“The blue was gathered in her hand, and she could feel it quiver, as if it had been given breath and was beginning to live.” ~ Lois Lowry, from Gathering Blue

“The Seine” (1930, oil on canvas)
by Pierre Bonnard

                    

“It bothers me
because it’s summer now and sticky—no rain
to cool things down; heat like a wound
that will not close.” ~ Erin Belieu, from “Rondeau at the Train Stop”

Sunday afternoon. Sunny, hot, and humid, 90’s.

I’m all alone in the house, a rare occurrence. Corey is on watch; Eamonn is at Busch Gardens, and Brett is off with Emilie working on some mural. So just the dogs and me, which is a nice change.

“Garden at Midday” (1943, oil on canvas)
by Pierre Bonnard

Apparently Corey is going to be in port longer than expected as there is a leak somewhere that has to be fixed. It would be nice of the captain changed their shifts to in-port watches for the duration, which would mean that he would work for eight straight hours instead of on and off around the clock. Yesterday the two of us went to Costco in between his watches, where I had some prints made of Olivia pix, mostly because my mother keeps bitching about how she has no pictures to show anyone.

I’ve decided that it’s so much easier to have the prints made rather than trying to print them at home, and I had a coupon, which made them $.09/print, which was a steal.

I do need to take some new pictures, though, as all of the ones I have are from her first week. It’s so weird to think that this past Friday makes four weeks. I had forgotten how quickly they change in very little time. She has a definite personality, definite likes and dislikes already, and she appears to have a strong will, which is good. The world needs more strong women, as far as I’m concerned. Anyone who contends that infants don’t have personalities has never spent much time with one.

“Hope as a living state that propels us, open-eyed and fearful, into all the battles of our lives. And some of those battles we do not win. And Some we do.” ~ Audre Lorde

So, let’s see . . . what’s new?

Well, I got my eyes examined, not by the person with whom I had scheduled an appointment but by the person at whose office I arrived mistakenly, only to find that he was the person that I thought I had scheduled the appointment with in the first place. Are you with me?

“Landscape, Sunset” (1912, oil on canvas)
by Pierre Bonnard

As with so many things in my life, it was quite serendipitous, and I really liked this optometrist (so much more than the one from last year). He listened to me, and he was willing to try different lenses on me right then instead of making me come back three times.

Funny story: Appointment was on Friday. Wore contacts for a few hours on Saturday. Went to put contact in on Sunday, and the right one was missing, not in the case, not stuck to the lid, just gone. Called his office on Monday, he said that he’d give me a replacement, so he left it with the optical department a the Walmart to which he is adjacent since he’s not in on Tuesdays. Picked up the lens . . . Then . . .

I went home and did laundry. Looked in the dryer and noticed a contact case. Thought for a minute that it must be Eamonn’s, but then I noticed a green lid mixed in with the clothes. Now, I hadn’t lost the left lens; it was in the case. The case was in my pocket, the pocket of the khakis that I threw in the wash and then in the dryer. So . . . I have a replacement right lens, but the left lens is somewhere in the ether with all of the lost socks. I’m too embarrassed to call him again and say that I’ve lost the left lens, so here I am, still not able to see too well.

“I was thunderstruck. For an instant I stood like the man who, pipe in mouth, was killed one cloudless afternoon long ago in Virginia, by summer lightning; at his own warm open window he was killed, and remained leaning out there upon the dreamy afternoon, till some one touched him, when he fell.” ~ Herman Melville, from “Bartleby, the Scrivener”

I have picked out the new frames or my glasses, but I haven’t yet ordered them. I’m getting the frames at Walmart (if you can believe it) because I really, really like them, and bonus! They’re quite inexpensive. But I’m getting the glasses made at Sam’s Club because they’re cheaper, and they take my insurance. It sounds good, but it involves going places, and quite frankly, it’s too damned hot to go places.

“Woman at her Window” (1895, oil on canvas)
Pierre Bonnard

I’m melting in this heat. Of course, I could go float in the pool, which would be both relaxing and refreshing. That is, I could if Eamonn had brought home the chemicals for the pool any day this past week, something I reminded him to do over and over. Then last night he had the nerve to give me a hard time when I reminded him again to take out the kitchen trash. What is it with kids that they pick the strangest battles at the strangest times? I mean really. Emptying the trash is worth taking a stand on? Are you serious?

