Friday, September 25, 2020

Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise (The Avett Brothers)

An interesting week, to put it mildly.  I was experiencing my own turmoil in various aspects of my life so, as well as turning inward to find the growth opportunity, I had some great conversations with a few dear friends and family members.  These days I find myself very scattered, unfocused, disorganized... which meant that the agenda items I was attempting to accomplish ended up with multiple mistakes, meaning that I spent more time correcting than I did accomplishing.  Yikes.

Also, over the last week, Sarah has been working with Colin on his listening skills, especially walking through their apartment complex, making sure he knows that the command of "red light" means STOP... immediately!  She is also teaching him about looking left-then-right-then-left-again, then holding her hand at a busy intersection before crossing, even in the parking lot.

I of course had an epiphany that I should use that as my life-metaphor for a while; rather than rushing headlong into potential problems, I would internally look left-then-right-then-left-again, especially where emotions are concerned.  What's the hurry?  Look how much time we have available to ourselves these days.  Use it as a commodity, and not a catastrophe.  Slow the f*ck down, Susan.  Better to delay my response than to say or do something I'd eventually need to back-pedal or retract.  I had a few occasions today in which to do just that, and the outcome was better than hoped for.  Colin became the Master and I the Grasshopper.  "The teacher appears when the lesson is ready to be learned", right?

I've also recalibrated a few other things in my life, beginning with TV.  I do love movies and series, but I've lately been using them to numb out, rather than escape.  Plus, every minute I spend in front of a screen, I am taking away from my primary love:  reading.  Vowed to turn that around and, over the course of the last few days, I am much calmer and more "here".

My sleep patterns have been really off too, because I am waking up earlier, eager to face the day (with a book), but then there's just so much of it (ha!).  My new end-of-evening routine, also instead of TV, is to turn the lights down low, stretch out on the guest room couch with Pandora, headphones (my new best friend!), and The Avett Brothers station (which has included James Taylor, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, The Beatles, for about an hour (the Dar Williams station is great too).  I can then segue very easily into sleep in my own bed... hopefully by midnight.  Aaahhh!

What are some effective coping mechanisms for you?  How are you getting out of your own way (and head) to take better care of yourself, without falling down the rabbithole?

Of course, the news is full of gloom and doom, panic and pandemonium, chaos and crisis.  This essay by Mark Morford (my favorite SFGate-columnist-turned-yoga-instructor) popped up in my e-mail yesterday.  Perfect timing!

How to avoid the temptation to drown in fatalism? Learn to swim. You know, spiritually speaking.

You don’t have to ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘focus on the positive.' This is a myth, and often feels forced and childish, in denial of events and issues deeply in need of your passionate attention.

Just stop obsessing on the dark and the bleak. Stop fetishizing doom. Step back from the addictive abyss of incessant dread, and find some stillness.

Note that this does not give you license to numb out and refuse to read any media, engage in any essential discussions, form any opinions whatsoever because you deem yourself too precious and "sensitive." That's merely avoidance, vain self-importance disguised as humility. It''s also bullshit, just your ego being passive-aggressive with the gods. Your rejection of reality, of the harrowing vagaries and difficult beauties of the human condition, is of no service to anyone, particularly yourself.

It is also, of course, unwise to try and take it all on, to try and make sense of everything that's happening, slot it all into reasonable boxes of legitimacy. This way madness lies, along with a crushed spirit. It's also impossible. The gods wish to remind you: The karma of the world is not yours to solve. You gotta learn to navigate.

Here is the most difficult thing you can do, and also the simplest: Get strong and clear and calm – get your manic thoughts and doomsday-obsessed emotions out of the way of your innate divine intelligence – and then watch what emerges, spontaneously, from the innermost heart, your truest Self.

Hint: It ain’t gonna be cruelty. It ain’t gonna be violence. It ain’t gonna be MAGA or guns or racism. Nor, conversely, will it be all-day rainbow bunnies and perky 'it's all good' nonsense.

Sit. Fucking. Still. Get real.

It might not be comfortable. It won’t at all be easy. But it will look shockingly like love.

NR:  Beartown by Fredrik Backman (excellent novel by the author of A Man Called Ove... ๐Ÿ’– )

POEM(S):  it will all be messy for a little while longer by Maya Stein

“I feel a little rough around the edges,” I say to a friend on a video chat, because this is
how it is now. And she replies, “We all are,” though from where I’m standing she looks
beautiful, glowing, a midday California sun arrowing photogenically on her cheekbones,
so I tell her so. She says, “I like you in that blue hat” and “It’s so good to see your face,”
and I think about how much faster we’ve gotten with telling the truth. I hit “record”
again, say something about the latest harvest from our garden, about my mother’s
upcoming visit, and she says something about the date she’ll go on after her
appointment with the therapist. It will all be messy for a little while longer, but we don’t
say any of that. Instead, I pan the camera to a body of water and she says, “Where is
Scott Street?” and we say “I love you” and “Talk soon,” because this is how it is now, too.

We Did Not Ask For This Room by Stephen King

We did not ask for this room,
       or this music;
       we were invited in.
because the dark surrounds us,
       let us turn our faces toward the light.
Let us endure hardship
       to be grateful for plenty.
We have been given pain
       to be astounded by joy.
We have been given life
       to deny death.
We did not ask for this room,
       or this music.
But because we are here,
       let us dance.

QUOTE:  "People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” ~ Elisabeth Kรผbler-Ross

Monday, September 21, 2020

Free to Be You and Me (Lawrence/Hart, sung by Sara Bareilles)

March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020

RIP RBG! (Rest in Power, Ruth Bader Ginsburg... ๐Ÿ’™)

I have had this blog post in draft form since August 1, when I finally got around to watching the documentary about her, and something always came up to push it back.  Sadly, it can no longer be delayed.  With all the strength, intelligence, grace, tenacity, wisdom, courage, and fierceness she displayed throughout her life (fighting cancer multiple times, falls incurring broken bones, etc.), RBG finally did something we honestly never thought would happen:  she died, from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, at the age of 87.

