Sunday, July 31, 2011

Message from Belle to My Friend in Finland, 31 July 2011
... It is a spectacularly gorgeous day today. I went for a walk at a nature preserve nearby, that has views of the blue Catskill mountains and of the Hudson River. The views are spectacular and the weather is particularly clear and bright. Influenced by the Emily Dickinson biography I'm reading, I noted, as I wrote my name in the signin register at the park, "Divinity - revealed." Because on a day like today, if one has had a chance to enjoy such scenery, who wouldn't believe in God. Such a person would have to be insensible indeed!

Here's Emily on the subject (from a letter she wrote in Feb. 1863):

I was thinking, today - as I noticed, that the
"Supernatural," was only the Natural, disclosed -
Well, I'm going to take in more of the wonderful Natural myself just now, take a spin into the countryside to a sheep farm that makes the most wonderful sheep's milk camembert, my favorite - worth a little jaunt with the moon roof open and some good songs on the radio and the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair...

in search of sheep's milk camembert

I know, I know, how many photos of sheep & lambs does one really need? But they were so cute. What I couldn't capture was the redolent odor of hay and manure strong but not unpleasant in the stalls; a pervasive gentle chorus and solos of baaahs and maaahs; my voice above the bleating din cooing aren't you cute, aren't you sweet, look at you; back at the car fashioning roughhewn snack with fingers, rapaciously prying smudge from semiround,
tearing end off sourdough baguette; afterward, on start back home along country roads, devouring pillowy wedge with delighted tongue, savoring tangy cream wedged in salt earthy crumb - perfect complements, sensuous and delectable; and driving glorying in limegreen, inhaling fingers lingering, morning perfume in crook of arm, imagining you inhaling other places inhaling, with devouring kiss strangled sigh exclaiming...

thinking of you

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Volume 1 dutifully and enjoyably read and dispatched, Emily, in the first paragraph of Volume II has now been born, and I read - and instantly related to - an account of her family's circumstances in her infancy. Starting in about April 1830, and for the first few years of Emily's life (she was born December 1830), her family along with extended family members, in total numbering thirteen ("although with goings and comings... the number varied") shared a two-family house.
The circumstances of Emily's childhood seem to have been about normal for Amherst at the time, at least for the professional and academic group. No one in Amherst, with its many farms, a few light industries, and fledgling college, was rich. But one does not often think of Emily, the Queen Recluse, as spending the first ten years of her life in a situation that, if not exactly deprived, involved a good deal of close living among fellow members of the human race. Such must have been the case in a house that, for all its fine exterior, had only four good-sized bedrooms, with only two of those available to the Dickinsons. The little children were apparently bundled together; Emily's first letter to [her brother] Austin when she was eleven complains of missing "My bedfellow very much." (In her mid-thirties she still spoke of [her sister] Vinnie as sleeping "by my side.") Such circumstances indicate limitations other than merely financial. Two-family living is seldom carefree for parents of small children, and at least one reason Edward early acquired a reputation for sternness is not far to seek... We know that Edward, for one, chafed under the restrictions...
By 1840 Edward Dickinson's finances had improved to the point where he could move his family to their own house.

I can relate to how stressful it might have been for such intelligent, strongwilled individuals - child and adult - to coexist in circumstances that did not provide for enough private space for each of its members.

I grew up in circumstances reminiscent of that, most of my childhood (and that of my siblings) spent in a very cramped two-bedroom, one-bathroom house. I don't really feel like revisiting those times at the moment -- as I type the sunlight is mellowing, my freshly washed hair is drying, I'm dressed in my usual summer uniform (one of two skirt outfits) of pink leotard, so happy that I've been working out so diligently - walk & workout today - that while 'shapely', to put it generously - I look quite nice. So much to be grateful for, and yet my mind - despite what goes on in the surface of rooms - as I lie back in bed, for example, absently regarding the brown wood blades of the ceiling fan whirl counterclockwise - there's always this whole other interior monologue going on in my head that often harkens back, broodily so, quite a lot, to the past.

I guess I'm idly wondering - what if the family I'd been born into had had different physical circumstances - would I be different? But this idea falls away very quickly for me. There were severe factors afoot other than reduced financial circumstances that caused my parents to purchase a house that was too small for ultimately (with the birth of my sister) six. My father was severely troubled, alcoholic and violent, traumatized from his war experience - I'm sure he had, to say the least, what today is referred to as post-traumatic stress syndrome. To put it mildly. It was all messed up. My mother was a very troubled, unhappy person also, and my father and she were unhappily married. And there we came, the four of us in fairly rapid succession. I'm the eldest, my first brother was born only 15 months after me. Honestly, not to engage too much in past childhood navel-gazing, but I do wonder how much I could possibly have been held as an infant, particularly when my brother came along, and then my second brother, two (I think?) years after that. Very soon - too soon - I was expected to be the 'big girl now.' Which of course I wasn't. I tried to run away, several times, starting before kindergarten.

Anyway, I seem to have turned into Queen Recluse myself, though it doesn't feel entirely voluntary. Then again, it's not entirely involuntary either. I think I've just had a very hard time achieving a tenable balance.

So if we'd each had rooms of our own, in a slightly bumped-out bigger house, and let's say my father hadn't been an alcoholic - would I have come out differently? Would I have a sunny disposition? I don't have an unsunny disposition, it's just that I tend to find myself, whenever I'm with a group of people, no matter how congenial, mentally off to the side, not quite a part of the circle. It's not wariness, or anything like that. It doesn't feel conscious. Honestly, it feels hardwired, though I don't know.

I don't feel that way one-on-one in intimate company with someone, a mutual love interest - then I feel sublimely connected, not alone at all.

Most of my family doesn't get along. That is, I've been the one cast out, though at this point I've been doing the casting out myself. It's as though I don't exist. It's my two brothers, and my younger sister. I have been X'ed out. So I do wonder, idly - so if my sister hadn't been born - would I, today, all these years later, have brothers, some semblance of sibling relationship with them?

That's one thing I've always admired about the other branch of the family. Our politics differ, and I feel cynical about uses & misuses of the slogan 'family values,' but in fact, they have acted over the years and decades and generations as a closeknit, supportive family, each among its members, a nice sense of camaraderie. My mother, a pricked prickly isolated soul dismissed some of it as tribalism, and it's true, I do see hints of that sometimes, that I do find offputting. But maybe I don't look too closely at that. Mostly what I see - having lacked it all my life - is a bunch of people who generally speaking seem to genuinely get along & enjoy one another's company. They even vacation together sometimes! Which is amazing to me - a warm, casual relation like that in my family is virtually unimaginable.

I'm not blameless in all of this, I don't wish to cast myself as victim. My family was so hopeless that even as a girl I tried to sort it out. I loved them desperately, in a way, and yet in other ways I really didn't like them, they seemed almost random to me. No, not random - they were my dear siblings - but I didn't feel very connected to them, they were so much their own selves divorced from other connection. (I've just remembered a not untypical conversation I'd have with my own mother - who was capable of saying to me 'I love you - but I don't like you.')

So I read that about E.D., that uniquely prickly & gifted beings were in overly close proximity at formative times - and I can relate to, as in my own family, that forces went centrifugal. In E.D.'s case the family members remained close, finding their own private orbits - yes there were estrangements, and yet - I don't know - how estranged can you be when you're next door neighbors? Theirs is an endlessly fascinating and enigmatic story, and the sorting out of all the complex family dynamics.

