“How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.” ~ Khaled Hosseini, from A Thousand Splendid Suns

A view towards the far end of the pond

“Here I saw the truth of the horizon,
the way of coming and going in this life.
I never drifted up from my beginning:
I rose as inexorably as heat.” ~ Denis Johnson, from “The Confession of St. Jim-Ralph”

Monday afternoon, partly cloudy and absolutely lovely, 76 degrees.

Apologies. It’s been a few days since I wrote anything here. I’ve been distracted, more than usual. I began listening to a podcast, “A New Winter.” I began listening last week, and then became so absorbed that I binged right through the weekend. Unlike the true crime genre to which I’m partial, it’s a creepy dramatization, and I was hooked, all the way through 62 episodes. Yep. Sixty-62.

Red Bud in bloom

I know. Too much, right?

Anyway, I had a Two for Tuesday planned, and then on Wednesday, I had another one of those doctor’s appointments that didn’t happen because my appointment had been changed somehow, or I changed it somehow, thinking that I was actually changing my neurologist’s appointment. I honestly don’t know, but I got ready, put on real clothes, arrived on time, only to be told that my appointment was on June 5. From that point on my week was wrecked.

So here I am, trying to start over, get back into the rhythm of writing, creating, putting something out there. Anything. We’ll just have to see how this goes. I do have new pictures of the farm and the animals, at least.

“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” ~ Eckhart Tolle, from an interview with The Guardian (10 April 2009)

So I’m sitting outside at yet another makeshift work station, kind of hunched over, and my back is protesting mightily. But it doesn’t matter because the birds are serenading, and the sun is peeking through the clouds, and the air is clean, and there’s a light breeze making the Dogwood tree sway and the bamboo wind chimes clatter in a non-jarring way. The goats and the dogs are outside, as well, and Ruby, the female goat just came by to have her ears scratched; Max isn’t quite as loving, and his crooked jaw makes him look, well, a little goofy, but he’ll eventually come to have his ears scratched.

Not sure what this is, but it looks cool

I was sitting here a little while ago just listening to music and the birds and absolutely nothing else—no car horns, no sirens, no airplanes, no leaf blowers—nothing. Sometimes I forget to notice this nothingness, forget to appreciate what it took to achieve it. The last few years have been so freaking tumultuous, and sometimes it seemed like there was no end in sight, but there was, for the most part, perhaps not the ending that we had envisioned, but an ending of sorts, and now I’m here, sitting on property that is mine, and my nearest neighbors are far away.

No judgmental next-door neighbors peering over the fence, no city ordinances, no community rules. Of course, we also don’t have curbside recycling or trash pickup, and that is a definite loss, but in the grand scheme of things, I suppose we are still firmly on the plus side of the columns.

“Lift up your dark heart and sing a song about
how time drifts past you like the gentlest, almost
imperceptible breeze.” ~ Jim Harrison from “Cold Poem”

Corey needs to call the gas company to let them know that part of the driveway washed away with the most recent rain; they’re responsible for the upkeep of the drive since they have wells along the way—it’s a weird setup. But first he’s gone to Coeburn and Norton to pick up an ink cartridge for the printer so that I can send yet more forms to the IRS, trying to get us a waiver for Corey not having health insurance because, well, money.

Wildflowers growing all over the ridge

I mean, I’m completely for the Affordable Care Act, but I’ve never understood penalizing people for not having health insurance if they cannot afford to have health insurance, and the only way that those same people can get out of the penalty is if they ask for it and justify the lack. That doesn’t even make sense. I’m fairly certain that a majority of people would have health insurance if they could actually afford it. Not having it really, really sucks. There should have been a built-in opt-out function for those of us without the funds to afford the coverage instead of a built-in penalty that you can only get rid of once you’ve been granted a waiver.

Anyway, I need to print those and another form, and something else. Honestly, it’s been a few days since I first tried to print only to find out that we were out of ink, so now I’ve forgotten. I’ll have to go back and look at my notes. I make lots and lots of notes, and the fact that I still don’t have my desk set up means that my post-its are still in a box somewhere, as are my colored paper clips that I used to organize papers, and all of that other helpful stuff that I’ve come to depend on over the years. Truthfully, I’ve had a long-standing love-affair with office products; don’t ask me why. Alexis has the same penchant, as well as an unhealthy attachment to large, oversized bags and purses. I cannot imagine where she got any of that from.

I need my notes. I just can’t function without them. I know my mind too well. I have no problems with long-term memory, or memories of most important events, or things like song lyrics, but ask me what I had planned to do in a few hours, and, well . . . not so much . . .

“The future was a dark corridor, and at the far end the door was bolted.” ~ Gustave Flaubert, from Madame Bovary

I’m curious, actually. Does anyone even read these quotes? Does anyone out there find them as fascinating as I do? I mean, I spend a lot of time looking for my quotes, and then I spend an inexorable amount of time planning posts thematically, taking into consideration the kinds of posts that I tend to write the most, or thinking about something that I think that I might want to tackle in the future.

