“Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “Here I Love You”

Eugene Fredrik Jansson Vinternatt over Kajen Winter Night on the Quai 1901 oil on canvas
“Vinternatt over Kajen (Winter Night on the Quai)” (1901, oil on canvas)
by Eugène Fredrik Jansson

                   

“Mind you, sometimes the angels smoke, hiding it with their sleeves, and when the archangel comes, they throw the cigarettes away: that’s when you get shooting stars.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov, letter to his wife

Tuesday afternoon. Cold and rainy, 39 degrees.

Well, I slept a bit better last night but still awoke with a migraine. I wonder if the Botox will ever kick in, or if my body will continue to do what it will regardless of treatment.

It’s a beastly day outside, the kind of day that causes the dogs to peer out the door and then turn around, choosing instead to wait and wait and wait. I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head about so many different things that I thought I might just do a random thoughts post today. So here we go . . .

  • I have realized that my ideas about art have changed significantly from how I used to feel decades ago.
  • Thinking about art always makes me think about Mari, who loved art. When she was still with her husband Buddy, her house was filled with original works of art. I was so jealous.
  • I used to love only the Impressionists with their milky colors all blurring together, Monet in particular.

    Edvard Munch Thawing Snow 1919
    “Thawing Snow” (1919, oil on canvas)
    by Edvard Munch
  • Then I was really into the pre-Raphaelites, especially John William Waterhouse.
  • Lately though, I find that I am much more drawn to the Realists (and all of the associated offshoots) who worked right around the late 19th century into the first part of the 20th century.
  • I like the clearer depictions of landscapes, the richer, more defined colors.
  • I am particularly drawn to Emil Nolde, Leon Spilliaert, Edvard Munch, and Edward Hopper.
  • I have never understood or particularly cared for Andy Warhol.
  • Regardless of movement or school, however, I find that I am almost exclusively drawn to landscapes, or in the case of Hopper, his lonely people.

“You never realise where you are going until you get there,
where nothing is planned, nothing is known,
and you’re drawn back into the heart’s old orbits,
tiny as a grain, massive as a moon.” ~ Pat Boran, from “Moon Street”

A few personal things:

  • I haven’t read a book in almost three months; I go through these phases in which I simply cannot read, cannot concentrate, but this has turned into a long dry spell.

    John Fabian Carlson Brooding Silence
    “Brooding Silence” (nd, oil on canvas)
    by John Fabian Carlson
  • Even though I’m not reading it doesn’t keep me from wanting more books, adding books to my wish list, obsessing over new releases or old titles that I haven’t read yet.
  • Even as a teenager I used to wish that I could work for a publishing company, but I never did a damned thing about it.
  • I have this publishing degree that is pretty much wasted.
  • I used to dream of moving to New York and working for a big publishing house. I never even tried to make this a reality.
  • I also used to dream of moving to New York and trying to find work as an actor. Never did that either.
  • So little action for such big dreams, and now I wonder if I’m too old to have dreams.

“Sometimes at night I would sleep open-eyed underneath a sky dripping with stars. I was alive then.” ~ Albert Camus

Family news:

  • Corey and I talked for almost an hour and a half last night. He has so much to tell me about his new job. I hear an excitement in his voice that I haven’t heard in a while. I’m so relieved.
  • Sometimes I think that Corey only works as a merchant marine to support our family, but I really think that he likes being on the water, and he’s very good at what he does.

    Zinaida Serebriakova Winter Landscape period Neskuchnoye 1910
    “Winter Landscape. Nekuchnoye” (1910)
    by Zinaida Serebriakova
  • When we first got married, his big dream was to own his own landscaping company, and he worked at it for over a year. I was actually surprised when he told me that he realized that he really didn’t like it.
  • Olivia’s new word is no . . .
  • The Christmas tree still has no ornaments on it, and I haven’t addressed any cards yet. This is the most unprepared I have been for the holidays in a very long time.
  • Eamonn called Corey yesterday morning to tell him the phones were off. We were both stupefied by eldest son’s complete lack of context, as in Corey might be a bit busy, you know, with the new job thing. Amazing.
  • I did do some online shopping yesterday, but I don’t even feel like leaving the house to finish the shopping.

