“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising.” ~ John Muir, John Muir: John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

Great Blue Heron in Morro Bay, CA by mikebaird (FCC)

                     

“An intense copper calm, like a universal yellow lotus, was more and more unfolding its noiseless, measureless leaves upon the sea.” ~ Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Early Friday evening. Absolutely beautiful day, high 60’s, low humidity.

China Wu Chuan, by stfbfc (FCC)

Day five of this particular migraine, and today is the worst day so far. Sharp, stabbing pain on the top of my skull, like someone is trying to drive a screwdriver into my head.

In spite of the pain, I have been quite reflective today, probably because I had to drive Corey to work so that I would have the car to do school transport. He had a short shift just over the bridge at the dock off Shore Drive, so we passed Lake Whitehurst. The water was so still, like a mirror. Then, too, the Lafayette River looked like a slate grey plane when we drove over the Granby Street bridge.

In noticing this, I realized something about myself: I pay attention to things and not people. On any given day, I can tell you how the sky looked, what birds I heard, how still or turbulent the water was . . . but I would be hard-pressed to describe the people I passed. I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about the woman standing at the bus stop right outside my car window as I waited for the light to turn green. I would not be able to describe the cyclist I passed who almost veered into traffic.

Is this a bad thing? Does this reflect negatively on what kind of person I am? Or does it just mean that I am more in tune with the natural world than with the world inhabited by people?

I really couldn’t tell you.

“The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.” ~ Edward Gibbon

Morning in Saintes Maries de la Mer, Cote d'Azur, France, by Wolfgang Staudt (FCC, this image can be downloaded as wallpaper)

My affinity for water, though, is long-standing. And when I picked up Corey from the boatyard, a tug was pulling away from the dock. I turned to him and asked him in all seriousness if he doesn’t miss being on the water on days like this.

I know that if I had been born male, know this with every fiber of my being, I would have picked a job that took me onto the water. Why male, you might ask? Unfortunately, the water is still one of the last bastions that is not completely open to women. It takes more than strength of will to do battle with the water and survive. There must be physical strength. That is simply the way that it is.

But I really do understand why my father was always more comfortable at sea as opposed to being on dry land. I mean, I know that being gone for months at a time is a lonely prospect, but I like to think of what it might have been like to be on a NOAA exploration vessel, the things I would have seen, the experiences I might have had.

Truthfully, the only major I regret not pursuing in college is oceanography, which might seem weird for a woman who loves literature and writing, but imagine the tales I would have to tell if I had gone to sea.

It is not something that I would have undertaken lightly, though, as I have a healthy respect for the power that lies just beneath that mirror-like calm, how in an instant the blue can become white churning, relentless and angry.

“I restored to the tray’s slightly concave stainless steel,
That ever so slightly distorted mirror, its polished shine.
It reflected all of the sky, through which clouds reeled,
And I could confirm that space does not weigh more than time.” ~ Jacques Réda, from “The Letter Scale,” (trans. Andrew Shields)

Captain on the Bridge by Jens Lumm (FCC)

What still gives me hope—and yes, I am still capable of that—still grants me a sense that all is not lost is my ability to find beauty unexpectedly, when I happen upon a moment so perfect that I must pause and swallow and perhaps wipe away a tear.

Too sappy? But true.

I know that it’s the romantic sensibility in me that gives me this gift, and I am oh so grateful that all of my cynicism has not polluted this side of me. Because yes, I am cynical, snarky, and just plain curmudgeonly. I do not suffer fools at all, and I have very little tolerance for stupidity. But my soul can be quelled in a second when a chance encounter with the splendor that is nature reaches past my veneer of safety, the shell in which I encase myself most of the time so as to repel the ugly and the discouraging that seems to permeate this world.

Don’t bother to ask me if the glass is half empty or half full because I would wonder first about the glass itself, and I would probably prefer that it be empty so that it can refract the sunlight.

I am all too aware of my shortcomings, my deep plunges into the darker side of my soul, and my tendency to speak of too many regrets and too many what ifs, but not today. Today, in spite of the pain that has now taken up residence in my right temple, in spite of a series of telephone calls with some very nasty people, in spite of these things, I choose to reflect on the water, which is partially the theme behind today’s images (still blue water).

