“This has become my picture of my future self: wandering the house in the darkness, in my white nightdress, howling for what I can’t quite remember I’ve lost.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “The Bad News”

Zinaïda Serebriakova Poultry Yard 1910
“Poultry Yard” (1910)
by Zinaïda Serebriakova

“I want to be lifted up
By some great white bird unknown […]
And soar for a thousand miles and be carefully hidden
Modest and golden as one last corn grain,
Stored with the secrets of the wheat” ~ James Wright, from “The Minneapolis Poem”

Thursday afternoon. Partly cloudy and cold, 39 degrees.

Edvard Munch Winter in Kragerø 1916 oil on canvas
“Winter in Kragerø” (1916, oil on canvas)
by Edvard Munch

Another bad night. I forgot to apply a new pain patch before bed, and as a result, the ache in my legs awoke me every few hours, which only fueled the dogs to keep pestering me to go out, even when I knew that they really didn’t need to.

I had a very weird dream in which Corey’s sister was balancing our checkbook, and we lived in a different big house that had a sunken tub, and all I wanted to do was escape and soak in the tub, but people kept asking me to do things, and then someone wanted to know why I was having the drapes in my mother’s house altered, and how it only cost $40, and I just didn’t have answers.

And last night as I was watching something, can’t remember what, I realized that my head hurt, and I wonder when I passed over from being acutely aware of my headaches to the point at which their omnipresence has become status quo, so much so that I don’t quite feel them? How does that happen? I mean, I know that the body adjusts its threshold for pain, but this? To actually have to tell myself, “hey, your head really hurts . . . perhaps you should take some medicine for that”?

It just blows my mind.

“There is something maddeningly attractive about the untranslatable, about a word that goes silent in transit.” ~ Anne Carson, from “Variations on the Right to Remain Silent”

At some point during one of my awake periods, I had a fragment of a poem appear, and I rolled over thinking that surely I would remember it, but then I realized that I would never remember it, so I jotted it down in pencil on the first thing I could find, which was the wrapper for my pain patch, and now I have to find it. I have another fragment somewhere, but for the life of me I can’t remember if I stuck it in the middle of one of my countless drafts here, or if I actually opened Word and put it there.

Boris Anisfield Stony Point, New York 1925 oil on canvas
“Stony Point, New York” (1925, oil on canvas)
by Boris Anisfield

So obviously, forcing myself to write down what I told myself I would remember was a good thing . . .

I had Olivia on Monday and Tuesday of this week, which is always a treat, but since Corey left Monday afternoon, I did not sleep much at all that night. That’s how it always is on the first night after he leaves again. I have to try to remember (that word, again) not to schedule anything for the day after he leaves because I am physically and emotionally useless.

After all of this time of him shipping out, you would think that I would be used to it, but not so much. I mean, I have adjusted much better to the period when he is gone and being her by myself with just the dogs, and only once in a while does it cause me to fall into a tailspin, but the actual physical separation as represented so starkly in our half empty bed? That gets to me every single time.

“I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane
I was the smudge of ashen fluff—and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov, from “Pale Fire”

Yesterday I took care of some Christmas returns and exchanges. Brett and Em went with me, so it made it a bit easier. We actually got a tremendous amount done, and we were all done in afterwards.

Vincent van Gogh The Old Station at Eindhoven 1885
“The Old Station at Eindhoven” (1885, oil on canvas)
by Vincent van Gogh

I had bought myself some dinner at Costco, but only ended up eating a slice of bread. Before you think me too spartan, I have to confess that every time I get up in the middle of the night into the morning, I eat something, whether it’s a piece of chocolate or an Oreo. It’s an abominable habit, one that I would really like to break. The only time I haven’t done this in recent memory was when I had bronchitis, and everything tasted foul.

Anyway, another leftover from the bronchitis is my unabating hankering for Typhoo tea with lemon and honey. I go through phases with my tea, and most of the time I take it like workman’s tea—strong with cream and sweetener, but the honey/lemon combination helps so much with chest congestion. That, or it’s completely in my mind, which has been known to happen.

“My heart always timidly hides itself behind my mind. I set out to bring down stars from the sky, then, for fear of ridicule, I stop and pick little flowers of eloquence.” ~ Edmond Rostand, from Cyrano de Bergerac

Let’s see . . . what else is going on in my fun-filled adventurous life?

I’m gradually getting the house back in order after Christmas. Right before Corey left he finally set up the single bed for Olivia, and we began to sift through the boxes and piles that have accumulated in that corner bedroom. There is just so much. It’s never a good idea to let one room in your house become a junk room because it just gets away from you too easily. I can vouch for that.

