“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.” ~ David Benioff, from City of Thieves


“I have started to dream profusely day and night. The blood is circulating again. I write in my head.” ~ Anaïs Nin, from Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary; 1939-1947

Sunday afternoon, partly cloudy, 54 degrees.

Last night was a real bugger. The dogs wanted to go out frequently; it seems like it was every five minutes. Around 7 a.m., I took half a sleeping pill and tried to get a few hours. This afternoon,  I’m zombie-fied.

Let me back up. Last night, Corey came home with a breeding pair of miniature Nubian goats. We’ve been talking about starting with the goat thing, and yesterday afternoon, he was really at loose ends, so I told him to go buy some goats. Problem solved.

When he got home, we had some pretty strange reactions from the various animals: Sassy the horse began snorting, tossing her head and generally acting unhappy. She’s never done that before; I wonder if she has some antipathy towards goats. All of the dogs wanted to see what was in the truck, and when they were put in the house, Maddy scratched at the door and whined like mad to get out. During the night, Bailey kept wanting to go outside, and when I opened the door, she would immediately turn left and head down the side yard. I didn’t follow her, but I assumed that she was going towards the chicken run, which is where Corey had put the goats last night so that they would be safe. Then Bailey would come back inside and whine at me.

Over and over and over. So annoying, and I was very not amused. And then I realized that I was mindlessly looking out the window and only to see the very dense dark that surrounds the property at night fade as dawn began to appear. (It is lovely, however, that from the side living room windows we can watch the sun set over the ridge, and from the side window of the spare bedroom we can see the sun rise.)

I was not greeting the dawn on purpose as anyone who knows me can attest that morning and I are not on the best of terms. I am even less amused today as my head feels like it’s in a vise, and my hands hurt like crazy (I’m currently out of my eggshell membrane).

“Even when
I sleep I dream I can’t sleep and I’m standing there looking
down at them, the night pouring from my hands.” ~ Emily Berry, from “Arlene and Esme”

Today Corey has the goats out in the yard, both of them on long leads so that they don’t bolt. The end of the yard before the dropoff was apparently a goat pasture as there is still a small goat shed down there. Unfortunately, that’s one part of the yard in which the fence hasn’t been repaired, so we cannot put them there as of yet, hence the leads. I am ambivalent about that far pasture, though. I mean, what about bears and coyotes?

I know. That whole worrying thing.

Apparently, the guy from whom Corey bought the goats kept them on long leads and moved them around his property each day. It’s not an ideal solution, but I suppose that it will work for us temporarily. However, the goats need to have room to move freely, preferably in areas that are overgrown.

As soon as I saw the pair last night I immediately named the female Daisy, but I haven’t figured out who the male is yet. Daisy is quite gentle with a very pretty face, which might be an odd thing to say about a goat. She is black with sable markings. The male is mostly white with black markings and a pair of beautiful horns.

The only thing about goats that I don’t like are their pupils: horizontal. Weird and kind of freaky. I probably feel that way because too many horror movies use goat imagery for demons, and that’s stuck in my head somehow. But Daisy is the farthest thing from demonic looking, and she is very sweet-natured. I still have to work on the male.

“It’s good to fall asleep here. I lie on my back and don’t know if I’m asleep or awake. Some books I’ve read pass by like old sailing ships on their way to the Bermuda triangle to vanish without trace . . .” ~ Tomas Tranströmer, from “How the Late Autumn Night Novel Begins”

Yesterday was Eamonn’s birthday. I sent him a text, which was much harder than it needed to be. The phone situation around here is no better, and frankly, I’m at my wit’s end over it. I need to call some doctors and pharmacies, and I simply cannot get a freaking signal that will last more than 15 seconds, which is why I didn’t even attempt to call Eamonn and chose to text instead.

I realized later in the afternoon that yesterday was probably at the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Norfolk, something that Eamonn, Alexis, and their father have traditionally made a point to attend. I’ve never been to the parade, nor have I wanted to—too much noise and way too many drunk people on a Saturday morning.

I plan to write Eamonn later today to see how his birthday went and if he did anything besides the parade. It goes without saying (so I’ll say it) that I really miss seeing him, especially on his birthday, something I would have normally made him a special meal for, at the very least.

