“If I am not better, at least I am different.” ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

                   

“The sound of winter is the hum of wind through bare trees and the creaking of those wise branches, so like these brittle mortal bones save in their innocence. On frigid mornings I hear my humanity coming in from the cold.” ~ Christopher Troise, from See Troise Write

Friday afternoon. Rainy and unseasonably warm, 57 degrees.

There is no snow here. No cold. No flakes falling and collecting, amassing into unknown structures, waiting to be unburied with the sun’s warmth. I know that I should be happy that we don’t have a lot of cold and snow here as neither are good for my bones or my back, but I long for snow, wet flakes on my face, the chance to photograph the vast whiteness, the trees cloaked in inches of froth, the dog carefully stepping so as not to sink.

Snow would be nice, would be lovely and white and banking. Instead, we have rain and mud puddles and lethargy, so I will write about nothing and nothingness and nothings.

Random thoughts:

  • Post-rock is an actual category in music, but I find the term to be grossly uninventive. Is not everything after the Stones, the Who, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin post-rock?
  • I have deliberately not learned how to make GIFs as I know that I would spend a disproportionate amount of time playing.
  • Who are these people who can watch a show and do screen captures while watching and post them immediately?
  • Am I being left behind technologically?
  • For someone who lives in the past so much, someone who loves ancient ways, I love technology.
  • I am using quotes in this post by two people I found on tumblr.
  • We have raccoons living in our attic, and Corey thinks they are cute, she said, apropos of nothing.

“Time takes life away
and gives us memory, gold with flame,
black with embers.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from “Shell”

Odd memories out of nowhere:

  • Two scents I used to wear along with my power suits (neither of which exist in the original formulation any more): Lauren and Dioressence. Everyone else wore the first, so I switched to the second, and people either loved it or hated it.
  • Power suits with shoulder pads and pumps. What were we thinking?
  • I miss dressing for work, the whole thing—hair, makeup, jewelry, but I don’t miss pantyhose at all.
  • Does anyone still wear pantyhose?
  • I remember years ago when I worked at the newspaper there was a woman who wrote about fashion, and she always complained that the women in this area were so unimaginative because they only wore suntan-colored pantyhose. Funny the things you remember.
  • Another odd memory from the newsroom days: There was this reporter who had a terrible crush, bordering on stalkworthy on a male reporter who I happened to be dating casually. She would come into the newsroom and stand and stare at his empty chair. Sometimes she would stare at me. Very, very creepy.
  • During that same period in my life I kept a journal called “Dear God.” In a word, embarrassing.

“I go through phases. Somedays I feel like the person I’m supposed to be, and then somedays, I turn into no one at all. There is both me and my silhouette. I hope that on the days you find me and all I am are darkened lines, you still are willing to be near me.” ~ Mary Kate Teske

List of minutiae:

  • I wonder if I still believe in angels.
  • If I wonder, that is probably indicative of a negative, isn’t it?
  • Whenever I dream of my friend Mari, I awaken with a hard spot in my chest, as if the dream has carved a scoop of flesh from me and left a hollow impression.
  • I always feel strangely accomplished once I have calendars throughout the house, but I have to wonder about this obsession with time. Does recording it slow it?
  • I discovered Adam Zagajewski quite by accident when I unearthed a book of his poems in the ratty old bookstore that used to occupy the corner of the local shopping center. The store is long gone, which is sad as they had the most amazing undiscovered poetry section living on the bottom two shelves in the far left corner. I think that’s where I found my first Rilke book.
  • Oh how I long for the day when all of my books of poetry can reside on shelves again and not in storage tubs.
  • I am still thinking about the concept of holding sadness in my spine.

“I love the dark hours of my being
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Ich liebe meines Wesens Dunkelstunden” from Book of Hours (trans. Anita Barrow and Joanna Macy)

Did you know?

  • Brett has synaesthesia. He once told me that a cologne that I like smelled too green.
  • Apparently, synaesthesia is fairly common in newborns, which makes sense when you think about it. Newborns have so many capabilities, but they cannot tell us, so they get no positive reinforcement, which helps to explain why these capabilities might fade.
  • I remember an episode of “Criminal Minds” (of course, I do) in which the killer saw people’s names in color, and if the name was red, the killer knew that the person was bad.
  • Having a killer with synaesthesia would be a pretty cool plot device, don’t you think?
  • My preoccupation with killers has nothing to do with my childhood, which was the epitome of normal, except for the travel.
  • I really wish that I had come of age in a time in which it was quite possible, normal even, for women to become criminal profilers.
  • Did I ever mention that I once applied to the FBI? It was for a marketing position, and I really didn’t want it. Who wants to say that they do marketing for the FBI. Not at all cool.

“People often ask me questions that I cannot very well answer in words, and it makes me sad to think they are unable to hear the voice of my silence.” ~ Inayat Khan

And then there is this:

  • I’ve been so poor that I combed the house for change to buy gas for the car.
  • I once claimed that I was sick at work so that I could leave and go for a drive. I got in the car and drove for two hours.
  • While I was an undergraduate, I routinely ate Nacho Cheese Doritos and hot pepper rings for dinner.
  • When I was sixteen, I picked out the names of the six children that I was going to have with the boy who was the love of my life. Nothing about that was correct—the boy, the names, or the number of children.
  • When my contemporaries were listening to Jethro Tull and Deep Purple, I was listening to Broadway soundtracks and singing to myself in my bedroom.
  • I think that people find it easy to lie to me.
  • I do not miss the 80’s like some people do.
  • I fear that I’ve already had the life-defining moment, and I didn’t realize it.