“Winter Sketch” (1912, oil on paperboard)
by J. E. H. McDonald

He was also able to set up but not finesse the house backup system I bought us for Christmas. This thing has 4 terabytes of memory. Remember when 2G was a big deal? Hell, I remember being happy with megabytes. My how far we’ve come in such a short time.

I have at least two tubs worth of books that I need to sort through and pack, and my reason for not doing so before is silly: I want to record them on Goodreads. It’s not the number of books that I’ve read, but the fact that Goodreads gives me a free repository of the titles in my personal library. Years ago, before PCs, I had a handwritten list of my books, in particular, my poetry books, and it came in very handy after the one place I worked caught on fire. So there’s that.

But there is also a mess of strange cords, loose tools, two bags of shredding to be done . . .

“But in those days what did I know of the pleasures of loss,
Of the edge of the abyss coming close with its hisses
And storms, a great watery animal breaking itself on the rocks,

Sending up stars of salt, loud clouds of spume.” ~ Mark Strand, from “Dark Harbor”

Well, the end of January is creeping up on me, and I have to admit that I am terribly afraid. My mom has been on my mind so much lately, and she haunts my dreams almost every night. And as much as I wish it would snow, I think that having a snowstorm at the end of January would just about do me in because one of my acutest memories of last year was walking to the hospital in the snow.

Pekka Halonen Lumisia Mannyntaimia Snowy Pine Seedlings 1899
“Lumisia Mannytaimia (Snowy Pine Seedlings)” (1899, tempera on canvas)
by Pekka Halonen

Anyway, I’m trying to keep my mind occupied, but who knows . . .

I still haven’t done anything with the now dead poinsettias that I had bought for the cemeteries, and they serve as a constant reminder of what a failure I am at honoring my mother and father. I know. You probably think that I’m exaggerating, trying to get sympathy. But truly, no.

I have never hidden my long-standing love/hate relationship with guilt, but this is something more. I well and truly feel as if I have dishonored and failed my parents by not going to the cemetery at Christmas, by not even visiting Caitlin at Christmas. And yes, I had bronchitis, but still, the feeling looms large, and it pierces my heart, and I just don’t know what else to say, so perhaps I should stop now.

More winter pictures. More later. Peace.

Music by David Beats Goliath, “Maisie & Neville

                   

Death and the Moon

(for Catherine Marcangeli)

The moon is nearer than where death took you
at the end of the old year. Cold as cash
in the sky’s dark pocket, its hard old face
is gold as a mask tonight. I break the ice
over the fish in my frozen pond, look up
as the ghosts of my wordless breath reach
for the stars. If I stood on the tip of my toes
and stretched, I could touch the edge of the moon.

I stooped at the lip of your open grave
to gather a fistful of earth, hard rain,
tough confetti, and tossed it down. It stuttered
like morse on the wood over your eyes, your tongue,
your soundless ears. Then as I slept my living sleep
the ground gulped you, swallowed you whole,
and though I was there when you died,
in the red cave of your widow’s unbearable cry.

and measured the space between last words
and silence, I cannot say where you are. Unreachable
by prayer, even if poems are prayers. Unseeable
in the air, even if souls are stars. I turn
to the house, its windows tender with light, the moon,
surely, only as far again as the roof. The goldfish
are tongues in the water’s mouth. The black night
is huge, mute, and you are further forever than that.

~ Carol Ann Duffy

“Suddenly for no earthly reason I felt immensely sorry for [her] and longed to say something real, something with wings and a heart, but the birds I wanted settled on my shoulders and head only later when I was alone and not in need of words.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov, from The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

Zhu Naizheng Homing, nd ink on paper
“Homing” (nd, ink on paper)
by Zhu Naizheng

                   

Continuing on a theme: Wings aloft

From Section V of “La Brière of Saint-Nazaire”

It turns out, what we thought of as the soul
is mostly sound;
not song, but like a memory of birds
or running water,
the churn of a paddle, the flicker and dip
of an oar,
narrow boats butting the land
on the quiet tethers,

so death will be a slower, surer fade
than any we imagine;
no mere extinction, like the evening’s hush
before the ducks come, dipping to the marsh
in threes and fours, to find the darker ground,
no moment’s pause, but absolute decay
where absence is a form
of generation.

~ John Burnside

                   

Music by Lee DeWyze, “Blackbird’s Song”

“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