“You’re told that you’re in your head too much, a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral. Or maybe there’s another word for such people: thinkers.” ~ Susan Cain, from Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Friday afternoon, mostly cloudy and cold, 44 degrees.

I’m still not feeling together enough to string together a real blog. Yesterday, I sat at the keyboard for hours without a single original word hitting the screen. It’s very frustrating as I had told myself that once I returned to this blog, that I would post regularly. But the truth is that I can only post as regularly as the muse allows, and at the moment, the must is being suppressed by overwhelming body pain, the source of which I am uncertain.

It’s not just the morning migraines; now, it’s also my back, a source of such localized pain the likes of which I haven’t had to contend with for quite a while. Anyway, that’s what’s going on. I hope to have a real post up tomorrow, but in the  meantime, I have quite a good collection of leftovers for today (in my humble opinion.

Enjoy!


So Gillette came out with a commercial for the MeToo movement:

Never before seen error code:

Error 503 Backend is unhealthy

I have always loved Andre Braugher, most especially in “Homicide,” one of the best shows to ever be on television.

From gaymilesedgeworth (a deactivated tumblr account): One of my favorite things in Brooklyn Nine Nine is when you can tell the writers were like “You know, Andre Braugher is an extremely talented Shakespearean actor who graduated top of his class at Juilliard…..what if we took advantage of that for our sitcom”

This is a good depiction of either of my older dogs, Tillie and Bailey, every time a puppy comes near:

The San Francisco Examiner, California, April 10, 1927

A murmuration in Otmoor, London, UK (1-4-19), something I’ve always wanted to see:

In 2015, a drought in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas revealed the ruins of a 400-year-old church, Temple Santiago:

Temple Santiago Image by David von Blohn (AP)

From Ultrafacts:

Here’s a video:

I didn’t know this:

And finally:

More later. Peace.

 

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“Ask her what she craved, and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music. Plants and the seasons. Also freedom.” ~ Charles Frazier, from Nightwoods

Writer Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

A Different Two for Tuesday

Tuesday afternoon, mostly cloudy and colder, 36 degrees.

Greetings to those of you out there in the ether. Hoping you are well. Luckily, we’ve missed the massive storm that’s hitting everyone, and all of the dogs are better and doing well. So that’s a definite relief.

Apologies for the dearth of posts in recent days; we’ve had Wi-Fi issues, as I stated last night. I hope to be able to do a regular post tomorrow, but I’ve had this particular post planned for a couple of weeks.

Instead of two shorter poems, I’ve been saving this beautiful longer poem by one of my favorite writers, Anne Sexton—

Letter Written During a January Northeaster

Monday

Dearest,
It is snowing, grotesquely snowing
upon the small faces of the dead.
Those dear loudmouths, gone for over a year,
buried side by side
like little wrens.
But why should I complain?
The dead turn over casually,
thinking:
Good! No visitors today.
My window, which is not a grave,
is dark with my fierce concentration
and too much snowing
and too much silence.
The snow has quietness in it; no songs,
no smells, no shouts nor traffic.
When I speak
my own voice shocks me.

Tuesday

I have invented a lie,
there is no other day but Monday.
It seems reasonable to pretend
that I could change the day
like a pair of socks.
To tell the truth
days are all the same size
and words aren’t much company.
If I were sick, I’d be a child,
tucked in under the woolens, sipping my broth.
As it is,
the days are not worth grabbing
or lying about.

Monday

It would be pleasant to be drunk:
faithless to my own tongue and hands,
giving up the boundaries
for the heroic gin.
Dead drunk
is the term I think of,
insensible,
neither cool nor warm,
without a head or a foot.
To be drunk is to be intimate with a fool.
I will try it shortly.

Monday

Just yesterday,
twenty eight men aboard a damaged radar tower
foundered down seventy miles off the coast.
Immediately their hearts slammed shut.
The storm would not cough them up.
Today they are whispering over Sonar.
Small voice,
what do you say?
Aside from the going down, the awful wrench,
The pulleys and hooks and the black tongue . . .
What are your headquarters?
Are they kind?

Monday

It must be Friday by now.
I admit I have been lying.
Days don’t freeze
And to say that the snow has quietness in it
is to ignore the possibilities of the word.
Only the tree has quietness in it;
quiet as a pair of antlers
waiting on the cabin wall,
quiet as the crucifix,
pounded out years ago like a handmade shoe.
Someone once
told an elephant to stand still.
That’s why trees remain quiet all winter.
They’re not going anywhere.

