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide, or lost in a forest remote from all human habitation—a book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.” ~ Franz Kafka

Snow on Rose by Russell.Tomlin

I am very behind in my reading and reviewing. I have received a few advanced reader’s copies that I need to read and review before the end of the year. And since I hope to get some books for Christmas, I really need to finish at least two of the books that I am currently reading. One is by Elizabeth George, and the other is by P. D. James—two of my very favorite authors.

I’ve been reading about the Stieg Larsson trilogy, and I think that that’s the next series that I want to tackle. We got a Costco flyer in the mail, and the entire set in hardback is available online, so maybe if I get a little cash sometime soon, I might be able to order it.

I also want to read Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes. I’ve read a lot of Sylvia Plath, but not much of Ted Hughes. I think that I, like many people, blame Hughes for Plath’s death, which is not really fair. The reality is that Plath would have committed suicide at one point or another in her life, and if she had been found in time on the day she stuck her head in the oven, then she most likely would have tried again. Certainly no one can say for sure.

“There comes a time in every life when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn to know the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.” ~ Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

Tree Branches in Snow by D. Sharon Pruitt (Flckr creative commons)

Tortured souls who make up their minds to commit suicide most often do so eventually unless they have some kind of major change or epiphany.

Life is hard, harder for some than others. Some people move through their days as if covered in teflon, nothing penetrating or touching. But if nothing bad can touch them, then neither can anything good get through the protective armor. Other people walk through life with their hearts, souls, and psyches on the outside—the walking wounded who never seem to heal.

And then there is the space between through which most of us move. We suffer storms and sometimes find ourselves blinded by relentless deluges. And then we take a few more steps and move into the clear, sometimes even stumbling into brilliance.

I have no way of foretelling what the coming days and months have waiting in store for me and those I love. I know what we need and what I wish, but life’s patterns are only discernible in retrospect. I only know that asking why some things work and others go terribly wrong is akin to spitting into the wind.

Reasons get tangled like briars, and sometimes thoughts are so black that no light can illuminate the darkness surrounding them. But sometimes just waiting for the bitter wind to stop howling is enough to get through the night.  

The heart, as Ondaatje describes it, it an organ of fire, moving through joy and sorrow alike in search of what it needs to survive. It’s all that we can do.

More later. Peace. 

One of the saddest songs ever, “Whiskey Lullabye,” by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss

                   

Waking at 3 a.m.

Even in the cave of the night when you
wake and are free and lonely,
neglected by others, discarded, loved only
by what doesn’t matter—even in that
big room no one can see,
you push with your eyes till forever
comes in its twisted figure eight
and lies down in your head.

You think water in the river;
you think slower than the tide in
the grain of the wood; you become
a secret storehouse that saves the country,
so open and foolish and empty.

You look over all that the darkness
ripples across. More than has ever
been found comforts you. You open your
eyes in a vault that unlocks as fast
and as far as your thought can run.
A great snug wall goes around everything,
has always been there, will always
remain. It is a good world to be
lost in. It comforts you. It is
all right. And you sleep.

~ William Stafford 

“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

Forest Reflections

  

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov
Reflections in Mapperly Reservoir

I believe it was around 4 a.m. when found myself perusing my blogroll. Then at 7 a.m. I read a bit of online news. In between, I fought for space on the bed between dog limbs and warm snouts, took a few pills for what ailed me physically, contemplated making a peanut butter sandwich, and once again, watched the darkness move into light through the bedroom shades.  

My nightly perambulating on the web did afford me one nugget of gold: the aforementioned National Geographic Magazine tumblr site. It still amazes me how completely satisfying it is to find a wonderful site amidst all of the fodder that shows up on the web.  

Lately, I have noticed, too, a kind of common thread that pervades several of the blogs that I frequent on a regular basis: people are saying that they are tired of blogging, that they have nothing left to say, so they are closing shop, as it were. Interesting. I mean, I have had more than one occasion on which I have felt dissatisfied with my own blog, but I have yet to reach terminal saturation. I wonder if that is a natural progression for all bloggers?  

I don’t think that is necessarily so as I have encountered bloggers who have been doing this for ten years. They remain, but the forum in which they create changes, which is why I am considering opening a companion tmblr site. Still mulling it over, the pros and cons. The format seems to be quite straightforward, so I think that doing it, i.e., committing to a companion site, is more a mental and/or emotional challenge.  

As for names, I’m contemplating LOLA . . . L-O-L-A LOLA, or Fata Morgana, or The Frenzy & The Lightning, or This, and So Much More (from T. S. Eliot), or Not Even the Rain (from e. e. cummings), or Brilliant Wreckage (from Sue Monk Kidd), or Rivers of Wisdom (Ondaatje), or Slow Dancing in Quicksand.  

I’ll let you know what I decide as I know that you will be sitting with bated breath until I announce my decision . . .   

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
Quarry Pond Reflections

I had a wonderful burst of energy after my prolonged lethargy. I did mounds of laundry. Scrubbed the kitchen. Cleaned the hardwood floors and the bathroom tiles. And then, just as suddenly as it appeared, the energy seeped away, and I was left enervated once more.  

