“It’s only in the autumn where I can take breaths that make me want to take more breaths . . . But I will always enjoy the grey solemn solitude of this season that grows darker and colder, day by day.” ~ Henry Rollins, from Solipsist

Gustav Klimt The Birch Wood 1903 oil on canvas
“The Birch Wood” (1903, oil on canvas)
by Gustav Klimt

“a dream of creatures
with autumn coloured faces
their bodies vent to earth
falling under the spell
of the spinning world” ~ Anja Huwe, from “Autumn”

Sunday afternoon. Cloudy and cooler, 58 degrees.

Last night I had a Harry Potter dream, sort of. I was going back to school, but I wasn’t on any of the rolls because I had failed two classes the semester before. I was hoping to fake my way through. Then suddenly, spells and wand work were required, and I was performing abysmally, unable to remember even basic spells, and Hermione was actually one of my main nemeses from high school, and she was aligned with someone else, and I was left to my own devices, trying to remember things besides accio and stuff, and I had boils on my chest, and I created an itching powder (directly related, I’m sure, to the fact that yesterday I had to take two baths (am and pm) and soak in colloidal oatmeal for nervous itching) and smeared it across everyone’s lockers so that everyone was affected, and then I realized too late that I had also affected allies, and I had that recurring dream part in which one of my classes was never finished because the professor just stopped teaching four weeks before the end and called it a day, and we were wondering if we were responsible for what wasn’t covered, and I realized, too, that I had none of my special grid notebooks for class, nor any of my preferred pens, and I awoke with, you guessed it, a headache . . .

TomThomson-Moonlight-and-Birches-1916-17
“Moonlight and Birches” (1916-17)
by Tom Thomson

And yesterday I had this moment in which I paused to consider whether or not I had truly read To Kill a Mockingbird, or if it was one of those titles that I had read so much about that I imagined actually reading the book.

This is what happens when I have to spend too much time on the phone arguing with people over basic things like health insurance coverage. My mind reverts to a pseudo-fugue state in an attempt to shut down, not deal with too much.

“This October like November,
That August like a hundred thousand hours,
And that September,
A hundred thousand dragging sunlit days,
And half October like a thousand years . . .” ~ Ford Madox Ford, from “In October 1914 [Antwerp]”

I wrote another poem earlier today. I don’t know where these poems are coming from, only that they are coming. I don’t claim to be a prolific or particularly wonderful poet, though at one time in my life that was all that I ever wanted to be: a published poet, a name associated with poetry, a person known for her words as poems.

Antonín Slavíček - Birch Wood 1897 oil on canvas
“Birch Wood” (1897, oil on canvas)
Antonín Slavíček

As with many things in my life, I did not do what I needed to do to make this happen. I did not believe in myself enough, something I am well aware I have done throughout most of the days of my life. Believing takes effort. Doing takes effort. Effort takes effort.

Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if you had followed your very first dream, the dream of your life that first spoke to you, the dream that made you sit up and recognize that you were in fact a person, with dreams and desires, and yes, possibilities? My first dream was to be a poet, and truthfully, I remember the exact moment I said to myself that this was what I wanted to be when I grew up: I was in the first grade in London, and I had just won my first poetry contest for a rather short and sweet poem about the seasons.

And then I ran into that English teacher in the seventh grade who took one look at what I had written and told me that it was not a poem because it did not go da-duh, da-duh, da-duh, and I believed him even though I knew better. And then I had that American literature professor as an undergraduate who told me that the only female poet of worth was Emily Dickinson, and I did not believe him because I had read other women, but I let him silence me.

“Mute Autumn odors. The
starflower, unbroken, passed
between home and chasm through
your memory.
A strange lostness was
palpably present, almost
you would
have lived.” ~ Paul Celan, from “Die Niemandsrose,” (No one’s rose), trans. Michael Hamburger

The dreams of lives I thought I might have:

  • Journalist for a large city paper (this I did not pursue because of love, not that he did not want me to but because I forgot to care)
  • Photojournalist traveling the world (never even tried)
  • State politician (at the time, this seemed like a great goal to have, and then, not)
  • Editor for a large corporation (I came close, but then I decided that my daughter needed her grandparents, and so I moved)
  • English professor at a liberal arts college (Where is the MFA or the PhD that would have allowed me to try for this?)
  • Published author of criminal mysteries (I have no excuses)
A Golovin Birches 1908-10
“Birches” (1908-10)
by Antonin Golovin

And then these, lesser things, that I have imagined I could do if I just took the time:

  • Sew a large quilt, one that could be handed down generation after generation
  • Have a large rose garden, filled with many varieties and scents
  • Learn to bake a wedding cake
  • Make my own soaps and salves and scrubs

My life of what-ifs is one long list of should and might, and my biggest hindrance has only ever been myself.

“oh it is the autumn light
that brings everything back in one hand
the light again of beginnings
the amber appearing as amber” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “September Plowing”

Isaac Levitan Autumn period Birches 1899 oil on cardboard
“Autumn. Birches” (1899, oil on cardboard)
by Isaac Levitan

I offer no excuses, no explanations. I am far too tired to make the effort.

