“That’s how it is sometimes when we plunge into the depths of our lives. No one can accompany us, not even those who would give up their hearts for our happiness.” ~ Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Sister of My Heart

Emil Nolde, “Das Gehoft Seebüll” (c1940, watercoloron Japan Paper)*

“That is how always, you lost:
never as one who possesses, but like someone dying
who bending into the moist breeze of an evening in March,
loses the springtime, alas, in the throats of the birds.
Far too much you belong to grief.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Original Version of the Tenth Elegy” (Trans. Stephen Mitchell)

Thursday afternoon, overcast with drizzle, 43 degrees.

Hello. Very long time no write. I’ve missed you. Last night, in the wee hours, I tried to remember the last time that I had actually written a real post, you know, one with quotes, music, images. I couldn’t recall, couldn’t even remember the month.

Emil Nolde, “Williows in the Snow” (1908, watercolor)

I suppose that it all began with the computer problems, which proved to be such an impediment to the flow of writing, and then the huge passel of puppies that entered our lives before Christmas, and then the goat births, one after another. The next thing that I knew, it was 2020, and I was completely lost beneath a veritable mountain of what can only be termed as ca ca, to be polite. I mean, I woke up on my birthday with Corey holding my favorite puppy and the news that we might be facing Parvo or some other devastating illness. Since that morning, we have been aggressively nursing and isolating first one and then another puppy.

We lost two, two of my favorites actually. It was devastating, but I did not allow myself to break down at the time because, frankly, we did not have time for grief. There was just too much to face. Thankfully, it’s been over a week since the last one showed any signs of illness, but we must continue to care for all of them for at least another week until any rescue group will even consider taking them, mostly because of the possibility of Parvo. I suppose that if I were in their shoes that I would be just as reticent.

In between, Corey’s truck died completely, the transmission, and my car isn’t operable because the tires are bad, and it isn’t legal (registration and inspection), and wouldn’t you know, that state cop that harasses Corey stopped and cited him a few weeks ago. We had put off taking care of my vehicle until this year, but now………it’s this year.

“I guess that’s what people don’t understand, can’t understand, about grief. You can’t assign it. It’s just assigned.” ~ Dalton Day, from “Beware of Falling Deer”

You see, we had really hoped that 2020 would be a better year in many ways, but especially as regards the animals. In 2019, we lost my horse Petra, who Dallas took back, ostensibly to nurse, but then we never saw her again, and when he died, Petra was nowhere to be found; Annie, the colt that Sassy gave birth to on our anniversary, died after only a few days. We also lost our first two goats, Max and Ruby (who I had named after two of Olivia’s favorite book and television characters), as well as the death of a days-old kid born in December. Corey had named him Gizmo, and he was so precious. This time when the kids were born, Corey was unwilling to name them for the first week, not wanting to invest even that small, personal touch before we could be somewhat certain of their survival.

Emil Nolde, “Wet Day” (1918, oil on canvas)

I don’t know why we seem to have female goats and horses who lack any kind of mothering sensibilities, but Gizmo’s mother had birthed him, cleaned him, and then left him in the field. We were uncertain as to exactly how old he was when Corey found him. We think the lack of colostrum from nursing in those first hours doomed him before he could become strong.

Then in quick succession in mid January, Bobby, Blue, and Penny all gave birth, and none of them seemed interested in caring for their kids beyond cleaning them immediately after birth, and one failed to do even that; unfortunately, one of the female babies didn’t make it, so we were left with five males and one male, but we were on high alert for their births, which made a difference in their survival. If you’ve never had to clean a newborn animal, then you can’t even imagine how stressful that can be, trying to be careful but thorough simultaneously. Anyway, that’s six goats that we had to bottle feed on top of three litters of puppies, all in our very small house.

The night that we lost the first puppy, Patches, I held him in my arms as he whimpered in pain and then finally took his last breath. The following night, Corey held Brinn as he died. Yes, they were puppies, dogs, not human, but sentient beings nonetheless, ones that breathed and felt and suffered. If you are not an animal lover in the same vein that we are, perhaps you might not understand the pain that we have felt these last days and weeks. Let me just tell you that if your soul is already one that is tender as regards the foibles and failures of the universe, then personal losses can seem breathtakingly overwhelming. And all of these have; add to that the guilt over the lack of vehicle or funds to seek veterinary care.