“Look up . . . and see them.
The teaching stars,
beyond worship
and commonplace tongues.” ~ Dorothy Dunnett

On time marching inexorably on:

  • Mari and I have gotten lax in our writing project. I started it when I got side-tracked while working on the bathroom. I’m hoping that we can get our rhythm back and really get back to it by the beginning of the year.
  • Speaking of beginning of the year, I have a milestone birthday coming up—not going to say which one, so don’t even ask—and I’m kind of in shock. I mean, how does this happen?
  • Of course I know how it happens, duh, the whole space time continuum, earth rotating around the sun and all of that, but still . . .

    Tom Thomson Frost-Laden Cedars, Big Cauchon Lake 1916 oil on canvas
    “Frost-Laden Cedars, Big Cauchon Lake” (1916, oil on canvas)
    by Tom Thomson
  • I still don’t feel my age. I’ve never felt my age. When I was young, I felt older, and when I got older, I felt younger.
  • I think that I’m doing this whole age thing wrong, but I can’t figure out how to do it right.
  • Still don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up, which used to be funny, but I realize that it’s kind of lost its charm at this point.
  • Am I going to live the rest of my days not knowing what in the hell I’m doing, where in the hell I’m going, when in the hell I’m finally going to figure something out? Anything?
  • At this point, really, I’d settle for anything.
  • Speaking of time and things, I find that a lot of people fear the future. I don’t fear the future for being the future or for what it may bring. I just fear being unprepared for life.
  • For me, time that has passed is far weightier than time to come.
  • Days gone by contain so many pieces of our selves, of other people, of the world. The past is heavy just from all that it bears and how it is continually resurrected.

“We were approaching winter like an object which cannot be put between words. Behavior became simpler since we had dislocated our memories . . . Though the clouds could be uttered in a variety of tones, the stars formed constellations analyzed completely. You cried for the moon, which had started to wane in agreement with constant and variable.” ~ Rosmarie Waldrop, from Curves to the Apples

Things I still want to do, see, experience:

  • My wish for our next big vacation: Ireland, England, France. I know, almost prohibitive.
  • The northern lights, Aurora Borealis, a comet—I ache to be somewhere without light pollution, to stand on a hill and drink in the complex beauty of the night sky.
  • A Canon Rebel camera so that I can get back into photography (I guess this belongs more on a want to have list)

    Petr Nilus Snowy Landscape
    “Snowy Landscape” (1928, oil on canvas)
    by Petr Nilus
  • The west coast—Oregon, Washington, Northern California. Absolutely no desire to be anywhere near LA
  • A long weekend to New York to go to nothing but museums
  • Speaking of museums, still, always will want to go to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. Also the Art Institute of Chicago and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
  • An extended train trip across Europe. I have never traveled any distance on a train, only inner city. I understand that it can be quite cramped, but what I would like to do is go to a country, get off and see things, and then travel to another country.
  • Alaska.
  • A train trip in the northwest of the US and Canada.
  • A home that sits on a cliff near the sea, just like in the movies.

Enough of that. Today’s image theme is . . . cold, as in I am.

More later. Peace.

Music by Thriving Ivory, “Angels on the Moon”

                   

A Good Sky

I show you a good sky.
It could hold a fleet of geese
above a kite, sipping in a breeze,
or foliate the wind
with leaves of cherry wood
and hedge.

It will blanket your sleep
with mirrors of stars
in the soft undressing of night.

It will love you, soley,
through the Venus dawn,
rubbing your eyes awake
a moment before the day’s
light hangs its spars.

I show you a good sky.
It will rain its reflection
on your one troubled eye,
the one that blinks
each time a hawk rants by.

I am no one’s romantic.
No. I am the sky’s shadow-wish
writing this only
to breathe its light.

I show you a falling sun,
passing like a lover,
to be near you, allowing
no star, no bulb on a corner lamp
to possess you as you are.