And yet the poems, the sequences of words keep coming, too fast to be finessed well, a tumble of words and thoughts, and I am unused to this creative wellspring, not having seen its likes in years, decades, and I wonder why, why now, why when I gave up on the poems years ago.

Anyway, I wrote another poem today, and once again, I’m sharing, even though it is a first draft, even though it is rough, because the need to put this out here is stronger than my need to hide, so here is today’s:


 

In the bedroom

smells of my husband’s homemade soup
drift down the hall from the kitchen
he is cooking this for me,
his personal salve for my wounds
his quiet prayer for my wellness
in a few hours I will blow steam across the surface of the deep bowl
across the sunken bodies of the fulsome vegetables
let the liquid slip across my tongue
taste him in the broth:

hot enough to scorch my soul,
strong enough to feed my heart
thick enough to bind my rent spirit
copious enough to recall my father’s love
bitter enough to remind me of death
with just a dusting of grace

L. Liwag (November 9, 2014)

                   

Music by Lewis Watson, “Stay”

                   

Afterwards

Suddenly
everything feels afterwards,
stoic and inevitable,
my eyes ringed with the grease of rumor and complicity,
my hands eager to hold any agreeable infatuation
that might otherwise slip away.
Suddenly
it’s evening and the lights up and
down the street appear hopeful,
even magnanimous,
swollen as they are with ancient grievances
and souring schemes. The sky,
however,
appears unwelcoming,
and aloof, eager to surrender
its indifference to our suffering.
Speaking of suffering,
the houses—our sober, recalcitrant houses—
are swollen with dreams that have grown opaque with age,
hoarding as they do truths
untranslatable into auspicious beliefs.
Meanwhile,
our loneliness,
upon which so many laws are based,
continues to consume everything.
Suddenly,
regardless of what the gods say,
the present remains uninhabitable,
the past unforgiving of the harm it’s seen,
while
the future remains translucent
and unambiguous
in its desire to elude us.

~ Philip Schultz

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“I’m a ghost that everyone can see;” ~ Franz Wright, from “Empty Stage”


“Tired, tired with nothing, tired with everything, tired with the world’s weight he had never chosen to bear.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, from The Beautiful and Damned

 Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Still incredibly hot and humid, 91 degrees.

I’m going to try to do this again. No distractions. With any luck, I’ll get past the first few sentences.

This is my immediate problem: my children. As you know, I have three grown children, but their stages of grown do not match their calendar status of grown. My eldest child, my daughter, will be having one of those major milestone birthdays on the 7th of this month, but the reality is that I think she is probably the youngest of my children. And for the moment, I choose to focus on my eldest/youngest child.

Max Beckmann Beach Landscape 1904 oil on cardboard
“Beach Landscape” (1904, oil on cardboard)
by Max Beckmann

To be fair, Alexis has gone through a lot in her short life, and the loss of her sister, something her brothers do not share as an immediate memory, affected her greatly. Alexis has never been full of self-confidence; in fact, the exact opposite is true: If one person could be so completely uncertain of her selfhood, I would have to say that it is my daughter. Please understand, I’m not criticizing, only commenting; after all, I, too, am very insecure about certain aspects of my self.

I don’t know how much of my daughter’s problems are a result of nurturing, but I do know that I have been the primary nurturer in her life, which is why I probably have a tendency to blame myself for so many of her woes. But at what point do I draw the line and acknowledge that she has very real problems that are completely separate from my relationship with my daughter?

You see, while I love my daughter beyond words, I am not entirely sure that I like certain key aspects of her personality. Does that make sense?

“there is something else that drives us, some
rage or hunger, some absence smoldering
like a childhood fever vaguely remembered
or half-perceived, some unprotected desire,
greed that is both wound and knife,
a failed grief, a lost radiance.” ~ Edward Hirsch, from “Mergers and Acquisitions”

Again, let me say that I probably should not be writing this, but I need to work through some of this tonight as it is pressing on me much too acutely, and I know that I will have no peace unless I do something. I had to cancel my therapy appointment this week because of the chest cold that I have. Too much talking makes me cough, and coughing is, well, painful. Hence, the writing my way through . . .

I so wish that I had the ability to make things right for my children all of the time, but then again, don’t most parents? But I don’t have this ability, and talking to Alexis is futile, at best, and an invitation to a verbal fray, at worst. My daughter, like my sons, unfortunately inherited the family predisposition to clinical depression and anxiety. We all suffer in our own various ways, to lesser and greater extents, depending upon, well upon a lot of things. But Alexis is alone in one thing: she sleeps far too much for any human being. She can go to bed on Friday night and not wake fully until Monday morning.

(c) DACS/Anne Morrison; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Summer Sea” (1961, oil on paperboard)
by Joan Eardley

When she was a teenager, she would sleep forever, but I really didn’t worry about it because I did the same thing as a teenager. However, she is an adult with her own child, and this sleeping sickness, for lack of a better term, has not abated. Corey and I have had several conversations in which we have tossed about this problem, mostly in relation to Olivia, as in, does my daughter’s sleeping sickness impede/impair her ability to care for her own daughter?

