Ponder this:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Speaking of dialects

I've been thinking about how much I love listening to and practicing accents. I think that some people are good at dialects and some aren't. I think it's a right brain/left brain thing, something along those lines. Just as some people can draw and some people can't.

A few Thanksgivings ago, my sister got down my book of Uncle Remus stories. I know they're politically incorrect now, but I remember my mother reading them to me in the afternoons after Lunch, before Nap, and I like the tales, so I keep the thing on the shelf.

When I was little and we lived on the farm that my grandmother's grandfather had built, there was an old old wicker wheelchair in the barn. The wicker back and seat were all broken and curled outward, and it had been a long time since the axle had received any attention. One summer we dug it out and spent what seems like weeks wheeling each other around in it. I got way more rides than my sister did because she was bigger and I was too weak to make the thing move forward empty, almost, never mind with her in it. It was a rough ride, and I was little. I remember holding on for dear life so I wouldn't bounce out as my sister rolled me across the yard. Sometimes it felt as if she wanted me to bounce out.

Imagine sitting in that antique wheelchair. 
Now . . . make the wheels square instead of round. 
Imagine yourself sitting in that broken out seat while someone, perhaps a brutish older sister, pushes you across uneven ground. 
Can you feel that?

That's what it sounded like when my sister read aloud, to all of us, from The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus.


I wrote this post and then left to go to the store. On the way there, I heard a radio program about Sarah Jones and her one-woman show wherein she becomes many different women, at least to the ear. Sometimes I think ideas float around in the atmosphere and land in different places at the same time. How else to explain that particular coincidence?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mrs. Cole

Mrs. Cole was born and raised in a certain part of London, but has lived in the US nearly all of her adult life. Still, she has her accent -- when she says her name her lips make a perfect round O -- and I love to see her. Not only for the accent, but because she is A Character. 

The first time I met her she came in absolutely ranting about the village's quarterly charge for refuse collection.
"Why, I never! In LONDON we never 'ad to pay a PENNY to have the trash collected. We putTit out and it wenTaway!" 
Her jaw was dropped and her blue eyes were wide. Her thick brown and silver hair vibrated in a fat bun. Despite her outrage I could see that some of her bombast was simply for the fun of having her say. I went to the counter, stood to one side of Phyllis, who was taking the begrudged payment. I just wanted to watch. I love accents and I love characters, and I was delighted with this particular show. The third or fourth time she said something about how much better the London system was, I couldn't help myself . . . I offered: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa, but y'came 'EEEAH, DI'N'Tya?" 
Her head whipped toward me, her face agape. I do believe she thought I was another import. If I had thought I would be able to maintain the dialect, I would've continued, but I couldn't do it. 

She was in the other day to pay the same kind of bill. She had her pug dog with her and we had a lovely long chat about how wonderful dogs are. 
"I wouldn' say this to EV'rybuddy, you know . . . but there ARE times when I like him BET'a' than I like the kids!" and she . . . chortled.

I do love to see Mrs. Cole. I replay our conversations for days afterward, trying to mimic her vowel sounds. 
"I 'ad decided I wouldn' getTanother dog, because . . . after all . . . I'm AYTEE years old. But I saw him and I 'ad 'im named within thirty seconds!"
A woman after my own heart.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sunny fall afternoon: free association

I am trying to sit outdoors to enjoy the bright blue sky and sunshine; the breeze is just strong enough to keep an edge in the air. Still, I sit for a long time at the picnic table, the last page of my book read and flapping in the wind, a glass of ice water near my elbow, my eyes closed. I am dazed by this head cold that wants to become bronchitis, dazzled by the sun on the fluttering birch leaves as yellow as the sunshine itself. The leaves on the volunteer poplar behind me applaud each draft. Molly is lying on the lawn twenty feet to my right, Peep is lounging with me on the picnic table, occasionally stretching, rolling and twisting just because she can, gazing at me from flirty golden eye slits.

