“There are times when a feeling of expectancy comes to me, as if something is there, beneath the surface of my understanding, waiting for me to grasp it. It is the same tantalising sensation when you almost remember a name, but don’t quite reach it.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from The Journals of Sylvia Plath

Eilif Amundsen In the Window nd oil on canvas
“In the Window” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Eilif Amundsen

                   

“I am a collection of dismantled almosts.” ~ Anne Sexton, from Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters

Thursday afternoon. Rainy and much cooler, 77 degrees.

So . . . ten days since last real post . . .

Eilif Amundsen House in the Park 1994 oil on canvas
“House in the Park” (1994, oil on canvas)
by Eilif Amundsen

So many reasons why, but better just to move on. First, status report on the bathroom renovation:

  • Tub has been installed. This after Corey had to take back the first two tubs to Home Depot (missing parts, cracked rim).
  • Almost all wood work has been done: joists, studs, ledgers; only need to frame the niches.
  • Toilet has been installed. Had to take back the first one because of a crack. Nothing is ever easy.
  • Sub floor is down as well as additional piece of wood to bring floor level with tub
  • Most of the plumbing is in place.
  • Wiring for tub is done; luckily, we had one breaker that only had a ceiling fan on it, which never made any sense to me.

What’s next?

  • Installing Hardiebacker board on floor and walls
  • Laying Ditra (waterproofing membrane)
  • Installing glass block window
  • Patching ceiling and painting (primer and paint)
  • Sanding door and painting
  • Installing vanity, cabinet, light fixture, ventilation fan
  • Tiling . . .

I’m sure I’ve forgotten things in both categories, but it’s nice to spell it all out. I’m itching to start the tiling, but can I just take a moment to say hooray for indoor plumbing?

“When you have nothing to say,
the sadness of things
speaks for you.” ~ Ruth Stone, from “Interim”

I’m still in one of those writing funks, the kind in which finding words is such a chore, rather than being a pleasurable experience. It’s hard for me, especially since most of the time words are my boon companion, my constant in a sea of change. Anyway, I decided I’d just do a random thoughts post and see where that takes me. Here goes . . .

  • I did one of those random tumblr surveys (McPoverty Calculator) about how much more I would be willing to pay for a Big Mac to help fast food workers make more money. I put in the highest amount, which was a whopping $.22. Based on their calculator, workers would make $15.23 per hour, or $31,671.83 per year as a result of this increase.

    Eilif Amundsen Danish Still Life, Window 2000 oil on canvas
    “Still Life, Window” (2000, oil on canvas)
    by Eilif Amundsen
  • Isn’t bettering someone’s life worth $.22, especially since what you are paying for is so bad for your body?
  • I don’t understand our society: We let people kill other people based on some kind of weird social indicator that points to our possessions being more valuable than people’s lives (like the law in Texas that allows you to shoot anyone who trespasses on your property that you deem could do you harm).
  • We are supposed to be a great country, yet one in almost four children live in poverty. Tell me, what is great about that? Dites moi . . .
  • Did you know that the most recent data show that over 16 million children are living in food insecure households (tenuous access to food)?
  • Contrary to what the Koch brothers contend, raising the minimum wage would benefit the nation as a whole because more people would be able to live without subsistence. That’s a good thing, right?

“Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.” ~ Meg Rosoff, from What I Was

Okay, so I went off on a bit of a political rant, but it can’t be helped. Blame it on the Big Mac . . .

  • Bailey the Puppy has adjusted very well to life here. Only a few accidents here and there, mostly if it rains. I tried taking her out with an umbrella, but she was too afraid of the huge golf umbrella and ran inside, leaving me standing in the wet grass.

    Eilif Amundsen Atelier Mirror 1985 oil on canvas
    “Atelier Mirror” (1985, oil on canvas)
    by Eilif Amundsen
  • Tillie is loving have a puppy to play with. I’m so glad this worked out well.
  • In between renovations, Corey has been taking some amazing photographs. I’ll post soon.
  • I feel terrible that I haven’t spent any time with my niece Hannah, but in between renovations and battling bubbly face, it hasn’t worked out. I’m hoping to see her this Saturday.
  • Brett officially changed his major from physics to English. I’m secretly delighted. Okay, maybe not so secret.
  • I finally gave in and expanded my LinkedIn profile. It’s not social like Facebook, so I think that I can deal with it.
  • Have I mentioned how glad I am to have indoor plumbing? I did? Well, it can’t be stated enough.