The water was the first thing that I noticed this morning, and it has stayed with me all day long and well into night. Actually, one of the best things about living in this area is the proliferation of bodies of water: the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, numerous rivers and lakes, inlets and gullies. The very things that makes this area so dangerous during a hurricane is the very thing that I most love.

“It says we all are beautiful at least once.
And, if you’d watch over me, we can be beautiful again.” ~ D. A. Powell, from “Boonies”

Lake Hawea, New Zealand, by Kiwi Flickr (FCC)

Do you notice what you notice? I mean, are you aware of what seeps into your brain without deliberation? I know that I am not and that I do not, not noticeably, but then images come back to me like my own personal slideshow. But as with most of the images that I post, very few people take residence in them.

I am always astonished when Corey points out something to me that was right in front of me that I never caught myself. He definitely notices people, what they are wearing, how they are standing or walking. Someone once told me that he was attracted to me because of how I carried myself, so full of confidence. Of course, that was years ago.

The comment surprised me, though, because I don’t think that before that moment I had ever paid any attention to how I carried myself, and certainly never considered that I reflected confidence. People used to say that they found me intimidating, which also surprises me as I do not try to be so. I just am as I am, as it were.

Maybe years ago, when I still considered myself a professional with a career, I did exude confidence, but it was not a purposeful decision on my part. I think that perhaps many of us exude things without ever realizing it, which makes me wonder if I now exude a sense of hesitancy . . .

“The ways are not always mapped or charted, but sometimes being lost, if there is such a thing, is the sweetest place to be. And always, in this search, a person might find that she is already there, at the center of the world. It may be a broken world, but it is glorious nonetheless.” ~ Linda Hogan, The Woman Who Watches Over the World

Dawn Reflections by stachelig (FCC)

Speaking of which, Eamonn told me the other night that I was a housewife . . . how incredibly insulting. I’m not married to my house or any other house. Don’t bother to tell me that being a housewife is an honorable profession. Staying at home full time to raise a family is indeed an honorable profession, a choice, one that requires numerous skills. But no one who stay at home to work is a housewife; it’s just such an insulting term.

I know that years ago it was perfectly acceptable, even desirable to be considered a housewife, but things change, dear. I did not start working full time in my teens and pursue three degrees so that I could be told that I’m married to my house.

Let’s just say that I’m semi-retired, and leave it at that.

Of course, Corey does not understand why the term is derogatory, but that is because he’s never been a woman who was fighting to be taken seriously in the workplace. He has never been a woman who was underpaid simply because she had a spouse, and her job was considered a “hobby.” He has never been in a situation in which he was called “missy” in a meeting in which he was the only female in a room full of retired generals and colonels, and he happened to be in charge.

Corey is a male, which does not preclude him having faced discrimination. That is not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that because he is not female, and because he did not come of age during a time in which gender roles were being forever reshaped, he cannot possibly understand why the terminology is important. But sometimes, the word choice is everything.

“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together . . .” ~ Charles Dickens, from Great Expectations

Lake Crabtree, NC by justindoub (FCC)

Actually, word choice is everything, the end all and be all as it controls thought, perception, attitude, response, hierarchy, power (or the lack of it). In the telephone conversation that I mentioned earlier, a man who I’ve never met tried to run roughshod on me by taking a hostile tone and increasing the volume on his voice. It did not work, and I simply told him, calmly (believe it or not), that this thing was not going to happen.

People use words and language all of the time to try to gain the upper hand, to try to intimidate; just as they use words to woo and to soothe, to placate and to pacify. They use words to assault and to provoke, and they use words to insinuate themselves where they are not necessarily wanted. They use words to evoke hate and to express love, words to reflect sorrow and words to encompass joy.

I have used words to my advantage my entire life. I know the power of choosing exactly the right word, and I know the power in inserting carefully selected words in a timely manner. I have used words as weapons and as balm. I am not proud of the former, and I try to offer more of the latter. I have wielded words as if they could cut to the bone, and in doing so, I have usually accomplished the emotional equivalent of that act. But as with most things in my life, I now wield words as weapons far less than I employ them in empathy.