Monday

Dearest,
where are your letters?
The mailman is an impostor.
He is actually my grandfather.
He floats far off in the storm
with his nicotine mustache and a bagful of nickels.
His legs stumble through
baskets of eyelashes.
Like all the dead
he picks up his disguise,
shakes it off and slowly pulls down the shade,
fading out like an old movie.
Now he is gone
as you are gone.
But he belongs to me like lost baggage.


Music by Down Like Silver, “Any Day”

“He finds himself bored by the shenanigans of highly spirited young men. Their concerns reside somewhere between balder and dash.” ~ Sara Sheridan, from Secret of the Sands

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Friday morning, completely overcast with drizzle and fog, 48 degrees.

I have quite the collection today. My editorial asides are in italics below. Enjoy.


I don’t know why I found this so funny:

This actually happened:

From Memes & Comedy:

Also from Memes & Comedy:

Apparently, this has been a problem for longer than people thought, and no, the irony isn’t lost on me:

The Wichita Daily Eagle, Kansas, December 30, 1899

The Saint Paul Globe, Minnesota, March 2, 1905

The Tribune, Seymour, Indiana, July 13, 1909

The Atlanta Constitution, Georgia, May 13, 1912

The Evening Journal, Wilmington, Delaware, June 11, 1913

Woodson County Advocate, Yates Center, Kansas, August 6, 1915

The Guntersville Democrat, Alabama, June 22, 1921

Oh, the irony . . .

Daily News, New York, New York, February 13, 1925

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, May 22, 1950

I found most of these hilarious, but then, I’m easily amused. Be forewarned, several are audibly groan-worthy:

48 Incredibly Short, Clean Jokes That Are Actually Funny

  1. I bought some shoes from a drug dealer. I don’t know what he laced them with, but I’ve been tripping all day.
    ImHully
  2. I told my girlfriend she drew her eyebrows too high. She seemed surprised.
    megan_james

  3. Two clowns are eating a cannibal. One turns to the other and says “I think we got this joke wrong”
    Moltenfirez

  4. My wife told me I had to stop acting like a flamingo. So I had to put my foot down.
    Spysquirrel

  5. What’s the difference between in-laws and outlaws?
    Outlaws are wanted.
    Dave-Stark

  6. I bought my friend an elephant for his room.
    He said “Thanks”
    I said “Don’t mention it”
    3shirts

  7. I have an EpiPen. My friend gave it to me when he was dying, it seemed very important to him that I have it.
    kate_winslat

  8. I poured root beer in a square glass.
    Now I just have beer.
    PM_ME_TINY_DINOSAURS

  9. What’s the difference between a hippo and a zippo?
    One is really heavy, and the other is a little lighter.
    alosercalledsusie

  10. My friend says to me: “What rhymes with orange” I said: “no it doesn’t”
    DinosRoar1

11. And God said to John, come forth and you shall be granted eternal life.
But John came fifth and won a toaster.
PM-SOME-TITS

12. How many opticians does it take to change a lightbulb?
Is it one or two? One… or two?
Undescended_testicle

13. What do we want?
Low flying airplane noises!
When do we want them?
NNNEEEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWWWW.
Tetragon213

14. What do you call a frenchman wearing sandals?
Phillipe Phillope.
Sooowhatisthis

15. What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?
A carrot.
BiffWhistler

16. What do you call a dog that does magic tricks?
A labracadabrador.
leahcure

  1. So what if I don’t know what Armageddon means? It’s not the end of the world.
    Jefferncfc
  • How do you get two whales in a car? Start in England and drive west.
    fireworkslass

  • A blind man walks into a bar. And a table. And a chair.
    ImHully

  • Why did the old man fall in the well?
    Because he couldn’t see that well.
    rangers_fan2

  • I bought the world’s worst thesaurus yesterday. Not only is it terrible, it’s terrible.
    Rndomguytf

  • This is my step ladder. I never knew my real ladder.
    WikiWantsYourPics

  • My friend asked me to help him round up his 37 sheep.
    I said “40”
    3shirts

  • I’ve found a job helping a one armed typist do capital letters.
    It’s shift work.
    3shirts

  • I went bobsleighing the other day, killed 250 bobs.
    breadman666

  • I have the heart of a lion and a lifetime ban from the Toronto zoo.
    kailey_sara

  • What’s the difference between a good joke and a bad joke timing.
    Melchiah_III

