Two for Tuesday: Personal Histories

Gertrude Hermes The Cuckoo 1958 woodblock and linocut

“The Cuckoo” (1958, woodblock and linocut)
by Gertrude Hermes


“I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” ~ William Stafford, as found on Writer’s Almanac

Tuesday evening. Clear and cold, 24 degrees.

Yes, I’m still here. Let’s just call February a wash, shall we? It was a horrible month for so many reasons, and yet this surprises me not at all because my Februaries are almost always horrible; this one just happened to be a record for physical and mental pain. My rebound migraine finally seems to be breaking—after four weeks. It’s a good thing Corey and I didn’t try to fit in a trip to Ohio in the past few weeks, as I would have been miserable company.

The headache is still here, just not nearly as acute as before. The snow is supposed to melt tomorrow as the temperatures are supposed to hit the 60s. Of course on Thursday, we’re supposed to have freezing rain again. I have left the house twice in the past two weeks, once for the doctor, and once to make a trip to campus with Brett.

Cabin fever anyone?

                   

“Pine Branch” (1951)
by Eyvind Earle

The Phone Call

She calls Chicago, but no one
is home. The operator asks
for another number but still
no one answers. Together
they try twenty-one numbers,
and at each no one is ever home.
“Can I call Baltimore?” she asks.
She can, but she knows no one
in Baltimore, no one in
St Louis, Boston, Washington.
She imagines herself standing
before the glass wall high
over Lake Shore Drive, the cars
below fanning into the city.
East she can see all the way
to Gary and the great gray clouds
of exhaustion rolling over
the lake where her vision ends.
This is where her brother lives.
At such height there’s nothing,
no birds, no growing, no noise.
She leans her sweating forehead
against the cold glass, shudders,
and puts down the receiver.

~ William Stafford

                   

Igor Grabar Winter Rooks Nest 1904

“Winter Rook’s Nest” (1904)
by Igor Grabar

Solstice

Remember how the city looked from the harbor
in early evening: its brutal gaze
averted, its poised and certain countenance
wavering with lights?

Remember how we sat in swaybacked chairs
and marvelled at the brush fires
of dusk clear in the distance, the flames
scrawled across the skyline

like a signature while currents shifted
inside us? Ecstasy of fire—
works rising in midsummer, of fulvous sails
flashing in the heat

And orange life buoys bobbing on the water;
ecstasy of flares and secrets
and two bodies held aloft by desire…
judge us as you will,

but remember that we, too, lived once
in the fullness of a moment
before the darkness took its turn with us
and the night clamped shut.

~ Edward Hirsch

                   

Music by Dustin Kensrue, “This Good Night Is Still Everywhere”

Two for Tuesday: Snow

Rudolf Koppitz In Weiner Wald 1910

“Im Wiernerwald” (c1910)
by Rudolf Koppitz

 


“For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “The Snow Man”

Tuesday afternoon. Clear and cold, 31 degrees.

We were hit with snow, sleet, and freezing rain yesterday and into the night, so of course the whole area is shut down. It’s quiet, though. Funny how you don’t notice the quiet until it’s there.

I always love waking up after snow because there is a blue light hovering outside the windows and a dampening of all of the grating sounds of cars and trucks and noise in general. But I was reminded of my father last night as Corey was complaining of being cold: My father, who hated winter, hated snow, hated the cold . . . my father who would rather stay on a ship thousands of miles away for months at a time rather than be in a city blanketed with winter.

                   

Valerius de Saedeleer, Sneeuwlandschap in Etikhove 1924

“Sneeuwlandschap in Etikhove” (1924)
by Valerius de Saedeleer

Too Much Snow

Unlike the Eskimos we only have one word for snow but we have a lot of modifiers for that word. There is too much snow, which, unlike rain, does not immediately run off. It falls and stays for months. Someone wished for this snow. Someone got a deal, five cents on the dollar, and spent the entire family fortune. It’s the simple solution, it covers everything. We are never satisfied with the arrangement of the snow so we spend hours moving the snow from one place to another. Too much snow. I box it up and send it to family and friends. I send a big box to my cousin in California. I send a small box to my mother. She writes “Don’t send so much. I’m all alone now. I’ll never be able to use so much.” To you I send a single snowflake, beautiful, complex and delicate; different from all the others.

