“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

 

“Our memory fragments don’t have any coherence until they’re imagined in words. Time is a property of language, of syntax, and tense.” ~ Siri Hustvedt, from The Sorrows of an American

Maximilien Luce 1896 oil on canvas Moonlight on Charleroi Canal
“Moonlight on Charleroi Canal” (1896, oil on canvas)
by Maximilien Luce

                   

“I don’t know what map I misread,
its roads now slipped into dust,
what cul-de-sacs and one-way streets
could have brought me to this,
my life driven as if through fog into a river.” ~ Judy Jordan, from “Fragments in February”

Tuesday afternoon. Rainy and cool, 50 degrees.

I think that my body is trying mightily hard to succumb to my annual fall cold, but I really don’t have time for that. This time last year I had a houseful of company, and I was heading for yet another case of pneumonia, but this year I made sure that I got a pneumonia vaccine along with my flu shot, so maybe . . . fingers crossed.

So, we’re back from our epic New Orleans trip, and I don’t even know where to begin, so how about if I just ramble a bit and see where it takes us? You good with that?

Emil Nolde Half Moon over the Sea 1945
“Half Moon over the Sea” (1945)
by Emil Nolde

Great.

So we finally made it past the boundaries of Hampton Roads last Monday around 8:30 a.m. (or so) after getting turned around almost immediately, this after a planned departure time of 6 a.m. (yes, I know, although we did pull out of the driveway before 7). We both thought that we knew where we were going, but apparently, not so much. Picked up the rental the evening before, and even that turned out to be a mess: We were supposed to get an Altima, but the guy at the counter said that the Altima was in bad shape, so he talked Corey into a Mustang convertible.

Okay, so at one point in my life the idea of traveling in a Mustang convertible would have been awesome, but the very thought of traveling for 16 hours in such a low-slung car made me uncomfortable, so another trade, and for only $10 more a day . . . ended up with a Mazda CX5 (I believe), which was pretty comfortable and great on gas; however, the upgrade pretty much negated all of the bargain shopping I had done online, along with the discount that I had found on one site. Oh well . . .

“The silence of landscape conceals vast presence. Place is not simply location. A place is a profound individuality. Its surface texture of grass and stone is blessed by rain, wind, and light. With complete attention, landscape celebrates the liturgy of the seasons, giving itself unreservedly to the passion of the goddess. The shape of a landscape is an ancient and silent form of consciousness.” ~ John O’Donohue, from “The Celtic Underworld as Resonance”

The drive wasn’t too bad as far as road conditions and weather, nothing like the great blizzard we drove through a few years ago, and we arrived in New Orleans around midnight (I think, it was kind of a blur). The good news is that our hotel was right in the French Quarter (Place d’Armes, definitely worthy of repeat visits), and they had upgraded us to a suite at no extra charge. We had a lovely balcony, and the ambiance was so nice, very old New Orleans. Parking, however, cost us $30 a night, so we made mental notes to try to find street parking for the second night, which we were actually able to do. Woo Hoo.

Konstantin Korovin Moonlit Night period Winter 1913 oil on canvas
“Moonlit Night. Winter” (1913, oil on canvas)
by Konstantin Korovin

So we got up early on Tuesday after only about six hours sleep and headed out to the first company that Corey wanted to visit. The website had stated that applications would be taken at both locations, but the New Orleans office directed us to their other headquarters, which was in Galliano. Our game plan had been to go to the NOL office first and then to Cut Off and then to Covington. That plan was changed immediately and we had to regroup and head to Galliano. Unfortunately, the first company seemed completely disinterested in him, which was a set back as this was his first choice.

Fortunately the second company on our list was just down the road from Galliano. This company was very interested in Corey, but the downside was that they weren’t hiring until February. The good news is that they are building a bunch of new boats/ships and have plans to hire 300 people in early 2014, so it looks very promising; however, by the time Corey finished speaking with the recruiter it was 3 p.m., and there was no way that we’d make it to Covington in time to speak with anyone before COB.

This meant a bit of a delay as we had planned to leave late morning Wednesday and possibly to stay somewhere on the route home. We had no idea how much of a delay it would turn out to be . . .