I can’t tell you how guilty I feel just for giving this concern words, but there. It’s been said. Now what?

I mean, this is more than my concern that she has absolutely no ambition, that she doesn’t seem to have any sort of life goals, which granted, is a real concern. But this particular issue has such larger implications as it affects everyone.

“I sat in the dark and thought: There’s no big apocalypse. Just an endless procession of little ones.” ~ Neil Gaiman, from Signal to Noise

I’m so conflicted.

If you were to ask me if my daughter is a good mother, I wouldn’t hesitate to say, “Yes. Absolutely.”

Copyright York Museums Trust / Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“The Wave” (1898)
by Roderick O’Conor

But then, I must pause. Does she love her daughter? Without question. Does she want what is best for her daughter? Again, yes.

But what makes a good mother? Love, concern, respect, patience, empathy, sympathy . . . cobbled together with a willingness to teach, to share, to laugh, to cry . . . Like it or not, motherhood is an endless procession of decisions, and if we are lucky, most of them are right, and if we are smart, we learn from the wrong ones, but first, we must be able to identify the wrong ones.

Look, being a mother is a thankless job. Your children resent you a lot of the time. They don’t like you some of the time. They wish you would be quiet a lot of the time. They appreciate you only some of the time, and to them, you are never a person with feelings and wants and needs. And no one can teach you how to be a mother; it’s purely on-the-job training, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get good advice along the way, and if you’re smart, you’ll realize which advice is good and which is bad.

So what’s my point?

Damned if I know . . .

“Life must be back there. You hid it
So no one would find it
And now you can’t remember where.” ~ John Ashbery, from “Vaucanson”

You know shaken baby syndrome? Well obviously that’s something that must never be done, but what about shaken adult child syndrome? Is it acceptable to want to grasp said child by the shoulders and shake him/her until the eyes come into focus and you think that perhaps some semblance of sense has entered said child’s brain?

William Henry Johnson Untitled c1930-35
Untitled Seascape (c1930-35)
by William Henry Johnson

I know that I’m making light, but trust me, I am so close to tears much of the time that to laugh would be nothing short of achieving a state of grace.

But back to the problem. Did you know that there is an actual illness called Sleeping Beauty Syndrome? It’s actually called Klein-Levin Syndrome:

Klein-Levin Syndrome (KLS) is a rare and complex neurological disorder characterized by recurring periods of excessive amounts of sleep, altered behavior, and a reduced understanding of the world. The disorder strikes adolescents primarily but can occur in younger children and adults. At the onset of an episode the patient becomes progressively drowsy and sleeps for most of the day and night (hypersomnolence), sometimes waking only to eat or go to the bathroom. Each episode lasts days, weeks or months during which time all normal daily activities stop. Individuals are not able to care for themselves or attend school and work. In between episodes, those with KLS appear to be in perfect health with no evidence of behavioral or physical dysfunction. KLS episodes may continue for 10 years or more. KLS is sometimes referred to in the media as “Sleeping Beauty” syndrome.

Seriously, I think my daughter has this. Some people think that Alexis is just lazy. I honestly don’t think that’s it. If I did, I would say so. Laziness can be fixed; well, at least, I think it can be fixed. Alexis is too OCD to be lazy. I just don’t know if she has any control over these sleep episodes. And the brutal reality is that it’s gotten to the point that it is having a serious impact on every single relationship she has.

“But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” ~ Umberto Eco, from Foucault’s Pendulum

So what to do, what to do? I can do nothing. Not yet. And even if the time were right for me to do something, I have absolutely no idea as to what course of action I should take, if any.

Wassily Kandinsky Stormy Day 1906
“Stormy Day” (1906)
by Wassily Kandinsky

Familial relationships are so damned draining. Awash in a sea of eggshells, and trying to find just the right way to cross without breaking anything, without breaking any . . . one.

You know when you are young, in your early 20’s, and you think about life, think about the future as I always did, I would bet that most of the realities of later life never enter the realm of possibility. I mean, how could they, really? Real life is so far from what you think will happen to you when you’re young and trying to decide whether or not to drop a huge chunk of change on some toy or the other. Real life is so filled with pitfalls and trenches so deep that few of us would ever contemplate that such horrible things might actually happen.

Nothing in my 20’s prepared me for real life, even though I was so certain at the time that I had all of the answers. I was so sure of my certainty then. It takes being slapped in the face by fate to make you realize just how little you actually know.

So here I am, finally able to admit how little I know and knowing how little I am able to effect any kind of meaningful change in the lives of my children. Is it any wonder I walk around in a constant state of pain-filled angst?