I did manage to address Brett’s graduation announcements. Of course, the book of stamps that Corey recently purchased has grown legs and moved to house parts unknown. Things do that a lot around here. I told Corey that I thought the stamps were probably on the dining room table, aka his desk, but he said that he had “moved things around a bit and couldn’t find them.” I love my husband and his logic. It fits in so well with everything else around here.  

Another example: The old fridge in the garage is leaking water. I asked Corey if it might be overflow. He responded that the whole fridge was just dying, hence the leak. It’s hard to argue with logic like that.  

Alexis came over for a bit yesterday. She’s having the sleeping problems again—unable to get up even with the alarm blaring and the phone ringing right beside her. The neurologist couldn’t find anything wrong on her scans, so I am puzzled unless it is all psychological; by that I mean my daughter has a tendency to do things in the wee hours of the morning, like clean. Then she goes to sleep. It’s as if she is setting herself up to be unable to awaken, but without the self-awareness to know this.

I went through a similar phase when I was her age: My mood swings and insomnia had me cleaning at 2 a.m. I finally knew that I had a real problem when I found myself sorting coupons at 3:30 one morning when I needed to be in class at 8 a.m. I think that’s when I began therapy on a full-time basis. The biggest difference between us is that I would get up after only a few hours of sleep and go to work, then take a nap in the afternoon. Luckily, my job hours allowed for that.  

I suggested getting a night job, but she says that she doesn’t want to do that. I don’t really have any answers, so I just listen and try to be compassionate, remembering how it felt for me then, not mentioning how it feels for me now—just as helpless on either side of the coin.  

“If you can orbit the planet, why can’t you see what makes the human heart happy?” ~ Dan Chiasson
Venice Canal Reflections

Last night Corey and I watched a really bad movie—My Bloody Valentine—with a preposterous plot about some killer who wore a miner’s oxygen mask and killed people with a pick-axe. The only good thing I have to say about it was that it was the first time in a movie that I saw a killing with a shovel in quite that way. Otherwise, not so much.  

A few nights ago we watched a really good movie—The Duchess—with Keira Knightly and Ralph Fiennes. Based on the story of the Duchess of Devonshire, an 18th century noblewoman, who was directly related to Lady Diana Spencer, aka Princess Di, the movie was beautiful visually, and Fiennes played the restrained Duke with an omnipresent look of stultification.  

Whenever I watch one of these period pieces, I always thank the stars that I was not alive (that I know of) during such repressing times. Georgiana, the Duchess, was quite unrestrained, though, a woman who loved fashion, wine, and gambling. Still, that was not  enough as she had to endure the Duke taking up with her best friend, three people in the marriage, as it were. Yet she was not free to leave to be with her own lover, Charles Grey, who later became Prime Minister and from whom we get one of my favorite teas: Earl Grey.  

Happiness, true happiness, it seems was not for women, especially spirited women.  

“In the middle of the night, things well up from the past that are not always cause for rejoicing—the unsolved, the painful encounters, the mistakes, the reasons for shame or woe. But all, good or bad, give me food for thought, food to grow on.” ~ May Sarton

Loch Etive Reflections

When I was teaching and trying to write, I used to think of May Sarton, a poet, novelist, and memoirist who did not publish her first book until she was 49.  I would think of her and tell myself that there was still time. Or I would console myself with the example of P. D. James, one of my favorite British crime writers, whose first novel was published in 1962 when she was 42.  

Last night Corey asked me if I was still feeling like a failure. I had to answer that truthfully, I was. During my brief bout of activity, I was able to subsume those feelings that have been creeping around the edges of my brain, but once the energy was gone, the creeping became a much more pronounced pounding, and the overwhelming sense of doom—arising from wasted time, broken dreams, and failed goals—once again took a place of prominence in my days.  

I don’t think that it helped that Alexis brought a photo album with her when she visited; it contained pictures of the kids when they were much younger, and many pictures of my dad. Alexis had found the album at my mom’s house and asked to borrow it. She brought it over because she wasn’t sure if I had seen it, and in fact, I had not. I mean, I had seen the pictures at various times, but not together in this album.  

Amazing the things that you can see in a person’s face when captured by the camera: my father’s sadness in his eyes, Eamonn’s mind working on his next big move with that off-kilter grin, Brett’s insecurity in his wide-eyed stare, Alexis’s loathing of whatever outfit my mother was making her wear. There were only two pictures that included me, which is not unusual since I do not let people take my picture, but I loved the irony that only I could appreciate of how—when those particular shots were taken—I was so certain that I was overweight and looked horrible.  

Oh to look that horrible again. But what is most telling, I suppose, is how skewed my perception of myself has always been. Thanks, mom.  

Anyway, both Alexis and I commented on how much we wished that my dad were still around. At the time, though, I did not realize what a driving force my father was in my life. What a shame for both of us. Reflection, hindsight, whatever, hence the visual theme of reflected reality. 

So that’s where I am on this hot June evening. More later. Peace.  

Hodges, “My Side of the Story”