  • Wife says to her programmer husband, “Go to the store and buy a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, buy a dozen.” Husband returns with 12 loaves of bread.
    SuperFreakyNaughty

  • Communism jokes aren’t funny unless everyone gets them.
    -georgie

  • What did the pirate say when he turned 80 years old?
    Aye matey.
    Wicked_Wanderer

  • What do the movies titanic and the sixth sense have in common.
    Icy dead people.
    mysevenyearitch

  • Knock Knock
    Who’s There?
    Dishes
    Dishes Who?
    Dishes Sean Connery.
    Birdie_Num_Num

  • Have you heard about those new corduroy pillows? They’re making headlines.
    Deerhoof_Fan

  • Two men meet on opposite sides of a river. One shouts to the other “I need you to help me get to the other side!”
    The other guy replies “You are on the other side!”
    The2ndKingInTheNorth

  • I couldn’t figure out why the baseball kept getting larger. Then it hit me.
    KaboomBoxer

  • My friends say there’s a gay guy in our circle of friends… I really hope it’s Todd, he’s cute.
    -917-

  • People in Dubai don’t like the Flintstones.
    But people in Abu Dhabi do!
    stevenmc

  • Guy walks into a bar and orders a fruit punch.
    Bartender says “Pal, if you want a punch you’ll have to stand in line” Guy looks around, but there is no punch line.
    justacheesyguy

  • I’ve been told I’m condescending.
    (that means I talk down to people)
    iblinkyoublink

  • How did the hipster burn his mouth?
    He ate the pizza before it was cool.
    plax1780

  • Before your criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you do criticize them, you’re a mile away and have their shoes.
    BoxxerUOP

  • What’s ET short for?
    He’s only got little legs.
    3shirts

  • What’s the difference between a dirty old bus stop and a lobster with breast implants? One is a crusty bus station the other one is a busty crustacean.
    laurtw

  • Why arent koalas actual bears?
    They dont meet the koalafications
    ImHully

  • It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally.
    auran98

  • I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather did, not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.
    msdarth

  • Some people think it’s romantic to carve their names on trees in the park while on a date.
    I’m more worried about why they’re bringing a knife on their date.
    I_know_where_you_is

  • 2 cows are grazing in a field. 1 cow says to the other, “You ever worry about that mad cow disease?”. The other cow says, “Why would I care? I’m a helicopter!”.
    Electric_Evil

  • “Watching the sunlight on distant smoke today–how far away and remote it seemed” ~ Charles Burchfield, Journal entry January 2, 1931

    Low Lying Fog in California, by Ken Xu, FCC

    “Let the light and the winds colour and cleanse my blood.” ~ Gabriela Mistral, from “Quietness”

    Wednesday  afternoon, overcast, 48 degrees.

    Hello out there in the ether. Hope today finds you well. Yesterday I completely forgot that it was Tuesday, which meant that I had a Two for Tuesday post all ready to go. That’s how much my mind is in disarray: I have to  look at my phone to see what day it is. Does anyone else have that problem?

    Trees in the Mist, Hayle England, UK (FCC)

    I usually begin my day here with a little organizing, trying to figure out what I have to say, thinking about accompanying images and songs, and then I usually watch a few YouTube videos that I subscribe to—Tati (beauty guru), Alexandria (unboxings and try ons), and then maybe someone else. It’s a distraction, and when I’m finished, I feel as if I’ve cleaned my palette, and I’m ready to go with the words.

    For a short minute I thought about starting a YouTube channel, but man, people on there are vicious in their commentaries. One wrong word, and your channel explodes. I just don’t have either the patience or the thick skin for that, so I won’t be putting myself out there for that anytime soon.

    I never get tired of watching this,
    As the mists seem to move, then not move.
    They don’t, of course, but merely disappear.
    ……………………………………………………….Perhaps that’s why I like it. ~ Charles Wright, from Littlefoot: “25”

    A few mornings ago (maybe even yesterday?), the fog rolled in very quickly and lay within the trees at the back of the house like one of those old cotton Christmas tree skirts everyone used to use once upon a time. It was so fast, and by the time I thought about taking some pictures, it was gone; hence the Flickr Creative Commons pix of fog. I thought I’d try to get a variety of locations.

    Trees in the Mist, Austria (FCC)

    Fog has always fascinated me, ever since I was a young child in England. I’m certain that I’ve written about this before, but I still have vivid memories of being caught out in the fog in London and not being able to see anything. It was a different kind of fog—very, very thick and impenetrable. I remember a man walking in front of the buses with a lantern on a ladder to guide the driver.