More later. Peace.
*All snow GIFs taken from a tumblr post; sorry, don’t have better source than that.

Music by The Smiths, “Asleep”

                   

Strange Little Prophets

When is the smell of a blackberry tree
a harbinger of  violent movement
rather than simply the recollection of
a childhood Sunday dress hem-dipped
in mud, handprinted with juice and seeds?
Hard to say. A mind, when playing tricks
is at its most sincere — at home raking
through the body’s history, repeating
the strange and nostalgic. The taste of
dirty copper, the imagined cockroach
in the corner, the sluggish slow of  the clock
— doctors call these strange little prophets
warning signs of a seizure, synaptic misfires
looming like a song discordant, until the body
— an unplucked string — is finally strummed.

~ Barbara Perez

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“Why is it the words we write for ourselves are always better than the words we write for others?” ~ Mike Rich from Finding Forrester

U. S. Postal Service Parcel Post Truck, ca 1950*

                   

“Nostalgia, more than anything, gives us the shudder of our own imperfection. This is why with Chopin we feel so little like gods.” ~ E. M. Cioran, from The Book of Delusions

Wednesday evening. Much too warm (mid 70s) and intermittent showers.

It’s unseasonably warm, so of course, I’m thinking of snow.

Mail Trucks on Parade, 1956

Another sleepless night. Watched the clock hit 7:30 a.m. Not sure what’s going on with this most recent bout of insomnia unless I’m just getting myself too amped for the holiday stress. Stressing over impending stress?

Yesterday I had out of control back spasms. Corey worked on the knots a bit, but I really need some trigger shots. My appointment is in two weeks, which means two more weeks of knots in my back and now, also in my right hand. I don’t know if I have a pinched nerve in my hand, or if such a thing is even possible. I suppose if it’s possible, then I have it.

Brett finishes his scientific writing class with his power point presentation on Thursday, and then he has a presentation in public speaking on Friday. Oral presentations used to really worry him, but he’s gotten much better. Unfortunately, he’s still unsure as to what he wants to declare as his major. That’s problematic as he’s entering his second semester of his sophomore year.

Corey is at work, although his shift today was cut by two hours because of ship departures. His shift yesterday at the boatyard was completely cancelled, but he did manage to pick up a two and a half hour shift at the bank. Some bank in Virginia Beach hires security to walk their employees to their cars once Daylight Savings time kicks in, which is actually a good practice. The downside is that the shifts are very short.

“I was always one for being alone,
Seeking in my own way, eternal purpose;
At the edge of the field waiting for the pure moment;
Standing, silent, on sandy beaches or walking along green embankments;”~ Theodore Roethke, from Section 1 of “Fourth Meditation”

Thursday afternoon. Sunny and much cooler, 50° 

Rural Letter Carrier in Sleigh, 1918

So I just couldn’t finish yesterday. Too lethargic. Of course, now that it’s 24 degrees cooler than yesterday, my cough is acting up. I’ve almost emptied a new inhaler with this bout of bronchitis. Simply cannot win.

House to myself. The dogs are off napping somewhere, and it’s pretty quiet. Corey’s shift today was supposed to be extended by two hours to compensate for yesterday, but unfortunately, not so.

Very good news though: he now has his merchant mariner’s documents in hand, updated licenses and credentials. Hooray. With any luck, he’ll be back on a boat of some sort by 2012. You should have seen how happy he was when he opened the mail yesterday, and his package was there. I haven’t seen a smile that wide in quite some time.

Of course, it will be a radical change for our daily way of life. I’m so used to him being here, taking care of the things that I cannot handle, you know, simple things like picking up the groceries. But the biggest change will be that he’s physically away. We’ve gotten quite used to daily living together. I’m not complaining. We did the sea thing before, just not for the past three years. I am happy for him, though. I know that he’s looking forward to the change. I’m just hoping that he can still fit in at least one online class next semester. I guess we’ll just have to see how things go on that end.

“he told again our great race through the stars
and how the world can’t keep up with our dreams.”~ William Stafford, “Living on the Plains [1990]”

So I’m sitting here as the sky darkens, cup of hot tea on the desk, and Christmas socks on my feet. I wish that I had something interesting to say, but I really don’t. My mind is kind of fuzzy today, probably from the weird sleep patterns of late. It bugs me, though, when I do have the time and access to write, and then when I sit before the keyboard, nothing seems to come forth.

Puttling a Letter into a Doremus Mailbox, ca 1880

Wish that I could ring a bell or respond to a herald: Go forth ye and write . . . No such luck. I’m really hoping that this doesn’t turn into a three-day post. It just seems so lame, somehow.

Last night I had a very strange dream in which I was cleaning out the refrigerator and cabikitchen cabinets in my my-in-law’s house. The kitchen had begun to smell because food from the funeral was still in the fridge. Of course, this never happened. So odd.

I also dreamed that I was walking down a major highway, and in a field off to the right were three young men with a pack of dogs. Tillie was with me, and she ran towards the dogs. The young men told me to be careful because their dogs had ticks. Also strange.

Then in another part I was counseling two men who had just been released from prison. Where does this stuff come from?

“I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.
And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—
First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing.” ~ Robert Haas from “Faint Music”

Well bugger. I just lost the entire last section of what I had typed. Hate it when WordPress does that.

Friday afternoon. Cloudy and 61º.

