Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My dearest, musing a bit this late afternoon, wood blinds up in the aerie still drawn but I should open them at this point to let in the slanted light, indirect and tolerable now at the end of the day. I wonder where you are. I think back to the phone call yesterday with my girlfriend of many years, trying to describe my life, my blog, the unspoken yet eloquent encounters between you & me. I'm sure I sounded like a nut case, I did to myself, a bit. It's very hard to explain, and I won't even try here, it doesn't bear up, nor should it - why dissect something so beautiful, that simply works? I know it brings me joy, and I sense that it brings you joy - and that's enough - no, more than that - it's a gift. Besides, as I noted to my friend, the irony is - well, what if we were to get together? I wouldn't write to you, and you might miss that, and I might miss writing - so maybe the whole thing really is about yearning & longing - no, more than that, we really are connecting, and life and circumstances otherwise intervene of course, and who wants or needs to upset applecarts that work on a different level - so let's dwell on this one, and so we do. My girlfriend listened & seemed to understand - I mean we're all adults here, past the half-century mark, we know the complications, the difficulties, the compromises. I told her that my life in many ways has felt intolerable, and that by writing every day, to you - I have figured out a way to make my life bearable for me.

And I've been musing about other things too (and yes, I have just gotten up and opened the shades, gray light filtering through offwhite slats on this hot summery day). In all my driving around rural creation on Saturday afternoon, I finally, for my first time, had a chance to stop into a place I've been aware of in the back of my mind, called Camphill Village. I passed by a wood sign that noted that its bakery & gift shop was open 2:30 to five, and I was near enough there, and twenty past two, and so I followed the signs - it's quite a circuitous route, with helpful signs at crucial junctions pointing the way - it was quite a few miles as it turned out from the first sign I'd spotted. But I'm glad I made the detour (I had the car for the day - why not? pounce!). I've only had the vaguest notion of the place, a vague awareness that it's a residential community for developmentally disabled adults, and that they bake hearty, whole-grain breads for sale, and in the past I've bought a loaf here & there when they're offered in a shop in town.

So I stopped by and bought a baguette and a couple of round beautiful loaves, buckwheat maple, olive-walnut. When I returned to my car I hungrily tore bits off and sampled them. Very hearty. A little too "serious" for my taste, with intense, earthy density, needed "leavening" somehow, and maybe I don't mean yeast (or maybe I do). Or maybe the bread begged for a thin slice of, say, local sheep's milk camembert, or a bit of butter. Anyway!

It's funny, yesterday my big cooking day at home, among my kitchen tasks I sliced up the round loaves into thin slices for the freezer, and made croutons with the baguette, tossing the sliced bits with EVOO & minced garlic, and roasting on a cookie sheet at the same time I was baking the spinach pie. And the flavor of the round rather stern-flavored loaves has grown on me, reminds me of cellophane-wrapped bricks of thin sliced German black bread that I've bought in European delis on rare occasion. So perhaps that's the way to eat these loaves, very thinly sliced - with perhaps some pickled or smoked fish, herring or salmon or whitefish, or a piece of good cheese. Though D has told me he likes the olive-walnut one with coffee, fortifying with his morning cup. Which when he told me that was part of my process of coming around to like the breads better, which now I do. And the croutons rock.

Anyway - I'm off my spiel here, D just came up & I thanked him again for the Emily frame & showed him my post. I was in the midst of writing/blogging yesterday when he suddenly came upstairs with the framed Emily, and I was so shocked, taken aback, that to tell you the truth, I didn't react very well - I didn't like it at first. I am a perfectionist, and this frame has been so long in the planning & making stages, with all of D's other work, of course. I wondered (still do, a bit) if the image shouldn't have been matted within a frame - D & I had both agreed that of course JP's signature would have to show, along with cryptic inked smudges like hieroglyphs at the bottom of the print... and then I'd forgotten all about that conversation, which transpired months ago. So when I saw - all of a sudden - the finished framed piece - D standing in front of me as my thoughts were, blogging, utterly elsewhere - I yelped.

But - not unlike as with the bread - it took me a while to come around to it, examine it from different angles, make my peace. I stepped around the garden today snipping a few flowers, snapping a few shots. I've had this stray teeny teacup & saucer floating around that suddenly occurred to me seemed to go (without being cutesy I hope) with Emily. And rummaging through my things, opening drawers, to see what else I might place on the shelf along with the framed portrait (but at the same time with an absolute horror of turning it into some kind of strange shrine) I found a sampler that I had embroidered as a girl, when I was in grade school. And I like that piece - it features an embroidered rose bush, and I've planted rose bushes all these decades later that remind me of the one I embroidered.

Anyway, this post is getting away from me and I wonder where you are, and how you are, and hope all is well with you, and very many kisses ---

A Frame for Emily

#707
The Grace - Myself - might not obtain -
Confer upon My flower -
Refracted but a Countenance -
For I - inhabit Her -


Emily Dickinson, c. 1863
***
I selected this poem to accompany the photo by opening my 770-page Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson to a page at random. Of the six poems at pp. 346-347 this one seemed to fit best - uncannily well I think. The flowers I picked from the meadowed garden. Emily is in the spare room - what I think of now as Emily's room.









***
image:
Jarkko Pylväs, Woodcut of Emily, 2010

Thank you, Jarkko, for the beautiful woodcut, and thank you, D, for your "wood cuts" and the beautiful frame.

***

Monday, May 30, 2011



I wish I could place these photos side by side but the formatting is beyond my control, doesn't allow it.

Of course I no longer look the way I did 35 years ago, at age 16. And I am now older than Dora Maar was when this photo was taken (the image is cropped - in the original, she is seated next to Pablo Picasso). I wonder how old Dora is in this beautiful photograph. She looks to be in her twenties, thirties perhaps. I'll find out. The regional library system doesn't own this particular book, but I have managed to reserve another one by Mary Ann Caws about Dora Maar. With a few mouse clicks I have set into motion a process by which the book, according to records "checked in," currently sitting on a shelf in Hurley, in the Shawangunks of Ulster County across the river 40-50 miles southwest of here, will be retrieved, examined perhaps with idle curiosity by a clerk who may wonder why interest in this volume at this time, and sent off however these things are sent, not by pony express, but close enough, with an efficient, well-worked-out system of van stops at libraries up and down both sides of the river, the volume, with the image of beautiful Dora frowning in thought, making its way all the way up to the little town library north of me, so that by week's end I expect to receive an email message whose familiar title will read Your Library Request is Awaiting Pickup.

***
My darling, how are you? I hope all is well with you, thinking of you - all day, as the day went on, starting with, this morning, near dawn, or in the six o'clock hour when I groggily awoke to thunder and as I oriented myself to the different realm, immediate thoughts of you, as though my mind calibrates itself in your direction. Which it did, and as I lay waking I simply listened to the storm brewing, cacophonous coughs of thunder not so far away - but muted, so distant enough - accompanied by initially tentative spurts and sputters, and then (ah relief!) the start of heavy rain, not violent, no winds whipping, just soothing audible rhythm and calming release.

I got up, went to the computer, and when from downstairs D heard me stirring, he brought me a cup of coffee, something he's done every morning for as long as we've been together. Eventually I went about my morning rites and ablutions, and read more of Margaret Roach's gardening memoir, and the impression came over me again that perhaps my doppelganger is running around this county - on the other side of the Taconic.

The abysmal State of the Driveway is not a new vexation at all for my non-carnally-engaged addled mind, but just the other day (25 May) I blogged: "... I complained to [D] about our horrible driveway and in an extravagantly sweet gesture when I went upstairs he got on his cell & inquired of a working buddy how much would it cost for him to tear it up...

This morning I come to page 123 and read:
There is no real driveway here, at least not any longer. When I first came to the house, the drive went all the way up, ending right alongside the kitchen, so the passenger side of the parked car was perhaps just four feet from the building.... Perhaps a dozen years [later], a visiting gardening friend... looked out the kitchen window and simply said: "Do you like looking at your car instead of at the garden, Margaret?"... The local dozer guy came for an estimate the next day, and erased the old driveway not long afterward, layering on some topsoil and sowing grass seed, at first, which over time got dug up, chunk by tentative chunk, in favor of a walkway and then more beds and eventually a big stone skirt around the house, connecting walk to doorway. That driveway erasure was one of the best garden-design decisions ever made on this piece of land, and an expenditure I have never regretted...
***
And then my day continued. The rain stopped, D went off with the car, and I was very happy to stay at home today and putter around the kitchen. If yesterday morning was about cleaning - today was about cooking. So just in this really nice easy (but not treacly nauseating) dance I did a bunch of cooking this morning. For breakfast I fried up the remainder of strawberry pancake batter, but there wasn't enough for two, so I had spinach omelet with feta. Usually D and I have the same breakfast but this morning it didn't work out - we might have split the dishes but it wasn't a great combination - as D said, like eating down the menu. Despite all our conflicts (and now here I am upstairs blogging & sipping icefilled melting wine while D back from work is putting the finishing touches on the frame for the woodcut of Emily!) we usually do dine on the same things at any given meal.

