“Mysteriously, wonderfully, I bid farewell to what goes, I greet what comes; for what comes cannot be denied, and what goes cannot be detained.” ~ Chuang-Tzu

"Catterline in Winter" (1963, oil on hardboard)Joan Eardley
“Catterline in Winter” (1963, oil on hardboard)
by Joan Eardley

                   

“I drank coffee and read old books and waited for the year to end.” ~ Richard Brautigan, from Trout Fishing in America

Monday, late afternoon, New Year’s Eve. Cloudy and cold, 40’s.

(c) DACS/Anne Morrison; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Breaking Wave” (1960, oil on hardboard)
by Joan Eardley

In the past two days, I have attempted to write a post, only to be stymied after the first few sentences. I’m not really sure why, only that what I did write seemed forced and contrived, which made continuing seem pointless.

Part of me feels as if there is something simmering just beneath the surface, waiting to be voiced, but another part feels completely incapable of giving words to that feeling. Truly, I do not know which direction to take or even if there is a direction to be had, so I decided to find some suitable end-of-the-year quotes and just give it a go, see how it unfolds, as it were. I make no promises that any great revelations will ensue, or even that I will find a common thread among these disparate sentences.

I do know that the looming 2013 seems awkward and strange to me. Thirteen has never been a bad number for me. Corey and I were married on the 13th of May, and that particular thirteen has turned out to be one of the best days of my life. But the year 2013 makes me pause, and for the life of me, I could not tell you exactly why that is.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.” ~ T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

I remember being suitably excited when 1999 rolled into 2000, even though the official start of the new millennium did not begin until 2001. But the coming of both of those years seemed momentous to me—so many changes in my life, so much going on, such excitement about what was ahead. I remember that Corey and I spend New Year’s Eve of 2001 in his brother’s hot tub in Ohio. We were surrounded by snow, and it was absolutely freezing outside, but the water was hot and comfortable, and it was a perfect way in which to greet the new year.

(c) Anne Morrison; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Storm at Sea” (1960, oil on hardboard)
by Joan Eardley

But if you were to ask me what I did on New Year’s Eve of 2003 or 2005 or even 2008, I don’t know that I could tell you as we really aren’t big New Year’s Eve people. By that I mean that we do not go out. I am too afraid of all the drunk crazies on the roads, and we usually just watch a movie and go to sleep. It may sound boring, but it works for us.

I remember that my m-in-law used to go out on her porch at midnight and bang a pot, more to annoy her neighbors than anything else. I have sometimes gone to parties, but for most of my life, I have stayed in. What does that say about me? That I’m careful? Boring? Lazy? Who knows? But this year I am a bit hesitant about 2013 coming to pass. I don’t know if it’s that still, small voice inside of me that is trembling a bit, or if there is something worrying the edges of my brain, but something just doesn’t feel right.

Don’t you just hate it when you have those kinds of feelings (if you do), and you cannot ascertain as to why?

“Only, there is a haunting sense of the imminent cessation of being; the year, in turning, turns in on itself.” ~ Angela Carter, “The Erl-King”

I don’t really do resolutions, either, never have. I know myself only too well, and I try never to make promises that I know I can’t or won’t keep. All of those false promises about quitting this or that, losing weight, exercising more, giving more to charity, being less selfish, more generous . . .

Ya da ya da ya da . . .

Bollocks.

"Setting Sun over Fields" (1955-63, oil on canvas)by Joan Eardley
“Setting Sun over Fields” (1955-63, oil on canvas)
by Joan Eardley

No one does it. Not really, so why say that you will?

Perhaps we make these promises to ourselves because we really do believe that we can or will change in the coming year. Perhaps we think that if we say it, it makes it so, makes it more tangible, harder to ignore. But the truth is that if we don’t want to quit smoking (or drinking or eating chocolate or whatever), then we won’t. The desire has to exist else a thousand words written in stone will not make it real.

And so I make no promises, either to myself or the powers that be or anyone else, at least no coming year promises. I save my promises for important things, like things that I will do for my children or for Corey. I will tell myself that it’s in my best interest to go back on my chocolate fast as the few pounds that I have gained since Thanksgiving/cruise/Christmas dinner are beginning to add up, and I liked it better when I was on a healthier diet, but other than that? Nothing.

