Sunday, September 30, 2007

September (Earth, Wind and Fire)

SONG: September by Earth, Wind and Fire

BOOK: September by Rosamunde Pilcher

POEM: September Meditation by Burton D. Carley

I do not know if the seasons remember their history or if the days and
nights by which we count time remember their own passing.
I do not know if the oak tree remembers its planting or if the pine
remembers its slow climb toward sun and stars.
I do not know if the squirrel remembers last fall's gathering or if the
bluejay remembers the meaning of snow.
I do not know if the air remembers September or if the night remembers
the moon.
I do not know if the earth remembers the flowers from last spring or if
the evergreen remembers that it shall stay so.
Perhaps that is the reason for our births -- to be the memory for
Perhaps salvation is something very different than anyone ever expected.
Perhaps this will be the only question we will have to answer:
"What can you tell me about September?"

QUOTE: "But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head... The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on." ~ Robert Finch

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Frenchman for the Night (Jimmy Buffett)

For a friend recently returned from Paris - loved the postcard (ooh la la... :-)

SONG: A Frenchman for the Night by Jimmy Buffett

BOOK: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

POEM: Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.

I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

QUOTE: "You may wonder, 'How can I leave it all behind if I am just coming back to it? How can I make a new beginning if I simply return to the old?' The answer lies in the return. You will not come back to the 'same old thing.' What you return to has changed because you have changed. Your perceptions will be altered. You will not incorporate into the same body, status or world you left behind. The river has been flowing while you were gone. Now it does not look like the same river." ~ Steven Foster

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Circle Game (Joni Mitchell)

"And the seasons they go round and round
and the painted ponies go up and down
we're captive on the carousel of time
we can't return we can only look
behind from where we came
and go round and round and round
in the circle game..."

Today is my daughter Sarah's birthday - the poem title quoted below is 5 years behind, but no less observant of the feelings evoked when I recall her 7-pound, 12-ounce self arriving at 7:19 p.m. 26 years ago... and the impression she's made in her little-over-a-quarter-of-a-century of life...

Like myself, S is the eldest and thus possesses "the responsibility gene" - she also inherited my naturally curly hair, ready smile and heart-on-sleeve sensitivity. She always believes the best of others until proven otherwise - she expects no more than she's willing to give, which translates to immeasurably. I have watched her grow into a fine young woman, a supportive friend, a devoted daughter - she has segued from tantrum-throwing teen to citizen of the world, remembering anniversaries, talking politics and even starting a recycling program at her job.

I will always cherish the Christmas I gave her the soundtrack to Practical Magic (a movie we had enjoyed together) and she holed up in her bedroom with it - when I faintly heard, through the door, the strains of Joni Mitchell's A Case of You on repeat play... I finally knew they had not switched babies on me in the hospital... :-)

Happy birthday, daughter - I love you dearly... <3

SONG: The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell

BOOK(S): Mirror, Mirror: Forty Folk Tales for Mothers and Daughters to Share, Jane Yolen (Editor)

My Mother/My Self: The Daughter's Search for Identity by Nancy Friday

POEM: For My Daughter on Her Twenty-First Birthday by Ellen Bass

When they laid you in the crook
of my arms like a bouquet and I looked
into your eyes, dark bits of evening sky,
I thought, of course this is you,
like a person who has never seen the sea
can recognize it instantly.

They pulled you from me like a cork
and all the love flowed out. I adored you
with the squandering passion of spring
that shoots green from every pore.

You dug me out like a well. You lit
the deadwood of my heart. You pinned me
to the earth with the points of stars.

I was sure that kind of love would be
enough. I thought I was your mother.
How could I have known that over and over
you would crack the sky like lightning,
illuminating all my fears, my weaknesses, my sins.

Massive the burden this flesh
must learn to bear, like mules of love.

QUOTE: "A daughter is a mother's gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters' role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships." ~ Victoria Secunda

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Walk of Life by Dire Straits

My friend N came over for dinner last night... and we had the most wonderful time catching up one-on-one, face-to-face, as opposed to our usual hit-and-run, e-mail and phone relationship - he played and sang Love Hurts... once in the kitchen and again on the patio, not having a clue as to the painful yet cathartic significance. We drank wine, we ate crusty bread dipped in olive oil and spices, we traded mind/heart/spirit stuff - at one point we were bemoaning our respective rounder-than-we'd-like-to-be physiques and I said that we should make a pact to motivate each other into improved fitness/nutrition habits.