So I was doing all this cooking this morning - spinach-feta pie made with farmstand spinach and the neighbor's eggs; homemade croutons; broccoli-rabe, tomato, and turkey sausage pasta sauce; a pitcher of citrus-herbal iced tea - and on this hot day (steam rising after storm, sun affixed in sky, temperatures hovering around 90) I stayed in all day long in the protective shade, moving around the kitchen, dicing onions while watching more of the fantastic PBS series Any Human Heart (I have, in spots, wept - it is that good, and I cannot watch it with D, I must be by myself).

And then I had to turn the heat off the onions because all weekend long my oldest girlfriend in the world and I had been trying to arrange a "phone date" and finally managed it - she was free, and I could get offline in a hurry - and I called her, and she called me back free long-distance, and we had an amazing time catching up with each other for an hour. She and I have had very different lives but from Day 1 of meeting - in tenth grade, 37 years ago - always, at any junction, any nexus - simpatico. What a joy & delight to hear her voice again, and to hear about how she - in the everyday, and in the grand narrative arc - has been writing her book.

Listen, darling, I am going to launch this thing without proofing and come back later to edit... some anti-virus program has kicked in, jamming up the computer works as I type, and besides I haven't been out all day long due to excessive sun & heat, but now the light at nearly 7 is soft, birds are twittering - and so on

very many kisses
& all my love

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My dear, just a quick post this evening I'm exhausted from a whirlwind day. Managed to clean the entire house top to bottom, including bathrooms, kitchen floor & surfaces, and vacuuming most everything, spurred on by a couple of carrots, twin prospects - fresh new bars of lemon verbena soap, reward for cleaning the bath; Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams playing at the indie cinema in Rhinebeck - along with a deadline: leaving the house by 1:40 to be in plenty of time for the 3:10 screening. (It's a 45 minute drive, but I like to allow for extra time in case the movie sells out - which happened to me once, after that long drive - and to allow time for parking, especially on a holiday weekend.)

Maybe I'll blog (or maybe not) about the movie more tomorrow - it was really wonderful, not so much the documentary itself (which was fine, I don't mean some passive-aggressive criticism) but the sheer miracle of the opportunity to witness the most remarkable, perfect, exquisite, lovely, loving images created in such masterly, sure strokes & colorations some 30,000 years ago. The story is remarkable. I don't know... still absorbing the images, thinking about it. I do hope you get a chance to see it, I hope it's playing near where you are - truly - I think it's a must-see, as a human being - homo sapiens, and, as in a notion brought forth in the film, homo spiritualis.

My sweet, I will sign off now, with very many kisses.

I love that image of Pablo & Dora. It completely reminds me of you and me. I think we resemble them, or are somehow physically (or in some spiritual or other quality) reminiscent of them. Or perhaps they were an archetypal couple - and so are we? Oh - who knows - but I do love that image - its immediacy, their individuality, vitality, companionability - and the resonances, echoing, refracting, past to present and back again, of you & me.

Many kisses, darling. I hope you're having a wonderful relaxing weekend.

XOXO

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My darling, up in the aerie much sooner than I expected this evening. I thought that the dance & choreography program at the local international arts center was this afternoon at five. Talk about all dressed up and nowhere to go. I went, only to find a half-dozen cars in their lot - visitors with their dogs going for a walk in the extensive bucolic grounds perhaps - because the visitors center was locked. Which took me aback. I'm rarely wrong about dates, I'm not infallible but. I glanced at the announcement flier affixed to the plate glass - it's taking place next Saturday. So I returned home, still puzzled how I got the date wrong. And realized I received a second email from them about the event. I'd deleted the original one upon receipt of the second, which mentioned in large caps "correction - with apologies." I recall scratching my head at the time over that - what correction? how were the two emails different? Now I'm thinking they may have changed the date.

Ah well, no matter, it was a lovely drive from my house to over there, and as Ms. Winfrey also memorably quoted the other day, there are no coincidences, only divine order, and so I possibly saved a bobolink, or at the very least encouraged it to avoid becoming roadkill. If it was a bobolink. What was that? I haven't looked it up yet. Really cute though, a baby, I think. Truly clueless. I stopped the car in the middle of the deserted road to avoid hitting it - it was quite large, for a young bird, maybe 12-15 inches tall, just hanging out in the center of the asphalt, not all that visible. And now that - ahem - I don't speed, yeah, I noticed it, but some of these rubes in their bigass pickups zooming along - that bird would have been ---- bobolink bologna.

So to drive the point home to the bird how truly obnoxious human beings can be I, wielding digital camera, chased the creature into the undergrowth at the side of the road, giving it an object lesson in paparazzi.

***
So, my dearest, before noon I drove all over creation seemingly, down interminable Route 82 to this tiny hamlet with a single traffic light, to attend a workshop on finding my inner dance. I'm always astounded how enormous this county seems to be - looks like nothing on the map of course, but boy, those winding roads - at times breathtakingly scenic, with glimpses of mountains, and dells, and panoramic vistas across miles - mindboggingly beautiful. (And you were with me, on my mind, every second of the way.) I had considered stopping to run a quick errand on my way down and am glad I didn't because as it was I was two minutes late, and growing anxious. Where the hell is Ancram anyway? Which side of the Taconic? Which of course I had crossed miles back, driving east of it (or was it southeast? who knows?) before I formed that thought. Yes I had glanced at a map before leaving the house, but had I sufficiently noted the de facto International Date Line bifurcating the Columbia County planisphere? Nyet. Eventually I put my flashers on and pulled to the side of ravishingly scenic deserted highway, donned readers, consulted the map. (D uses the car for his work so as I opened the map a rain of fine sawdust fell all over me - all over my brand new black skirt. No harm done - it easily shook off, such is the texture of the spandex-percentaged skirt.) Oh. I was on the right route - almost there. I got back on the road - and soon after was the single traffic light, and hard upon a quick left up the steep incline of an obscure county road, my Ultimate Destination.

Darling, I had fun finding my inner dance. Go with your body, go with your feelings, encouraged the lithe instructor, a gracious and charming European woman who spoke in accented English. You know, darling, I can be loose in so many ways (& on the loose, in private) - but I do have an essential carapace of reserve, and when someone tells me to relax - I tend to freeze up. Every feeling is okay? I seriously wanted to ask her - but didn't, because I didn't wish to come off as a smart aleck, and plus I wanted to go with the flow - well what about anxiety? Is it okay to go with my anxiety? Of course not! That's probably the one inadmissible emotion - well, it does stem, I suppose, from the side of the brain (the thinking "head" side) that we're trying to get past, encounter the other side, through moving our bodies.

Making a long story short, dearest, because this post is turning into an endless knit scarf, or a Route 82, I eventually loosened up...

You know, I have been noticing that it takes me a bit of time - a half hour or so - to get into a flow ... with dance... with writing... with other respects relating to my "inner dance"...

... and I found myself constructing little narratives as I moved my body and circled in concert with others around the small wood-floored room, screened windows open to the green gladed day outside, ceiling fans whirring...

I danced with you, I even held out my arms as if we were waltzing...

