“This Night” by Black Lab
In the Secular Night
“That does not keep me from having a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion.
Then I go out at night to paint the stars.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother
In the Secular Night
Wednesday early evening. Sunny, high 80’s.
Absolutely beautiful today. Not too hot. The perfect day to float around the pool for a few hours. Yesterday I gave Alfie and Shakes baths while we were outside, and today I did Tillie. After my relaxing time in the pool, I came into the house and did a bit of cleaning, the floors, the bathroom, some glass. I was a sweaty, smelly mess when I finished. Time to bathe myself.
Last night Corey had his last session of his introductory class. He’s so glad that it’s over. Frankly, I feel that the class is a complete waste of time for people who have been out of high school for a while. It’s the kind of class that would actually be good as a seminar for graduating seniors who are college bound to help them determine what fields they might want to pursue in college. Other than that, I think that it’s just plain silly.
My mom dropped by with some fresh cherries this afternoon. I adore fresh cherries. I can eat an entire bag by myself. I have determined that I must have fresh fruit in my diet, and if not that, then at least yogurt. It’s that sense of something fresh to clean the palette. So far my attempts to eat healthier are working: I’m drinking a lot more water and a lot less Pepsi. I’m trying to stay away from bread and chips. Just cannot give up the gummi bears, but I limit my daily consumption.
Frankly, in the summer I could live on fresh vegetables from the garden and Edy’s fruit bars. Our eggplant and bell pepper plants have died, victims of the extreme heat. Corey has a huge crop of sunflowers, but they are all droopy, not standing straight like last year’s crop. This year he planted seeds from last year’s crop, so the stems weren’t as thick. Perhaps next year they will be stronger and more upright.
I’m so glad the last heat wave finally broke. My head feels a bit better, and obviously (as witnessed by the cleaning), I have more energy.
WordPress has launched several new themes, and I was actually considering changing my theme, but none of the new ones quite felt right. So I settled for changing my header picture to something more in keeping with summer. I rather like the image that I found. Let me know if you notice and what you think about my selection.
I had very strange dreams last night. One was a bit on the sci-fi side as it involved being able to breathe and live beneath the water. Kind of cool, actually. I probably had that particular dream because Corey and I watched “Torchwood” before going to sleep last night. “Torchwood,” which is an offshoot of “Dr. Who,” was a series on BBC. Then I heard that they were going to do a new version. Well, Russell Davies (from “Dr. Who”) is involved in the reboot, but it’s on Starz and only has two of the original cast.
I’m not entirely certain that I like the new version. The old show was very much in the same vein as “Dr. Who,” with aliens, and strange occurrences. The cast had chemistry, and there were references to the doctor. The new show deals with one main event, and I keep thinking in the back of my mind that the doctor should be involved in this threat to earth.
I suppose as with most things, in this, too, I’m a purist. I’ll keep watching, mostly because I love John Barrowman as Capt. Jack Harkness, and I’m also quite fond of Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper. But I miss Owen and Ianto. Oh well . . . can’t have everything.
The Fitzgerald quote above is one of my all-time favorites. Just beautiful writing. Truly incomparable.
So speaking of my mom, I’ve planted the idea in Eamonn’s head that he might want to consider moving in with his Oma. Of all the grandkids, Eamonn would probably get along with her the best, and I know that I would certainly feel better if someone were living there full time. There’s plenty of room, and Eamonn is only home at night. I think that it could work.
We’ll see what happens with that.
It’s not that I don’t want him here, because I love seeing him all of the time, but it’s more that he would have plenty of room over there, and someone would be around at night if something happens to Mom, like another emergency. Of course, it’s a decision that they would both have to favor, so who knows what will happen.
I only know that if Eamonn is going to stay here, we have to do something about the garbage bags full of clothes, and he has to stay home long enough to move furniture.
Other than that, not a lot happening on the home front. We’re waiting for some expected funds so that we can get the work on the truck finished, and the Rodeo needs a few (more) things. I’d like to be able to send for my Uncle Ely’s Explorer in the fall as Brett will be driving the Rodeo. Of course, he needs to take his driving test, which doesn’t seem to be on the forefront of his list of things to do.
I remember that as soon as Eamonn was of age to get his driver’s permit, he wanted to take the test, and then he psyched himself out so badly that he failed the test a couple of times and had to retake it. My children are all so different. Of course, once Brett has his license, we’ll have to add him to the car insurance, which is not going to be cheap—that’s for certain.
I had a lovely telephone conversation with someone the other day in which the person with whom I was speaking told me that she found my last post quite inspiring. Apparently, she had been having a really hard time at work lately, and she was feeling down. She said that my post gave her the mental boost to keep going, that it reminded her that life’s annoyances are only temporary.