“Reality is yours, and your spirit is your own.
Stand here, or anywhere, long enough, and you will learn that.
It’s not the stream or the bridge; it’s where I stand
At a precise spot of nowhere and timelessness
Within myself, a door I can go through and be invisible” ~ Douglas Dunn, from “Just Standing There”

Let’s see . . . what else is going on in my mind or otherwise . . .

  • So I saw my new pain doctor on Monday and got a shot in my knee, so painful, and a series of shots in my right hand and wrist.

    Eilif Amundsen Green Backlight 1977
    “Green Backlight” (1977, unknown media)
    by Eilif Amundsen
  • Apparently, the x-rays I had done last week show arthritis in both of my knees. Lovely . . .
  • Of course because I just saw my doctor, I am now on day two of this particular migraine.
  • Speaking of my knees, can’t wait until I get to tile the bathroom floor, he, he, he.
  • The doctor was not amused when I told him that I was thinking of holding off on the wrist shots because I was getting ready to do a tiling project. His comment? “You should hired someone.” My response? “Are you paying?” (at least that was the response in my head)
  • I dropped by Lex’s apres le docteur so that I could see Olivia. If I waited for Alexis to come by, the baby might be in preschool . . .
  • That last comment was snarky, wasn’t it? Well . . . is it still snarky if it’s true?
  • I’m a little perturbed at her for various reasons, but I’ll get over it.
  • Olivia has more teeth coming in. I’ll be glad when we’re finished with the renovation, mostly because I’ll be able to have the baby over again . . . well, there’s that, plus the new bathroom and jetted tub and no holes anywhere.

“I am an old boudoir full of withered roses.” ~ Charles Baudelaire, from “Spleen”

I really love this quote

  • I haven’t read much Baudelaire (any?)
  • Another pitfall of this funk—haven’t been able to read either.
Eilif Amundsen Chair, Table, Window, oil on canvas
“Chair, Table, Window” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Eilif Amundsen
  • Because of the renovation, I’ve been doing most of the cooking, which reminds me that I hate to cook. I used to love it, but not so much any more.
  • Last night I made Mongolian Beef, which I’ve been thinking about cooking for a while. I don’t think that I like it any more.
  • I finally made Chicken Pad Thai for Corey. That was a hit.
  • Oh, did I mention that our refrigerator is broken? Probably not because I’m in denial, although why I couldn’t tell you. I mean, it’s so just our luck that our refrigerator would stop working now that we’re making real progress in the bathroom. Can’t be 100 per cent operational in this household.
  • I still contend that one of those crazy bitches I used to work with put a curse on me, but don’t ask me which one . . .
  • Speaking of which, last night I had a department store dream again. I was in the dog house for something, which is pretty close to the reality that of that period of my life.
  • My back is killing me. I think I’ll stop for now and go have some puppy time.
  • I do want to mention, though, that I think this random post helped. I’m been feeling progressively more comfortable with the words with each bullet.

Belated Happy Birthday wishes to my father-in-law John. Hope it was happy!

More later. Peace.

All images are by Norwegian artist Eilif Amundsen (1930-2007).

Music by Sara Bareilles, “Breathe Again”

                   

Rembrandt’s Light

We’re crossing Depression Era bridges
and she is becoming more beautiful,
driving with both hands on the wheel
as we head inland: away from saltwater eddies
where every few months an empty row boat
falls victim to the current, recirculates
against the rocky shore for weeks
before splintering its wooden hull
on the land’s dull and uncompromising teeth.
Rembrandt’s light always came from the left.
He painted and hoped the canvas would keep
his shadows, the eye drawn to where the flesh
was softest and the most tired: just beneath
the eyes where we keep our hurt and our joy,
where we seldom touch for how easily
the thin skin can bruise. Evergreens
invite us to agree on beauty. The fenced-off pier
begs for passengers. She says the light
is bleeding from the clouds. The pavement,
the undersides of leaves: every darkness shining.