Yep. It’s turned into a three-day post. I had thought that I’d be feeling much better by now, but between the coughing, wheezing, and hacking, it’s just not happening. Nice image, I know. I have an idea that I probably waited too long to go to the doctor, so the ordinarily miraculous z-pack is not working as well.

Mail Van in the Snow, ca 1953

When I saw the doctor, he gave me a script for Prednizone, which I did not have filled. I hate taking Prednizone as it blows me up like a turgid balloon, but I think that I’m going to have to just suck it up and take it.

So between the time I first began this post and today, Corey has spoken with the representative from the shipping company that was interested in hiring him right after he had started classes. He seemed to remember Corey and told him that he would move his file to the top of the pile for the next crew change, which is scheduled for early January.

We’re both kind of in shock that things seem to be going smoothly. I supposed living in a perpetual state of waiting for the other shoe to drop makes one terribly gun shy. Daring to hope? Hoping beyond hope? And then when something actually does change, daring to believe that this is so?

It’s hard because we’ve become so accustomed to things not going our way, so inured to the seemingly endless doses of bad luck, so when the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel begins to come into focus, we do a double take.

It’s more of the do I dare? mentality. Do I dare to eat this peach in my hand? What if it’s the very last peach I ever have? Should I savor it or save it?

“It is hard
in the radiance of this world to live
but we live.” ~ Campbell McGrath, from “Storm Valediction”

Last night (after finally falling sleep sometimes after 4), I dreamed that I had been invited to this feast. The hosts were a rich family in New York, and the dinner was at a big, fancy restaurant. What’s significant about this dream is that I could not get anyone to serve me. People all around me were being served food, delicious food, but not a single server would pay attention to me. I wanted to order wine, but no one would take my order. I wanted a steak and asparagus spears, but no one would ask me what I wanted.

Letter Carrier in Snow, 1920

All around me, people were dining on lavish dishes: caviar, mango strips, lobster, crepes, exotic fruits, shrimp. I got a taste here and there, but no plate of food. Corey had food. Somehow, he had a plate, and he was able to take things from here and there, but I had nothing. The sommelier finally came to the table, and seemed surprised that I ordered a bottle of wine without a screw cap, but he never reappeared with my wine.

So does this dream mean that good things are within reach but not quite attainable? Or does this dream mean that everyone gets some except me? Or does this dream simply mean that I went to bed hungry?

Who knows. But now I’m craving steak, button mushrooms, and asparagus. I suppose I’ll munch on a few Wheat Thins . . .

*All images taken from the Flickr Smithsonian Institution’s Photostream, Collection on Postal History

Music by the Perishers, “Sway”

                   

Shopping for Pomegranates at Wal-Mart on New Year’s Day

Beneath a ten-foot-tall apparition of Frosty the Snowman
with his corncob pipe and jovial, over-eager, button-black eyes,
holding, in my palm, the leathery, wine-colored purse
of a pomegranate, I realize, yet again, that America is a country
about which I understand everything and nothing at all,
that this is life, this ungovernable air
in which the trees rearrange their branches, season after season,
never certain which configuration will bear the optimal yield
of sunlight and water, the enabling balm of nutrients,
that so, too, do Wal-Mart’s ferocious sales managers
relentlessly analyze their end-cap placement, product mix,
and shopper demographics, that this is the culture
in all its earnestness and absurdity, that it never rests,
that each day is an eternity and every night is New Year’s Eve,
a cavalcade of B-list has-beens entirely unknown to me,
needy comedians and country singers in handsome Stetsons,
sitcom stars of every social trope and ethnic denomination,
pugilists and oligarchs, femmes fatales and anointed virgins
throat-slit in offering to the cannibal throng of Times Square.
Who are these people? I grow old. I lie unsleeping
as confetti falls, ash-girdled, robed in sweat and melancholy,
click-shifting from QVC to reality TV, strings of commercials
for breath freshener, debt reconsolidation, a new car
lacking any whisper of style or grace, like a final fetid gasp
from the lips of a dying Henry Ford, potato-faced actors
impersonating real people with real opinions
offered forth with idiot grins in the yellow, herniated studio light,
actual human beings, actual souls bought too cheaply.
That it never ends, O Lord, that it never ends!
That it is relentless, remorseless, and it is on right now.
That one sees it and sees it but sometimes it sees you, too,
cowering in a corner, transfixed by the crawler for the storm alert,
home videos of faces left dazed by the twister, the car bomb,
the war always beginning or already begun, always
the special report, the inside scoop, the hidden camera
revealing the mechanical lives of the sad, inarticulate people
we have come to know as “celebrities.”
Who assigns such value, who chose these craven avatars
if not the miraculous hand of the marketplace,
whose torn cuticles and gaudily painted fingernails resemble nothing
so much as our own? Where does the oracle reveal our truths
more vividly than upon that pixillated spirit glass
unless it is here, in this tabernacle of homely merchandise,
a Copernican model of a money-driven universe
revolving around its golden omphalos, each of us summed
and subtotalled, integers in an equation of need and consumption,
desire and consummation, because Hollywood had it right all along,
the years are a montage of calendar pages and autumn leaves,
sheet music for a nostalgic symphony of which our lives comprise
but single trumpet blasts, single notes in the hullabaloo,
or even less—we are but motes of dust in that atmosphere
shaken by the vibrations of time’s imperious crescendo.
That it never ends, O Lord. That it goes on,
without pause or cessation, without pity or remorse.
That we have willed it into existence, dreamed it into being.
That it is our divine monster, our factotum, our scourge.
That I can imagine nothing more beautiful
than to propitiate such a god upon the seeds of my own heart.

