I'm in a much better mood now that I spent most of yesterday stomping around. So here are some random happy pictures, including: Me and B, my mom and step dad, my amaryllis, and my awesome new Ikea tea kettle (a present from B's mom, who has discovered that if she buys me things she thinks are ugly, I usually like them)
Work on tiling my kitchen floor
Work on painting one or more rooms
Organize my office
Work in my garden
Read some poetry
Read a book for longer than 10 minutes, uninterrupted
Walk my dogs in the greenbelt
Attempt to make some fancy pastries with Julia Child
Scan a bunch of pictures into the computer
Reflect on the past year and make plans for a much better next year
I feel like I am suffocating under the minutia of ordinary life. I think I am burned out. I just need a break, but I can't get one.
A fastidious brewer of tea, a tea
Connoisseur as well as a poet,
I modestly request on my sixtieth
Birthday a gift of snow water.
Tea steam and ink stains. Single-
Mindedly I scald my teapot and
Measure out some Silver Needles Tea,
Enough for a second steeping.
Other favourites include Clear
Distance and Eyebrows of Longevity
Or, from precarious mountain peaks,
Cloud Mist Tea (quite delectable)
Which competent monkeys harvest
Filling their baskets with choice leaves
And bringing them down to where I wait
With my crock of snow water.
The back of my cube will no longer be a 5-ft tall panel of bright green felt. It will now be a real, live, stripey wall that goes all the way to the ceiling! I shouldn't be so excited about this! But I am! It will be almost like an office! Almost! Except without a door! And with only one wall! Yay!
Apparantly, the track for Madame Butterfly made it into the UK top 20. However, I was two that year (1984), so that's my excuse for not remembering.
"I've got a water gun in my office. Anyone want to point it at the window and see how long it take for us all to get arrested?"
"Have you noticed that Republicans never speak at BookPeople? I wonder why that is."
"Chris said he thinks they dehydrated him and put him in a shopping bag and put him in the car earlier. They're just faking us out right now."
"Who is Jimmy Carter?"
20% Extraversion, 80% Intuition, 46% Thinking, 53% Judging
Well, well, well. How did someone like you end up with the least common personality type of them all? In a group of 100 Americans, only 0.5 others would be just like you. You really are one of a kind... In fact, I do believe that that's one of the definitions for the word "FREAK."
Freak's not such a bad word to describe you actually.
You are deep, complex, secretive and extremely difficult to understand. If that doesn't scream "Freak!" I don't know what does. No-one actually knows the REAL you, do they?
You probably have deep interests in creative expression as well as issues of spirituality and human development.
You've probably even been called a "psychic" before, because of your uncanny knack to understand and "read" people without quite knowing how you do it. Don't fret. You're not actually psychic. That would make you special and you'll never accomplish that.
You're also quite possible the most emotional of them all, so don't take this all too hard. Nevertheless you most definitely have the strangest personality type and that's not necessarily a good thing.
The Brutally Honest Personality Test
Even as a child I could
induce it at will.
I’d go to where the big rocks
stayed cold in the woods all summer,
and tea mind would come to me
like water over stones, pool to pool,
and in that way I taught myself to think.
Green teas are my favorites, especially
the basket-fired Japanese ones
that smell of baled hay.
Thank you, makers of this tea.
Because of you my mind is still tonight,
transparent, a leaf in air.
Now it rides a subtle current.
Now it can finally disappear.
Two years ago today, we were very sleepy. We had spent all day and night travelling, and we were seriously jet lagged. But we dragged ourselves to a little cafe for croissants and chocolate, and then explored Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame. We looked for where the Bastille had stood, but weren't ever sure whether we found it. After dark, we got lost on the Right Bank near the Louvre and tried to take pictures of all the Smart Cars.
One year ago today, we ate bbq sitting on the plywood floor of our new house, which was under construction. We kept our coats on because the gas had not been turned on yet. We dreamed up plans for future renovations. We discussed where to put the few pieces of furniture we had and who got to use which room for an office. We were excited.
We will probably spend this evening at the Trail of Lights in Zilker Park. It's not what we expected to be doing, but it will still be memorable.
Thank you, B, just for existing.
When it got dark, we loaded the dogs back up and headed the way we had came. Pretty soon, we found the road partially blocked by a horse trailer and some sumptuous looking palanquins. We managed to maneuver around and kept going. Then we found that someone had closed a metal gate with a padlock across the road. We were stuck.