And I guess we've got a note of unexpected family dynamics ourselves, which has brought me and I think you a great deal of pleasure, but I hope hasn't caused any --

won't even finish that thought -

but I like the sense of a new connection
not estrangement after estrangement after estrangement
no - rather - discovery, and love

Anyway! Peach tart cooling on the stove

and by the way yet another sparrow somehow got into the house today (how are they getting in?) and I managed to get it out
and if I was nervous with the first one the other day
with this one I was fascinated and had this sense of completely enjoying being so close to its presence

it didn't enjoy being stuck with me, in the master bedroom while I closed one door (to the rest of the house) and opened up other windows & door to the juliet balcony so that it could get out

but I was fascinated by this little creature who by happenstance we found ourselves in interspecies communication - and lucky for it, I wasn't a predator (where were my cats, for example!)

have a wonderful evening, dearest, hope all is well with you

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dearest, just the quickest post ever this evening, to put my arms around you & kiss your cheek. I hope everything's okay. Someone hits on my blog via, among the search terms, "childhood father," coupled with a dearth of hits today (I'm okay - I'm not that needy) - but my imagination does the combinatorics, and I look at the calendar, and wonder - and well, all this preamble is so that at the veritable train station I can keep my arms around wonderful you a few seconds longer.

Went to the CSA, caught a glimpse of the farmer, a very handsome man around our age. Actually, it's not that he's so handsome - it's just that he looks very balanced, fit, intelligent, lively - Vitruvian - what we like - what we aspire towards, darling.

It's been a very muggy day here, so I did a walk at the conservation area, but skipped - for two days in a row now - the home pilates workout to C.R. It was just too hot. And I felt fatigued, though I feel okay now. Ebb & flow.

It was a servant who brought down the glass of sherry - I read it just today, in the Sewall E.D. biography, from Mabel's detailed journal entries. Sometimes E.D. would sit on the stairs, in the shadows, to listen to Mabel play piano & sing - it occurred on many an occasion, it seems.

Darling, oh darling, what else? Having had quite enough (sorta) of the HBO glimpses into the life of a cathouse (though it's helped fuel a few fantasies, I must confess), I've Netflix-embarked on Ken Burns' Civil War series, which - as often as it's been repeated, including these days, on PBS - I have never managed to watch. Until now. Now I put it on, on the little kitchen TV set & DVD player, and listen (listen more than watch) as I move about the kitchen, cooking, feeding cats, putting away dishes, what have you.

It's a wonderful series (duh!) and in the final scene of episode 1, the most beautifully eloquent love letter of a soldier, on the eve of his deployment to battle, to his wife --- oh my dearest - I wept, it was so moving.

And just now, I was feeling so uninspired this evening, but managed to whir together some tart dough for a peach crostata (peaches being this week's fruit share), and another batch of awesomely delicious pesto from today's 'small handfuls' of fresh basil and parsley.

Darling, wherever you are, I hope you are doing well, and all 'childhood fathers' as well, or if not - with them - well then - then for all whom they left behind.

Goodness, I didn't mean for such an awkwardly lugubrious ending.

Loving you, dear angel.

Must run - oh another kiss

Tanglewood on the radio tonight to look forward to, a few minutes from now, as the skies clear, and I hope stars will come out -


(launched w/o proofing - in the nature of dashing off a note to you - with yet another kiss)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hello my darling, I think of you too, all day, as the day goes by. Up in the aerie, of course. D is working in his shop, the sound of some power tool - a planer? I don't know - is going. He's been working on a pretty cool project, creating custom screen doors of architecturally compatible design for a carefully restored historic house. He's very happy with this project, it brings out the creative side in him, and his clients have been thrilled with the first couple of doors he's produced, several more to go, which is boosting his confidence, so all good good good.

I've been reading more of the E.D. biography and came upon a tidbit from Mabel Loomis Todd's voluminous writings, that offers a glimpse of the sound of Emily's voice that I found at once vivid and mystifying. Mabel and Austin Dickinson (Emily's older brother, a kindred spirit to her, with whom she was very close) had a thirteen-year affair, lasting until the end of Austin's life. Austin was married to Susan Gilbert ("Sue"), and it seems that the marriage was unhappy, disastrous even, from the outset. But this is all backstory to get at the little 'sideways' detail that captured my imagination. Mabel writes,
The story of [Austin's] disenchantment with Sue was told me, first by indifferent persons in town, and then more in detail by Lavinia [Emily & Austin's sister] with a few comments by Emily in her curiously interrogative voice from the next room.
I have long been fascinated by the fact that Mabel and Emily, extraordinarily, never met in person, although Mabel was a frequent visitor to "The Homestead." Emily was very much aware of Mabel - on Mabel's first visit to the house, during which Mabel sat at the piano and played, E.D. listened from her upstairs room, and caused to be sent down a glass of sherry. (Who delivered the libation, I wonder? Was it Maggie the housekeeper? And in what manner did E.D. order up the drink - did she pull a cord that caused a little bell to jingle in a kitchen? As you can see, of this 5,000-piece puzzle, I am still missing many pieces!)

Mabel and Emily on occasion exchanged little gifts - Mabel gave her a painting she had done of 'Indian pipes,' a native perennial, to which E.D. responded with a poem. Always this little dance around each other -- but from the details I had managed to absorb, I had imagined the dance, while eloquent, to be mute, silent. I knew that E.D. had heard Mabel's voice - as I recall, Mabel had been singing that first afternoon at the piano - but it never occurred to me that Mabel might ever have heard E.D.'s voice. In fact, I had assumed that she never had. And so now this doubly interesting turn of events - Mabel not only heard E.D. speak, on at least one occasion - and of such a critical, sensitive matter as Austin's marriage - but that E.D. (from behind a door) had a "curiously interrogative voice." I've been trying to imagine that voice, lightly, haphazardly, over the last hour, and couldn't quite grasp it. At first, vacuous 'Valley-Girl Speak' came to mind, where a succession of generally banal, uncontroversial utterances are each capped with a pointless rhetorical question mark - no, surely not that. Then I thought of Ophelia, in Hamlet, with her halfmad cryptic utterances - E.D. could be Ophelia-esque (or delphic at any rate), but not I think, on this occasion when Mabel heard her speak. Mabel wasn't listening to a tragically deranged victim that was Ophelia.

Curiously interrogative voice. The closest credible semblance I can think of now is Meryl Streep's speaking voice when I've heard her interviewed, say on Charlie Rose. I have been riveted whenever I've heard her in a sufficiently expansive setting that gives her the space to express her thoughts. Aside from her vast catalogue of wonderful performances, as a person when I've heard her she has struck me as a seer - she seems keenly, astutely, lightly, quixotically attuned to higher resonances that she hears well and that many of the rest of us can't fathom. I think of her voice now, so mellifluous, and yet - yes, with an at times 'curiously interrogative' quality, as if she's translating what she senses into words, with a trace of uncertainty as to, not so much - is she putting it right (yes she is) as - will we get it? Will what she's trying to say come across? And yet she speaks clearly, articulately, fully - her thoughts rounded & complete, not uncertain at all - it's only in - but how will they be received? So much room for misinterpretation with the spoken word, some of it accidental and innocent enough, but how tedious to have to try to further explain one's self, if need be. I can relate to E.D.'s giving up ever trying to, when miscommunication - especially when words are willfully misinterpreted - or maybe worse - when there's no hope whatsoever of ever crossing the divide and being able to make a person understand - is all too easy.

My darling, that is why, as I struggle with words, I would much rather say it with kisses, elaborated like music, gentle thought floated here, continued by inspired improvisation there, lingered at, furthered, returning to the source for guidance, clarification, venturing out again, responding, quickening, amplified, revisited, sweet returns, cherishing, revealing

many kisses my love

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A bird didn't come down the walk today, but one did fly in the house, a sparrow that streaked by, fleeting shadow at the ceiling startling me as I came downstairs. D's out of the house, and my first instinct would have been to ask him to take care of it. Especially if it was a bat. Which it didn't take but a couple of seconds to verify that it wasn't. I'm not frightened of a little lost sparrow. I talked to it gently as it flung itself against the panes in the living room. I opened a couple of windows and pulled back curtains, saying (absurdly), look, come here, come here, the window's open, here. Which of course the bird, sensible despite its panic, understandably ignored me. I opened a third one wide, and off it flew. Perhaps it will be nursing a headache, and a bad memory, after all that thudding around, trapped within windows.

