Sunday, November 30, 2014


It certainly feels cold today. We had sun for a short while. I was hopeful that the snow would melt enough to drive, but no. And my back is not up to shoveling, I don’t think. I have moving to do this week, and I needn’t cause myself further stress by injuring myself further.

The back is better today, although I already pushed my limit. I am now back in rest mode, with Cooder here on the bed with me. I’ve been watching Richard Attenborough’s film biography of Charlie Chaplin starring Robert Downey, Jr. It expires on Netflix tomorrow, so I thought I would give it a go, given my affection for RD. As good as he is, the film is so ham-handed and obviously written, I do not recommend it, even though Downey is superb. Chaplin has been of interest to me since I was a child (and we know that was a while ago). My mother read his autobiography when it came out and I started reading it then, too. It is a terrific book, highly recommended.

The house grows quiet again. ECA headed back to Stonybrook to complete her last few weeks of college. BEA and KM are back on the train to Brooklyn. It is just the four of us again. J will be a least a bit relieved that he can play guitar more comfortably in the family room. M can get out of the kitchen for a bit and maybe even get some reading time.

I would likely be depressed if i allowed myself the life overview, but I am not following those mental paths. I'm just resting my back and resisting the urge to eat more cheesecake. The consumption engine is wound up and revving loudly. Perhaps this is another reason people are so eager to shop after Thanksgiving; the pump is primed for more more more, be it food or goods. 

I think I need some tea.

A re-cleaned kitchen and cup of tea later ... I was just thinking about Mark Strand's death ... and even more about his poetry. Alas, for the moment all of my poetry books are packed up in storage, so I cannot root around there for something special. I am thrown back on my internet resources ... which include a site where an electronic voice will do a very poor reading for you. In the New York Times obit, they included this poem which I did not know, but it is a good one, and seems somehow particularly good for me as I make another step in another direction.


In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Keeping myself whole is rather my task, no? If we could all be whole, keep ourselves whole, and lend a hand to others' wholeness, well, we'd be in a much better situation in this world. Like maybe the polar ice cap would be whole, too. And thanks to all of you for reading this and for the other ways you help keep me whole.

This really helps keep me whole.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


My iPhone won’t cut it on this so you’ll just have to trust me. A morning of settling fog, the last brilliant orange gold of a tree, almost alone in foliage save for a yellow straggler or two, and just behind the trees, two white horses, each in a green blanket graze as if  more than this, there is nothing. Mystical beauty.

Which is nice because I am gearing up for the moving battle again. Sigh. But I do get some coffee and focus before I really get going. If not for sleeping medication, it would have been a night for battling dementors, and there was some thrashing and gnashing before I conked out. Nor did I sleep in that deep and distant way that leaves one refreshed and all carpe-diem-y. But it will do.

Days later. I started this on the 12th and now it is the 17th. The aforementioned tree has lost all of its leaves. Winter is walking in, in the form of a sleety, thoroughly grey day. And AKA is baking in the kitchen. 

I'm struggling. Yes, so what else is new? I'm trying not to focus on fear and panic and just keep moving. And I go back to the "hurry sickness" idea and, not so much slow down, as try to focus and be more mindful of what I am doing at any given time.

And now it is the 29th more golden leaves on any trees. There's snow covering the ground. Hopefully, it will melt enough tomorrow for me to be able to drive my car. I've been in the house pretty much since Wednesday. 

Tuesday evening, however, Albert and I took a long walk as I knew the snow was coming and that houseboundness was bound to happen. The sunset was spectacular, but the photographs do not do it justice.

One day last week, I had just pulled into the driveway and was talking on the 'phone before I went it (better reception where I was). I saw a movement come around the far side of the house. It was a fox. It was rather scraggly; I had to look closely to see it had an excellent tail. It sauntered across the driveway, stopped to lift its leg on a tree (did not know foxes did that) and comfortably mad its way across the lawn, the street (stopping some traffic) and headed up the hill.

A day or two later, I was standing at the kitchen sink, looking out into the little wooded area behind the garage where the cardinals and other birds live. I looked up into the tree and had to do a double take and get J to come look. There was an abnormally large bird, possibly an owl. J confirmed that it was not one of the usual side yard suspects. It was a Cooper's hawk. I saw the pair of them again, farther down the street while walking Albert.