~ (January 11, 2010 New Yorker)

“She had burning things inside her that would not keep quiet.” ~ Kerem Mermutlu

Italian Winter Night
                   

“I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It’s the universe’s way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It’s how life is.” ~ Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Friday afternoon. Not too cold, 40’s. Melting snow.

Big Ben in the Fog

Well, I have had a fairly productive afternoon. I called my gynecologist’s office to see how much an out-of-network visit for an established patient would cost, and quelle surpise! Turns out they do accept my new health insurance—even though they weren’t on the website’s list of providers.

When I spoke with one of the women in the billing office, I think that I confused her by saying that I wanted to pay the out-of-network price for an exam, but then she said, “We do accept XXX insurance.” Really? You’re not kidding, are you because that would be too cruel . . .

Hmm. Things that make you go hmm . . .

So I called my gastroenterologist’s office just out of curiosity. Turns out, they also accept my new health insurance, and no, they were not on the list of providers on the company’s website.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I called the mental health provider that I want to change to, but seems they take Friday afternoons off. Lucky them. So two out of three today isn’t bad at all. I must say. Not that I’m going to take back any of my ranting and railing at the complete and utter nonsense that I went through the other day. I don’t do take backs for corporations or politicians just on principle (since neither the former nor the latter have any, principles, that is).

“L’acte d’écrire prend le dessus et devient son propre sujet.” (The act of writing takes over and becomes its own subject.) ~ Robert Wasler

Charles Bridge at Dusk, Prague, Czech Republic

One thing that I forgot to mention in my last real post (Dr. Who poster doesn’t count as a real post, at least not in my mind, even though it’s fun) is that I submitted my poem for the contest. After leaving it alone for several days, I went back to it and found that it was a completely different poem than the one with which I had begun. The new poem actually hummed in its rhythm. I realized that my first concept for the poem was truly too structured for me to progress.

Quatrains. I have written in quatrains before, but the subject of this poem did not require such structure. It needed to be allowed to flow and to roam, and the words needed to be married and separated and allowed to run into each other if need be.

Then I left it alone for a few more days while I pondered an appropriate title. I’m still not certain about the title that I chose to use for the submission, but unlike some writers, I am not always loyal to titles when I revise. I have gone back years later to a poem and realized that the very thing that kept the poem from working was the title that I had originally bestowed upon it.

Anyway, I submitted it a few days before the deadline, and now we’ll just have to wait and see. I may or may not post the poem on this blog, just depends on . . . well, depends on lots of things.

“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is.” ~ Saul Bellow, Herzog

Castel Sant'Angelo and Bridge, Rome

All of the snow from two nights ago has melted. In fact, most of it was gone when I woke up yesterday. I remember looking out the bathroom window around 3 a.m. (Thursday), and it was absolutely beautiful. Part of me wanted to run outside and take photographs. The other part of me, the cold part, decided against shooting photographs in my pajamas (as if my neighbors don’t already think that I’m more than a bit whacky).

Now that it’s gone, I sort of wish that I had followed my impulse. It’s probably because I don’t live in an area that gets lots of snow, but I just love it when it snows here. The air has a certain clean smell, unlike anything else, and in the middle of the night, when no cars are about, it’s completely silent. The world is blanketed and beautiful and seemingly full of possibilities.

I suppose if I lived up north somewhere, like Michigan or Alaska, I would probably not find the snow quite so mystical. Who knows.

I remember a particular snowfall in Blacksburg. It had snowed hard during the night and all of the next day. That night my ex and I went walking. It was very quiet as we were just about the only people out. We climbed one of the hills, and looked out. The sky had cleared, and the stars were out. I still remember that night so clearly. Everything looked and smelled so perfect. One of those moments in time, I suppose. 

“often i ask myself in the dark whether you feel
the glitter of words and see their souls unfurled.”~ Tzveta Sofronieva, from “(m)other words”, trans. by Chantal Wright  

Chaing Bridge at Night, Budapest

If I were ever to live somewhere where the winters were very cold, and it snowed frequently, there are a few things on my list of preferences that I would have to have:

  • A gas insert for a fireplace for warming hands and feet after being out in the cold
  • A deep, claw-footed bathtub, preferably with a fireplace or radiator in the room, for long, hot soaks, and a skylight above the tub to see the night sky
  • A towel warmer (Okay, don’t have to have this, but have you ever used one? Oooh. Pure luxury.)
  • Radiant heat below the kitchen and bathroom(s) floors. Mike Holmes (“Holmes on Homes”) swears by this stuff
  • A camera that can shoot snowflakes as they fall
  • A hot tub. Okay. I want this one no matter where I live because I know that my back would thank me for it each and every time I used it. But sitting in a hot tub while surrounded by snow is just so cool. And yes, I have done this, and I loved it.
  • Some very cool lined rubber boots. I love rubber boots, always have, but they have just come back into style in the past few years. I suppose that I could buy some to wear in the rain here, but honestly, there are so many other things that money could be spent on that I just can’t justify buying fashionable rubber boots.
  • Oh, and a Samoyed. I love those dogs, had one once for a few months but it caused a very ugly scene with a roommate. It’s just too hot and humid here for them to be really comfortable. Other than Labradors, Samoyeds and Huskies rank up there in my list of dogs that I would own.