It was the second creature today that I rescued. So again, a bird didn't come down the walk - but a fat winged moth did, I found it sprawling helplessly on its back on the hot asphalt drive trying, seemingly, to right itself. I tore a succulent leaf off a burgeoning sedum (from the back of the plant where no one would miss the cactus-shaped oval) and with help of a convenient weed yanked from a crack in the driveway next to the moth (if that's what it was, or some enormous winged beetle), spirited the creature onto the barge-like stretcher where it continued to wriggle in panic. I deposited it in the bottom layers of a buddleia, deep in verdant shade, and it instantly calmed down, its ordeal (evidently from its own point of view) over. I suppose it rested for a little while. Later when I went out to water the garden and checked the spot - it was gone.

And that's the sort of day it's been, events small & smaller such as that, among the high points.

I want out of my marriage. I am beating against the windows. There is nothing in it that sustains me.

And I'm not even in a bad mood, just tired, a little overly so, considering that it's a beautiful temperate day, and I took a walk, and did a workout, and had fun with my new toy twice, and took a nap, and read more of the wonderful Sewall E.D. biography.

D and I just had a fight because the three remaining cats have become flea-infested and despite my having asked D to 'Frontline' them as soon as the warm-weather started, he didn't, didn't wish to part with the money, and so in fact, no surprise, the cats did get mightily infested. Gwynnie's been scratching herself for months, I thought it was dermatitis. But no - it turned out to be fleas. Because they hadn't been Frontlined. And now they have been and Gwynnie is so exhausted from having scratched herself for a couple of months that she just lies sleeping exhausted on our place mats on the kitchen table (which I do not like, obviously).

I had absolutely no say in D's unilateral decision not to Frontline the cats 2-3 months ago, let alone that instead of that he chose some cheap flea powder on Gwynnie that didn't work and only prolonged matters.

Oh fine - so now, lesson learned. To D the lesson is - no more cheap flea powders. And I disagree. Mine was - and we just went through this stupid contretemps on the porch, before retreating into our separate realms - no, the lesson is that cats need to be Frontlined as soon as the warm weather hits.

Big fight.

I had no say in it. Until now. Way after the fact, when it is just tedious.

And my imagination is working overtime trying to animate, humanize, a blue silicon toy.

I don't even have 'an allowance.' Anything I might possibly wish to purchase for myself, he has to know, allot the money, even the most routine supermarket run.

I don't understand. I don't even totally understand what I want at this point. Nothing from him, in terms of emotional sustenance. We had that for a long time, in each other, but it's gone. Maybe I should be content just existing as cohabiting roommates at this point. We're usually cordial with each other. It's not enough for me. Or is it?

You know (of course) that my writing is a funny thing. It's a source of guilt for me, a bit. I don't seem to have a novel in me, or some body of poetry or poetic prose or whatever you want to call it - except for what I write here. This is it, folks. And it's obviously very problematic, I recognize that. And yet I don't want to quit it, certainly not to quit writing. And my writing seems to require a beloved muse, even if the muse (or muses) are to say the least, problematic.

And let's say we could get together - what then? would I write? well, not to you I wouldn't, probably not

although I'd pick you over writing

or would I?

I certainly (hypothetically) wouldn't wish to pick you over writing and then turn around and find some other male muse to write to

so in some ways my situation isn't the worst -
except that it's pretty bad
it's pretty bad when things are loveless, and I don't mean in just a physical sense which I've been able to figure out for myself

it's just those little connections
going out once in a while, for a lobster roll in Noank
looking forward to a vacation together
having any kind of shared sense of mutuality

it's all gone
how do I get that back with him?
I can't
I really don't think I can

I don't feel it
he doesn't feel it

we don't even really have 'forms' to fall back on at this point

and yet I don't feel miserable

so how did that work: as long as my creative & erotic sides were suppressed my marriage worked
and when they blossomed, the marriage tanked
(plus there were economic factors in between)

I could rattle on in endless fashion trying to make sense of this
trying to figure out what to do next, how to proceed

I just have to believe in dailiness
in a completely nontreacly way

because I absolutely HATE pious paeons to the fucking beauty of simple dailiness
extolling trills over laundry and dish sponges
I couldn't even believe this one blog I read, she is so f***ing treacly, and preachy
well, she was a former magazine editor - a tastemaker
and in her most recent post she linked to a youtube song that I suspected I would find nauseating, and sure enough - did (no links, don't wish to pick fights)

I liked the bracing interview on Charlie Rose today,
with Erroll Morris, none of whose documentaries I've ever seen

but I loved the points each of them, in genial conversation, made
they're both expert, practiced, incredibly experienced interviewers
listeners by trade
and what thrills them in an interview that goes particularly well
is the sense of exploration
and of discovery
of revelation, something new, some new aspect, a voyage
(mostly we're unknown to ourselves, they each pointed out)
rather than of "confirmation" of some preset - 'handled,' as by 'handlers' - idea

sorry darling, this post wasn't exactly a Proust's Questionnaire of pithy probing, but it's where I find myself at this moment -

much love, and hope is well & happy with you, as much as can be expected, dreamed of, enacted - Vitruvianally


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hello my dearest. Did you find the snapshot I described the other day? That's my interpretation when I see that someone has landed on that very post by googling, "I like you better without a moustache." I take that also as - that you agree.

Ah, madness of the 21st century variety...

Up in the aerie like my grandmother's granddaughter - she too at the end of a day would retire to her delightful attic chamber, sit at her desk by the pair of charming latticed windows, and write. I would see her there on occasion, climb the narrow carpeted staircase to visit her, but I don't now recall her mode of writing. I imagine it was longhand - I don't remember a typewriter. And I'm sure she didn't sip from an icefilled glass of pink wine - though who knows? I certainly never went into her drawers. That's a nice memory I have of her, sitting at that desk, weary from a long day on her feet mostly, in the kitchen. She was always very very kind to me. She could be irascible with others, I know - my mother and her were oil & water, completely, as were my mother & my aunt, though my mother did like my uncle, and my grandfather too. But anyway, it's fair to say that I liked, loved everyone in that family - well, I was a child, with a loving heart, and that family seemed serenely untroubled, in that era anyway, and without a doubt, even if I may not be sufficiently knowledgeable or sympathetic to others' experience in this instance, but by all appearances it seemed very smooth and happy and orderly, and certainly so in comparison to the troubled hornets' nest I grew up in.

A thunderstorm rolled through here earlier this afternoon, much to my delight because I wasn't feeling very energetic or inspired, and so the sudden torrents spared me from having to water the garden. I love a good thunderstorm, and this afternoon it reminded me of a piece of music - the timpani of - orchestral timpani - and I thought - what piece of music am I thinking of? And then I realized (didn't take long) that it was a movement from Elgar's Enigma Variations, a work that I adore, have long adored, ever since first hearing the Nimrod, as I now recollect, up in 1.0's attic where we initially quite chastely hung out together, and he'd put on an LP of the soundtrack from Young Winston, on which the Nimrod is passionately contained, while he explained, with great enthusiasm and exuberance, the elaborate historically accurate layouts he had set up on a table, re-enactments of one epic military battle or another, miniature armies set up on maplike painted-landscape cloths. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I'd listen raptly, noting his features (aquiline nose, sweep of his hair, etc., etc.) and nod, and lose myself in the mounting musical swells, and it wasn't til quite a while later, weeks and weeks, my education progressing by minute degrees, that we got into ---

Where was I?

Ah, so anyway, back to the Enigma Variations - one of my very favorite pieces of music. There have been times, such as when my heart began to run amok three years ago, that I played it loudly, and often, in my aerie lair, but the sound carried downstairs, where D hangs out.

D hates the Enigma Variations, or my playing it, anyway. It signifies something to him, and I suppose he's not wrong.

So after the storms I went out and snipped flowers for vases, truly one of the joys of summer. The garden is a mess, but it gives beautiful bouquets.

And that's it, darling, other than making progress in the E.D. biography, making cole slaw, going for a walk at the conservation area, and doing a workout to Steve Carell on Charlie Rose. I liked Carell's observation that any person, any character within a narrative doesn't know if they're in a comedy or drama, so don't try to be funny, or dramatic, just play it...