And later, when I got home, I lay down for a nap but found myself too restless to sleep, so I put the half-hour before I had to dress up & go to good use, in the spare room where I've taken to sleeping again, my nice new "good" outfit laid carefully on a chair, underwear too, lying under the ceiling fan, screened windows wide open, batteries charged, and my having discovered (or rediscovered) enough about myself that I just sink into the rhythms and the perceptions, my skin against the sheets, the breeze of the fan, and then the tinglings came - it's not so much a "spot" as reaching a certain frequency - and blessedly, I will never curse big huge gas-guzzling power mowers ever again because just as things were getting really good my neighbor mounted his tractor mower WHICH IS SO INCREDIBLY LOUD A MUCH LOUDER BUZZ than my little buzzing implement (which in a silent house actually seems INCREDIBLY LOUD - but not when a TRACTOR MOWER is going outside)

anyway, when it really really and I mean really works for me
I like to let it out and make noise
and with the neighbor's INSANELY HIGH-DECIBELED MOTOR GOING RIGHT OUTSIDE THE WINDOWS where I lay
I let it all out
and nobody, nobody, nobody
except maybe you
heard a thing

virtual paper boat #1

A glimpse of the mysterious fabled
isle of wild phlox
stream seemingly bucolic
but filled with adders that rise
from the water
up the weedfilled bank
to bask in the road
where I walk
after the long winter
like me
after some warm sun too

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hello darling, clasping your hands and kissing you hello. I am here in my aerie cave, cool and dark compared to the sultry weather outside. Storms forecast for this evening, and we get doozies, dramatic explosions and light shows - for all the noise usually harmless - that if the Martians were to peaceably invade, yet in a chest-thumping way, the 'shock & awe' special effects might not be so different for striking fear nonetheless in the human heart. I just hope the power doesn't go out as it sometimes does, or at least not until I've had a chance to post. I've actually always loved a good thunderstorm, the sheer wild Wagnerian energy, the roiling drama of the moment, the promise of utter climactic transformation in its aftermath which too frequently - except for pebbles of hail sometimes, and a sudden run of rain, doesn't happen, makes the humidity worse, too often, as the sun comes back out and the steam rises. I can say that a reason, many years ago, that I moved back East from the San Francisco Bay area was that I missed the rain, couldn't get used to hot dry summers without a drop, and I especially missed lightning storms and the way they'd batter the leaves and turn the green world shiny wet and greener.

Darling perhaps you can tell that I'm just sitting here pounding the keys as though it were an ancient Smith-Corona. Which sometimes I wish it were (except somehow linked to the internet), or had a laptop, so that I could go out "on location" and type. For a while I used to go out onto the porch or into the garden or to the conservation area (haven't been there in ages) with a notebook & pen, and scribble - but I don't know - you know, I'm much less of a writer than you might imagine. I don't really write at all - except to you, around five. I think about it all day, in a very unformed way though - I never know what I'm going to write. In my past I was acquainted with a mother & son who seemed (as they reported to me) to compose whole chapters and books in their heads, and simply set them down later. That isn't how it is for me at all. I rarely can dream something up, say in the middle of the night - not consciously so, anyway. The only sense I ever have of transcribing my thoughts - is when I've been able to remember, hold on to, a dream from moments before. I haven't noted one in several weeks. I had some that I could recall upon waking a few nights ago - but neglected to write them down - and now they're gone. I'm not sure why I even record (usually) those dreams - it's not as though I ever use them again - well, once I did, in that post I wrote about you and me and the Elvis perfume ad. That was a very cool dream! Now - if I could only invent like that.

Darling, are you home now? I imagine maybe you're unpacking, making a pile for the laundry. I wonder what is your special treat that you like for when you get home, a particular meal perhaps - e.g., on Barefoot Contessa Ina would roast a chicken for Jeffrey every Friday night - that's a nice tradition. But for you having been away a while - where you were was one vivid, immediate reality, with thoughts of home so removed and distant, an alternate world; and now you're back (I presume), and where you were is the strange, alien, place, vacated except in your imagination and even now it feels strange to think of the apartment sitting there, locked, in the darkness, a clock radio face perhaps showing - what - 11:13 - without you.

I wonder what we're having for dinner tonight. Had an okay day, not great. Things here feel held together barely, provisionally, as if with chewing gum & duct tape. I intended to vacuum the house, but after a walk and a workout, and then the day getting hotter, I didn't feel up to it. Plus D & I - speaking of storms - had another stupid fight. After all my exercising I stepped into the shower and washed my hair - only to discover that we had obviously run out of fuel (D wastes shitloads of time a couple of times a week making trips to the gas station for some small quantity of kerosene which he uses to heat our water. We are constantly running out. Only - it's always a surprise to me when there's no hot water - and standing in a cold shower is not a pleasant way to find that out (especially since I had the dishwasher running too - so - what? on cold water?)).

So yes, grumpily, I called him to say that we're out of fuel yet again. Oh, and by the way, the cold water was running brown. So it was just horrible taking this cold shower in brown water. The municipal water system here is f'ed up in ways I don't quite understand - the officials are constantly (and also often without notice) "flushing" pipes - which discolors the tap water.

I mean, it's an annoying nightmare, and at the same time I still have to regard myself as fortunate - for not being a victim in the aftermath of a disaster zone, say. Well, okay, I can make that distinction. But I still don't see why things are so seemingly precarious here. Yes, I gave out - my ability, wherewithal, willingness to go out and make a living - that's gone. What would I do here? What I do, what I seem able to do at this point is just what I'm doing.

I don't wish my life to resemble an Edward Albee play, particularly not a famous one with a bitter Elizabeth Taylor warring with hapless Richard Burton.

But. I've said this before - D & I were happy for many years, and now we're not.

Oh good God. I don't mean to go down this road - though obviously it's something I think about as my day goes on -

On a brighter note, I took one more pass at blouse shopping for the black skirt I found yesterday - and found a nice top - that looks nice, flatters my figure, is comfortable - so I have something nice & cool to wear to my day of dance events tomorrow.

You know - I never want to pry, and won't, and am not - but I do wonder about your marriage sometimes. Just out of curiosity, and relating to you. Our marriages are very different, could hardly be more different. And yet. Here we are. I don't know.

So - I hope you're having whatever your favorite meal is this evening, and your favorite drink -

I don't know what we're having - I haven't done a proper food shopping - I don't have the car as often these days - mostly because D has become much more serious about pursuing paying work - which entails the car.

It's so funny - I feel stuck sometimes in this anachronistic way - it's hard to be a proper homemaker, and I don't have a car, or cash (or an allowance! ha!) of my own. Savings accumulated over a working lifetime, in the six digits - gone - spent fortunately (thus house paid for & furnished) - rather than evaporated Enron-style.

My darling, I apologize for this post. I'm going to launch it, but I'm going to blame it on - oh well, I don't know, it is hot & humid, but

you know despite all my kvetching - mostly it's just frustration
because I don't feel miserable
I actually feel pretty happy
I like moving my fingers on a keyboard
I'm grateful for my aerie
I'm happy I found a pretty blouse that fits & looks nice
and that actually goes with the skirt
(because a first blouse I'd tried on, in a different print, elicited a puckered 'I don't think so' look from the store clerk whose opinion I asked)

So, my darling Branwell, I am actually doing just fine, and hope you are too,
and ---
well, signing off dearest

P.S. Oh yes - another nice high point to recent days - having netflixed a wonderful PBS miniseries - Any Human Heart - I just love it, it's so beautifully done - I think that you would like it too (I hope I'm right) - anyway, check it out sometime - it has quite explicit sex scenes in it sometimes (which only adds to its charm & haunting realism) so it's something you may wish to view on your own - when you're back across the pond -

P.S.2 Tex-Mex, I'm imagining, for you dearest - and here since I'm not cooking - I guess I could go for Chinese...

XOXO

Thursday, May 26, 2011

virtual paper boat #2

My dearest, hot sultry day, sitting here in my shirt & panties, it's too hot for jeans. I own a summer skirt, and a knit top that sort of goes with it, which I don't like, color too loud & weight too heavy for the diaphanous watercolor-print chiffon. So I went to a strip mall department store this afternoon, to look for a nicer top, or entire new outfit that I can wear to various cultural events this summer. For example, I look forward to Saturday, when I plan to attend a workshop on "finding one's inner dance" (oh my!) and, coincidentally, later that afternoon, a program of several dances followed by a discussion on choreography at the local international arts colony. I didn't do well with the shopping, couldn't find a nice top to go with my skirt. Managed though to find a versatile black skirt though that's formfitting and falls nicely - but couldn't find a top to go with that either. I may try again tomorrow, now that I have this basic skirt. Today I was running out of time shopping, because I knew D needed the car and I was taking too long.

I skipped my workout today though I did take a vigorous walk, but boy - trying clothes on - man, for all the physical exercise I try to do, I'm still not slim. Do I need to go vegan? I heard a woman on Charlie Rose last week, who's written a book and made a very compelling case for going vegan, one that on moral grounds (given the unconscionable way most livestock, hogs, & poultry are factory-farmed) I can't disagree with. I'd like to check out her book (in both senses of the term, including from the library) though I can't see myself going vegan, I would miss various delicious foodstuffs way too much. No, probably the solution for my weight is to keep up with the exercise - and, perish the thought, consider more the calories contained in quantities of pink wine.

***
Darling, how are you? where are you? perhaps you're headed home for the long weekend, jetting across the sky, or perhaps you're home already.