Obviously, I’ve given some thought to this list. However, I don’t foresee moving anywhere cold anytime soon. Corey hates the cold, and is not that crazy about snow, either. Probably comes from growing up in Ohio, which can get pretty cold and tends to have snow. He wants warm to hot. I’ll settle for temperate.

Of course, all of this is pure pipe dream at this point, but that’s what we’re living on: a hope, a dream, and a prayer.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sheryl Crow and Sting, “Always on Your Side.” Love, love this.

“Perhaps I am a bear, or some hibernating animal underneath, for the instinct to be half asleep all winter is so strong in me.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Drift Away by worldonpause

“It snowed and snowed, the whole world over, Snow swept the world from end to end. A candle burned on the table; A candle burned.” ~ Boris Pasternak

                     

A Long December

A long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember the last thing you said as you were leavin’
Now the days go by so fast

And it’s one more day up in the canyons
And it’s one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven… I wish you would

The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl

And it’s one more day up in the canyons
And it’s one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California… I think you should

Drove up to the Hillside Manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her

And it’s been a long December and there’s no reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better that the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

And it’s one more day up in the canyon
And it’s one more night in Hollywood
It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean… I guess I should

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

Another Full Moon by Lachlan Donald of Melbourne, Australia

“Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms.” ~ Sir Laurence Olivier

Well, last night was a bit better. I managed to fall asleep by 3:30 a.m. and slept for three straight hours before Tillie woke me to go out. It took a bit, but I fell asleep again around 8:30 and might have slept longer, but Eamonn called from his Dad’s house to complain that his phone wasn’t making outgoing calls. He was rather peeved when I told him that we would not be paying the phone bill anytime soon as we were between a cash influx.  

You would think that I had just stripped him of all his human rights in the way that he carried on. It’s amazing, though, this parenting thing. I used to get distressed whenever Eamonn got distressed until I realized that the maxim about boys being easier to raise than girls was a complete and utter lie. Eamonn is just as dramatic, if not more so, than Alexis was at his age. So I have finally gotten to a point at which I subtly tune out his beseeching until he sort of wears himself out, and then I comment.  

Is that an awful thing to admit? Not really. Don’t judge me unless you’ve raised teenagers.  

“Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

January Snow

So about 6 hours of sleep, more than I’ve been getting lately, and almost enough to make me feel refreshed.  

It is quickly darkening here, and the forecast calls for 5-8 inches of snow. I will be completely surprised if that happens, but who knows. I was looking at the weather report, and Lima, where Corey’s parents live, was a whopping 18 degrees today, so our 34 degrees is almost tropical.  

Other than the weather report, not a lot happening around here. I finally got the 2010 calendars up for everyone. I mark all the birthdays, holidays, school events, etcetera on the various calendars throughout the house. My logic is that perhaps one of us will glance at the calendar for the day and remember an appointment, although I must say that I have been much better about going to appointments on the correct days since I stopped taking that horrible medication for migraines (originally typo as migration—ha), Topamax.  

In some circles, it is referred to as dope-amax because it really wreaks havoc on the whole cognitive/short-term memory function—as if I need any more quashing of that particular ability.  

Anyway, the calendars have been marked, and in so doing, I realized that my youngest son will be graduating from high school this coming June. How wonderful and horrible at the same time. I know that he’ll be elated to be out of high school, but I’m really not sure how I feel about such a rite of passage.  

Anyway . . .  

“Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Icy Sunset, Point Woronzof Park, Anchorage by Janson Jones

I’m in the middle of book four of the Harry Potter series. Getting through all the books is taking longer as I haven’t been able to focus enough to read lately. I was reading a bit just before writing this post, and I came across a word that just doesn’t appear that much in the U.S. but probably is used more often in the UK: betweentimes. What a lovely, polysyllabic word. I love words that are different, words that aren’t used much in casual conversation. I’ll have to manage to find a way to work betweentimes into something soon, which is likely to get a raised eyebrow from Corey.  

I watched “Real Housewives of Orange County” last night, and I have to say that the women are getting annoyingly tiresome, I mean, more than usual. Recent shows focus too much attention on Lynne’s daughter Alexa, who is out of control, and now that Vicki has decided to act nicer, the timbre of the show seems to have shifted. I don’t care for the superior attitude of housewife Alexis and her controlling husband, and Tamra is essentially a basket case.  

Speaking of which, it’s really grating on my nerves how she says “between Simon and I” all the time. It should be “Simon and me.” Me. Me. Objective. Geez. I know, I’m nitpicking, but making the same grammatical error over and over and over again makes me cringe. (Yes, I need something else on which to focus my attention).  

So I believe that I’ve gotten to the point at which RHofOC has grown old. With any luck, RHoNY will be a bit more fun as it hasn’t been on as long as the original.  

I watched my other reality television addiction last night (both on the same night—how convenient), “Project Runway.” I don’t know if it’s just my state of mind, my inability to focus, or what, but that show is also starting to seem like a rehash. After the season with Christian Siriano (fierce), everyone else seems boring. However, now that I think of it, a few other shows seem less interesting this season: “Leverage” (what happened to the fast pace?), “CSI” (don’t even watch it any more), and then there’s the new one that just came out: “Spartacus: Sand and Blood” or something like that.  

Boy was that a mess. It was kind of like a horrible mishmash of 300 and Gladiator, only with lots more fake blood and stop-action for every fight sequence. I wanted to shake the television. I mean please.  