Why do I tell you this? Perhaps as a cautionary tale. I know, unfortunately, what a bitter taste is left in the mouth after making a meal of words thrown out carelessly. And I can tell you without hesitation that even as they rebound upon the speaker, most words only gain power with use.

This, I know all too well.

More later. Peace.

Music by Eluvium, “When I Live by the Garden and the Sea” (which is where I hope to be someday)

                   

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

~ William Stafford

“This, they say, is what we live by—this unseizable force.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

One of My Dream Houses

                   

“The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions that we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it; and habit fills up what remains.” ~ Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Times

Saturday evening. Temperatures still in the 90’s.

Priors Wood by Alex37 (DeviantArt)

The dogs and I spent some time in the pool today. The other raft did not have a hole in it, thankfully, so I was able to float on my belly. It was really quite nice—the sun, the dogs, the birds, and no other noise.

Tillie the lab has this thing that she does when she’s tired of sharing the pool with Shakes: She goes after his ball and then drops it over the side of the pool, out of his reach. Then she grabs the free ball. I think that she thinks that she can make him disappear in the same way that she makes the second ball disappear. If I scold her, she just looks at me as if I’m telling her she’s beautiful and wags her tail.

Dogs and kids . . . go figure.

Anyway, not much else happening around the homestead today. Corey had third shift last night and then lost his shift today because the boat left at 6 a.m. That’s the way it goes. He worked a whopping 13 hours last week. We try not to dwell on it too much.

I’ve been listening to country music today, which is probably not the best idea as my country playlist is a cliché of country song themes: heartbreak, longing, loss, and regret. So after a few hours of this, I’m feeling like sobbing into my shirt. Of course, the fact that YouTube is acting up and stopping every few minutes to buffer does keep me from becoming completely engrossed in the lyrics.

I know that this computer (Eamonn’s old one) is on its last leg, and maybe after we get the truck fixed we can get the new hard drive installed on my computer. We’ll just have to way to see how all of that goes.

“I’ve forgotten the words with which to tell you. I knew them once, but I’ve forgotten them, and now I’m talking to you without them.” ~ Marguerite Duras, Emilie L.

Mature Oregon Camas by russell.tomlin

In sitting here, I realize that I don’t actually have much to say tonight. Or perhaps I have many things to say but cannot give them words. It is not one of those situations in which I thought of what to say and then immediately lost the words somewhere in the tangle of my thoughts; rather, it is that the words run too deeply tonight, which has caused my mind to freeze, to stop processing.

It seems that so much is going on: another politician resigning over yet another scandal, blogs supposedly written by women unveiled as being written by middle-aged white men (what, they had nothing better to do than to impersonate a Syrian woman) . . . This world that makes news of how large Kim Kardashian’s engagement ring is—that ring could fund a library for a year or two. The world is going crazy, and quite frankly, I don’t wish to go along for this ride.

I wonder about the most recent flock of college graduates, what the world has in store for them, if anything. Perhaps I am too cynical for my own good, but I would hate to be starting out in this economy, in this world in which so many have so little and so few have so much. I worry about my kids and what kind of world will be waiting for them when they finish college.

If I could, I think that I might spend the rest of this weekend watching all of the seasons of “Dr. Who,” but we don’t have Netflix, so I can’t do that. Or better still, I would take Corey to a dark country bar and slow dance with him to sad songs, just to feel his heart beat against mine. Sometimes it’s good just to feel another person’s heartbeat to be reminded of what it is to be alive.

“A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended.” ~ Ian McEwan, Atonement

Fresh Lavender at Uzés Market, Provence by Baked Beans (FCC)

I remember that when I worked at the museum and I started to feel overwhelmed by things, I would go out into the galleries and just walk. I would gaze into the faces painted so lovingly by the old masters and I would absorb the glorious Impressionists. That was probably the best part of that job—having at my disposal access to such beauty in so many forms. It never failed to calm me, to center me, to make me feel a sense of belonging.

I think that perhaps I am feeling so out of sorts because tomorrow is Father’s Day, and while it is yet another one of those created holidays, it is a bit discomfiting for me. I found myself looking at cards from daughters to fathers. I can’t help it. I don’t want to do it, don’t want to add that little bit of salt, but I do it any way.

Daughters and their fathers . . .