Today - at least up here, probably where you are too, if stateside - would be the perfect day to hang out at your neighbor's pool.

***
Or we could take a stroll by a marina someplace darling, a perfectly beautiful very isolated one where we can just jump in the water in our swimsuits, right off the boat. Well, no, I suppose not into the harbor, we'll have to put out to sea, in this beautiful sailboat that neither of us knows how to operate but fortunately somehow there's a game crew of one, who is so rapt with the ropes (and not wrapped - as you or I might be trying to struggle with them) that when he expertly jibs & jags & sails & unbuoys & ahoys us out of the fishy salt harbor, out onto the open sea, nothing about except for the jibbing of the crisp white sails against marine blue sea & sky, sea & sky not melting together at all, but rather in separate layers, like a double-dip cone of two flavors - never mind all that, we're by ourselves, and the rusty scupper is expert with the boat, but half-blind or nearsighted, and certainly deaf, so he pays no mind when you & I carry on on the poop deck (if that's what it's called) and then jump into the entirely uninfested salt blue sea to cool ourselves off and to burn calories in advance of that evening's candlelit drawn-buttered lobster paired with sips from thin-glassed stems of perfectly chilled Sancerre...

***
You all have been a safe harbor for me for 25 years. It's strange, I know, but you have been. And what I hope is that you all will be that safe harbor for somebody else — their safe place to fall. Do for them what you all are telling me the show has done for you. Connect. Embrace. Liberate. Love somebody. Just one person. And then spread that to two. And as many as you can. You'll see the difference it makes. - Oprah Winfrey, 25 May 2010
***
***
... and the harbor clings to the jetty for protection and support... - Indigo Girls, Fleet of Hope
link to ravishing song here
***
Many kisses - yours, Dora

***

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Connect, embrace, liberate, love somebody, just one person, and then spread that to two and as many as you can..." - Oprah Winfrey
***
Darling, couldn't help it, shed a tear when I turned on the TV at just the right moment this afternoon, when Oprah gave her farewell thank-you speech.

***
Lots of great news today, House rejects G.O.P. plan to throw us under bus; Buffy slays vampires in the NY 26th.

***
Oprah's words resonated with me. I connected on a scalar level, she's reached millions and I have to say whatever mess (oh my I must confess, to borrow from Bob Schneider) this blog is, I'm so glad that you & I found each other

***
Not in blogging mode right now, too beautiful out, birds at dusk still tweeting and D is grilling & I complained to him about our horrible driveway and in an extravagantly sweet gesture when I went upstairs he got on his cell & inquired of a working buddy how much would it cost for him to tear it up

***
so - lots of nice things happening, small, incremental, special

dearest - this is just my fingers standing in for throwing my arms around you -
XOXO

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My darling, in a reflective mood tonight, not really in a frame of mind to blog. But I wanted to reach out my hands to you, and touch yours. It's so funny that you & I are so spiritually connected in this way. On the face of it we could hardly be more different. I'm outside the Church, and I'm a Democrat (though not rigidly so - I'd self define more as fearful of and against global-corporatism; the Democratic Party isn't outside that, can't be given "facticities" of several decades).

And I do believe in God, and in J.C., and his spirit & message. But I cannot get into the C. Church, not American-style, as I observed at least in T'town firsthand a few months ago. You see, I am sure - never having set foot in Poland, but having observed historical events enough - that the Catholic Church in Poland is very different from the iteration here in the States. What I observed in T'town - granted, it was just one service, but I was unimpressed. Stale music, some girl reading a completely unimaginative essay about what the adjoining Catholic school means to her, she just droned on & on a succession of grammatically correct, hackneyed lines. During the church service. At which there was no sermon - the priest devoted that entire segment to a fundraising appeal for the school. No words of uplift or counsel, no reference to the outside world. And then the choir sang, wanly, dispiritedly. And yes, a Mass was said - but I don't know - I couldn't feel it. Not in that space, with that strange portal above the altar to heaven. Which I suppose is meant, architecturally, to float me - but didn't. It seemed so truncated to me, somehow, this flat eye, compared to churches with soaring archs & knaves and - from the outside - spires.

And then yesterday as I was doing my workout, I flipped PBS channels and came on a program that touched on the prospective new liturgical text, and the piece included an interview with a Chicago-based priest with a Polish last name, who is very unhappy with the new version - which, mind you, my only knowledge of it is from this segment I saw - sounded absolutely abysmal. And this priest of conscience, who I completely sensed joined the Church out of love of God and for all the right (to my mind) reasons, is dispirited by the new liturgy that he is required to embrace & train his congregation in. He read a couple of lines from a key portion of the Mass - and true, I was horrified to hear how incredibly clunky the words are, the English.

Well - obviously, that's not my battle to wage, I am not a practicing Catholic, not here in the U.S. or anywhere else.

But I might have been had I not felt that it was being co-opted.
Or that somehow aspects that I think are true and dear and important get - I want to say thrown under the bus - I'll choose a gentler term - subsumed.

There are Catholic values I treasure deeply - right to life, sacredness of family - but here in the States I really believe that Catholics - too many of them anyway - are used as tools by the corporatist rightwing puppeteers. It's too lockstep it seems to me, here -

in Poland - back when - the Church was a resistance force against totalitarianism - the Church functioned as pushback

here in the States, it seems rather more like reinforcement to the very broken political system -

darling, truly I am struggling for words here
it's just that - what do we stand for?
I know that your family (the ones I have acquaintance with, the one you married into) has been R for decades - but the meaning of "R" has shifted, been co-opted, big time - I am certain that you, my dearest one the only one to whom "across the aisle" (as I hug you) I can even broach such a topic - can understand where I'm coming from

I am certain (?) that we care about similar things
even if you're in the Church
and I'm not
and you're (or have been) an R
and I'm D (or at least believing very much in a set of values that I have felt spiritually my entire life)

I discovered one wonderful new writer & thinker on Saturday at the literary reading (namely, Rebecca Wolff)

and this afternoon, I discovered another, and here is a link to a piece that resonates with me - I relate to this writer, her conscience, conscientiousness, very much

my dearest - I just sense - that despite surface differences - formal affiliations - we're not so different in what we believe -

maybe? maybe I've been too presumptuous here

darling, the light is fading, I've had my share of wine & then some, I'm wondering where D is, I know he's working hard

I imagine you, your face
moon everpresent in my sky
no matter where I turn
on the speediest twisty turny highway
moon on the left sometimes
sometimes on the right
I could never figure that out
because in the backseat as I'd watch
the moon appear then vanish
then reappear on the opposite ridge
forever changing positions
like a game
I couldn't figure it out
we were always to the Tappan Zee
didn't the moon know that?
love you very much

Cotopaxi, 1862


***
#658
Whole Gulfs - of Red, and Fleets - of Red -
And Crews - of solid Blood -
Did place about the West - Tonight -
As 'twere specific Ground -

And They - appointed Creatures -
In Authorized Arrays -
Due - promptly - as a Drama -
That bows - and disappears -
Emily Dickinson, c. 1862

***
From message received this morning from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC):
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Please sign here.


***
image: Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), Cotopaxi, 1862, oil on canvas, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan.
At 18,858 feet (5748 m) Cotopaxi was the most impressive of the South American volcanoes; its cone was considered particularly perfect. The New York collector James Lenox commissioned this view in 1861. By that date the Civil War had begun, and Church's decision to depict an eruption has been interpreted as a direct reflection on the tragic turn of events. The rising sun is obscured by the smoke of nature 'at war with itself', and the landscape shows the world 'evolving out of the simultaneous processes of creation and destruction.'
(Source: Tate Britain)

***
- the dream, always, for a more perfect union -

Monday, May 23, 2011

Damp and chill, gray all day, and everywhere the landscape is green, mercifully a little less so - or rather, shorter - in our yard since D had a chance to do some mowing yesterday. We've given up on trying to keep the entire place mowed, for a mixture of practical and environmental reasons. The strategy now is to mow edges, such as of the driveway, flower borders, and house; to carve out discrete lawn areas, especially around trees so that they stand out; and to forge a mower-width path (more companionable double-width would be preferable, but is that much more work) that leads through the property, creating a very pleasant circuit which I walked last night, cats in tow, following me in delight now that they were again taller than the grass.

The garden looks much better, even if many portions remain untouched, turning to meadow. Let butterflies and bees enjoy the wildflowers that will emerge in these areas essentially closed off from human use, like rooms shut for winter to save on heat. It's ironic that the garden feels more expansive in winter, when a blanket of snow - monolithic as a suburban green lawn - flattens and levels everything. Though now that I think of it, most of this winter the snow was two or three feet deep, so it wasn't easy to walk around the yard. I had posted a photo of Rafe making his way through a shovel-width canyon that D had cleared - the path as narrow as a luge run, with high banks of snow on either side.