“All night we now hear the desperate downwardness.
All day we have watched the last icicle
Drip, drop by drop, as though from a wound—grow less and less.
Dark comes again.  Shut eyes, and think of a sacred cycle.” ~ Robert Penn Warren, from section 1 of “Downwardness” in “Seasons”

One tradition that I do miss is that of building a fire in the fireplace on New Year’s Eve. My ex and I used to do that each year, even that was the only fire we built for the year, but I honestly feel too guilty now when building a real wood fire. Pollution and all of that. But oh how I would dearly love to have a gas fireplace hookup. It’s one of the few luxuries that I want to install if and when we ever go into reno mode. A gas fireplace and a jetted tub—two things that I would so love to have, two things in which I find true comfort.

(c) DACS/Anne Morrison; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Snow” (1958, oil on board)
by Joan Eardley

Corey and I only used the fireplace during those two winters in which we did not have gas heat. Those were cold winters, and the fireplace did help, if only briefly.

Some people cannot abide the smell of woodsmoke, and I can understand that, but I am not one of them. One of the things that I loved about going camping in the mountains was building an outdoor fire from fallen branches and twigs. Sitting there in the evening with friends, talking about everything and nothing, watching the wood burn down to embers before zipping up in a sleeping bag.

Simpler times.

“I’ve never been very good at leaving things behind. I tried, but I have always left fragments of myself there too, like seeds awaiting their chance to grow.” ~ Joanne Harris

Anyway, 2012 is in its last hours, and the new year will be hear in less than eight hours. Corey and I will spend the evening with Olivia as Lex and Mike are going out. Eamonn is house sitting for his father, and Brett is with friends. So I think it will just be the three of us and the dogs, and that’s just fine with me.

(c) Anne Morrison; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Sarah’s Cottage” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Joan Eardley

I will leave you with this, things I hope may happen in 2013, in the world and at home:

  • Congress will grow up and realize that being obstructionists serves no one well.
  • Automatic weapons will once again be banned.
  • Obama will become the president we all know he could be.
  • Honey Boo Boo, the Real Housewives of everywhere, Dance Moms, Toddlers and Tiaras, Bad Girls, and all of the rest will quietly fade into the background (okay, know this won’t happen, but I can wish).

 

"Harvest Time" (1960-61, oil on board)by Joan Eardley
“Harvest Time” (1960-61, oil on board)
by Joan Eardley

and also these wishes:

  • Brett will make his trip to New Zealand and from this experience be able to glean a little insight into what he wants out of life.
  • Eamonn will get a job as a merchant mariner and begin to enter the adult world.
  • Alexis will continue to try to work towards a more stable life.
  • Corey will get the job he really wants.
  • My dogs will remain healthy.
  • Our families will suffer no more losses.
  • I will actually do real work on my novel and poetry.

To all of you out there, may the coming year bring you health, happiness, and safety, and may you move one step closer to achieving your dreams and desires.

Peace.

“Lilac Wine,” Jeff Buckley version and mashup with Nina Simone, couldn’t decide:

                   

New Year Resolve

The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.

Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.

Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.

For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

~ Mary Sarton

“There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, ‘Consume me.’” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves

"Snowbound" (nd, aquatint)by Kenneth J. Reeve
“Snowbound” (nd, aquatint)
by Kenneth J. Reeve

                   

“This is why it hurts the way it hurts. You have too many words in your head. There are too many ways to describe the way you feel. You will never have the luxury of a dull ache. You must suffer through the intricacy of feeling too much” ~ Iain Thomas, from I Wrote This For You

Tuesday, early evening. Drizzle and warm, low 60’s.

George Jo Mess Covered Bridge
“Covered Bridge” (nd, aquatint)
by George Jo Mess

Well, in the last three days I have gotten the tree up and trimmed, the house decorated, and the Christmas cards addressed. Just waiting for a check so that I can buy Christmas stamps and pop them in the mail. I’ve also gotten almost caught up on editing a bunch of pictures that I hadn’t tended to, and now I need to take a disc to Costco to have prints made. The only pictures that I haven’t edited are the ones from Lex’s shower, so I suppose that I really shouldn’t be saying anything about her inability to get her thank you cards out to everyone.

The other thing that I finally took care of was to update the flash drive for Corey’s parents’ digital frame that we got them a few years ago. They hadn’t gotten any updated pictures in a while, so between the two of us, we tried to add more recent pix than the ones of Eamonn with his high school prom date.

Okay. So our entire family runs perpetually behind schedule.