And too, he said - above all, listen. He probably didn't mean to the heartrending Nimrod, but in case that warhorse has eluded you - here it is - crank it if you can.  The sound quality isn't the best in this video, but I'm mesmerized by Barenboim's beautifully gesturing arms and hands.  I have a wonderful utterly over-the-top recording by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult that would make Emily Brontë weep and fling her draft of W.H. aside as insufficiently passionate...

Good night you. Big hugs. XOXO

Monday, July 25, 2011

My dearest - how are you, where are you? Missing you, would give anything just to be able to have a conversation with you, gauge you. A peaceful hour after a blessedly rainy day, I so enjoyed it after all the heat and sun. For the first time in weeks I'm back in jeans and a long-sleeved blouse, with even a cotton sweater draped over my shoulders. I've owned the pullover for many years, twenty or more, and never really wear it - it's too impractical, being pure white. Plus it only gets play between Memorial Day & Labor Day. When it's usually too hot for a sweater. Which limits the subsets of occasions that it ever gets retrieved. But today was just such a rare day - perfect summer accessory (more that to me, than cozy ole sweater) for this drizzly cool day.

The computer hums and whirs, outside birds tweet and tutoyer, traffic on the highway rolls by in audible serenity. Dinner will be angel hair pasta with pesto sauce that I whipped up from CSA basil. What else is new? In a mellow mood, perhaps reflective of the weather. Had a wonderful moment with you this morning, so effective, it just sets the day going right, when I can get myself to just that point - and that's it, then I'm off & running. I had this crazy notion that if I could give E.D. a single present from our time - I know exactly what it would be, with proper accompanying unguent. And I (as I'm sure you know) don't mean this in some salacious, cheap way. No, I really think that she would find it a powerful aid in achieving her transcendent states. Then again, I get the sense that perhaps she was quite adept or sensitive even without.  It's I who has needed the aid, and am blown away by the end result, in which truly the whole universe seems to split open & swallow me whole for several roiling seconds.  But this morning along with it came severe leg cramps - paralyzing me with pain in tandem with bliss. Ah but I made the bliss count, and it did, and then somehow unpretzeled my seized limbs. I should be glad I wasn't swimming, say in Carly Simon's old pool, which once I did with 1.0 late one summer evening, 35 summers ago, when I was much younger & more limber.

Dearest, are you smiling yet? I'm cracking up myself, at my own loopy jokes. Yeah, that really was her old pool, from when she was a girl, publisher's daughter, spending summers in North Stamford. 1.0's house was nearby, and his family were friends with the then-current owner, an elderly genteel library administrator as I recall, the Simons by that point long, long gone. I recall attending a gathering there one afternoon, the ceilings were very very low, it was a venerable old house - 18th century maybe, with later additions, and the room that I remember possibly older than that. Of the pool I remember next to nothing, except being in it in summery country darkness, in the cool water, just 1.0 and me, in the sweetest completest privacy (one of the rare occasions - owner away - that we didn't have to fear that someone would come busting in on us), fireflies lighting up the night here & there perhaps, stars up above dazzling, moonlight shining on the lapping ripples of the elegant sunken pool, and 1.0 and me alternately laughing & being intensely serious as we figured out doing it for the first time ever underwater, with the sound of traffic on the Merritt, very near the house, rolling soothingly distantly anonymously obliviously by on the way to who knows where in the sylvan darkness.

And are you somewhere, if not at this moment then later this evening, in sylvan darkness? I hope so, dearest, I know how you love the outdoors. Let's meet up you & me, I'll sneak out of my cabin, you'll figure some way out of yours, we'll douse ourselves with bug spray and you'll bring the torchlight, and shine it as we make our way through the buggy verdant path, that looks overgrown and safe in daytime, but at night is full of mysterious rustlings, tangled wilds rising up startled like deer in headlights - no, that's not true, the vegetation is indifferent, it's just that there's so much of it, and bugs dancing all around, and occasional fireflies, and some frog croaks, and another in another invisible corner amens in response. And we'll make our way to the lake, and step onto the wooden dock that juts out over the dark water, the torchlight you carry lighting the way to the end, where we sit down. You shut the torch, and we dangle our feet in the water. All is dark around us, and we, accustomed to the single beam of light that guided us here, are momentarily blinded by undifferentiated blackness, but now, as our eyes adjust, you and I are dark featureless silhouetted corporeal shadows facing each other, our voices murmuring, the cool water slapping against the wood piers, our feet submerged, finding each other's feet. We put our arms around each other and you kiss me, and I say, you know this reminds me of a time I skinnydipped in Carly Simon's pool, and you murmur in my ear as you begin to explore, I remember that story, what was it like, show me...

Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887–1986), Pool in the Woods, Lake George, 1922, pastel, 44.45 x 71.1 cm., Reynolda House, Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My dearest, sitting down at the piano to play you a nocturne, or maybe a gentle, slow-time rag. It's a beautiful late afternoon, the day starting out with a thick gloomy haze that the sun which eventually, without my noticing, made an appearance and steadily burned off all the gray in favor of blue skies and white clouds and welcome as cool fresh sheets on the beds that I changed today, replaced torpid humidity with crisp dry air. I spent the better part of an hour at the small north-facing kitchen window trying to capture a shot of a woodpecker clinging to the rim of the birdfeeder, but he's very clever, or shy, or both, and seemed aware of the Heisenberg principle and refused to be observed. Sparrows, redwing blackbirds, what may or may not be a cardinal (perhaps a young female?), and goldfinches steadily took their turns.

I think it is fair to say that I lead a more isolated life than did E.D. Hers seems positively outgoing compared to mine. How did I get so stuck? She had family around her, even if they, each member - very smartly - revolved in circumscribed orbits around one another, each personage an individual planet that could, as exigencies arose, divert from the timeworn mechanical, adjust by rhythm and circuit to allow for the maximization, no individual's light ever going out, of each personage's autonomous, desperate passage.

Maybe she wrote letters to the world that never wrote her back - but she wrote letters to others, too - and they responded.

I did correspond over the weekend with My Friend in Finland, so I shouldn't be imprecise.

13 July 2011, Belle to F.
... The extreme heat broke, it's a bit cooler now - tolerable. I must go out and water the flower beds now. Then I will make a salsa - made of chopped tomato, jalapeno pepper, white or red onion, EV olive oil,fresh lime juice, salt, pepper, and fresh cilantro from the CSA. The salsa is all an elaborate excuse to get to the cilantro. It's refreshing, delicious stuff, J, I don't know if you have it in Finland at all (salsa is Mexican, originally) - it's awesome as a dip with tortilla chips, or even as a topping for a plain white fish... yours truly & warmly
13 July 2011, M.F. in F. to Belle
Dear Belle, I wrote yesterday this poem for the memory of the latest victims of terrorism in Norway... Yours truly & warmly
13 July, Belle to M.F. in F.
That's very beautifully written, J. I greatly appreciate the sentiments. They can't be said often enough - indeed, they need to be said again & again. Too many people seem to have lost touch, forgotten the primordial, with what connects us, with the mystery.... Amazing to me the evil that's perpetuated in the name of "God."

No Holy Wars for me.

To quote the title of a song that played on the radio here a little while ago,

"Peace, Love, and Barbecue."

And with that - to my salsa (with a small clove of minced garlic too).

Y, t & w

So darling, that's about it for now. I suppose I find myself comparing/contrasting my life with E.D.'s since I'm immersed in Richard Sewall's excellent biography. I turn my head now from the computer screen (I'm as champion a typist as I am a competent piano player, can type/play without looking), glance over at the tome sitting on my desk, with the haunting iconic daguerrotype image of her, her hair parted in the middle pulled back in a bun. My own hair is pulled back in a bun, though I part my hair on the side.