Darling, and now a jumble of thoughts compete for attention, and my fingers stall out as I think. So I'll just jot them down so that I don't get hopelessly jammed with "shoulds," of what I "should" write, and especially, of what I "should" polish. Anyway - yesterday, had a half-price certificate and took myself out to a lovely (though outrageously overpriced) lunch in a lovely restaurant on Warren Street. I dined by myself, on grilled salmon (served improbably, and to my taste inadvisedly, on a bed of pickled cabbage - the discordant combination suggesting to me an overly frugal - considering the $17.95 price - adaptive reuse of leftovers) & a single glass of cool white wine. No matter - it was fun all the same, it's a pleasant space, with a bit of people watching - a treat, made affordable with the discount.

Afterward I attended a lecture at Olana, on the subject of Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War, in conjunction with this season's diminutive but expertly curated gallery exhibit upstairs in the magnificent main house. And now here's where my thoughts are tangled... I thought so much of you, because there were many references to Church's Heart of the Andes, and you, or maybe the other you, often lands on my blog (delighting me no end) via an image I once linked to of that painting. And I glimpsed a headline today that President Obama is in Ireland, and that the Icelandic volcano (the "islandmountainglacier") is acting up again. The lecture was fascinating, very well done. I hesitated to attend at first, given the speaker's seeming pedigree - he's at the Met Museum - I was afraid that he would be one of the "exquisites" (which, actually, I love exquisites, and yet somehow - well, one can have enough of them). No, this man was spirited and normal and middle-aged and completely wrapt in his subject, blessedly and refreshingly without pretentious trappings of any sort, either in his manner, or dress, or simple unabashed enthusiasm for his subject (he's an expert on Church). It was a very great delight to listen to him, and to learn so much. (Though I was so achey afterward, and in need of the virtual hot tub as I wrote, because this body has a hard time sitting for any length of time on small hard plastic chairs.)

And then as to the substance of the man's lecture - just a few notes - how Church was a masterful observer & painter of natural phenomena, and as the Civil War erupted and developed into the overwhelming, cataclysmic, drawn-out conflagration of upheaval, destruction, and death that it turned out to be, Church transformed & transfigured his epic landscapes - in light of his spiritual inclinations as portending and reflective of national events - into highly charged, apocalyptic visions. I wondered too, during the lecture, about Emily Dickinson, if some of her poems (more than commonly thought) written during the Civil War are in fact coded & veiled with reference to the conflict - that she's not insensible to it (as in a criticism invoked against Jane Austen (that serves to trivialize her, unfairly so I firmly believe), that in her writings with their focus on domestic details & affairs of the heart, she barely alludes to the concurrent Napoleonic Wars).

And that's enough for now, dearest, just setting down a couple of notes, very unpolished. But just in the sense of, I do worry a lot about our country - a very very very very great many of us do, of course - and ---

well what do you do?
just keep setting down one's thoughts as best one can
a glimpse of a day

anyway, that's it for now - enough - without the benefit of having an actual conversation, where you might comment, and I might respond -

I can't even possibly wrap this up poetically. So - in case it's very late, way past bedtime where you are, I'm slipping by your bedside in the darkness, adjusting your covers, kissing you while you sleep, and whispering - Śpij z Bozią -

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Darling, feeling exhausted just now, would love nothing better than to be - oh let's see - sitting in a jacuzzi bath with you, or maybe alpine hot tub, I don't know, I've never been in in one. I was in a whirlpool tub once, for a little while on the cruise that D & I won aeons ago. There was another woman there, from a Southern city, the cruise was ending the next day, we were all returning to Miami, and so we did, the ship raced through the night to port and at dawn perceptibly slowed into harbor, D & I disembarked and took a scenic bus tour of Miami before boarding our flight and when we got home and turned on the news, it turned out that a plane had crashed, the same airline D & I had just flown, and from Miami - to the very city this woman in the hot tub, complete stranger, had been from, and at the end of that day, happy to be home, I thought - OMG, that woman from yesterday - she's dead.

And I don't even know if that's a fact or not, it was just an offhand tiny intersection of encounters among complete strangers, in broad daylight, in this not very private hot tub. I've never been in one since.

But I'd like to be in one with you just now, me with my glass of pink wine, you with - what do you like? So it's a private tub, set - yes, okay outside - or maybe not. My imagination is failing me. I don't care about the context or surroundings. I just want to be immersed in warm enveloping water and looking across at you, and feeling your body and my body under lapping whirling currents, the two of us smoothskinned palpable porpoises beneath the surface. I'm not quite sure how we fit, it's not a large pool, so perhaps - yes, I think so, my legs are spread wide, and yours are extended, knees bent perhaps, and our limbs float and bob and silkily graze and touch one another under the luxurious watery quilt.

Ahhh, I am feeling better, as I project myself into that dream, body aches vanishing vanquished by warm aloha caresses.

Do you like Indian food? I hope so. Because after we emerge from the tub, darling, there is a pan of fragrantly spiced chicken whose aroma is wafting deliriously up the stairs, competition for my sensual cravings. It is a complicated dish, in that it requires the concatenation and confluence and conflagration of all sorts of obscure and to me, mysterious, spices - mixtures that I ground with mortar and pestle by hand, spending a good twenty minutes breaking open tiny desiccated cardamom pods, like half-size pistachios, to extract the seeds - of which I needed a tablespoon. The process is so arduous I wondered how saffron is ever made, who makes it, who collects the crocus stamens, individually, one by one, so that - as I was informed at the upscale Marina Safeway in San Francisco years ago - it was far & away the most expensive - in cost per ounce - item that the gourmet market carried.

I stood on my feet cracking open with my thumbnail the cardamom pods, extracting the tiny seeds into my mortar (or is it pestle) and grinding with one, if not the other. Along with other tiny brittle additions to the dry rub - cinammon stick, whole cloves, cumin, black peppercorns - and shower of nutmeg besides.

So after, we emerge from the tub and towel each other off with luxurious bath towels, so large that we can use just one to wrap around ourselves like a magic cloak, enclosing us both in a momentary terry cocoon, a good excuse to be upright, standing, to feel your body against mine, all the contours and curves together, fitting, yet other, warm and smooth, rustling, stirring, alien & provocative, tantalizing, compelling.

And so I'll think of you when I place some fragrant basmati rice in a bowl, and ladle on the sauce, with chicken, and spices, and spinach.

How should I end this little fantasy? You can take a bowl of this delicious Indian stew up to your tiny aerie, and I'll eat mine by myself in mine. And that way you'll be thinking of me, as I try to think of what in the world to write next - to you.

XOXO

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My dearest, up in the aerie, past seven, home from a literary reading/wine & cheese tasting in town, one of my favorite extracurricular activities as it turns out. The wines were exquisite - dry, cool, crisp, minerally - all three of them, in various shades of "lightness," two whites, one from Piedmont, Italy, another from France, and a rosé besides - and the exceedingly beautifully chosen perfectly ripe artisanal cheeses were, as always at these events, out of this world. I have no idea what any of it was, but know that if I ever had boundless cashflow & needed to throw a wine & cheese - I'd have Olde Hudson do up a platter, and ask Michael at Hudson Wine Merchants to suggest the wines.

My dear, I strolled down the main street, Warren Street, this afternoon, just in shirtsleeves, jeans & sandals - no sweater, it was a gloriously sunny warm day. I imagined you and me strolling together. I don't know that it's your scene - it's not mine either, really - I'm not an antiques shop & gallery hopping weekender maven. But I do enjoy the beautiful street, with its ever creative & varied window displays, and just the fact of being out, leisurely promenading up and down a venerable old street. If I can't walk in the country, on a country road or vast trailed preserve - then walking along a textured architecturally beautiful street with lots of pedestrian eye-level delights, is my thing. (I despise big box stores, and most every mall I've ever set foot in, and avoid such spaces as much as I can.)

Anyway, it was just such a delight to imagine that I was strolling with you. I stopped into a shop and bought myself an ice cream cone, pistachio, my longtime favorite. So many people this afternoon walking around, enjoying their melting cones. A rare treat, and I savored every lick and sweet-salty taste.

I had time to kill before the reading, about an hour, and even after my walk and my cone I still found myself with a half-hour to kill, so I sat on a bench set in front of a shopfront, and watched as the parade of people, one or two at a time, or with a stroller, or with dogs, strangers, longlost acquaintances greeting one another in surprise - the season starting up again here.

