“October is a symphony of permanence and change.” ~ Bonaro W. Overstreet

Toward the Storm (Pixdaus)

 

                    

“There are many windows through
which we can look out into the
world, searching for meaning . . . ” ~ Jane Goodall

Field Storm 1 (Pixdaus)

To my credit, the header for this post was applicable when I first began writing it; that it is now almost an entire week later does not negate the sentiment behind the header, so I opted to keep it.

The previous post, abandoned in midstream and never quite returned to in any creative fashion probably is the best example of what life has been like: starts and stops, wrong turns, lost threads, and unfinished thoughts. It is almost 11 p.m. on Wednesday evening. That I last had the opportunity to write was almost seven days ago simply blows my mind.

How did it get to be November? Where was I? How can Thanksgiving be in a few weeks? How did Gretchen win “Project Runway”? Oops, that last one just sort of slipped in when I wasn’t paying attention.

If you could see this draft, you would definitely question my grip on reality. I have about ten different quotes on this page relating to three, possibly four themes. Rather than try to sort through and pare beforehand, I have decided to just write and see what fits. Very revealing actually in that I have no idea what my life will be like from one moment to the next, so how could I possibly know which quote will fit and which quote will be irrelevant?

You see my predicament . . .

“For me there is only the traveling on the paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart.There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge for me is to traverse its full length. And there I travel—looking, looking, breathlessly.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

Before the Storm by Joel Le Montagner (Pixdaus)

I’m still camping out at my mother’s house. Her broken tibia is mending quite well (according to the orthopaedic surgeon who saw her this morning), but her stomach ailments remain mysterious and unresponsive (according to the urgent care physician we saw after the visit to the orthopaedist). Four and a half hours later, my mother felt slightly better as she had accomplished one major goal in getting her rather large and bulky immobilizing brace changed to something smaller and more comfortable.

I, however, felt that eating glass might actually be a comforting alternative to the morning’s events. I suppose it had been building for a while, but today was my breaking point. I knew that if I did not get away, get away from my mother, get away from this house, get away from the various medications and ailments and problems and prognoses that Corey might have to have me fitted for a full-body immobilizing brace.

I texted my daughter to ask her to please spot me today by coming over and staying with my mother as I was nearing a breaking point. Her reply text only reinforced that aspect of my life that is in and of itself a large part of the problem: she would be over in a “bit” as she still had to eat lunch, wash the dishes, takes a shower . . . essentially, in her sweet time, my request be damned. That she finally deigned to make an appearance at 5:30 did not amuse me in the least.

Nevertheless, after returning from the doctors’ visits I settled my mother in with lunch, several doses of pepto tablets measured out to chew each hour in an aggressive move by the urgent care physician to calm her stomach, a cup of tea, a glass of 7-up, her reading glasses, and the television remote control. Then I left. Ostensibly to pick up Brett at school, but the destination could have been the grocery store. Anywhere was better than here, and I did not want to have my meltdown in front of my mother only to have her retreat into her poor, pitiful me persona, which would, in turn, reduce me to a large puddle of guilt.

“So wrap up care in a cobweb
and drop it down the well into that world inverted
where left is always right,
where the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea” ~ Elizabeth Bishop, “Insomnia”

Field Storm 2 (Pixdaus)

Moving along . . . I spent some time this afternoon with Brett and my three dogs; I believe that I can attest that all involved—human and canine—benefitted from the quality time. Brett and I talked about nothing of any great importance as we took turns rubbing bellies and ears and heaping attention on dogs that quite obviously never receive a kind word, a small treat, or any love at all . . .

So here I am, sitting here with my music playing quietly in a house that is finally, thankfully, quiet. If  you were to ask me what my aversion to noise is, I might be hard-pressed to answer you, especially as I can engage in as much inane chatter as the next person. But having moved from my parents’ home a long time ago, having left a home that subsists on a backdrop of television during every waking moment, I have become much accustomed to having my silence when I want it and if I need it, that and the fact that I no longer possess the ability to tune out that which I do not want to hear, such as how much the showcase is on “The Price is Right” or the screech of the wheel as it turns on “Wheel of Fortune.”

When my mother first fell, I never dreamt that I would still be here full-time six weeks later. Truthfully, though, I don’t really know what I thought or believed at the time, but as the small collection of necessities that I had initially spread about my old bedroom began to grow into might-need items, I realized that life had shifted at some point and had caught me unawares and was taking me along for the ride.