~ Luke Johnson

“I am a collection of dismantled almosts.” ~ Anne Sexton, from A Self-Portrait In Letters

Claude Monet Lilacs in the Sun 1872
“Lilacs in the Sun” (1872)
by Claude Monet

“No word in my ear, no word on the tip of my tongue.
It’s out there, I guess,
Among the flowers and wind-hung and hovering birds,
And I have forgotten it,
dry leaf on a dry creek.
Memory’s nobody’s fool, and keeps close to the ground.” ~ Charles Wright, from “Buffalo Yoga”

Friday afternoon. Cloudy with drizzle, 76 degrees.

The weather has been amazing. Yesterday was perfect—sunny and warm, with a breeze, in the 70’s. Wild weather in June. Today is the first day of summer, and it is cooler than it has been in weeks. When Corey got home, he said that it was warmer in Ohio than here. But I’m sure that in a few days it will be in the 90’s with godawful humidity.

Pyotr Konchalovsky Lilacs 1948 oil on canvas
“Lilacs” (1948, oil on canvas)
by Pyotr Konchalovsky

I had thought about having Olivia today and tonight but decided against it. Neither of us are feeling that great, so it wouldn’t be the best of visits. Can you believe my little bug is going to be a year old next month? Time moves much too quickly.

I’ve learned a new word: tendentious, which means expressing a strong, (biased) partisan point of view. I don’t know why I’ve never come upon this word before. Of course, I now cannot remember where I found this word because it’s been a few days. My brain is like a sieve. More and more I fear that the holes are overtaking the grey matter.

Truly, though, all of the migraines would have to have some effect on the brain, wouldn’t they? I cannot imagine an organ suffering such assaults and coming away completely unscathed. I tell myself that my cognitive impairment comes from the migraines. Laying the blame there keeps me from having to think too much about what is going on.

“Leave. Be like the clouds.
Be like the water. Stand for the thing
that will and will not change
for reasons we will accept and still think bad—
be like words, like vague words
belonging to the whiteout of endless work.” ~ Lawrence Revard, from “Incantations to Snow”

I had wanted to post yesterday, but I kept falling asleep, truly.

Night before last, Corey and I stayed up to watch the last half of Game of Thrones season 3, which wouldn’t have been so bad if the puppy hadn’t wanted to eat at 7 a.m. Her stomach seems to be pretty regular—7, noon, 5 p.m. She has already grown so much. I had meant to post some pictures before now, but they’re on Brett’s phone, and he hasn’t forwarded them to me yet. I suppose that by the time I finally get around to doing so, she’ll already be much bigger.

441002-23
“Still Life with Lilacs” (ca 1920s)
by Aristarkh Lentulov

Anyway, the point was that I paid the price for staying up so late because Bailey insisted that I get up on time. She’s a funny dog, and I’m finally allowing myself to enjoy having her without feeling guilty about Jake.

The night that we watched GoT, Bailey came out to the living room, sat down and whined at me. I followed her, and she wanted to go to bed, but she wanted me to go to bed with her. It’s easy to forget that puppies are just babies. At this moment, she’s having her afternoon nap on the bed. Pictures soon. Promise.

“I wanted to say one thing
so pure, so white, it puts a hole in the air
and I’d pass through . . . ~ Robin Behn, from “Over 102nd Street”

The gardenias are in a bloom, a lovely, fragrant rhapsody of white. I missed the blooming of the lilac bush this year, and the spring storms thrashed my peonies; I was able to cut only a few to bring indoors before they were gone. So I’m harvesting fresh white blossoms each day.

Mary Cassatt Lilacs in a Window oil on canvas 1880
“Lilacs in a Window” (1880, oil on canvas)
by Mary Cassatt

I remember that my Aunt Ronnie in Great Bridge used to love the scent of gardenias. My mother would buy her a cologne called Jungle Gardenia, which might have been a musk. I, too, love the heady scent. It is such full smell, one that floats on the air long after the blooms have been cut.