I thought that that was such a lovely thing to say. I had been a bit concerned of late that my stats aren’t surpassing 1,000 hits a day like they used to, but comments like that and many others that I receive from regular readers help me to keep things in perspective.
I may not have millions of hits, but I have a lovely little support group that reads me regularly and comments when possible. If I can cheer someone with my tongue-in-cheek irreverence, or if I can inspire someone with my collection of quotes and images, then that’s what makes this blog relevant, not the numbers.
Coming from my last position in which the numbers were the end all and be all of how well I was doing my job, it is far too easy to get caught up in the statistics and to forget that the numbers are actually people. And it’s the people for whom I write, the people who I consider when choosing subjects, the people I think about when trying to decide on the post’s theme, or the selection of content.
And if I haven’t said it lately: You guys are the best. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Let me close with the following:
From my favorite Doctor Who episode, “Vincent and the Doctor,” written by Richard Curtis:
Vincent: Hold my hand, Doctor. Try to see what I see. We’re so lucky we’re still alive to see this beautiful world. Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character. The black is in fact deep blue. And over there! Lighter blue. [the starscape slowly transforms into The Starry Night] And blowing through the blueness and the blackness, the winds swirling through the air. And there shining, burning, bursting through, the stars! Can you see how they roll their light? Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.
Doctor: I’ve seen many things, my friend, but you’re right: nothing quite as wonderful as the things you see.
More later. Peace.
Looking for a song by Blue October to go with my blue theme and found this beautiful one: “Congratulations”
Devotions of a Painter
Cool sinuosities, waved banners of light,
Unfurl, remesh, and round upon themselves
In a continuing turmoil of benign
Cross-purposes, effortlessly as fish,
On the dark underside of the foot-bridge,
Cast upward against pewter-weathered planks.
Weeds flatten with the current. Dragonflies
Poise like blue needles, steady in mid-air,
For some decisive, swift inoculation.
The world repeats itself in ragged swatches
Among the lily-pads, but understated,
When observed from this selected vantage point,
A human height above the water-level,
As the shore shelves heavily over its reflection,
Its timid, leaf-strewn comment on itself.
It’s midday in midsummer. Pitiless heat.
Not so much air in motion as to flutter
The frail, bright onion tissue of a poppy.
I am an elderly man in a straw hat
Who has set himself the task of praising God
For all this welter by setting out my paints
And getting as much truth as can be managed
Onto a small flat canvas. Constable
Claimed he had never seen anything ugly,
And would have known each crushed jewel in the pigments
Of these oily golds and greens, enamelled browns
That recall the glittering eyes and backs of frogs.
The sun dispenses its immense loose change,
Squandered on blossoms, ripples, mud, wet stones.
I am enamored of the pale chalk dust
Of the moth’s wing, and the dark moldering gold
Of rust, the corrupted treasures of this world.
Against the Gospel let my brush declare:
“These are the anaglyphs and gleams of love.”
~ Anthony Hecht, from The Transparent Man
Outside, the tree frogs are chirruping loudly. The crickets are singing, but it’s too early in the evening for the cicadas.
Inside, silence. For the first time in it seems forever, I am totally and completely alone in the house, well, aside from the dogs. Eamonn is out with friends. Brett’s good buddy Gordon came by and picked him up, and Corey is still in Ohio. Hence, the silence.
I have plenty of things that I could watch on the DVR, episodes of NCIS and Law & Order, and a few movies that might make for a good night, although, no Asia Extreme while I am completely alone. Sleep would be impossible if I did that.
I have very mixed feelings about being alone. By nature, I love solitude. I love time to myself to do what I want when I want to do it. But when the middle of the night comes, I like at least one other person to be in the house with me. It’s not that I am afraid to be alone, per se, but rather, that I prefer to know that someone is nearby in the night.
The irony here is that I have always thought that I would dearly love to live somewhere in the country, away from everything. No distractions, just me and nature and the opportunity to write. But truth be told, I don’t know that I would actually want to live isolated, down some dark stretch of country road, no neighbors around for miles. I could really talk myself into being a nervous wreck in a situation like that.
But I don’t like cities much, any more. Who knows? An island? The tropics? Australia? Alaska? France? All have their special appeal and for such very different reasons.
Something fairly outrageous along the lines of my true nature: On Facebook, I took one of those damned quizzes that are a waste of time. This one was about which Disney character you are most like. My answer: Cinderella.