We hiked back to the trailer and the palanquins and found a path leading up a steep hill. At the top of the hill, we found an angry and unchristian Baptist who snarled and told us that the road was private (it wasn't) and interrogated us about what we were doing (he wasn't convinced by our 'hiking with dogs' excuse - obviously we were out to rob him of his camels).
Finally, he said he would send someone down to unlock the gate for us. We hiked back to the car, and then discovered that the padlock was not actually locked. So we let ourselves out.
I hope that man gets camel poop on his shoes.
My new Degree deodorant had "LIVE LIFE" boldly imprinted upon its product surface. Such powerful affirmations upon my bathroom products help me live my life to the fullest. This is a worthwhile improvement to the previous, unadorned version that I had grown accustomed to. It is fortunate that my deodorant manufacturer makes this effort to emphasize the vitality and vivacity of its customers' otherwise dull and hopeless lives.
And I can only wonder about the poor fools using a different brand.
I'm not sure what it is about the photo that struck me as so beautiful, but I have made it my desktop picture. I was very disappointed and sad when I heard that a group is cleaning up the hospital up to make it into a museum. The 'stabilized' corridor has lost everything that made it so haunting and beautiful.
The main character Titus (presumably as in Andronicus) is a typical teen. On a trip to the moon, he meets a lonely outsider and rebel who could teach him a lesson. I think the cliched plot is a part of the message - an original story could no longer take place in M.T. Anderson's world. The novel is funny, subversive, and ultimately tragic. It's one of those books that makes me feel as though I need to push it on other people. So I am. Read it.
I like being in your apartment, and not disturbing anything.
As in the woods I wouldn't want to move a tree,
or change the play of sun and shadow on the ground.
The yellow kitchen stool belongs right there
against white plaster. I haven't used your purple towel
because I like the accidental cleft of shade you left in it.
At your small six-sided table, covered with mysterious
dents in the wood like a dartboard, I drink my coffee
from your brown mug. I look into the clearing
of your high front room, where sunlight slopes through bare
window squares. Your Afghanistan hammock,
a man-sized cocoon
slung from wall to wall, your narrow desk and typewriter
are the only furniture. Each morning your light from the east
douses me where, with folded legs, I sit in your meadow,
a casual spread of brilliant carpets. Like a cat or dog
I take a roll, then, stretched out flat
in the center of color and pattern, I listen
to the remote growl of trucks over cobbles on
Bethune Street below.
When I open my eyes I discover the peaceful blank
of the ceiling. Its old paint-layered surface is moonwhite
and trackless, like the Sea—of Tranquillity.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom the book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.
I know I've posted this one before, but every time I come across it, I fall in love with it all over again. It's just so exactly describing a particular feeling that it's as if he got it straight from my head.
When I got home, they were getting ready to drive away. There was an enormous pile of trash on my lawn. I could have taken all that in stride, except that they had thrown siding all over the baby tree. When I saw that, I might have lost my temper just a little bit. Apparently enough to scare five large, drunk men. They got out of the truck and moved all the siding from the tree to the yard next to it, but they still left it on the lawn.
The new foreman was very nice. He apologized several times, even though he had nothing to do with it, and he stayed late to wrap the pile up to keep it from blowing away before the new trailer arrives. According to the owner of the company, the mess should be completely cleaned up by the time I get home from work today.
I meant to take a picture of the lawn this morning, but between the door and my car, I thought I might die of frostbite if I stopped. (No comments from you insane people living in places like Washington and Michigan. I don't do well in the cold.)
2. I heard on NPR that all of Emily Dickinson's poems can be sung to the tune of the Yellow Rose of Texas. Wikipedia says this is because most of her poems are written in common metre, but I still think it's neat.
3. Maybe I should take Felix's suggestion and go work for Hallmark, creating treacly photographs for Valentines Day cards.
4. "Treacly" is my word for the day. I'm trying to fit it in as many sentences as possible.
5. Finally, B and I have each bought a TerraPass for our cars in order to alienate our red state relatives as much as possible. Or maybe it was to help save the environment, I can't remember. In any case, if you want to take a step toward being carbon neutral, or you want to shore up your green street cred, buy one.
So whenever we put the backpack on him, he tolerates it silently but gives us his best martyred look and starts out dragging his feet as if he was carrying lead weights, rather than two 20-oz water bottles. However, he usually forgets his torture act as soon as we're in the street and he senses the possibility of the park. Then he starts strutting around with his tail held high and just looks silly.
I am a very lucky person.