“I can still see the dark
blur at the edges. I don’t sleep anymore, my head is full
of this insomniac light.” ~ Emily Berry, from “Arlene and Esme”

At the moment, the house is quiet as most of the dogs are outside with Corey. Tink is the only one inside, and she’s deep into her afternoon nap. She has gotten too big to sleep in my lap while I type, but that didn’t stop her from trying to do so yesterday afternoon. Neither of us were comfortable, so I moved her to the couch, and she immediately fell back to sleep. She’s really grown so much since we first got her, and Freddy has really grown. We’re certain that he will end up being our largest dog, but he’s still a little scaredy-cat over pretty much everything, and he doesn’t realize that he isn’t small any more. At least he isn’t afraid of towels any more.

Anyway, I’m enjoying the quiet, but I’m chilly. We’re trying not to build any more fires, but the last few nights have been quite chilly. I always get cold when I’m not feeling great, and at the moment my legs, my fingers, and my nose are cold. The legs I can cover, but what do you do about a cold nose when you’re sitting in the house? And as for the fingers? I mean, I can’t really put on gloves and hope to type with any accuracy.

I have no plans to go for a walk today; I just don’t have the energy or the inclination. It’s already going on 3:30. It took a bit to find today’s poem and song, so I’m already behind before I even start. I don’t think that I’ve ever posted anything by this particular poet or performer before, so that’s new.

The only good news is that I think that I’ll be able to post the pictures that I took the other day. When I sat Corey down yesterday to help me with the problem I was having with importing, I showed him what I had been trying to do, and of course the first time that I tried, I was able to import a photo without any problems.

I really hate it when he gets that told-you-so, smug grin on his face . . .

“It was that sort of sleep in which you wake every hour and think to yourself that you have not been sleeping at all; you can remember dreams that are like reflections, daytime thinking slightly warped.” ~ Kim Stanley Robinson, from Icehenge

I realize that this post isn’t incredibly engaging or revelatory (you wouldn’t believe how many times I just misspelled that word, and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why: relevatory is not a word, dumbass). Blame the brain fog and the cold nose and fingers.

I was tempted to skip posting entirely, but if I did that, then there would be the recriminations and regrets and general bashing of my otherwise solid self-image, and we wouldn’t want that, huh?

So let’s see . . . goats, insomnia, spelling errors, cold body parts, dogs, kids . . . Anything else? The daffodils are blooming. Hooray. Exciting podcasts? More of “Case Files” (out of Australia) and “Root of Evil” (the Hodel/Black Dahlia legacy). YouTube videos? Not really. Skincare discoveries? No? Well, damn. Boring as usual.

More later. Peace.


Music by WILLN’T, “Four O’clock in the Morning”


Winter Insomnia

How many winter mornings waking wrongly
at three or four
my mind the only luminosity
in the darkened house . . .
my wife richly breathes
her eyes turned deeply in
on dreams.

I am alert at once
and think of the cat
coasting on its muscles
from closet shelf to bureau
grave and all-seeing
caring not at all.

The face…..the faces
waiting
toward ponds
empty-handed and with tenderness
hoping the hourly day might melt and flow.
One could reach out,
there might be a daily salvation

Out the windows slowly
a dull light is covering the
world without end:
snow patches and mud ruts,
the neighbor warming up
his car.
The world refuses
to bless
or to be blessed.

~ Richard Tillinghast

 

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“It is the stillest words that bring on the storm. Thoughts that come on doves’ feet guide the world.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

John O'Connor Moon and Convolvulus oil on canvas
“Moon and Convolvulus” (nd, oil on canvas)
by John Scorror O’Connor

                   

“You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it’s not that simple.” ~ Richard Adams, from Watership Down

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and hot, 85 degrees.

I know that it’s been weeks since I have written an actual post, one that was primarily my thoughts and not a rehashing of something else. I apologize, but my state of mind has been mired in sadness, and my body has been protesting mightily. If it were one or the other, I could cope, but with both hitting me, it’s all just been too much.

John Scorror O'Connor Track to Corbel's Farm 50-60s oil on canvas
“Track to Corbel’s Farm” (1950s-1960s, oil on canvas)
by John Scorror O’Connor

Right after Corey got home, I started to feel terrible physically—very weak, lots of muscle pain, lots of headaches and nausea. I made the mistake of offering to keep Olivia for the whole weekend, and it really did me in. I probably should have begged off, but I had already said that I would. I mean, it was my idea in the first place.

Corey has been concerned that I’m upset with him about something or that I am angry, and I had to tell him that it’s not any one thing in particular. It’s a whole lot of everything and nothing to do with him. So hard to explain.