Perhaps that is what troubles me the most about this entire situation: the fact that nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, is controllable. What works on day is completely useless 24 hours later. Signs of improvement can morph into a life-threatening circumstance in less than half a day. And not since the days of Caitlin’s hospitalization has my life been this out of control.

And I find that I cannot even turn to one of my most inviting avenues for comfort: I cannot get on the computer, find answers to my questions, dig for facts. Knowledge is not a mouse click away, and that barrier only adds to my feelings of frustration. I use my knowledge as a shield. Give me facts and I can fight the fears. Medicine X has what side effects? I’ll look that up. No wait. No connection. Can’t leave mom alone to go use a computer at my house. Too many ifs in play. Perhaps I’ll twiddle my thumbs a bit more.

And as each day passes, I am mindful of the calendar, fitfully attuned to the days passing into the beginning of November, nearing the anniversary of Caitlin’s death, the anniversary of my father’s death. Each year from September through November, I hold the incipient crash at bay, never knowing if it will be a bad year or a good year, never able to predict how my psyche will assimilate the events of the days, whether I will feel the emotional pain keenly or merely sense subconsciously the loss.

“And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.” ~ Ezra Pound, Poems of Lustra 

Field Storm 3 by Dmitry Shirkov (Pixdaus)

So what is the theme of this post? Is it time, that it passes too quickly and leaves us confused in its wake? Is it silence, like the air in a field right before a storm, so sweet and still, a moment suspended? Is it my endless search for meaning and answers in a time in which, perhaps, no true answers exist? Or is it simply this:

That in the end, we are all so much dross, not nearly as valuable as we hope, that we are buffeted about like miniscule, insignificant creatures caught in life’s maelstrom, and if, if we are to move beyond, if we are to achieve each our own significance, then we must remain constantly attuned to our personal mainspring lest we become too taughtly wound.

The trick, my friends, is to know exactly how much torsion our psyches can tolerate—that ideal balance between energy and inertia—so that life, the days, the hours, the minutes—unwind as we would hope. For the alternative, to be sprung all at once, leaves nothing for the next time fate decides to hurl us headlong into chaos.

Remember, the temporal slingshot only works in the cinema, and life can slip by like a field mouse.

Music by Matthew Ryan, “The World Is . . . ”

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Is life a multiple choice test or is it a true or false test?” . . . Then a voice comes to me out of the dark and says, “We hate to tell you this but life is a thousand word essay.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

Old Whiskey Barrel

“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.” ~ Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

The reality that has been today is such a cliché that I think I might have to go outside and hug a tree before I put my fist through a wall. It’s a classic case of good news/bad news; why can’t it ever just be good news?

Corey has an interview set for tomorrow for the port security position. He is absolutely convinced that it will not go well. Somehow, I have to convince him not to dig this hole too deeply, or he will fall into it and not be able to climb out again. This is the good news, sort of.

This is the bad news: Corey’s parents, who have spent the past few months helping us to stay on our feet, are now facing a crisis of their own. It just breaks my heart. Corey is convinced that the dark cloud under which we exist has now spread to his parents, kind of a bad luck by association kind of thing. I try to remind him that they have their own good ju ju going in the form of their deep faith. Yet somehow, Corey has assumed the blame for this, too.

Sometimes, I feel as if this whole life thing is much too confusing. Just when it seems that I have figured out how things work, something happens to make me realize that I really know very little. Sisyphus comes to mind: continually pushing that big boulder uphill only to have it roll down again. No forward motion. No gathering momentum. No strong foothold.

Don’t mind me. I’m feeling lost and confused and very, very frustrated.

“I know the answer! The answer lies within the heart of all mankind! The answer is twelve? I think I’m in the wrong building.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

I am in the process of developing something, though. It’s much too tenuous to talk about in any detail. Let me just say that if this works out, it would be tremendous. It would mean that I have finally found that small magic porthole through which I might be able to touch my dreams. And no, it’s not a job. It’s a project, a big project that I have thought about for almost ten years. Let me leave it at that.

I sent out yet more forms today: three to pharmaceutical companies, one to my long-term disability carrier, and one to the company that is serving as my interface to the Social Security administration. I collected everything last night, and Corey took all of it to the post office today. As a result, my desk is much cleaner now. Well clean might be an overstatement—perhaps neater is more accurate.

I just had to pause to listen to “Vide Cor Meum,” which is playing in the background. I’m playing all of my YouTube selections. If anyone is interested in subscribing to my YouTube account, I believe that this is the link: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=1B61E79445B7518E. I’m kind of new at this whole YouTube account thing.