    I have no idea if they still get fog like that. I mean it was a long time ago, and even if they do, I’m sure that no longer use lanterns on ladders. But the first time that mom and I were out in that, it was pretty scary. I, obviously, had never seen anything like it, but then to realize that my mother was as scared as I was—something like that can really unnerve a child.

    We were still living in the old house outside of London at the time, the house with the haunted bedroom. Man, if only I could remember where that was. I have absolutely no idea, and I’ve never found anything of mom’s that had that address on it.

    “I really love fog. It hides you from the world and the world from you. You feel that everything has changed, and nothing is what it seemed to be. No one can find or touch you anymore.” ~ Eugene O’Neill, from Long Day’s Journey Into Night

    I’ve driven through some really terrible fog more than a few times, but it doesn’t bother me. I find fog oddly comforting and beautiful. Living near the Chesapeake Bay, we could get some thick fog rolling in across the bay; of course, I wasn’t on the water at the time. I would imagine that people who work on the water as Corey used to do not find fog at all comforting.

    Misty World, Vallée du Grésivaudan, French Alps (FCC)

    It’s just that in heavy fog, sound changes. It can become completely muffled, and then light seems to disappear. I’ve always imagined having a scene in a book in which someone who is lost in a thick fog comes face to face with the killer. Yes, my mind does go to places like that, frequently, actually. I’m always mulling over plots for mysteries. The problem is that the mulling never moves beyond that.

    It makes me wonder if I’m just a dilettante: someone who likes to know a little bit about a lot of things without ever specializing in any of them, and perhaps in a way, I am. I’m a curmudgeonly dilettante who loves words. What to make of that? Hmm . . .

    Things that make you go hmm…………

    “The light is flat and hard and almost nonexistent,
    The way our lives appear to us,
    ……………………………………………..then don’t, as our inlook shifts.” ~ Charles Wright, from Littlefoot: “25”

    I suppose that’s enough about the fog, but it’s such a wonderful image, and metaphor, and memory, actually. It’s taken me several years since my mother’s death to begin to remember more. Our relationship was so fractured that I think I tried very hard not to think about her in the immediate months following her death. But now, with some distance, I can begin to sort through the memories better.

    One of the sad things, though, is that I know without a doubt that my mom was happiest in England. It seems like everything after that was just a disappointment for her, her marriage, her location, her family, everything. And I only realized too late that it would have been such a simple thing for me to offer to go back to London with her for a visit, but I never did. It never even occurred to me to do that, and now I cannot.

    Mountains in mist and fog, Indonesia (FCC)

    And so the memories of the two of us exploring every inch of London and the surrounding environs are more immediate, as it were.

    It’s hard for me to think of my relationship with my mother as a whole. I’ll give you a classic example of how it was with us: My cousin once told me that my mother talked about me all of the time, and he could tell that she was proud of me. This caught me completely off guard. I never would have believed it if he hadn’t said it as I can remember exactly one time as a teenager or adult that my mother told me that she was proud of me.

    One. Time.

    Perhaps she said it as a matter of course when I was a child, because I was very much as Alexis was as a child: everything you could want in a daughter—smart, polite, attentive, hard-working, focused. Perhaps when I hit puberty, I became a foreigner to my mother, much as Alexis did to me when she entered high school.

    Perhaps. Who knows? Certainly not I.

    “Gloom is literally atmospheric, climate as much as impression . . . Gloom is more climatological than psychological, the stuff of dim, hazy, overcast skies, of ruins and overgrown tombs, of a misty, lethargic fog.” ~ Eugene Thacker, Cosmic Pessimism 

    As these things are want to do, I have said much more than I had planned to say. The genesis was the fog, and then the floodgates opened. And truthfully, I’m not in the best place emotionally or mentally for open floodgates. I’ve spent the last two days in my pajamas, and when I looked in the mirror last night, I had to admit to myself that I just plain looked rough.

    Der Nebel, Gilbert-Noël Sfeir Mont-Liban (FCC)

    It’s been a rough kind of week. Tink isn’t out of the woods yet, and it’s hard for either of us to concentrate on much else, but I decided today to make an effort, you know, bath, put on clean clothes, maybe some lipstick, try to write, do more than just stare blankly at the screen. And so this is that effort.

    Anyway, because it’s on my mind as well, I am reminded of a line from Charles Wright’s Littlefoot: “I live here accompanied by clouds.” There are so many clouds here, and I don’t yet know if that’s a year-round thing, or just fall and winter. My father would have hated that part. I’m fairly certain that he had Seasonal Affected Disorder; as the months became colder and light began to fade, his depression would worsen.

