“We are increasingly fluent in images with no handhold, images freighted with all the orphanhood in the world, fragments, fragments.” ~ Bolaño

Orange by learydotmark (FCC)

“We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible.” ~ Ann Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Saturday, late afternoon. Rainy and cool, 61°F. Fall is impending.

Autumn Leaves, by muffett (FCC)

So here I am again. I thought that I might have something to say today, but I’m not certain that’s the case. The house is quiet, the kind of quiet that can only happen on a rainy Saturday in fall, when the mood is lazy and the energy is low.

Officially fall in one week, but there is no mistaking the scent in the air: fallen leaves and something else, unnameable.  If I were in the mountains, perhaps it would be the scent of apples, but around here, it’s more the whispers of summer grass changing into winter Fescue. Each day, more flocks of Canada Geese fly overhead, creating commas in the sky.

Last night I dreamt of swimming nude in cool water, first in a lake, and then in a pool. The water enveloped me, embraced me, and it felt like home. I walked up a hill, and I saw a rust-colored owl. In the background, someone said, “This is the seat of where America was founded.” Water. Owl. History. Non-linear, unconnected.

“Sometimes life just seems like chapters of goodbyes.” From a country song. Doesn’t it sound like a country song? It is. Rascal Flatts. I love them, but Corey doesn’t much care for them, not since he found out that the lead singer is a man who has a high voice. He swore that the lead singer was a woman. Nope.

Funny how preconceptions/misconceptions can sway our attitudes.

“Everyone must come out of his Exile in his own way.” ~ Martin Buber

Autumn in Kyoto, by Daily Picture (FCC)

Time for boots and sweaters. Time for yoga pants and socks. Fall is like coming home, and I don’t really know why that is except that it is and always has been. I have memories of walking the trail to the Humpback Rocks, the boys with us, Eamonn bitching the whole way. Earlier memories, climbing the trail as a young woman. Smelling the crisp mountain air, the loam, the soil. Stopping along the way to look at interesting rock formations, fungi.

We’re (Corey and I) going to try to make a trip to the mountains at the end of October. We haven’t bee in years, and I would really like to go. Of course, the trip depends on so many things, not the least of which is getting new brakes on the Rodeo. Money. Always a factor. Money controls everything. Hate that.

I think that both Corey and I are a bit depressed, and a key reason is money, or the lack of it. He’s still waiting to hear on two jobs for which he applied. He’s very qualified for either one, but that doesn’t mean anything. So are hundreds of other people, all of whom are competing against him.

I have this image of President Obama standing up there with his jobs bill, an orange-skinned Boehner sitting smugly behind him, a look on his face that says, “not in my lifetime.” Obama has regained some of the fire in his speeches, but it’s because he’s campaigning again. I don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to talk about politics in this country and just how far out of touch the entire system is. I can be depressed about other things.

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” ~ Alan Watts

Autumn Sunset, by Superior National Forest (FCC)

I just lost my train of thought. Big surprise there. I haven’t been focused since I began this post. It’s hard to concentrate in here because Eamonn came home and started bitching. What I wouldn’t give to have my computer working again so that I could have my workspace back to myself. Had to turn off my playlist so that he could listen to his Rolling Stones album. He’s decided that he wants a turntable so that he can listen to albums. He’s borrowing Alexis’s turntable for now, one that I got her for Christmas ages ago. It’s here at the house instead of with her for space reasons, because we have so much freaking extra space in this 1100 square foot house.

Right.

I’m going to have to stop writing for now as it’s impossible to think.

Sunday later afternoon. Cloudy, high 67°F.

Obviously, I was not able to get back to this post yesterday. Eamonn hass gone this evening to a Blink 182 concert, so I have the room to myself again. My Blues playlist is going in the background. Corey is going to do errands before he has to work third shift tonight, and Brett and Em are doing homework, which means the house is once again blessedly quiet.

I woke up today with a headache, mostly sinus, I think, not a migraine. I’ve put a call into the neurologist’s office to set up an appointment for Botox shots for my migraines now that my health insurance has been straightened out. I need to call tomorrow to see if they’ve gotten the pre-approval necessary. I don’t know what to expect with the Botox. A woman I used to work with at GW got Botox when it was still experimental; she had doctors in her family. It did wonders for her, so I’m hoping that it helps me. The injections go directly into my scalp . . .

“The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.” ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Höstsonaten: Autumn Sonata, by guldfisken (FCC)

So where was I . . .

Money? Politics? Fall? Let’s move on to something else, shall we?

I gave passing thought to submitting an application to become a Notary Public, since members of this family are constantly needing to have things notarized. However, I cannot notarize anything that contains my name or anything for my spouse, so I’m not entirely certain that it would be worth it. It costs $45 to apply, $10 to be sworn in, and then the cost of the seal, which is unknown. We get things notarized at our credit union for no charge, so I would have to weigh the pros and cons. We’ll see, I suppose.