Probably shouldn’t have written any of this . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by I Will, I Swear, “Long Days”


                   

Mind

The slow overture of rain,
each drop breaking
without breaking into
the next, describes
the unrelenting, syncopated
mind. Not unlike
the hummingbirds
imagining their wings
to be their heart, and swallows
believing the horizon
to be a line they lift
and drop. What is it
they cast for? The poplars,
advancing or retreating,
lose their stature
equally, and yet stand firm,
making arrangements
in order to become
imaginary. The city
draws the mind in streets,
and streets compel it
from their intersections
where a little
belongs to no one. It is
what is driven through
all stationary portions
of the world, gravity’s
stake in things, the leaves,
pressed against the dank
window of November
soil, remain unwelcome
till transformed, parts
of a puzzle unsolvable
till the edges give a bit
and soften. See how
then the picture becomes clear,
the mind entering the ground
more easily in pieces,
and all the richer for it.

~ Jorie Graham

 

 

“No one ever asks if you had a good winter.” ~ Douglas Haynes, from “Corn Moon”

Fairfield Porter Late Afternoon Snow 1972
“Late Afternoon Snow” (1972, oil on paper on panel)
by Fairfield Porter

                   

Two for Tuesday: Douglas Haynes

When I chose these poems about the poet’s mother, my mom wasn’t in the hospital. Weird coincidence? Twisted turn of fate?

Tom Thomson In Algonquin Park 1914 oil on canvas
“In Algonquin Park” (1914, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

Last Word

She ate a piece of tuna and a piece of salmon, raw on my fingers
passing her blue, faintly-upturned lips. The chef spent half an hour
of her final day arraying the fish in tiny bites and festooning them
with saw-toothed plastic. I ate what she couldn’t the day after she died,

when her last everythings became decoration: the book Swimming to Antarctica
she always wanted on her bed but never finished; her smile in the picture
donning her pink wig; the bendable, red straw she sipped coffee through
before slipping unconscious. When the rasp and moan of her death rattle

hushed, I was reading about ceviche in a magazine I’d bought too late
for her to read. I reached her bed just in time to see her eyes roll
and fix a dilated void, to hear her shallow, penultimate breaths
more like preparation for stillness than actual gasps of air.

The wood frog chorus went on outside for no other reason than to persist.
If someone you love is dying, decide whether you believe in ghosts.
Without the map of belief, train whistles in the night that I used to hear
beside her became bearers of someone I couldn’t touch.  Wind rushing

through a window screen sounded like a whisper. Do you say hello
to the dead? Or just start with what you wish you had said, since
the liminal space between words and a world without them
won’t survive your sleepless night in the room beside her body?

The next morning arrived like houselights after a tragedy’s curtain falls,
like the crowd’s transformation that isn’t fulfillment in the face
of someone else’s misfortune, but gratitude that the heroine believed
stubbornly in redemption. Her last word was water.

                   

Walter Elmer Schofield Winter Stream c1925 oil on canvas
“Winter Stream” (c1925, oil on canvas)
by Walter Elmer Schofield

Natural Medicine

The doctor tells her to lift her johnny way up over her head,
puts a cold stethoscope on her back, and says Breathe deeply. Again.

I stop breathing. I imagine her lungs burbling like a pot of boiling water.
The doctor says Let’s take a look. She and I don’t look.

Looks good he says, which means that though one breast is a rift
of scars, the other seems fine. But you’re not out of the woods yet,

which means death lurks like a toothy beast behind every tree
but the forest ends just beyond the horizon, means that the doctor

doesn’t want to say that no medicine from a rainforest fern
or social-climbing bacterium can rubber-stamp her saved.

He says Here’s what we’ll do because he gets paid to do something
despite knowing the body’s mysteries haven’t faded as fast

as the family farm, as the rainforest, as the path outward closing
behind her with no moon or stars lighting the way and where—

if she lies down to sleep—nature won’t wake her in the morning.

                   

Music by The Cure, “To Wish Impossible Things”

“Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “Here I Love You”

Eugene Fredrik Jansson Vinternatt over Kajen Winter Night on the Quai 1901 oil on canvas
“Vinternatt over Kajen (Winter Night on the Quai)” (1901, oil on canvas)
by Eugène Fredrik Jansson

                   

“Mind you, sometimes the angels smoke, hiding it with their sleeves, and when the archangel comes, they throw the cigarettes away: that’s when you get shooting stars.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov, letter to his wife

Tuesday afternoon. Cold and rainy, 39 degrees.

Well, I slept a bit better last night but still awoke with a migraine. I wonder if the Botox will ever kick in, or if my body will continue to do what it will regardless of treatment.

It’s a beastly day outside, the kind of day that causes the dogs to peer out the door and then turn around, choosing instead to wait and wait and wait. I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head about so many different things that I thought I might just do a random thoughts post today. So here we go . . .

  • I have realized that my ideas about art have changed significantly from how I used to feel decades ago.
  • Thinking about art always makes me think about Mari, who loved art. When she was still with her husband Buddy, her house was filled with original works of art. I was so jealous.
  • I used to love only the Impressionists with their milky colors all blurring together, Monet in particular.