    I can relate. I know that my own temperament is greatly affected by the weather. Take today, for instance: no sunlight anywhere, nothing dappling on the leaves on the trees. Just grey clouds, and clouds aren’t the same as fog. Grey clouds—unlike fluffy white clouds shaped like animals—are just, well, there, making everything look cold and grey and yes, gloomy.

    So enough of that.

    More later. Peace.


    Music by Paloma Faith (loving her these days), “Only Love Can Hurt Like This”


    Missing the Dead

    I miss the old scrawl on the viaduct,
    the crazily dancing letters: BIRD LIVES.
    It’s gone now, the wall as clean as forgetting.
    I go home and put on a record:
    Charlie Parker Live at the Blue Note.
    Each time I play it, months or years apart,
    the music emerges more luminous;
    I never listened so well before.
    I wish my parents had been musicians
    and left me themselves transformed into sound,
    or that I could believe in the stars
    as the radiant bodies of the dead.
    Then I could stand in the dark, pointing out
    my mother and father to all
    who did not know them, how they shimmer,
    how they keep getting brighter
    as we keep moving toward each other.

    ~ Lisel Mueller

     

    “I wish to write; I wish to write about certain things that cannot be held. I want to create a sea of freely-flowing words of no definite form and shape waves of fluent exactness.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals, 1897-1909

    A Gaggle of Canada Geese on Parade (FCC)

    “Then I sit down at my desk and can’t remember how it’s done. Only now and then the lines attack like birds of prey, any time, any place. And demand to be written.” ~ Anna Kamieńska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook

    Wednesday afternoon. Beautifully sunny, 48 degrees.

    Hello out there. The sun is blazingly bright today, and not a day too soon. Earlier, when I was outside with the animals, I realized that I could actually hear the horses walking in the pasture, and that just blew me away. I mean, it was quiet enough that I could hear horses walking on the grass . . . no cars, no sirens, no loud obnoxious mopeds roaring through the neighborhood . . . nothing. Just the sky, the sun, the birds, and the animals. It was lovely.

    Pot-bellied Thrush with an Apple (FCC)

    So enough about me—how was your Christmas? Peaceful? Uneventful? Rowdy? Good food and good friends? However you like it, I hope that you had it just that way.

    As for us, well, it was a bit eventful. Corey came home with two puppies that someone had left on our driveway. They could only be about four weeks old. Yes, they are adorable as all get out, and I know that I had said that I planned to rescue dogs once we moved here, but, well, it’s a bit soon, especially as I just stole a puppy from Dallas a few weeks ago. Did I mention that our house is small?

    “To be a poet is to surface plainly
    from the wound of sleep. To observe how thickly feathered
    the heart, how small & bright the planet of human thought.” ~ Kiki Petrosino, from “Cygnus Cygnus”

    Nevertheless, Corey couldn’t exactly leave them where he found them, and so now they have a home. We’ll deal with it just as we deal with everything else: as it comes.

    Truthfully, him coming home with the puppies is probably the only thing that saved me yesterday. I was doing poorly with the prospect of making it through the whole day. I heard from neither son, and only from my daughter in the evening. And Corey and I had decided to wait a few days before exchanging presents, for various reasons. About the only thing that I had to look forward to yesterday was the ham that I had in the oven.

    Vogel in Winter (FCC)

    That sounds absolutely pathetic, doesn’t it?

    I realize that I’m a bit of a broken record lately, going on and on about my kids. I just never envisioned myself in this place—living each day without hearing a word from any of them. Marking holidays, birthdays without a call, or text, or email. As they were growing up, I took such great joy in watching every aspect of their lives; I believed that my relationship with each of them was inviolable. Until it wasn’t.

    I would not wish this kind of pain for anyone, and I’ve wished pain for people before, so that’s quite a statement.

    “Everything was a broken line for me in those days. I was slipped into the empty spaces between words.” ~ Betsy Cornwell, from Mechanica

    You know how you do something in your youth, and your mother hits you for the first time with the words, “I hope you have a daughter/son/child just like you one day. You’ll see”? (Note on the punctuation: A question mark goes outside the quotation mark when the question is about the entire sentence; just thought that I should point that out, you know, to stay in practice.) And you look at her as if she has taken leave of her senses because you are so certain in your own heart of hearts that you will never make the same missteps that she has made with you, that you will be so much closer with your own children . . .