Thanksgiving was really nice, very small with just family and me. The food was excellent and we all ate too much, of course. AKA was a veritable whirlwind in the kitchen, making tarts, pies, cornbread, brussels sprouts, lentil loaf, KILLER CRANBERRY JALAPENO RELISH (cannot recommend highly enough) and who knows what else. We had a surfeit of desserts, and I think there are three pumpkin pies still untouched. Danielle made some pumpkin snickerdoodles and some truffles that were out of this world ...

As my cooking skills were not particularly needed, I worked on the clean-up crew. It rather soothes me anyway, and makes me feel as if something is being accomplished. 

So, I know I have been very quiet, and yes, I have been down, but mostly out of frustration that my job won't pay me and I really need the money. They finally sent some, but it was a bit of a struggle. They still owe me a more than twice as much. I was very very upset about it. I still would be, but I just don't want to focus on it.

And then last night, while getting Thanksgiving 2 on the table, I wrenched my back rather badly. That's something I really haven't done before. Welcome to getting older. Today, I mostly rested as prescribed but I hope I am feeling up to moving around more tomorrow. I should have been reading the first volume of Caro's LBJ biography for my book group, but instead I watched a pretty good Danish tv series, Dicte, (very good female characters if somewhat formulaic as a mystery) and some rather depressing BBC thing. Southcliffe. The family watched The Babadook this evening.

So, that's kind of that. I'm in a rather vacant state, perhaps in a bit of denial about everything, or just weary and worn out from fretting and stress. The arrival of really cold weather likely adds to the disorientation and need for readjustment. But it will be okay.

M made up a guest bed, and look who thought they were honored guests.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I am well aware that one cannot second guess a cat’s reason for where it chooses to sleep, as this, of course, has been well-documented. But I do wonder why Emmylou chooses to sleep at the top of the stairs. Perhaps it is because she can see me through the crack in the nearby door. More likely because it is a crossroads and gives her many options of where to go. Cooder prefers the pillows, or the end of the bed near the window, or, when it is cold, under the dresser where the heating vent blows.

Later that same day.

I started this day in a fairly philosophical okay mood and now I am in another frustration funk. Some of it has to to with accounting for the company I tweet for. There seems to be quite a discrepancy between what I think they owe me and what they think they owe me, and it takes a lot of forensic bookkeeping to figure it all out. Rage, rage against the dying of the ... ? sane and secure? Regular income?

Perhaps getting out of the house for awhile will change my mood. I have mostly been home for days, although Albert and I did go for a good walk yesterday. 

And then, goodnight ...

Dialing down the anxiety. A couple of posts back, I quoted something about hurry sickness. I've tried to be aware of that common state of being. I know I have to be careful to not fall into my delusional passive/avoidance world, either. Methinks this is the inbetween area of breathing deeply, being in the now, and moving forward as best and as reasonably as one can. And you can feel like you are hurrying even when you are not doing a damn thing. And that I would call counterproductive.

Wish us luck with the "life belongings shuffle" tomorrow. I do feel a bit as if I am stepping off a cliff and  I am a bit scared about the future, near and far, but so far, no dementor problem. 

I went looking for some poetic solace, but the usual suspects are all packed up and awaiting transport to storage. There are only a few books left here, but one of them, (which I am considering letting go of) is Phil Cosineau's Prayers at 3 a.m.: Poems, Songs, Chants, and Prayers for the Middle of the Night. This gave me a soft shot of solace and comfort: 

  September 18th

... This morning I woke at four and lay awake for an hour or so in a bad state. It is raining again. I got up finally and went about the daily chores, waiting for the sense of doom to lift—and what did it was watering the house plants. Suddenly joy came back because I was fulfilling a simple need, a living one. Dusting never has this effect (and that may be why I am such a poor housekeeper!), but feeding the cats when they are hungry, giving Punch clean water, makes me feel calm and happy.

Whatever peace I know rests in the natural world, in feeling myself a part of it, even in a small way .... To to with, not against the elements, an inexhaustible vitality summoned back each day to do the same tasks, to feed the animals, clean out barns and pens, keep that complex world alive.

— May Sarton, Journal of A Solitude

Sometimes, it is hard to refocus and remember where one really is. Those real but perhaps momentarily extraneous anxieties end up being the whole road and not just something that needs to be regarded, remembered for later safety, but stepped over right now. I get a kind of "ant mentality" where pebbles seem like rocks or boulders. 

But that "feeling myself a part of it" is very challenging when you are looking for work and looking for your place in the world, when there is no fall back, hunker down position that feels right or safe. Fortunately, a book at hand can pull you back out into the larger world. 

I need to learn how to do headstands again, but that was always good for re-orienting and re-energizing the world.