(It was so strange going through photos yesterday, so quickly, riffling through in specific search, but encountering epochs and eras of my life in shuffled fashion - not exactly my 'life flashing before my eyes' - but feeling a strange disconnect to the images. One thing I noticed was - why did I wear my hair so short for so many years. That, combined with the weight I'd put on, really didn't do me any favors. It was just strange to see that. I've dropped weight, certainly several sizes, and wear skirts and look nice in them too, and my hair is longer, much longer - I am growing into myself, I am certain. In some ways I look younger now, I think (or at least in my mind's eye), than I did in images from ten or even twenty years ago. Very strange. You grow into your looks, I know that Ruth Reichl once somewhere said, in one of her memoirs. I truly believe that. But still - where did I take those misguided wrong turns, and why?

I think I know the answer, and perhaps I think of it because I'm just now on the chapter in the E.D. biography devoted to her mother, after whom (like me) she was named. At heart, E.D. didn't feel herself to have a mother, they were too different. Yet her mother had been a key agent in creating the very space & home that E.D. felt at home in and never left. A paradoxical relationship; her mother gave her a home, & lots of space... but maybe not so much (I'm guessing, or projecting) practical worldly guidance, or guidance that was of much or any use to her daughter with her clandestine genius particularness, and in a changed, and rapidly changing again world...

Darling, noble kinsman (it's 'kinsmen' in the poem), I've hardly been borne away...

Woodstock the Bird will put down her fiddle & go downstairs and crank up the lovely 'Women of Note' program on KZE, and catch something of a local poet, or timeless international singer-songwriter.

Good night darling, I hope all is well with you.

Yours, monstrously so -

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My dearest, up in the aerie, having a hard time getting myself to post. I suppose something's troubling me, yet I feel reticent, at least here. I get the feeling that I'm persona non grata to some;
I may be the one with the pseudonym, but you may not be the only one with the proxy. Is that a factor in your 'difficulties?' I don't know what to say. It's tricky, uncertain ground. If my suspicions are correct, I may never see them again - and that would include you, swept up in the sweep. I don't underestimate.

I read a line by Emily Dickinson
in the Sewall biography I'm currently reading –
"My business is to love" [emphasis hers].
And that's all I can say for myself,
I can see the other points of view
I wouldn't be happy about it either

I went through two shoebox sized plastic boxes of photos today
looking for an image of you
there were batches throughout of my wedding day
interspersed with vacation shots years later, in Nova Scotia
and another time in Hawaii
and still after irrelevant still of tropical hibiscus
there was me at Windsor Castle on my honeymoon, freezing
then, rifling through, careful not to skip
too quickly through clumps
there you were! in one single image,
with your youngest, just born,
your wife's handwriting on the back
I don't even know whose kitchen that is, or dining room
there’s an overhead lamp directly above your head, like a hat
lit petals descending or rising above you

and ha! as I search now for a photo of such a lamp
I see next to you, hung framed on the wall,
a Tiffany stained glass poster, the light of your crown
reflected in its glass
and you're at the apex of the shot - as in a Baroque painting
of teeming circular rhythms, 
cast of characters in horizontal array beneath
you with your golden crown

it's a beautiful photo
your sweet girls, all blue skies & pink minotaur,
& who knows with the babe in arms?

and one cousin, holding the babe, all patriarchal beams
and my exhausted looking cousin, your wife

whoever took the snapshot - the subjects love the photographer
girls tilt their heads beguilingly and
lovingly as they pose to that loving shot

and you're beaming at the camera too
with that lampshade over your head - here, not a joke,
but a beautiful crowning, framing touch

I like you better without a moustache I think
And I compare the photo with more recent ones I have
in a Christmas card
and images in my mind
my conclusion
darling - you're a hunk, then & now

The business of America is business
My business is to love

(in that business, I've been going back through lines
I originally set down
and now actually looking at the snapshot
and if one could number the lines above
in the order they got written
you'd be surprised that the numbers are all out of order)

no one has sinned
mighty fortresses are intact
I really can't help it
but I can understand that
as with a vampire
I'm safe - so long as
outside the door


Wisteria, Tiffany transom panel, c. 1910–20, leaded glass, 37.125 x 96.25 in., The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park, Florida (link here)

P.S. Saturday, 8:25 p.m.
error message
dearest, I had a really good, pretty well polished post going
and then blogger crashed
as I was tweaking minor edits
and my polished prose
and gist went
so the post that's up there now
it's not what I intended
stupid me
I didn't have a backup
oh aaarggh
how could I have a backup when it's so hard for me to write in the first place?

Sunday, 8:25 a.m.
post fixed - all better

Friday, July 22, 2011

Darling, up here in the aerie, getting myself in gear to write, sort of like stepping into a cold lake one inch of body at a time - I guess I'm about up to my breasts now - excruciating - so I'd better plunge in. Just back from the CSA farm and putting away loads of beautiful produce. And now I'm inhaling the crook of my arm - Miss Dior - and my fingertips redolent with the scent of cilantro, parsley & dill. The fragrances aren't dissimilar to me - I go back & forth between arm and fingertips, inhaling, considering deeply. Miss Dior is, I suppose, a fresh green scent at its base, though with a sweet floral overnote certainly; the green herbs I just finished handling - placing allotted handfuls of each from the CSA bins into separate glasses of water - are reminiscent - minus the intoxicating alchemy.

13 July 2008, Belle to J

"In New York I eagerly accepted the soft job fate offered me - it consisted mainly of thinking up and editing perfume ads." -- Lolita, Ch. 9.
"Miss Dior Perfume by Christian Dior, Launched by the design house of Christian Dior in 1947, Miss Dior is classified as a refreshing, woody, mossy fragrance. This feminine scent possesses a blend of rose, gardenia, sage, and other green florals. It is recommended for daytime wear."
And for the modern Lolita, an "updated" Miss Dior, called Miss Dior Cherie.
"This is a modern fragrance that captures the timeless couture spirit of Dior. A new interpretation of the original Miss Dior fragrance, Miss Dior Cherie combines pure couture spirit with the audacity of youthful, playful notes for a fresh approach to a timeless classic. Notes of chic, green tangerine, violette, and pink jasmine mingle with soft patchouli, musk, and delectably sweet strawberry leaves and caramelized popcorn for a delicious scent that's truly irresistible." [online ad copy for the perfume]
Caramelized popcorn?

13 July 2008, J to Belle
I had forgotten that Humbert wrote perfume ads at one point, but as soon as you mentioned it, I remembered... The text of the perfume ads is interesting to see after all these years, but hard for me to translate since I'm not familiar with the language of perfumes. The comment that Miss Dior is recommended for daytime wear, suggests the ad was not written by Humbert and certainly not written by me. The combination of your soft cheeks and hair, that white wrap-around sweater, the smell of Miss Dior--and your hands and lips running all over me--is overwhelming...

... Once, we were engaged in our love play in a grassy place not far from that stone bench (I have a picture of you sitting on it); it was a rather exposed place, actually, but it was dark, so we felt comfortable. I was kissing your nipples, and you had a sudden climax... I never forgot that, and I never saw it again with anyone else. It was one of many manifestations of your extraordinary capacity for giving and receiving love...

13 July 2008, Belle to J
My dearest, Miss Dior - recommended for daytime wear when a lot of action will be going on in secret, verdant spaces such as croquet lawns and froggy pond banks and I-95 and the Merritt and the sun remains relentlessly high in the sky and simply refuses to set.

Also "daytime" as a metaphor for innocence, purity, and idyll (my origins). Darling, I don't remember the stone bench offhand but I do remember my incredible capacity to climax with you (caramelized popcorn indeed)...


Right. Such excitement in my CSA haul, another arrowhead cabbage, head of romaine, limpid salad mix, zucchini, squash, 4 ears of corn, beets with their greens, quart of peaches, ripe cantaloupe...