My penchant for swimming in a sea of guilt even in the best of times has been increased exponentially of late.

“We inhale the moon,
suck in the clouds, try to satiate the desert
of our bodies that are always fumbling
at loss. Like Brother stars are such distant
luminous spheres.” ~ Casandra López, from “Midnight Memorial”

Over the last few weeks I’ve spoken with three different rescue groups in an attempt to get the puppies placed. The first group was a big disappointment; ultimately, they wanted $500. One group was out of Pennsylvania and one out of West Virginia. The most promising one is the one out of West Virginia, but now we are on hold because of the possibility of Parvo. If you didn’t already know, Parvo isn’t the automatic death sentence for dogs that it used to be, but it is still quite serious; it’s also very easy to transmit. The rescue people want to be certain that if the puppies were indeed infected with Parvo, that there isn’t a possibility that they can infect any other dogs in their care.

It’s understandable, but disappointing nevertheless. When I spoke to the coordinator today, she asked for my thoughts. I was honest: I told her that we are pretty much desperate to place these puppies. The house smells worse than a kennel; I told Corey that if I came to the door of a house that looked like ours in its current state, I wouldn’t go inside. I was not exaggerating.

Emil Nolde, “Rain over a Marsh” (c1938, watercolor on rice paper)

Fortunately, four of the goat babies are gone. Corey set up a trade with a guy that he knows who also breeds goats. In exchange for the kids, we’ll get a grown Kiko Boer nanny goat who has already been bred. We just can’t pick her up until we have some kind of transportation. At least with four of the goats gone, it’s a bit quieter in the house. We’ve kept the one female and the one male who has completely different coloring from any of the ones we currently have.

This same guy put Corey in touch with someone he knows who is selling a truck. It sounds like a good deal, not bad shape, but we have to wait until tomorrow to see if it’s still available as the seller had promised some other guy that he had dibs. Nothing is ever frigging easy.

You know how some people seem to move through life charmed? Everything seems to go their way, and things fall easily into their laps. Hardships are infrequent and/or minor. That’s not us. I’m always reminded of that old “Hee Haw” song, “Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me,” that has the applicable line—”If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

Yep. Totally.

“Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.” ~ Benjamin Alire Sáenz, from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

So is it any wonder that I have absented myself from here? I’m actually surprised that I’ve been able to string together this many words cogently. Each time in the last weeks that I’ve sat down to try to write something, I find myself instead listening to YouTube videos and playing Spider Solitaire because that requires nothing of my brain. Neither thing requires my engagement or my investment.

Emil Nolde, “Winter Landscape” (c1907, watercolor)

The impeachment and sham of a trial helped to keep me distracted for many weeks, and there was even a tiny kernel of hope that something, anything might happen to slow the ever-eroding state of our democracy. I will admit to being completely shocked that that small kernel came in the form of Mitt Romney, but it was far too little far too late, and so outside of this bubble in which I live, things continue to deteriorate, but I cannot even raise a modicum of my usual righteous indignation at that country’s state of affairs. I have to choose my battles at this point, and those battles are decidedly the ongoing ones on the personal home front.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that there are more days than not in which I truly wonder if we made the right decision in coming here with so little capital. But unless you are wealthy or lucky, when is it ever the right time to undertake a major life upheaval? We got all of this acreage for a song, but the available capital all went into the down payment. There was none leftover for repairs or renovations. And too, I miss Norfolk. I miss going to the movies. I miss going to our favorite sushi restaurant. I miss jumping in my car and going anywhere I wanted and knowing that I didn’t have to travel more than 15 or 20 minutes at the most to have access to . . . well, anything.

The city offers convenience. The country offers quiet. Does such a place exist in which both are relatively available? Who knows. Certainly not I.