Look. Here I am, the sky’s moon
down. I will shave
a horizon out of peaks
like none your memory
has ever carved.

I show you a good sky.
Its broad blue ribbon will wrap
its mind around your eyes’ imagination
and tease you into smiles—
Now, be patient,
let your grieving rest awhile.

~ James Ragan

“It’s a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.” ~ Naguib Mahfouz

Pierre de Clausade Pont Neuf, Neige sur Paris, 1959
Pont Neuf, Neige Sur Paris (1959, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

                   

The slow mornings of coffee and newspapers
and evenings of music and scattered bits
of talk like leaves suddenly fallen before
one notices the new season.” ~ B. H. Fairchild, from “The Dumka”

Thursday afternoon. Sunny and mild, 54 degrees.

Well, it’s been a wild week so far. Where do I start?

Pierre de Clausade, The Seine
“Quai des Orfèvres” (1974, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

Dreams first: Last night, I had this very strange dream in which Corey and I were at his parents’ house in Ohio, and I had gotten up late, and there was no coffee left. I got so upset that there wasn’t any coffee. I took it personally—they had drunk all of the coffee before I woke up to punish me, but then I realized that Corey hadn’t had any coffee either, so it was okay . . .

No snow here. In fact, it’s absolutely beautiful today, big change from last night. The winds were absolutely wicked: one panel of our fence was blown off. It was part of the old fence on the side of the house. And on my way to pick up Brett at school, the major artery to campus was flooded, really flooded. People were acting crazy, and I just kept thanking the stars that I had relatively new brakes and tires. I made it to campus through the water, but the way home was a nightmare as the cops had closed off the boulevard by then, and everyone was trying back roads. I was so tense that I arrived home with a headache.

No surprise there.

“To touch and feel each thing in the world, to know it by sight and by name, and then to know it with your eyes closed so that when something is gone, it can be recognized by the shape of its absence. So that you can continue to possess the lost, because absence is the only constant thing. Because you can get free of everything except the space where things have been.” ~ Nicole Krauss, from “Man Walks Into a Room”

So Corey left Sunday. Everything happened quite fast. The ship got into port on Saturday afternoon. Corey and I had both thought that the ship/he would probably be in port for several days, maybe even a week as that’s usually the case.

Pierre de Clausade Neige Sure La Rive oil on canvas
“Neige Sur La Rive” (1964, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

Not so much.

He drove to the ship around 3 in the afternoon and was back home by 6 that same evening. Seems they were planning to leave port at midnight. We had to get everything packed and ready in a matter of hours. The good news is that he’ll only be gone about two weeks. They are only doing a run to Ascension and back. Not sure how many runs they’ll be doing, but he’ll be back and forth every two weeks or so, maybe three times.

Because of the quick turnaround, I didn’t really have time to prepare myself emotionally for what was happening, which meant that by Monday, I was kind of paralyzed emotionally. By that I mean that just the effort to get out of my pajamas and drive Brett to school was more than I was prepared to do, so posting was out of the question. I was in a mild stupor, just wandering through the empty house. Between Tillie and myself, I don’t know who was more downtrodden.

“I say: let the trifles that strangle us be seen merely as
trifles, remediable inequities.  Then when the wind has had its way with us
we can see ourselves as we are, face to face with the invisible.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “A Heavy Surf”

Pierre de Clausade Neige au Pont Neuf
“Neige au Pont Neuf” (1959, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

The house has been so quiet during the day, just the dogs and me. Yesterday I took my mother to the orthopedic group to get a cortisone shot in her knee. She had been saying that the pain was excruciating, but when I told her that she should get a shot, she freaked, saying that the shots were too painful, that I had no idea how painful they were. I explained to her that I’ve had cortisone shots pretty much all over my body. I wanted to tell her not to be such a big baby, but I didn’t. Anyway, took her, she got the shot, everything was fine.

Speaking of pain, these patches that the new doctor prescribed seem to be helping with the overall pain, but they aren’t lasting a week like they’re supposed to. Month two doubles the dose, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m scheduled for the migraine Botox shots at the end of the month. Wouldn’t it be something if I manage to get to a place in which I am no longer coasting along between a 3 and 5 on the pain scale, that I actually hover more at 1 or even zero?

