Wednesday Morning

This morning, the cage in which the cats spend time outdoors, if it is nice, was full of blue jays. They'd worked their way in through the chain link fencing and were feasting on the bits of cat food that had been left behind. Then they all left at once, half a dozen of them, emerging from the cage in all directions at once, a flurried flight of blue.

If cat food is eaten by a bird, does it become bird food? One wonders.

Monday Morning

This weekend, we pulled the studs out of a pair of snow tires so I don't have to buy a new pair of tires right now. It's an odd little job, pulling studs. You use a pair of dikes, not the itty bitty but not the big ones either, and press into the rubber directly on either side of the stud. You need to go in far enough to grab below the flared head of the stud - snow tire studs are shaped vaguely like the buttons on your jeans, you want to bite into the narrow part - and then pull and turn and twist and out comes the stud. Theoretically. .Some times it takes one try, some times it takes a hundred. It's not a bad chore, when the tire's up at a nice angle in the back of the pickup and the sun is shining down.

The cowslips are here now, bright green in the woods. Everywhere around them is rusty old leaves, moss rocks and wet - those little streams are so cold, but it all smells so good; an earth smell, a dirt smell, a distrupted smell - hold on, you, you've caught us while we're growing!  aroma that just hangs there, in the air, in those places and no where else. When you step, you sink, you slide; the mud will draw you in if you let it. There are worse places to be if you're looking for beginnings. If you find fairies there, they'll be young.

I'm sunburnt because how can I not be? In the summer I might have enough sense to hide from the sun, but I have missed him so much. To step out and feel the heat; to be touched after so long with nothing but memory to tide me over? What a glorious thing; if I have been a glutton, who can blame me? The pain, such as it is, is worth it.

Friday Morning

It is not fair to wake up irritated just because reality's got it all wrong. You're not your best in the mornings either, are you? It takes a little bit to get to here from there; somedays the distance from dream land to bright eyed and bushy tail seems insurmountable. Hah. Bright eyed and bushy tailed. The distance, my darling, only as far as upright and not-actively-snarling can take all day to cover sometimes. Why should I expect more of reality than I myself can manage?

Here's a thing I've been thinking about: is morality inherent, or is morality a choice? I tend to be in the latter camp until I think it through to its fullest implications, which are too terrifying to contemplate; bring me evo psych or bring me bourbon - either one will do. Last night, I saw the episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon's mother and Leonard's mother meet; imagine them dialoging on this point within my head. I am not sure which side to cheer for.

Funny how the Moms are reduced to trios of stereotypes - Sheldon's Mom is dumb, faith-based and loving. Leonard's Mom is smart, science and cold. The people in the show appear to like Sheldon's Mom far more than Leonard's Mom - except for Sheldon, who finds in Leonard's Mom someoneone who can speak the language he wants to hear. Because of shared vocabulary, he recognizes her as a peer; perhaps a slightly more advanced peer, someone more accomplished, but still an equal in a way Sheldon's own mother or even friends are not.

What words we hold in common and with whom; this is the language landscape of our lives. We all, I think, adjust our speech based on our audience - some people, whom I admire greatly, have a wider range than others and can drop into any conversation with anyone and so easily connect, hearing and being heard. For me, sometimes it's awkward; to meet somebody new is to wonder at the words to come. Which ones will draw you closer to the group, which ones mark you as an outsider -  not just geographically, but existentially - beyond 'you're not from around here' right into 'you're not one of us'?

What changes language? Education, experience; the voices that we hear shape the voice we call our own. Isolation changes language; when you only use words within your head, you forget that they are heard in other ways by other people. Stress changes language; very few people are eloquent in extremis - acknowledging of course that profanity has a poetry all its own. Love changes language perhaps most of all.

Thursday Morning

He asks why I wear so many necklaces, and I realize so many words in my answer - talisman, amulet, magic - will need to be explained. And in that moment, that flashing bright touch of insight, I see what a lover of mine saw way long ago: the exhiliration of introduction. How absolutely compelling it is to show someone the world is so much larger than they'd ever known. All of the wonders to be experienced for the first time.

It is a sensation related to but wholly unlike that when you bring a child into this world. There, everything is to be discovered and largely, one lacks a frame of reference. Delights and horrors both are novelties. But when there's experience and understanding in place; the capacity to truly appreciate what one has just discovered - that is something else entirely.

Have you ever gasped at hearing someone else speak your truth aloud? We imagine ourselves so alone; we pretend that our lives haven't left their marks on us for all the world to see. But a bad childhood can be read across a crowded room; the way eyes move reveal how early one learned the necessity of looking out for one's self. It's easy to see who's hungry; it's intoxicating to see those determined not to starve.