“On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “The River of Bees”

Tuesday evening, back in New Orleans, we roamed around the French Quarter, spent some money, and had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant that wasn’t too pricey. Best crab cakes I’ve ever had—hands down. We had originally brought going out clothes with us, but neither of us had the energy to change, get gussied up, as it were. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to matter what you wear (we saw one guy in a Spiderman outfit, and another one in some kind of monster get-up with spikes—pictures to come).

Nicholas Roerich Spell period New Moon period 1938 tempera on canvas
“Spell. New Moon.” (1938, tempera on canvas)
by Nicholas Roerich

So we acted like tourists, drank libations as we meandered along the streets, bought souvenirs and a few Christmas presents, then headed back to our very comfortable room and slept the sleep of the very tired. On Wednesday morning we had breakfast at the famous outdoor Cafe du Monde (only two blocks from our hotel), home of the famous delectable beignets. I inhaled my portion and delighted in my very large cafe au lait. Then back to the hotel to check out and get back on the road to Covington and company number 3.

Now while Corey was doing all of these interviews, I was hanging out in the car, pirating wi fi and trying to do something to amuse myself, mostly tumblr and some lazy magazine browsing. Company number 3 turned out to be super interested in Corey and said they’d be in touch. We plotted our route home, found a nearby Sam’s Club, gassed up, and as we were pulling out of the parking lot, Corey got a call from #3 asking if he could come in and fill out paper work. Second big Woo Hoo.

Great news, but . . . he needed to do a drug test and physical, as well as an agility test, and none of that could be done until . . . wait for it . . . Thursday . . .

“Change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.” ~ John Steinbeck, from Sweet Thursday

So there really wasn’t a choice, was there? I called the rental company, added another day, and we regrouped, again. Fortunately #3 paid for our hotel and breakfast for Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Small woo hoo only because it was a regular hotel and not the très cool accommodations from which we had just decamped, but hey, free . . .

Eugene Fredrik Jansson Moonlight Night 1896 oil on canvas
“Moonlit Night” (1896, oil on canvas)
by Eugene Fredrik

Thursday morning on to clinic for physical. Three hours later (I really don’t know what they do that takes three hours, but Corey said it was a whole lot of waiting). Slight hiccup on his physical (nothing major), and then around the block to the physical agility place.

Finally at 3 p.m., we were done. Decided to go ahead and eat dinner then hit the road so that we could try to make up some time (hooray for 70 mph speed limits and radar dectectors). Found a little locals restaurant and finally had our genuine Po Boys, shrimp and oyster, respectively. Full stomachs, weary bodies and minds, we hit the road around 4:30.

Everything had happened so fast, and we had had so very little time between everything that I think we were both kind of shell-shocked by this point.

“I’m forging my note to the future, recording
all I know of this moment before
the moment completes itself” ~ Chris Forhan, from “The Taste of Wild Cherry”

Corey drove for a while. I took over in the middle of the night. We stopped in a rest stop somewhere and napped for an hour like about 20 other weary travelers and many, many truck drivers (did you know that Virginia doesn’t let you do this? Of course not.). Anyway, we pulled into our driveway a little after 10 a.m.

Milton Avery Harbor at Night 1932
“Harbor at Night” (1932, oil on canvas)
by Milton Avery

We’re both still processing everything. Corey has to go back in December for training, and we’re not sure how many weeks that will be, and there is a possibility that he’ll go straight from training onto a ship. So much to digest.

Brett and the dogs were very glad to have us home; the dogs had apparently pined away for us and had made Brett’s life miserable.  Corey immediately fell into bed, but I was too wired by then, so I unpacked and cleaned, hoping to exhaust myself, but that never really happened. The weekend was a total blur, and I feel that I am so far behind that I may never catch up.

“You must make decisions knowing those decisions make you.” ~ Rakishi, from “The son without his father”

Anyway, here is where we are: Corey has a job, but is still in denial, kind of that other shoe dropping thing, you know? He can’t help it as he’s been bitten in the butt more than once by supposed job offers. I keep telling him that this company is different—well established, big, good reputation, not like some of the companies he’s had to endure in the past. He won’t be on tugs, but off-shore supply vessels (OSV’s). He’s anxious at the idea of starting over, but the good news is that this recruiting guy really seemed to like him and was already mentioning Corey upgrading his qualifications.