I can’t even begin to conceive of such a thing.

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.” ~ J. M. Barrie, from Peter Pan

I just took a break to drop off prescriptions and to have a quick game of stick with Tillie, who has been soooo restless these past few days. Her sad face absolutely wounds me to the quick.

Okay, must pause here. What exactly does the quick mean? A quick (sorry, groan) search yields the following: the living flesh (as in the flesh beneath the finger nail). But cutting to the quick means to get to the point, or the heart of the matter. The quick and the dead—the living and the dead. Language is amazing.

Pierre de Clausade Mer du Nord oil on canvas
“Mer du Nord” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

What else is new?

Yesterday I had to do a complete scan on my computer and redo my Mozilla Firefox profile because everything was acting wonky. I could only open one window of Firefox at a time, which is problematic when I’m doing searches on images as I rely on the drag and drop from one window to the next (for example, from Tumblr to Google images). Apparently, I didn’t have any viruses, but I cleaned out all of the extraneous files, shredded my recycle bin and restarted a couple of time. Everything seems to be back to normal.

Thank the gods for discussion boards. You can put even the most obscure phrase in Google regarding a computer problem, and you’re bound to get at least five hits on discussion boards dealing with the same problem. It’s just a matter of reading carefully and being selective. I have come so far when it comes to figuring out computer issues, a far cry from the woman who got her first PC back in the 90’s and found the whole concept of screen savers amazing. As I was saying to Brett, it’s amazing how much has changed: my first computer measured memory in megabytes, and now his phone has more memory than I had on a PC.

“Here is a handful
of shadow I have brought back to you:
this decay, this hope, this mouth-
ful of dirt, this poetry.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “Mushrooms”

In other news, I finished another Ian Rankin novel last night. I’ve read four in the past two weeks. The main character is Scottish CID officer John Rebus, who is quite the curmudgeon. Any wonder I love his character? I’ve read just about every book in the series; I think there are 12 total. I need to figure out which ones I have left and add them to my book wish list.

Pierre de Clausade Notre Dame in Winter
“Notre Dame in Winter” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

Brett is going to NYC this weekend on a school trip. The art department at ODU is sponsoring a weekend trip for students to visit museums. I am so envious. It’s been years since I was last in New York. I want to take Corey for a long weekend, just meander through the museums. I know that he would love it.

Next week is birthday week for Eamonn and my mother. Have no idea what I’m going to do yet. My other m-in-law’s birthday was on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve never been a big Saint Paddy’s day celebrant. The idea of drinking green beer just appalls me. Around here there is parade in Ocean View that has become quite a tradition. What is probably the bigger tradition is being drunk before noon. I don’t think I would have enjoyed that even when I was young enough.

Whatever.  I’ll close for now.

More later. Peace.

(All images by French painter Pierre de Clausade. I was unable to find dates for all works shown.)

Music by Taylor Swift, featuring The Civil Wars, “Safe and Sound” (not normally a Taylor Swift fan, but I love this song)

                   

The Afterlife

They’re moving off in all imaginable directions,
each according to his own private belief,
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal:
that everyone is right, as it turns out.
you go to the place you always thought you would go,
the place you kept lit in an alcove in your head.

Some are being shot into a funnel of flashing colors
into a zone of light, white as a January sun.
Others are standing naked before a forbidding judge who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other.

Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they have been doing this forever,
while the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air conditioned room full of food and chorus girls.

Some are approaching the apartment of the female God,
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string.
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door.

There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals – eagles and leopards – and one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit,
ready to begin another life in a more simple key,

while others float off into some benign vagueness,
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere.

There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves.
He will bring them to the mouth of the furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three-headed dog.

The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins
wishing they could return so they could learn Italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain.
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees,
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow.

~ Billy Collins

“I wheeled with the stars, | my heart broke loose on the wind.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “Poetry”

If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently.”