I’m still spending a few hours each day helping Alexis, and then I come home and do dishes and laundry, and by 8 o’clock in the evening I feel like a dish rag wrung out too tightly, and I probably smell that way, too. The last thing I care to do is explain why doing one’s chores is actually a no-brainer.

Whatever. Yep. I’m ending this thought with whatever.

“We know nothing. Absolutely nothing.” ~ Steven Millhauser, Dangerous Laughter

So Brett finishes his second section of pre-Calculus this week, and he’s fairly certain that he’s going to make an A. He showed me one of his answers to a test question—one page filled with numbers and symbols. Need I say that I was suitably impressed? Numbers mystify me. Some people look at calculations and see beauty, but I look and see squiggles and a headache. Brett sees beauty in numbers, but the really cool thing (in my opinion) is that he is also keenly attuned to language, so he’ll probably be one of those physicists who writes books that people can actually read. That and he has his art as well. My son, the renaissance man.

“Momisa” (1915, oil on canvas)
by Pierre Bonnard

Actually, I loved math until my second year of algebra. Then, not so much.

I remember watching the movie Good Will Hunting, and one of the premises was this mathematical problem that was supposedly unsolvable (or something like that. My attitude towards an unsolvable math problem is something like this: Can’t solve it? Okay. Walks away completely content.

That’s how my brain works. On the other hand, I ponder over and over again things like what really happened to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry or Amelia Earhart? What if Hitler had been killed—would the madness have ended then, or would someone else have just stepped into his place? Who came up with the format for a sestina, and why? Why do people claim that their short poems are Haiku when they don’t fit the 5/7/5 format? You know, the important things.

These things bother me, not an unsolvable math problem, which is why I will never find the cure for anything or ever solve the problem of cold fusion. I can probably live with that.

“Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.” ~ Roland Barthes

That pretty much catches me up, not that the throngs are out there madly beating the drums requesting an update, although I do like to pretend that they are. Clamoring madly, that is.

“Tree by the River” (1909, oil on canvas)
by Pierre Bonnard

I had hoped to give the dogs baths today, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s just too frigging hot. Of course, try telling Tillie that, who is at this moment sitting next to me looking up at me with big puppy eyes as if to say, “What? No running around outside? What’s up with that?

So no dog baths, no floor cleaning, not much of anything once I finish this post. Perhaps I’ll immerse myself in one of the books on my stack of things to read. It’s always nice to have once of those stacks. I tend to feel very deprived if I don’t have at least three or four books waiting in the wings, probably much like a heroin addict jonesing for his next fix.

Granted I don’t have the whole hollow-cheeked non-bathing thing going on, but I’m talking about the incessant need, the hunger, the feeling that if I don’t get a book/fix soon I may have to commit petty larceny or something. I’m thinking that my coffee may have been a bit too strong today.

Right . . . better stop now.

More later. Peace.

(*Pierre Bonnard, post-impressionist, images found on wikipaintings.org)

Music by Florence + The Machine, “Breath of Life”

                    

The Ponds

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them—

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided —
and that one wears an orange blight —
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away —
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled —
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing —
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading.  And I do.

~ Mary Oliver

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“I get deeply tired because everything touches me. I am never indifferent. Indifference or passivity are impossible to me.” ~ Anaïs Nin , Journals Volume II

"But my soul is a passionate dancer," by Katharina Pieper*

                   

“What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance?” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “In a Dark Time”

Wednesday, early evening. Thunder showers.

Tillie had two seizures today while I was out of the house. Luckily, Corey was home with her. He said that they both lasted a pretty long time. I hate it when she has seizures because there is no warning.

"The abstract is the origin of art," by Massimo Polello

I had an appointment with my psychiatrist today, a med check. We talked about my recent anxiety attacks and agreed that it’s probably a temporary thing based on circumstances, so she prescribed me something for the interim. I remember when I used to have anxiety attacks all of the time. I was married to my ex. Maybe that explains it, but I haven’t had them in a very long time, so this backsliding is bothering me.

Anyway, I have a new television addiction: “Fashion Star” on NBC. It’s pure fluff, but the music is great. There are no scenes from the workroom like “Project Runway,” but there are lots of divas, which always makes for interesting watching. And Corey and I have started watching a new drama called “Awake,” which features Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter), who is a superb actor. The premise of the show is different, which makes it engaging to watch.