And then finally it was towards five and people arrived for the reading, including a group of writers from the local international arts colony whom I'd heard read last Saturday. They came down in a couple of vans, a field trip of sorts for them, each of these writers in our area for only a couple of weeks on grant-underwritten leaves to write.

The literary reading today was unrelated to the arts colony (except in the sense that it's all sort of interconnected). Three writers were featured, and I was blown away by the first one, a poet, Rebecca Wolff, who read from her first soon-to-be-published novel, The Beginners, in prose that was incredibly metaphoric - each observation transposed into something else that made everything clearer somehow, and it all flowed, and wasn't in the slightest bit precious or "poetic" which I hate. I would like to get my hands on her novel, and on the alternative literary journal of which she's one of the founders, that is published out of the University of Albany not far from here. The journal is called Fence, and I read a bit about it this morning (story of its inception here), how Woolf founded it in her frustration over overly narrow literary categories. I can relate on some level. I mean, what is it that I do here? I think of what I write here as "poetic letters." And basically that's what, if asked, I tell people I do - I write poetic letters, love letters mostly, occasionally ribald.

Dearest Branwell, I'm trying to figure out if you're stateside again, or not. I suppose it hardly matters on my end, but I wonder how things vary for you between the two ports.

My post this evening is hardly of the spectacular transformative metaphorical sort, but I hope you will find it as always full of my love, which is always my prime impetus in writing here - in writing to you specifically - here.

Must launch without proofing, because it's getting late & I need to organize dinner, simple as it is, salad, leftover mash, steak that D will grill.

Putting my arms around you, many kisses. So many fantasies about you earlier today. I imagined a scenario where you and I are alone, others out for a time, scattered to school or mall or market. You & I cross the garden and climb the stairs, you show me your home office that did indeed get done. Up in the tiny aerie, the air-conditioner is going, one shade's open, another's shut, and you prove to me, no time to lose, single kiss followed by amazing hour on the floor, the liberating joys of a room of one's own, well-insulated and soundproofed above the garage.

Have a wonderful evening, wherever you are. XOXO

***

Missed Bob Schneider's Let the Light In on KZE this afternoon by two minutes - and so found a recording of it - here -


Friday, May 20, 2011

My darling, how are you, I wish we could be together sitting on the porch perhaps enjoying a glass of wine, sun emerging after an afternoon of dramatic storms that thundered and rang and clattered through the mountains and across the valley, causing the power to go out at one point, when I happened to be at the supermarket capitulating to a desire to buy flowers since lilacs here truly are done and irises (had I any) have not yet taken their place. Feeling not so much tired as achey. A jumble of impressions and moods. Reading with very great pleasure the memoir I mentioned yesterday; the author feels like a kindred spirit, there are similarities between us, odd ones - sometimes feeling too tired to change for bed & so falling asleep in clothes; love of Wave Hill, ownership of a Wave Hill chair or two (which D built from a plan several years ago); I love Wave Hill so much and felt so inspired by it that I once tried to write a novel loosely based on it as a location - and "Marco" the real-life gardener figured in as a mentor type in my book. Anyway! And now - oh really I have such a bad habit of googling, and sometimes in that "mirror mirror on the wall" way little shocks come up, so now I'm downloading/listening to 1.0's interview on a radio program with regard to his new book, and it's just such a shock to hear his voice after all these years. He and I had a couple of phone calls in more recent years - but still, the sound of his voice. I don't know. It's just sort of set me on a swerve. Just momentary though, my dear, the surprise of it. So funny - I'm the very opposite of someone who might jump on whoever - I can't let go.

Well, I can, actually, and I have, but still. Oh what else? Changing the subject. So back to the gardening memoir, the woman who left the corporate world for a fixer-upper & two untamed acres in the wilds of Columbia County. She is very engaging. And no, I'm not envious. (I've read maybe thirty pages.) She made it work though somehow. Here, on the other hand? I am dreading, on many levels, the prospect of my aunt possibly coming to visit. This place is a train wreck. The lawn hasn't been mowed since last fall - which means that the grass is almost literally waist-high. I don't like to step in it at all now, for fear of picking up ticks. And things in the house are just falling apart, the thing bothering perhaps the most is the tacks of the stair runner carpet coming out, a trip hazard and eyesore that I have to endure or somehow blot out each and every time I come up or down the stairs from the aerie. It just seems as though there is just so much I have to visually blot out here. This is not at all what I had ever envisioned when D & I sank our life savings & investments into this place. You know, at the time, it had seemed that we had made the decision jointly, and that we had similar motivations. I love old vintage things, and beauty, and was willing to try to work towards them - I thought D did too. But it turns out that D has a much greater tolerance for the never-ending process, for things being broken. To be honest, I'm not so sure he's motivated by beauty at all. I don't really mean it as a criticism - it's not an either/or - he's just better about "how things work" rather than "how things look." He and I aren't actually at war these days. He seems to be doing really well in his work, and I'm sensing in him this new confidence as I think maybe he's starting to earn some real (that is, sustainable, making ends meet) money, and he gets repeat calls again & again from "higher end" clients. Which I prefer he work with them much much more, because their grace & taste & good manners (of his clients, a number of whom who possess those qualities) rub off on D in a positive way - I'd rather he have more contact with them. As opposed to incidental yet unavoidable contact he has with rental apartment denizens, often of questionable mental stability.

Anyway, I'm going to let this post fly at the moment, and brace myself and listen to the rest of the interview. Why does the sound of his voice jar me so? Maybe I should think about that more.
***
Oh, I'm okay, back now, a few minutes later having listened to it - fascinating, well-done - phew!

Birds are whistling now. Mussels for dinner. Wondering where you are. Przyjdę do Ciebie, if you'll have me.

Took this photo this morning, the rapids turbid audible & brown - and that was before the storms and downpours. Wild phlox is in bloom high up on the riverbank.

Also, encountered a small snake on the road this morning, and a much larger one by the river yesterday - both vanished before my returns - neither rattlesnakes, I don't believe, or poisonous vipers, but how would I know?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Not Tinkerbell, and not (I don't think) a fairy - but what is the tiny yellow object in the midst of the lilac? It caught my eye on my walk this morning as I headed down the creekside road, looking for - if for anything - the "peed in a puddle" lilac stage, but blossoms in a day had scattered, melted into wet asphalt or otherwise vanished. Instead I saw this tiny madly whirling object, spinning as if propelled by a miniature maelstrom of its own, because it didn't seem particularly breezy, the lilac leaves perhaps rustled but were for the most part still. This little thing spun like a tiny top. I approached it and - yes, I know I sound a little mad here - but it stopped its whirling, as if having sensed my approach. It's so strange to say that I had a sense of its being somehow sentient, alien & sentient at the same time. I was a little afraid to touch it. What if this is the form aliens from outer space take? Why would I wish to touch it? But I did pass my hand above it, to see if it was suspended from a gossamer spider's thread perhaps, which it didn't seem to be because the tiny thing didn't move. Anyway. I know, very fanciful - but still - I don't know what it was. Perhaps a seed pod of some kind but - no surprise - I can't identify it, and can't say I've seen others, though perhaps there are a zillion about. Certainly it's the season for the tiny green maple seed helicopters that are all over the place - but the teeny whirling dervish that went still was neither that color nor shape. And so a tiny mystery it remains. It would have been handy to have the wildflower experts with me, I wonder if they too might have exclaimed - or if not, then peaceably identified it, and possibly - because she and her husband are great foragers (à la that brilliant young Danish chef) - offered cooking instructions.

Up in the aerie now, a peaceful summery hour, tree frogs occasionally whirring, mourning dove cooing. Quite warm and humid, and the sun is trying to break through though tonight there may be storms. Thought about you a lot today - well, when don't I? A little memory - you had wanted to convert your garage - the upstairs of it - into a habitable space, one that might be yours, a place to retreat to. I remember your mentioning that (when was this? in what context? I don't recall just now, yet vividly recall looking at you as you said it, and you - I think - soberly looking back at me) and my feeling very sympathetic, or maybe empathetic is the better word - of course you needed a space. I wonder if it ever got built. I have no idea but somehow I suspect not. But I hope so, for your sake. Male or female, we need our caves, or our aeries. Or maybe certain of us do, of certain temperaments.