    Edvard Munch Thawing Snow 1919
    “Thawing Snow” (1919, oil on canvas)
    by Edvard Munch
  • Then I was really into the pre-Raphaelites, especially John William Waterhouse.
  • Lately though, I find that I am much more drawn to the Realists (and all of the associated offshoots) who worked right around the late 19th century into the first part of the 20th century.
  • I like the clearer depictions of landscapes, the richer, more defined colors.
  • I am particularly drawn to Emil Nolde, Leon Spilliaert, Edvard Munch, and Edward Hopper.
  • I have never understood or particularly cared for Andy Warhol.
  • Regardless of movement or school, however, I find that I am almost exclusively drawn to landscapes, or in the case of Hopper, his lonely people.

“You never realise where you are going until you get there,
where nothing is planned, nothing is known,
and you’re drawn back into the heart’s old orbits,
tiny as a grain, massive as a moon.” ~ Pat Boran, from “Moon Street”

A few personal things:

  • I haven’t read a book in almost three months; I go through these phases in which I simply cannot read, cannot concentrate, but this has turned into a long dry spell.

    John Fabian Carlson Brooding Silence
    “Brooding Silence” (nd, oil on canvas)
    by John Fabian Carlson
  • Even though I’m not reading it doesn’t keep me from wanting more books, adding books to my wish list, obsessing over new releases or old titles that I haven’t read yet.
  • Even as a teenager I used to wish that I could work for a publishing company, but I never did a damned thing about it.
  • I have this publishing degree that is pretty much wasted.
  • I used to dream of moving to New York and working for a big publishing house. I never even tried to make this a reality.
  • I also used to dream of moving to New York and trying to find work as an actor. Never did that either.
  • So little action for such big dreams, and now I wonder if I’m too old to have dreams.

“Sometimes at night I would sleep open-eyed underneath a sky dripping with stars. I was alive then.” ~ Albert Camus

Family news:

  • Corey and I talked for almost an hour and a half last night. He has so much to tell me about his new job. I hear an excitement in his voice that I haven’t heard in a while. I’m so relieved.
  • Sometimes I think that Corey only works as a merchant marine to support our family, but I really think that he likes being on the water, and he’s very good at what he does.

    Zinaida Serebriakova Winter Landscape period Neskuchnoye 1910
    “Winter Landscape. Nekuchnoye” (1910)
    by Zinaida Serebriakova
  • When we first got married, his big dream was to own his own landscaping company, and he worked at it for over a year. I was actually surprised when he told me that he realized that he really didn’t like it.
  • Olivia’s new word is no . . .
  • The Christmas tree still has no ornaments on it, and I haven’t addressed any cards yet. This is the most unprepared I have been for the holidays in a very long time.
  • Eamonn called Corey yesterday morning to tell him the phones were off. We were both stupefied by eldest son’s complete lack of context, as in Corey might be a bit busy, you know, with the new job thing. Amazing.
  • I did do some online shopping yesterday, but I don’t even feel like leaving the house to finish the shopping.

“Look up . . . and see them.
The teaching stars,
beyond worship
and commonplace tongues.” ~ Dorothy Dunnett

On time marching inexorably on:

  • Mari and I have gotten lax in our writing project. I started it when I got side-tracked while working on the bathroom. I’m hoping that we can get our rhythm back and really get back to it by the beginning of the year.
  • Speaking of beginning of the year, I have a milestone birthday coming up—not going to say which one, so don’t even ask—and I’m kind of in shock. I mean, how does this happen?
  • Of course I know how it happens, duh, the whole space time continuum, earth rotating around the sun and all of that, but still . . .

    Tom Thomson Frost-Laden Cedars, Big Cauchon Lake 1916 oil on canvas
    “Frost-Laden Cedars, Big Cauchon Lake” (1916, oil on canvas)
    by Tom Thomson
  • I still don’t feel my age. I’ve never felt my age. When I was young, I felt older, and when I got older, I felt younger.
  • I think that I’m doing this whole age thing wrong, but I can’t figure out how to do it right.
  • Still don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up, which used to be funny, but I realize that it’s kind of lost its charm at this point.
  • Am I going to live the rest of my days not knowing what in the hell I’m doing, where in the hell I’m going, when in the hell I’m finally going to figure something out? Anything?
  • At this point, really, I’d settle for anything.
  • Speaking of time and things, I find that a lot of people fear the future. I don’t fear the future for being the future or for what it may bring. I just fear being unprepared for life.
  • For me, time that has passed is far weightier than time to come.
  • Days gone by contain so many pieces of our selves, of other people, of the world. The past is heavy just from all that it bears and how it is continually resurrected.

“We were approaching winter like an object which cannot be put between words. Behavior became simpler since we had dislocated our memories . . . Though the clouds could be uttered in a variety of tones, the stars formed constellations analyzed completely. You cried for the moon, which had started to wane in agreement with constant and variable.” ~ Rosmarie Waldrop, from Curves to the Apples

Things I still want to do, see, experience:

  • My wish for our next big vacation: Ireland, England, France. I know, almost prohibitive.
  • The northern lights, Aurora Borealis, a comet—I ache to be somewhere without light pollution, to stand on a hill and drink in the complex beauty of the night sky.
  • A Canon Rebel camera so that I can get back into photography (I guess this belongs more on a want to have list)

    Petr Nilus Snowy Landscape
    “Snowy Landscape” (1928, oil on canvas)
    by Petr Nilus
  • The west coast—Oregon, Washington, Northern California. Absolutely no desire to be anywhere near LA
  • A long weekend to New York to go to nothing but museums
  • Speaking of museums, still, always will want to go to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. Also the Art Institute of Chicago and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
  • An extended train trip across Europe. I have never traveled any distance on a train, only inner city. I understand that it can be quite cramped, but what I would like to do is go to a country, get off and see things, and then travel to another country.
  • Alaska.
  • A train trip in the northwest of the US and Canada.
  • A home that sits on a cliff near the sea, just like in the movies.

