Saturday, April 30, 2011
Yesterday, in the startling presence of morning sun, I decided to lure them outside for the day by carrying their bowls across the backyard to the picnic table, and once they figured out where I was headed, they leapt up to the table in nearly a single fluid motion. Clearly these animals are of the same filial unit, and have moved through their existence instinctually aware of each other's every heartbeat.
What does this speak of those with whom we share our most intimate selves? All of us are but pieces of a larger living, breathing organism. We move about each day with our exits, our entrances, our conversations, our patient silences, our trusting shared slumbers. Blind, perhaps, to the possibility of termination. If we did allow this notion to enter into consciousness, the ensuing despair could quite possibly be our doom.
Or one could just shut down, shut out, turn off. No emotion, no empathy. No life worth living.
I choose the life worth living.
This life, right here, right now.
And now it's time to feed those cats.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Melinda's new line knocks my socks off -- and apparently also everyone else's socks, because the reactions to the first sets of orders shipped have been incredible. For me, these pieces capture the hazy heat of an August afternoon somewhere deep inside a forest, a hidden glade, a sanctuary. We're still waiting for the pro photos, alas. Any day!
And now this....
The other day, I was painting, and made some kind of movement which caused a paintbrush to flip up nearly to the ceiling and land about five feet behind me, tucked neatly behind the wing of a (decorative) crow:
This moment of flight & subsequent landing seemed like an omen, or something holy -- we have yet to remove the paintbrush.
What is the symbolism here? The metaphor?
Not sure if my brain is ready to receive this message, but perhaps the universe is calling out to me.....
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Papers served yesterday.
Today's vocabulary words (just two):
Hateful to me as are the gates of hell, Is he who, hiding one thing in his heart, Utters another. --Homer
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The joy of anticipation was as good as the anticipation of Christmas from a child's perspective. Our paternal grandfather emigrated from New Ross, Ireland, in (I believe) 1912, and only one sister other than me has visited the country of our ancestors. I'm fortunate to possess dual citizenship. For this last Christmas, in anticipation of this journey, I created for my sisters a hand-bound, hand-sewn ten-copy edition of a chapbook, Fiddlehead, Heron: Notes from Carrowholly. It contains photographs from one of the most magical places on earth -- a place wherein resides a large portion of my heart -- as well as journal notes from my many visits there.
I wished for a blue-speckled eggshell
to place at the feet of Our Lady of Flotsam.
The previous June, in a hazelnut copse I’d found one,
but it’d disappeared since our last visit here.
And I hadn't a clue where I'd find another;
So this afternoon, when Paul called out,
There's an eggshell on the patio,
No! It's a snail shell!
(Thinking it was the leftover bits
from a sparrow’s treat.)
T., I know a bird shell from a snail shell!
He was right:
not an apparition
but a perfect half-shell, blue & speckled,
amidst scattered seed.
Not fallen from a tree,
because there is no tree in the yard.
It's as if a bird was doing an exchange:
shell for seed.
The universe was granting my request—
Not a miracle, but a gift.
Upon the shattering news I received three weeks ago, this trip fell apart. No longer staying in the property owned by my husband, two sisters were forced to cancel. I can no longer afford to take time off from work. Two other sisters are still going, but on a very different itinerary. This trip of a lifetime -- five sisters stepping back in time to embrace a long-sought heritage -- is off.
I'm not seeking sympathy here -- my trips to Eire have been numerous and replete with generosity. But the cruelty in this decisive blow on the part of one person, the capability to throw what seems like a single stone into a pond, and create a tidal wave of consequences -- is profoundly disturbing.
I don't know what else to say except that my heart -- that 300 gram muscle pumping life through this human husk -- continues to shatter.
More from Fiddlehead, Heron:
I wonder, when it rains hard here
and all the low bogland and shallow fields
fill with water, if suddenly on ordnance maps
there appears additional evidence of lakes and ponds?
Over-spilling, and everywhere the constantly
changing sky reflected on the surface of the earth.
There is a beach several coves away
where broken pottery washes up—nothing
particularly special—cheap plates flung to bits.
Beautiful in their disarray, every year more,
and I gather pocketsful and place them
on my kitchen sill. But flung from where,
and by whom? A deceived wife in splintered rage?
Fallen from a boat in a move from island to mainland?
Out of fashion teacups cast-off to sea?
My neighbor Pat tells of an elderly island man
whose body was strapped to a door
and towed to town behind a dingy when he died.
(There are 365 islands in Clew Bay,
some as big as a wink.)
These shards remain a mystery.
I've put my requests out to the universe, which, though not without its gifts, remains ever a mystery.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Volume of Grief
How many cubic units must grief occupy?
And how to measure?
I'd suffer an umbral shadow
in a lunar eclipse, my aura rimmed
with a blistering bruise.
In cotton bales, I'd lumber
under kilo after kilo, mouth dry
as a foolscap-quad of paper sheets.
In hat sizes twenty gallon.
On the Glasgow Coma Scale:
If grief is measurable,
then it should be disposable,
like a broken bed, or a newspaper.
Burnable like a cord of wood,
expendable like wattage. Frittered away
like minutes and hours.
Walked away from, like the bad job.
Downed by the pint.
Shed like a pound.
Subtracted from, divided by.
© T. Clear
Monday, April 25, 2011
The vortex continues its all-consuming grip-- my cat has been at the vet for a week, and I don't know if she'll come home. And now my son just informed me tonight he needs surgery. Cat: surgery. Son: surgery. Too much, is what I say.
My question: if I go to the Southern Hemisphere, where centrifugal force moves in a direction opposite to that here in the Northern Hemisphere, can I possibly slow things down enough to enable me to step away from this ever-compounding chaos?
It's certainly worth a try.
Meanwhile the world spins on.
Spring is ridiculously hesitant in Seattle this year, weeks behind the expected relief of flowers in bloom. Morning dawns with a winter chill, and the rain just seems to go on forever. I hunch into the wind on my walk to work, a leopard-print umbrella offering meager protection.
I love my job.
We are hustling orders out the door,
and reorders trickle in steadily.
I crack the whip whenever there's a pause in production.
This afternoon while we painted, we listened -- on YouTube -- to Wanda Sykes and George Carlin. How can one fail to find cheer and optimism in laughter?
The brain is easily distracted, and for that I am grateful.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Dancing at work while making photomasks, eating chocolate and drinking plum vodka. (Thursday Happy Hour.)
And damn, did we hustle.
It's not all bad.
But it's not all good either.
Mostly, it's not good.
It's a minute-at-a-time slog.
It's anger, betrayal, rage.
It's a loss of faith and trust.
Fragile, tender things, those.
May you show kindness to everyone you meet,
and may they extend that kindness in return.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
2. On Monday, I changed my email password, and Comcast promptly blocked access to me from even their site -- I could log onto any other internet site except Comcast.
3. On Wednesday, I called Rite-Aid to have my Rx transferred, and upon giving my name and birthdate, was told that they have no record in their computer system of my ever having purchased a prescription from them. (Despite the fact that I was holding one of my Rx bottles in my hand, with Rite Aid printed clearly across the top.)
4. My computer died, and when I finally pulled my warranty out of one of the many boxes I hastily packed upon vacating my home, saw that the warranty had expired the day before. When I called Apple and gave them my name and warranty #, I was told that there was no such warranty or name in their system.
The good news is that I'm the squeakiest of squeaky wheels, and after an hour on the tech support line with B of A, I convinced them to release my -- my!-- records.
After an hour and a half on the phone with Comcast, we/they managed to allow me access to their site and my account, for which I pay honest $$ every month.
Rite Aid finally confirmed my existence, but only with a single outdated prescription, and then proceeded to fill it with 2/3 less than the amount I paid for, which required a second trip to the store.
The customer service at Apple, though, was stellar. I pulled out all my saved cards, and allowed the goodwill of the universe to do its work, and they decided to grant me a grace period on the warranty. They not only fixed the technical issues, the also replaced cracked keyboard parts, cleaned it up, and charged me zilch. Apple for life.
My cat is spending night #2 at the vet with a perplexing and unable-to-diagnose condition, and I awoke yesterday morning to blood all over this play-house apartment.
But the piece de resistance in this scenario? It's what I christen the new "F" word: foreclosure. After spending two hours on the phone with a mortgage counselor, I've been informed there is not enough, the ratio is in the deficit, there is less than, it expires soon, etc. etc., and I better start getting ready for the inevitable.
And so the circus side-show that is my life continues.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.
A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.
Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
But the betes noires claw at it ceaselessly and howl well past midnight, the bastards.
The cruelty of the world knocks me to the ground.
Be kind, to those you love
and those that you no longer love.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Perhaps subconsciously setting my heels against the oncoming rumble of these monstrous boulders tumbling against my back.
Descending rapidly into the full chaos. [Thanks to Melinda for that one.]
Monday, April 11, 2011
The Quangle Wangle's Hat, below,
resides inside my skull at the moment;
and the Blue Baboon, and the Pobble who has no toes,
and the Dong with the luminouse nose and everyone/everything else
in this poem are in there clacking and jangling
and otherwise creating their own hullaballoo
resulting in a condition known as Bedlam of the Brain.
Without further ado:
The Quangle Wangle's Hat
--by Edward Lear
On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
The Quangle Wangle said
But there came to the Crumpetty Tree,
And besides, to the Crumetty Tree
And the Golden Grouse came there,
And the Quangle Wangle said
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I admit to a general neglect of my garden, having lived elsewhere these past years. Actually, it's a full-on neglect with English ivy run amok, thorny sprouts from the neighbor's locust tree popping up in too many places, blackberry vines clearly in control of it all.
My neighbor had just listed a nice queen sized bed on Craig's List -- hot deal -- and I snatched it up immediately. Here's a glimpse of its journey:
I'd wanted to get a shot of them walking down the middle of the street but by the time I noticed them, dropped the clippers, shed the gloves, fished the iPhone from my pocket (two, three seconds) they were already stepping up to the parking strip. The sky was ready to let loose, but we tucked the mattress into an open slot in the basement just in time. A spot of drama.
But there's a rosebush I've been loyally pruning every March for twenty-four years -- a bush with the most perfect coral blossoms -- keeping it in check even during the neglectful years. And this year I'm late with it all, and for the first time I discovered that it's actually a climbing rose who has never had to opportunity to climb. It isn't what I've thought it was, all this time. (Oh, those metaphors keep popping their little reminders into my consciousness, don't they?) But these immediate times being what they are, it got lopped yet again. Planning on a transplant next March.
Watched a silly Queen Latifah movie with C., piled on her sofa with the dog and assorted cats and a bottle of wine. Happy ending, etc., no terminal disease after all, she gets the man/the man gets her. She kept saying that she couldn't figure out if the setting was the French Alps or the Czech Republic, and I said, "Connie, the set(ting) is Hollywood." (And no, I didn't vocalize the parentheses, but that was my emphasis when I spoke.)
Perhaps this can all be just a movie?
I'm ready for the closing credits.
Morning is the advent of a pure and ill-wrought terror.
The same words from everyone: it will pass.
A minute went by.
I recall something the father of my first (and late) husband said to my chosen brother Tom as we were walking down the steps of the funeral home after the visitation (oh sweet jesus this was only a little more than eight years ago):
"I just got through another minute."
There went one more.
From Mary Oliver:
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.
I welcome grace, but for this moment, and, I expect, many still to come, there is only the heave.
Your comments are sustaining me. I don't have the energy to respond individually yet but know that I've read them time and again for the light they shine.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
My most overwhelmingly generous and kind friends Connie and Charlie have set me up in their duplex furnished apartment until the end of the month, two blocks from work, a cozy nest.
I placed my most treasured icons on the sill -- remnants from this life whose path has taken unexpected and zig-zagged switchbacks. Out of breath, this time. Gasping, too far above my accustomed personal sea level. Oxygen -- well, I could use a tank of it right about now. These altitudes contribute to a dizziness with every step, an inability to focus on the inexorable task of moving one foot in front of the other. It's all sludge. It's quicksand. It sucks. And it sucks.
While packing up today, I recall telling myself "now I am going to get some boxes so I can pack up the stuff in the bedroom" -- as I'd repeatedly attempted this task of box-fetching and failed. Speaking the words activated my brain, a direction, command to which I responded. My friend Robin commented on my organization as I labeled every box. Ha! My attempt at sanity included writing something -- anything -- on the top of each box. Funny, though, the categories kept shifting. What/where/who?
Distractions. A bit of my life here, a remnant of memory there, every step up and down recalling such sweet/now-bittersweet events, moments, dinners, the quiet holding that lovers indulge in, no words necessary.
And while I anticipated that my accumulated possessions would overfill the newly-vacated space in my Brandon Street house basement, there was space galore at the end, which felt good, cleansing, finally a clearing of all that I/we no longer need/want.
But blow upon blow: two of my paying renters have decided to give notice, young men that they are, not wanting (most understandingly) to live with a "mother". We roll and roll in these waves.
Yet it's a high and crushing surf.
And then there's scheming and more scheming: how to compound dollars to balance the crush, the deficit. I'm open to suggestions here. Rooms for rent!
But oh....the wreckage.
I am undone.
I am pretending.
And a glass of white Rhone wine makes everything better.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
On Monday morning, I left for work saying "goodbye, love you" to my best friend & husband, and arrived home that evening to an enemy. The marriage is ending. Relationships, children, lives -- complicated things. He wants me out of the house immediately.
It's yet another death, with the searing pain of rejection and abandonment heaped on top of it.
And of course it's not only the marriage, but the loss of his extended family, whom I love dearly. It's the loss of our life together, which I have treasured beyond words.
There is a grief which fills every cell of one's body, and it is all that I know at this time.
With love to every one of you who takes the time out of your day to stop by here. I treasure all my blog friends -- yes, you.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
It's the one year anniversary of Tuesday Poem, the New Zealand based blog I stumbled into last April, resulting in my being pulled kicking and screaming back into the poetry scene, albeit an online one.
Other than my monthly writing group (which has met continuously since 1991), when my first husband passed away seven years ago, I pretty much made an exit from any public poetry life. Not exactly sure why. I stopped going to readings, lost interest in any weekend poetry events. I've continued to write, and to submit poems for publications (but much less than previously). Priorities shift when one's life is dumped out in the middle of the freeway.
Anyway, it's been a delight making fresh connections around the globe and being part of this energetic & inspired/inspiring community. Thank-you, fellow Tuesday Poets!
This week, on the masthead blog, something new and ambitious:
My contribution goes up tomorrow -- Wednesday -- evening. Fun!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Saturday, April 2, 2011
This evening Paul and I were hosting his school group -- five fellow students and assorted spouses, some whom I've met briefly last fall. I was up to my elbows in pizza assembly, chopped salad, platters of chocolate. We'd anticipated half-wine-drinkers/half-beer-drinkers, but tonight the desire was for wine, and I had to reach up to the back of the top shelf of the cupboard for yet one more glass. Paul was in the other room, being the charming host. The doorbell was ringing. The timer was tick-tick-ticking. I reached, reached, grabbed the glass -- and suddenly the shelf tipped towards me, loaded down with pint glasses, champagne glasses and lord only knows what else. The bracket had snapped off, and a top shelf of glassware came roaring, tumbling down towards my face, onto the granite countertop, onto the stacks of glass & china plates on the countertop, the liqueur glasses ready for Cognac and Vin Santo -- Glass! Breaks! Holy crap! The shattering tumble seemed to go on and on in glassy aftershocks as I tried, in vain, to catch every piece, and of course I caught nothing.
When the screech finally subsided, an acute silence filled the room. I said, "Paul? I need some help here." The guests who had been ringing the bell appeared around the corner, looking as if they'd just arrived into chaos, which, of course, they had. I tried for some presence of mind as I attempted to hold back the tide of shards, actually managed to laugh. No blood, no severed veins -- all good. But there were fragments and splinters everywhere -- in the unbroken glassware, on the plates, on the coffee pot, on the counter, spread out and splayed across the floor. Good god almighty! What a way to make a first impression!
I admit I always do like a little drama, but this was off the charts. Significantly off the charts. Yikes.
The four pizzas were enough of a distraction to divert everyone's attention from the wreckage:
1. Italian sausage and crimini mushroom
2. Sopressata and artichoke hearts
3. Feta, Kalamata olives, oregano
4. Ricotta, garlic, Italian parsley, mozzarella, parmesan, etc.
Dessert, though, was, and is always, the prime distraction:
1. Scottish shortbread
3. Five types of chocolate, all bittersweet, all marked with little flags designating their country of origin: Iceland, Mexico, France and god only knows where else I'm too tired to think any more.
But one of the guests, the wife of one of Paul's classmates, said, just prior to dessert, that she felt as if she was at a play: the broken glass act, the pizza act, the chocolate act. Said that the platter of chocolate looked like a platter of little boats, with tiny paper sails.
At which point I thought that perhaps I should take a bow, exit stage left, and retire to my dressing room.
Which I did, shortly thereafter, upon chasing the guests out the door. Bye now!
Ta ta! Crash crash!
Tomorrow evening: different script, new audience, and I'm determined that there will be not a single piece of broken anything.
Tonight Paul's school group and significant others are coming over for homemade pizza -- last count, there were going to be twelve of us. Tomorrow is my son's twenty-fifth birthday, and I have no idea who's coming, but there's a five pound beef chuck roast in the fridge, and a cake waiting to be whisked/whipped/wrangled. The painters finished Wednesday, and we've been reassembling our disassembled interior(s). The house is beginning to look habitable again, finally. Inch by inch. A little domestic shake-up can be a good thing, after all. (The cats heartily DISAGREE.)
Meanwhile, March rains have prevailed into April, a constant wet curtain through which to trudge. Part of me actually loves this rain, with clouds settled in at treetops, the world at hand snuggly swaddled. But I'm itching to sit out on the back porch under the Douglas firs and Western Red Cedars, martini at the ready, listening to the robin's evening trill.