You know that my life is kind of in standstill when I’m writing about what’s on television . . .

“Is it possible . . . that we have not yet seen, known, or said anything real and important? Is it possible that we have had thousands of years to look, meditate, and record, and that we have let these thousands of years slip away. Yes, it is possible.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Today is one of those days in which possibilities seem limited as opposed to endless.

I was in the elevator after my appointment, just thinking about where I am at the moment, and it occurred to me that I haven’t been able to see Dr. K. for months now. I had suspended my therapy because I had to keep cancelling and rescheduling because of the vehicle situation, and I didn’t think that it was fair to her to be taking up slots in her schedule that I might not be able to keep. I told her that I would call her when we finally got the truck fixed and resume my sessions at that time. Now I need to wait until I get caught up in my health insurance as we are behind a month again. So no therapy for now.

"Baudelaire, Evening Harmony," by Sophia Verbeek

The doctor I saw today asked me how long life has been this way, and I told her three years, but actually, it’s now four years. I keep forgetting that it’s 2012; all of this started in 2008. Four years of ups and downs, mostly downs. Four years of an endless cycle of debt. Four years of just scraping by. Four years.

My how time flies. In four years, a person could get a degree. In four years, a baby grows from an infant to a toddler. In four years the presidency changes. So much happens in four years, and yet, nothing happens.

Forgive me. I’m quite maudlin. Perhaps I should not attempt to post, but I feel that need to write, to make these keys click or clack or whatever sound it is that a computer keyboard makes. I just had a sudden memory: the sound of 50 IBM Selectric typewriters all going madly simultaneously. That was the sound of the newsroom in the morning, in the era pre-computer. If you listened carefully, you could discern the different cadences, depending upon the user’s typing ability. There were the two-fingered reporters, the one fingered reporters, the full hands reporters, so all together, it was kind of like a schizoid percussion section: rat-a-tat-a-tat very quickly, or one beat at a time.

That’s a good memory.

“The soul is silent.  If it speaks at all it speaks in dreams.” ~ Louise Glück

Last night I had a Great Bridge dream, that’s one featuring all of my relatives on my mother’s side with whom I grew up, especially my cousins. My Aunt Ronnie was still alive, and everyone was coming over for dinner, just like they used to. Except in this dream, Corey’s family was also there, and his brother Steve arrived on a three-wheeler. Dinner was chaotic, and I was trying to feed a baby who kept spitting out the food. Then Aunt Ronnie took the baby from me, and fed her with no trouble. She told me that I was doing it wrong.

"Shakespeare Sonnet 126," by Anatoly Moshchelkov

I also remember that before dinner, we were setting up folding chairs at a very long table, and I was carrying four chairs on each arm—like that could happen now. Once upon a time, maybe, like when I worked at Dillard’s—I was kind of freakishly strong for my size, routinely picking up four-ways completely covered with clothes and moving them around the floor. Of course, that probably led to my back problems.

Speaking of once upon a time, there was something about that in another dream, but I can’t quite grasp it. But I also dreamt that I was in someone’s office, and they were telling me about this epic book that I should have read but hadn’t. It was a book about everything, and when I opened the book, the pictures moved (on the paper). I decided (in the dream) that I would buy a copy for each of my sons.

In the past few weeks, dead relatives keep appearing in my dreams: my aunts and uncles, my m-in-law, my dad, and once, my ex-father-in-law walked in and said that he’d been asleep and was wondering what was happening. That was really weird as he has rarely appeared in any dreams throughout the years. (Aside: I almost always misspell the word weird, which in itself is weird as I have always consider myself weird.)

“It is all in the mind, you say, and has
nothing to do with happiness.” ~  Mark Strand, from “So You Say”

I’ve begun reading the second book in the Game of Thrones series, having finally finished the first one, which was really quite good. Only one thing bothered me: the author used the phrase “game of thrones” at least five different times in the narrative. I love the phrase, but usually the titular phrase is only found once in the narrative, which helps to give it emphasis. I’m not sure why George R. R. Martin did that, seems like overkill.

"I was taught by water, I was taught by wind," by Katharina Pieper

But what do I know? He’s published a lot more books than I have . . . but if I ever do get published, I’m going to be sure to have two middle initials—G.R.R. Martin, kind of like J. R. R. Tolkien . . .