Enough of that. Today’s image theme is . . . cold, as in I am.

More later. Peace.

Music by Thriving Ivory, “Angels on the Moon”

                   

A Good Sky

I show you a good sky.
It could hold a fleet of geese
above a kite, sipping in a breeze,
or foliate the wind
with leaves of cherry wood
and hedge.

It will blanket your sleep
with mirrors of stars
in the soft undressing of night.

It will love you, soley,
through the Venus dawn,
rubbing your eyes awake
a moment before the day’s
light hangs its spars.

I show you a good sky.
It will rain its reflection
on your one troubled eye,
the one that blinks
each time a hawk rants by.

I am no one’s romantic.
No. I am the sky’s shadow-wish
writing this only
to breathe its light.

I show you a falling sun,
passing like a lover,
to be near you, allowing
no star, no bulb on a corner lamp
to possess you as you are.

Look. Here I am, the sky’s moon
down. I will shave
a horizon out of peaks
like none your memory
has ever carved.

I show you a good sky.
Its broad blue ribbon will wrap
its mind around your eyes’ imagination
and tease you into smiles—
Now, be patient,
let your grieving rest awhile.

~ James Ragan

“Notice that Autumn is more the season of the soul than of Nature.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

TomThomson-Moonlight-and-Birches-1916-17
“Moonlight and Birches” (1916-17?, oil on wood panel)
by Tom Thomson

                   

“We’re all, all of us in this world soon to spoil.
Copper leaves are tumbling coyly from the maples . . .
World-weary drifter, be forever grateful
To have faded fast, in early petalfall.” ~ Sergei Esenin, from “No crying, calling out, complaining . . .” (trans. James Stotts)

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy, and cool, 53 degrees.

So Thanksgiving is over, and it has taken me three days to recover. On Friday I awoke feeling as if my entire body had been slammed against a wall repeatedly. My fingers were so swollen that I feared I may have to have my wedding band cut off, and just walking was painful and tiring. I spent a lot of time in bed feeling sorry for myself and hoping that I wasn’t in the beginning of some kind of flu or virus.

Tom Thomson Autumn Foliage 1916 oil on wood
“Autumn Foliage” (1916, oil on wood)
by Tom Thomson

Saturday was a bit better only in that the swelling was gone, but it still hurt to walk, and I had a vicious sore throat. Really?

I find this turn of events completely exasperating and uncalled for . . .

Corey made me homemade chicken soup last night, which was delicious as always. Today I’m not planning to try to accomplish much of anything other than this post, and possibly writing another chapter to Mari.

“The old grieving autumn goes on calling to its summer
the valley is calling to other valleys beyond the ridge
each star is roaring alone into darkness
there is not a sound in the whole night” ~ W.S. Merwin, from “Lights Out”

I signed up for a Christmas card exchange on tumblr, something I have never done. I’ve received the names of five individuals from all over, and I’m supposed to send cards with the idea being that I’ll receive some cards as well. I thought that it was a fairly easy way to extend holiday greetings, and it fills my need to receive cards at Christmas, especially since so few people actually take the time to send cards any more, a trend that I find completely vexing.

Tom Thomson The Jack Pine 1916
“The Jack Pine” (1916-17, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

Last night I had troubling dreams about Alexis, Mike and Olivia, but I know it’s because they are driving back from Mississippi, and in the back of my mind I am anxious. Holiday travel is always iffy; two different people in my family have been involved in holiday-related accidents, both serious, and it’s one of the reasons I really don’t like to travel during the holidays, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Anyway, they are due back this afternoon, so fingers crossed.

” . . . from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn—that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness—that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” ~ Jane Austen, from Persuasion

Corey got the results from his blood work that was done for his work physical. His levels are just a bit high in four places, but not with his albumin levels, so that was a false positive. His white blood cells are a bit elevated, but it’s well within 5 percent of the normal range, which, from everything I’ve read, is fine. If they were very low, or very high, I would be concerned. I’m hoping that it all means nothing and that it’s not enough to keep him from getting the job.

Tom Thomson In the Northland oil on canvas 1922
“In the Northland” (1915, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

I know that he’s stressing out, and we’re both hoping that nothing interferes with this job. Although it does us no good to worry about such things, that doesn’t stop the worrying. Although I can say that because I’ve had unusual reading on my blood panels before in different areas, I’m hoping that it’s a whole lot of nothing.

Does that make sense?

“He says a word,
and I say a word—autumn
is deepening.
” ~ Kyoshi Takahama

By the way, Happy December—it’s snowing on my blog!