From The New York Times (full obituary here):  

Remembrances for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poured in.

Justice Stephen Breyer called her “a great justice; a woman of valor; a rock of righteousness.” President Trump said “whether you agree or not — she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lauded Justice Ginsburg and said the fact that her death had touched off a political furor was a sign of an unhealthy democracy.

Americans paid their respects to Justice Ginsburg from the Supreme Court, where a crowd recited the Jewish prayer for the dead, to the steps of her Brooklyn high school and courthouses across the U.S.  A mother who urged her to constantly be independent. Teachers who encouraged her. Having selective hearing in a marriage. 

Justice Ginsburg, the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court (in 1993), earned her late-life stardom with pointed and powerful dissenting opinions. 

Ginsburg dictated this statement to granddaughter Clara Spera in the days before her death: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

I know this sounds dramatic, but the fate of the free world is at stake, making the difference between a 6-3 and a 5-4 power balance of conservatives vs. liberal judges.  The fight is on.  My daughter Sarah, her friends, and I were brainstorming yesterday morning via text as to what we could do to honor RBG, and potentially stop a Supreme Court nomination/appointment until Biden is elected.  I supplied the quote, and Sarah's friend Didi, a Photoshop genius, came up with the graphic below.  Please share liberally, and call the number listed to protest.  Let's tie up those phone lines.  We can do this!

P.S.  If you have not yet seen RBG, the documentary, find and watch it immediately (I believe it's on Hulu, and CNN has been running it the last few days as well).

SONGFree to Be You and Me by Lawrence/Hart, sung by Sara Bareilles

BOOK:  Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik

POEM(S):  Justice by Amber Tamblyn

A love letter to our supreme court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Dear Ruth, you ruthless
justess of justice,
with your hair bun tighter
than a T on the chest of a wrestler,
and your face giving negative triple F’s
about wrinkles,
and your record
on women’s rights
on fleek,
and your record
on men who want to be on record
on women’s rights
but have no right
also on fleek,
and that one time, back in ’00,
when you ruled Boy Scouts should allow gay Scoutmasters,
and back in ‘03,
when you ruled that the LGBTQ community
should be a constitutionally protected class,
and that in ’00,
when you wouldn’t allow prison sentences to lengthen retroactively,
And then in ’07, when you said states could regulate
polluters and greenhouse gas omissions,
and that other time,
when you said tax payers shouldn’t have to pay for church materials in school
not because you didn’t believe in The Divine,
but because you didn’t believe in forcing The Divine
on anyone,
especially children,
and even that one time, in ’11,
when I didn’t like your stance
on church rights to picket gay funerals,
I still loved you,
because the 1st amendment
is your 1st priority,
and that is so HOT to me,
and those many times
you gave Scalia the hand
and Roberts the finger
and that one time,
when you voted to let rape victims
sue their attackers as a gender-bias crime,

and when you were all,
“Women will only have true equality
when men share with them
the responsibility
of bringing up the next generation.”
And when you were like,
“That’s the dissenter’s hope.
That you are writing (law) not for today
but for tomorrow.”
And then, when you just went,
“The state controlling a woman
would mean denying autonomy
and full equality,”
then dropped the mic,
and walked off stage,
your black gown flowing
to the sounds of applause
for generations to come.

Dear Ruth, you ruthless
Justess of justice,
you gavel witch,
you lovely heart
you protector extraordinaire,
you golden icon of grace,
I have just one question,

Will you marry me?

In case you haven’t heard,
it’s legal now.

In the Steps of RBG by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.
—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as quoted in Notorious RBG

So let me take one step right now,
one step toward respect.
And give me strength to take another
toward clarity. And though
my feet might feel like stones, let
me take another step toward justice.
And another toward equity. And another
toward truth. And though my legs
may feel leaden and slow, though someone
else may step on my toes, may I inch
toward forgiveness. May every step
be toward a bridge. Enough divisiveness.
And as I go, may I find joy in the stepping,
grace in the edging toward great change.
But if there’s little joy, let me step anyway.
Then take another step. And another. And another.

QUOTE:  "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Friday, September 18, 2020

Harvest Moon/You and Me (both by Neil Young)

Today, September 18, 2020 marks our 44th wedding anniversary.  It's been a long-standing joke of mine that, like the famous 12-step program, we do our marriage One Day at a Time (that would be 16,060 days, but who's counting?... :-)

Chico (given name Robert) and I met when he was a senior and I was a sophomore in college (Fall 1974).  One Sunday a group of my friends had been challenged to an impromptu football game by another group on campus, and I went along to watch. I was recruited to be one of the holders of the down-markers (two pointed brooms with string tied between).  Chico flirted with me all day, but saw me leaving with my "gang" and assumed I was dating one of them (I wasn't). The next day I was in my usual spot/routine in The Student Center, drinking coffee/reading a book/smoking cigarettes (gave up that bad habit when I found out I was pregnant with our daughter Sarah, over 38 years ago).  He came up, introduced himself to me and asked permission to sit down.

I was impressed by his good manners, among other things, and we were "an item" for the remainder of the year.  He graduated with a degree in Latin American Studies and got a job in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky with the Red Cross, counseling servicemen. I stayed to finish my degree and we carried on a long-distance relationship for the remaining two years, writing, calling and visiting when we could.  The April of my senior year, during one of his visits, he asked me to marry him… and we rolled out of bed to call our parents to share the good news.  I graduated in June and we were married the following September.