The grass of the lawn and the hay field beyond is so green, vigorously green, a sturdier green than it was in June. Everywhere, dots of brown and gold leaves. The sun on my face feels so good. Through my closed lids, the sun makes all those little blood vessels into the image of a holly bush.

When I was little, we had a book of bedtime stories. One of the stories was a tale of how holly leaves got to be prickly. I remember the simple line drawing of holly berries sliding down the snowy hill on the nice smooth leaf sleds. The leaves got battered and curled at the edges, and the holly was forever after cursed with rough, prickery leaves. I have a former friend who has a holly bush at her house. 

She's a former friend because she disapproves of my dog's lifestyle. Molly is free to come and go as she pleases. Usually she prefers to stay near us, on the lawn or indoors. We have no neighbors, only empty hay fields, stone walls, woods.  In the mornings while Husband and I get ready for work, my girl has her route to travel to check out the morning news. I'm not sure of its exact course, but I know it includes checking the old orchard for bunny trails, and winding in and out of the evergreens along the upper driveway to see who passed by overnight. She's usually back from her rounds in time for us to get her indoors before we have to leave. One morning last fall, she was still out and about, not in sight. I waited, and waited, and called and walked around the field and she didn't turn up. I wasn't happy about it, but I had to go to work, so I left. 
And worried all day. 
When I got home, she sprang out of the arborvitaes in front of the house and greeted me joyfully, none the worse for wear. She was tired that evening, but she was unharmed. I related the story to my friend by email and did not hear from her for a long time. After I had prodded her a few times, she sent me a Dear John letter, saying that the story of Molly having been outdoors all day had so upset her . . . and I must have known it would upset her . . . and we just don't understand each other and so that's that. Her dog has a nice cozy life in the suburbs with two twenty minute walks per day on paved streets, and a nine hundred square foot fenced back yard to explore.

I'm happy for my friend and her dog. They have their routines and they are just as wild about each other and their lives as we and Molly are about ours. I have a great deal of respect for Molly's knowledge of what's going on out there and I'm sure that, at any given time, she knows more than I about what wild things might be around . . . and who to tangle with and who not to. I'm not afraid of the wild things. I'm not afraid of the big empty spaces. My friend used to bring her dog out here to the fields for long country walks. She was always careful to carry a big walking stick in case she met up with a rabid raccoon. When she told me that, I just looked at her, all blank in the face. Yeah, well, I guess there could be a rabid raccoon around someplace here, but I've never seen one, and I've never worried about having to fight one. Hell, I'm the one who stood underneath a fisher and took pictures of it while it growled at me and switched its long furry tail. I wouldn't do it again, probably, but at the time I didn't know how vicious the things were. When I was little, my parents told me over and over that wild animals wanted to stay away from me more than I wanted to stay away from them, and I believed it and it's been borne out by experience. The exception to the rule is the odd coyote who'll sit in a field and stare and stare at us. It only happens every few years, and I don't get a feeling of menace. I think that when they do that, they're just curious, scoping out the competition for rodents. If we walk toward them, at about a hundred feet, they turn around and slowly trot away. 

I have other coyote stories, and other wild animal stories, but this story is just about how people and their dogs live different lives. Just like every marriage is different, every dog/person partnership is different. I know Molly is absolutely in touch with all of her dogness, and she's living the best of a wild life and a pampered life. I don't think my friend's dog is unhappy, but I'm pretty sure Molly wouldn't trade places with her. 

Even if she has to hunker down in the arborvitaes on the occasional day when she stays out playing too long. 
It isn't an issue too much anymore. See Approaching the Autumnal Equinox, second paragraph.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Beautiful Molly

It'll be a while before Molly and I roll around in the grass of a warm afternoon.
This is what it was like a few weeks ago.

Noble canine looks west

Noble canine looks south

Molly with a cherry tree growing out of her shoulders. Earth Mother.

Happiest dog in the world. Just look at that smile.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Court People

I have written before about the Court People, about whom we say, "If they could read, and follow directions, they wouldn't be going to court."
So typical, this story: Man threatened to burn baby clothes

Why didn't he just burn them, or throw them away, or mail them to her, or do one of any number of other things, instead of threatening to burn them?
Why didn't the ex-girlfriend just go get the clothes instead of calling the police?
How long had the clothes been there? The child surely would have grown out of them soon anyway.

Is there some logic here that I am missing?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Seasonal [and other] observations

Now comes the season of the woolly bear migration. Or, rather, The Great Woolly Bear Dispersal, since they are all crossing the roads, but about equally in opposite directions. Just now coming back over the hill from the supermarket at thirty miles per hour, I watched carefully not too far in front of my car for small moving things and swerved this way and that way so as to avoid squashing any of the little guys. At one point I was faced with a Sophie's Choice -- one caterpillar heading east, the other heading west, and in such proximity to each other that if I saved one, I would obliterate the other. The only thing I could do: I stopped the car until they were out of my path. I'm glad there was no one driving behind me. I have seen bumper stickers that say, "I brake for fill in the blank" but none of them say "...woolly bear caterpillars." If there is one, I should avail myself of it.

I have stopped picking tomatoes. I feel a little guilty about that, but I can pick no more. Husband has noticed the abundance of red globes remaining in the garden, and has brought in his own piles of the things. 

He is making fresh tomato juice, a monumentally delectable item that I have never tasted before. It involves the food mill, and lots of patience. Too much fiddling for me; I just want to get to my book. But he doesn't mind, and I am glad to do the Wifely Praise part of the operation. The Wife Rule Book again, you know.

The soapstone stove's installed and operational. Notice, please, that we ordered it in brown metal rather than black. My choice because the brown is just about the same color as the ash and dust that will inevitably accumulate on the thing. Once it's rolling for the season, it will be too hot to dust or wash, so we might as well have it filth-colored to begin with.

Sweet Young Thing, my new morning boss, is still a refreshing change from Jane the Tyrant. I do find, howsomever, that she is one of those who get their talking points and marching orders from Rush, Sean, and Glen. 
"...all those people who are making us the minority!"
"The only reason Obama got elected was that he got all the blacks and Puerto Ricans to vote."
I wanted to say, "HOW DARE THEY!" but I did not.
I foresee June keeping her mouth shut in the area of political discussion. Friday morning I came about as close to getting into it as I hope ever to do. New Boss was lamenting the abundance of other-than-Caucasian students at the local college. She went on with such . . . vigor . . . about other cultures ruining "ours" that I finally asked, in a mild and curious tone, "I wonder why our culture can't withstand that influence?"
A pause, and then: "I don't know."
"Well," I said, "maybe it'll make you feel a little better to know that four of them were just murdered in Guilderland."
"Oh! That! That was terrible! There were children!"
I have yet to nail down the age at which but what about the children! cuts off and veers into . . . distaste, or how long people have to be in this country before they're acceptable.
Okay. Enough of that incendiary writing. Back to the safely prosaic.

Molly had fresh rabbit for breakfast this morning, and eschewed her kibble as a result. It's good she doesn't want to overeat. She took the bunny leftovers to the garden and hid them. Husband walked down to see if he could see how much was left. I watched the two of them from the upstairs bedroom window and saw Molly pretending the hiding place didn't exist ("Let's go down this way, Dad!") and Husband looking, looking, as Molly stood by, her tail wagging feebly, apparently hoping he would not find and steal her cache. He did not find any evidence of bunny remains and the two of them returned to the lawn with one of them vastly relieved.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Things I have learned this summer (and previously)

Unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is good for what ails me. One tablespoon in a cup of warmish water two or three times over the course of a day. My mother's mother kept a cruet of vinegar on her kitchen table, with a piece of stuff that looked like brushed suede floating in it: the mother. Apparently, the mother is the key ingredient. 

My cousin and I at Nana's table, circa 1963
Gloria: What is that?
Me: Vinegar.
Gloria: What's floating in it?
Me: Mother.
Gloria: When did she die?

Cantaloupes are ripe for about fifteen minutes before they turn rotten. Imagine our disappointment. We've grown cantaloupes other summers, but never had so many that we had to worry about not getting them all eaten in time. The ones we did get were so good they nearly blew off our heads.

If you have a dog, it is Good to have Family Howls from time to time, as greetings after separations, or for random bonding purposes. All of our dogs have enjoyed Family Howl sessions, and each has had a different singing style. Molly has the most beautiful contralto voice I have ever heard. Low and long and resonant, it makes me think of whale song.

Husband is the strongest man I know. He recently installed an eight-hundred pound soapstone wood stove with virtually no help, other than to get the thing through the doors of the house. I tried to be as small as possible so as not to be in the way of his progress, but stayed within earshot in case a call to 911 would be needed. In the end, my sole physical contribution ("physical" as opposed to near-constant encouraging and admiring comments, as learned in The Wife Rule Book) was to drop to my knees and pull out the wooden pallet while he lifted the thing when he got it into position on the hearth. It's been a week since the events and his back, legs, neck and arms all seem to be functioning normally, so I'm feeling a little relieved. We haven't fired it up yet. It will never be this clean again once we start having fires in it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Approaching the autumnal equinox

Let me write this and see how it looks: I think I'm finished with tomatoes for this harvest. Not that the good beauties are all out of the garden . . . there are probably another few bushels out there. But I think I'm done, as in stick a fork in me done. The gallon bags of frozen tomato are not innumerable, but they are plentiful. At least a dozen and a half of them in the chest freezer, a few more cooling in the refrigerator to be removed to that semi-permanent storage. I think it might be enough.
Yet, still, it feels like a sin to let that fruit just rot out there. 
I don't know.
I might not be finished yet.
Maybe after some time doing something else. The corn stalks still have ears on them. It will be tough, but still, with the taste of sunshine packaged up in each big fat yellow kernel, better than anything from any store. 
The basil and parsley have been rinsed and bagged and frozen. I did the basil wrong, put it all, chopped up, in olive oil, in one bag and flattened it out. I should have made little balls of it and frozen them individually. But I believe the day that I did that my back felt as if it were about to crack in two if I stood much longer (a legacy of my waitressing years) and I preserved the stuff as quickly as I could so that I could bend without breaking. 

Twice last week, Molly conned me into unplanned morning-quickie-rides in the car. She knows (of course) the angle of the sun when it's time for Husband and me to leave for work. If we do not plan carefully, she might be outdoors at that time. If she's out of sight, it's a given that we must undertake the ruse of pretending to leave for work, leash looped around neck, and, upon spying her as she pops bright-eyed out of a hedgerow, stopping, inviting her into the car. She's thrilled, of course, and settles down in the passenger seat to stare out the windows, an intent tourist, as we drive out one driveway, down the road, and into the other driveway. Now the leash around her neck, we exit the car and prance to the door of the house for a cookie and a shutting away. If she only knew how fervently I wish I could stay with her.

Peep couldn't care less about when we're leaving; she comes and goes according to an unknowable to humankind happy-cat-living-a-country-life schedule. She brings us white-footed mice and other delicacies and leaves them where we will find them on our way to the door. On occasions when Peep has an active hunt in progress and Molly is around, Molly takes over and Peep gives up and leaves her to it. Several days ago, I tried to save a chipmunk from my pets, and managed only to get it to a hiding spot where it spent a night and was discovered by my beloved predators the next day, killed, and disposed of. I should have stayed out of it. The poor thing probably spent a night of painful misery, huddled in the tall grass around the wellhead, instead of having been relatively speedily dispatched in the way of Nature.

It is warm today. The high temperature forecast to be 82 degrees, with 10% chance of rain. A summer day! 
Maybe I'll start the fire under the big pot full of water, put on my sneakers and go out and pry some ears of corn off the stalks. 
This is good work that I'm doing, not least because in the dead of winter I will be able to sit quietly with my book and think about how comfortable it is not to be picking and hauling and boiling and cutting and scooping. I'll just be fat and happy, eating the fruits of the labor. That will be a change, won't it? from my usual mournful wailing about the Dark and Cold Time.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Gratitude, supplication, memory, respite

Thank you for all the tomatoes and corn and beans and parsley and basil and carrots and cantaloupes and all the rest of it.  And thank you for the good Husband who sited the garden so it got watered naturally and plentifully, and sun from rise until set, so that each plant has, completely naturally, begotten more fruit than any of its kind ever before in the history of the Earth anywhere. 
I am ever grateful for Thy bounty.

Now please send an army of harvesters with strong legs and arms and backs to tote all this generous goodness from the garden up the hill to the house, to trim off the bits of tomato that I don't want, to hold the plastic bags for pouring in the crushed/blanched/pureed/cut stuff for the freezer. I need help. 
You can't rush this process. You can bring in two hundred tomatoes but you can only cook down just so many at a time. You can't cut kernels off ears of corn too quickly or you get pieces of cob in with the kernels. Certainly not harmful, but if I'm going to the trouble, I might as well do it carefully. I almost begin to sense a genetic memory of women coming together to help each other put up their harvest. And summer kitchens.

In my Childhood Farmhouse that my father's great-grandfather built there was a summer kitchen elled off the back of the house. I never saw it in use for canning and pickling and all that they used to do; in my time it was where the player piano and the fifty or so rolls of music lived. My sister and I would pump the pedal and watch the keys go down all by themselves while we listened to The Sidewalks of New York and other hits. The paper had held up pretty well considering it was all just stacked in unprotected rolls on top of the piano. Where there was a small tear here or there, there would be an odd note.

And now there's just me, coming home from work and gazing at the ripe tomatoes shining like Christmas lights on the drying-down plants. The things taunt me until I grab the basket and hie myself down to retrieve as many as I can carry back. And while I'm there, take the shears and bring back some herbs for sauce. Make supper while I'm "putting up." 

Husband rolls in as dark comes down. His work days (for money) start and end quite a bit later than mine do and he gets to come into the house all filled with good smells. If I could stop working and be home all day, I could get it all done in good order. Of course, I would need to, since we'd be a lot little bit poorer...

Why does everything have to come ripe all at once...?

So. This morning at 4:30 I was wide awake and excited and trepidatious about spending the whole day carting and boiling and steaming and trimming and bagging. And I managed to get three gallon size bags of corn into the freezer. And then I had a hair appointment. And it started to rain. And it's cold all of a sudden after ninety-degrees last week! Today's been a bust, pretty much, for food storage. 

But it's been a great Book-And-Nap Day. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Blogger goes auto-pilot!

That hugely uplifting post that appeared yesterday was posted all on its own. I had posted it probably a year ago, and would not have chosen it for my reappearance message. If Blogger's going to re-post my posts, I wish it would choose happier ones. So now I am forced to reveal to you that I live and breathe, still, and my brain continues to churn out thoughts the way a sausage grinder churns out chopped meat for packing into tubes whose origin I shall leave unmentioned. Let me add that I am delighted to know that a few of you have missed me and still remember me after my long abandonment of you all. Really, you can't know how nice it was for me to see notes from you!

A few bringer-up-to-daters:

  1. Husband remains the answer to my long ago prayer
  2. Molly and Peep are still our beloved furry babies
  3. I'm still working for Small Pond, although . . . 
  4. Morning Boss has left the building! She of the shrieking complaints about my breathing, my dewy hairline in the eighty-degree room, my inability to divine how to perform tasks previously unseen . . . is gone to work at a larger pond, replaced by a Sweet Young Thing who chatters out her every thought. And so I say to you all, as others have said again and again: Be careful for what you wish. I wanted conversation. Boy, have I got conversation now.
  5. Afternoon job, downstairs from Morning Job, continues comfortable and happy.
Husband and his friend installed a vegetable garden hundreds of feet long and thirty feet wide. He planted kale, brussels sprouts, romaine, leaf and other lettuces, green and wax beans, cantaloupes, cucumbers, summer squash... But the stars of the show are the seventy-two tomato plants. Seventy-two. They all bow down under the weight of clusters of tomatoes like giant-sized green grape bunches. Some of the fruits have grown between the plants' stalks and the stakes that hold up the plants. Those must be pulled out two-handed, and often break in two at the division of the two halves, somewhat unpleasantly reminiscent of the division in a human's backside. Molly gets those broken ones. Molly likes to help garden.

There is a black chow chow wandering the hillside, chasing cows. The dog control warden is aware of him but as yet unable to lure him (her?) into a crate for carting off to the shelter. The dog has been in our field early in the morning, sleeping . . . has trotted down the country lane ahead of my car and then off into a field . . . sooner or later the poor thing will need to give in to the dog warden's temptation or, I fear, be shot for chasing those cows. A hoof to the head is as likely as the shot, and devoutly to be wished avoided.

We also have a black and white cat skulking around the fields. It yowls at some point nearly every night, and Peep and it have had words, although no combat. As yet. I have only seen the thing at some great distance and it appears to know what it's doing in the hunting department. 

For both of these wandering creatures, winter will be harder than they now imagine. If they imagine it at all. Doubtful.

So, please . . . be reassured, those of you who feared that I might be weaving the noose to end it all. Life here goes on, summer has been a pleasure, yet again, and I continue fatter than ever and as happy as I am wont to be.  The sadnesses of my young life always underlie everything in my brain and heart, but they don't consume me so much as it would appear from the 8/31 post.

Now that Blogger has yanked me back into circulation, perhaps I'll be more fruitful. I would hope, however, that I shall be less fruitful than our seventy-two tomato plants. Nobody's computer could download posts of that size.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Confession and three references: a fable, a novel, a poem

Most of the time I'm not great at expressing sympathy. When my mother's last sibling died, I told her the news as I drove down the road with her in the passenger seat. My sister was downright scandalized. That's the way you told her? she cried. Mom hadn't been in touch with any of her five siblings in years, I didn't think she'd care that much. And, you know, she was schizophrenic who'd been treated by EST. And she was drunk most of the time, so her emotions were pretty deadened. I told her in a kind tone, and held her hand, but I couldn't make the announcement like an actor in a soap opera. My sister's style is very soap opera: gather around the table, take hold of a hand, speak as if to a four-year-old. I can't do that. I think it adds an unnecessary level of drama to an already dramatic moment.

In my world, the sky fell long ago, and Life itself blew out into minuscule triangles of bright glass, sharp colors all flying silently into black empty space. 
Where's Mom?
Dad took her to the hospital. Don't ask when she's coming home. 
I stood in Void, learned to pretend that there were other people around me, that things happened, that Life still existed in some way. A way different from what I had known before. Maybe what I had known before hadn't been real. In any case, the sun kept rising every morning and I went on breathing, keeping quiet, staying small. Three years later came the sunny last morning of August...

Two months after my tenth birthday, my mother got me up, told me I wouldn't be going to school, fed me toast for breakfast and drove me to my father's sister's house five minutes away. We were walking to the house when I stopped and said, "Mom. What's going on?"
And she stopped and in a shaky voice, said, "Oh, baby, can you take it? Daddy's gone."
"He died last night."
And that was it. 
We went into the house. My mother said, "I just told her." My aunt hugged me and they sent me into the living room to sit alone on the couch while they talked.
We spoke of my father perhaps five times all the rest of her life. 
Dad didn't like me very much, did he.
Oh, he thought you were great!

Illustration for the story "Chicken Little", 1916

Josephine Hart's novel, Damage, includes this, which I might have wrong in a word or two, but not in the concept. "Damaged people are dangerous. They have survived and they know you will too." If your life goes to hell, you'll keep breathing too. And you'll make up your own world where nothing really matters. Love doesn't matter. Promises don't matter. You'll have to keep acting right . . . tricky because everybody you make up in your pretend world has a different idea of right . . . but in the end, "right" doesn't matter either. Because even pretend worlds blow up into weightless confetti and disperse in the vacuum that remains. 

Who Hurt You So?  
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Who hurt you so,
My dear?
Who, long ago
When you were very young,
Did, said, became, was…something that you did not know
Beauty could ever do, say, be, become?–
So that your brown eyes filled
With tears they never, not to this day, have shed…
Not because one more boy stood hurt by life,
No: because something deathless had dropped dead–
An ugly, an indecent thing to do–
So that you stood and stared, with open mouth in which the tongue
Froze slowly backward toward its root,
As if it would not speak again, too badly stung
By memories thick as wasps about a nest invaded
To know if or if not you suffered pain.
It's commonly repeated that the loss of a child is the bitterest loss. 
I think everybody's worst loss feels like The Worst Loss That Could Ever Be. 
And there are children whose souls died years ago. They breathe and walk among you.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

We just watched The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Very heavy. But very worthwhile. 

No diatribe here, but it seems sometimes that our country just needs to . . . step away . . . from other countries' personal business, and let those countries' cultures exist as they will and not as we would have them. It seems we forget that we're all, this whole world over, just people. One by one. All just human beings.
And maybe money isn't every, single, important, thing in this world.

The movie made me think of New Hymn, written by Reynolds Price and sung by James Taylor.

Source of all we hope or dread
Sheepdog, jackal, rattler, swan
We hunt your face and long to trust
That your hid mouth will say again let there be light
A clear new day
But when we thirst in this dry night
We drink from hot wells poisoned with the blood of children
And when we strain to hear a steady homing beam
Our ears are balked by stifled moans
And howls of desolation from the throats of sisters, brothers, wild men
Clawing at the gates for bread
Even our own feeble hands
Aim to seize the crown you wear
And work our private havoc through
The known and unknown lands of space
Absolute in flame beyond us
Seed and source of dark and day
Maker whom we beg to be
Our mother father comrade mate
Til our few atoms blow to dust
Or form again in wiser lives
Or find your face and hear our name
In your calm voice the end of night
If dark may end
Wellspring gold of dark and day
Be here, be now

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Still here

I'm still here.
I haven't stopped blogging. It's just been a long, long . . . pause.

Too much time alone with my own head, undistracted by natural color and sound. Inside my head is not a happy place to be alone. Best way to feel better is to help someone else, but I haven't summoned the energy to reach out. 

Last weekend, more or less on the spur of the moment, and fighting last minute urges to stay in my safe (if morose) nest, I went to visit my friend who lives on the other end of the state. We did nothing special, except the kind of special that comes from being with someone who appreciates you but requires nothing more of you than that you be you

Still nothing inspiring springing forth from my fingertips . . . nothing blogworthy.
But I thought I'd just let you all know that I'm still here.
Husband, Molly and Peep, too.

Friday, December 6, 2013

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

A friend sent me this in an email yesterday. At first I thought it was one of those goofy things that end with "I sent this to you because you're special. Now YOU send it on to all the special people in your life." But this isn't treacly hackneyed folk wisdom (God help the folk!). This is worthwhile. Taken in toto it reminds me of AA wisdom. I guess wisdom is wisdom . . . and largely common sense. 

It was written by marcandangel, whose blog I've added to my bloglist.

When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.
As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1.     Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
2.     Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
3.     Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves. Read The Road Less Traveled.
4.     Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
5.     Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
6.     Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
7.     Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
8.     Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
9.     Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive. But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either. You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else. Read Stumbling on Happiness.
11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place. Evaluate situations and take decisive action. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. Making progress involves risk. Period! You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. Ask yourself this: “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you. You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough. But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past. You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation. So smile! Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself! And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too. If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway. Just do what you know in your heart is right.
21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done. Read Getting Things Done.
24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t take the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.
25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well. You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out. But making one person smile CAN change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. So narrow your focus.
28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
30. Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Words we don't use often enough. Especially correctly.

  1. 1.
    full of twists and turns.

  1. 1.
    characterized by, involving, or causing excruciating pain or suffering.

  1. 1.
    constituting a tort; wrongful.