    Male Cardinal in Winter (FCC)

    Mothers. Always. Know.

    I know that I gave my mother fits when I was around 14 or 15. And 16 and 17 weren’t terribly better. But then I got into college and decided to become a productive adult, and from that point on, I was a model daughter . . . No. Wait. I wasn’t, was I? I wish that I could say that it was true, that I straightened up and never gave my mother another day of heartburn or heartache, but I gave her plenty of both.

    I tried so many times to get it right, and now looking back, I see that I probably erred more than I soared. But I never stopped talking to my mom, at least not for months and months at a time. She gave me the silent treatment for weeks at a time because that’s how my mother was: she was vindictive. Where do you think that I learned it? But still, I really tried, honestly tried not to hurt her.

    So this is payback, then?

    “But you remain with me as a winter sky
    shot through with swans of iron, swans of steel.
    Let no harm come to the dark you have made.” ~ Kiki Petrosino, from “Cygnus Cygnus”

    I would like to say that I never hurt my mother or broke her heart, but I’m trying to be honest here. I know that I did both. More than once.

    Cygnus: Lake Ontario Swan (FCC)

    I know that I could be surly, and nasty, and darned unpleasant when I was a teen. And later, as a married adult, I was never good with money, and when I lost Caitlin, I spent my way into oblivion rather than drank like my first husband. But they were both escapes, and neither much better than the other once they became an addiction. And unfortunately, my mother had to bail me out more than once.

    I wonder if that’s part of how I did my kids wrong, that I bailed them out too many times and made them weak . . . We can love too much, make the landings too soft sometimes, when an abrupt encounter with the cold, hard earth might be better. But that wasn’t how I was raised—for better or worse. I was raised, and in turn I raised with love and a soft cushion, most of the time. Oh, don’t think for a moment that I wasn’t punished (I have vivid memories of a flyswatter on my bare legs), or that I did not punish when called for, but it was never a matter of whether or not there was love. There was always love, and when I used to see Alexis with her own daughter, I saw how tender she could be.

    So much love there.

    “Motherhood means doing penance not only for your own sins, but for your children’s too . . . Niobe. Niobe—that’s me. That’s every abandoned mother.” ~ Anna Kamieńska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook

    I think that this is the loss that I feel most acutely: They are not near me so that I can give them love. Do they still know how much I love them, regardless? Can they possibly believe that I do not care? How do they not realize what their absence costs me every single minute of every single day? How is it possible that they move through their days without me?

    Brown-Eared Bulbul (FCC)

    So many freaking questions. Absolutely no answers.

    It’s now many hours since I first began this post, and the sun is long gone. I apologize, dear reader. I was supposed to be asking after your own holiday, not gazing morosely into the empty glass upon my table. But then, you must have known that I couldn’t go for very many sentences without falling back into old patterns. You see, it’s what I do, and I do it very well: I have supreme confidence in my ability to, or rather, my inability to let go. I just cannot do it, even when I should, even when I have been given every single reason to let go and move on—I simply cannot.

    Apparently, I am immune to betrayals of the heart, of any kind. My loyalty tends to be complete, blind, and perhaps dumb. I just never realized from whence such betrayals could come. And perhaps betrayal is not the best word choice, but at the moment, it is the one that seems most apt. Then again, perhaps that is what my sons think about me.

    Tomorrow may be different. Who knows? Certainly not I.

    More later. Peace.


    Music by Billie Marten, “Winter Song”

     


    The Abundant Little

    We have seen the population of Heaven
    in frescoes. Dominions and unsmiling saints
    crowded together as though the rooms were small.
    We think of the grand forests of Pennsylvania,
    oaks and maples, when we see the miniatures
    of blue Krishna with farm girls awkwardly
    beside a pond in a glade of scrub trees.
    The Japanese scrolls show mostly Hell.
    When we read about the Christian paradise,
    it is made of gold and pearls, built on
    a foundation of emeralds. Nothing soft
    and rarely trees, except in the canvases
    of Italians where they slip in bits of Tuscany
    and Perugino’s Umbria. All things
    are taken away. Indeed, indeed.
    But we secretly think of our bodies
    in the heart’s storm and just after.
    And the sound of careless happiness.
    We touch finally only a little.
    Like the shy tongue that comes fleetingly
    in the dark. The acute little that is there.