“Time itself does not ‘console,’ as people say superficially; at best it assigns things to their proper place and creates an order.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from a letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouy, January 6, 1923
Emil Nolde, “Inundation” (nd, watercolor on paper)

I do not kid myself that if I ever returned to Norfolk that my life would improve. My relationship with my children remains fractured, and I don’t know how or if I can ever fix that. I miss my granddaughter so much that it is an actual physical ache at times, but she is states away, living with her father and his family, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again, this after being a daily part of her life since birth. I don’t even know what books she is reading, which I realized when I tried to find some books to send her for Christmas. All I know is that she is healthy and doing very well in school.

That’s not enough. Just as it’s not enough that I know that Alexis is working and has a new person in her life. I know nothing about either of my sons’ lives, only what my daughter tells me. How does this happen? My eldest son texted me for my birthday, but again, I heard nothing from my youngest. I used to think that the worst thing about my birthday was when my mother forgot. I was so wrong.

I’ve been more wrong than right about so many things in the last few years; it’s hard to discern when the shift actually began. I liked the woman that I used to be: powerful, strong, confident, so certain of so many things. This half person is a stranger to me, a stranger that I would prefer not to know at all.

I apologize for the length, but apparently I had much to say. More later, with any luck. Peace.

*I’m bringing back one of my favorite artists, the German Expressionist Emil Nolde; In the past I have posted many of his seascapes, so today I thought I’d do a few landscapes instead. Until recently, I really was unaware of his Nazi past. If you are interested in learning more, ARTnews has a really good article here.

Music by Alison Luff, “She Used to be Mine” (Sara Bareilles cover)


Clown in the Moon

My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.

I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.

~ Dylan Thomas

“Everything we care about lies somewhere in the middle, where pattern and randomness interlace.” ~ James Gleick, from The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood


“Anxious, we keep longing for a foothold-
we, at times too young for what is old
and too old for what has never been;
doing justice only where we praise,
because we are the branch, the iron blade,
and sweet danger, ripening from within.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Sonnets to Orpheus: XXIII” (Trans. Stephen Mitchell)

Monday afternoon, storms and dropping temps, 84 degrees.

About half an hour ago, a line of thunderstorms whipped through here, and it was pretty wild. The girl goats and Sassy (the horse) were all clustered on the porch for shelter from the fierce wind, and Tillie was hiding in the bathroom. Fortunately, it was a quick storm, but more are looming on the horizon.

Speaking of the bathroom, last night I had a major scare: I was switching out laundry when I heard a rattle. A large (in my mind) black snake was hanging out on the corner of the work table on which I stack the folded laundry. I made some kind of weird noise and hightailed it out of there. Corey was standing in the hall when this happened, and as he’s asking me, “What? What?” I’m trying to say the word snake, but honestly, I’m not sure if any real words came out of my mouth.

My deep, abiding phobia about snakes has not lessened with time. If anything I think that it might be worse.

So Corey goes on snake patrol only to tell me that everything is fine because the snake had gone back under the house. I did not find this statement nearly as comforting as he would have thought because my first thought was how in the hell did it go back under the house from the bathroom?

Apparently, there is a hole beneath the pipes. Great. Just g-r-e-a-t……..

“Today my grief abated like water soaking
underground, its scar a little path
of twigs and needles winding ahead of me
downhill to the next bend. Today I let
the rain soak through my shirt and was unharmed.” ~ David Mason, from “In the Mushroom Summer”

When I told Corey that I was afraid to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night because of what might be lurking (I don’t usually turn on the light), he laughed, but I reminded him that I knew of a real incident in which a snake was in the toilet: one of my parents’ neighbors across the back fence once found out the hard way that a snake was in his toilet.

I will never forget that story. Is it any wonder that I am terrified of snakes?

I realized that moving to the country meant that I would encounter more wildlife, and I’m okay with that—mostly—but that doesn’t mean that I’m okay with snakes in the house. I remember when Brett’s partner lived in our house, and she had a pet snake; I could only go in their room if I kept my eyes averted. Granted it was a small snake, but it was still a snake, in the house, in my house.

Full body shudders.