Tink and Ash snuggling

I’m asking because my tumblr meanderings, when I do them, are mostly in search of quotes, new poems and poets, and images. I’m not much for the other kinds of posts, but I’ve been thinking that perhaps I should post the quotes there and leave them out of my posts.

The problem, for me, as I see it, is that I’ve been using this format since almost the beginning: five quotes, a header quote, six images, a poem, and a song. It’s worked, or at least, it works for me—most of the time. The quotes are my springboard, as it were, a way to tap into my muse and see what comes out.

Who knows, really? Certainly not I.

“It had occurred to me that all human beings are divided
into those who wish to move forward
and those who wish to go back.” ~ Louise Glück, from “Faithful and Virtuous Night”

I’m thinking that the only thing that would make being outside today better would be if we had a hammock set up. I really miss my hammock. I’ve always had a hammock, ever since I was first married to my ex. When I was living with my parents. they had this hammock thing that fit on a metal frame, but it was canvas. I used to spend a lot of time on that in the backyard, reading in the sun. I had actually forgotten about that.

I actually have a brand new cheap hammock that came in one of my subscription boxes; I doubt that it’s terribly comfortable, but I wouldn’t know because there isn’t anywhere here to attach it. We have a lot of trees, but they are either too close together, like the apple trees, or too far apart. Ideally, I’d love to get on of those frames from Costco and the big, double rope hammock. Ah yes, that would be the ticket.

Sine I first began this post, the sun has become obscured by more clouds, and the wind has picked up. I think that I’ll stay out here for a little longer and then go inside and try to do a bit of cleaning. I still haven’t figured out where all of the dust comes from that settles in the house so quickly. We don’t have the furnace running, no ceiling fans on, so where does all of the dust come from? I’m reminded of the importance of dust in Philip Pullman’s series His Dark Materials, but unfortunately, my dust isn’t magical. It’s been years since I read that, and I still haven’t gotten a copy of La Belle Sauvage, the first book in the follow-up trilogy even though it was published in 2017. It on my to-read list, which probably has about 200 things on it.

So much to do, so much to do . . . Books to read, cabinets to sand and paint, rooms to paint and unpack . . . And then there’s my car, which needs work, a barn that needs to be built . . . Ugh, enough for now.

More later. Peace.


Music by The Civil Wars, “Dust to Dust” (acoustic)


To Drink

I want to gather your darkness
in my hands, to cup it like water
and drink.
I want this in the same way
as I want to touch your cheek—
it is the same—
the way a moth will come
to the bedroom window in late September,
beating and beating its wings against the cold glass,
the way a horse will lower
his long head to water, and drink,
and pause to lift his head and look,
and drink again,
taking everything in with the water,
everything.

~ Jane Hirshfield

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My Life Has Gone to the Dogs

yellow-lab-goes-sailing

 

“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you

 in the car, in case the need should arise for them

to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.” 

 ~Dave Barry 

 

 

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our life whole” (Roger Cares)

So I’m sitting here pondering. That’s what I do before I being to write: I ponder. And in runs Tillie to show me her latest interesting conquest from the yard. The only problem is that it has been raining, and Corey is not quite as thorough as I am in drying off the dogs when they come back into the house after being out in the rain. Let me pause here. When I’m sitting at my computer, I am usually wearing some kind of sweat pants or yoga pants and a white sweater. That’s because I have a surplus of soft, white sweaters from my buying days. I went through a white sweater phase, and now I have about six old white sweaters that are thoroughly broken in, too old to wear out of the house, but perfect for wearing around the house.

So Tillie runs in and share her bounty with me. She’s a lab puppy with all of the inherent lab puppy enthusiasm. My white sweater now has a wonderful brown puppy paw pattern. A few years ago, this might have bothered me enough to change my sweater immediately. Now, I’ll just finish my coffee and my entry, and then I’ll change. She’s a puppy. She’s happy. It’s infectious. If I still had a white couch, I might think differently, but I don’t, and I probably never will again. I had a white couch when my OCD was in full bloom and the boys weren’t born yet. My house was pristine.

It’s not any more. Which would I rather have: my dogs or a white couch? My dogs. No question.

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Shakes Waiting for Christmas

For example, I don’t know how many of you are familiar with The Golden Compass, but armored polar bears play a large part in the plotline of that story, which is book one of His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman. However, Shakes, my largest Jack Russell, has now reached the proportions of a small polar bear. I like to call him horizontally tall. I tell him that it is time for him to build his armor so that he, too, can become a majestic armored bear like Iorek Byrnison. Shakes, however, is much too lazy for such work, and prefers to spend all of his time at my feet as I work at the computer. From there, he moves to the bed with me where he takes his place beneath the covers.

Before the Jack Russells, I never had dogs that actually liked to get beneath the covers, but both Alfie and Shakes are very particular about it. They burrow beneath the bedding on either side of me. That is, unless Alfie is sleeping on Corey’s head. Alfie, you see, is psychotic.