~ Louis Jenkins

                   

Graham Noble Norwell Landscape oil on board

Winter Landscape (oil on board)
by Graham Noble Norwell

Smelling the Snow

I’ve heard it said
there are those on such
close terms with night
they can smell the very light.

Not only does the moon,
they say, give off a scent
nothing like the sun’s,
but old moon smells

sweeter than slivered new.
Monks of old claimed sin
took the breath away, while
God was wild onion, lilac, pine.

I know a carpenter who
boasts he can sniff out a maple
in a woodlot of ash and oak.
A stalking cat knows

the unsinging sparrow
from the finch. This day
as it returns to Ohio, like
some feathery creature

seeking the very moon and tree
where it was born,
I can smell the snow,
which seems to me,

against the dark trees
moving in slow procession,
a few birds stark and silent,
an essence close to love.

But any old fool can smell love.

~ David Citino

                     

Music by Joan as Police Woman, “To Survive”

Sunday afternoon . . .

How my books look . . .
found on bookshelf porn

 versus

How I’d like my reading room to look . . .


There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away” ~ Emily Dickinson, from 1286

Ugh. Just ugh. Complete lack of energy and numb headache make for a very blah day. I did complete my book bingo, though. At first I was going for the first things that popped into my head, but then that got really hard as nothing was popping into my head; I’d remember a plot, but not the title . . . remember a title, but not the author. Goodreads to the rescue again.

Not sure why resolution is off or why some words appear to be in bold. Let me know if it’s unreadable. Enjoy.

reading bingo

More later. Peace.

                   

Music by Patrick Watson, “Turn into the Noise”

                   

Ode to the Book

When I close a book
I open life.
I hear
faltering cries
among harbours.
Copper ignots
slide down sand-pits
to Tocopilla.
Night time.
Among the islands
our ocean
throbs with fish,
touches the feet, the thighs,
the chalk ribs
of my country.
The whole of night
clings to its shores, by dawn
it wakes up singing
as if it had excited a guitar.

The ocean’s surge is calling.
The wind
calls me
and Rodriguez calls,
and Jose Antonio–
I got a telegram
from the “Mine” Union
and the one I love
(whose name I won’t let out)
expects me in Bucalemu.

No book has been able
to wrap me in paper,
to fill me up
with typography,
with heavenly imprints
or was ever able
to bind my eyes,
I come out of books to people orchards
with the hoarse family of my song,
to work the burning metals
or to eat smoked beef
by mountain firesides.
I love adventurous
books,
books of forest or snow,
depth or sky
but hate
the spider book
in which thought
has laid poisonous wires
to trap the juvenile
and circling fly.
Book, let me go.
I won’t go clothed
in volumes,
I don’t come out
of collected works,
my poems
have not eaten poems–
they devour
exciting happenings,
feed on rough weather,
and dig their food
out of earth and men.
I’m on my way
with dust in my shoes
free of mythology:
send books back to their shelves,
I’m going down into the streets.
I learned about life
from life itself,
love I learned in a single kiss
and could teach no one anything
except that I have lived
with something in common among men,
when fighting with them,
when saying all their say in my song.

~ Pablo Neruda

 

“I began my life as I shall no doubt end it: amidst books.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from The Words: The Autobiography of Jean-Paul Sartre

Reading Bingo Card

Reading Bingo Card
Challenge: Post your results in the comments section, if you like.

How Well Do You Know The Opening Lines Of Famous Books?

Saturday evening. Partly cloudy and warmer, 50 degrees.

Yesterday for a while it felt like this migraine was finally going away completely . . . then I woke up this morning, and . . . you guessed it . . . headache BACK!