The Hamptons has its tall privet hedges
Columbia County has its canyons of corn


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hello my love. It's 100 degrees in Hudson, and I've stayed indoors all day. I decided to give myself the day off from a walk and a workout, not wishing to deal with the sun and heat. But I found I had all this boundless physical energy. So I spent much of the day giving the kitchen a very thorough, all-too-rare complete cleaning. I cleaned the inside of the fridge, the floor beneath the stove & fridge, washed the floor, etc., etc. I did all this in the buff, and felt perfectly fine & comfortable the entire time, just moving about briskly, thinking my thoughts while scrubbing this, rinsing that. And actually before I embarked on that mad mission (seemingly so, on a day like today, but I felt fine) I did a bunch of food prep for what will be a delicious dinner tonight: chicken baked in a marinade of Indian garam masala spices, ginger, & yogurt; basmati rice; a cucumber salad dressed with plain yogurt, salt, pepper, & dill; and a small peach tart from the CSA fruit share last week - and tomorrow's another pickup.

It's only now that I'm really feeling the heat, now that I've had a cool shower, and toweled myself off, and spritzed on Miss Dior (ah!), and put on clothes, pink leotard tee & filmy skirt. It's very hot up in the aerie, hotter than the cavelike downstairs - and unfortunately the oven's on. I suppose my menu planning could have been better. No matter.

At least a breeze is coming through, rattling the wood blinds, tilted closed against the sun. Birds are at the feeders that I topped off. Probably we should have taken them down for summer, but I keep topping them off because I feel sorry when I see a little bird plaintively going at an empty feeder, and some of the birds are quite desperate about it, too tall for the bottom-most opening at which there might still be a bit of seed, they cling to the rim of the feeder from below, like swimmers hanging on to the edge of a pool; or they sit on the rim and lean over almost 180 degrees to get a morsel. So, yes - I see that desperate effort and my heart goes out - I go around to the back of the house with the sack of sunflower kernels.

Boy the combination of fragrances of basmati rice and peach crostata, and maybe the roasting chicken too - wow - amazingly wonderful. (Do you really think I'm a good writer? What would E.D. say to 'amazingly wonderful.' Like Lolita - bah!)

And I felt a need to edit this morning's post too, because I had like three 'impressed' and/or 'impressivelys,' not to mention two 'incredibly's, one of which got replaced with a 'notably' and the other with 'remarkably' - or some such - don't factcheck me - but that's the gist.

My dearest, where are you, how are you? I haven't gotten a response to a message yet, about an invite - well, who knows - I will try not to take it personally. There's a slightly paranoid side to me - how on earth would I ever explain anything, if I had to. Or perhaps the visit up North is all done and gone, all returned home without meeting. Which is fine, if that's what happened - I totally understand. I have found for myself (at least when I was a girl and took occasional week-long summer vacations at the house, spending time with my grandmother, and with my cousins) that that house is a little universe of its own, one enters its bubble, its rhythms, whatever's going on, and a day will flow from morning to night, interspersed with meals (kielbasa, sałatki, owoce), then before you know it it's the next day again, and the same routine goes on, as the 1960s brown analog clock with black hands, the one adjacent to the kitchen stove, hanging above the plastic wastebasket, that has marked time there for decades - since I was a girl at least, and now I'm nearly 52 - revolves silently around the hours.

I don't have synasthesia at all I don't believe - a coincident incongruous identification in one's mind of mixed sensory cognitions - ascribing colors to sounds, for example - I don't quite grasp it since I don't experience it. And yet there's something exquisite or excruciating or attenuated sometimes for me just picturing an hour on that particular kitchen clock - 'quarter to three' for example, in that cozy time-warp kitchen, the black hands at that balletic position signifying the timelessness of an endless afternoon; or 'ten after five,' that bowing of limbs suggesting that perhaps there's a train to greet, that someone's arriving home perhaps, that dinner comprised of a miscellany of pots on the stove is underway, and the light is turning golden in the west, along the avenue at the bottom of the driveway, and up here from the kitchen window, the sun is visible, a glow in the distance at the far end of all the neighbors' yards.

You'd think that I'm obsessed with those memories - I'm not, but they come to mind because I know you'll know what I mean.

So reluctant to let you go. And yet - I must.

My house is nice too. I enjoyed moving about it today, very much. Actually, I'm having a very hard time with the garden, it's so overgrown - lawn, privet - that I feel psychically encroached upon, dwarfed by the messy landscape. D's aware of it, he's working very very hard, I think somehow finally something 'clicked' with him, and he's on an upwardly ascending groove now, things are getting better (I just need to be dragged along I suppose, on some level, at this point). D has it in mind to hire two young guys he's acquainted with, who are hungry for work in downtime, to do some yard work for us. And the guy with the bulldozer came by one day on his own to survey the pulling-up-the-driveway job. He's thinking he can get to it in September, timing which D says will work with our finances too.

So honestly it felt really good just to stay in the house all day, even if all I did was give the kitchen a good once-over. Because sometimes the house - unfinished as it is - feels out of control too. But if it's clean - and clean especially during a heat wave - ah, then the living is easy.

It was just that little bit that I could control. That - and this post (maybe).

Signing off, my dearest, wherever you are, I hope all is well, all my love, many kisses,

one last squeeze

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hello darling, up in the aerie, doing my best with this heat wave, in the 90s today and very sunny and humid. Just finished watering the garden. I've been in the house three days straight, except for going out in the garden or for a walk. D's been out on a job and we have only the one car. Am I feeling housebound? Hard to say. I'm not really dying to go anywhere. There's an exhibition at the Clark, on the impressionist painter Camille Pisarro, that I'd like to go see, but even if had the car, the car needs work before it's safe to hazard the hour-and-a-half trek over the Berkshire mountain pass. I've been occupying myself best I can, reading a fair amount today, the Rebecca Wolff novel, and making inroads into the The Power Broker-sized (which is to say behemoth) biography of Emily Dickinson, which is fascinating and very readable, so the size isn't putting me off. The two-volume opus is combined in my massive paperback - and Miss Dickinson doesn't even make an appearance - so I've read in Richard Sewall's introduction - until Volume II! So it's tempting to skip Volume I altogether, which describes the backdrop and cast of characters, ancestral and contemporaneous, surrounding E.D. But I'll be good. I have all the time in the world. And I heed Professor Sewall's sternly persuasive admonition (akin to a school principal mind-reading a restless student's contemplation of skipping class): "To readers in haste to have her born and on the way, I can say only this: the more one knows about background, foreground, center, what's "above" and what's "below," the more real the poems become and the more awesome Emily Dickinson's achievement is seen to be."

So I'm not feeling physically housebound so much, yet I could use more stimuli, inputs, simple company - oh for an interesting conversation (hence this one-sided effort, I suppose). And so in my way of venturing out into the world, I thought to google a former neighbor, who lived in the downstairs apartment from us for a number of years when we lived in Brooklyn. And was very surprised - though at the same time not surprised, rather very impressed and happy for her - to learn that she's now in an extremely high-up executive position at a top Ivy League university. This woman over the years has built a singularly distinguished career. She was just starting on the upward trajectory when we first moved into the building, and over the years her career took off by remarkable leaps and bounds. She was a godsend to our little self-managed co-op too, took charge of organizing a refinancing (we were all clueless & overwhelmed) like it was nothing, which it wasn't, it was a total pain. She was (is) incredibly competent, intelligent, serious, fair-minded - I really liked and admired her. You know, she's achieved exceptionally important positions, but I never had the sense from her that she was 'power-hungry.' Unlike a couple of people, at least, who readily spring to mind from my last tenure, at a municipal agency, who struck me as mostly into it for the swashbuckling power & perks & what it did for their vanity. With this woman, I never had a glimmer of that in the slightest. Just hard work, determination, good humor, devotedness, purpose -- in short, integrity. I know, I'm making her out to be a saint, or glorifying her - I don't mean to - what I'm trying to convey is that she was just really 'solid.'

She liked me too, and I recall now that there was some time in the early nineties when I found myself unemployed. Hmmm, have to think back to the details of that - I'd been a paralegal at a humungous law firm, helping to administer their nonbilling pro bono department; there was a restructuring, I was laid off or let go - jettisoned. It's okay, the job wasn't the worst - but I've always had this problem in my professional endeavors throughout my life - almost always, my heart hasn't been in it. Or my heart could be in it to some extent certainly, 30 percent, 20 percent, maybe 35 percent (how does one measure?!). I worked hard, maybe harder than some as if to compensate for my duality - because this other part of me was always 'outside' the job, thinking of other things, wishing to be elsewhere, homesick sometimes. But what I always had a hard time feeling, from a deep core place, was close identification with an organization, even when its mission & purpose was ostensibly very congenial to my values (which coincidence rarely occurred).