This was my first opera, but not my last since I accidentally bought season tickets. Our seats were in the next to last balcony, so high up that it was a little bit scary walking around. I had a strange reaction to the show. On one hand, I've never been much interested in opera music, and an opera tends to be full of opera music. On the other hand, it was fascinating to know what they were actually saying. I never got bored of hearing a dramatic soprano belt out a beautiful Italian phrase, while the captions says something like "you must be hot after walking up that hill." I wish I had rented some opera glasses, both to get a better look at the set and also because then I could have pretended like I was in a movie about upper-crust British people.
Next up is Philip Glass' Waiting for the Barbarians, which appears to be very avant-garde and modern. I don't think I'm culturally competent enough to appreciate it, but it should be fun anyway.
In this case, at least, it turned out well. This is a Dame de Coeur rose from 1958. The flowers start out bright red and turn violently crimson as they get older. They smell wonderful. This is the first flower that bloomed after I brought it home, so I consider it grown by me.
I'll keep a little tavern
Below the high hill's crest,
Wherein all grey-eyed people
May set them down and rest.
There shall be plates a-plenty,
And mugs to melt the chill
Of all the grey-eyed people
Who happen up the hill.
There sound will sleep the traveller,
And dream his journey's end,
But I will rouse at midnight
The falling fire to tend.
Aye, 'tis a curious fancy –
But all the good I know
Was taught me out of two grey eyes
A long time ago.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay
To purchase this poem and many others in kickass, bluesy song form, check out Kris Delmhorst's new album.
But the discovery that time and chance hold sway even in nature can also be liberating. Because contingency is an invitation to participate in history. Human choice is unnatural only if nature is deterministic; human chance is unnatural only if she is changeless in our absence. If the future of Cathedral Pines is up for grabs, if its history will always be the product of myriad chance events, then why shouldn't we also claim our place among all those deciding factors? For aren't we also one of nature's contingencies? And if our cigarette butts and Norway maples and acid rain are going to shape the future of this place, then why not also our hopes and desires?
The earth is a homeless person. Or
the earth's home is the atmosphere.
Or the atmosphere is the earth's clothing,
layers of it, the earth wears all of it,
the earth is a homeless person.
Or the atmosphere is the earth's cocoon,
which it spun itself, the earth is a larvum.
Or the atmosphere is the earth's skin-
earth, and atmosphere, one
homeless one. Or its orbit is the earth's
home, or the path of the orbit just
a path, the earth a homeless person.
Or the gutter of the earth's orbit is a circle
of hell, the circle of the homeless. But the earth
has a place, around the fire, the hearth
of our star, the earth is at home, the earth
is home to the homeless. For food, and warmth,
and shelter, and health, they have earth and fire
and air and water, for home they have
the elements they are made of, as if
each homeless one were an earth, made
of milk and grain, like Ceres, and one
could eat oneself - as if the human
were a god, who could eat the earth, a god
Not to long after I went back upstairs to my desk, the building alarm went off and we were told to evacuate. As it turns out, a truck caught on fire in the parking garage. The entire building, including the store, was evacuated around noon. I would be interested to see the lunch sales increase in surrounding restaurants...
Anyway, enough complaining. I am interviewing for three (three! no, I don't know how that happened!) new positions on Wednesday, and I'm still catching up from my week off, and there are lots of new projects that I'm involved in, and this is just a busy time of year and I might be just the tiniest bit frazzled. Just a bit.
Part two: the suave Prince Sebastian comes to her rescue after finding just the right pair of sunglasses.
Part three: Princess Bella is restored to her (somewhat in need of reupholstering) throne
Boy, it's been nice.
Rather than being for any particular party, I tend to vote for gridlock. I distrust anyone who is capable of winning any major political office. How cynical is that? But I voted for Kinky. I even had bumper stickers. Oh well, maybe next time.
Right after the baby died, I discovered that gardening has incredible healing powers. Just thinking about my flowers and plants makes me happy now. So I have been developing grandiose plans for our yard. Since I can't do a lot during the winter, I am going to study up in the Dummies book (and maybe get around to finishing tiling the kitchen). Then, sometime around February, I am going to rip up a good portion of our front yard, including a section of lawn, some really ugly boxwoods, three mystery bushes, and my accidental parsley garden and then design and plant a large-scale garden. I have other, longer-term plans also, but that project will do for now.
Tomorrow, maybe I will update on my vegetable garden experiment.
Felix has a hilarious description of the farmhouse and goings on in the great metropolis of Quincy, MO (on 11/2/06 - I can't figure out the unique URL because his RSS feed is broken).
We visited many relatives and friends, ate much food, played much scrabble, shook many hands and kissed many babies. I think that about sums it up.
Click below for a photo album full of exciting pictures of things like leaves.