My friend Rebecca got a huge guffaw out of that one, as did I. Fairy tales and and fairy princesses and prince charming. That would be a big no. I honestly thought that the results would be Cruella da Ville or someone like that. Although I do have to admit that Disney’s Cinderella is actually one of my favorite movies: I love the singing and sewing animals. Alexis and I would watch that particular movie frequently when she was young.
But my versions of fairy tales always ended with a caveat: They didn’t live happily ever after. They had to get jobs to pay the mortgage on the castle. I suppose I felt the need to include that part mostly because of what my own parents drilled into my head as I was growing up: Always make sure that you can take care of yourself. Get a good education so that you don’t have to be dependent upon any man.
Odd advice from a couple in which one person was the primary breadwinner (my dad), and neither of whom were college graduates. But my dad new the importance of a good education, and my mother knew the consequences of being dependent upon someone else to take care of you.
So in that way, I suppose it makes sense.
At least there was never any question about whether or not I would go to college, and I know that I was luckier than most because my parents paid for both my undergraduate and first graduate degrees. One of the benefits of being an only child and going to an in-state public university. I do wish, though, that I had ventured beyond the borders of my home state, gone to a liberal arts college somewhere out west, maybe. Or perhaps, studied abroad for a few semesters. Something different. But it didn’t happen. For a while, I actually toyed with the idea of pursuing my music, the piano, and I also gave serious thought to going to a school for the arts to pursue acting. But I did neither.
Even without the drama degree I have always managed to keep too much drama going on in my life. My internal monologues and external diatribes never really needed honing in a classroom. And I realized that while I enjoyed the piano, it wasn’t my calling. I was good, but I wasn’t excellent, and just being good allows you to teach but not to play with a symphony.
Unfortunately, the night sounds outside have turned into the sound of an engine revving repeatedly across the street. One of our neighbors works on cars at all hours of the day and night. Most of the time, I don’t notice the sounds. But it is so quiet tonight that that’s all that I can hear.
And of course, the dogs have to bark at the neighbor—a man who has lived across the street since before we moved here—because they’ve never seen him before ever in their lives. He is an alien and therefore worthy of a three-part concerto: Alfie’s high-pitched yips, Shakes’s midtone arfs, and then Tillie’s deeper, more ominous sounding barks.
That’s what I love about Labs. To hear them, they sound like big, mean dogs. But if someone were actually to come into the house, Tillie would wiggle her butt and roll over to have her belly rubbed. You only buy a Labrador for protection if you want to trip someone in the dark.
Originally, Corey was supposed to come home today from Ohio with the new/used van. Plans changed, and now I’m not sure as to when he will be home.
I’m trying very hard not to become too anxious about his job prospects, but it’s difficult. Part of me wishes that we lived in a small college town so that I could apply for a teaching position with a college or university. But other than doing something like that, with the flexible hours that such a position affords, I really cannot think of anything that I can do, not with the limitations that I have.
And besides, there aren’t many employers who would be willing to take me on, not knowing my health background. So ironically, I have ended up in a situation very much like the one my parents cautioned me against: being dependent upon others. In this case, dependent upon my disability insurance coverage and dependent upon Corey. Odd how things work out.
If I dwell on it too much, then I start to become maudlin, pondering the what ifs and whys. Worrying about not carrying my weight in this relationship, fixating on what kind of message it sends my children.
See, this post has become dreary, aside from the Neruda, that is. I started out well enough, talking about being alone but not being lonely, and somehow, I ended up in the same place that I too often find myself: feeling sorry for myself. My life is just a sad, country song—one of the old-fashioned kind full of heartache and lost dreams and empty whiskey bottles (where in the hell did the whiskey bottles come from?) . . .
Patsy Cline has nothing on me, well, except for that voice. It seems to me that if you are going to have the life of a sad country song, then you should have the voice to go with it.
Oh well. The car engine has finally stopped. Midnight is almost upon me. The frogs are back. And it’s time to watch some crime drama, especially since I don’t have a new book to read. Speaking of which, I want to read Atlas Shrugged, don’t know why that’s been on my mind, but it has. As has Alice B. Toklas. I woke up a couple of mornings ago and said aloud “Alice B. Toklas” and then spent hours trying to figure out why her name greeted my morning.
Aside from knowing that Toklas was Gertrude Stein’s amour for many, many years, and that Toklas published a very famous cookbook, I have never had any interest in the woman.
Don’t you just hate it when something like that happens and you cannot discern why? Well, I hate it. Bothers the daylights out of me.
I’ll probably awaken tomorrow from a dream filled with frogs that sound like cars, my mother singing Patsy Cline, and memories of trying to fit a glass stiletto onto my foot. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll be able to fall asleep to choruses of cicadas at 3 in the morning—just me, my dogs, and the echoes of night sounds.