It's funny, I just picked up a book at the library that was waiting for me on reserve, the memoir of writer and gardener Margaret Roach, entitled, "and I shall have some peace there: trading in the fast lane for my own dirt road"  (link here). I have seen her website, and driving past, glimpsed her little house a couple of times over the years, recognizing from TV her resplendently green shaded corner.  So you see - she needed her getaway, her retreat too. Darling, I really hope you have one. Or perhaps it is where you are right now, so long as you're there. Perhaps that works. I always enjoyed, years & years ago, my long sojourns at the Lancaster - not only because it was the lap of luxury, but because it was just such a blessedly quiet, private space all my own, week after week on end.

My dearest, can you tell I'm babbling? Just tapping on the keys - on the wall - to you. Can I tell you how, in the midst of thinking of you with some focus today, I discovered that batteries don't abruptly die - well, they do - but in fact they weaken over time, and so - let's just say - it wasn't just me somehow having trouble? And so this morning the first pair of batteries did in fact, to my dismay at dawn, give out entirely, and so I groped in the shadows in the nighttable for the second fresh set, and had to turn on the bedside lamp and even don readers to figure out the + and - ends of the magical enablers. And OMG, I'd forgotten (had my expectations, in the space of a month, reduced as easily as that?) about the original power - and ... oh my... what a difference fresh batteries make. I truly am feeling vitruvianly 21st century indeed.

I also, in frugal fashion, sought to recharge the spent batteries, and was informed by D that these were non-rechargeable (who knew? there was a time (a) that I had no idea that batteries were rechargeable, followed by time (b) when based on (a) I assumed that all batteries were rechargeable). Two steps forward, one step back, in the 21st century department. But I am enjoying myself - extraordinarily - and thinking of you very much, and well -- so it goes, at least for now, or perhaps for always, til we meet again, properly, for coffee, on the other side of the gates.

***
Also on my walk - a wild geranium - pink









***
Also, in the afternoon, on my drive back from the library, a brief stop at the river.  Song running through my mind that KZE plays a lot, "Maryanne do you remember, that time by the river, when we were seventeen....

***

Hope all is well with you, darling. XOXO

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My dearest, up in the aerie with the last of the lilacs. I went across the road this morning to clip some, fragrant panicles disintegrating, blossoms falling on my hair and all over my black sweater. Nice rain! On my walk later I spied other lilac bushes, blossoms at their feet - the 'peed a puddle' stage? I think of this phrase because the other day someone landed on my blog having googled it.

It's been another gray day, and I've been by myself all day, D with the car on a job a couple of towns north. It's strange not having uttered a word to anyone since early morning (okay, have a good day) except to cats. Did a bit of weeding in the perennial border in the north ell of the house. I love that border, it is both beautiful and manageable. Milled about in the kitchen, ladling chicken stock I'd made the other day into containers for the freezer, unloading the dishwasher and putting together dinner - seasoning a chicken with garlic, herbes de provence, fresh thyme, and lemon; peeling potatoes for mash; chopping butternut squash, carrot, red onion & broccoli and tossing with EVOO on a baking sheet. Went for a vigorous walk, then did a workout while watching Charlie Rose, all about one of the deux sex scandals du jour. I am fascinated, of course, on some level, yet on another (the "gotcha" kneejerk prurience of the media - been there already, a zillion times in history) - yawn. The IMF guy - WTF? He could have had anybody, the "highest class" call girl. The potential Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde aspect though, is disturbing - that perhaps he wasn't "just" a garden variety philanderer, but rather that there was this darker violent side, some compulsion to assault...

And then I think of course, of the other breaking story over the weekend, The Terminator outed to be - no big surprise - human. Here too, there's all sorts of coverup and subterfuge. And I don't know many facts, not at all. But it reminds me of the HBO series Big Love. There was just an awful lot of Arnold to go around, and go around it did, and the domestic servant lived in the household for another ten years. Now that's a little weird. Oh, whatever.

So A.S. had a double life too, but I don't know, yeah he's very powerful and all that - he was secretive, until it was convenient for him not to be so secretive anymore - and so he told Maria -

I don't know, it doesn't seem so evil to me that he had an affair and progeny as a result - so much as calculating, that he - Arnold & Maria both - enjoyed a high-flying political career that could only have been possible by keeping the whole thing quiet. And now - now it seems that neither one of them really needs the marriage anymore, so A told, and M split, fled to Oprah's warm embrace as I've read.

Sorry - yes, I'm cynical. Because clearly, rules or no rules, Catholics with great power & monetary fortune & connections can live however they wish. I suppose that's what disturbs me about the Arnold/Maria thing - the timing, the calculatedness of it. It's a bit passionless, not Big Love at all. More like the contract or compact between them dissolved.

I don't even want to go the whole, oh the hypocrisy route, but ---

well, apples & oranges, but I do support the right for same-sex adults to marry - including all the baggage that comes along with it - all the jumbled, complex, contradictory reasons that heterosexual couples marry

My dearest Branwell (when you land on my site via that image - that is, I imagine it's you - well, I wonder) I suppose there are fine distinctions to be made. Darling, I must go now, it seems that the computer or server are acting up again, plus must go attend to dinner.  Placing my hands in yours, darling, remembering with the greatest pleasure the vision of your smiling face (you at one end of the dining table, listening), loving you very much.

XOXO

P.S. Just now as I launch this post, a woman sings --- there's more true lovers than one - yes, I do agree with that -

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just past six, skies beginning to brighten after several days of rain. The gray skies have been getting to me, I think. I have been feeling achey and low energy. And some days you feel very immediate to me, but today you feel distant - but perhaps it's just a projection of my mood. I myself am feeling between things, disconnected. Also this feeling of - oh, I write? How on earth do I do that? Because the prospect of setting down my thoughts today has felt, to this moment, insurmountable, tiring. I have been wanting to write one thing - and so will set it down quickly without writerly fanfare: that the other day on the wildflower nature walk in the vast preserve on the east side of the county, Emily Dickinson had been very much on my mind as I, among a very small group of others on the walk, made our way through damp woods, examining various plants along the way - from stands of innocent-looking but highly invasive garlic mustard (in time it will push out every other plant), to unfurling jack-in-the pulpits, all the way to majestic stands of hemlock trees - which colonize, they don't like to be solo. I think of E.D. quite often anyway (some days more than others). I imagined her going through woods by herself, or with schoolgirl friends, selecting specimens for her herbarium. I could imagine her in just such a landscape, surely woods & fields in Amherst, less than 100 miles east of the preserve where I now stood, not too different.

I didn't make the connection til the following day - Sunday, May 15, 2011, was the 125th anniversary of the day Emily Dickinson died. So it seems especially fitting that I discovered, even if last minute, this wildflower walk, and that I felt compelled or impelled or propelled - somehow had the drive - to go. I have read since, in a beautiful tribute on the Secret Life of E.D. FB page that noted the bittersweet anniversary, that violets in bloom adorned E.D. in her final repose as well as her casket, and that on the day of her funeral, May 19, 1886, Thomas Wentworth Higginson (seeing her for only the third time in his life) noted in his diary that "The grass of the lawn was full of buttercups and violet & wild geranium."

And that's what's extraordinary thinking back to my wildflower walk on Sunday. Because violets were in bloom there, violet-colored ones and also white; and at one point in a clearing that contained (as I recall now) mostly lawn, and a hedgerow of pines - there in the grass were tiny yellow blooming flowers. Oh - buttercups? Yes, indeed, buttercups - the wildflower expert (a charming, lovely, softspoken woman who is exceedingly nuanced about bloom times, having as her lifelong labor of love devised over 30 years of observation a natural calendar in which she thinks of a year as being divided into not four - but indeed 19 seasons) (her website here) was surprised to see them, felt that they were a tad early.

And a bit later on that walk, we noticed a single wild geranium in bloom - pink.

And so now thinking about it - once I made the connection with the anniversary of E.D.'s death - wow, talk about perennials, and the everlasting - the very flowers that were in bloom on May 15, 1886, are in bloom at this precise time, in 2011. I felt such a sense of time collapsed, eclipsed, erased, evinced, falling away into some kind of simultaneity making that connection.

It's funny, the day before the walk, I had read on the FB page that it was the anniversary of E.D.'s death. But during the walk I didn't remember that and make the connection, partly because it was such a fresh new experience being in a new place with people I had never met before, and partly because we were chatting comparative bloom times between the east side of the county, in higher elevations, and the west where I live, near sea level, which I didn't realize, since in the romantic landscape in which I live, full of crags and dips and dells, I'm well above the flood prone creek. Lilacs, as of Sunday, had not yet begun to bloom in the Berkshire-Taghcanic foothills, but I was able to report to the little group that where I live they've been in bloom for a good ten days. Indeed this morning I clipped a few fresh blooms - I'd say they're past peak here now.