Then too, I must admit that I still harbor a great sadness that Corey and I never had a child together. He is so wonderful with my kids that it makes me feel that I have stolen something from him in some way. We don’t talk about it any more, but I know that he would still love to have kids of his own.

Who knows why things turn out the way that they do . . . why and how fate intervenes, what the fates take away and what they give. Sometimes I feel as if I am just a pebble being tossed in a stream that is moving far too fast for me to keep up. The movement breaks off small pieces, and it polishes me at the same time.

“It seemed to travel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment she, too, felt that the words Darkness and Light had no meaning, and only this melody was real.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Muscari Tottori Hanakairo, Flower Park by kanegan (FCC)

These things I know:

  • The stack of bills in the basket will be the same height tomorrow as today, and no amount of worrying will make that change.
  • There is no wonder pill that will make me lose 20 pounds. Only exercise and a better diet will do that, so wishing for an alternate reality is not productive.
  • My youngest son got the longest eyelashes in the family, and isn’t that always how it is? That a male who does not covet beautiful lashes will have them just by birth?
  • I have come to realize that not everyone talks to their pets as if they are human. Why not?
  • If I suddenly came into money (not going to happen), I would pay a contractor to finish the work on this house just so that it could be done already.
  • If I suddenly came into money (again, not going to happen), the reality is that I wouldn’t have the vaguest idea as to what I should do first because the to-do list has grown so long.
  • I would still love to work for Peter Jackson in New Zealand, fetching coffee or whatever. Perhaps proximity to such brilliance rubs off.
  • My daughter will find her way one day, with or without me, and I can only wait.
  • Very soon, I am going to lose someone I love dearly, and knowing that should make me spend more time with my mother, but I have found that it has distanced me, and I wonder why that is so.
  • No matter how hard I try, I still have a hard time looking in the mirror without being critical of myself.
  • Hate is a very strong word, one for which no apology can compensate.
  • One day, I am going to see the curve of the earth, and in that moment, I will know.

More later. Peace.

Music by Susan Tedeschi “Angel from Montgomery”

                   

The Confession of an Apricot

I love incorrectly.

There is a solemnity in hands,
the way a palm will curve in
accordance to a contour of skin,
the way it will release a story.

This should be the pilgrimage.
The touching of a source.
This is what sanctifies.

This pleading. This mercy.
I want to be a pilgrim to everyone,
close to the inaccuracies, the astringent
dislikes, the wayward peace, the private
words. I want to be close to the telling.
I want to feel everyone whisper.

After the blossoming I hang.
The encyclical that has come
through the branches
instructs us to root, to become
the design encapsulated within.

Flesh helping stone turn tree.

I do not want to hold life
at my extremities, see it prepare
itself for my own perpetuation.
I want to touch and be touched
by things similar in this world.

I want to know a few secular days
of perfection. Late in this one great season
the diffused morning light
hides the horizon of sea. Everything
the color of slate, a soft tablet
to press a philosophy to.

~ Carl Adamshick

“We don’t understand that life is heaven, for we have only to understand that and it will at once be fulfilled in all its beauty, we shall embrace each other and weep.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Bateau Acadien*

“We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” ~ Henry James

Dried Fishing Boat at Udaipur Sea Beach in West Bengal

Well, Corey finally got a telephone call from the security people. He goes in tonight to fill out his paper work and to attend an orientation. It’s so funny because not even an hour ago, he was bemoaning the fact that he hadn’t received a phone call yet, and it was really worrying him. Now he is worried about going to work. As he puts it, he hasn’t worked in so long that he has no idea what to expect. I told him that I was certain he would be fine.

The company representative reiterated that they think that Corey is overqualified for this particular position, and that they will not hold it against him if he finds a better job. He said that Corey should look on this as a stepping stone.

I am so happy for him. I have a feeling that once he begins working, everything will fall into place. For now, I will have to drive Corey to work on those days that conflict with Brett’s school schedule or other appointments, but it will be so worth it.

“If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet . . . maybe we could understand something.” ~ Frederico Fellini

Abandoned Fishing Boat, Threipmuir, Edinburgh, Scotland

More very strange dreams last night, very intricate. I do remember that I was doing a lot of walking to and from place to place and that I felt really good about myself for doing so much walking. Must have something to do with the fact that I planned to start walking today, but of course, I awoke to rain.