Corey is pondering the pros and cons of going back to sea. He would need to renew his licenses, get a physical and drug test, all of which is not inexpensive, but the reality is that he’s making so little money with his maritime security job. He’s already lost at least on shift this week. He’s not even making half of what I make on disability, and it’s really hurting us. In fact, we’re in trouble with our mortgage again, something we never thought would happen again.

It’s not because we’re being negligent; it’s because we simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet. We’re one of those families on the edge that the politicians are talking about, living paycheck to paycheck.

We don’t charge our sons rent, although I know that many people charge their kids rent after they turn 18. It’s just not done in Filipino households. My dad would be highly affronted at the thought of doing something like that to family, and I concur completely. Family is family, no matter what. The kids are in school, and that’s the most important thing.

Sure, we could use help with the bills, but I just can’t see imposing that kind of pressure on the boys. We didn’t do it with Alexis. I used to think about winning the lottery, having a windfall of cash. Now, I just hope that we can hold it together until 2012.

“You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.” ~ Erin Morgenstern, from The Night Circus

Fall Foliage in Central Park, NYC, by Alaskan Dude (FCC)

I suppose that I feel acutely the need to be the kind of parent to my children that my parents were to me. My mom and dad paid for my college and my graduate school (for my first master’s degree). They didn’t have to do that, but they wanted to do that. I wasn’t saddled with student loans, and I did not have to pay to live with my parents. I did work full time from the time I was 17, but that was by my choice. I used my money to buy a car, to pay my car insurance, to buy my clothes and to pay for my expenses.

I did move out of the house for a year when I was a sophomore, but when I wanted to move back home, it was never an issue. I lived at home, and I helped out by cleaning the house and doing anything else that was asked of me, but my parents never asked me for money. Granted, my dad made a very good living as a merchant marine, plus he had his Navy retirement. But I was brought up in a household that instilled in me a deep respect of learning, that placed a value on a college education, probably because neither of my parents had one.

I want that for my kids. I want them to know that we support them unconditionally, that we want to help them to gain a foothold in society. We cannot bestow them with trust funds; we cannot buy them expensive cars or send them to Europe, but we can love them and support them. It’s what my dad would have wanted, so it’s what I want.

Maybe I’m naive, or maybe I am old fashioned when it comes to certain things. Who knows, but I want my children not to have to worry about their education. They are already being assaulted with so many of the other realities of growing up.

“You like it under the trees in autumn,
Because everything is half dead.
The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves
And repeats words without meaning.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “The Motive for Metaphor”

Fall in Seneca Creek State Park, by Anosmia (FCC)

Anyway, my musings about fall . . .

I know that I have said this many times before, but autumn appeals to me in a way that I cannot quite define. I think that’s part of the reason why I think that I would love to live in Ireland. I know that it’s rainy there and that it doesn’t get hot in the way that it gets hot here. Something about cloudy days, drizzle, how comforting it is to be inside with a book or a movie.

Something about sitting down at this computer to write while the wind whistles through the increasingly bare limbs of the trees. Something about the lushness of the berries that abound. Something about the song birds that flit from bush to bush. Something about wrapping the body in comforting clothes, sipping tea, eating soups and stews.

Perhaps this longing for fall comes from another life, one in which I lived a harder life but more immediate life, faced the elements directly. Perhaps I’m just being whimsical. But is anything more beautiful than the pageant of leaves that are deep crimson, gold and orange, even brown? The way nature seems to collude to create beauty out of a season that harbors death—it appeals to me.

And if I am to be honest, autumn also brings to the forefront those I’ve lost, those in my past. They are very much with me, and even though there is sadness, there is also comfort. Memories of Alan, my father, my daughter, and now my mother-in-law. All gone, all tied to the fall. It is the juxtaposition of death and rebirth, the idea that without the death that autumn brings, we could not have the renewal of spring.

That we ourselves imbue this season with so much promise is a very contradiction, but an understandable one. In the fall, we begin to walk a bit more slowly, no longer needing to move through the heat of summer as quickly as possible. We pause more, see more. We inhale the smoke from wood fires that no longer burn. We cocoon ourselves in warm blankets and give ourselves over to Lethe, and in the forgetting, we remember.

As Fitzgerald said, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

Music by Rascal Flatts, “Here Comes Goodbye”

                   

The Farmer

Each day I go into the fields
to see what is growing
and what remains to be done.
It is always the same thing: nothing
is growing, everything needs to be done.
Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray
till my bones ache and hands rub
blood-raw with honest labor—
all that grows is the slow
intransigent intensity of need.
I have sown my seed on soil
guaranteed by poverty to fail.
But I don’t complain—except
to passersby who ask me why
I work such barren earth.
They would not understand me
if I stooped to lift a rock
and hold it like a child, or laughed,
or told them it is their poverty
I labor to relieve. For them,
I complain. A farmer of dreams
knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams
knows what it means to be patient.
Each day I go into the fields.