“My nature
is a quagmire of unresolved
confessions.” ~ Robert Creeley, from “The Door

"December Day" (nd, aquatint)by Kenneth J. Reeve
“December Day” (nd, aquatint)
by Kenneth J. Reeve

This afternoon I had my long-awaited appointment with the new pain management group. I am reserving my assessment of them until after my next two appointments. Today’s was with a pain management specialist. Next one is with the neurologist in the group, and then after that with the anesthesiologist to talk about injectable treatment options. All I can say for sure is that this particular practice must have a bunch of drug addicts as patients because I had to sign a medication contract stating that I would take my medicine as directed and that I would not sell it (!), and I had to do a drug test and agree to submit to random drug tests at any point in the future . . . Really? Wow.

I commented to the intake nurse that they must have a lot of drug abusers, and she said that I had no idea. It’s kind of weird, and it puts me off the practice a bit, but I’ll withhold final judgment for now. I also had to complete reams of paper work, and they gave me a copy of everything even though I didn’t really want copies of anything. Lots of dead trees today.

I know that I’m used to my old pain management doctor, but we were at an impasse with my treatment, so not it’s time to explore other options, whatever those might be.

“How deep they drove themselves into me, the things it was impossible to say aloud.” ~ Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath

I thought that I’d do a post today instead of my usual Two for Tuesday, and then tomorrow I’ll start to wrap presents and get the house clean.

George Jo Mess Snow Drifts ca 1940
“Snow Drifts” (ca 1940, aquatint)
by George Jo Mess

I’ve been doing this odd thing the past week or so: I fall asleep around 10:45, but I wake up again around 11:30 and can’t get back to sleep for a few hours. Not sure what that’s about.Last night I woke up, and I was wide awake, so I watched some recorded episodes of “NCIS” until 3 and then tried to get back to sleep, but the dogs had me up again at 4.

Alfie (other Jack Russell) is also doing weird things. He has gone into the dining room three times and peed in the same spot. As far as we know, Alfie hasn’t been messing in the house for years. Shakes would do his revenge pees, but not so much for Alfie. I have a feeling that he’s going downhill as far as his health, and I feel so sad that he has always been the one to receive the least attention, mostly because of his psycho streak, which made it kind of hard to get close to him. But in the past few days he’s had the saddest look on his face, and it’s breaking my heart.

“Footfalls echo in the memory
down the passage we did not take
towards the door we never opened
into the rose garden. My words echo
thus, in your mind” ~ T.S. Eliot, from “Four Quartets”

I got a telephone call from my friend Rebecca this morning. She’s Facebook friends with Corey, who still maintains his FB page, and she saw the pictures from our cruise that Corey posted. She wanted to let me know that she thought I looked good in the pictures. That actually a very nice way to start the day. She moved to Midlothian (a few hours west) this past summer with her long time beau and her eight-year-old son.

Kenneth Reeve Hoosier Homestead ND
“Hoosier Homestead” (nd, aquating)
by Kenneth J. Reeve

Rebecca is a wedding photographer and has quite a successful business. She used to work with me at the realty firm where I was marketing director. She’s done really well for herself in starting her own business and growing it more with each year, unlike some of us who just talk about doing things but never get around to doing them . . .

What’s ironic is that when I was doing the cards yesterday, I wrote a few letters to include with some cards to special people, and one of those was to her. We always seem to think of each other around the same time.

“There are days that walk through me and I cannot hold them.” ~ Katherine Larson

This morning as I was coming into consciousness, I had a poem. I had the title and the first part. I did not write it down, and now, now I cannot remember even one word.

My dreams last night included some kind of interaction with the FBI criminal profilers on “Criminal Minds,” but that’s about all that I can remember, and all of this makes me wonder if my memory has always been this bad. I don’t think that it has. I know that when I took the Topomax for my migraines that it seriously affected my cognitive abilities in a negative way, but I wonder if it did permanent damage to my memory. I just don’t seem to be able to remember anything from one day to the next. Corey, on the other hand, remembers everything (of course, he does).

Oh well . . .

A few things that I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks:

  • Peter Jackson’s first part of The Hobbit is in theaters. Can you tell from reading this that I have a really insipid smile on my face just from thinking about this?
  • The new film version of Les Miserables opens on Christmas day. The cast is stellar. Can’t wait for this one either.