And then yesterday happened.

“What cannot be said will be wept.” ~ Sappho

The night before, Alfie was throwing himself all over the bed and whimpering. It was horrible. I would get him to calm down, and then it would start again. We knew what we had to do. But it’s so damned hard.

John Scorror O'Connor Linley's Field oil on canvas
“Lingley’s Field” (nd, oil on canvas)
by John Scorror O’Connor

Corey insisted on going alone. I told him that whatever he decided to do I would support. In his heart, I think he thought that Alfie could still be fixed; I knew that we were past that point. Luckily, the vet told him that because of his age, he would probably not survive any kind of surgery. She said that she thought that Alfie’s problems were much worse than tooth abscesses, possibly cancer.

And so Corey came home with the small body wrapped up in a towel, and we began the heartbreaking process of burying Shakes’s brother. Brett asked if Alfie could be buried beneath his window, and I agreed. And while Brett and Corey dug a small grave for our smallest dog, I sat on the bed holding the still warm body and allowed myself to keen, to weep and scream until I had nothing left except for another tear in my heart, another scar that doesn’t show.

“We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies.” ~ Voltaire

So after, we all retreated to our various places of comfort—I to my bed, Brett to his computer, Corey to his backyard—until Eamonn came home from work, and we began to emerge once again. Eamonn cooked dinner for everyone, and then we watched some mindless television until sleep came at last.

John Scorror O'Connor Burn at Cochieton nd oil on canvas
“Burn at Cochieton” (nd, oil on canvas)
by John Scorror O’Connor

Today, I feel mostly numb, except for the migraine that began in the night. And during my periods of wakefulness in the night, I found myself searching with my hand for the small body that usually placed itself against my back or thighs, and it wasn’t there. You see, after Shakes died, Alfie became quite the cuddle monster, seeking curves to curl into in search of warmth and comfort, all of the places that Shakes had claimed as his own.

I suppose it is fitting that the two brothers should leave us within months of each other, having come into this world together in the same litter. They spent their entire lives together, and they left this world in the same order in which they were birthed.

“So much that can neither be written nor kept inside!” ~ Tomas Tranströmer, from Cry into the Nordic Night

And so I come to you again, seeking to find words in which to immerse myself, hoping to write my way out of this hollow, for it has always been the words that have saved me, words that have calmed me, words that have been the balm to my ills. And I sit here with my fingers on my keyboard and try to write my way out of this, and all I can think of is how it should have been better for Alfie, but it wasn’t.

John Scorror O'Connor Thatched Barn and Sunflower
“Thatched Barn and Sunflower” (1958, oil on board)
by John Scorror O’Connor

You see, Alfie was like the middle child of the dogs, the one who never quite got enough attention. He was so hard to love because of his persnickety disposition, the whole canine rage thing. He could turn on you in a second. But in the last month or so, he had seemed to mellow, and I don’t know whether it was mellowing or that he was just resigned to his fate. All I know is that he certainly seemed to enjoy being around people more, and he seemed to want more human touch.

And again I wonder about the depth of a dog’s soul. As sentient beings, how much do they sense? Of what are they aware? The canine capacity for love seems boundless. Witness the dogs that will show affection to even the foulest humans, the ones who beat them, who starve them, who maim them and kill them.

If I think about this too much, I just might go crazy, but it all seems so very inhumane, how little value is placed on beings whose humanity is often more than the hands that carry their fate.

“In the end I would rather wonder than know.” ~ Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey

What defines humanity? The ability to feel? The ability to reason? The ability to communicate? Or is it the ability to do harm? The ability to kill? The ability to inflict pain deliberately?

John Scorror O'Connor Botany Pool
“Botany Pool” (1955, oil on canvas)
by John Scorror O’Connor

It is a question I ask again and again and again, each time I am confronted by loss, each time I have to make a decision I would rather not make, each time life blows up in my face. And still I have no answers.

The reality for me is that I will probably use the last active cell in my brain to wonder why, even though I know there is no answer. I don’t understand life, this I know, but I keep going, keep moving forward. And sometimes it’s as arduous as foraging the Serengeti with a machete, and sometimes it’s like traversing the English Channel on an inflatable raft, and sometimes it’s seemingly as simple as slipping down a stream on an inner tube, feet dangling in the water, cold drink in hand.