I know that it’s officially not winter until the 21st of December (winter solstice), but why does it always feel as if it’s winter when November disappears and we turn the calendar page to December? Perhaps it’s because the beauty that is fall has pretty much passed by December? I mean, most of the trees that bore beautiful cloaks of amber and gold are moving towards being bare by December. Is that why we rush the seasons alone?

Tom Thomson The Pine Tree 1915 oil on board
“The Pine Tree” (1915, oil on board)
by Tom Thomson

I just know that once November is gone, and all of the bad anniversaries have passed, I start to feel different somehow, a little less depressed, a bit more able to move from the past to the present. Although admittedly, I never quite make the leap completely.

I have been trying to tell myself over and over again to live in the moment because it all goes so very quickly, you see? The days move down to dust far faster than we realize . . . what was I saying about being less depressed? Oh well, you know what I mean.

“I’m watching the last of summer
as the leaves begin to curl
in invisible fire
and I want to tell you
just one thing, it is not urgent,
over and over again.” ~ Paul Guest, from “Practice”

Between feeling ill and not having any money we were unable to take advantage of any of the holiday sales to buy Christmas presents, something we try to do each year. Oh well, I suppose I’ll just have to venture out to stores in December, something I’m not terribly fond of doing. People are insane in December, have you noticed?

TomThomson-The-Pool-c1915
“The Pool” (1915-16, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

I watched some clip of Black Friday in a Wal-Mart, and it was idiotic. What was particularly weird was that the guy who filmed the fray was asked to leave the store, but not the people who were pushing and grabbing. You can stay in our store if it means you will spend money no matter how you manage to do it, but you have to leave if you attempt to put out to the world what goes on here . . . yep, another reason why I just love Wal-Mart.

I was thinking about it, and it really just hit me: these people are willing to do physical harm to complete strangers, and why? Because it’s a great price on a widescreen TV? Because you can get that gaming system for 50 percent off? Oh, of course. It makes so much more sense when I consider it that way—a bargain is worth the trade-off of your dignity . . .

More later. Peace.

P.S. Here’s hoping that John recovers from his surgery without any complications and is on the road to recovery swiftly.

*All image are by Canadian artist Tom Thomson (August 5, 1877 – July 8, 1917), who is widely associated with the Group of Seven

Music by Radiohead, “The Tourist”

                   

Descent

Gian Giacomo Caprotti  to Leonardo Da Vinci

The money gone, I followed you
to the edge of love—only to find the city
sinking. Streets lit with dawn’s blue
ashes. But it was the flecks of amber
slipping between the chimneys
that had us running. Dim alleys leading
to nowhere—or water. Then
the Piazza San Marco opening
the Mediterranean. That sudden
brightness. Pigeons crumbling
from the angels’ rusted shoulders
in the hour before Venice vanished
beneath the crowd. Hour of birdsong
falling like pebbles on the promenade.
And the year’s first widow chanting a new
god’s name into the sea. Her body a stitch
in the shore. Brief inventor, make me
new again. For the heart fails not in its breaking
but the tightening. For the sun came on.
The plaza erupted in panels of blood.
And you were still my king. And I, still—
your king.

~ Ocean Vuong

 

“A little light is filtering from the water flowers. | Their leaves do not wish us to hurry: | They are round and flat and full of dark advice.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from “Crossing the Water”

Otto Modersohn The Cloud 1890
“The Cloud or Die Wolke” (1890)
by Otto Modersohn

                   

“The lake, as usual,
Has taken its mood from the sky,
Its color also,
The blue that breaks hearts.” ~ Tom Hennen, from “June, with Loons”

Thursday afternoon, Halloween. Cloudy and warm, mid 70’s.

John Henry Twachtman Sailing in the Mist c1895 oil on canvas
“Sailing in the Mist” (c1895, oil on canvas)
by John Henry Twachtman

The fates have been reversed for about a week or so: I’ve been wanting to write, have had much to say, but have had no time to spare until just this moment. I’m hoping that I can finish this post before the neighborhood kids begin to roam, and the dogs begin to go crazy. We’ll just have to see.

Since I have so many different thoughts going in so many different directions, I thought I’d do a random thoughts post. Here goes:

  • I learned a new word the other day: deliquescent, becoming liquid or having a tendency to become liquid. Doesn’t that just sound as if it should be in a poem?
  • I continue to awaken each morning with a song in my head, and the song of the morning does not seem to have any relevance to anything that I can pinpoint. For example, the other morning it was The Courtship of Eddie’s father theme song.
  • There is a running theme that occurs in my dreams, regardless of what the main theme is: I have forgotten to feed the dogs that stay in the backyard. I only remember them after several days. I find them in various states of illness—listless, dehydrated, close to dying.
  • Last night I dreamt of my family in Great Bridge, all of my cousins; one of my cousins introduced me to his friend and said that I had gone off to sing. I was very confused because I didn’t remember having a singing career.
  • I bought Halloween candy that I’m not particularly fond of hoping that it would keep me from delving into the bag; this has not worked completely.
  • Does too much sugar affect your dreams?

“She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.” ~ Oscar Wilde, from “De Profundis”

Pierre Henri Valenciennes Rome colon Study of Clouds 1780s
“Rome: Study of Clouds” (1780s, oil on paper mounted on board)
by Pierre Henri Valenciennes

So here’s the latest news from around the home:

  • Corey will be in port on Saturday. He’s getting off the ship before they travel to Ascension; we have to fit in the trip to New Orleans before all of the holidays roll around.
  • I weigh four pounds less on my pain doctor’s scale. I like that scale.
  • Olivia is going to be a lady bug for Halloween; I bought her some black and white Mary Janes with red bows, too cute.
  • I wonder how many of you remember those hard leather shoes made by Stride-Rite for toddlers, how we were all forced to wear them and then in turn told to force our children to wear them .  .  . somewhere along the line, the doctors who decide said that tennis shoes were better for young feet.
  • I read where Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa bought the young prince silver casts of his hands and feet for a christening gift, and media voices were calling the gift creepy. How is that any creepier than bronzing baby shoes like everyone in my mother’s generation did?
  • My current fascination with all things make-up related continues. Don’t ask me why as I haven’t the faintest idea.
  • Lately, I’m fixated on just the right make-up brushes.

“And if all that is meaningless, I want to be cured
Of a craving for something I cannot find
And of the shame of never finding it.” ~ T. S. Eliot, from The Cocktail Party

Tom Thomson Grey Sky 1914 oil on wood
“Grey Sky” (1914, oil on wood)
by Tom Thomson

Funny, I thought that I had so much to say, but the last few hours have had so many interruptions that I cannot seem to find my train of thought.

  • It’s far too muggy to be October.
  • I just remembered that I had another dream about the real estate firm where I worked. In these dreams I’m always trying to please my boss, unsuccessfully.
  • I don’t want to think about how many jobs I have failed at; it’s just too depressing.
  • Neither Brett nor I went to any Literary Festival events this year.
  • I finally watched the movie Sylvia in which Gwyneth Paltrow plays Sylvia Plath and Daniel Craig plays Ted Hughes. The movie wasn’t bad, but I think it soft-pedaled the depiction of Hughes.
  • At the moment I’m feeling very displaced, as if I’m on the verge of something without really knowing what or why.
  • The other day I realized that this year marks 25 years since Caitlin. It still feels so immediate, so close, yet not.
  • I wonder if anyone else can understand anything I am trying to say.

“But mountain weariness and mountain hunger — how few know what these are!” ~ John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

August Strindberg Packis i Traden 1892
“Packis i Stranden” (1892, oil on zinc)
by August Strindberg

She said, apropos of nothing . . .

  • My mother ordered me some strange gadget from QVC. I told her that I didn’t have room for it, and I didn’t really need it. She insisted that I had told her I wanted it. This would be hard as I have no idea as to what it is. Patience. Patience.
  • QVC preys on the shut-ins, the elderly, and the lonely.
  • I probably won’t see the mountains again this year.
  • Obviously, I’m not going to apply to the doctoral program at GW since I have made no further efforts in preparing.
  • I am my own worst enemy.
  • Now that Corey is coming home, we can finally finish the bathroom, all of the things we couldn’t do before he left, and all of the things I couldn’t do on my own—not a whole lot, actually. Still, unfinished is unfinished.
  • I have the strangest feeling that I have forgotten to do something really important, but I have no idea as to what it might be.

“While the earth breaks the soft horizon
eastward, we study how to deserve
what has already been given us.” ~ William Stafford, from “Love in the Country”

Maurice de Vlaminck The Seine at Chatou oil on canvas 1908
“The Seine at Chatou” (1908, oil on canvas)
by Maurice de Vlaminck

On a more serious note . . .

  • I think that my mother is deteriorating mentally faster. I have noticed more things in just the last few weeks.
  • I really need to investigate what kind (if any) of support there is for seniors, as far as keeping house, running errands, that kind of thing.
  • We are not a society that values the aged, not like the Asians do.
  • I constantly berate myself for not having enough patience with my mother, yet when I’m around her, I just cannot seem to summon the patience I need.
  • I feel like a horrible daughter.
  • I am praying to the gods that be that I can teach myself more of how to live in the moment, something I have never quite mastered.
  • Am I too old to learn such things?
  • When I am with Olivia, I am forcing my mind to rest, not to think about this bill or that problem, but to just enjoy this time because I know all too well that it passes quickly.
  • I would give anything to have another fall afternoon with all three of my children when they were still young.

I happened upon the most wonderful site: Lancaster Center for Classical Studies, which posted pictures of cloudy weather for today, just as I have here. I wonder if they do that every day . . .

Nicholas Roerich Karelian Landscape c1917
“Karelian Landscape” (c1917)
by Nicholas Roerich

More later. Peace.

Music by Rosi Golan and Johnny McDaid, “Give up the Ghost”

                   

Assurance

You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or in the silence after lightning before it says
its names — and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,
long aisles — you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head —
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.

~ William Stafford