“None of us knows what the next change is going to be, what unexpected opportunity is just around the corner, waiting a few months or a few years to change all the tenor of our lives.” ~ Kathleen Norris

NOAO Enhanced Image of the Moon

Okay. You know that my life is slow when I go on and on about television. Maybe once I begin to sleep more normally, I’ll be able to focus on other things of more importance.  

Along with my winter/moon-themed images, I thought that I’d feature a new photograph from Janson Jones’s newly-revised Floridana v3.0 blog. He has decided to drop the Alaskiana from his blog’s title, but it’s kind of hard for me not to think of the two words together as they flow so well (Floridana Alaskiana).  

Other than that, let me close with a few ponderables:  

  • Why did Heidi Montag have 10 plastic surgery procedures done at once? I mean, she’s only 25, and now she looks like a bad version of a Barbie Doll. Let me just pause here to say that I am not a Montag follower, but I read a blurb in Newsweek about her plastic surgery addiction, and it made me cringe. Botox at 25? Really? Supposedly Montag prayed over the decision to have the head-to-stomach reno done; might I just say that this is not the kind of thing you pray over . . . I mean how about Haiti? Or the economy? But a boob job? Again, please.
  • How did my much-shorter-but fluffier Jack Russell Shakes learn to get into the kitchen trash, which is a pedal-opening container? I now know for sure that it’s him and not Tillie (apologies to the Lab) because Tillie was sound asleep next to me when I heard the commotion in the kitchen. Very strange.
  • Why do Little Debbie oatmeal cookies taste so much better at 3 in the morning? Just saying.
  • What gives with being cloudy and overcast on the night of the Wolf Moon? According to an article on MSNBC, tonight’s moon is expected to be the biggest and brightest (in appearance) of the year, and the term wolf moon dates back to the Native American notion that hungry wolves howled at the winter moon. I love looking into our backyard when the moon is full. The entire yard just glows.
  • Which idiot decided that sending formaldehyde-laced trailers to Haiti would be a feasible idea? Remember the trailers that FEMA sent to New Orleans, the ones that actually made people sick? Yep, those trailers. Let’s send them to Haiti. No, I don’t think so. Yes, the Haitians are dirt poor, but do they deserve to live in infected dwellings even temporarily?
  • And finally, what would cause a Roman Catholic priest to shoplift a tub of butter and a sofa cover from a Wal Mart? Okay, maybe the butter if he was starving, but a sofa cover? I just don’t get it.

More later. Peace.  

Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” (and by the way, this song existed loooong before that hack movie Twilight) . . .  

    

  

 

“No one grows old by living only by losing interest in living.” ~ Marie Beynon Ray

 

 Winter 1936, LIFE Magazine*

 

“You want to cry aloud for your mistakes. But to tell the truth the world doesn’t need any more of that sound.” ~ Mary Oliver

Well, more mellow today. The day began inauspiciously: Our coffee maker died. Just died. No power button, no mellow gurgling, no sweet, sweet smell of the elixir. I was seriously put out. Luckily, I went online to cuisinart.com, found the number, and called customer service. Seems our coffee maker has a three-year limited warranty, and just dying for no reason seems to be covered.

Hooray . . . almost. That particular style, because it is so popular, is on backorder, and they won’t be able to ship it right away. I can live with that given the fact that I am getting my most favorite brewing system ever replaced at no charge. It’s a Cuisinart Coffee-on-Demand, which means that the coffee does not drip into a carafe; instead, it is stored in the double-insulated well until you push the little lever that delivers the tasty brew to your cup. The rest of the coffee remains very fresh until you are ready for more.

The very nice man on the other end of the telephone offered to send me a different model that could be shipped right away, but it was a model with a carafe. I explained ever-so-nicely to him that I am very rough on carafes, having broken at least a dozen of those suckers over the years. I know for a fact, in my heart of hearts, that all coffee carafes have a sweet spot somewhere on one of the curves so that if you happen to tap that precise spot on the bottom of the sink, the entire thing shatters. No more carafes for me.

“If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” ~ Juan Ramon Jimenez 

Anyway, the lack of a fresh, hot cup of coffee threatened to make a very bad day, as did the realization that we do not have enough icicle lights to do the outside of the house. I like blue icicle lights. Blue lights remind me of my father for some reason, so for the past four or so years, we have put up blue outdoor lights. Brett saved the day by stringing plain blue lights along the rooftop.

I sat myself down and told myself to get over it, so I did. Good enough.

Corey’s cold isn’t getting better. In fact, I’m fairly certain that he feels much worse than he is letting on. With any luck, though, it won’t last too long. His colds don’t usually move into his chest the way that mine do, so here’s hoping.

We leave tomorrow afternoon for Ohio. Ironically, it’s supposed to snow here this weekend. Who knows what will happen. It is rather cold at the moment. We need to get the front tire fixed before we leave; it seems to have a slow leak. Other than that, I think that we will be good to go.

“Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk
and we’re at
the edge of the roof.” ~ Rumi

I was reading the news and came across the most outlandish article: Apparently, a four-year-old boy from Chattanooga, Tennessee was found “roaming his neighborhood in the night, drinking beer and wearing a little girl’s dress taken from under a neighbor’s Christmas tree.” The boy’s mothers claims that the boy wants to go to jail because that’s where his daddy is.

Okay. So many things wrong with this story. First, where was his mom when the four-year-old left the house? How did this small child manage to break into his neighbor’s house to steal the dress? What’s with the beer?

I could go off on one of my curmudgeonly rants about kids having kids, lack of parental control, bad role models, ya da ya da ya da, but something else here is really bothering me, and it’s not the dress: Someone at some point taught this child how to open a beer bottle. Look, I have problems with screw top caps, granted, that’s probably a reflection of my own ineptitude, but please, a beer bottle?

The story does not detail why the father is in jail. The parents of this young boy are apparently in the midst of a divorce, and the mother, after speaking with child protective services, is going to be able to keep her son. No judgements here. Children all over the place figure out how to elude child-proof locks all of the time. If the mother is a sound sleeper, it’s entirely possible she didn’t even know that her son was out.  I’m just hoping that someone gets this child some help, if for no other reason than to teach him that it’s illegal to enter other people’s houses and steal things from under a Christmas tree.

“We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.” ~ Anais Nin 

Okay, one other bit of random news. I know that I have said that I don’t watch most reality television because it makes my brain freeze, and I want to scream at the participants, but I do admit to watching “Project Runway,” (fierce), and “Real Housewives of Orange County” and “RH of New York.” Yes, those shows have their share of cluelessness, cattiness, and backstabbing, but such nice homes, such good jewelry, Tim Gunn for gosh’s sake.

Anyway, I’m reading this story that says that the Real Housewives are feeling the money crunch just like other Americans. Let us pause here to let this statement sink in. The housewives of Orange County live in the gated community of Cota in million-dollar homes. One housewife just received a seven-carat diamond necklace just because. They shop at La Perla for lingerie.

So Tamra has to clean her own house. OMIGAWD. Stop the presses. Life is so hard for these women. Look, they are publicity whores. They get paid a minimal stipend for appearing on the show, nothing to cover the cost of those mortgages. But they back-stab each other at the drop of a hat, talk trash constantly, and to boot, have overbearing, possessive, controlling husbands (with the exception of Don, who is just so laid back). So forgive me if my heart does not weep that Tamra must dust her furniture or Vicki cannot buy a yacht or Lynn’s husband is not doing well with his construction company. It didn’t stop her from getting a facelift and treating her daughter to a nose job.

But will I keep watching? You betcha. It’s my vicarious pleasure, and hey, I have to take them where I can find them.

“I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen—I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women.” ~ Neil Gaiman

I need to stop now because I have to polish my furniture. Tamra’s plight made me feel so compassionate that in her honor, I am going to de-grime the piano and other various items. It does pain me to clean the cobwebs because they are rather splendid, and I have become so accustomed to seeing them there in the corners (kidding).

Actually, the deal was that if Brett put up the outside lights today, I would polish the furniture, which is usually his job. But I really don’t know how I can keep up this pace and still get my Botox (Tamra, Lynn, Alexis), fit in my spray tan (all of them), go to the gym five times a week (Lynn, Alexis), and still wear Jimmy Choo’s everywhere I go. And did I mention the diamond encrusted Rolexes? The Cristal?

In the meantime, those of us who are warming our tootsies with space heaters will continue to warm our cockles by watching our dogs sneak ornaments off the Christmas tree while enjoying a nice glass of Crystal Light.

More later. Peace.

And now, the weepiest, saddest Christmas song ever. I play it only to torture myself, and it seemed somehow appropriate in light of seven-carat necklaces: “Christmas Shoes”

 

 

*All pictures in post taken from 1936 issue of LIFE magazine.

“Todo começo é involuntário.” (All beginnings are involuntary) ~ Fernando Pessao

  

December Snow, Anchorage, Alaska by Janson Jones  

“I’m astounded whenever I finish something. Astounded and distressed.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

Cold and rainy here today. No snow. Of course there is no snow. But if feels like it should be snowing. At least that’s what my inner voice is saying. Snow . . . snow . . . snow . . .

University of Alaska Campus, November 2009 by Janson Jones

We haven’t had a good snow in this area for years, which is probably best since everything comes to a complete standstill even with a light dusting. These people don’t know how to drive in the rain, let alone the snow.  And ice? Just stay home. It’s safer.  

Corey and I are talking about trying to make a trip to Ohio for a few days around Christmas. With any luck, it will be snowing, and maybe I can get some good photographs. For some reason, I feel most creative as far as my photography when there is snow. Maybe it’s because I’m really a black and white person as far as my own color palette. I mean, on those quizzes when it asks what your favorite color is, I answer black. On rare occasions I’ll pick red or purple, but mostly, it’s just black.  

I don’t have anything against color, I just happen to like black—black boots, black purses, black pants, black leather jackets. And then there are those 10 or so white sweaters that I have in my closet in various stages of comfort wearability. The oldest is probably from the early 90’s, and it is wonderfully comfortable.  

I know. You are probably thinking that I need to get out more, but even when I left the house on a regular basis, it was mostly black, with some red thrown in and occasionally shades of purple and lavender.  

So shooting pictures in the snow is very rewarding for me. I do have to admit, though, that I haven’t figured out how to set my digital camera to take black and white photographs, so I usually just take out the color in Photoshop.  Not my first choice, but it works. Years ago I had wanted to put a dark room in my house so that I could develop my own black and white film. As with most things, never got around to it, which is just as well since I shoot almost exclusively in digital now.  