I associate gardenias with a green scent, which is best described as cool and fresh, not sweet. I don’t have synesthesia like Brett, but I do associate scents with colors. Rosemary and mint are green scents. Peonies are a pink scent, deeper, richer, like roses, regardless of color.

I remember wearing a Jovan musk oil called Grass when I was a teenager. I couldn’t smell it after I had applied it, but other people could. I wonder if they still make it . . . probably not.

“Beneath the rhapsodies of fire and fire,
Where the voice that is in us makes a true response,
Where the voice that is great within us rises up,
As we stand gazing at the rounded moon.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “Evening Without Angels”

When I was a young girl, I remember the first time I found a wild honeysuckle vine. Suzanne showed me how to suck on the blossoms. So much of the neighborhood still had wild growth when we first moved here, the kind of growth that hadn’t yet been impaired by paving and building. Left unchecked, nature is an incomparable perfumer.

Isaac Levitan Spring per White Lilacs 1895
“Spring. White Lilacs” (1895)
by Isaac Levitan

My mother has a bush in her front yard called Daphne Odora (odora L. = fragrant), which produces one of the best smelling flowers of any bush I have ever come across. It blooms in late winter/early spring, and its scent carries into the street so that passersby almost always stop to ask my mother where the smell is coming from.

I have tried at least three times to root this bush, unsuccessfully to date. Called jinchoge in Japan, the blossoms are white and pink, but the fragrance that they produce feels deep red, crimson. Don’t ask me to explain my scent categories as they are completely contrived; I can only say that something feels green or pink or crimson, sometimes yellow. Honeysuckle scent is yellow.

It’s all a lot of falderal, but the idea of color reminds me of a Merwin poem which I have actually been able to find (below).

“the infinite variety of having once been,
of being, of coming to life, right there in the thin air, a debris re-
assembling, a blue transparent bit of paper flapping in also-blue air” ~ Jorie Graham, from “The Swarm”

As an interesting aside, the Ruth Stone in the Merwin poem was a poet who actually taught at ODU while I was in the department. I think that she only stayed for a year, not really being into the whole idea of committed academe; someone once referred to her as the poet vagabond because she taught at so many different colleges and universities.

Valentin Serov Open Window period Lilacs oil on canvas 1886
“Open Window. Lilacs” (1886, oil on canvas)
by Valenin Serov

I remember an older woman with wild hair whose poems were intensely personal, who integrated the natural with her poems about her family, her late husband in particular. Merwin’s poem is an homage to a woman who, though blind, was still writing poems at the age of 96.

As you can imagine, the idea of Ruth Stone the woman, the poet, appeals to me greatly. Admittedly, I did not get to know her while she was in the department, and I really regret that. The timing was bad for me—I was pregnant with Eamonn and very self-absorbed at the time. It’s my loss that I didn’t enter even the periphery of this woman’s life. I could have learned so much from her.

But I can take her example, her complete dedication to her craft until the day she died, take that and imprint it somewhere on my consciousness. Stone serves as an imprimatur of sorts for me: She endured a lifetime of hardship, and was not even widely recognized for her poetry her late 80’s, when she received the National Book award for her book The Next Galaxy. (Click here for an NPR article and some of Stone’s poems)

No, I’m not comparing myself to Stone, only saying that I hope to be even a fraction as dedicated to my craft until the day I die.

More later. Peace.

Music by The Gourds, “Steeple Full of Swallows”

                   

A Letter to Ruth Stone

Now that you have caught sight
of the other side of darkness
the invisible side
so that you can tell
it is rising
first thing in the morning
and know it is there
all through the day

another sky
clear and unseen
has begun to loom
in your words
and another light is growing
out of their shadows
you can hear it

now you will be able
to envisage beyond
any words of mine
the color of these leaves
that you never saw
awake above the still valley
in the small hours
under the moon
three nights past the full

you know there was never
a name for that color

~ W. S. Merwin