Another short one just to let you know that I’m still alive. I found this quiz on BuzzFeed, and I’m hoping the book lovers out there will enjoy it as much as I did. Try to ignore the misspelling of Anna Karenina and the fact that they have put the book titles in quotations instead of italics.

Here is a sample:

  • Emma, by Jane Austen
  • David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
  • Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Let me know how you did in the comments section.

                   

I am also including a bit from an essay by Dylan Thomas, called “Notes on the Art of Poetry.” Over the years, extracts from this essay have been melded into a poem of sorts, but I like it better in its original prose form (click here to read in its entirety). Thomas wrote the essay in 1951 in response to a query from a college student hoping to learn more about craft. Here is my selection:

. . . What I like to do is treat words as a craftsman does his wood or stone or what-have-you, to hew, carve, mould, coil, polish and plane them into patterns, sequences, sculptures, fugues of sound expressing some lyrical impulse, some spiritual doubt or conviction, some dimly-realised truth I must try to reach and realise.) . . . I read indiscriminately, and with my eyes hanging out. I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on in the world between the covers of books, such sand-storms and ice-blasts of words, such slashing of humbug, and humbug too, such staggering peace, such enormous laughter, such and so many blinding bright lights breaking across the just-awaking wits and splashing all over the pages in a million bits and pieces all of which were words, words, words, and each of which was alive forever in its own delight and glory and oddity of light.

. . . All that matters about poetry is the enjoyment of it, however tragic it may be. All that matters is the eternal movement behind it, the vast undercurrent of human grief, folly, pretension, exaltation, or ignorance, however unlofty the intention of the poem.

. . . You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in.

More later. Peace.

                    

Music by Tom Odell, “Long Way Down”

 

 

 

 

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

marshawn-lynch-nfl-super-bowl-xlix-seattle-seahawks-press-conference1-850x560

Marshawn Lynch at NFL Super Bowl Press Conference


Friday afternoon. Drizzle and cold, 47 degrees.

Corey arrived home safely yesterday. No word on when he will be called back. I never thought I would wish for oil prices to skyrocket . . .

Bad night last night—too wired to sleep, and the dogs were feeding off that anxiety by announcing a need to go out pretty much once an hour. In between, I was seized with a vicious migraine, and then the ensuing body-itching from the pain medication. Today I plan to do a whole lot of nothing after spending two days cleaning a house that wasn’t really dirty, which didn’t stop me from taking the bottom of the vacuum apart to pull strings from the roller (love that my Dyson doesn’t have any belts). That’s just how I get once I go into overdrive.

Ah, the sweet, sweet joys of my life . . .

More later. Peace.

This week’s headline:

“I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” ~ Marshawn Lynch’s Super Bowl Press Conference

As Jon Stewart pointed out, Lynch was threatened with a ridiculous $500k fine if he didn’t show and a possible other fine for wearing the wrong hat, yet the NFL does little to nothing when it comes to the serious infractions, you know, like domestic violence:

“How is it that this guy is facing international drug cartel penalty money, but the owners and commissioner of the league have no obligation to address stadium financing shenanigans or concussions or domestic violence policies?” ~ Jon Stewart, “The Daily Show” (29 January 2015)

Shakespeare’s tragedies by body count:

Diagramming my life:

Dr. James Barry was a woman:

James Miranda Stuart Barry was a military surgeon in the British Army. After graduation from the University of Edinburgh Medical School, Barry served in India and Cape Town, South Africa. By the end of his career, he had risen to the rank of Inspector General in charge of military hospitals. Although Barry lived his adult life as a man, he was born a female and was named Margaret Ann Bulkley. In his travels he not only improved conditions for wounded soldiers, but also the conditions of the native inhabitants. Among his accomplishments was the first caesarean section in Africa by a British surgeon in which both the mother and child survived the operation.

Well, how could I not include this?