When I had been let go (not fired, not forced to resign, as in my very last position at the municipal agency), I collected unemployment for a requisite period, I don't recall now if it ran out or not. It was an anxious time, there was a mortgage to pay, living in Brooklyn was expensive. Anyway, my downstairs neighbor saw a glimmer in me, something, and - in one of the few times in my life that I have experienced the benefit of a 'connection' - suggested that I apply for a position that otherwise I would never have become aware of. And I believe she did so not only so that D & I, with me unemployed, wouldn't be a threat to the financial health of our tiny co-op. No, I believe that though she and I are very very different - she does possess this genuine selfless capacity to devote herself entirely to each of her challenging professional endeavors - she nevertheless saw something of worth in me, that I had something to offer. And in fact recommended me for the position - I pursued the lead - that I worked at very happily for several years, and under one of the loveliest bosses I have ever worked with in my life - so nice and kind and wonderful and quirky and offbeat and bright, that when she told me that she was leaving the agency to accept a university teaching position - I burst into tears.

As I think of it now, up here in the aerie typing - I'm tearing up! She was that nice. A very, very rare boss, in my life.

And that's it for now, darling. A little trip down professional memory lane. I liked working - as long as it wasn't fulltime. I found that I could devote myself 100 percent - if it only entailed, say 20 hours a week, spread over several afternoons, or two or three full days. Because then that left a lot of time for me to take care of the (then) apartment and garden, and I always seemed to require huge amounts of downtime simply to refocus, recover myself.

Anyway, that's that for now. This virtual house arrest is strange to me. But still - I'm writing, and that's a good thing. I show up every day, around this hour - and devote myself, entirely.

Many kisses, darling. Hope you have central air, wherever you are, because goodness knows that upstairs garret doesn't have it, sweet as that space is.

P.S. Menu-planning in my dreams, darling, hope you're coming. And it's 12534 - not 12345, sweet deflowered proxy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My dearest, wondering how you are, where you are, what you're doing, hoping you're having a nice time. I'm doing fine, in a mellow, quiet mood, back now from a walk. Laid low much of the day, it was quite hot & humid, the sun too strong for me. Made minor edits this morning on yesterday evening's post. I re-published it and received a puzzling error message which I disregarded, not realizing til minutes later that several paragraphs had gone missing - and I had no backup. I spent more time than I liked trying to recreate the lost lines. Not many, fortunately, but I had been fairly pleased with the post (except for its need of a bit of tweaking) and so it was distressing to lose any of it. Recreating the missing section wasn't easy, a brain/memory challenge - fortunately I could remember most of it. But it was an entirely different process from having written it in the first place, when it flowed right out of me, in the cadences that came. This morning, instead, in stumbling fashion, 'words came halting forth,' to borrow from an Elizabethan sonnet, by Sir Philip Sidney ("Loving in truth and fain in verse my love to show...")

Most of the day I lounged around the aerie and upstairs rooms. Started to read the Sewall Emily Dickinson biography, a used copy, de-accessioned from the San Diego County Library, bar code sticker & library card pocket still attached to the frontispiece - small world, that that particular volume should now sit on my desk in Hudson, NY. Read more of the Rebecca Wolff novel, beautifully written, and which resonates with me, this sexual coming-of-age story of a sensitive, intelligent, precocious yet naive child-woman and her enthrallment with an enticing, predatious young married couple, newcomers to town. I took a fitful nap, checked headlines (can't do much more than that as have read 17 of the monthly allotted 20 articles that the NYT allows for free). The day felt like a lackadaisical waste, much of it, I couldn't seem to get myself going. Then finally around 4:30, as the sun's glare softened, I forced myself to tidy the kitchen, fold laundry, water the garden, fill the bird feeders. And I went about the garden with snips, gathering bouquets for vases now placed all around the house. An earthenware jug filled with long woolly sprigs of faded lavender, sitting on the raised brick fireplace hearth. Twin mixed bunches of lavender, fragrant buddleia, pale cascading hosta bells, and single deep-rose echinaceas, set into a pair of identical mustard jars, one in the solarium, the other on the kitchen table. I love French Pommery mustard, delicious & worth seeking out - which I have done in the past, on occasion, on one of my wonderful adventurous Manhattan treasure hunts - mainly because when the mustard's done the jars make wonderful vases (and as I glance in front of me at my desk, pen & pencil holders). If I wish to give someone a casual present of garden flowers - I like to give it to them in such a jar, theirs to keep. The jars are plain blanched ceramic, simple and seemingly ordinary. Flowers look lovely in them.

And on my desk before me is another miniature Redon, sprightly nosegay of several kinds of zinnia (I love that flower, variegated & cheerful in its way as tulips - is there such a thing as zinniamania?), light & dark pink roses, cosmos, and airy spider flower - an effusive party-colored spray of pinks and violets.

And now you've lit on that charming theatre poster of Peter Pan & Wendy, and I'm looking at the post again which I'd forgotten all about, and downloading the embedded youtube of Windmills of My Mind. I do love that song, I was thinking of it just the other day. Ah, but in what context - that, at the moment, eludes me.

So no big revelations today, darling. Thinking of you, so happy to connect with you, soaring.

Many kisses.

Monday, July 18, 2011

My dearest, I'm not having a great day, not the worst either, but I'm just finding myself bumming out. It's very humid, that isn't helping. I struggled with this morning's post, I was trying to express something, tie together perhaps a few too many ideas. Or maybe I need photoshop. That Bruce Weber image? I wanted to doctor the male figure with a superimposed image of a Minotaur's head instead of the model-beautiful visage. I wanted to describe what I was feeling while I was fantasizing - so effective while fantasizing, and I thought - I want to write you a letter about my Minotaur fantasy. But then nothing came, and am not sure I want to go on that road again, too frustrating. I reread some of what I'd once written in that vein, and could hardly bear reading it -.

A few books arrived in the mail today, the 1970s National Book Award-winning biography of E.D. by Richard Sewall, and three slim paperbacks written by the mother of 1.0. I couldn't afford 1.0's book, but found hers on an online used book site - priced at $.99 and $1.99, the ones I purchased - shipping was more than the cost of the books. I've been aware of these volumes for years now, but there's rarely been all that much extra discretionary money (even while I was working) for very many books (back when hers were full-priced) so I never did purchase them, nor did I ever find them in any library, and I did look, over the years.

They arrived today, a children's book and two memoirs, and I trolled through the memoirs, scanning, searching. I certainly didn't expect to find myself in those pages, though she and I had been quite close at a couple of different periods, both of which were very many years ago (she is deceased now). I was searching for her, I suppose, her distinctive voice. She was a very vibrant exuberant opinionated warmhearted goodnatured woman - theatrical in her gestures and mode of telling a story. I liked her very much, with occasional slight reservations (as I might have with most anyone, in particular women - and after all, of course, she was 1.0's mother - she and I had different "interests" in him.)

Her memoirs are charming, a series of independent recollections compiled into two volumes, lacking, really, only her own lively presence and way of regaling stories that I could remember as I turned the pages.

And too, I was searching for clues about 1.0. (Yes, shoot me.) And I found a few, one of which in particular hit me to the quick and left me - I don't have words for the feeling. 1.0's mother had flown west to spend Christmas with her son, his wife, and their two young sons. There was an enormous Christmas tree with gifts all around, the wife was cooking wonderfully fragrant dishes, the delightful little boys were playing, the son was attentive, and she wrote (I'm not looking up the exact quote, I've buried the books behind other books on my bookcase) that the scene was that of a very warm, happy, loving family.

And that was painful to read, what I've always wanted, especially, a long time ago, with 1.0, then not thought of, with him, for many years, until again three years ago. It's something I never had, a warm, happy, loving family, not in childhood and not, as it turned out, in adulthood either.