We immediately came up with a concrete number of pounds to be shed, a finite date by which we'd like to accomplish and tools to spur each other's progress - at that point (11:00 p.m.) N said, "let's go for a walk now. It doesn't have to be long or far but it will validate our intent". I smiled in agreement, headed for the closet to lace up my too-long-ignored Reeboks, took off my scarf and earrings (but chose not to change out of my dress) and we were out the door - I was immediately transported back to an amazing year of my life in which I walked almost every single day. I felt like a filly out of the starting gate again and I ached to be back in exercise-addicted mode - we only went around the block but my pace was swift and joyful, in remembrance of days past and anticipation of times future - I have vowed to meet these goals to feel better about myself in more ways than just physical...

Plus we were able to have a front-and-center view of last night's amazing full harvest moon, which seemed symbolic (and you know how much import I attribute to signs/portents/omens) - feets, don't fail me now (and thanks, N, for both the nudge and the support... <3>

POEM: Earth Your Dancing Place by May Swenson

Beneath heaven's vault
remember always walking
through halls of cloud
down aisles of sunlight
or through high hedges
of the green rain
walk in the world
highheeled with swirl of cape
hand at the swordhilt
of your pride
Keep a tall throat
Remain aghast at life
Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture
Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs
Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place

QUOTE: "Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement." ~ Alfred Adler

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

John's Cocoons (Michael McNevin)

Yesterday's DailyOM:

Sharing Grief
Opening To Receive Comfort

When we experience something that causes us to feel shock and sadness, we may feel the urge to withdraw from life. It may seem like remaining withdrawn will keep us protected from the world, but during these times it is important to reach out to those trusted and precious people who care about us the most. Even with our best information and reasoning, we never know when someone else’s experience or perspective can give us additional information that we need. The universe speaks to us through many channels, and when we open ourselves up to receive its messages, we also receive nurturing care from a loving partner in life’s journey.

Grief is part of the human experience, and sharing our vulnerability is what creates truly close bonds in our relationships. Opening ourselves up in this way gets to the core of our being, past all of our defenses and prejudices. When life seems to crack the outer shell of our world, we are both raw and fresh at the same time. It is then that we discover who is truly willing to walk with us through life. We also see that some of those sent to us may not be the ones we expected to see. Regardless, we learn to trust in the universe, in others, in our own strength and resilience, and in the wisdom of life itself.

Sharing grief allows us to ease our burden by letting someone else help carry it. This helps us process our own inner thoughts and feelings through the filter of a trusted and beloved someone. We may feel guilty or selfish, as if we are unloading on someone who has their own challenges. Although, if we think about it, we know we would do the same for them, and their protests would seem pointless. Remember that not sharing feelings with others denies them the opportunity to feel. We may be the messenger sent by the universe for their benefit, and it is on this mission that we have been sent. By sharing our hopes and fears, joys and pains with another person, we accept the universe’s gifts of wisdom and loving care.

A friend sent me a "True Friendship/None of that Sissy Crap" essay yesterday - it perfectly suits our friendship as I feel he always "has my back"... :-)

Given my latest round of overwhelmedness/exhaustion/crises, I've allowed myself to do more cocooning than I think is healthy - I told him the other day I was in roly-poly mode (remember those bugs that would curl up into a ball to protect themselves from harm?).

I'm still grieving my mother's bad health, my father-in-law's medical woes and the mixed emotions of an aquaintance's recent passing - I'm also battling post-hard-drive-crash blues, most specifically my iTunes loss. I've been doing some research on the internet and there *is* a way to transfer songs from an iPod back to iTunes - Apple has discouraged an easy process, since they see it as piracy, however, most of my findings have been examples of people such as myself, losing their *own* data. At this point, we have the bird in the hand (over 2500 songs on the portable player) - I am terrified that, in my attempt to restore, I will not only *not* be successful... but will lose what there is on the iPod (godhelpme - fingers crossed... :-)

I know there are lots of positives in my life right now, but I'm also firmly entrenched in the wallow - I appreciate my friend giving me space... and also popping in often enough so as to assure me I'm still important to him... and I hope he knows the reverse is true...

BOOK: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

POEM: The Well of Grief by David Whyte

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief
turning down to its black water
to the place that we can not breathe
will never know

the source from which we drink
the secret water cold and clear
nor find in the darkness

the small gold coins
thrown by those who wished for something else

QUOTE: "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." ~ Anne Bradstreet

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Shiny Happy People (R.E.M.)

Big Yellow Taxi 2007 (Joni Mitchell)

"In order to be optimistic, you have to be irrational" ~ Joni Mitchell - god, I love this!

Two CDs (one *by* Joni and the other *about* her) being released the same day (today!) - guess you can guess where I'm headed immediately after work (zippity... :-)

[ADDED 9/25, 7:15 p.m.: Since Starbucks is basically the reason this new Joni disc saw the light of day (no pun intended), I figured I’d stop at the one directly on my route home from work to buy Shine – I walked in, looked on all the counters… and the music carousel... and didn’t see it. I asked the nice young barista and he looked puzzled… and then apologetic – “we definitely have the CD, but I just forgot to put it out!”.

I politely but emphatically told the guy, “this is a very big deal – it’s been ten years since Joni recorded an album of all-new material. Starbucks all over the country were celebrating the occasion today between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. - I can’t believe I am the first person asking for it, at 6:00 p.m. on the release date.” He pointed to a 7” x 9” poster confirming what I had just stated – rather than treat me like an obsessive-compulsive fan, he seemed to understand. He called someone else to staff the register while he went in search, coming back with one for me and a handful to display front and center, temporarily replacing something else – I then asked him what they’d be doing with the poster after today. He slipped it out of the frame and gave it to me – I grinned… broadly…

As I was paying for the CD, as well as a venti Pumpkin Spice Latte (cinnamon freak that I am – yum!), I made sure to get eye contact with him, placed my hand over my heart and said, “thank you so much” – he smiled back… and I’d like to think maybe he’ll do a bit of PR the rest of the night/week/month on this most auspicious musical offering (or he could very well get lots of mileage talking about the old hippie chick Joni freak nutcase that came into his store earlier tonight… :-)

I listened to the first song, an instrumental, on my way home and just wept at the beauty… of the notes and of her gift to us – it’s definitely Ms. Mitchell’s "voice", even without the words… and I am so looking forward to hearing more...

P.S. I'll go up to Best Buy later to get the new Herbie - he can wait...

From the Joni Mitchell website:

On September 25, Starbucks will host an intimate "Lunch and Listen" event to celebrate "Shine." From 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, more than 6,500 Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada will participate in the event by playing "Shine" along with a retrospective of classics which have made Joni one of the most beloved singer/songwriters of our time. "Shine" will be available at Starbucks locations and traditional music retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada on September 25 and in global markets the week of September 24. "Shine" is already receiving glowing accolades from the press, check out the library for all the latest reviews.


Head over to the LiveDaily website and be one of the first to hear Herbie Hancock's Joni tribute, which the New York Times says "delivers an intimate reinvention issuing from someplace deep inside the music." Describing the great work of Herbie's core band on the record (Herbie, sax genius Wayne Shorter, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist Dave Holland and guitarist Lionel Loueke), the Times goes on to say:

They also support a handful of vocalists, ranging from the wistful young singer-songwriters Corinne Bailey Rae and Norah Jones (on "River" and "Court and Spark" respectively) to the spectral poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen ("The Jungle Line"). Tina Turner takes a mesmerizing turn on "Edith and the Kingpin," while the Brazilian jazz singer Luciana Souza offers a respectful "Amelia." Then there is Ms. Mitchell herself. "If she's not a jazz singer, I don't know who is," Mr. Hancock said. "Her phrasing on 'Tea Leaf Prophecy' is unbelievable."

I want to tell you that the world
is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.

I want you to know that spring
is no small thing, that
the tender grasses curling
like a baby's fine hairs around
your fingers are a recurring
miracle. I want to tell you
that the river rocks shine
like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death,

I want to remind you to look
beneath the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you
are no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.

I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
"a great and common tenderness",
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.

QUOTE: "Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime, therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history, therefore, we are saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone, therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own, therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness." ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

Monday, September 24, 2007

End of the Summer (Dar Williams)

As I've mentioned before, I've been on the Dar Williams discussion list for over a decade now... and one of the many cool traditions members have initiated (and perpetuated) are sending End of the Summer and February (tying in to her songs of the same title) cards (at the appropriate season) for whoever wishes to sign up - the greetings can be homemade or store-bought, and are imbued with various photos, poetry and/or quotes relating to these most transitional times, in whatever form...

The first year I participated in EOTS (1999), my daughter S was in her senior year of high school and just getting ready to go away to college... so the song, and sentiment, struck entirely too close to home - I didn't think I'd take it as hard as I did but I'd find myself, at the least provocation, bursting into tears... at the grocery store, on the soccer field, at work... whenever anyone would ask me what her plans were...

My "card" was an 8 1/2" x 11" collage of various images and phrases conjured by Dar's stunning lyrics, with the below-poem in the center - I still cry when I hear the song... and I still engage in the annual ritual of honoring the passing from summer to autumn, even if the segue here in South Florida is mostly metaphorical...

Brushing out our daughter’s brown
silken hair before the mirror
I see the grey gleaming on my head,
the silver-haired servant behind her. Why is it
just as we begin to go
they begin to arrive, the fold in my neck
clarifying as the fine bones of her
hips sharpen? As my skin shows
its dry pitting, she opens like a moist
precise flower on the tip of a cactus;
as my last chances to bear a child
are falling through my body, the duds among them,
her full purse of eggs, round and
firm as hard-boiled yolks, is about
to snap its clasp. I brush her tangled
fragrant hair at bedtime. It’s an old
story—the oldest we have on our planet—
the story of replacement.

QUOTE: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference." ~ The Serenity Prayer

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Anthem (Leonard Cohen)

So... after five days of relationship musings, discussions of crashed hard drives should be the proverbial piece of cake (not wedding), eh? - when last we left our She-ra, I was waiting for my tech guy, who came Saturday morning a week ago, attempted to run CheckDisk with minimal results and then took my tower with him. He installed a replacement this past Tuesday, but he's not been able to recover any data (although he's still trying) - sadly enough, I had never backed up, so I take full responsibility...

A few major things I had been able to recreate or had sent as attachments in the last month so they were retrievable - most everything else was not only irreplaceable but sentimentally dear. At this point, I'm attempting to focus on the bright side of clean slate/starting over - my e-mail is okay, albeit almost 600 messages at this point, since I've not had the time/inclination/energy to deal.

This weekend has been critical in moving forward - I'm also attempting to set up an organizational filing system right off the bat so I'll know where to find things immediately. I obviously have a back-up drive now too - god, what a hard lesson learned.

Panic, breathe, relate, relax, release - it is what it is (oooooommmmmm)...

My book club (more in a future post) was here this past Thursday to discuss Eat Pray Love - it was an amazing evening of soul-searching, sharing and spirit. We all felt really... open (in a good way, Martha)... and I was fascinated by the different insights and preferences - Elizabeth Gilbert certainly speaks to many hearts in various ways. J sent me this link a few days ago - make sure to peruse all three pages!

I read today's poem aloud to our group (obviously because it reminded me of the second third of the book) - wanting judgment sadness indeed...

SONG: Anthem by Leonard Cohen

BOOK: Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante H. Gunaratana

POEM: Buddha's Dogs by Susan Browne

I'm at a day-long meditation retreat, eight hours of watching
my mind with my mind,
and I already fell asleep twice and nearly fell out of my chair,
and it's not even noon yet.

In the morning session, I learned to count my thoughts, ten in
one minute, and the longest
was to leave and go to San Anselmo and shop, then find an outdoor cafe and order a glass

of Sancerre, smoked trout with roasted potatoes and baby
carrots and a bowl of gazpacho.
But I stayed and learned to name my thoughts, so far they are:
wanting, wanting, wanting,

wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, judgment,
sadness. Don't identify with your
thoughts, the teacher says, you are not your personality, not your

then he bangs the gong for lunch. Whoever, whatever I am is
given instruction
in the walking meditation and the eating meditation and walks
outside with the other

meditators, and we wobble across the lake like
The Night of the
Living Dead
I meditate slowly, falling over a few times because I kept my
foot in the air too long,

towards a bench, sit slowly down, and slowly eat my sandwich,
noticing the bread,
(sourdough), noticing the taste, (tuna, sourdough), noticing
the smell, (sourdough, tuna),

thanking the sourdough, the tuna, the ocean, the boat, the
fisherman, the field, the grain,
the farmer, the Saran Wrap that kept this food fresh for this
body made of food and desire

and the hope of getting through the rest of this day without
dying of boredom.
Sun then cloud then sun. I notice a maple leaf on my sandwich.
It seems awfully large.

Slowly brushing it away, I feel so sad I can hardly stand it, so I
name my thoughts; they are:
sadness about my mother, judgment about my father, wanting
the child I never had.

I notice I've been chasing the same thoughts like dogs around
the same park most of my life,
notice the leaf tumbling gold to the grass. The gong sounds,
and back in the hall.

I decide to try lying down meditation, and let myself sleep. The
Buddha in my dream is me,
surrounded by dogs wagging their tails, licking my hands.
I wake up

for the forgiveness meditation, the teacher saying, never put
anyone out of your heart,
and the heart opens and knows it won't last and will have to
open again and again,
chasing those dogs around and around in the sun then cloud
then sun.

QUOTE: "Meditation is acceptance. It is the acceptance of life within us, without us and all around us. Acceptance of life is the beginning of human satisfaction. Transformation of life is the culmination of divine satisfaction. " ~ Sri Chinmoy

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We're Stronger Than That (Amy Rigby)

R 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 down-marker (two pointed brooms with string tied between) holders - R 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 S, over 26 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 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, he asked me to marry him (after a particularly memorable lovemaking session) 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. R and I had only been dating a few months when this 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 love that dress...

We stayed in our small college town for the next 8 years, moving temporarily to Atlanta en route to Puerto Rico (where we put in 4 1/2 years, a company transfer) - back to Atlanta for almost three years and then to South Florida, where we've resided for the last 15. 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... :-)

SONG: We're Stronger Than That by Amy Rigby

BOOK: Why I'm Still Married: Women Write Their Hearts Out on Love, Loss, Sex, and Who Does the Dishes by Karen Propp, Jean Trounstine

POEM: After An Absence by Linda Pastan

After an absence that was no one's fault
we are shy with each other,
and our words seem younger than we are,
as if we must return to the time we met
and work ourselves back to the present,
the way you never read a story
from the place you stopped
but always start each book all over again.
Perhaps we should have stayed
tied like mountain climbers
by the safe cord of the phone,
its dial our own small prayer wheel,
our voices less ghostly across the miles,
less awkward than they are now.
I had forgotten the grey in your curls,
that splash of winter over your face,
remembering the younger man
you used to be.

And I feel myself turn old and ordinary,
having to think again of food for supper,
the animals to be tended, the whole riptide
of daily life hidden but perilous
pulling both of us under so fast.
I have dreamed of our bed
as if it were a shore where we would be washed up,
not this striped mattress
we must cover with sheets. I had forgotten
all the old business between us,
like mail unanswered so long that silence
becomes eloquent, a message of its own.
I had even forgotten how married love
is a territory more mysterious
the more it is explored, like one of those terrains
you read about, a garden in the desert
where you stoop to drink, never knowing
if your mouth will fill with water or sand.

QUOTE: "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

Friday, September 21, 2007

Coming Up for Air (Patty Larkin)

SONG: Coming Up for Air by Patty Larkin

POEM: Learning to Float by April Lindner

Relax. It's like love. Keep your lips
moist and parted, let your upturned hands
unfold like water lilies, palms exposed.

Breathe deeply, slowly. Forget chlorine
and how the cement bottom was stained
blue so the water looks clear

and Caribbean. Ignore the drowned mosquitoes,
the twigs that gather in the net
of your hair. The sun is your ticket,

your narcotic, blessing your chin,
the floating islands of your knees.
Shut your eyes and give yourself

to the pulsating starfish, purple and red,
that flicker on your inner lids.
Hallucination is part of the process,

like amnesia. Forget how you learned
to swim, forget being told
Don't panic. Don't worry. Let go

of my neck. It's only water. Don't think
unless you're picturing Chagall,
his watercolors of doves and rooftops,

lovers weightless as tissue,
gravity banished, the dissolving voices
of violins and panpipes. The man's hand

circles the woman's wrist so loosely,
what moors her permits her to float,
and she rises past the water's skin,

above verandas and the tossing heads
of willows. Her one link to earth,
his light-almost reluctant-touch, is a rope

unfurling, slipping her past the horizon,
into the cloud-stirring current. This far up,
what can she do but trust he won't let go?

QUOTE: "Marriage is not a love affair. A love affair has to do with immediate personal satisfaction. Marriage is an ordeal; it means yielding, time and again. That’s why it’s a sacrament: you give up your personal simplicity to participate. And you are not giving to the other person; you are giving to the relationship. Because you are not giving to the other person, it is not impoverishing — it is life-building, life-fostering, enriching." ~ Joseph Campbell

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Howling at the Trouble (Richard Shindell)

SONG: Howling at the Trouble by Richard Shindell

POEM: After Love by Maxine Kumin

Afterwards, the compromise.

Bodies resume their boundaries.
These legs, for instance, mine.

Your arms take you back in.
Spoons of our fingers, lips

admit their ownership.
The bedding yawns, a door

blows aimlessly ajar
and overhead, a plane

singsongs coming down.
Nothing is changed, except

there was a moment when
the wolf, the mongering wolf

who stands outside the self
lay lightly down, and slept.

QUOTE: "In my experience, there is only one motivation, and that is desire. No reasons or principles contain it or stand against it." ~ Jane Smiley

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Birches (Bill Morrissey)

This has been one of my favorite songs since I became involved with the contemporary folk music scene over a decade ago - what I find fascinating is that my interpretation has changed over the years. I used to believe the woman in the song was sad and lonely - now I understand that she's found compromise ("she thought of heat, she thought of time, she called it an even trade").

It doesn't take a therapist to realize my feelings have mirrored the circumstances of my life - during the first twenty-five years of my marriage, R traveled quite a bit (twice a month, a week or more at a time). I've always been a strong and spirited soul and, even when the children were younger, we just talked about the time he was away, not as better or worse but different. I belonged to AAA (although AA seemed more appropriate some days... kidding!), 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...

The last six years have found R 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 hit-and-run conversation, intimacy and intensity. Now it feels less sad/lonely and more balanced - we have made a conscious decision to stay together in this hectic and unsettling world. I crave and cherish my independence, but I don't worry any more that I'll have to "give in" (reminds me of Dar's "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 whereas 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.

In R's card to me yesterday, he thanked me for my enduring love and patience with his failings - I can say the same... and I am humbled...

SONG: Birches by Bill Morrissey

BOOK: The Passionate Buddha: Wisdom on Intimacy and Enduring Love by Robert Sachs

POEM: Birches by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust--
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

QUOTE: "Love’s a fire, but whether it’s going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you never can tell." ~ Joan Crawford

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You Rise and Meet the Day (Dar Williams)

Today is my 31st 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's 11,315 days... but who's counting?... :-)

My husband R 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.

When it comes to troubleshooting, I am in constant awe of R'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...

So much more to say and my brain just won't go there right now - I think I'm in overwhelmed, speechless mode (take a picture... :-)

Cheers to the two of us for our perseverence, patience and passion with each other - tomorrow is another day!

P.S. In honor of us, Relationships will be the theme the remainder of the week...

SONG: You Rise and Meet the Day by Dar Williams

BOOK: Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix

POEM: I Married You by Linda Pastan

I married you
for all the wrong reasons,
charmed by your
dangerous family history,
by the innocent muscles, bulging
like hidden weapons
under your shirt,
by your naive ties, the colors
of painted scraps of sunset.
I was charmed too
by your assumptions
about me: my serenity—
that mirror waiting to be cracked,
my flashy acrobatics with knives
in the kitchen.
How wrong we both were
about each other,
and how happy we have been.

QUOTE: "Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle." ~ Amy Bloom

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Saw a Bird Fly Away (Dar Williams)

SONG: I Saw a Bird Fly Away by Dar Williams

POEM: Spirit of Place: Great Blue Heron by William Stafford

Out of their loneliness for each other
two reeds, or maybe two shadows, lurch
forward and become suddenly a life
lifted from dawn or the rain. It is
the wilderness come back again, a lagoon
with our city reflected in its eye.
We live by faith in such presences.

It is a test for us, that thin
but real, undulating figure that promises,
"If you keep faith I will exist
at the edge, where your vision joins
the sunlight and the rain: heads in the light,
feet that go down in the mud where the truth is."

(on a plaque in Portland's City Hall, for Portland's city bird)

QUOTE: "I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven." ~ Emily Dickinson

Sunday, September 16, 2007

When My Time Comes (Andrew Calhoun)

SONG: When My Time Comes by Andrew Calhoun

POEM: When Death Comes by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn

when death comes and takes
all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

QUOTE: "If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." ~ Isaac Asimov

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Missing You (Todd Snider)

My father passed 12 years ago today - I've spent a good part of this morning going through a box of memories, culled from his home. There's his death certificate... the police report (he was dead two days before he was discovered, sitting on the front porch with a radio, still playing, on his lap)... an award from the Chamber of Commerce for his work on urban renewal... clippings of articles from when he worked for Atlanta Magazine, the Journal-Constitution and the Athens Banner-Herald... pictures of him in Korea, where he served in the Marines... copies of various letters he had written, one of which was to me, in utero, gender unknown, and thus addressed to Susie or Curt Jr...

Tuesday I will celebrate my 31st wedding anniversary (a blog post unto itself) - I spent the occasion of my 19th at my father's memorial service, after which we all changed into jeans and long-sleeved shirts and spent the remainder of the day grappling (physically and emotionally) with the chaotic debris of his life. He had continued to live in my grandmother's house after her death - I thought I would never rid myself of the smell that permeated the walls/our clothing/our hair and skin and, on visceral days like today, it comes right back...

I returned with 8 iced tea glasses (two of which shattered in transit), four small Depression glass bowls (differently-patterned rose, clear, cobalt and amber), a deck of Rook cards, a Japanese fan, his wedding ring, two dogs (one carved, one ceramic) from my grandmother's miniature collection, his Sigma Delta Chi pin, my grandfather's eyeglasses, a quilt and a mantle clock (non-working), which had been promised to me for as long as I can remember - many of the aforementioned items, along with a film cannister of my father's ashes, reside on a shelf in a curio cabinet in my dining room...

My father was a good man who hit a bad patch and never re-found his equilibrium - he loved raw oysters, smoked herring and cornbread crumbled into a tall glass of milk... books on the Civil War and by Pat Conroy... Johnny Cash, Dave Brubeck and Credence Clearwater Revival... barbequeing on the grill each Sunday... telling "shaggy dog stories"... driving long distances... and he loved me and I loved him in return, fiercely...

The blog-titled song was written by Todd about his father - I've only heard him play this live once and, with eyes closed, he choked up a few times... which of course wrenched my own heart because I understood...

Rest in peace, you son of a bitch!
Mixed emotions does not begin to describe this melting pot (boiling pit?) inside me.
Rage, sorrow, fury, pity, disgust, regret -
all jumbled up together, as each surfaces to claim its own identity, then is reclaimed in the steaming brew.

Just like the details of your life inside that house -
no sense of order, priority or importance.
Empty liquor bottles on top of family photos, next to jugs of urine, buried beneath priceless glassware.
You gave as much worth to useless junk as you did to sentimental keepsakes.
You equated human waste with sacred memories.

Forgiveness is a moot point.
No one could consciously choose such an existence, knowingly reducing his own life to such a pathetic heap.
Rest in peace, you tormented soul.
Find a better life, our genetic benefactor.
Feel the unconditional love, my father.


What a gorgeous day - a welcome breath of fresh air, compared to the day before.

"He loved the mountains", said one.
"We need a rushing stream", said another.
"It must be sun-dappled", I said. "Those words are always so descriptive in novels".

We found a combination of the three as we proceeded down a winding path, eager tourists and picknicking families unaware of our mission.

The first handful began his journey down the fast-moving water ("Amazing grace, how sweet the sound..."),
the second scattered him to the winds ("Rock of ages, let me hide myself in thee..."),
mine becomes earthbound on a flat stone ("Love hurts, love scars, love wounds, love mars..."), until it (he?) is finally washed over and away.

The brook strips him clean and new again, and we feel the transformation.
He has finally found the peace he deserves.
God is kind.

QUOTE: "It is told that Buddha, going out to look on life, was greatly daunted by death. "They all eat one another!" he cried, and called it evil. This process I examined, changed the verb, said, "They all feed one another," and called it good." ~ Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Friday, September 14, 2007

Am I Too Blue? (Lucinda Williams)

Okay... well... I need all the healing energy the universe can send in my direction - long story short... my computer has bluescreened (flatlined?). Long story long... I got home from work yesterday, logged on and was given the message my virtual memory was low (no jokes, please) - I closed out of all programs, ran a Clean Sweep through Norton and set it to defragment the disc while I was at a meeting - when I got home, the defragmentation was complete and I decided to reboot, figuring that would help clear the system...

The computer tried to restart, but kept defaulting to the above-mentioned blue screen, with a big-*ss STOP and then a lengthy error message - I did attempt to F8 each time to get myself into safe mode... but it wouldn't let me. After three tries last night, I turned it off and went to bed, hoping all would be well in the morning - an 8:00 a.m. log-on had the same azure/cerulean/denim/indigo/midnight/navy/periwinkle/royal/sky results...

I called my tech guy, who is coming over first thing tomorrow - in the meantime, I'm holding the vision/thinking positive/invoking the law of attraction/sending skyward thoughts/burning all the purple candles I can muster that the situation is resolvable...

I'm also realistic enough to know "it is what it is" and am resigned to the fact I'll have to be okay with zero retrieval of data, despite the fact so much of my life (family/friends/concert series/folk club/festival/church/etc.) is documented and organized on my hard drive - just typing that threatens to turn my breathing to hyperventilation...

I did a bit of googling and came up with the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) - that doesn't sound good, does it? (rhetorical f*cking question)...

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.
-- David Dixon

Everything is gone;
Your life's work has been destroyed.
Squeeze trigger (yes/no)?
-- David Carlson

I'm sorry, there's -- um --
insufficient -- what's-it-called?
The term eludes me ...
-- Owen Mathews

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.
-- Peter Rothman

Seeing my great fault
Through darkening blue windows
I begin again
-- Chris Walsh

The code was willing,
It considered your request,
But the chips were weak.
-- Barry L. Brumitt

Printer not ready.
Could be a fatal error.
Have a pen handy?
-- Pat Davis

A file that big?
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.
-- David J. Liszewski

Errors have occurred.
We won't tell you where or why.
Lazy programmers.
-- Charlie Gibbs

Server's poor response
Not quick enough for browser.
Timed out, plum blossom.
-- Rik Jespersen

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.
-- Suzie Wagner

Login incorrect.
Only perfect spellers may
enter this system.
-- Jason Axley

This site has been moved.
We'd tell you where, but then we'd
have to delete you.
-- Charles Matthews

wind catches lily
scatt'ring petals to the wind:
segmentation fault
-- Nick Sweeney

ABORTED effort:
Close all that you have.
You ask way too much.
-- Mike Hagler

First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
so beautifully.
-- Simon Firth

With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
"My Novel" not found.
-- Howard Korder

The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao, until
You bring fresh toner.
-- Bill Torcaso

The Web site you seek
cannot be located but
endless others exist
-- Joy Rothke

Stay the patient course
Of little worth is your ire
The network is down
-- David Ansel

A crash reduces
your expensive computer
to a simple stone.
-- James Lopez

There is a chasm
of carbon and silicon
the software can't bridge
-- Rahul Sonnad

Yesterday it worked
Today it is not working
Windows is like that
-- Margaret Segall

To have no errors
Would be life without meaning
No struggle, no joy
-- Brian M. Porter

You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.
-- Cass Whittington

No keyboard present
Hit F1 to continue
Zen engineering?
-- Jim Griffith

Hal, open the file
Hal, open the damn file, Hal
open the, please Hal
-- Jennifer Jo Lane

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.
-- Francis Heaney

Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.
-- Judy Birmingham

The ten thousand things
How long do any persist?
Netscape, too, has gone.
-- Jason Willoughby

Rather than a beep
Or a rude error message,
These words: "File not found."
-- Len Dvorkin

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.
-- Ian Hughes

QUOTE: "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." ~ Robert Frost