“My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing: it should inhibit me from even beginning.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

White House Image of President Greeting Salahis

On the national front Tiger Woods is doing a mea culpa. Those White House gate-crashers, the Salahis, are still firmly holding to their story that they had invitations (sure, you did), and in Orange County, California, thieves broke into a warehouse and stole food and goods that had been collected for the needy. Robbing Salvation Army kettles, stealing donations—can’t these people pick their targets better? Not that anyone deserves to be robbed, but robbing from those who can least afford it?  Bah . . .  

Don’t ask me how I feel about President Obama’s speech in which he declares that he will be sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.  I am of very mixed feelings about the whole thing. I mean, Bin Laden was in Afghanistan in the first place. That’s where the war should have been fought, not in Iraq. Perhaps if the previous administration and Darth Cheney had been more focused, there would be no need to send anyone anywhere. I mean, 30,000 troops is a lot of people. A lot. And the proclamation that withdrawal will begin in mid 2011 is ludicrous. There is not way to know that in advance. Another open-ended incursion into another country—not the best news, to say the very least.     

And on a final note, I read a disturbing story about a 13-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide because of sexting bullying. Apparently, this young, impressionable girl sent a topless photo of herself to a boy that she liked. Okay. That’s the first problem. The fact that kids, teenagers, young people can take sexually-explicit photographs of themselves and each other with their phones and not be mature enough to realize the long-reaching implications is truly bothersome (the article cites a poll in which 20 percent of teens admit to sending sexually explicit photographs of themselves over cell phones).  Someone else intercepted the photo while using the boy’s phone, and that person spread the picture throughout the girl’s school and even to nearby high schools. Soon after, classmates began a campaign of fierce harassment, calling the girl a slut and a whore when she walked the school halls.  

What dismays me the most about this story is that at 13, girls are in the midst of one of the most confusing times of their lives. Hormones. Emotions. Body image. Peer pressure. It doesn’t matter what kind of home life these kids have, adolescence is adolescence, which is to say, it’s one of the most tumultuous, stressful, suckiest times of a person’s life. The girl did not tell her family about the bullying, and eventually, it became so bad that she felt that she couldn’t go on, and she hung herself in her bedroom where her mother found her.  

Teenage Girls With Cell Phones

So many things wrong with this situation: the lack of privacy as a result of cell phones with cameras, the lack of good judgment on the part of those involved, the cruelty with which teenagers and children treat each other, never realizing just how horribly words and actions can affect a boy or girl who is already feeling isolated, or confused, or sad. It just makes me ache inside for this girl’s family and friends, and it makes me want to throttle the bullies, which, I know, is not the best reaction.  

“But I get distracted and start doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will’s surrender.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

I speak from experience when I say that teenage girls are most vicious when it comes to other teenage girls. I think that the jealousy hormone ratchets out of control with the onset of puberty. These young girls are so starved for attention, even the wrong kind, that idle gossip can soon turn to slander which can then escalate into bullying. Teenage boys, because they have pretty much one main focus, will easily become caught up in these campaigns. No one wins.  

The gossip-mongers learn that being vocal gets them noticed. Their friends don’t want to seem unsupportive, so they join in. The victims, not having endured workforce mongering and backstabbing, are totally unprepared for the onslaught. If you don’t believe that middle schools are hotbeds of jungle socialization, then you are living with your head in the sand.  

Is this solely a family problem? No, because no amount of good parenting can prepare a child for the ferocity of what can go on in school, any school, from one day to the next. Is this a school problem? No, but yes. Teachers and administrators aren’t responsible for peer pressure and psychological factors; however, that being said, they should be responsible for alerting parents and guardians to potential problems when they are aware of them, which in this case, they did not. Is this a societal problem? Yes, absolutely.  

I know. I’m beating that long-deceased horse carcass again, but it would be a lie to say that children aren’t socialized by countless factors from a very young age to fit in, to be pretty or handsome, to get invited to the right birthday parties in pre-school. It starts that soon.  

I know that there is actually no one right answer to this problem. I also know that access to technology is not always a good thing. Witness the number of adults who have made sex videos only to have them surface after the breakup of a relationship that was supposed to last forever.  If grown-ups don’t have enough sense not to do these kinds of things, how can we expect impressionable youth to know better?  

“I begin because I don’t have the strength to think; I finish because I don’t have the courage to quit.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

I’ve worked myself into a lather, so perhaps this would be a good stopping point. Or perhaps, I should go back to boycotting the news. Whatever.  

Other than those tidbits, not a whole lot else going on. Everyone has retreated to the comfort of their own niches: Corey is on the computer in the dining room; Eamonn is sleeping in his room, and Brett is in his room, probably watching television. I’m sitting here in a white sweater and jeans, Christmas socks on my feet, and snowmen earrings on my lobes.  

Admittedly, it was hard motivating myself to write this post. I played a bit of spider solitaire and then sat here looking at the screen. Turned on one of my playlists and hoped that music would inspire me, but truthfully, it didn’t. So I thought that I’d just ramble for a bit and call it a day, but once I got started, the steamroller took over. Weird how that happens.  

More later. Peace.  

K. D. Lang’s “Barefoot”  

  

                                                                                                                                     

Lyrics to Barefoot  

When the sun goes down here
And darkness falls
The blanket of winter
Leaves no light at all
  

You search for shelter
To calm the storm
Shaking with an instinct
Just to stay warm
  

Chorus:
But I’d walk through the snow barefoot
If you’d open up your door
I’d walk through the snow barefoot
  

You hear the howling
Of dogs and wind
Stirring up the secrets
That are frozen within
  

The ice will haunt you
It lays so deep
Locking up inside you
The dreams that you keep