This morning too I read a post in a blog I follow, that also hit me to the quick, and that I suppose I relate to - though honestly, I don't know that I have all my own motivations figured out, why what has happened with my life, has happened as it has. But it has. Many of these adult daughters of narcissistic mothers are loving mothers to their own children. Others decide not to have children. They have sustained too much emotional deprivation to consider having children of their own...

No, I didn't raise my siblings, not as literally as the psychologist's post paints, but I certainly shouldered & withstood very much, through my childhood. I reread the title of her post - yes, I certainly have a sense of having raised myself. My mother was there - and she wasn't.

(I've looked up the blog now, and think of 1.0 when I read the title of the latest post.)

And so I try to buck up, self-soothe. Why am I envious of 1.0's wife, the family & lifestyle he created with her? Yes, envy. Or a sense of --- that could have been mine. But --- what - could have been mine? Could I really have been happy with him, over the long haul, given --- the givens?

But why didn't it ever happen with me?

I can't speak for 1.0, but there were moments in our deep past where there were gaps where (in an alternate universe) we might possibly have gotten together again (if for brief reacquaintance), I know that I myself resisted them mostly (I think). I felt myself to be a mess, very confused, and smoking way way too much out of anxiety. I felt very embarrassed about the smoking. As my teens and early twenties progressed I wasn't the sweet fairly uncomplicated ingenue whom he'd weaned off whole-milk. I was addicted to cigarettes, and they took a toll of course on my breath, my appearance, my manner - everything.

It's hard. They were a companion for me, I suppose, very reliable. I'm thinking just now too, of how I sucked my thumb as a young child for a long time, longer than most children, well into second grade (and I was embarrassed about it) -- and my grandmother managed to shame me out of it. Love & approval of my grandmother trumped all, I suppose - and so I gave up the wet wrinkled thumb.

So 1.0's not stupid. His wife is I'm sure ultra-competent, with a gift of the blind eye to boot.

I wouldn't have lasted in that arrangement. In that arrangement, I almost certainly would have become deranged with sexual jealousy.

But why couldn't some quieter form have happened for me? Well, it did. And I have to remind myself today too, that I was very happy for twenty years. (Though now we're coming on 25.) And we had our Christmas trees, with gifts around them.

My thoughts are all over the place.

Emma Bovary under house arrest, while D. Str.-Kahn takes in plays & concerts in the Berkshires in recent days, as I've read... Ah, that's just humorous!

Sweetheart, I don't know your story, I really don't, I can guess and surmise, and it's okay, I don't expect anything, way too complicated. I mentioned once how I'm not angry or frustrated with you in any way - you met your wife way before you ever met me - and I totally accept that.

The hard time I have is accepting the same with regard to 1.0 - he had met me first.

And yet it's all so over, so why don't I let go? I don't know. I suppose I was trolling his mother's memoirs for clues.

This is so incomplete, I'm sorry. E.D. didn't have children either, but I'm convinced she had orgasms. In that sense I relate to her very much. But why does it have to be an either/or? Why is everything so compartmentalized?

Is that what it comes down to?

I wonder.
But I reject the binaries. I guess I'm just in this other in-between category (which, except for its upsides, mostly sucks).

Couldn't I have been who I am *and* have had children? I didn't wish not to have them, it just didn't happen, the circumstances

Another source of resentment is this sense of (until recent years) having tried very hard to do everything right. And it didn't work.

My alumnae magazine arrived in the mail today too. A budding investment banker I was very friendly with in college -- who, like her father before her, became an investment banker -- is now, after career, and marriage, and children, a 'life coach.'

Or it did work, and here I am sitting buck naked by myself up in the aerie typing.

I would readily put on clothes for the chance to, in a way that didn't provoke anxiety, be in a living room at Christmas with a huge Christmas tree and pots simmering fragrantly on the stove

I can pull myself out of myself (that suggests an intestinal Francis Bacon painting in itself). I didn't quite find the person in 1.0's mother whom I'd hoped to find in her written and published pages. But she would lament too, about aging, about being an independent-minded woman -- her resounding, overarching theme was -- I'm still here

launching without proofing, which I'm sure will show
but really must run
yours, the pink minotaur

les plaisirs de la campagne

My darling. Very many kisses, up in that aerie of which I have very many happy memories, none of which unfortunately, involving making love with anyone, let alone with you. But I will be there with you in some fashion, darling, thinking of you, hovering like a benevolent spirit with sweet-breathed kisses, loving you.
This morning outside the windows a gentle rain patters in the garden, sounding through the hazy gray and green. I settle back against the bedclothes, eyes closed, and conjure elaborate ravishing visions of you dearest Minotaur, fully wakened.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Girl Seated by Sleeping Minotaur, 18 May 1933, etching

Bruce Weber (b. 1946), On Top of the Porsche, Lisamarie and John, Santa Barbara, 1989, gelatin silver print

Les plaisirs de la campagne, tapestry, 16th century, Musée national de la Renaissance d’Écouen

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dearest love, it's been a beautiful day but it's very warm and humid, and I'm sitting here topless in my filmy skirt reminding myself of a Gaughin, albeit a literary-minded middle-aged one sporting readers. I inhale my fingertips - they smell pleasantly of lime juice. I just made a fresh salsa, inspired to do so by cilantro from the CSA the other day. I missed on jalapeno pepper (brakni mnie - darn!) but the salsa is delightful - made with a quart of varied teeny tomatoes from a farmstand - some the size of jelly beans, others larger and pear-shaped, not quite ripe, others luscious plump grapes. I chopped up the mini-tomatoes, along with a clove of garlic, a sweet white onion, cilantro, EVOO, sea salt & pepper. I bought a fresh bag of tortilla chips today - but this salsa will also be a side to what promises to be a delightful dinner tonight: grilled lamb, farmstand corn, grilled zucchini and carrot - grilling caramelizes carrots & brings out the sweetness.

Darling - how are you? and where are you?, I wonder. My imagination tends to over-interpret (ya think?) but I feel concerned and think, oh darling, when I receive a page hit via that Francis Bacon stylized painting of the paralytic child. I'm not quite sure what to make of the image - to me it signals psychic distress. And I can't help it - I suppose it's here that I'm 'crazy' - I imagine that it's you, signaling to me your state of mind - only what state of mind is that, exactly? well, distress, not feeling comfortable in one's body, deformed, not whole...

Maybe it wasn't you at all, perhaps it was an entirely random page hit. I do give myself reality checks such as that.

The light is fading, and so am I. I hear cicadas. D just came home. I prepped the vegetables for him to grill and he just yelled up the stairs to say that one of the carrots - which I left untrimmed, two roots spirally intertwined & fused along their length - "looks like an erotic sculpture."

I attended an artists' open studio afternoon at the local international arts gallery, and snapped a couple of photos, and am studying the program guide now in order to try to give proper credit to the artist whose work I snapped - but I can't figure out who it was.

Holding my hands to my face - still lime on my fingertips. The Miss Dior at my wrists is gone, after a lot of running water, rinsing vegetables, watering plants. There's fragrance in the crease of my elbow, still - I just checked. And M. Gaughin might not find my form objectionable, or perhaps he would, I don't know enough about his biography to know. I think my shape is not unlike those of the lush dark beauties he painted. Though my coloring is distinctly northern. Spread of humans about the globe -- huh -- .

My dearest - I hope this post finds you happy, and having a wonderful time wherever you are



P.S. A bit of light housekeeping, to follow up on links I promised in recent posts. The new novel I'm currently reading and greatly enjoying is The Beginners, by Rebecca Wolff. The author lives almost directly across the river from where I live, and I heard her read from her book in then-galley form at a delightful literary reading & wine-tasting in town a couple of months ago (as mentioned in my blog post, here).

The very insightful & illuminating analysis, of E.D.'s poem "I heard a fly buzz - when I died," that I mentioned the other day, can be found here.

Winslow Homer (1836-1910), The New Novel, 1877, watercolor, Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA