Monday, March 31, 2008
My son, daughter-in-law and grandson moved into their
new house today. Seems far too quiet in here tonight
without someone here. Youngest son is working.
I am happy for my oldest son and his family. They bought
a beautiful new home and are so thrilled to be there.
They've been staying in the guest room here--my daughter's
old room. Although the room is large and it has a bathroom,
it was hard for them to be in there with the baby and their
We've been juggling things for the two months (man, they flew
by) that they have been here. Their cats are declawed,
my two cats hate any other cats (and they are not declawed
so they had an unfair advantage) , Molly loves everybody,
including cats, but is so big we didn't let her interact
with the other cats or the baby (she would not intentionally
hurt them but would--husband has a black eye this morning--
Molly swiped him with her paw in the night), so this evening,
Molly is roaming freely around the house again and doesn't
know what to do with herself. We've largely kept her confined
in our bedroom, which is the size of many one-bedroom
apartments I've been in, so I don't feel she's been too
traumatized from the experience.
She's driving me nuts right now getting into everything,
but she'll settle down.
Looks like it may rain again. We were under drought
conditions for a number of months, but it's done nothing
but rain for weeks and weeks. I think we're under
a flood advisory tonight.
Would cook but it will only by hubby and me, so I think
I'll have leftovers. I cooked a wonderful butter chicken
over the weekend, and I think that's what I'll have.
I'll share the recipe. It was quite good. Had a Riesling
with it, which really brought out the flavors of the Indian spices.
2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into large pieces
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsps cumin
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground coriander
Dash of cayene pepper
2 tsps grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsps butter
1 cup frozen peas
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
cracked black pepper
1 cup basmati rice
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp curry powder
Ok...trying to remember what I did...hmmmm...
Wash and dry the chicken. Cut into large pieces. In a bowl,
mix together the spices and olive oil. Blend well.
Coat the chicken in the marinade and let it sit for an hour or
so (depends on how many glasses of Riesling you have prior
to cooking). Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken
and cook until lightly browned.
After starting chicken (or before), bring 1 3/4 cups
of chicken stock, curry, and just a tad of kosher salt
to a boil. Add the basmati slowly and bring to a boil.
Cover it and turn down to a simmer. Cook for about
15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn't
After chicken browns lightly and has cooked for about
10 minutes, push it to the sides of the pan and add the
butter to the center of the pan. When it's melted, add
the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until
the onions are translucent. Then mix everything
together and add the tomato paste and the diced
tomatoes. Stir thoroughly until blended together.
Let simmer for 5-8 minutes. Taste test to see if salt,
pepper and seasonings agree with your tastebuds.
If not, add more.
While that simmers, place frozen peas in a colander
and run hot water over them until nearly thawed.
Add peas to chicken mixture and stir. Add heavy cream
being careful not to let the mixture boil. Stir well.
Cook for 5 more minutes (or longer if you've had more
Riesling and think you want to wait a little while
to eat, or think perhaps you'll never eat again, you'll
just keep drinking Riesling or Merlot or Cab or whatever
wine you enjoy while you cook).
While the mixture cooks down, chop about 1/2 cup
Add to mixture just before serving.
Serve over basmati rice with poppadoms or nan bread.
Hell, that was a lot of work typing that in. I think I need
to go pour a glass of wine and eat my leftovers.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I wish it would just go ahead and rain if it's going
to be this dark.
Head's still not right or I'd do something. Anything.
Maybe lots of things. Maybe just one. Maybe something
I would enjoy. Maybe something I would regret. Maybe
things which change other things, at least for a little
while. Maybe I would do this:
A load of clothes, mop a floor,
rake some leaves out of the garden beds, dust
some furniture, take Molly for a walk, take a shower,
read more of To Kill A Mockingbird (it's my read-every-
other-year-or-so favorite book), do a crossword puzzle,
fold some clothes, clean the kitchen.
Something. Anything. I need to do something.
Cooked myself a wonderful omelet this morning:
Cage-free organic eggs (way too pricey and probably
not any better for you but I buy into the scheme).
Cracked black pepper
Couple of splashes of hot sauce
Grated smoked gouda cheese
It was good. I am filled, sated, empty.
I need to do something. Anything. But this.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
That's right, folks. She's only the second presidential
hopeful to ever come here--the other was Strom
Thurmond in 1948 (yikes--Strom Thurmond! creepy!).
So, I have tickets but can't decide if I want to go
or not. I don't like to be in crowds unless I have a drink
in my hand (concerts, for example, don't bother me
because I can imbibe). It's the panic thing and the social
No one I know wants to go anyway, so I'd have to go alone.
Which doesn't bother me too terribly much. I do lots of things
I think it would be interesting to hear what she has to say,
but I can't hear her say what she has to say on tv. I've
been paying attention. The Bosnia thing was a major
blunder, but I guess it could have been worse. Still,
is she so sleep-deprived/stressed out/worn out that she
honestly thought she was telling the truth?
I am more interested in the plans for healthcare reform
and the economy. But, I probably won't go. I'll just
watch the news tonight to see what she had to say.
Been very busy here helping with Isaac as my son and his wife
prepare to move into their new place. I know they're excited
and I'm excited for them.
I have a yard full of blooming things and I love it! But I have tons
of work to do out there too. It's brrrr here today, so I don't think
I'll go out there and work. That's another reason I probably
won't go see Hillary--I don't feel like standing outside in a long line
for several hours in the cold.
Day # 4 of the headache that won't quit. All on the left side of my head.
Damn allergies and sinus stuff. My ear hurts so much it wakes
me up, but it's a little better today. Annoying headachey stuff.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thanks to LKD who brought this back to me...I remember when I saw Cats and how this song stayed with me for months and months...been such a long time ago...
Touch me/it's so easy to leave me/all alone with the memory/of our days in the sun
If you touch me you'll understand what happiness is...
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
There's a world of hurt out there, all around
us everyday, and to be a part of helping with
the hurt matters. Even though I only collect
data for research at a mental health center,
I meet with people every day who carry such
heavy loads. Sometimes they talk to me,
and I listen, and if I can offer anything
I think helps, I do. But I think mostly, they
just need to be heard.
They don't have to hurt themselves
to see if things are still real--the real is embedded
and it hurts. Still, I am reminded of a song
I'll post. And I think I was meant to do the job
I'm doing, and I hope I've helped in some small way.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
From this vantage point, I can see
the Seussian tree in the north corner
of my back yard. Stripped now of most
of her branches, her stark black skeleton
against the grey sky is lovelier than any
other tree out there. Though there is no
competition between them, I think she
knows she's an attention getter. We should
cut her down, I think, as I sit there on the bench
my neighbor's gave me in memory of my father,
but the truth is I love her determination
too much to take her down. Even in the fading
light, I see the small tips of new life
rising from her top and shattered sides
and what appears to be a nest woven
into her uppermost limb. I call her
Truffula--not original, but fitting. I reach down
for the drink I sat on the ground beside
me only to see a pair of eyes looking back
at me; less than half a walnut right there
by my big toe begging to be picked up
and examined, asking me to think about
how it got there, no walnut tree around here
that I know of, and before I can think too
much about ending my sentence with a preposition,
three rabbits come out from beneath the magnolia,
startled to find me sitting there examining
the monkey-eyed walnut, startling me
so that I drop it and it hits my big toe
and bounces into a patch of new grass,
which the rabbits may have been looking
for when they found me looking for peace
on that bench, staring at the tree, thinking
about my father, not worrying about errors
or mistakes or what went wrong. Only living
it, life, out there in the back, so far from alone.
Cheers (from The Art of Drowning, 1995)
Already tonight I have lifted my glass to Jackie
Wilson and Gracie Lantz, the voice
of Woody Woodpecker and creator of the taunting laugh,
according to her obituary in this morning’s paper.
And now the wind is whistling at the doors and windows,
straining to lift the roof off this house,
and I am alone and casting about for someone else
to toast, someone remarkable whose leaving
shrivels the skin of the world. It could be
a virgin martyr or exiled Ovid, or even Jackie
Wilson again, the man no act would follow,
not James Brown, not the Temptations, one of whom
explained it was because he left a hole in the stage.
The only toast that should follow a toast to the dead
is a toast to the long dead, so up goes my glass
to the first man ever to notice the outline
of a bear in the stars one quiet night long before
the wheel and shortly after fire. It is said
that laziness was the mother of astronomy,
and surely he must have spent hours on his back,
hands pillowing his head, while his eyes
connected the points of light with imaginary lines
until a ferocious shape stood before him in the sky.
I drink to the long wonderment of his gazing,
the Nile of amazement flowing into the night,
his hand moving up to cover his open mouth.
And still the wind is driving hard through the trees,
knocking down the weak branches which I will
gather in the morning and break over my knee
for kindling; but the scene inside is composed,
a tableau of bottle, vase, open book,
a painting of a little ship framed on the wall,
far from home in a churning sea and burdened
with perilous cargo. I wonder in the details
of its sail lines and streamers flying from the masts.
I see a man in the rigging, the red dot of his shirt.
No wonder visitors always remark on this picture
while I am out in the kitchen making their drinks
and getting ready to propose the first toast,
to hoist my glass to that dark, bearded man
lying dumbstruck and reeking of woodsmoke
a little distance from the mouth of his cave.
Here’s to the bear he saw roaring in the heavens,
to the ram, the tilted scales, the intricate crab,
and the dippers pouring out a universe of ink.
Here’s to Cassiopeia in her chair and chained Andromeda.
Here’s to the wind blowing against this lighted house
And to the vast, windless space between the stars.
I like this poem a great deal.
Perhaps because, like the speaker, I have spent my time thinking
about the first person to every do/see/experience one thing or the other.
I think about the first person who ever looked out upon the ocean
or who first saw a sand dune or who first saw the mountains,
because at some point in time, we are always that first person...
it is the first time for us, even if we have read what it was like
(which obviously would not have been the case with the first
man to make out the shape of the bear in the stars--Ursa),
we are still having an experience uniquely our own.
I think the quatrains work well here, the flow is good,
the story interesting enough to entertain. No so what for me
with this one...just a smile.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Good news--Molly is ok. She has a fatty cyst
which may or may not get any larger, so we're
not going to remove it.
Let's see, as my greatest asset, (according
to a select few) is my "gift" of gab
I'll just share my
simple little thoughts for the day.
The herbs are starting to green. I'll soon have the opportunity
to go outside and cut fresh herbs to put in my meals again.
I still have a yard full of debris from the tornados and the ice
storms. Some of it is too large for me to do by myself, but I
don't have anyone else to help me (unless I beg or whine
or mope or hire out the help). Hubby does not like to do
outdoor work, but it has to be done. I also need to rake
all the leaves that I never got to last fall when I was in my funk
(which I'm still in).
I'm hungry though I ate an hour or so ago. Maybe I'll have some
yogurt to hold me over until dinner.
Let's see, what else....hmmmmm.....it's cold today. I had to wear
a sweat jacket.
The paint job looks lovely. My daughter-in-law and I were
quite pleased with the results. She is over there painting
the livingroom today (I am taking care of the baby--sweet
baby that he is!).
I like to paint. I had forgotten how much I like to paint.
It's a pretty mindless, monotonous activity that just suits
my little brain just fine. Matter of fact, I wouldn't
mind painting houses professionally, but I hate all the prep
work and the smell gets to me after a few hours. But
it's very relaxing to take the brush and stroke, stroke,
stroke or take the roller and roll, roll, roll. And then to
see the lovely results brings a sense of satisfaction.
Time to go to the kitchen and start working on the evening
meal. Perhaps some chicken florentine or a chicken
broccoli casserole. For sure a Waldorf Salad...yum.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
My son and I discuss our favorite
Flannery story and find that we think
more alike than we know how to acknowledge,
at least immediately. He asks me about
underlying themes, why her stories
are always so sad, why nothing good
ever comes until it's too late. I want to tell
him that I know why, that I've read enough
and thought enough and lived enough
to know, but I just make one of those screwed-
up eyebrow faces and say, What do you think?
And he, who has grown accustomed to a mother
who either knows some things or fakes it well
enough to play a trump and be convincing now
and then, shrugs his shoulders and lifts those black
eyebrows at me and says he isn't sure but maybe
he thinks it's a southern thing, writing about decay,
about losing what you thought mattered, about an entire
way of life shifting abruptly and loosening the foundations
from the red earth keeping them part of the whole.
I shrug my tired shoulders and nod and think
how my heart aches for him already, that he should
know these things and want to know more, want
to digest and invest in a life of books and characters,
a life lived through the eyes and words of a woman
who gave me Macon and Greenleaf, a deaf girl abandoned,
a young man blinding himself in search of truth,
a woman with a fancy hat on a bus in a city unkind,
whose real life took her to Fire Island and The Hamptons,
who could never escape, nor would if she could, the bold
untamed places in the heart many fear to visit, the place
the lonely and disquieted spirits come to again and again.
I just love that word. And I love the way
I feel when I see one blooming...like there is hope after all
and that it comes in the shape of this scraggly, orphaned
looking plant all year until late March or early April when it becomes the star
of the neighborhood or the beacon on the craggy outcrops
I pass as I drive along the parkway to work.
When I had Molly outside yesterday, I came across dozens
of them in my backyard just beginning to blossom. I don't know
why I've never noticed them back there before.
But I'm glad I did yesterday. I'm going to cut some and put them
in a large cut-glass vase on the dining room table.
They make me smile. They make me know what so what means.
And I know my friend knows, too. Poetry is just not her thing.
It' s not for everybody.
I asked her if she wanted to take a road
trip with me this fall and go to Dodge. She's thinking about it,
but she told me she would not go to the festival but would
go to NYC to visit some friends. That's cool with me. It would
be great to have her along on the road trip. Been saving all my
loose change with the hope I'll have enough saved by then to
go. I don't want to miss it.
Really sore today from the priming we did yesterday.
We got all of that done and will start painting this afternoon
after we all get home from lunch.
Grandma wants to take us all out to eat.
Here's one of the Collins' poems I chose for the meeting:
Splitting Wood (from Picnic, Lightning, 1998)
Frost covered this decades ago,
and frost will cover it again tonight,
the leafy disarray of this woodland
now thinned down to half its trees,
but this morning I stand here
sweating in a thin shirt
as I split a stack of ash logs
with two wedges, an ax, and a blue-headed maul.
The pleasures here are well known:
the feet planted wide,
the silent unstoppable flow of the downswing,
the coordination that is called hand-eye,
because the hand achieves
whatever the concupiscent eye desires
when it longs for a certain spot,
which, in this case, is the slightest fissure
visible at one end of the log
when the thin, insinuating edge
of the blade can gain entry,
where the shape of its will can be done.
I want to say there is nothing
like the sudden opening of wood,
but it is like so many other things—
the stroke of the ax like lightning,
the bisection so perfect
the halves fall away from each other
as in a mirror,
and hit the soft ground
like twins shot through the heart.
And rarely, if the wood
accepts the blade without conditions,
the two pieces keep their balance
in spite of the blow,
remain stunned on the block
as if they cannot believe their division,
their sudden separateness.
Still upright, still together,
they wobble slightly
as two lovers, once secretly bound,
might stand revealed,
more naked than ever,
the darkness inside the tree they shared
now instantly exposed to the blunt
light of this clear November day,
all the inner twisting of the grain
that held them blindly
in their augmentation and contortion
now rushed into this brightness
as if by a shutter
that, once opened, can never be closed.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Because I felt too weak to move
you kindly moved for me, kneeling
and turning, until you could take my breast-tip in the
socket of your lips, and my womb went down
on itself, drew sharply over and over
to its tightest shape, the way, when newborns
nurse, the fist of the uterus
with each, milk, tug, powerfully
shuts. I saw your hand, near me, your
daily hand, your thumbnail,
the quiet hairs on your fingers--to see your
hand its ordinary self, when your mouth at my
breast was drawing sweet gashes of come
up from my womb made black fork-flashes of a
celibate's lust shoot through me. And I couldn't
lift my head, and you swiveled, and came down
close to me, delicate blunt
touch of your hard penis in long
caresses down my face, species
happiness, calm which gleams
with fearless anguished desire. It found
my pouring mouth, the back of my throat,
and the bright wall which opens. It seemed to
take us hours to move the bone
creatures so their gods could be fitted to each other,
and then, at last, home, root
in the earth, wing in the air. As it finished,
it seemed my sex was a grey flower
the color of the brain, smooth and glistening,
a complex calla or iris which you
were creating with the errless digit
of your sex. But then, as it finished again,
one could not speak of a blossom, or the blossom
was stripped away, as if, until,
that moment, the cunt had been clothed, still,
in the thinnest garment, and now was bare
or more than bare, silver wet-suit of
matter itself gone, nothing
there but the paradise flay. And then
more, that cannot be told--may be,
but cannot be, things that did not
have to do with me, as if some
wires crossed, and history
or war, or the witches possessed, or the end
of life were happening in me, or I was
in a borrowed body, I knew
what I could not know, did-was-done-to
what I cannot do-be-done-to, so when
we returned, I cried, afraid for a moment
I was dead, and had got my wish to come back,
once, and sleep with you, on a summer
afternoon, in an empty house
where no one could hear us.
I lowered the salt breasts of my eyes
to your mouth, and you sucked,
then I looked at your face, at its absence of unkindness,
its giving that absence off as a matter
I cannot name, I was seeing not you
but something that lives between us, that can live
only between us. I stroked back the hair in
pond and sex rivulets
from your forehead, gently raked it back
along your scalp,
I did not think of my father's hair
in death, those oiled paths, I lay
along your length and did not think how he
did not love me, how he trained me not to be loved.
from Blood, Tin, Straw
I decided we'd read and discuss a few of Billy Collins' poems at April's poetry circle meeting. I had a hard time selecting the poems for the meeting, and not for the reason I thought I would.
I've always loved reading his work, but something felt very wrong, very different as I went through my volumes trying to choose the poems. I found myself reading one and saying
and then another and saying SO WHAT
and this scene repeated itself over and over, which was disconcerting to me.
I finally decided on the following poems:
Cheers, from The Art of Drowning
Obituaries, from Nine Horses
Splitting Wood, from Picnic, Lightning
Child Development, from The Apple That Astonished Paris
I may post them here and ask for some comments.
Back to my SO WHAT feeling.
Last weekend, I visited with my friend in Lexington. I was reading some Sharon Olds and shared one of the poems with her. She read it. Then she reread it. Then she reread parts of it and handed the book back to me and shrugged her shoulders and told me what she thought. Basically, she was left with a so what feeling, and she stated she guessed she just wasn't intelligent enough to quite get poetry or that she just couldn't sink her teeth into most of what she had read and that most of it left her with this so what feeling.
She happens to be one of the most (if not the most) articulate, intelligent, well-read, intuitive, and talented people I know. I love the way her mind works and her love of literature, the arts, and science. Her vocabulary astounds me (she's not pretentious--she just loves the beauty of words and isn't afraid to use them--which makes me think she would really love poetry). She graduated from NYU with an acting degree and is now a PhD candidate in Toxicology at the UK Research Center. So, this woman knows the beauty of language and how it can move us but has never found any poetry that has affected her that way. It was an interesting discussion which merited some close observation and self-evaluation on my part. She has read some of my work and confesses to liking some of it quite a bit. But that's another discussion I don't want to get into this morning (deals with dead dad and lost people kind of things).
So, perhaps it's just the place I'm inhabiting right now that makes me think so what when I read Billy, but it was a strange feeling. I admire his wit and his talent, but what is he really saying that matters at all, and does he have to be saying something that matters ? Is it the poet's job to be really saying something that matters, or can it just be the poet's job or mission or hope that what he/she is doing is inviting you into his/her world? Billy invites us in. I feel like pulling up a chair and having a glass of wine with him or lying outside on the lawn with him looking at the stars and offering a toast "to the first man ever to notice the outline/of a bear in the stars one quiet night long before/the wheel and shortly after fire."
Maybe I understand more what jim means when he says he just wishes Billy would come out of his backyard and play with the rest of us from time to time. Maybe it would be a good thing to see him get down and dirty--maybe talk about some menstrual blood or semen or vomit or crack houses or the way disease ravages the body.
Again, maybe it's just me. Hmmpphh...
Son and family closed on their house yesterday. I'm getting ready to go over and help my daughter-in-law start priming the walls. We hope to get them all primed today and perhaps paint one or two this evening. They are very excited to be finally getting into their own place. I think I might have been driving them a little bonkers! Actually, we've all done well here together, and I am going to miss seeing little Isaac every morning when I get up.
Molly has to go for her biopsy Monday morning. Hopefully, it's just a fatty cyst. I've been worried, but worrying is not going to change anything. The cyst (or whatever it is) is about the size of an egg. They noticed it when they were bathing her at the clinic last week.
Damn brand new washing machine didn't work worth a s***. Good thing I contacted Lowe's within 7 days. They replaced it. I chose a different model this time and so far so good. Only concern now is the rising water. We've had several roads under water this week, and my basement was starting to fill up, but it didn't get to the washer/dryer/hot water heater area. I can hear the sump pump running as I type.
Time to wash my face, put on some old clothes, load up the ladder, and go paint. I really love to paint--I just hate the prep work. That's why I never get things done in this old house...it takes forever to get the walls ready to be painted. But, I hope helping out at the new house will inspire me to get started on my hallway (i got started--just didn't get far!).
Brrr outside and going to get colder tonight, but the daffodils are lovely. And they make me feel happy. And that's enough for today.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Shingles cover the rounded walkway
leading to the screened-in porch,
and even beyond and about--in the middle
of the sedum I didn't cut back this fall,
in front of the pansies, atop the hyacinths,
three feet from the knockout rose bush
my mom and dad planted the last year
of my father's life. It's been warm enough
to remove them, to uncover the covered,
to ship-shape the yard again so it looks
like someone who lives here cares, but the effort
has been greater than the desire, so I just
look at them from the porch windows,
from the street when I pull into the driveway,
from the rock wall when I sneak my smoke
out back in Daddy's garden, all the time
thinking I'm making some kind of point,
some mini rebellion, some statement
about who I am. But who I am has no idea
about how much she'll take, sitting here
alone, the need to hurt wearing itself
out like my old Hoover, clogged and filled
with the little sentiments neglect deposits
on all the days spent unmoved, no lover
or friend to make the willing worth doing.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Where will love go? When my father
died, and my love could no longer shine
on the oily drink-darkened slopes of his skin,
then my love for him lived inside me,
and lived wherever the fog they made of him
coiled like a spirit. And when I die
my love for him will live in my vapor
and live in my children, some of it
still rubbed into the grain of the desk my father left me
and the dark-red pores of the leather chair which he
sat in, in a stupor, when I was a child, and then
gave me passionately after his death--our
souls seem locked in it, together,
two alloys in a metal, and we're there
in the black and silver workings of his 40-pound
the trapezes stilled inside it on the desk
in front of the chair. Even when the children
have died, our love will live in their children
and still be here in the arm of the chair,
locked in it, like the secret structure of matter,
but what if we ruin everything,
the earth burning like a human body,
storms of soot wreathing it
in permanent winter? Where will love go?
Will the smoke be made of animal love,
will the clouds of roasted ice, circling
the globe, be all that is left of love,
will the sphere of cold, turning ash,
seen by no one, heard by no one
our love? Then love
is powerless, and means nothing.