See this? This is not how my dogs would help:

They would either sit on the extended part of the tape measure or take the whole thing and run away . . .

Too perfect . . .

And oh how I wish so many times that I would have been able to say and do something like this:

See—I freaking told you . . .

Things that can happen at Wal-Mart:

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” ~ Daphne du Maurier, from Rebecca

My dreams have been filled with people and stories of late. Last night I had one of the best: I was in England, and I was at Stamford Court, where I lived as a child, and my mother was there, in the porter’s cupboard, talking, and I was roaming around, trying to figure out what had changed and what was the same, and I ran into a man who worked there and realized that he was the adult version of my best friend’s brother—from a Filipino family who also lived in the Court on the fourth floor. Brett was with me, and I was showing him things, and I turned to this guy, cannot remember name now, and said, we used to play there, pretending to be on Gilligan’s Island, and he said, “Yes we did, and I always wondered why my sister put up with you because you were so bossy.” And I replied, “I wasn’t bossy. I knew what I wanted,” and he smiled at that. As we were walking back towards the main entrance, two other men came up in monks’ cloaks, and he said that they were his partners in a drag show, and I found that delightful, and I said to Brett that we had to come back to England for a long weekend so that I could show Corey where I had lived and all of the places that I had gone as a child, and my mother wasn’t there any more, and neither was the porter, and there was a large swimming pool in the middle of where the parking lot had been, and I told someone that that was where my father had parked his white convertible when we lived there. It was a good dream, filled with happy memories, and I realize that I really should have gone back to England with my mother for a visit. It would have made her so happy, but at the same time, I know that so much has changed there that she may have hated it. Who knows.

                   

Music by Armon Jay, “Edge of the Dark”

“You don’t think that’s a lot of red for a child’s bedroom? We don’t want it to look like the Amityville Horror kill room or anything.” ~ The Ugly Volvo

I have to share this post from The Ugly Volvo with you. I read Goodnight Moon to Olivia every time she spends the night here. And I also read this story to all of my children when they were small. But this is one of the funniest deconstructions of this story I have ever come across. It’s long, so I’m only including the first few, but trust me, you need to click here and read it in its entirety.


 

All of my Issues With the “Goodnight Moon” Bedroom

I’ve read Goodnight Moon almost every night for the past two years. It’s a wonderful book which my son enjoys. Here are some of my issues with the bedroom depicted in it.
aa goodnight moon 11. The Size of the Bedroom
Nice bedroom and/or place to possibly hold the 2024 Olympics

This bedroom is enormous. There is no one, I think, who has not noticed this. As someone who has lived in apartments only slightly larger than “a little toy house,” it’s mildly vexing that this bedroom is the size of a banquet hall in Downton Abbey.

This little toy house would rent out for $2500 a month in Manhattan (not including utilities)

2. The Little Toy house.
This little toy house would rent out for $2500 a month in Manhattan (not including utilities)This little toy house would rent out for $2500 a month in Manhattan (not including utilities)

This is not that little of a toy house. Not only could the rabbit easily fit inside the “little toy house,” the little toy house also has working electricity. Why are these rabbits so civilized? Is this some f**ked up Watership Down sequel???

The color scheme we're going for is "exploded paint factory."

3. This Just-Discovered Transcript of a Conversation Had by the Interior Decorators
The color scheme we’re going for is “exploded paint factory.”The color scheme we’re going for is “exploded paint factory.”

“So what color have we decided on for the upstairs child’s bedroom?”

“Which child’s bedroom?”

“The enormous one. The one with the expansive tomato-colored floor.”

“I was thinking for that room maybe a dark green?”

“Really? Dark green? You don’t think maybe dark green walls with a tomato-colored floor is a bit much?”

“No, it’ll look amazing. We can break up the monotony of the color with some dark green and yellow striped curtains.”

“That’s an amazing idea. On non-matching red and yellow spearhead curtain rods? Do you think a tiger skin rug would be overkill?”

“For a young child’s room? No. Not at all. ”