In parts of my dream, my father was going to divorce my mother; someone killed chickens in the kitchen; a man and woman moved into the townhouse next door to mine and tried to take my family and me captive; the boys were very young again; Corey and I decided to just pack what we really wanted and to leave everything else behind so that we could start over, and I was packing backpacks for all of us.

Why does the mind work in the way that it does during dreams? Whenever my father comes to me in dreams, it is almost always in some kind of bizarre form with a little bit of truth behind it. I understand that dreaming about my sons’ younger versions is my own sense of wishing that they were younger and still needed me as they did then, but why do I always dream about conflict?

I heard somewhere that every person in your dreams actually represents yourself. I don’t really think that is true because so many people in my dreams act in ways that are totally alien to me.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~ Thomas Merton

The family got together on Sunday for lunch to celebrate the three birthdays. Alexis planned everything. It was very nice, and even my mother seemed to enjoy herself—such a rarity. My s-i-l Ann and I decided that we are quite content to pass the baton for planning family gatherings to Alexis since she seems to have such a knack for it. We haven’t informed her of this yet. I’m sure she will be pleased . . . not.

Old Boat Returning to Nature

For some very strange reason, I have been craving lobster. Now if you knew me, you would know what an aberration this is. I don’t believe in eating lobsters as they can live to be incredibly old if left alone. I think that there is something very elegant about these creatures that live in the bottom of the sea, just meandering along, bothering no one. In fact, I make it well nigh impossible for anyone who is dining on lobster to enjoy their meal as I put my fingers together and say “Help me” in a squeaky voice.

So bearing that in mind, why would I be craving something I don’t believe in eating? This, too, makes no sense to me. It would be akin to my craving lamb or veal, neither of which I will eat. Is this my own version of pica, that eating disorder that occurs in very young children in which they eat non-nutrive substances for no apparent reason? Geez.

“Do you find coming to terms with the mindless tedium of it all presents an interesting challenge?” ~ Douglas Adams, The Hitcher’s Guide to the Galaxy

Old Boat on Càrna Overlooking Caol Chàrna, Scotland

My word for the day is tedium, from the Latin taedium, which means irksomeness. I mean, that is what most days are, really. The tedium, the unending parade of washing machine commercials, telephone calls that result in no forward progress, mail from companies wanting more and more when there is less and less, the stream of cars lined up at stop lights, each individual wrapped up in his or her own world, just waiting for the light to turn green.

Life being dealt out in seconds and minutes of rushing to where exactly? Our own mortality? People going to jobs they hate but saying nothing because having any job is better than no job. Mothers and fathers waiting after school for their children to be released from school only to spend the next two to three hours shuffling them from one extra-curricular activity to another, but is there any interaction going on in the car, the minivan, the SUV between parent and child while on the way to somewhere?

The cacophony of reality television in which the people being shown are doing anything but leading real lives. Shows about fat people, famous people, people with huge families, people who are famous because they are famous, people whose vices are held up as virtues because they can win the island, people who wear seven-carat diamond rings and bemoan their inability to have real friendships, people who are hoarders, addicts, moguls, and more.

“Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits.” ~ John O’Donohue

Colbost Jetty, Skye, England, by Bob Jones (used under Creative Commons License)

And then there is me: putting my life on this page for anyone to see. Sharing intimate moments, triumphs and failures. Writing about life, love, loss, and nothing at all. Castigating politicians and talking heads. Caressing words as if they hold all of the power. But they do hold all of the power. Words. Words that pass on knowledge. Words that wound. Words that awaken the soul to beauty. Words that weave stories and morality tales and dreams. Words that are hollow and hard. Words that are sour and somber.

Sometimes, it is all so tedious, this life. One long line of I want, and I don’t have, and Why me, and What will happen? Mortgage restructuring, debt consolidation, loans and repayments. This is civilization and all of its entanglements. Pity the poor fool who yearns for this rough and tumble existence over what she already has.

Tedium. Thoroughly tiresome. Bone-shakingly, soul-achingly stultifying. The alternative? Silence and nothingness.

More later. Peace.

“Your Song,” duet with Elton John and Ronan Keating (what a great name)

*All images found on Wikimedia Commons