And that's it for now, my dearest love, wondering where you are, perhaps things are wrapping up for you where you've been - what's next for you, I wonder. Wherever you are, and wherever you go, I hope you are very happy and that things go smoothly, unfolding gently, not jarringly four-season style, but rather in langorous and deeply rich nineteen - at least -

XOXO
yours

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hello my dearest, up in the aerie at my usual hour, glad I got in my walk a little while ago before the rains came yet again, pounding audibly outside, windows closed against damp chill today.

I didn't know what to do with myself today when I woke up (around 7), especially knowing that I'd have access to the car. So I did a bit of online research and discovered that there was to be a guided wildflower nature walk starting at ten, meeting at the kiosk in the parking lot of a state park on the eastern side of the county, a park I've never been to. It was a bit of a surprising leap to decide right then to go, but I did. It's about a half-hour drive from here, into the hills. I wanted to go because of longstanding frustration in the back of my mind, with my frequent inability to name what I observe in nature, something I come up against in my walks - so forever what a pretty flower - what is that? that I give up and just take in the general ambience - which is fine too - but not noticing let alone appreciating as well as I might fascinating particulars. (I think with envy of Emily Dickinson, how her detailed knowledge of botany, starting with her childhood herbarium, gave her an ability to name things as well as to savor their meanings, which immeasurably informed and enriched her poetry.)

It's a beautiful park, owned by the state but managed by volunteers, in a niftily cobbled together arrangement including grandfathered cultivation rights by local alfalfa farmers. I didn't quite understand the arrangement, but it's a creative piece of legal conservationist artistry that has saved a breathtaking 300-acre open space from development and led to the creation of a preserve and community park.

It was a very small group this morning: myself; the wildlife experts who have spent 30 years, husband & wife, getting to know, season by season, year after year, the flora of the region; the very enthusiastic and pleasant volunteer manager/coordinator of the park; a family, husband, wife and I'm guessing sister or sister-in-law or aunt, along with two little boys.

Can you tell I'm from the city? I had flown to this excursion at the last minute, slightly inadequately dressed in a light sweater, and sporting an umbrella. Everyone else was in mudgear, anoraks and floppy rain hats and boots and waterproof most everything. No matter. It was all cool. I was there for my own reasons, to try to take notes on whatever knowledge I might glean as to flora, and so I juggled my umbrella, along with a small notebook, pen, and camera, an (ir)regular Nancy Drew, (ill)equipped for outdoor inquiry. It didn't matter at all. It was a delightful group, and we all fell into an easy rhythm, very relaxing, just a bunch of adults and a couple of young boys foraging about in woods exclaiming "what's this" and "what's that." I noted how beautifully on this misty morning new foliage shone citrus against ebony mulch.

It hardly rained at all as we meandered through the woods, just a lot of mist and moisture. Which is amazing to me in retrospect. This acreage, abutting the Taghanics, or perhaps it's considered the foothills of the Berkshires there, seems to be a sweet spot of sorts. Because once I turned from the parking lot onto the main north/south highway, Route 22, that parallels the mountains - it poured rain - to the extent that there was no way I might accidentally exceed the speed limit - rather, I kept conservatively below so as to avoid hydroplaning or any road flooding, water beating down noisily and madly as I headed north. What a strange road (I have traveled it, at various disconnected points in time, from Vermont all the way down to Westchester where I cut off from it and traveled back roads to Greenwich), it seems to have a weather pattern all its own. At Austerlitz, about twenty miles north of the park, I turned west onto Route 203 - and as soon as I made the turn, the violent rain abruptly ceased. It was misty and overcast all the way back to the lower elevations of the west (California!) side of the county - but no pounding, seering rain.

Anyway darling, I will launch this without editing - am feeling a bit barometrically-low-pressured - mood just fine, but the weight of all this moisture-laden air...

Throwing my arms around you and kissing you -

XOXO

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Kisses hello, my dearest, up in the aerie as dusk overtakes the chill gray day. Back from a reading at the local international arts colony. Those readings and various events are such a cultural lifeline for me. I'm such a regular that I'm recognized and greeted very warmly, this afternoon by the director of the literary program, as well as by their catering director (if that's her title, she may have a more expanded role than that, she's very warm). Anyway - that's very nice, I really appreciate that. It's funny, by contrast, I've gone to various events over the years in town here, and there's more or less the same cast of characters, cliquish as in middle school, not very friendly. I have said "pleased to meet you" to some of these individuals a half-dozen times over, a mutual charade of meeting them for the first time. Not that they seem all that appealing to me honestly - and, am I a "joiner", in that way? No, of course not. But it is nice - as I feel when I attend an event at the arts colony - to not feel so invisible - "hey nice to see you again, so glad you could come" - said with a smile - that's just a simple gracious thing.

I enjoyed the reading. I sat at the end of a row of chairs, by a plate glass window that overlooked vast fields, gently rounded and graded. The place is a sculpture park too, and it seems that perhaps even the land has been subtly molded, the vast lawn suggesting the curvature of the earth, a distant ring of mature deciduous trees black and green and fractal against the gray opalescent sky. Much nearer to me, on the other side of the glass, was a flagstone patio, on which droplets of rain fell and pooled - I loved the appearance of the wet flagstones, a material I love very much anyway. I love the organic and elemental materials of the place. Then I looked out across the fields again and it was coming down hard enough that I could see the rain falling to earth, and on occasion a pair of birds in the sky. All while listening to one of eight or ten writers read from their works, mostly in English, but sometimes in their native tongues, which even if I didn't understand, I was intrigued and drawn in to hear. There was a poet, a very expressive reader, from the Netherlands, and so I heard Dutch, which I don't know that I've ever heard before, and I was surprised at how very guttural and Germanic and full of throat-clearing "hhhh" sounds it was. Contrasted with a translator, who read aloud what she's been working on - translating a Philip Roth novel into Hungarian. She read an excerpt of the Roth - clearly, vividly, cinematically written, characters coming alive - and then read the same excerpt (which she had read very effectively and animatedly so it came alive in English) - in Hungarian. I couldn't understand the Hungarian of course, but was very intrigued to hear the sound of the language, which struck me as quite mellifluous, and full of "sh" sounds and also hard consonants, "b"s and "k"s, so that it was all quite musical and crisp, hard & soft at the same time - pianistic, perhaps. The language was foreign to me - but as she read aloud she employed the very same inflections she had used in using her own voice (her larynx) to delineate between the characters, to whom most if not all of us in the audience, we were just being introduced to for the first time. And so even in the foreign language, we could hear when it was the gentle, Solomonic Mr. Cantor speaking, or the hapless Horace, or one of the paranoid, accusatory hordes in a Newark playground in the 1940s.

A couple of the readings were especially powerful, I thought, one by a poet from the Republic of Georgia, whose piece told from the point of view of a patriot losing his life to a soldier's bullets reminded me of what I try to imagine relatives of my mother's (great-uncles, her father's cousins, if I'm not mistaken) might have experienced at Katyn Wood. (Have you seen the Wajda film about it? I really wanted to see it at the cinema, but it had a very limited run, and only in Manhattan so I couldn't get to it, and then a while afterward I netflixed it, but just couldn't bring myself to watch it, by myself, on the small screen in the kitchen. I feel that I would like to see it in a theatre, holding hands with someone who would really get it - you, as I now imagine.)

Along a similar theme a young man of Haitian heritage read from his novel, and it was a very powerful, resonant piece about how in 1941 his grandparents had very romantically fallen in love (she played piano, he loved her music), and how all hell broke loose in 1957, with troops & machine guns & the oppressors prevailing. Now, that could have been Poland, or Czechoslovakia, or Hungary - and here it was Haiti, whose historical particulars admittedly I don't know enough about - but the pattern sounded familiar to me. I was very moved by his reading.

And that's it, sweetheart, the day mostly floated by. I thought of you to extraordinary effect around 3:30, and then when I checked it seemed perhaps you had been thinking of me at that very instant - a concatenation - for me. And I bought myself a pair of sandals today, on sale. And dinner will be a plate of a beautiful buffet spread that was served after the reading. I have a paper plate waiting for me downstairs, with ovenfried chicken, short ribs, potato salad, dressed green salad, cornbread, and an iced peanut butter cupcake for dessert. No, I won't have it all at once - I couldn't possibly work out enough to make up for all those calories - the cornbread may be with breakfast tomorrow.

My darling, I hope you're having a wonderful weekend, and wherever you are that you are cozy & happy & warm & well-fed & enjoying yourself. Thinking of you, abidingly, yours - Belle

XOXO