Wednesday, January 30, 2013

OH SWEET BLINDNESS?

This map is for KH who wondered about water near Gaza.













Ugh. Now, that is likely not a great way to start a post. Yet, that is an accurate representation of how I feel at the moment. And I didn't even mean to log on to this page, but I did so I thought I should sow a seed for today's post.

I had a less than easy sleep last night, even though I pretty much crashed when I said I was going to. I woke up in the night, repeatedly, and although I did not visit the dark places I frequented last summer and fall, I wasn't in a happy place, either. I finally got up to move to the nest on the couch, still set up for my afternoon sick nest repose. I thought I might have to read, but I was able to fall asleep, and deeply. Sometimes one needs a change of venue for sleeping.

Now at the end of the day.

Been kind of down and emotional today. Some of it has to do with the ongoing struggles with my laptop. I have spent many hours, into the double digits, trying to keep my ol' laptop alive. The Apple help guy, Joel, now thinks it is a problem with my external back-up drive. And there is some recourse, but it is time consuming. And I still have a lot of Grimm's Household Tales to read.

Then I took Cooder to the vet for a geriatric work-up/blood tests. The doc thinks Cooder is likely almost blind. And that is not bad in itself, but even the choice to spend any of the little money I have remaining, not to mention the distinct possibility of bad news, was enough to stress me out to spaciness for the rest of the evening.

I did make more macaroons, which M declared "to die for" ... I used brown sugar this time. And for the life of me, I went to three grocery stores and could not find any unsweetened flake cocoanut. Sigh.

But I did take a 30 minute walk with Albert around the reservoir again. It was quite misty.

I hope to write something of interest soon. Bear with me.









Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SLIGHT BACKSLIDE

A slight backslide on the health front today, but that did not keep me from sitting at the computer most of the day, working on the MW screenplay. Being that focussed and in that mind set makes me a bit spacey and not as ready for other interactions. Also, I did not nap, so I am ready for sleep here at 9:06.

I'm in the midst of another French film, and it, too, is quite good. This one, Une bouteille à la mer, is about a young French woman now living in Jerusalem, and who, through the mechanism of a message in a bottle, strikes up an e-correspondence with a young Palestinian man, living in Gaza. Another harsh movie but compelling and refreshing. How nice not to see any Judd Apatow level stupidity, no farts, no boobs, no car crashes, etc.

I have a lot of reading to do for my Coursera class and I have done none today, thus far. Last night, I watched Downton Abbey instead of reading. I am not sure how far I will get tonight, yet I think I will turn in and try to turn on to Grimm's Household Tales translated by Lucy Crane.

Monday, January 28, 2013

WIFTING WAFTING

Snow on the tree in the front.
I am defintely not focussed these days, not getting enough accomplished, and kind of wifting-wafting about. I am feeling somewhat better. I woke up this morning with congestion but not the runny nose I have had. And though I was tempted by the thought of an afternoon nap, I resisted.

As a consequence of the non-nap, I am hella-sleepy for 9:44. Again, this is not without its silver lining, as I just might be able to sleep, again, without taking any medication, which is good.

I don't know that I spent the day, the non-nap hours, furthering my life. I did make it to the library (which was closed) to drop off some books, went to the market, drove around looking for a place to park so that I could take a picture or two of the reservoir in the snow, but couldn't find anything. I watched another French Film,  Parlez-moi de vous, quite satsifactory, made pizza, and that's about the afternoon. Oh yeah, I walked Albert who doesn't much like the snow. And snow it did today.





And I worked on my knitting. But that really does not count much toward getting real life accomplished.

I hope to write with more consciousnessssssssszzzzzzzzzz





She's cute. What can I tell you?






Sunday, January 27, 2013

THOSE ITEMS


Williamjames

“My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”
–William James, The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1

Now, that's pretty interesting, right? Although I am not going to examine nor write any treatise on the topic.

It's late again, and I want to continue my last two nights' records of sleeping pretty much through the night, one night without benefit of sleeping aids.

This is outside my bedroom door of a morning.
I signed up for a couple of things: a Coursera class as I mentioned, and an on-line French Film Festival that has three weeks to run. I did watch a good one this evening, Un Bon Matin, about a French financial worker who goes postal. So, between reading for my class, doing my regular stuff, and trying to watch a French Film every day, I am going to be extra busy.

It was warmer today, so I took advantage of the sun and walked Albert at the reservoir bike path again. Albert is easier to walk in the snow as he is not constantly stopping to smell every thing.

I also did get my weekly short-story read (Liam O'Flaherty) and made good progress in Telegraph Avenue (which I listened to as I cleaned up the kitchen this morning) and I'm almost finished with Joe's War.


M made a delish crock pot dish of chicken thighs and curry. I made my first (my certainly not my last) batch of coconut/lemon macaroons. They are pretty great.

Also, making patient progress with knitting my cashmere scarf, which will take forever as it is very fine wool (fingering, I believe this weight/class of wool is called) and is knit on very small needles. I must have nabbed the cashmere at a thrift store of something, because a skein of cashmere costs around $30.00 for a few ounces. I wouldn't have picked the color as my favorite (sort of pink/salmon) but it will be becoming. I will post pictures a bit later on.

And it the birthday of Laurie Hallelujah!

At the reservoir.1



At the reservoir.2

Friday, January 25, 2013

SIGHTINGS

Yeah. I had occasion to go by the RiteAid in Danbury, Connecticut. Besides learning that Angelina Jolie is PREGNANT AGAIN. I saw the first sign of Spring. Cadbury Peeps for Easter. Already.

Or is that merely a sign of time compressing altogether?

Later that same day.

Did not feel extremely well.
Did get a nap.
Did resuscitate my dear old MacBook Air, again.
Did begin to listen to my video lectures in the Coursera course I have signed up for which is something about Fantasy, Science Fiction, Modern Life, and The Mind.
Did work on knitting.
Did get the first loud purr out of Emmylou. This is a milestone in itself as I have not been convinced she was much of a purrer, but I see there is hope. She has the capacity for a good rumbling purr, I just have to bring it out in her.

It was not a day of much thinking or reflecting.
So, I am now going to exercise my thinking.

I think I will go to bed and read.

My oldest brother, Michael, in an early demonstration of thinking.



Thursday, January 24, 2013

NICE (NOT THE TOWN IN FRANCE)


I did not take this picture which is Paris, 1909. I filch it from a website though. I didn't take any good pictures today. I mostly worked on projects and did some cooking, of course.

Woke up not feeling well, again, and thought for sure I would find some nap time but did not.

It's not really the writing practice this blog is designed to engender, but I just don't feel I have anything to say, so I will give you a couple more tidbits from Tom Bissell's essay, Escanaba's Magic Hour: Movies, Robot Deer, and the American Small Town.

"Nice" is a surface with little relation to inner decency.

and unrelatedly

... I felt some dignity that I had come of age far beyond the fallout of the cultural atom smasher. The movies I saw or albums I bought or, later, books I read were not much colored by inducements of culture brokers. The pickings were slimmer, sometimes maddeningly so, and not always sophisticated, but I was never less than certain that I had picked them. This is what makes rural, small-town people so opinionated. Strong opinion is the necessary attendant of choice, however limited, while fashion of the bootlick of exacting coercion.

If I were growing up in Escanaba now, Amazon.com would  happily sugget which books or compact disks to buy. Over the Internet, I could chat with people as distant as Newark or Portland, erasing the demarcations of isolation, a visible suburbanite to a vast, invisible city. The Movie People have come to capture Escanaba's isolation, which exists, still, in every empty street and darkened storefront, but it is an isolation that is, increasingly, identical to that of a thousand towns just like it. All of them are attuned to the same cultural pulsar, as distant as it is familiar, as relentless as it is indifferent.

Interesting stuff, that.

Cooder is either begging for a Greenie or wanting me to head to bed. I have not yet acomplished my daily reading goal of an hour a day, so I will say good night.

DELUSIONAL?


I know, lots of cat pictures. Some of you will disagree, but I do not think I am a crazy cat lady. I know better than to have more than two. And although I have some cat artificats, I try to eschew anything too cute. Who knows? Perhaps this is just another self-image issue about which I am delusional.

Meanwhile, still not feeling well, worst day in a couple, although I am giantly grooving to the dulcet sounds of Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe and his Nigerian Soundmakers. (Here's a link if you want to download and hear for yourself.)