    ~ Jack Gilbert

    “I allowed myself to suffer how jarringly destructive the present feels and how fragile the past. The present is over quickly, you might say, and it is, but man it goes like a wrecking ball.” ~ Ann Brashares, from My Name is Memory

    Ivan Aivazovsky, “The Ninth Wave” (1850, oil on canvas)
    Aivazovsky is considered the most influential seascape painter in 19th Russian art

    “I thought, possibly, that what I really needed was to go where nobody knew me and start over again, with none of my previous decisions, conversations, or expectations coming with me.” ~ Maggie Stiefvater, from Forever

    Friday afternoon. Rainy again, 44 degrees.

    It’s funny, but when I think about Norfolk, I still get a pang. I don’t miss the house, the nosy judgmental neighbors, or even the neighborhood. But I miss the things that happened there: the two Jack Russells who used to escape regularly, and the nice neighbors who would holler at us to let us know where they had gone; walking across the field in the afternoons to pick up the boys from the local elementary school; even mowing the yard on the lawn tractor that my dad bought me once upon a time. Those things are part of that life, that place.

    Ivan Aivazovsky, “Sea View by Moonlight” (1878, oil on canvas)

    My kids were raised in that small ranch house with one bathroom. Their friends all lived within a few miles. And now that house is gone. Who knows who will buy it and make all of the repairs that we never got around to making. It’s hard to take care of a house that you hate, which is how it came to be for us the last few years that we were still there. It was as if the house knew that there existed an antipathy and went out of its way to break down piece by piece.

    We redid the bathroom a few years ago, from the studs up. We had plans to redo the kitchen and the hardwood floors, but that never happened, and in the end, we left it as a mess, things all over the backyard, a pool that had fish in it, a shed that had old tools in it, an attic that probably still had kids toys in it. It was like shedding a carapace and leaving it where it lay.

    You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” ~ Azar Nafisi, from Reading Lolita in Tehran

    It’s hard not to think of the things that neighbors must have thought about the way that we left things, but at the same time, there is no way that they could possibly understand the stress and pressure that we were under when we left. If they snooped, which I’m certain that some of them did, they would have seen the hole in the ceiling, the broken back door, the tools that lay in the yard, and their worst impressions would have been confirmed.

    Ivan Aivazovsky, “Yalta” (1899)

    Listen, not all of our neighbors were assholes. The guy across the street helped Corey and me countless times, especially when Corey was at sea. He gave me a jump when my battery was dead, repaired things, helped when the yard was overgrown and my back wouldn’t let me mow. He was a great guy, and because he was always hurting for money, we always tried to pay him whenever he did anything. But he was a minority in that neighborhood. There used to be a really nice woman who lived on the other side across the street, but she died; her kids were always friendly, though. Still, I know that we didn’t make as much of an effort as we could have, but there was a history there that made it hard.

    And the fact is that I really shouldn’t care any more about what any of them think or thought, but a part of me still does. I still feel as if that house is mine, even though it isn’t. I lived there for so long, and there are so many good memories from there, probably more good than bad. But there are painful memories from there, and it was definitely time to move away, and now here we are, living in a completely different kind of place, with a different pace of life, and different kinds of neighbors.

    “I don’t know. You know the mind, how it comes on the scene again
    and makes tiny histories of things. And the imagination
    how it wants everything back one more time, how it detests
    all progress but its own . . . ” ~ Richard Hugo, from “Letter to Matthews from Barton Street Flats”

    We had told ourselves that when we finally moved, that we were going to make a true effort to get to know our neighbors, and we have. Of course, it’s different here. Neighbors are curious as to who bought the ridge. They show up and ask questions, introduce themselves, offer to help. And of course, Dallas knows every last person, so there’s that as well.

    Ivan Aivazovsky, “Sea View” (1841)

    When we were moving in, Corey was driving the box truck and I was driving the rental Ryder truck, which I was very proud of handling the entire seven-hour trip, but then I came down the driveway crooked and ended up driving the front part of the truck off the drive and getting it stuck. We were so worried about how much it would cost us to get someone to come out and unstick it. But instead, two of our neighbors spent hours helping Corey to get it free. I was simultaneously amazed and grateful. We didn’t even know these people, yet there they were, working their butts off for two people who they didn’t know from Adam’s off ox.

    And since that day, Dallas has graded the driveway, made it straight and wider, so that coming down isn’t a problem. That’s what I mean about things being different here. No one asks you for anything, yet of course, there is the expectation that you will repay them in kind somehow when the need arises, and so we will. It was never like that in Norfolk. Perhaps the city was too big, the neighborhood too set in its ways. Who knows?