I’m still looking, still searching, still finding, and still losing. I don’t have the answers, and sometimes—like—today it seems as if I don’t have any answers at all, but I suppose that’s okay, too.

More later. Peace.

All images by British artist John Scorror O’Connor (1913-2004).

Music by Aron Wright, “And Still, The Darkness Comes”

                   

Heartless Poem

It is true that my heart does not exist.
It is absolutely true that the birds are not mine,
the river will not stop for me, the leaves will not
stop aiming for the very ground where I stand,
that I cannot hold the smallest amount of air
in my hands. The closed fist of the moon
punches its way through the lake.
Someone else might talk about the moon as a heart,
but that’s all I’m going to say about it.
On this night when the stars begin their lies
about the light beyond them, when the young men
from Tuzla are hanging from lamp posts
instead of lights, I am here to tell you
my heart has never existed.
The only feelings I have ever heard of
take to the highway with the carts
and trucks of the other refugees.
Why do you think you need to join them?
If it were a violin my heart would not rest
between anyones chin and shoulder. It would
sit in a pawnshop window for someones supper.
On this night when my heart does not exist,
I eat out of the hands of yesterday.
If it did exist, the fist of my heart would
grab the hanged man by the collar of his soul
and turn him away from his own death.
But who can say anything about the soul?
The soul, too, is just another migrant.
I have heard that the soul and the heart are
the two best scavengers of whatever past
you have discarded by the side of the road.
You can find them sneaking around in some orchard
behind the smoke a farmer uses against the frost
or plucking the hanged mans weight like a pear.
See, it is not so hard to say something about nothing.
The stars are already leaking their light into dawn.
But I can tell you that my own heart has never existed.
Thats all Im going to say about it.

~ Richard Jackson

“There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling.” ~ Aldous Huxley

Granville Redmond Moonlight Marsh Scene detail
“Untitled: Moonlight Marsh Scene” (detail, nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

                   

“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books.
I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” ~ Hermann Hess, from Demian

I had that dream again, the one in which I am moving/living in the old apartment. This time, it’s much bigger, and my mother has sold her home and we are all going to live together. A friend of ours is helping us to unpack, and there are so many Christmas decorations tucked away in strange places. And then I’m looking at the special pieces that I have gotten from the woman at the museum, the one who gave me my pick of her collection for taking care of everything for her. And some of my favorite pieces are missing, like a gilded punch bowl.

Granville Redmond Monterey Moonlight
“Monterey Moonlight” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

My mother is putting things in the wrong place, and I’m trying not to snap. Then I look in one of the bathrooms and find that it is filthy, that someone has used it like a public restroom, and I am looking for gloves and old towels so that I can clean it. In my mind, I am confused as to whether or not I am with Corey or my ex or my Catholic boyfriend. I’m mostly confused because my ex is acting like he lives there, and I am so confused.

And then I remember the dogs, the ones that I always forget to feed in the dream. When they appear in the dream they are in various stages of illness, and it distresses me, mostly because it’s my fault that I have forgotten that they are in the back yard. But, and this always happens when they appear, I stop to ask myself if anyone has told me about the dogs . . .

“This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “The Waking”

I dreamed I was Marilyn Monroe, not about her, but I was her. Very, very strange. It was a full-blown story with other people interacting, and my mother, who was MM’s mother, and she was just as weird to MM as she is to me. In fact, most of the people in the dream treated me as MM with a great deal of disdain, and I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that I wasn’t stupid.

Granville Redmond Night Sea oil on canvas nd
“Night Sea” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

I think the dream probably had that slant because of all of the images of Marilyn reading books that show up on my tumblr dash. Apparently she was an avid reader, but I have to wonder if perhaps this belief wasn’t something perpetuated by her publicist so that people would take her more seriously, only in the 50’s and 60’s, blond bombshells weren’t supposed to be taken seriously, so maybe she actually did like to read? Hmm . . .

My world today has been enriched by three incredible poems that I found on my tumblr dash: Michael Lee‘s “Pass On,” Sierra DeMulder‘s “Ninety-Five Grievances to God: Abridged,” and Mark Strand‘s “Eating Poetry.” I plan to use each of them in upcoming posts.

Apparently, there is a blue theme running in the background of my day, hence, most of the accompanying images by my latest discovery—Granville Redmond. Such lovely hues of blue running through his work.