I told Corey that I want to make some videos of my own for some songs that I cannot find, but I don’t know how to go about doing that. I imagine I need some kind of program. If you are a YouTube person, some advice would be much appreciated.

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Winter Stilllife

I took a look at my stats page yesterday, something that I haven’t done in a while. I always find it interesting to see who is linking here, and from which sites people are getting to my site.

I found a few new addresses, but it’s always a bit disconcerting to go to an address listed and find your own blog as part of a larger blog. I don’t really know how that works. I mean, I know about web crawling and spiders, and all of that, but it never fails to amaze me when I end up on things like a forum for psychologytribe.com. When I first began this whole blogging thing, I never anticipated having my blog name or url show up in some of the places that it has been featured.

Don’t misunderstand, I appreciate the exposure. I really do. I suppose it’s just that I’m still a bit ignorant as to the hows and wherefores of links and referrals. That being said, my two posts about beauty continue their unbroken reign in my top posts/most viewed, as does my post on The Great Gatsby. In fact, I just received a new comment on the Gatsby post from a 15-year-old girl who wanted to assure me that not all teenagers are mindless twits, which, of course, I already knew, but I was delighted that she took the time to comment.

By the way, I’m not ignoring the devastating earthquake in Chile. But writing about the quake in Haiti three times in a row took its toll on me emotionally. I am offering this link to an MSNBC slideshow featuring pictures from the quake in Chile, which was ranked 8.8 on the Richter Scale, one of the most powerful quakes to hit anywhere on the earth in over a century. Thankfully, the death toll is much, much lower than that in Haiti, mostly because of Chile’s stringent building codes. The quake, which hit 200 miles outside of Santiago, was especially destructive to the town of Concepcion.

Unfortunately, the tsunami that hit the coast after the quake was also powerful. The seaside town of Constitucion was hard hit by the surging tsunami, and hundreds of people are missing. Three waves hit after the quake, with the third one being the most powerful and causing the most damage.

Fortunately, the waves that passed Hawaii, Australia, Japan, and other places were much smaller than had been originally predicted.

That’s all for today. Images featured are more pictures taken after the snowstorm.

More later. Peace.

“When the Music’s Not Forgotten,” by Deadman (heard on an episode of “Criminal Minds”)

Grace in Small Things #30

800px-swallowtail_butterfly_2

Swallowtail Butterfly

“Be a gentle friend to trees and they will give you back beauty, cool and fragrant shade, and many birds, singing” ~ Unknown

Well, today will be short and sweet.  Think I may be coming down with something.

1. Beneflu in a bottle. Most people don’t like liquid cold medicines. This stuff is great. When I get on a coughing jag, I just take a big swig right out of the bottle (I make sure it’s the bottle that no one else uses). It goes down warm and is very soothing, and it usually starts to work immediately. Measuring? That’s for sissies.

2. Corey brings me a hot cup of coffee while I’m still in bed almost every day. I like this tradition. I don’t know what I’m going to do when he finally gets a boat.

3. Finding a new song to add to my playlists. The way that I love music, it is always wonderful to find a new artist or a new song by a favorite artist to add to one of my playlists on the computer. Of course I have different playlists. Would my OCD allow anything else: Mellow List, Country List, Bedtime List, and then Extended List, which has enough music on it for 16 hours of play.

black-capped chickadee
Black Capped Chickadee

4. Butterflies. When our Lantana comes into bloom in the spring and summer, we have a veritable butterfly garden in the front yard.  Monarchs. Swallowtails. Painted Ladies.  It’s incredible to be so close to so much beauty.

5. Song birds. We also get a lot of songbirds in our yard, more when we have the feeders hung. My favorites are the cardinals and chickadees. Once in a while we’ll get a hawk in our neighborhood; then all of the smaller birds just disappear until the hawk leaves. It’s amazing how nature works.

More later. Peace.

Is My Life Just a Sad Song?

inset-of-doorways-oil-on-paper-by-michael-h-zack
Doorways by Michael H. Zack (inset; oil on paper)

Sometimes My Life Is Just A Country Song

Another day has almost come and gone
Can’t imagine what else could wrong
Sometimes I’d like to hide away somewhere and lock the door
A single battle lost but not the war (’cause)

the-torch-singer-by-connie-chadwell
The Torch Singer by Connie Chadwell

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m feeling unsettled, music runs through my head constantly, like an internal play list. Songs from the past pop up out of nowhere, more than likely sad songs, melancholy songs, that I haven’t heard in years. And they usually have a sad story behind them.