Nicolas Tarkhoff Paris, Montparnasse at Night c1905
“Paris, Montparnasse at Night” (c1905, oil on canvas)
by Nicolas Tarkhoff

So it’s Thanksgiving week. My body aches all over, and I haven’t quite recovered from the five days of whirlwind activity. The house is trashed. I am totally unprepared for Thursday, and truthfully, it’s beginning to hit me that Corey may not be here for Christmas. So much is still up in the air, and the trip ended up costing us a small fortune, but it was so worth it. We had a really nice time together, got to experience another new place with each other, had some great food (as my stomach can attest), and it looks like we’re about to embark on a new path.

Hard not to be anxious, but trying to be calm. Anyway, that’s the quick and dirty version. Lots of little details in between that I may tackle later before they slip through the sieve that is my brain. Until then . . .

Peace.

Music by London Grammar, “Nightcall”

                   

No crying, calling out, complaining…

No crying, calling out, complaining,
This all will pass, like the green of gold,
Like the white smoke of apple blooms,
And I won’t be as young as I used to.

Already, your blood isn’t as quick as it was,
I tell my heart—and it’s getting colder.
White birch roots stitch the ruddy fields
And you’ve lost the urge to wander.

Lips and eyes, emotions:
Where are your fire and anger,
Where your floods?
All were fresh, now are errant, scattered.

My wants are sparer now, leaner,
Or maybe they were just a dream
—Like the moment morning flashes green—
And I charged past on my sorrel steed.

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, trans. James Stotts

“from what we cannot hold the stars are made” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “Youth”

Joan Snyder Women Make Lists
“Women Make Lists” (nd)
by Joan Snyder

                   

Two for Tuesday: Thinking about getting older

Paul Gauguin two-women-flowered-hair-1902 oil on canvas
“Two Women (Flowered Hair)” (1920, oil on canvas)
by Paul Gauguin

Grandmother

old crow of a woman in bonnet, sifting through the dump
salvaging those parts of the world
neither useless nor useful

she would be hours in the sweatlodge
come out naked and brilliant in the sun
steam rising off her body in winter
like slow explosion of horses

she braided my sister’s hair with hands that smelled of deep
roots buried in the earth
she told me old stories

how time never mattered
when she died
they gave me her clock

~ Sherman Alexie

                   

Augustus John Washing Day 1915
“Washing Day” (1915)
by August John

The good old days at home sweet home

On Monday my mother washed.
It was the way of the world,
all those lines of sheets flapping
in the narrow yards of the neighborhood,
the pulleys stretching out second
and third floor windows.

Down in the dank steamy basement,
wash tubs vast and grey, the wringer
sliding between the washer
and each tub. At least every
year she or I caught
a hand in it.

Tuesday my mother ironed.
One iron was the mangle.
She sat at it feeding in towels,
sheets, pillow cases.
The hand ironing began
with my father’s underwear.

She ironed his shorts.
She ironed his socks.
She ironed his undershirts.
Then came the shirts,
a half hour to each, the starch
boiling on the stove.

I forgot bluing. I forgot
the props that held up the line
clattering down. I forgot
chasing the pigeons that shat
on her billowing housedresses.
I forgot clothespins in the teeth.

Tuesday my mother ironed my
father’s underwear. Wednesday
she mended, darned socks on
a wooden egg. Shined shoes.
Thursday she scrubbed floors.
Put down newspapers to keep

them clean. Friday she
vacuumed, dusted, polished,
scraped, waxed, pummeled.
How did you become a feminist
interviewers always ask,
as if to say, when did this

rare virus attack your brain?
It could have been Sunday
when she washed the windows,
Thursday when she burned
the trash, bought groceries
hauling the heavy bags home.

It could have been any day
she did again and again what
time and dust obliterated
at once until stroke broke
her open. I think it was Tuesday
when she ironed my father’s shorts.

~ Marge Piercy

*****

Rest in Peace Gerald D. Fickel (October 6, 1916 – September 14, 2013)

                   

Music by First Aid Kit, “Ghost Town”