Sometimes it breaks your heart. Think of the distance from Libya to Italy; many people do. It's further than you might think. If the boat fails beneath you and you can get out, you swim. It's futility - there's nothing left behind you and the far shore can't be gained- but you swim because you know to swim, and in the immediate moment this is a manifestly better choice than not swimming. But we are men, not manatees; we can not stay in the sea forever - well, actually, we can, and do, and that is the heartbreaking part.

You can spend your whole life doing the right things and have it not work out at all. Sometimes this is because the right things you know are not the right things that are needed. Give our failing swimmer a boat and the picture changes entirely. At heart I am an engineer far more than I am a journalist; screw telling the story, let's fix what's wrong. But you should never take someone's lies away if you've no better lies to give them. In the absence of a boat yard, I guess we cheer the swimmers on.

Wednesday Morning

It is easy to confuse contentment for numbness, especially if you've ever been where the definition of good is the absence of actively bad. It is easy to let all things that have to be done in order for you to be the person you are eat up your entire life. It is easy to lose to that which is hard, and baby doll, it's hard out there.

Responsibility, man. If you'd come up like me, I could say 'the comforting weight of the yoke' and maybe hum a few hymn bars, and we wouldn't have to have this conversation, because you'd know everything I was trying to say. Things get mixed up along the way: what's a privilege, what's a burden, how the things we complain about the most are the things we'd never want to give up, if, at the end of it all, it's really all worth it?

That calculus is best wrought alone,  little darling, and not in the company of any who have been spending their own time with doubt. That way lies madness and everybody knows it, but the impulse for life is so strong it is willing to bear any cost, and that's how babies and other complications are made. Life ruins lives, sometimes, but we do it anyway because that is how we are made.

Joseph Cambell could tell you everything about a snake biting its own tail and how all stories end right where they begin; spend the seasons with a witch (or a farmer, if needs must) and see the Earth herself show you the same. But it takes a lifetime, all stretched out and viewed over the shoulder, to truly see it play out in a way you can hope to understand: the birthing, the growing, the raising and letting go - the fear and the fury and above it all the love, and joy, like cocaine diamonds. That this is what the tale is, and not just for you, but for most folks - sometimes that knowledge is enough. Sometimes its not.

Spring is not for sissies, man. It really truly just is not. Thank God for little cabbages thrusting themselves into life in thier little window sill pots.

Tuesday Morning

The bleeding hearts have made it. They've survived another year and now, now in this cold, cold spring, are sending up the rosy pointed tips of their very first stalks. This particular bleeding heart I've been worried about, because a few years back I'd split it; it had been in danger of choking itself out. Ever since then, it greets spring with a great timidity. It is not a good thing, to see a plant made so afraid.

There are robins now. Robins and a quartet of black birds rule the yard. There are starlings and grackles and red winged blackbirds and cowbirds. The grackles are busy nest builders; the starlings spend all their time in committee. The red winged blackbirds like the taller grass; they'll sit halfway perched up a thick stalk and call, call, call until love replies. The cowbirds watch and wait; they let the others labor on with stick-filled beaks and tired wings to make a nest, and only after things are good enough and fresh eggs cosily ensconced among heart-drawn feathers swoop in and leave their own egg behind. The expectation is that the other babes will be forced from the nest; if this doesn't happen, the cowbird will return and make it so. One wonders that the songbirds don't protest, but it's a funny thing: the cowbird keeps watch on the purloined home of his own offspring and in doing so safeguards all the nests. Sometimes the price of security isn't freedom. Sometimes its rather more than that.

There are doves too. If ever a bird could be called bovine, it is the mourning dove. Yet they are capable of such great passion. They're ever paired; I don't know enough to look for signs of constantcy, but they don't like to be alone. They're mostly buff or a light smoke gray; when the sunlight hits them just right, there's a little flash of brilliance - sometimes pink, sometimes a violet blue - waiting to be seen.

Monday Morning

I am not hungry. This is a problem. I should be hungry, but I am not.

We are in between. Spring has sprung but winter remains. Along the road, where the snow plow's been and been and been again, we have in miniature a medieval take on Piedmont, terraced and overbuilt. Old ice grayed over can pass for many things. Fitting that the last snow to go takes on an aspect historical; it wants us to be reluctant at its farewell.

Snow has a difficult relationship with love. In a way, the flakes are like babies - sometimes greeted with exuberant joy, sometimes a terrible inconvenience. After that, at best, indifference for most; some ski, of course, but most don't. And how soon it all turns: we're sick of it, we hate it, enough, already, enough! You know why psychics don't go to nursing homes? Snow could tell you. And it does.

Spring's the time to be hungry. To be hungry is to be alive; to be in the throes of transformation - to seed to plant to glorious bloom takes some resources, you know? Sometimes I think the reason winter is so long is that spring needs so much; under the snow, the dead green rots, feeding itself into the soil from whence it came, but it all takes time; you can't ask too much.

Some grass shows itself. The sky is a deceptively optimistic blue. The wind's strong; still sharp-edged enough but you can smell the first bits of moisture in it. Not always, but from the South, sometimes. Spring is out there, somewhere, existing. It's a sexy smell, fecund; you'll lose your shoes because the mud is like a caress - the anticipatory smile is nearly as good as the real thing, isn't it?

Spring makes you want. In the winter, you want the wanting - it should be the same, but it's not, though not for lack of trying. Now, in this limbo time, one is acutely aware of the difference. If desire alone could bridge the gaps in our lives - oh, how the world would be different then. That's something to think about, while we wait for spring.

Friday Morning

Sometimes work is neat. I have to be very vague here, but one of the companies the marketing firm I write for represents is a big time legal firm. One of the things I'm doing is gathering up relevant articles, whitepapers and whatnot for said firm to distribute through their social media. Being lawyers, they read everything before it is posted on their behalf; very often, we get feedback. A good chunk of material I've gathered for them recently centers on a very high profile case involving some of the world's largest brands, relevant to the fairly narrow field this firm specializes in. In the feedback, client said, Can't use this - it turns out they are representing one of the two parties in the conflict. O.o

I'm full of opinions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which is currently breaking on the news as this hugely secret deal no one knows about, which is only true *if* you ignore the fact that there have been massive protests against it in many of other countries involved for a number of years. That being said, the way our gov't has been operating is troubling: transparency decreases by the day, and the fact the White House ruled itself exempt from the Freedom of Information Act? This doesn't appear to be a move in a positive direction.

And now the phone is ringing. I hate it when it does that. Catch you in a bit

Thursday Morning

What is magic? Or magick, if you're of that inclination. Magic is the application of will, words and action to achieve a desired result; often in the hopes that the desired result will be achieved through extraordinary mechanisms.

But I was thinking what if you weren't all that picky about your delivery mechanisms being extraordinary, provided they actually work? People will go through the most elaborate rituals, complete with special hand sewn robes and wands made gathered from twisted elm branches gathered from the riverside under a full moon, to cast a Happy Home spell when the stars are right - but what if the rituals that matter are the ones called Sweeping the Floor, Washing the Dishes, Listening to Your Family, Being Nice, Count Your Blessings, Pay Your Bills? If we don't do THOSE spells, none of the mystic muttering is going to help.

Like a Safety Spell: to keep your family safe, every night, while asking the divine to watch over you and yours, lock your doors. Make sure the outside lights are on. Check the woodstove's banked down right. Ensure everyone can get from their bed to outside without impediment in case of catastrophe. Over and over and over again we work these spells; are they fool proof? Of course not - but I'd sleep poorly without doing them.

When we are not having our desired result manifest in our life, and we are in search of a magical solution to this circumstance, I think a broad based approach that incorporates both the poetic and pragmatic spell set appropriate to the situation is the one most likely to yield satisfying results. I think we ignore the impact of small actions, done over and over and over again over the course of days, weeks, months, years, but it is these small actions of which our life is made. What goes in the Be Healthy magic? Boring old Eat Health, Exercise, Self Care spells, worked over and over and over again. And it doesn't seem grand or magical or wondrous when you're doing it; this is the type of magic that only shows its importance when the spells aren't worked, it seems.

I know a lady who tells everyone she meets "Have a magical day" upon parting. She may be a smart cookie.

Wednesday Morning

There's a point at which you realize you've had entirely too much to drink; your brain feels like it's floating inside your skull and the horizon turns arbitrary. It's a lovely, wavery space. Afterward, you fall down, and if you're lucky, you sleep.

If you don't sleep. Well. Insomnia sucks, but a drunkard's insomnia? You think dreams are treacherous? Try being awake, damnably awake, and yet not one bit sure that what you see in front of you is real, is really happening, is there at all - in the morning, people say oh no, of course not, how ridiculous; they don't say but they mean it's the bottle talking, that's 120 proof hallucination right there, how sad, she used to be pretty once.

There's you, left you know you saw something, but you're not sure what, night after night after night. A decade goes by, another; you think yourself inured to the excesses of your imagination. Sobriety over takes you, as it inevitably will unless Death gets you first, and then guess what? Sleep comes easier, but you still find yourself up at night; looking out the window, watching the world - and the strange shit you've seen keeps happening. You can't blame reality on whiskey. In fact, absent that comforting fog booze lays over the uncomfortable, things get even weirder.

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