(Note: I had to leave this post on Monday so that we could go see Dallas. Ended up being caught in a downpour. More on this later)

“A burning sense of injustice, sobs, sorrow: desire to fight back, and no time or energy to do so,” ~ Sylvia Plath, from a journal entry, April 22, 1958

Wednesday afternoon, more storms, warm and humid, 84 degrees.

Corey and I made the trip to see Dallas because we had a proposition: We would trade him Beric the goat to get Napoleon back; however, when we got to his house, he was nowhere to be found. He’s taken to hiding in his house because animal control has been called on him. So we searched everywhere, and then a big storm hit. As we were waiting for the storm to pass, Dallas’s nephew drove up with Dallas in the truck.

The attempts at conversation were futile as Dallas was drunk, and there’s just no talking to him when he’s like that. I don’t particularly want Dallas to have Beric, but I’m desperate to get Napoleon back over here. The long and short of it, though, is that I don’t think that he’s ever going to bring Napoleon back, and truly, that breaks my heart. Dallas is known for giving and then taking back when he gets mad. We’ve heard stories of such from several people and from Dallas himself. I really wish that I had known this before he ever brought the horses over here, before I became too attached.

You just shouldn’t tell a person that you’re giving them something, when in fact you don’t mean give at all. Quite frankly, I’m sick to death of the man and his constant stream of lies and tall tales. So I just need to resign myself to this reality. If only I had the money to offer to buy Napoleon and bring him home.

“We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.” ~ Tony Hoagland, from “Jet”

So more snake news: last night I started to go into the bathroom only to find Ash staring intently at something near the toilet. I backed out, and Corey went in and wrangled the snake again. He’s fairly certain that it’s the same snake. I did not look closely enough to notice. Thank god Ash was on high alert as I probably wouldn’t have noticed or been able to see the damned thing as my eyesight is getting worse.

Funnily enough, earlier in the day Corey had pointed out that a snake was wrapped around one of the fence posts, and he thought that it was probably the same snake. He asked me if he should kill it, and even though I hate, hate, hate it, there’s no good reason for killing a black snake as they are harmless. Well, almost harmless. A couple of weeks ago Corey found a black snake in the chicken coop, and it was trying to eat one of the chickens. So there’s that . . .

Enough on my ophidiaphobia; I wouldn’t say herpetophobia as I’m not afraid of all reptiles, only snakes.

“I know I am restless and make others so,
I know my words are weapons full of danger, full of death ~ Walt Whitman, from “As I Lay with My Head in Your Lap Camerado”

I had originally planned to post pictures of all the goats for Wordless Wednesday, but I really wanted to finish this post as the longer that it remains unfinished, the more I stress over it, and one of the main reasons I keep this blog is to write away my stress, not compound it.

Anyway, here’s the current goat status: four females, three males. The Nubians are Sylvia,  Bobby, Roland, and the new baby Zeke. Ruby is a Miniature Nubian. Daisy is a pygmy, and Beric is a Nigerian Dwarf. Corey’s plan is to breed and sell registered Nubians and Miniature Nubians. Bobby gave birth to Zeke a week ago, but she had no interest in nursing him, so both he and Roland are currently in the house being bottle fed, but Roland is almost ready to be weaned (even though he probably doesn’t think so).

I find it more than a little amusing that Corey has managed to spoil the two goat babies in the same way that I spoil dogs and cats. It’s so bad that Roland cries at night if Corey leaves the kitchen, which is where we have the crates for both of them. Corey puts Roland in his crate for the night, and then he has to wait for Roland to fall asleep; otherwise, his cries get progressively louder and more anxious, and I swear that it’s as unnerving as listening to a baby cry.

Well, that’s all for now, folks. More later. Peace.


Music by Wafia (featuring Finneas), “The Ending”


[from the sustaining air]
from the sustaining air
fresh air
There is the clarity of a shore
And shadow,   mostly,   brilliance
summer
                the billows of August
When, wandering, I look from my page
I say nothing
      when asked
I am, finally, an incompetent, after all
~ Larry Eigner (found on Poetry Foundation)

 

 

Sunday afternoon saudade . . .

“The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from a letter to Ilse Erdmann, 21 December 1913