“You hold an absence
at your center,
as if it were a life.” ~ Richard Brostoff, from “Grief”

I began this post two days ago, maybe three. I honestly don’t remember. The end of the week seemed to be compressed into a few hours. On Thursday, Corey went to do his shift on the ship, only to be told that they were leaving port that afternoon at 4 p.m., which meant that the two days we still thought that we had did not in fact exist. Lots of rushing around, doing last-minute things.

Granville Redmond Morning on the Pacific 1911 oil on canvas
“Morning on the Pacific” (1911, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

I had planned to watch Olivia on Thursday so that Corey could spend some time with her, so I also had to fit that in, along with getting Brett to campus. Lots of rushing created lots of stress.

On Friday, Brett, Em, and I did more running around, trips to two different Wal Marts, Sally’s Beauty supply for some new nail polish, and a trip to the international market for more of the mochi ice cream that is not my favorite addiction, and by Friday night I was exhausted, but apparently not exhausted enough not to spend all of Saturday afternoon cleaning. I had planned to make French toast and bacon for dinner last night, but that didn’t happen. I ended up eating cheese puffs and trail mix. So healthy.

I guess I’ll do the French toast tonight, that is if I don’t crawl back into the bed and just read.

“I walk slowly into myself
through a forest of empty suits of armor.” ~ Tomas Tranströmer, from “Postludium,” trans. Robin Fulton

Anyway, outside of the home front, major things afoot. I watched the live news feed on Friday night of what looked like every cop and FBI agent in Boston as they surrounded this one house in Watertown, waiting to take down the other bombing suspect. It was one of those can’t-look-away scenarios, and then suddenly it was over, and people were pouring into the streets to celebrate.

Granville-Redmond-Moonlit-Pond
“Moonlit Pond” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

I kept hearing commentators saying that this kind of takedown wasn’t possible with the Oklahoma City bombings or after the first WTC bombing, but now all first responders are using the same communications network so that everyone can hook into everyone else. Seems odd when you realize just how much technology has advanced the hunting of criminals, making it possible to go from a major catastrophic event on one day to a resolution (as far as capture) just five days later.

I mean seriously—camera footage, cell phone images, the ability to isolate the two perpetrators through a process of elimination, identifying the perpetrators, plastering every possible media source with their pictures, locking down one of the country’s biggest cities and surrounding suburbs, and then, voila. Well, not really voila, but you get my drift.

I guess I’m just amazed when I look at everything that happened so quickly, amazed and relieved, like so many other people.

“I begin now to write down all the places I have not been—
starting with the most distant.

I build houses that I will not inhabit.” ~ Keith Waldrop, from “Poet”

Even though I began this post days ago, the blue theme is still fitting, so I’m not going to change the images I had planned.

One thing I’ve been trying to decide whether or not, or how much to write about is my mother’s health. On Wednesday, her doctor’s office called and told her that they wanted to do another CT scan to repeat what was done when she was in the ER. On Thursday morning she went in to have that done. As of yet, we still have not heard anything. She is downplaying it. I had asked her if she wanted me to go with her on Thursday for the scan, and she said no, that it was no big deal.

Granville Redmond Opalescent Sea 1918 oil on canvas
“Opalescent Sea” (1918, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

On Friday, I called to see if she had heard from her doctor and she said that she hadn’t, but that he had lots of patients. I bit my tongue and didn’t say what I was thinking, which is that I don’t care how many patients he has, this is serious, and we need to know what is going on, but I said nothing because to let on how worried I am would only worsen things.

I don’t know what’s going to happen; I don’t know what is wrong with her, perhaps nothing, perhaps something. I only know that when my dad’s doctor called and said that he needed to go in for follow-up tests, he was told he had six months to live, and he lived for less than two. I try not to think of these things, but I do. Of course I do.

I’ll keep my thoughts to myself when I’m talking to my mom, but perhaps I can share them with you?

More later. Peace.

All images by deaf Californian artist Granville Redmond.

Music by Mikky Ekko, “Pull Me Down”

                   

And Myself, Myself

I’m teaching myself
to love broken things.

Books with loose bindings
and misplaced pages.
Coffee cups with chipped
lips and snapped handles.

The rusted old tractor
in my grandfather’s yard
that hasn’t rumbled in years,
and the sparrow nest
in its belly full of eggshells
a tabby cat tore open.

A burnt patch of grass,
a pile of glass taken in
by a family of gravel.

An old red oak,
opened and weeviled,
that becomes a home
for new and varied life,
even if it cannot stand up
any longer.

~ Gabriel Gadfly