    "Winter Moonlight" (nd, aquatint)by George Jo Mess
    “Winter Moonlight” (nd, aquatint)
    by George Jo Mess
  • The “Dr. Who” Christmas special airs on Christmas day. Really looking forward to this one as well (does it reflect badly on me that these first three are movies and a television show?)
  • On December 22, I’m going to run outside and say, “The Doctor saved us from annihilation,” which is only funny if you’re a Whovian and/or if you think that the Mayans just didn’t finish their calendar.

A few things that I’m not looking forward to in the next few weeks:

  • Christmas morning without Shakes to sit in the middle of the presents and beg for treats from his stocking.
  • The entire Christmas without Olivia, even though I know that this year she really isn’t going to understand anything that’s going on.
  • My mother telling me that what I got her is nice and then asking where I got it so that she can take it back.
  • There’s something else, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by The National, “You Were a Kindness”

                   

Late Search

All day on the radio flat static
filled the car as I took
the river road, deep
into Vermont. I knew you only
by the glint on the water, reflected
off some deeper, moving thing like clean
white bones, or fish.
Vermont, Late fall, the sun
backing off a bit each—it seemed a good
place to find you, heading north
into the dark.

I found an inn
by the river and lay all night, the wheels
still in my head and the river
and the river road stretching on like
your breath into my body but still

I could not dream you.
I saw only the vacant waves opening
and slamming shut, slamming shut some
floating door. And then from nowhere
your palm, cool
on my forehead, closing softly
like the last word.
Then I didn’t know
which side we were on—the water calm,
too close to set or else too far—
as if you’d wakened me
from my dream, into yours.

~ Robin Behn from Paper Bird: Poems

 

“Now is life very solid or very shifting? I am haunted by the two contradictions. This has gone on for ever; will last for ever; goes down to the bottom of the world—this moment I stand on.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 4 January 1929

Sparrows on the Berlin Wall, 1962
by Paul Schutzer

                   

“Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence.” ~ T. S. Eliot, from “Burnt Norton”

Sunday, early afternoon. Partly cloudy, high 40’s.

Last night I had the fighter pilot dream again: I am a trained fighter pilot, one of a few women in a mostly male squadron. I am going somewhere, but I haven’t been in the plane for a while, so I’ve forgotten some things. I am secretly married to one of the pilots in the squadron, but I am in love with another one. This conflict makes it hard for me to fly. I have a poison dart somewhere, but I’ve forgotten where I’ve put it. We stop for a moment to remember a pilot who has died, each of us quietly touching the spot of ground on which his blood was shed. Then we are off somewhere, I can’t remember where. I know there is a deep part of the ocean over which we fly, and we all know that there is a secret in the water below us. Each of us wants to be the one to find it. The squadron leader asks me to show him that my wrist is strong enough to fly. I lift something and pretend that it doesn’t hurt. He sees the lie but lets it go. I want to be the one in the graduation ceremony to do the demonstration flight, the one with all of the inverted loops and tricks. I want that to be me, not the other woman who has joined the squadron, but I keep this need to myself. Only the man I love knows how much this means to me. He tries to help me remember how to fly the plane, helps me with my pre-flight check, makes sure I look at the essential things before taking off. I am jealous when he shows the new woman how to set up her oxygen, but he looks at me and smiles, and I know that he is just being the good pilot that he is, taking care of his other squadron members. Then I remember that I have not hooked up my oxygen.

The dream shifts, and I am working somewhere else. Another woman and I go into a store before opening in search of something. The store manager, a client, comes up and says that we have to get out, but that she will be watching us. I go to my boss’s office. His wife is there, and she is distraught. She asks me not to tell anyone that she had been there. She leaves before I can say anything. I know that she is upset because everyone knows that her husband is having an affair. My boss comes in and asks me what I’m doing in his office. I tell him about the client/manager and what she has threatened. He shakes his head in disbelief and tells me that we are trying to help them, wonders why they are being so combative. I tell him it’s because they are hiding something.

The dream shifts, and someone is arranging black olives on a vegetable tray. I’m trying to remove the slices of pepperoni from the tray, and he keeps putting them back on. I walk away in disgust.

I realize that I’m writing the wrong story.

Music by M. Ward, “There’s A Key”

                   

November

These anonymous
leaves, their wet
bodies pressed
against the window

or falling past—
I count them
in my sleep,
absolving gravity,

absolving even death
who knows as I do
the imperatives
of the season.

Linda Pastan, from “The Months