The only way to get rid of these songs is to turn on one of my play lists on my computer and try to replace the music in my head with music outside my head. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. More often than not, a song on my play list just bumps one in my head, and I start to dwell on the new song: where did I first hear it? What were the circumstances? Why did I put it on my playlist?

Often, the song is one that I have sung at the old karoake bar that we used to frequent, and it brings back memories of singing, something that I love to do in front of an audience. I think that in one of my past lives I was probably a torch singer in a smoky room in a back alley bar somewhere down by the docks. I don’t think that I was famous, but I think that I was well known for my raspy voice and my cigarette holder.

Tomorrow’s another day
And I’m thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain

But songs mean a lot to me. They are poetry (hence the name lyrical poetry), and they are stories. Simon and Garfunkel are definitely the voice of the generation of the 60’s and 70’s. Their songs are anthems for what was going on during those tumultuous times. The same can be said for John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s songs, as well as the songs of Bob Dylan, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

These songwriters were followed by a generation of modern country songwriters such as Garth Brooks, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Chesney, The Dixie Chicks, and crossovers like The Indigo Girls, Jackson Browne, and Sheryl Crow.

And of course, the emergence of Rap music as urban poetry must not be ignored. Rap speaks to the minds and emotions of its listeners. Among the most famous rap artists today are Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Ludacris, and Snoop Dogg.

It’s almost like the hard times circle ’round
A couple drops and they all start coming down
Yeah, I might feel defeated,
I might hang my head
I might be barely breathing—but I’m not dead

I used to love to listen to Jane Olivor when I was feeling down. She has the voice of a chanteuse, and one of the songs that she sang was called “It’s over. Goodbye.” I must have played that song 50 times in a row after a major breakup with my good Catholic boyfriend. Each time was like a knife in my heart, which was what I felt I deserved for ending a relationship with such a wonderful person. But I never felt good enough, and I knew in my heart that I would never be true to him. So Jane and I spent the night together: she pouring out her heart, and I weeping.

Tomorrow’s another day
And I’m thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain

Another thing that I love to do is to make CDs of different playlists (my car is not equipped with an MP3 player, thank you very much). I have a road trip CD, one for rolling down the windows and blowing back your hair. It includes Springsteen, Clapton, The Stones, The Who, among others. I have a boat music compilation—Jimmy Buffet (of course), Kenny Chesney, Uncle Kracker, Jackson Browne. I have compilations for just about any occasion.

I’m not gonna let it get me down
I’m not gonna cry
And I’m not gonna lose any sleep tonight

falling-rain1
But one song that always gets to me when I hear it or when I sing it is Jo Dee Messina’s “Bring On the Rain” because this woman is saying, “yep, just about everything that could go wrong today has gone wrong. So go ahead and just get it over with. I’m down anyway. I can barely hold up my head, but I know that tomorrow is going to come. So open up the sky, and let it pour, because I’m thirsty anyway.

Man, to have that strength. To be able to say to life: Go ahead. Give me your best shot because I know that you are going to whether I’m ready for it or not.  This day can only get worse. I’m already pretty close to the ground. Might as well rain all over me. But you know what? I’m feeling down, but I’m not dead, and tomorrow’s another day.

Right now, I’m looking for that strength. I’m not defeated, not even close to it. Just tired and feeling low to the ground . . . but a little rain never hurt anyone. It’s nature’s way of cleansing, of getting rid of the dirt and grime that has built up, allowing for new growth because the soil is refreshed. All of the dead leaves have been washed away. And if it rains hard enough, somewhere the sun will reflect on the raindrops and create a rainbow and verify that life does indeed still exist.

Tomorrow’s another day
And I am not afraid
So bring on the rain

Maybe I am a little afraid, afraid of the unknown because it’s been the unknown for so long now. But I’m reminded of another song about rain: Trisha Yearwood’s Georgia Rain, which is another song that I love to sing. In it, the woman is remembering her long lost love and their night in the Georgia Rain. She says that “Nothin’ here’s the same/Except for the Georgia rain.”

You can’t ever go back really. And it’s sad when you see people try or continue to hope for that “one day” when they can go back; you just want to shake them gently and say, “It’s not there any more. It’s only in your mind. Things change.” You can never go back, and I never want to. I have too much here. Back is gone. Back is yesterday. I only want to make it to tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s another day
And I’m thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain

After the rain, more. Peace.