Monday, June 30, 2008

Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV (1930)
Georgia O'Keeffe


Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now (Live, 1970)

Getting there...

...better that is, at least somewhat. I am still coughing, but not
as much and it's not hurting like it was. My ribs
were so sore from that constant hacking. It's
mostly just in the morning now. I even took
Molly walking this morning (and yesterday, too,
though we only took a very short walk).

The sky has been lovely the last two days and the light
so pure--everything looks like it's in high-definition.
I'm not sure that I would say the sky is pure cerulean--
it's almost manganese--so clear--like the water
color in parts of the Keys...

When I was walking today and a cloud would darken
the trees at the far end of the track, the blue of the sky
would just pop--like something 3D. And the lazy, puffy
clouds just enhanced this whole feeling of roundness
and comfort--

I felt like I was inside a "summer day" globe--if you shook
it up, I could have bounced around inside there with
the clouds and the crows and the flutterbys--those tiny
little moth/butterflies that Molly loves to chase. She'll
go round and round, zigzaging all over the infield. She
becomes completely oblivious to anything else around
her when she's after one of them. One day, she smacked
right into a telephone pole--I know it's not funny, but it
looked funny. She just shook her head and tried to find
her little flutterby again.

*************************************
Ok...these beautiful clouds did not get in my way
today, but I just have to post Joni, because I thought
about her when I was looking at them, singing to myself

I really don't know clouds at all...

I've looked at clouds, and love, and life from more
than both sides and I don't know much about
any of those things at all...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bye Bye Life - All That Jazz

Had to post this after reading LKDs latest poem--just made me think of this movie--of Bob Fosse. Everybody's gotta go out--bad as things were for Fosse in some ways, he lived a helluva life, and I think he had a damn good time.

Recollections

Beneath a relentless sun,
a coral bell succumbs;
a petunia endures.

The yucca,
ever indifferent, cascades
her lovely dying white

across a range of green.
I have not heard your voice
for many months now--

it’s gentle rise and fall,
its distinguishable cadence
something I will hear again

only in the dark recesses
of memory, in that windless
cave where the sounds

of an entire lifetime bounce
around, temporal and holy,
showing up at the oddest times.

The missing is acute
today, summer throwing
angular shadows across the lawn.

I hide inside, away from the heat
and the raging busyness of bees,
Japanese beetles, and hummingbirds,

women mowing their yards, men
driving pleasure boats on the small lake
near the pier where you showed

me how to bait a hook, their lives
unaffected, but I get no comfort
beneath my comforter, hiding

away, completely unobscured behind
the blindless windows of my grief.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. II (1930)
Georgia O'Keeffe



Thursday, June 26, 2008

Seven Words--More funny stuff from Carlin

George Carlin 'The Hippy Dippy Weatherman'

First heard Carlin do this on SNL, maybe? I keep thinking Laugh-In, but that's probably not right. He was a funny man.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Can't shake this

...cold. Got sick in FL and improved but never
stopped coughing. Now, I am coughing again,
only much worse. Spent all of yesterday and much
of the day before in bed, reading and trying to sleep,
but it's hard to sleep when you have chills and then
you have fever (or you're burning up sans fever but
burning just the same). My body can't seem to decide
if it's hot or cold. I'm sweating as I type this, but I'm cold.

Gonna give it a few more days and if there is no improvement,
well, guess it will be a trip to the doc (yuck!). I still think
Isaac and I are just passing germs to one another. He got
over pneumonia, but within 2 days of ending his antibiotics,
his nose start running and he started coughing again.

I had 14 people over for dinner last Tuesday night, and
he was coughing then. After he got home that night,
he started vomiting and diarrhea. Lo
and behold, that hit me in the middle of the night
Friday, and then my throat got sore on Friday
and then this awful cough started. To my knowledge,
no one else here that night has gotten sick except
he and I.

I had company in from Orlando (hubby's side of the family),
so I invited all of the close family members over for dinner.
Stuffed shells, salad, crusty bread with some dipping oil.
My sister-in-law brought Italian wedding cake and fresh
blueberries and strawberries to top it. We all ate too much
but had a good time.

***************************************

I am enjoying reading Levis. I only had Elegy
prior to ordering The Selected Levis. I'm not crazy
about the poems in Elegy but think I'll enjoy them more
after I've read some of the earlier work.

And Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (another Annie Dillard)
is an excellent read as well.

She tells the story of a Polyphemus moth cocoon
that one of her friends brought to school one cold
January day.

The kids were passing it around to one another
and warming it up in their hands. She says," The pupa
began to jerk, violently, in heart-stopping knocks."

The teacher put the cocoon in a Mason jar, and the moth,
warmed by the children's hands, began to emerge
from the cocoon. She says, "He couldn't spread his
wings. There was no room. The chemical that coated
his wings like varnish, stiffening them permanently,
dried, and hardened his wings as they were. He was
a monster in a Mason jar. Those huge wings stuck
on his back in a torture of random pleats and folds,
wrinkled as a dirty tissue, rigid as leather. They made
a single nightmare clump still wracked with useless,
frantic convulsions."

She concludes the story by saying that someone
let the moth go free and she saw him dragging
himself down the school's driveway.

I can't get the image of that moth out of my head.

The thought of this poor thing emerging before its time,
incapable of using its lovely wings, freed from the Mason
jar to walk away and die.
Childhood Ideogram

I lay my head sideways on the desk,
My fingers interlocked under my cheekbones,
My eyes closed. It was a three-room schoolhouse,
White, with a small bell tower, an oak tree.
From where I sat, on still days, I'd watch
The oak, the prisoner of that sky, or read
The desk carved with adults' names: Marietta
Martin, Truman Finnell, Marjorie Elm;
The wood hacked or lovingly hollowed, the flies
Settling on the obsolete & built-in inkwells.
I remember, tonight, only details, how
Mrs. Avery, now gone, was standing then
In her beige dress, its quiet, gazelle print
Still dark with lines of perspiration from
The day before; how Gracie Chin had just
Shown me how to draw, with chalk, a Chinese
Ideogram. Where did she go, white thigh
With one still freckle, lost in silk?
No one would say for sure, so that I'd know,
So that all shapes, for days after, seemed
Brushstrokes in Chinese: countries on maps
That shifted, changed colors, or disappeared:
Lithuania, Prussia, Bessarabia;
The numbers four & seven; the question mark.
That year, I ate almost nothing.
I thought my parents weren't my real parents,
I thought there'd been some terrible mistake.
At recess, I would sit alone, seeing
In the print of each leaf shadow, an ideogram--
Still, indecipherable, beneath the green sound
The bell still made, even after it had faded,
When the dust-covered leaves of the oak tree
Quivered, slightly, if I looked up in time.
And my father, so distant in those days,
Where did he go, that autumn, when he chose
The chaste, faint ideogram of ash, & I had
To leave him there, white bones in a puzzle
By a plum tree, the sun rising over
The Sierras? It is not Chinese, but English--
when the past tense, when you first learn to use it
As a child, throws all the verbs in the language
Into the long, flat shade of houses you
Ride past, & into town. Your father's driving.
On winter evenings, the lights would come on earlier.
People would be shopping for Christmas. Each hand,
With one whorl of its fingerprints, with twenty
Delicate bones inside it, reaching up
To touch some bolt of cloth, or choose a gift,
A little different from any other hand.
You know how the past tense turns a sentence dark,
but leaves names, lovers, places showing through:
Gracie Chin, my father, Lithuania;
A beige dress where dark gazelles hold still?
Outside, it's snowing, cold, & a New Year.
The trees & streets are turning white.
I always thought he would come back like this.
I always thought he wouldn't dare be seen.


Larry Levis
From The Selected Levis:Revised Edition

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wonders

Another time I saw another wonder: sharks off the Atlantic
coast of Florida. There is a way a wave rises above the ocean
horizon, a triangular wedge against the sky. If you stand where
the ocean breaks on a shallow beach, you see the raised water
in a wave is translucent, shot with lights. One late afternoon
at low tide a hundred big sharks passed the beach near the
mouth of a tidal river in a feeding frenzy. As each green wave
rose from the churning water, it illuminated within itself the
six- or eight-foot-long bodies of twisting sharks. The sharks
disappeared as each wave rolled toward me; then a new wave
would swell above the horizon, containing in it, like scorpions
in amber, sharks that roiled and heaved. The sight held awe-
some wonders: power and beauty, grace tangled in a rapture
with violence.

We don't know what's going on here. If these tremendous
events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield
of millions of monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what
is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriters, that they
ignite? We don't know. Our life is a faint tracing on the
surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners
on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view,
look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's
going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question
into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that,
choir the proper praise.


Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Walking

Part V, Teaching a Stone to Talk

We are here to witness. There is nothing else to do
with those mute materials we do not need. Until Larry
teaches his stone to talk, until God changes his mind,
or until the pagan gods slip back to their hilltop groves,
all we can do with the whole inhuman array is watch it.
We can stage our own act on the planet--build our cities
on its plains, dam its rivers, plant its topsoils--but
our meaningful activity scarcely covers the terrain.
We do not use the songbirds, for instance. We do not
eat many of them; we cannot befriend them; we cannot
persuade them to eat more mosquitoes or plant fewer
weed seeds. We can only witness them--whoever they
are. If we were not here, they would be songbirds falling
in the forest. If we were not here, material events like
the passage of seasons would lack even the meager meanings
we are able to muster for them. The show would play
to an empty house, as do all those falling stars which
fall in the daytime. That is why I take walks: to keep
an eye on things.

Annie Dillard

Monday, June 09, 2008

We Buy One More Day

She purchased three sections of 6x6 Cedar
privacy fencing for her yard. One is propped
against the maple, whose branches have weathered
the storms of a drunken great-grandfather
and four tornadoes, whose proximity to the property
line is just a tangent, whose presence now leads
her to believe she can no longer hear the night
noises--the dogs barking, the drug deal going down,
descending within earshot. Another one is placed
on the hosta path that leads to the shed she and her beloved
erected, a teak rocker placed upon it like a king's crown.
She tells me the comfort she feels sitting there in the shade,
rocking away in the chair her husband loved. The third
has found its home beneath a table and four chairs,
a tiki umbrella protruding from the middle, shading
only one half of the table half of the day. These purchases
have bought her more than they appear to be worth--
a night's sleep, no bugs on her feet, a shady place
to rest a weary body, but I don't get it. I want to say
the words which formulate in my mind and dissipate
in the early afternoon heat, how one little piece
of fence won't stop the noise, how the bugs will simply
crawl over the wood and find a way to touch your feet
no matter what you do, how the rocker sat for years
on the ragged earth without complaint and looks no worse
for the wear, but I just tell her about what I bought:
two new bras and a package of panties, a new dog toy
and some treats for Molly, the cordless phone with caller
ID so she'll know who called, a bag of heart-healthy nuts
for those of us nutty enough to believe its all about how
and what you eat, who keep finding one more reason
to invest in longevity, as if longevity had no mind of its own,
as if in doing these things one of us could prove we tried.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Rotten potatoes and lye soap

You can tell a lot about a person
by the kind of potatoes you find
in their kitchen potato-holder thingees.
I found a rotten new potato (which of course
was not new at all but very old, juices running
into the bottom of the plaster-cast chipped
china mosaic container I keep my potatoes,
onions, and garlic in). You can tell when
they're giving up or giving in--people, that is.
If you want to do a mental check, just ask
them where they keep the potatoes.

I don't know where I've been for some time now.

Today, I left here in search of fresh kale
and happened to think about the Farmer's
Market, which is open on Wednesdays
and Saturdays. No kale, but I bought fresh
asparagus, two huge tomatoes (as it's too
early for home-grown here, I hope these
aren't the tainted ones from New Mexico
or Texas, as my mother pointed out
when I stopped by her house to take her the bar
of lye soap I bought her at the market), and
lye soap.

The couple there were a stern looking
pair, and the woman chided me for coming early
and asked me to please respect the 12:30-6
time the market's open if I come again, which I
probably will even though I don't appreciate
being spoken to like I'm 5 years old, but it
was worth it to get my mom her soap. I don't
know why I thought about it, but she was happy
I did. She uses it for a variety of things. Me--
I'm just plain scared out it. I'll stick to my dial
and dove.

So, I brought my mom soap and she
sent me home with about a bushel of string beans
and an Annie Proulx book (she said she loved
Brokeback Mountain, which took me off-guard
but I made sure not to look surprised). She makes
comments on a regular basis that would lead
me to believe she would not consider reading
a book about gay cowboys. And I'm not sure what to make
of her comments, so I just don't say anything.
However, after reading BB Mtn, she bought more
Proulx, she likes her work so much.

So I drove to Kroger and bought some kale
and white sweet corn-on-the cob. Tonight
is veggie night. Kale, asparagus, broccoli, corn
and salad with radicchio, frisee, romaine,
arugula, fresh herbs (chives, cilantro,
dill) radishes, red peppers, scallions, bean
sprouts, carrots and feta cheese.


I'm tired.


*********************************************

...Once, a man shot an eagle out of the sky. He examined
the eagle and found the dry skull of a weasel fixed by the
jaws to his throat. The supposition is that the eagle
had pounced on the weasel and the weasel swiveled
and bit as instinct taught him, tooth to neck, and nearly
won. I would like to have seen that eagle from the air
a few weeks or months before he was shot: was the whole
weasel still attached to his feathered throat, a fur
pendant? Or did the eagle eat what he could reach,
gutting the living weasel with his talons before his breast,
bending his beak, cleaning the beautiful airborne bones?

...I would like to learn, or remember, how to live. I
come to Hollins Pond not so much to learn how to
live as, frankly, to forget about it. That is, I don't
think I can learn from a wild animal how to live in
particular--shall I suck warm blood, hold my tail
high, walk with my footprints precisely over the
prints of my hands?--but I might learn something of
mindlessness, something of the purity of living in
the physical senses and the dignity of living without
bias or motive. The weasel lives in necessity and we
live in choice, hating necessity and dying at the last
ignobly in its talons. I would like to live as I should,
as the weasel lives as he should. And I suspect that
for me the way is like the weasel's: open to time
and death painlessly, noticing everything, remembering
nothing, chosen the given with a fierce and pointed will.

From: Living Like Weasels
Teaching A Stone To Talk: Expeditions and Encounters
Annie Dillard

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Mind

"It can never be satisfied, the mind, never." Wallace Stevens
wrote that, and in the long run, he was right. The mind wants
to live forever, or to learn a very good reason why not.
The mind wants the world to return its love, or its awareness;
the mind wants to know all the world, and all eternity,
and God. The mind's sidekick, however, will settle for two
eggs over easy.

The dear, stupid body is as easily satisfied as a spaniel.
And, incredibly, the simple spaniel can lure the brawling
mind to its dish. It is everlastingly funny that the proud,
metaphysically ambitious, clamoring mind will hush if
you give it an egg.

Further: while the mind reels in deep space, while the
mind grieves or fears or exults, the workaday senses,
in ignorance or idiocy, like so many computer terminals
printing out market prices while the world blows up,
still transcribe their little data and transmit them to the
warehouse in the skull. Later, under the tranquilizing
influence of fried eggs, the mind can sort through this data.

From: Teaching a Stone To Talk:Expeditions and Encounters
Total Eclipse, Part IV
Annie Dillard

*********************************

My mind settled for srambled eggs with a dash of hot sauce,
fresh cilantro, and shredded provolone. It also enjoyed
a cup of 100% Kona coffee (a gift I brought my son from Naples--
can't get any decent coffee here, but they had a place
called The Bad Ass Coffee Company and they had quite a
selection--$24.95 for an 8 oz. bag of 100% pure Kona beans--
my son loves it!).

It then worked a crossword puzzle and word jumble
and felt quite satisfied and somewhere nearing
its normal "now this is what you do every day"
way of viewing my little world.

Then it promptly told me if I wanted to lose some
of this fat a** and lower my cholesterol levels
and blood pressure, I should probably go take a walk
NOW because it's already 80 outside and terribly
humid. And then it said, Round up Molly and take
her, too. She needs her excercise. So, I did. And
we walked 1 3/4 miles, and then my mind said,
It's hotter than hell out here already--you want to fall
over from a heat stroke? And look at your poor dog,
her tongue nearly down to the ground, her eyes
looking into yours, beseeching you to take her home
to that cool house.

And, so I came home. And I am cooling off but
my back is soaked and my hair is sticking
to my face, and I'm still sweating. But my mind
is telling me it's all worth it. What else do you have
to do with your life?

And I suggest to my mind that it listen up for just
a few minutes while I tell it about the special
project I have in mind, thank you! You see, mind,
I say, I really do have lots of things to do--really--
don't try to convince me otherwise! I have designed
a pattern to paint on my porch floor. I tell my mind
how clever I am to have come up with the design,
how much money I am saving by not putting in a new
floor (which I couldn't afford to do anyway but I don't
have to tell my mind everything), about how great
the colors are going to look, about how nice it will
be to sit out there once it's done and I move the furniture
back in and put some plants out there.

So, I am going out there to start on my project, mind.

I hope you don't mind!

(I think the sun may have fried a bit of my brain this morning).