An aside: During my last two years of school, I worked at a clothing boutique not far from the college.  I would walk there directly after classes, putting in about 30 hours a week and getting a 30% discount.  Chico and I had only been dating a few months when a beautiful dress came into the store.  I knew then I had to have it, whether to be married or buried (whichever came first) in such elegance, and I put it on layaway immediately. It was an off-white muslin with long, crocheted-lace sleeves and an empire bodice (very Guinevere-ish).  The big joke in my family is that, with my discount, I paid $28. When my wedding day was finally announced, my mom tried hard to talk me into something more traditional but I would not be swayed.  I still think it was the perfect dress… ๐Ÿ’–

We stayed in our small college town for the next 8 years, moving temporarily to Atlanta en route to Puerto Rico for a company transfer (where we put in 4 1/2 years).  Back to Atlanta for almost three years and then to South Florida, where we've resided for the last 28. 

During the first twenty-five years of our marriage, Chico traveled quite a bit (twice a month, a week or more at a time). I've always been a strong and spirited soul and when the children were younger, we talked about the time he was away, not as better or worse but just different.  I belonged to AAA (although AA seemed more appropriate some days... ๐Ÿ˜‰), I learned to fix small household items, I became responsible for my own entertainment.  When it had to be done, I did it. The worst were his two-week trips, when I didn't want to relax and appreciate having him home the weekend in-between, because it just meant giving him up again.  I learned various coping mechanisms, but I missed him.

Career moves found Chico home more, and the rest of us having to readjust, awkwardly at first, but happily.  He and I have always had separate interests (my music, his soccer), meeting in the middle more often than not for conversation, intimacy and intensity. 

My husband is of Brazilian descent and I am of Italian/Native American heritage... so emotions run high most of the time.  We pendulum between pondering what to name our wished-for houseboat when we retire... to me threatening to run away with the Renaissance Festival each February. 

My husband makes me crazy... and he makes me feel adored.  He is frustrating... and he is flattering. He is honest, even when I don't want to hear it... and I know I can trust his words and his actions (how many people in our lives can we say that about?!?).  He is intuitive, which is sometimes annoying but mostly a blessing. 

I wholeheartedly cherish our ongoing flare-ups, passions, commitment, disconnects, conversations, silences. It has never been easy; it has always been worthwhile.  As Brian Joseph sings in Cal’s Chevy:  “it ain’t easy… but it’s ours.”

I vowed that *happy* and *marriage* didn't have to be mutually exclusive.  My parents divorced after 29 years so I learned early on that one is never safe, and I try not to take it for granted.

Chico and I have made a conscious decision to stay together in this hectic and unsettling world (especially now during the pandemic). I crave and cherish my independence, but I don't worry any more that I'll have to "give in" (reminds me of a Dar Williams' song, In Love But Not at Peace: "I still need the beauty of words sung and spoken and I live with the fear that my spirit will be broken").  We seem to have forged a wonderful agreement where we both manage to get our own way a good bit of the time, but we haven't forgotten the art of the happy medium.

When we got married in 1976, a popular reading to include in weddings was “On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran.  I loved it at the time, but even more so now.  The concept was, and remains, groundbreaking.  Remember these lines?

“You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. 

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God

But let there be spaces in your togetherness

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.”

I've spent the last few weeks re-evaluating what's kept us going these 4+ decades.  We have had just as many troubles as everyone else, but the risk is the reward, and the leap of faith is the longevity... that, to quote Jackson Browne, we just keep getting up and doing it again... amen...

I have always hated the term soul mate which, in my mind, used to conjure up images of Hallmark movies with couples joined-at-the-hip in that "you-complete-me" kinda way. Ugh. A few years ago, a dear friend (who is also a therapist) offered up her definition of soulmate:  someone who challenges you to be the best person you can be. Chico does that for me and, I'd like to think, I for him. We have "a head and a heart marriage" (a phrase I heard on a TV show recently). It suits us... ♥

When it comes to troubleshooting, I am in constant awe of Chico’s ability to stay calm, to let go and to move forward, in all aspects of his life.  His oft-repeated phrase is "let's not worry about how something got to be a problem; let's just figure out how to fix it". Wow.  With my tendency to finger-point, internalize and dramatize, he sets a wonderful example.

Chico loves me unconditionally, a status I am always trying to achieve but come up short.  I love him no less, but my family history includes strings attached, a very difficult pattern to break.

He is the calm to my storm, the ground to my clouds, the 33 1/3 to my 45, the waltz to my polka, the reason to my emotion, the carousel to my rollercoaster, the string to my kite, the balance to my spinning.  He supports but never suffocates, respects but never expects.

In an anniversary card one year, Chico thanked me for my enduring love and patience with his failings.  I can say the same.

Ups and downs, ins and outs, betters and worses go with the territory.  We've lived to tell about it ("fairy tales and diaper pails" indeed, as Amy Rigby sings).  My marriage has endured for many reasons (one of which is just good old-fashioned luck).  Cheers to the two of us for our perseverance, patience and passion with each other.  Tomorrow is another day!

SONGHarvest Moon / You and Me (both by Neil Young) 

When Captain America Does NOT Save My Day – My Messy Beautiful by Cindy Brandt (actually not a book, but an essay)

Unwind by Glennon Doyle (excerpt from Carry On, Warrior, her first book)

POEM(S):  Ode to Time by Pablo Neruda (translation by Paul Scott Derrick)

Inside of you, your growing


inside of me, my passing


Time is decided,

its bell doesn’t ring,

it slowly flows, advancing

inside of us both.

It’s there,

like a quiet pool

in your eyes

and, beneath their

burnished chestnut,

a splinter, the trace

of a tiny stream,

a dry little star

ascending to your lips.

Time may draw

its threads

through your hair,

but in my heart

you will always bring the fragrance

of the honeysuckle vine,

as vivid as living fire.

How lovely it is

to grow old living

all that we’ve lived.

Every day

was transparent stone,

every night

for us, was a deeply shadowed rose.

And this line on your face, or mine,

are flowers or stone,

the fossil of a lightning-flash.

My eyes have been spent on your loveliness,

but then, you are my eyes.

Maybe I’ve tired your duplicate breasts

with my kisses,

but the world has seen your secret splendor

in my joy.

What do we care, my love,

if time,

who raised like double flames

or parallel stalks

my body and your sweetness,

should guard them tomorrow

or strip them away

and with its invisible fingers

erase this identity that keeps us apart

giving us the victory

of a single final soul beneath the sod.

Upon Request by Anton Korteweg

That I love you, I want to finally

have that written down, now that

you ask. Because I love you and

not just sometimes, given

the four thousand days and nights.

That it seems as if you hardly

have grown older, that

you sometimes gaze into the distance

as if love struck, that

your hands are still beautiful, further

than this I'd rather not go.

That I sometimes look for your cheek

and not your lips.

QUOTE(S):  “That was the strangest thing about weddings, from Amos’s point of view, that they pretended to be sacred occasions but in fact had no meaning. Because a marriage isn’t a marriage until it’s over, he thought, until the couple looked back, years later, at the moment they wed and said, “Oh, that’s what really happened that day.” ~ Haven Kimmel, from the novel The Solace of Leaving Early

"Wasn’t marriage, like life, unstimulating and unprofitable and somewhat empty when *too* well-ordered and protected and guarded. Wasn’t it finer, more splendid, more nourishing when it was, like life itself, a mixture of the sordid and the magnificent; of mud and stars; of earth and flowers; of love and hate and laughter and tears and ugliness and beauty and hurt." ~ Edna Ferber

“Tell the story of your marriage,” my young friend Niki says to me. “Write down how it is you have a happy marriage.” But the story of my marriage, which is the great joy and astonishment of my life, is too much like a fairy tale, the German kind, unsweetened by Disney.” ~ Ann Patchett, from her book of essays, The Story of a Happy Marriage

“People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soulmate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.  A true soulmate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.  A soulmate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Monday, September 14, 2020

Red Dress (Susan Werner)

I seem to have gone MIA for the last 11 days.  Everything's fine (better than fine, actually); no mullygrubs here.  I just lost my concentration!  Recap, then moving forward... ๐Ÿ˜

I placed a Publix Liquors Instacart order last week, mainly for a bottle of Kahlua that my husband splashes into his coffee every morning.  Hey, he's retired.  Anyway, the minimum for free shipping is $35.00 and I needed another $10.00 to qualify.  Looked around on the website and ended up choosing a bottle of Long Island Iced Tea, which was so random until I remembered that my mother's birthday was September 9 (a few days away) and that was the drink of tradition whenever she and her Besties went out to dinner.  I told Sarah about it, and she and I will get together soon, whereupon we will toast Connie/Mom/Mimi.  Hard to believe that this past July 19, it will be 11 years since her passing, and this would have been her 90th birthday.

Watched The Dedicated Concert, a livestreaming Dar Williams event last Thursday.  It was so beautiful, with all the sweet dedications from her fans to friends, partners, etc., some delivered live, some via Dar, and others written in the comments and/or scrolled across the bottom of the screen.  Lovely!

Finished cleaning out Reba's apartment, and showed up Friday (with my coffee, peanut butter and banana sandwich, and phone)  to wait for the donations pick-up, with a 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. window of opportunity.  Fortunately they showed up at 11:00 a.m., so now everything is out of there, the cleaning lady can come, and R can then turn it back over to the leasing office.

This past Saturday was my last visit to the chiropractor, the end of my one-month/12-week/three-times-a-week treatment plan.  My sciatica, as well as my neck, has improved substantially since I first started going mid-August (according to x-rays and thermal scans at the beginning and again at the end), and the doctor recommended I continue, and they offered me a follow-up once-a-week, three-month plan, but it's hard to justify the money.  I brought them a basket of wonderful vegan goodies with an effusive thank you card (under different circumstances, there would have been hugs)... and from here on out, I have committed to keep up with everything on my own:  stretches, massage, cervical fulcrum, cordless massager (no, not a Rabbit... ;-), walking, Arnica/CBD cream or salve, better posture, hold phone up at eye level rather than looking down, etc.  I can do this!

Lots of rain this past weekend (a precursor to what is now Hurricane Sally), and met up with Sarah and Colin at TreeTops Park for a puddle-jumping adventure (all of us wearing our galoshes), and Colin took it to mean total immersion.  He was so waterlogged that Sarah had to strip him down completely to put him in the carseat... :-)

Tonight at 6:00 p.m. I am virtually attending a Grassroots Fundraiser with Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.  Go here for more info; registration is required.

P.S.  You really must try the vegan oatmeal-raisin cookies from Whole Foods, and here's the recipe!  So. Much. Cinnamon... ๐Ÿ’“

NR:  Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh (I am about a third of the way through, and the proverbial jury's still out).

SONGRed Dress by Susan Werner

Danger in a Red Dress 
by Christina Dodd

POEM:  The Cure by Ginger Andrews

Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.

Gossip is just news running ahead of itself in a red satin dress." ~ Liz Smith

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

We Americans (The Avett Brothers)

And the crazy continues! (what else is new, right?!?).  From today's New York Times Daily Briefing (you really should subscribe if you don't already!):

President Trump breaks so many of the normal rules of politics that it can sometimes be hard to know when his tweets and comments are truly newsworthy. Even by his standards, though, the past several days have stood out. Consider:

Trump said on Monday that a plane “almost completely loaded with thugs” wearing “dark uniforms” had been headed to the Republican National Convention to do “big damage.” The claim is similar to a baseless conspiracy theory that spread online over the summer, well before the convention.

He has declined to condemn the killings of two protesters in Kenosha, Wis. He instead defended the 17-year-old charged in the shootings — a Trump supporter named Kyle Rittenhouse — saying he was acting in self-defense. Trump also promoted a Twitter post that called Rittenhouse “a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump.”

He defended violence committed by his supporters in Portland, Ore., who fired paintballs and pepper spray at Black Lives Matter protesters.

He compared the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha to missing “a three-foot putt” in a golf tournament.

He claimed that “people that you’ve never heard of” and “people that are in the dark shadows” are controlling Joe Biden.

He claimed Democrats were trying to “destroy” suburbs with “low-income housing, and with that comes a lot of other problems, including crime.” He added that Cory Booker — one of the highest-profile Black Democrats — would be “in charge of it.”

He predicted that the stock market would crash if Biden won.

He said that Biden, at the Democratic National Convention, “didn’t even discuss law enforcement, the police. Those words weren’t mentioned.” In fact, Biden held a discussion at the convention on policing, with a police chief.

Trump claimed that he “took control of” the situation in Kenosha by sending in the National Guard. In fact, Wisconsin’s governor, not the president, sent the National Guard.

He retweeted messages asserting that the pandemic’s death toll was overstated. Evidence indicates the opposite is true.

He said that protests against police brutality were actually a secret “coup attempt” by anarchists “trying to take down the President.”

Biden has taken a very different approach to the unrest in Kenosha, Portland and elsewhere. He has told no apparent untruths, and he has criticized violence from both the political left and right — even though many liberals, whose votes Biden needs, are uncomfortable with any criticism of people on their side of the debate.

G.O.P. reaction. The Times tried to reach about a dozen leading congressional Republicans and ask for their reaction to Trump’s claims. “None cared to comment,” Mark Leibovich writes. Senator Mitt Romney offered one of the few public responses, calling the president’s comments “simply jaw-dropping.”


P.S.  I just ordered this mask (above) for myself as well as my husband and three adult children.  Oh, did I say VOTE?... ๐Ÿ˜

SONGWe Americans by The Avett Brothers

BOOK:  A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America by Philip Rucker, Carol Leonnig

POEM:  Third Time's a Charm by David Kirby

Don’t you wish the president would just shut up?
I mean, why comment on everything all the time.
Let’s hear it for silence. Yes, the helicopter of the world
is always circling overhead, but only rarely and usually
never does it suddenly fix its spotlight on the genius
that is you. What does he expect, a chattering dolphin
to rear up in front of his every tweet/answer to
a journalist/remark to a staffer who’s not supposed
to leak it but does and go chee-chee-chee-chee?
Mozart ends The Magic Flute with the words
“Triumphant strength has rewarded beauty and wisdom
with an eternal crown,” but he was Mozart.
Even ordinary jibber-jabber can go too far, as when
you give someone a present and they say
“You didn’t have to do that” and you think, “I know
I didn’t have to, but I wanted to, though I’m having
second thoughts now,” or someone brings a casserole
to your potluck, and you say, “Oh, how lovely,”
and they say, “Yeah, but it’s way salty, plus I left it
in the oven too long,” and you think, “My, doesn’t
that sound delicious!” Actually it was Mozart’s
librettist Emanuel Schikaneder who wrote the end
of The Magic Flute as well as the rest of it, but still.
Doesn’t the president have speech writers?
The divorce firm of Thyden Gross and Callahan
works out of Friendship Village, Maryland (I’m not
making this up) and recently represented a wealthy
Islamic gentleman who invoked the ancient law
of talaq by saying “I divorce thee” three times
to his wife and bestowing the sum of $2,500
on her while retaining the bulk of their two million
dollar estate for himself. The Maryland Court
of Appeals said no, however, stipulating that
the talaq did not afford the same protections
of due process, prenuptial agreements,
and division of property that Maryland law did,
a ruling in which the court is joined by
those Islamic scholars who say it isn’t right to
invoke the talaq in one sitting and that there
should at least be a period of time between
the “three strikes” as well as other learned
devotees of that venerable faith who say
the talaq is reprehensible and shouldn’t be
used at all. Every time the president goes
yada-yada-yada, I wish Mitch McConnell would say,
“I impeach thee, I impeach thee, I impeach thee”
and he’d disappear like the witch in The Wizard
of Oz, and here I’m just referring to the president’s
banal and mendacious utterances and not
the ugly ones like grabbing somebody by their
you-know-what. In this respect he could at least
take lessons in subtlety from 18th century German
writer Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who said
of the prostitutes he encountered in London
that “they attach themselves to you like limpets”
and “they seize hold of you after a fashion
of which I can give you the best notion by the fact
that I say nothing about it.” Now you’re talking.

[David Kirby, 10/13/19 : “I have misgivings about the current move to impeach. That process is usually used to convince the people that the president is a bad person, but we already know that. Too, I bet this president would be delighted; it’ll just give him another chance to feel sorry for himself. No, I’d prefer that he just go away. That’s called magical thinking, as is this poem’s call for Mitch McConnell to do the deed.”]

QUOTE:  "When you blame others, you give up your power to change." ~ 
Robert Anthony

Monday, August 31, 2020

In This Life (Madonna)

I felt honored to be called upon to help Reba with the clean-out of her apartment last week, although it diverted time and energy away from my "schedule" (however loosely that is defined).  My blogging routine was thrown off a bit, but I also think part of me was deliberately putting off writing about this.  So, here we are, and I am sitting in this chair until it is done.

This is a book report/review of The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, but is it also a story of a life, or lives, cut short by a disease that took too long to acknowledge and, even when it had a name, never received the respect and compassion it deserved.

My earliest memory was being pregnant with my daughter Sarah (born September 1981) and watching an episode of The Phil Donahue Show, and the guests were a panel of men (from San Francisco and New York City), talking about a strange and insidious illness that was spreading like wildfire throughout the gay community, and no one was paying the least bit of attention.

Fast forward a few months (years?), when it officially became HIV/AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and was still being ignored, most specifically by Ronald Reagan, our sitting president at the time.

Different/earlier time frame:  I met my husband R midway through my college years (1974), when we began dating and, because he was/is older, he graduated and took a job in Tennessee with The Red Cross, and we continued our courtship long-distance for another two years. One of his college roommates was SteveV, a hilarious, brilliant, sharp-tongued (Scorpio), adorable man who may have been the first gay person I ever knew.  Our friendship with him continued and solidified.

After Steve graduated (he was in our wedding party in 1976), he moved to Atlanta and then New York, where he was going to hit it big, writing a screenplay and rubbing elbows with the rich and famous.  He was in his *element*,  and we moved to Puerto Rico through R's job (1985-1989), keeping up our long-standing correspondence.  Steve even came to visit us there, loving the gay beach area, that felt free and unencumbered from homophobia. At some point, we heard that Steve was very sick (yes, AIDS), and had moved back home to Newnan, Georgia, where his mom lovingly took care of him.  We would come back to the states every December for a month, and I recall visiting him (must have been Christmas 1986).  He looked so tired and frail, and I knew in my heart it would be the last time we saw him.  He died in October 1987.

As soon as I started reading The Great Believers, I knew it would conjure all those memories of Steve, but I hadn't realized how far and deep they ran.  The book is told in alternating chapter/timelines... one in the mid-80s, and the other 2015, as a group of friends deal with the infections/deaths of their Chicago circle/community... and the sister of one goes on to live and interconnect with those lost, and those who unexpectedly survived.  

I read the chapter titled July 15, 1986 (p. 334 in the hardcover version) three times.  So impossibly perfect.  So devastatingly honest.  The last 100 pages found me ugly-crying, waking up the next morning with swollen eyes and a broken heart.

Of course there are articles being written now, comparing the AIDS crisis with the current pandemic, and there are most certainly correlations.  Innocent people are dead (over 180,000 via COVID; 700,000 via AIDS), because of negligence and dereliction of duty (I'm talking to you, RR and DT!).  

Despite the wrenching subject matter, I highly recommend this book.  The writing is exquisite and clever, the characters fleshed out in all manners of likability (or non-), the subject matter painful and poignant, but also curiously redemptive.  This novel will stay with me a very long time... ๐Ÿ’“

“The thing is,” Teddy said, “the disease itself feels like a judgment. We’ve all got a little Jesse Helms on our shoulder, right? If you got it from sleeping with a thousand guys, then it’s a judgment on your promiscuity. If you got it from sleeping with one guy once, that’s almost worse, it’s like a judgment on all of us, like the act itself is the problem and not the number of times you did it. And if you got it because you thought you couldn’t, it’s a judgment on your hubris. And if you got it because you knew you could and you didn’t care, it’s a judgment on how much you hate yourself. Isn’t that why the world loves Ryan White so much? How could God have it out for some poor kid with a blood disorder? But then people are still being terrible. They’re judging him just for being sick, not even for the way he got it.”

“How could she explain that this city was a graveyard? That they were walking every day through streets where there had been a holocaust, a mass murder of neglect and antipathy, that when they stepped through a pocket of cold air, didn’t they understand it was a ghost, it was a boy the world had spat out?”

“A handful of dead astronauts and Reagan weeps with the nation. Thirteen thousand dead gay men and Reagan’s too busy.”

“He wanted to spend the rest of his life building Nora's Paris out of sugar cubes, brick by brick. He wanted a one-way ticket to 1920. He thought about Nora's idea of time travel. What a horrible kind of travel, that took you only forward into the terrifying future, constantly farther from whatever had once made you happy. Only maybe that wasn't what she'd meant. Maybe she meant the older you got, the more decades you had at your disposal to revisit with your eyes closed.”

I miss you, Steve.

SONGIn This Life by Madonna

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, 20th-Anniversary Edition by Randy Shilts

Heartbeats by Melvin Dixon

Work out. Ten laps.
Chin ups. Look good.

Steam room. Dress warm.
Call home. Fresh air.

Eat right. Rest well.
Sweetheart. Safe sex.

Sore throat. Long flu.
Hard nodes. Beware.

Test blood. Count cells.
Reds thin. Whites low.

Dress warm. Eat well.
Short breath. Fatigue.

Night sweats. Dry cough.
Loose stools. Weight loss.

Get mad. Fight back.
Call home. Rest well.

Don’t cry. Take charge.
No sex. Eat right.

Call home. Talk slow.
Chin up. No air.

Arms wide. Nodes hard.
Cough dry. Hold on.

Mouth wide. Drink this.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

No air. Breathe in.
Breathe in. No air.

Black out. White rooms.
Head hot. Feet cold.

No work. Eat right.
CAT scan. Chin up.

Breathe in. Breathe out.
No air. No air.

Thin blood. Sore lungs.
Mouth dry. Mind gone.

Six months? Three weeks?
Can’t eat. No air.

Today? Tonight?
It waits. For me.

Sweet heart. Don’t stop.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

QUOTE(S):  "
In the earliest years of the AIDS crisis, there were many gay men who were unable to come out about the fact that their lovers were A. ill, and then dead, B. They were unable to get access to the hospital to see their lover, unable to call their parents and say, 'I have just lost the love of my life.' " ~ Judith Butler

"AIDS was allowed to happen. It is a plague that need not have happened. It is a plague that could have been contained from the very beginning." ~ Larry Kramer

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Giants (Matt Maeson)

[The Wildlife Exhibit at Flamingo Gardens... :-) ]

What?  It's Thursday?  Where did Wednesday go?!?  From having a totally-decimated social calendar, my life seems to have gotten super-busy again, lots of little things that have then added up to full days.  Chiropractor appointments three times a week.  Walking with Rob three times a week.  Various online concerts, most recently Eliza Gilkyson (her 70th birthday celebration!), Friction Farm, Tracy Grammer, Grant Peeples.  Weekly Zoom calls with friends and, most recently, helping clear out Reba's apartment, as she has decided to give up her snowbird status (not ready to face this one emotionally yet).  Family park meet-ups.  Helping with Colin transportation.  

Speaking of Colin, Sarah invited me to join them at Flamingo Gardens a few Sundays ago, and we had a blast.  Sarah was able to keep him in the stroller for the first 10 minutes, and then she let him out to run around.  Who ran around?  We did!  Wish I could get an energy transfusion from that little guy.  We saw turtles/tortoises, otters (my other spirit animal, in addition to the dragonfly), butterflies, flamingos (of course!), various other birds, so many peacocks, as well as flowering plants, fruit trees, etc... plus there was an exhibit of Lego sculptures throughout the park (there until September 13).  We also went on a tram ride which was about five minutes too long for a toddler.  It was hot, so we ended the day with watermelon icees to lower our body temperatures.  We're thinking of getting season passes next year, as he'll enjoy it more the older it gets.

I am a positive person, and always try to be "for" rather than "against" policies/procedures/philosophies.  I said in a previous blog post that I was choosing not to watch even a minute of the Republican National Convention, exactly for the reason(s) Stephen Colbert states below (full monologue here).  With all this talk of the next four years, we also need to remember the years and decades after that... for our children, and our grandchildren.  Vote for your own needs and wishes for this country, but cast your ballot for the next generation.  As Michelle Obama spoke last week during the DNC:  ""If you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can, and they will if we don't make a change in this election.  If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it."

Because they do!

SONGGiants by Matt Maeson (thanks to Sarah for the heads-up to this wonderful singer-songwriter who was new to me until recently.  Now I'm obsessed!).

BOOK:  Vote for Our Future! by Margaret McNamara, Micah Player (Illustrator)

POEM:  One Vote by 
Aimee Nezhukumatathil

After reading a letter from his mother, Harry T. Burn cast the deciding vote to ratify the 19th amendment of the U.S. Constitution

My parents are from countries
where mangoes grow wild and bold
and eagles cry the sky in arcs and dips.
America loved this bird too and made

it clutch olives and arrows. Some think
if an eaglet falls, the mother will swoop
down to catch it. It won’t. The eagle must fly
on its own accord by first testing the air-slide

over each pinfeather. Even in a letter of wind,
a mother holds so much power. After the pipping
of the egg, after the branching—an eagle is on
its own. Must make the choice on its own

no matter what its been taught. Some forget
that pound for pound, eagle feathers are stronger
than an airplane wing. And even one letter, one
vote can make the difference for every bright thing.

QUOTE:  “Now, I know by not watching the R.N.C., I didn’t do my job tonight. I just want to say, I feel great about it. Why should we pay attention to what they’re saying if none of what they’re saying tonight is about what’s happening in America right now? Why should we watch their reality show if it doesn’t reflect our reality? Why subject ourselves to their lies that stick to your soul like hot tar? Lies like ‘Donald Trump cares whether you live or die.’” ~ Stephen Colbert

Monday, August 24, 2020

Poetic Justice (Buddy Mondlock/Tom Kimmel)

I received a lovely card a few weeks ago from my former UU congregation (MollyL's handwriting, I'm pretty sure), wishing me a Happy Birthday and inviting me to their upcoming David Fisher Memorial Annual Poetry Service, via Zoom, which I had coordinated for the previous nine years.  I think I surprised everyone by showing up, and we were all mutually glad to see each other.  It was delightful to view everyone's faces, especially Rev. Susan, who is recovering from a tragic car accident, and the usual cast of poets/readers:  Alfredo, Gary, Sarah/Birch, Jerry... as well as a few newcomers.

As I had spoken from the pulpit for many years running, updating the math:

If you began attending or visiting the UU Church of Ft. Lauderdale after June 26, 2010 (the date of David Fisher’s passing, at the age of 81), you may be wondering who he was and why this service is a memorial to him.  During Coffee Hour after today’s service, you should approach one of our long-term members and ask them to tell you a David Fisher story.
In the meantime, here’s the 75-words-or-less answer:  David Fisher graduated college with a philosophy degree, he did two years of Army service, he was a doctor (practicing internal medicine), he was a minister, he was a college professor, he was a psychiatrist, he was a member of our Sunday Services Committee, and he was our choir director from 2003-2009.  He was a brother, a father, a grandfather… and he was in a long-term committed relationship with his partner Paul. 
Rev. Gail (our previous minister) said "he was one of the most graceful, gracious, grace-filled people I ever met” with the "unique ability to live lightly in the world and have great impact.  He was a minister in every aspect of his life.” 
David and I shared a love of verse… and his annual poetry service was always a spiritual experience.  I had volunteered to help coordinate the last one (April 2010) since David’s health issues were becoming a factor… and he had actually been in the hospital the week before the service. However, he pushed to be discharged the day prior, which made our collaboration even more inspiring and joyful… 
In his absence, this is my ninth year coordinating, and I am beyond honored to have taken up the baton, to make sure this service remains an annual event. 
However, this service is about so much more than poetry.  We here at the UUCFL are rich:  in tradition (remember Noralee’s cat poems?)… in community (look how many of you chose to attend and/or participate)… and in memories (David Fisher would be proud).

Here's/cheers to David, and to the many who carry on his legacy.  I certainly vow to continue!

SONGPoetic Justice by Buddy Mondlock and Tom Kimmel

BOOK:  The Carrying by Ada Limรณn (here's a wonderful interview with the poet, who was new to me before Sunday's service... ๐Ÿ’–)

POEM:  This Day, O Soul by Walt Whitman

This day, O soul, I give you a wondrous mirror;
Long in the dark, in tarnish and cloud it lay—But the cloud
has pass'd, and the tarnish gone;
…Behold, O soul! it is now a clean and bright mirror,
Faithfully showing you all the things of the world.

QUOTE(S):  "Who knows anyway what it is, that wild, silky part of ourselves without which no poem can live?" ~ Mary Oliver

"Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away." ~ by Carl Sandburg

Friday, August 21, 2020

Kamala! (a Randy Rainbow song parody)/Sweet Kamala (Friction Farm)

Kamala Harris crop art turns up in Kansas field (hat tip to CT for both images!)

It has been no secret with my friends and family (or anyone who would listen, actually) that Joe Biden was not my first choice for the Democratic presidential nominee, nor was Bernie Sanders.  As much as I appreciated their experience and their policies, I kept spouting that I was tired of "old white men" running the show.  I wanted Elizabeth Warren, d*mmit, and she appeared to be the front-runner for a while, but then...

However, Kamala Harris was indeed my first choice for Vice President, and I was delighted when Joe Biden picked her as his running mate.  All this to say, I've been heavily immersed in the Democratic National Convention the previous four nights, and am now convinced of Biden's assets (of course I was always going to vote for him!).  He has proven himself not only to be wise, and on the right (meaning correct!) side of justice, but also genuine.  He has turned his personal grief into political passion, and his record cannot be ignored.  He seems to truly possess a moral compass.

The convention was exactly what I needed to re-calibrate my mindset, and each night I signed off feeling even more hopeful and energized at such smart and caring representation.  The myriad of faces felt like *my* America... a diversity of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference.  I cried multiple times during each evening... my litmus test of what feels honest and equitable and kind.

I realize what I'm saying next will sound closed-minded, but I'm saying it anyway:  I will not watch one minute of the Republican National Convention, and subject myself to the venomous spouting of their hatred and division. Nope, not gonna do it.

Since it is indeed Feel Good Friday below are, in my opinion, five highlights of the DNC (although there were so many more to choose from).  As one of the Roll Call delegates said, "It's Joe Time!".

‘It is what it is’: How Michelle Obama’s ‘epic shade’ won the DNC’s opening night:  Halfway through her closing speech at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night, Michelle Obama shifted to address what she called the “cold, hard truth.”

~ Democratic National Convention’s Roll Call Showcases Voices from Across America:  Over a span of about 30 minutes, viewers traveled to 57 states and territories and heard from teachers, small business owners, essential workers and elected Democrats.

The Democratic National Convention used John Prine's last recording for a COVID-19 memorial video:  In one of the night's more somber moments, the Democrats broadcast an in memoriam video for the 170,500 people who have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.  One of those Amerians who died from complications COVID-19 was the great singer-songwriter John Prine, and his final recording, "I Remember Everything," was the soundtrack to the memorial.

Obama issues a dire warning about American democracy in stunning rebuke of Trump:  From the Philadelphia ground where the American experiment was born, one former president -- in a stunning prime-time address to the nation he once led -- warned that his successor was on the cusp of destroying democracy itself.

~ Joe Biden takes on Trump-era traumas in career-defining speech:  If Joe Biden becomes the 46th American President, his speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday night will be seen as the moment when the destiny of a man and his nation converged.

Also, "Before Hillary Clinton spoke from her home in Westchester County, the convention featured a video montage of women voting, protesting and testifying before Congress over the years.  It included black-and-white images from 1920 and images from 2017, after President Trump had taken office and women marched in protest wearing vivid pink knitted caps.  In clips stitched into the montage, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke before members of the United States Senate; Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington reclaimed her speaking time from Attorney General William P. Barr at a hearing; Mrs. Clinton herself, eight years before she became the first woman nominated for president by a major party, spoke of failing to shatter “that highest, hardest glass ceiling” but putting “about 18 million cracks in it.”  I was ridiculously impressed with the video, and wanted to include it here, but I cannot seem to find it anywhere!  Anyone who has better luck than I, *please* send me the link in a Reply (which I will then include in my blog post) and I will bake and mail you vegan cookies (or hand-deliver, if you're local... ๐Ÿ˜„ )

P.S.  As soon as I hit Publish, I am going to donate money to Joe Biden, and will do so again in September and October.  In November, I will put my mouth/VOTE where my money was!

NR:  The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

SONG(S)Kamala!, a Randy Rainbow song parody (thanks to JudiS for the heads-up!)/Sweet Kamala by Friction Farm

BOOK(S):  The Truths We Hold: by Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice by Nikki Grimes, Laura Freeman  (Illustrator)

Kamala Harris: U.S. Senator by Alejandro Escudรฉ

My divorce mitigator
had an office across the street
from a Bed Bath & Beyond;
it was a huge store, and I thought of going there
the way one thinks of going
somewhere one happens to pass by
and never does because I needed to park
underneath a twenty story building
to meet my ex wife and this other woman
who we hired to file the divorce paperwork
and to suggest how we might split
amicably—and I remember, quite distinctly,
the way one remembers something
that was part curiosity and part pain,
my ex-wife pointing out the sign on the office
next door to the mitigator: Kamala Harris,
US Senator. It was such a plain
looking door, brown, as the floor was brown,
brown my feeling as my ex-wife noticed this.
I remember thinking how interesting
it was that she pointed it out, both of us
starstruck by a stupid brown door
with a name on it, the name of the woman
who had just faced down Joe Biden,
a woman who rented an office
on the seventh floor of this nondescript building
on Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles
where I was meeting with a mitigator
and the woman I was married to
for seventeen years, who I had
two kids with, and who was now divorcing me
while simultaneously pointing out
the name on a door: Kamala Harris,
and the electric blue Tarantino sky
behind it all, and the bathroom
that was across the same hallway
for which you needed to ask for the key
and how I asked once and went in
and felt a tightness in my chest,
I thought I was having a heart attack
though I wasn’t, it was more an existential thing,
as in where am I and what is happening?
I needed to take a break from negotiating
the way politicians negotiate,
the way they bicker on bright stages
that are just stages and nothing more.

[Alejandro Escudรฉ: “Life is surreal. There are these moments of divine yet absolutely useless premonition. Harris showed up in the tapestry of my life the way the poem describes. I’m cynical, so I think it means nothing. Will she become Vice President? I don’t know. But I do know that this incident occurred, and I remembered it when Biden chose Harris as his running mate.”]

QUOTE(S):  "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Give light and people will find the way." ~ Ella Baker

"History says
Don’t hope on this side of the grave
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.’” ~ Seamus Heaney