    I seem to be asking that question quite a lot lately . . .

    “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.” ~ Stephen Chobsky, from The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    So the Chobsky quote above is probably the most fitting one that I could choose today. I am both happy and sad, but the difference is that I’m fairly certain as to why. I mean, aside from the fact that I’m still missing one of my antidepressants, and I still haven’t found a good neurologist, and I still don’t have a phone that works—other than those things . . .

    Ivan Aivazovsky,”Sunset at Sea” (1853, oil on canvas)

    But in honesty, those are relatively minor things—other than the pain, which, like it or not, I’m used to—what makes me sad is that in spite of the beauty and life that surrounds me, there is no water, and there are no children, grown or otherwise.The water? That’s just a part of me. I’m an Aquarius, and even though I’m not a strong swimmer, I have always loved water, in all forms. That, and I lived so very near the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean for most of my life that it’s odd not to smell the saltwater, or to see the violence of the waves during a storm.

    And yet, to put that down here makes me feel so very ungrateful. I used to say that my ideal place to live would be on a mountaintop overlooking the ocean; the reality is that such a place would cost a fortune. But here, I have the mountaintop, the horses, the deer, the dogs. And god how I love it all. I truly do. I cannot imagine going back to where we were. So why can I not be satisfied?

    “I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.” ~ Daniel Keyes, from Flowers for Algernon

    Will I ever be satisfied? I really don’t know. I do know that I can be happy—happy for me. It may sound as if I’m trying to convince myself, but that’s really not the case. I have a lot to be happy about, a lot to be grateful for in this new life. The caveat, for me, is not said lightly. It’s too complicated, and yet maddeningly simple: I am just too aware of my chemical makeup the way that my brain and heart work. I can be absolutely ecstatic about how my life is going, and yet there will always be this still small voice within that doubts, doubts my worthiness to be happy.

    Ivan Aivazovsky, “Sunset a Lone Sailboat” (1853, oil on canvas)

    How to explain to someone who has never met this voice? I don’t know if that is even possible. However, that state of being satisfied is not tied to my ability to be happy. Satisfaction, for me, is something entirely different, dependent upon reconciliation with my sons—in other words, I don’t believe that I can ever be completely satisfied until I am able to know that they are an active part of my life again, and since I don’t have any way of making that happen at this point, I just have to live with things as they are for now.

    Look, that’s life. You know it, dear reader, and so do I. The basket will never be completely full of unbroken eggs. The day will never be without a cloud somewhere on the horizon. Yet there is always a horn-a-plenty if we but recognize it. What I’m trying to say is that life is complicated. I’m complicated. Every human is a mixture of good and bad, happy and sad; I’m no different, but I am trying very hard to be this person here, the one who is present in her life as it is. I may not be entirely succeeding, but at least I am aware, and for me, that is more than you can ever know.

    More later. Peace.

    Music by Adele, “Hello”

     

     


    She Loved Mozart

    There’s a sadness to it, of course, my becoming more
    and more isolated from the world. I remember, years ago,
    when I was living at the motel, there was this woman who
    used to come and go, sometimes staying for months at a time.
    Every so often I’d go over to her room, sit around, and talk with her.
    The room would smell from clove cigarettes and dirty wash.
    Over the lampshades pieces of clothing were draped, to bring
    the light down to the most remarkable dimness. This light
    never failed to charm and attract me, as a moth would be
    attracted to a bright light (although, I suppose moths are
    drawn to dim light also). Anyway, I find myself steadily
    becoming increasingly like this woman, and it’s not always
    the most comfortable realization. Although, I cannot say
    that I am living with dirty wash. No, this I cannot admit to.
    If anything, I’m fanatical about washing clothes. My
    clothing has worn thin, not from my wearing it but from
    the continuous washings. But, my god, like this woman
    I’m letting the house go dark. She died at the motel, from cancer.
    Some nights I’d see her crossing the parking lot, meager flesh
    on her bones, and she’d knock on my door and she’d ask me
    to play Mozart on my stereo set. She loved Mozart.
    In her youth she had been a very promising violist, but
    injury and shock from a fire had made her a ghost
    of her old talent, her old self. I used to feed her also,
    the miniscule amount she was capable of eating.
    She loved sharing a thin sandwich as much as
    she loved Mozart. I told her it takes
    a lot of solitude to write a poem.
    She told me it takes a lot of solitude
    to die.

    ~ Marge Piercy