I know that the books have been turned into a show on HBO, but we don’t have HBO, so maybe if we ever get Netflix, I can watch the series. Sean Bean and Lena Headey are in it, among many other notable actors. I could probably download it, but I’m reluctant to download shows as they are much more prone to viruses. So I’m back to talking television. Geez.

I should probably stop now before I bore all of you beyond tears.

More later. Peace.

*All images are taken from the International Exhibition of Calligraphy, Moscow

Music by Peter Bradley Adams, “Full Moon Song”

                   

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver, from Dream Work

“There are mountainous, arduous days, up which one takes an infinite time to climb, and downward-sloping days which one can descend at full tilt, singing as one goes.” ~ Marcel Proust

“Les Tulipes,” by Pierre Auradon (c. 1950s)

“There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.” ~ Anaïs Nin, Journals of Anaïs Nin Volume 3

Monday, late afternoon. Hot and hazy.

"Arbre au Début du Printemps," by Pierra Auradon (ca. 1930)

I haven’t posted in a few days because, well, first I didn’t feel like it, and then I went on this cleaning binge in our bedroom. I’m halfway done, but my back has given out on me, too much bending and stretching. So instead of finishing the bedroom today, I’m sitting my butt in this comfortable chair and writing, that is, if Tillie will leave me alone long enough to get something done. Poor thing, never gets any attention.

Right.

Also, Eamonn has come home for a bit, so the room that is usually my workroom is now filled with black trash bags full of eldest son’s belongings. He says that it’s just temporary, but I’m not going to try to define temporary. It’s just nice to have him here for however long it will be.

What this means to the computer situation is anyone’s guess. After all, this computer that I’ve been using for a while is actually Eamonn’s desktop. Corey’s desktop in the dining room died several months ago, so both of us have been sharing this computer. My computer in our bedroom still needs to have the hard drive installed, which we were actually planning to take care of this summer. We may have to move up the plans to do that since once Eamonn is ensconced in this room, access to this computer will be nil.

After all, he is entitled to his privacy. He’s an adult, not my little boy, and I need to respect that. Corey and I did warn him, though, that this computer is on its last leg. It really needs to be wiped and then to have the essential programs reinstalled. Guess that’s on the list of things to do.

“Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere—be decietful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.” ~ Betty Smith

"Narcisses," by Pierre Auradon (1939)

Speaking of things to do . . .

Apparently, my blog stalker is still active. He/she is calling/e-mailing people and strongly suggesting that they take a look at my blog to see how insane I am, how dangerous I am.

At first, I was furious. Now, I just find it entertaining. I mean really? Dangerous? Bitch, please.

I may be a lot of things—sarcastic and snarky, bitchy and biting, moody and meandering—but dangerous?

This individual is also calling into question my parenting skills. Now this one has me baffled, really. I’ve raised three children to legal age. None of them has ever been arrested. Two are in college full time. I’ve given them basic life skills (they know how to clean, do laundry, cook a bit, manage a bank account, among other things). But more importantly, I have taught each of them the importance of being compassionate for the less fortunate, thoughtful towards those they love, and mindful of the laws of common decency.

I have instilled in them the ideas of truth, honor, and respect, and I know that I can say most assuredly, that if nothing else, each of my children has a kind and good heart.

That I have allowed them to go their own ways as individuals has not been easy; it’s never easy for a parent to first loosen and eventually cut the apron strings and to allow a child to break free. But this I have done.

Children need space and trust to become the people they are going to be. At a certain point, it is no longer about parenting full time; rather, it is about respecting that as a parent, you have done what you should and what you could, and then realizing that it’s no longer up to you as to what your child will be when he or she grows up.

“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies . . . It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.” ~ Albert Einstein

"Pivoine (peonies)," by Pierre Auradon (c. 1930s)

Has it been easy to stand by and watch Alexis floundering in her life? Most assuredly not. Do I want to step in and make everything okay for her? Of course I do. But is that in her best interest? No. If I do not allow my daughter to gain her own ground, if I continually make things easier or better for her, how will she ever learn to be strong? And how will she ever learn to respect her choices, to stand firm in her convictions? Does this mean that I do not love her with every fiber of my being, that I would not throw myself in front of danger to protect her? Need I even answer such questions.

I don’t agree with all of the choices that Eamonn has made, but I love him beyond breathing. And he is proving to be a capable young man, holding down a full-time job, planning a career. And Brett, too, is making great strides. He has been thrown into a situation for which he was not completely prepared, but he is showing grace under pressure, and I watch him day by day becoming stronger and more assertive.

These are all good things.

You birth your children, hold them close, sing them lullabies and read them stories. You salve their wounds, both physical and emotional. You feed them their vegetables and you make them brush their teeth. You take them to the doctor when they are ill, and you sit by their beds in the middle of the night when they have nightmares that seem too real. You buy them shoes to support their ankles as they learn to walk, and you buy warm winter coats. Do they always eat their vegetables? Do they always button their coats as they go outside for recess?

Of course not. If they did, they wouldn’t be children.

Are my children perfect? Dear god, don’t be silly. They have their faults, and they have their shortcomings. They have friends who I don’t particularly care for, and they do things that I don’t necessarily agree with—it’s called growing up, and it’s an ongoing process.

“Action is the thing. We are what we do and do not do.” ~ Ralph Ellison

"Pavées de la Rue," by Pierra Auradon (c. 1940s)

No one prepares a parent for those first few days after leaving the hospital. You stand there, looking down on this small creature with incredibly soft skin, and you wonder how all of this happened. I mean, how is it that you have been entrusted with the care of this incredibly beautiful, sometimes loud, and occasionally smelly little person? But it comes to you, day by day, and you grow together.

And the first time your child cries real tears, my, how your heart breaks. And the first time your child gets hurt, how you wish that kisses really did make things all better. And the first time your child looks at you and calls you mama or dada, you wonder how it is that your insides can feel like jelly and still stay inside of you.

Of course, the painful reality is that not everyone is cut out to be a parent. The statistics tell us that. For every child who grows up healthy and well-adjusted, how many children out there have gone to bed hungry? How many have cried themselves to sleep after being beaten? How many feel worthless because that’s all they have ever heard? How many never make it into double digits?

The world is actually a very scary, harsh place. It is up to us to make it safer for those we love, those who have been entrusted to our care. I have no patience for anyone who harms a child—physically or emotionally. I believe that such people should be locked up, or at the very least, have their parental rights rescinded.

Unfortunately, no one has to take a test or get a license to become a parent. And it is usually not until things have escalated that outsiders are brought in to try to fix the situation. These people, who are overworked and underpaid, cannot do it all. The courts cannot make everything right. And unfortunately, children slip through the proverbial cracks, but the pain they feel as a result is not proverbial. It is real.

I find it abhorrent that supposedly advanced societies do so little for the least among us, the children who have no voice.

“It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them—the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas.” ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"Tulipes Ouverte," by Pierre Auradon (c. 1940s)

I know. I know. I’m on another one of my soap boxes, but you have to understand that I simply cannot abide child abuse in any form. And the idea that I might be harmful or dangerous to a child, a young adult, or to any person is ludicrous, and quite frankly, insulting.

Right now, I’m simply biding my time. I am handling the situation in which I now find myself with all of the patience that I can muster. The young woman who has come under our care is flourishing: She laughs freely, and her conversation is intelligent and witty. She talks eagerly about her art, about school, about friends. I see little of the introverted, unsure young woman I was told about.

That’s not to say that she does not have moments in which she feels helpless against the forces that continue to assail her. But even in these moments I have seen a strength of character emerging. She demands that she not be coddled, that she be allowed to make her own choices.

I am standing back and simply allowing her to be. She does not need me to intervene, but I will if she asks. She does not need me to advise, but I do when she requests it. I do not judge as it is not my place to do so. Judging is for someone else.

In the meantime, I will keep my peace. For now. But only for now. It is simply not in my character to allow someone to continue to make defamatory statements about me, statements not based in fact, statements based on pure fantasy and conjecture. I will see to matters. Just not yet. Patience. Fortitude. My white whale will come to me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Mason Jennings, “The Light”

                   

“so that each day penetrates each night
so that each word runs to the other side of truth
so that each verse comes out of itself
and gives off its own light
so that each face leaning on a hand
sweats into the skin of the palm

So that this pen
changes into pure silence
I wanted to say into love”

~ Anna Kamienska, from “Transformation,” (trans. Grazyna Drabik and David Curzon)