My cats are sitting around me looking expectantly but I have no idea at what. Unless they are focussed on getting more Greenies Treats. Cooder has a significant addiction problem here. It is a bit hard to deny her because she is old and cute and her Greenies days are numbered. Maybe they think it is bedtime. I just figure I won't sleep even if I head in that direction, but perhaps I can do some more reading.

Somehow, in my stupor, I ended up making biscuits from scratch, two pizzas, and baked another batch of those sour cream-lime cookies. And then made too much orange-toasted coconut frosting so that there is quite a bit left over. I managed to only eat two.

Sorry I am nattering and thank you for bearing with me. I am somewhat absent-minded.

The next Tom Bissell essay is about the making of a film in his hometown. The article muses on the divide between the Movie People and the townsfolk, as well as small town versus big city life. I feel I escaped a kind of small town, although it was really more of mindless LA suburban sprawl.

In a small town, success is the simplest arithmetic there is. To achieve it, you leave—then subsequently bore your new big-city friends with accounts of your narrow escape. Indeed, when I was younger, I felt certain that what kept small-town people in their small towns was some tragic deficiency.



Olive oil, lemon thyme, black pepper, roasted squash, havarti, and parmesan pizza.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WHAT FAITH THEN

The shadow knows.

Well, the evening should be over and I should be ready to sleep about now, but that is not the case.

I felt somewhat crappy again today, after not being able to sleep last night, again. I did some of my usual tasks but had to take a long nap this afternoon. I should just be thankful that my mood is relatively good, even if my health isn't.

No cooking needed to be done today, thanks to all we had accomplished in the last couple of days. I finished off the ginger-garlic-chicken soup which just got better each day. And between M, E, C, and I, we polished off the first round of cookies.

One of the books on the list of 10-best-books-that-weren't-on-all-the-lists-but-should-have-been was a collection of essays, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation by Tom Bissell. (N.B., I have not read the review linked here.) I always think I am going to read essays and I really want to, but I rarely actually get down to business and discipline of doing it, given that I am so susceptible to the siren call of narrative fiction. But I had gotten this one out of the library and thought I should at least start it to see if I was going to put it on my endless Amazon wishlist for that moment I now know is no longer coming when I would have money and time to read everything that my little heart and brain desires.

I love it. The first essay is about discovering and reprinting great books that have been overlooked in the canon, and what a crapshoot chance it is that a writer will get any notice at all ever. Excellent essay!

Sidebar: I remember well all the books that were sitting around houses in my childhood: The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins, Mandingo, Lolita, Moloka'i (recently back in print), View from Pompey's Head by Hamilton Basso (actually quite good), Man in the Grey Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson, etc. When I can, I love to troll through the stacks of the library looking for treasures and then reading them. It was thusly, looking through the Y section at the Santa Fe Springs Library about 20 years ago, that I came across and read Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road and Eleven Kinds of Loneliness. I was quite surprised when Revolutionary Road was made into a film 10 or 15 years later. And I am a huge huge fan of The New York Review of Books reprints. I've read about 10 or 15 of them and only one was too arcane for me to finish. (The Pilgrim HawkThe Mangan InheritanceThe Summer BookThe Dud Avocado, etc.)

So, Bissell's first quite readable and enjoyable first essay, Unflowered Aloes, (published in 2000) discussed his part in getting Paula Fox's Desperate Characters back into print. (I had, by the by, found a copy in the '70s or '80s in a thrift store and read it). Whitman, Melville, and Dickinson also had a star-crossed path into literary immortality, as it turns out. Faulkner was a drunken Hollywood hack five years before he won the Nobel Prize for literature. Interesting stuff.

What then, do we have to thank for the survival of American literature's three greatest figures? Remaindered copies bought from book peddlers? A man, sitting at his desk, an oxidized copy of a forgotten novel beside him, cobbling together an essay with no idea of what it would accomplish. The lovely devotion of solitary women and men. Essays published at the right time, in the right journals or books, noticed by the right people. Clearly, these are not the props of fate. They are, rather, the stagecraft of chance.

The comfort we take in these writers' survival is undercut by some quietly nagging questions: How many novels did Carl Van Doren's hand pass over to find Moby-Dick? How many poets' work sits moldering in New England attic trunks, no one having lobbied on its behalf. 

And the closing paragraph:

What faith, then, can the poet or novelist place in his or her work's survival? Is literary destiny simply yet another god that failed? Although I know what I now believe, I hope I am wrong. Nevertheless, I cannot help but imagine that literature is an airplane, and we are passengers on it. One might assume that behind the flimsy accordion doors sit pilots of skill and accomplishment. But the cockpit is empty. It has always been empty. The controls are abandoned. One needs only to touch them to know how mutable our course.




Monday, January 21, 2013

WHERE DO YOU PUT THE PENGUINS?


"The ice melts, where do you put the penguins?"
— Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue


That kind of describes the employment landscape for many of my cohort.

Cooder enjoying freshly pressed pillowcases.

































So, I FINALLY started knitting something again. Yep, pulled out the blue wool I unknitted and started on a scarf. M, E, and I are watching The Beasts of the Southern Wild and it is a little too compelling to allow me to get the hang of a knitting a(n easy) lace stich, so I will put it aside. But I haven't even tried to knit anything in a couple of years. So, baby steps here.

It is snowing, but only a powdered sugar dusting thus far. Predictions have us at 16 degrees tonight. I hope Cooder is in a cuddly mood. She is sitting by desk, presently, very expectantly. Could be the food bowl upstairs is empty.

I don't feel as well today as I did yesterday. Lower energy. Sneezing frequently. Runny nose. The beginnings of what I hope is not a nasty cough. And my voice has dropped about an octave. I didn't sleep very well last night and still arose at a reasonable hour, thinking I would nap. But nap I did not. By the time I wound down enough to doze, going to bed early seemed the better plan. More sleeping  medication. At least the splitting headache did not occur last night (nor tonight).

I finished John Schwartz's Oddly Normal and I do not recommend it for the general reader. For my money, Schwartz's narrative and sense of the dramatic do not add up to a compelling read. He is a journalist, after all, and the professional detachment does not serve what is supposedly a memoir. This is not to say the book is without merit, but it is without pleasure.

Sidebar: For those keeping score, I am up to six books completed in 2013. Although I wouldn't say I was "getting into" Telegraph Avenue, I am making progress and not miserable. I found it a companionable narrative for

Making cookies! The first batch I can remember making in about a very long time. Just now, I remembered that I made some when I lived on 17th Street in Brooklyn and that must have been around 2007. It was the sugar cookie recipe my mom started making when she was in the seventh grade, about 1940.


At any rate, there was sour cream in the refrigerator that was likely to go bad unless put to some (debatedly? debatable?) better use. And in the spirit of using food supplies, I used up some citrus as well. The cookies were (are?) sour cream-lime-toasted coconut with orange-toasted coconut buttercream frosting. And, in a rare fit of sanity, I only made about three dozen, freezing the rest of the dough. If I baked them all, M, E, and I would likely have to eat them all, thus ruining our campaign to come down off of all the holiday sugar.

Back to Joe's War and the astonishing perfidy of the Allies. I really did not know how terribly Czechoslovakia, pretty much the star democracy of pre-WWII Europe had been thrown to the wolves that were Hitler and his henchmen. (This next quote actually reminds me of the current economic climate and Wall Street banker/corporations.)

Edvard Beneš was the second president of Czechoslovakia in the 20th Century. This was what he had to say two days after Chamberlain and Daladier, primarily, sold the country down the Styx:


It was not Hitler who defeated us but our friends. . . . In spite of everything . . . I believe in the ideals of democracy and humanity. True, in many ways, I have been disappointed. I have been wrong. I have now come to realize that the big powers and great nations, even in the present times, do not consider small states and small nations. They treat them as they find it convenient at the moment.
. . . It is a hard decision, to accept the conditions and save the country, or go to war and be massacred . . . we can retreat without losing honour and prestige, preserve the state, and hold, as it were a mortage against the western states . . . waiting . . . for a future accounting. This will certainly come, for the big powers have not solved anything by sacrificing Czechoslovakia, and events will go on. 

Almost halfway finished with this book; it is a long one.

Many sneezes and a runny nose later, I should to bed.

I tried to get a photo of Emmylou but she still won't stay still.










Sunday, January 20, 2013

WHY, WE'RE ONLY BEGINNING

Reservoir woods.1
I still haven't gotten all the way around to even writing down my New Years' Resolutions, but still, I have a couple figured out, besides reading a book a week (doing well in that department, being through four already and a quarter of the way through Telegraph Avenue). Let's see, um ... daily flossing (c'mon, few of you do this), making pie crusts from scratch, 30 minute walks three times a week ... and reading at least one short story a week.

Reservoir woods.2
Being in the house of books, I had been intrigued by Story: The Fiction of the Forties, edited by White Burnett and Hallie Burnett, Dutton, New York, 1949. Some of you might remember the late, lamented Story Magazine. I decided to just start at the beginning and read through to the end. The first story is by Evelyn Gustafsson, about whom I could find nothing on the internets. The story is titled The Open-Minded Pagleighs and is about young peeps following trends (published in 1947). I liked this paragraph.

"The primitive turn of modern art is suited to the vigorous morning air of American culture," Michael said suddenly. He stood up, smiling, and moved his arms in an expressive, un-Bostonian way. "Why, we're only beginning," he went on. "It's a magnificent, fabulous age. Consider the American idiom, Brooklynese, the new architecture, the modern highways, the flood of American invention, the contagious feeling of motion and flow! Even, if you please, our corporations! Say what you like, corporations get things done!"

Reservoir woods.3

A WORN OUT PLACE?

This one will be a little bit better. Whatever the illness is, it comes with a nightly splitting headache. I think I get some points for perserving with a post under that condition. But between that and J finally getting home exhausted and wired, it wasn't easy to think or write. I had to resort to visualization to get rid of the pain and fall asleep. Alleve and some sleeping meds ensured that I'd actually conk out.

Was at UNICEF the other week. Here's the UN.
So, I was up at 8:00 and got out of bed, notwithstanding the lure of more cuddling head purring from Cooder. I knew the kitchen had not been cleaned up last night, nor the dishwasher emptied and I know that M appreciates a clean kitchen. I am listening to Michael Chabon's latest, Telegraph Avenue, read by Clark Peters (The Wire, Treme), which I am not as crazy about as that linked review is. But I love Peters' voice and it is interesting to analyze what I do and don't like about Chabon's writing.

Sidebar:  Chabon overwrites and is too wordy. And this from someone who loves Proust. But there is much more depth in Proust's long sentences and detailed descriptions. That said, Chabon certainly  has a terrific ability to nail a great phrase and if I remember any, I will post some here.

So, the house is still asleep. And I am about to attempt to get back to some of the tasks left hanging when I retreated to as much sleep as possible. I need to roast a turkey breast today as well as finish my prep work with Iris and spend some quality time with Apple working on my poor laptop.

The sky is blue and only patchy snow remains on the ground. I had the family room door open for a half hour or so to let in some fresh air. My mom tells me we are looking at a fierce cold snap in the next few days, so I should get out while the getting is good. When it gets to 9 degrees, I doubt that I will want to venture out at all.


Visited with the ever-entertaining Cosmo also.

P.S. I drank coffee for the first time in days and am consequently severely wired. I was going to wash my sheets, but would you interrupt this?


Or, for that matter, this? Notice gigantic difference in sleeping styles. 





Here's another of the poems I posted.

THINGS SHOULDN’T BE SO HARD
A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space —
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn’t
be so hard.
—  Kay Ryan, from The Niagara River, Grove/Atlantic, 2005

Saturday, January 19, 2013

IT WON'T BE LONG

This one won't be long. I have a terrible headache. Just took some pain relievers, but it hasn't kicked in yet.

Meanwhile, I did manage to get up after extra hours of sleep. I am just tired of being in bed and being undressed. I got up at 6:00 or so, even though I didn't sleep so well last night. I organized the kitchen, made coffee for M, and then headed back to the couch for about four hours.

After watching some tv, I decided I needed to get out of the house. I went to Trader Joe's and then came home with a vision of cooking ginger-garlic-chicken soup. It took awhile for me to get that accomplished. I made another soup with leftover vegetables, but then didn't really feel like eating either one.

So ouch and good night.

Friday, January 18, 2013

ON DER COUCH

No photos today unless I pull something out of the old files. And not on this laptop as I cannot find my photo library. That reminds me I still haven't had the energy or mind to call Apple.

Yes, I have been sick. So far none of the up and out projectile sorts of problems, although I was a little bit worried about that yesterday. About 5:00 p.m., I had a terrific headache and a queasy stomach. I took some meds and went to bed and slept for the better part of 13 hours, which means I woke up from time to time, but went back to sleep. I've spent the day mostly drowsing, checking in with the tv every once in awhile (okay, a few hours worth of watching), and some reading. I put Joe's War aside in favor of Oddly Normal: One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with his Sexuality. That title is much too long. I am reading it because I was at the 40th birthday party of the author. It is not making me particularly happy to read.

So, I am here on the couch, as I find sleeping in the same place for too long even more boring and depressing. M and E went out to see The Silver Linings Playbook. Might have been fun, but I don't want to get any sicker. So I have also cancelled my plans to go Brooklyn for the weekend. :-( I did want to go.

I'm going to watch Downton Abbey on line. Perfect for a sick person! I'll check in soon.!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

EVERYONE CRAWLS BEFORE FLIGHT

Front yard and street this morning.
I haven't felt all that well today. I certainly want to avoid the flu that has been going around, so I have taken lots of zinc (which seems to work for me) and staid in my pjs all day.

I just don't feel like sitting up, although when in I lie down, I think of all the things I should be doing. I did manage to doze a few times, but never fell all the way asleep. That might be a good sign, as I did not have one of those fevered naps. And I hope to go so sleep fairly soon (it's 8:40 p.m.) now.

I spent most of the day reading Joe's War: My Father Decoded by Annette Kobak. It's a long book, but I made good progress. My understanding of the annexation of the Sudetenland was woefully thin. Truthfully, my knowledge of modern European history is not all that deep. And it is interesting. Perfidy all around, as far as I can see. I also learned that Hitler was not Hitler's actual surname, according to Kobak, it was Schicklgruber, which is far less resonant and easy to remember.

We had snow last night. Neither E nor I got dressed or went out today. I did rally to buy tickets to see Emmylou Harris with Rodney Crowell and the Richard Thompson Band at the Beacon Theater on my birthday. Woo-hoo! Martha is coming along. 

Two hours later and what has been accomplished? I found another computer problem with my laptop and will get to spend more time with Apple tomorrow! The rest is a blur.

The backyard in snow.

First morning I have come down to kitchen table without seeing The New York Times! The weather must be bad.





But I did compose another installment of Poem of the Week and will enclose one here.


Off Lows, Weakness Remains: 

Meditation #3
by Susan Briante

In the PartyStore/PierOne/Target/Kohls parking lot
find a desert willow among the shopping carts,

walk around it sunwise repeating:



        I am the avant-garde,
I am the avant-garde, I am 
           the avant-garde


repeating:



        DIY, DIY, DIY



Imagine a chart of median family incomes as big as 
   the parking lot--

use it to determine where to abandon your car.


        I default, I default, I default



Your mind is a blood blister rising on your thumb, 
   a ladybug.

Among these shopping carts, you fortress. Among 
   plastic bags you affirm:


Lo! the light from desert trees does not speak in 
   numbers, costs us nothing.

Here, as in a butterfly garden, everyone crawls 
   before flight.

Copyright © 2013 by Susan Briante. Used without permission of the author.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

RELATIVE TO TRUTH

"Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin."

--Barbara Kingsolver,
American novelist, essayist and poet 


Hmm, that kind of nails where my mind is this morning. In my last two sessions with K, I have stumbled onto profoundly resonant emotional places that do seem key to self-understanding. Those of you who have tread in the murky waters of therapy will know the feelings that arise when you hit the not-so-funny bone of a deeply guarded and tender spot. 

For those of you who haven't experienced it, well, maybe it feels like coming down with a flu: you feel bad, your consciousness, alertness, is underwater. Everything you do feels at worst like a struggle and at best like a hassle. Things like crossing the street safely are a challenge. That feeling when you go into a room and then can't remember what you went to do or get? All the time. Cotton brain, or at least cheesecloth brain. 