“You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.” ~ Tom Robbins

An Evening in Berkley by Vagelisf (deviantart)

                                      

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~ William Cullen Bryant

Autumn Mirror by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

It’s been a week of perfect autumn weather: brilliant skies, mild temperatures, and vivid colors everywhere. I love days like these as they tend to fill me with a sense of calm, a rare and delightful treat for my psyche.

Fall used to herald boots-and-sweaters season for me, but not so much any more as I no longer need to get dressed for work, the one aspect of a full-time job that I can sincerely say that I miss terribly (probably the only aspect)

I’m back home full-time now. I stop in on my mother after taking Brett to school each day. She is slowly retaking her house, which is to be expected, and she spends more time sitting than lying down, a sure sign that she feels better. The next big step is driving, which she says that she is ready to do; I know that she is eager to be out of the house on her own, but I don’t think that she’s considering what might happen if she has to slam on her brakes. Just saying.

“Our world—don’t you just feel we’re becoming more fragmented? I used to think that when I got older, the world would make so much more sense. But you know what? The older I get, the more confusing it is to me. The more complicated it is. Harder. You’d think we’d be getting better at it. But there’s just more and more chaos. The pieces—they’re everywhere. And nobody knows what to do about it.” ~ Rachel Cohn, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

This Fall (Part II) by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

Corey and I are working on the house (in the house?). For several weeks he has been shampooing the remaining living and dining room carpet (as in the carpet yet to be ripped up, revealing the hardwood floors that need to be refinished). I’m not sure how cleaning the carpets could turn into a month-long endeavor, but somehow my charming spouse has managed to do just that. I’ve made him vow to have all of the furniture back in place by the end of the weekend as I cannot begin a holiday week with everything in such disarray.

In the meantime, I need to switch t-shirts for sweaters, and summer night shirts for winter pj’s,  and sandals for boots, which (of course) involves several other steps and lots of shifting as our home has 1950’s closets, i.e., not even close to walk-in. And when I came back from my mother’s house, I pitched a pile of hanging clothes on one of the dining room chairs that is currently sitting in the middle of the living room, and I have yet to sort through that morass as just walking through the obstacle course that is my house is too daunting.

In other words, our house is completely wrecked, and it’s making me very stressed and a wee bit testy. While I was at mom’s, I got in the habit of keeping everything very clean and tidy, which is easier in her house as she is not in the midst of a major home remodeling project that had to be abandoned when Corey lost his lucrative tugboating job—over two years ago. So I have become accustomed to neat and tidy, and the return to chaos is more than a bit unnerving.

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”  ~ Lemony Snicket

Yellow by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

Of course, the complaints about chaos are completely gratuitous as I would not recognize my life if it were not constantly imbued with chaos, disorder, and entropy.

But speaking of Corey and jobs, he is still waiting for his contact at Company X to get back to him. I know that we’ve heard this story before, but this time, there actually seems to be a hint of truth to it. Company X did buy a new boat and land a new contract, so we’ve moved beyond the this may happen stage into the we’re definitely interested in having you on one of our boats stage.

The best aspect—the one that makes this situation so much better than the Vane Brothers wait-and-see situation—is that Corey went from the introduction phase to the two-hour interview phase in a matter of weeks.

No hope-pinning, but hopeful waiting, at least.

“Time folds you in its arms and gives you one last kiss, and then it flattens you out and folds you up and tucks you away until it’s time for you to become someone else’s past time, and then time folds again.” ~ Margaret Atwood

A Moment in Time 2 by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

                  

So here we are: Brett’s first semester of college will be ending in a month. Eamonn is thinking about joining the Peace Corps (I know. Surprised the hell out of me too). Alexis is still not working and does not appear to be ready to return to work anytime soon, something I try not to ponder too much as my mother is doing enough fretting over the situation for the both of us.

I am approaching December without fulfilling the one goal that I set for myself for 2010, and I am totally unsurprised by that. I am trying to get back into my habit of writing daily and hope to have my own computer back in working order before 2011. Of course, having said that, Corey’s computer is now dying, and we are unsure as to what it needs to be healed. Could be something as simple as a graphics card, or could be something more . . .

We are hoping to have Corey’s truck fixed as soon as Ford gets back to us with the Windstar recall package (don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but the Windstar was found to be hazardous because of an axle problem, so Ford had to buy it back from us). Meanwhile, they are paying for a rental and we are pricing rebuilt transmissions.

And so it goes. More waiting and hoping and hoping and waiting. Meanwhile, the world spins madly on; the seasons creep into each other relentlessly, and time morphs from second to second, seemingly dragging its heels one moment only to metamorphose in the next instant into a nimble-footed fellow, fleeing from invisible fire.

The only constants remain my unflinching capacity for seeing only the bad in myself, the deep love of my dysfunctional family, the continued delight I receive from my dogs, and my surprising ability to still be moved to tears by nature’s breathtaking beauty.

More later. Peace.

Music by Chris Mills, “Such a Beautiful Thing”