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Alfie Would Prefer to Have the Bow Removed

We finally determined that Alfie has “doggie rage syndrome.” I kid you not. He can be very quiet and unassuming, sleeping on Corey’s pillow when Corey is not in bed, and then, all of a sudden, he will charge across the bed at someone. It’s extremely unnerving. He takes medicine for his “condition” now, and he is much better, but sometimes he still has episodes. Of course, my dogs cannot be normal. That would be too easy. Alfie is the smallest dog in the house, so we thought for a while that maybe he was suffering from “short man syndrome.”

The interesting thing is that even though both of the boys have been “tutored,” (got that from “Far Side”) every once in a while, Alfie still thinks that he has all of his working parts. It’s kind of sad, and I don’t tell him any differently. Who am I to spoil his delusions? It would be like taking away his birthday.

At some point, I don’t know when, the human boys created a MySpace for Alfie, or at least, that’s the rumor I heard. I haven’t searched for it. I think that I’m afraid of what I’ll find. They threatened to put one up for Tillie, but then we thought we’d attract a lot of pedophiles. I know, it’s a warped house. But our dogs really are a part of our family. Tillie talks, is very opinionated, and has verbal hissie fits when she feels that she isn’t being paid enough attention, and she brings her bowl to us when she wants to order takeout.

Shakes has been termed the fat, gay, mama’s boy, which I think is entirely unfair, because I don’t believe that he’s fat, just fluffy, and as to his sexual preference, I really don’t think that he has one. Alfie is everyone’s favorite at first because he’s so small and cute until he literally turns on the person giving him love. Personally, I think that Alfie is into S&M, and hasn’t found the right partner yet. Everyone is just fooled by his innocent face.

As far as their outside lives, Alfie and Shakes are escape artists and used to get out frequently, so much so that pretty much everyone in the neighborhood knew them. Believe me, it wasn’t because we didn’t try. We had a privacy fence, but if there was a weak spot in it, they found it. It was as if it were “Prison Break” for dogs. You would have thought that we mistreated them, no cookies, no chewies, made them sleep on the floor. They would find a hole, and it would be “RUN! The humans aren’t looking. Run now!”

We replaced the fence, which cut down on the prison breaks significantly, but every once in a while, the wind blows the gate at such an angle that it sticks open, and wouldn’t you know it, Alfie taught Tillie how to make a break for it. Shakes came back. I think that he got too tired. The other two were in the baseball field next to the house. “BE FREE!”  

Labradors [are] lousy watchdogs.  They usually bark when there is a stranger about,

but it is an expression of unmitigated joy at the chance

to meet somebody new, not a warning.”  ~ Norman Strung

 

I’ve always wondered what dogs actually call themselves. You know that they can’t possibly use the names that we give them. I mean, Alfie probably thinks of himself as “Zoltar, Biter of Hands and Thief of Bread Loaves,” while Shakes is “Rombus, Owner of Container of Treats—Trespassers Beware.” Tillie on the other hand is probably Tillie. Let’s face it: Labs don’t have time to be concerned with such things. They want to know about three things: when they can have their next treat, who is going to play with them next, and when someone is going to scratch their belly next.

 

I love my dogs. They bring me pure joy, except when they are barking at nothing but air and leaves, and I have a migraine. Then, I have to admit, I wish that they were cats, but only momentarily, because cats have totally different feelings about people, as in, cats truly believe that people are superfluous. There has only been one dog in my life that I didn’t really like. He was a poodle that we owned when we were in London, and he was definitely my Dad’s dog. His name was Sooty, and that dog hated me. Swear to god. Sooty used to chew little round holes in everything I owned, my clothes, my toys, even my curtains. If Dad paid any attention to me, you can bet the next day there would be a new hole in something I owned. 

When we went to the park to play, Dad would take Sooty for a walk on his leash, and the two of them would sit at the bench while we played. Sooty always had this superior look on his like, “Ha, you have to climb on those metal things while I get to sit here with my human.” (Okay, so maybe I’m imagining things, but I don’t think so.) When we came back to the states, we were planning to go across country and then to the Philippines. Sooty would have had to stay in quarantine for six months. Mom and Dad gave him to some friends. It didn’t break my heart.

Aside from that one blip on the screen, though, all of the dogs in my life have been wonderful companions that I have loved and missed terribly once they were gone. Getting a dog may be a gamble because you never know how long he or she will be in your life, but it’s definitely a gamble worth taking. Dogs love you unconditionally. They ask so little of you and give you so much in return. Looking into a dogs eyes is like looking into a well, an endless pool. You can see pretty much anything you want to see there.

If you ever want to know the quality of a person’s soul, look at how they treat their animals. Especially, look at how they treat a dog. If an individual has no time for a dog, views dogs as beneath them, sees dogs as stupid, thinks of dogs as expendable, or worse, would kill a dog without batting an eye—run, don’t walk, because how an individual treats a dog is a good indicator of how that individual treats other people, especially women and children. Animal abusers are people abusers.

Always remember,

“Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms”

~ George Eliot

And one of my personal favorites: 

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.

For me they are the role model for being alive.

~Gilda Radner

 

More later. Peace.