The neurons that fire to make you be you are boinging off into other directions. You are being destroyed and/or reconstructed. And it generally hurts, although sometimes it is just a feeling of discomfort or disorientation.

After some time, and on another note, one of the great things about working from home is having the pets about. Cooder is getting to that stage where she wants to be near me as much as possible, so she is sleeping on the back of the nearby couch (conveniently still strewn with visitor bedding).





Monday, January 14, 2013

SOMETHING A PERSON NEEDED TO DO

The proof of any art’s lasting value is a comprehensive emotional necessity: it’s something that a person needed to do and which awakens and satisfies corresponding needs in us.  
Peter Schjeldhal, Shape of Things: The Birth of the Abstract
Read the rest here.

Well, I read that days ago. And I am not possessed of enough consciousness to write a proper post, but I don't want to get out of the habit entirely.

I was in Brooklyn and Manhattan quite a bit last week, and somehow did not find or carve out the time and mindspace to reflect or even report on the week's activities. 

Now, I am back in Brewster, with a few work related items on my to do list, so this will be short.

Kittehs are swell. Cooder is ready for me to come to bed. Emmylou is entertaining on the home front with her "throw-all-discretion-to-the-wind" way of sprawling while she sleeps. 

I would that I slept that deeply and well.

One of her more subdued poses.
And to that end, I am going to take this cycle of tiredness to try to get to sleep earlier than my current usual.

I'll be back.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

AND THEN YOU SEE THE CLOUDS

Der home in dis weather.

So soup weather, right? It's 19 degrees again here tonight. Yesterday, I made this Spicy Tomato Soup. It went so fast, I decided to try a variation with some of the frozen yellow tomatoes I "put up" this summer. Quite good, but the original was bettah ...



M and I are determined to eating healthily again. This soup was not very hard to do and relatively low in calories. For sure I am not buring many as I can barely make myself go outside in this weather. (I did drive to the market to restock seltzer water as M and I live on it.)

I had a kind of frustrating day as I had computer problems, access of several kinds, and could not really settle down to work nor my "to do" list. I did make some progress on organizing my room which has some items that have been undealt with ... wait ... isn't there one word that would better describe that? Neglected? Ignored. I think undealtwith ought to be a compound word we all use. At any rate, I did make some progress. 

(Parenthetically, check out this article on 20 words from the English language we ought to bring back.

Tomorrow, I have to get ready for a 3 night trip down to the city. I hope to catch up with some folks (one of the B's, JV and MM, and ?) as well as attend MSS's father's memorial on Monday. Then I am back here for a night (Tuesday) and gone again for Wednesday and Thursday nights. Busy. Busy. Busy. I hope it warms up a degree or so.

Meanwhile, E's bf, C, is still here. This evening he paid me a sweet compliment, thanking me for the instruction in food and music. That's pretty much where I live, right? 



And then you see the clouds.

And here's the first Poem of the Week of the year.



POPPIES

There is a sadness everywhere present
but impossible to point to, a sadness that hides in the world
and lingers. You look for it because it is everywhere.
When you give up, it haunts your dreams
with black pepper and blood and when you wake
you don’t know where you are.

But then you see the poppies, a disheveled stand of them.
And the sun shining down like God, loving all of us equally,
mountain and valley, plant, animal, human, and therefore
shouldn’t we love all these things equally back?
And then you see the clouds.

The poppies are wild, they are only beautiful and tall
so long as you do not cut them,
they are like the feral cat who purrs and rubs against your leg
but will scratch you if you touch back.
Love is letting the world be half-tamed.
That’s how the rain comes, softly and attentively, then

with unstoppable force. If you
stare upwards as it falls, you will see
they are falling sparks that light nothing only because
the ground interrupts them. You hear the way they’d burn,
the smouldering sound they make falling into the grass.

That is sound for the sadness everywhere present.
The closest you have come to seeing it
is at night, with the window open and the lamp on,
when the moths perch on the white walls,
tiny as a fingernail to large as a Gerbera daisy,
and take turns agitating around the light.

If you grasp one by the wing,
its pill-sized body will convulse
in your closed palm and you can feel the wing beats
like an eyelid’s obsessive blinking open to see.
But now it is still light and the blackbirds are singing
as if their voices are the only scissors left in this world.

  Jennifer Grotz, from The New England Review