Saturday, December 31, 2005

Much Ado About Fate

I almost made it. Almost. Twelve minutes short of seeing Much Ado About Nothing. Live. Performed on stage in Chicago. I haven't seen that one yet. Twelve minutes. Now a lot can happen in twelve minutes Takeru Kobayashi can eat 53 hot dogs, you can cook a pizza (if your oven is already hot), have a shower, feed three kids breakfast, make them lunches while tending to several pets (don't ask how I know this one) - but it seems such a short amount of time when it comes to live Shakespeare.
I could blame the piles of wet snow, the 40 minute drive to pick up my friend, but more likely I took too long with my hair (it did look cute) and with my fancy outfit (heels even), and of course then I couldn't find my purse etc etc, and then to top it off a make a critical wrong turn. All my fault. My friend said forget it, so I turned around defeated.

Perhaps I am unorganized. It could be argued, that subconsciously I sabotage myself - OR that somehow fate intervened. Somehow instead of watching live Shakespeare that I was meant to be sitting in this corner of a upscale bar drinking whiskey listening to a boorish-no-necked-crew-cutted-smelly-cigar-smoking-man, scribbling away in my journal liked some crazed introvert. I mean who could argue with a fate like that? Hanging with The Beautiful People of my very pleasant town, I could be writing this at home - but did I mention I was wearing a dress? Lipstick? And heels? One doesn't (at least I didn't) want to waste that kind of fussing about, and anyhow the last time I was here it was much quieter (forgot it was a Friday night, this will give a small clue about my social life)

Ah well, back to how I got here.

Twelve minutes. T W E L E V E minutes and my friend with the free (did I mention free?) Much Ado about Nothing tickets (the free ones) says forget it- decides to stay home and clean her bathroom. (bathroom, yes) I did mention the cute hair right? sheesh.
Right so now its me, an Irish whiskey the bald headed, very loud, v e r y bad piano singer, the cigar smokers, and the beautiful people - all because of a dress.
So back to fate, really an easy out in a lot of ways.... "It was meant to be" and whoosh there goes the responsibility out the proverbial window. It works very well when you find that great parking spot (karma is handy catch all here to, but I'll save that for another day), meeting the man of your dreams (until he turns out to be an embezzler or a womanizer or something), or the quirky way you met you best friend (but how do you know there weren't 10 other best friends you didn't meet?).

In Greek mythology they had the Three Greek Goddesses of Destiny and Fate, otherwise known as the Moirae - timeless old women who wove and controlled the treads of destiny that controlled your life. They are CLOTHO spinner of Life, LACHESIS who measures and allots the length of the your thread, and ATROPOS who holds the scissors, and will make the final cut so to speak. All the good and evil that happens to you in your life - your destiny as its been woven, cannot be altered, not even a tiny bit. Unfair? Sure, but where would we get those remarkable Greek tragedies without it?


the string
draws you to dance

fair is foul ~ foul is fair

Clotho, Lac
hesis, Atropos
spinner, measurer and cutter of life
lurching end - La Danse Macabre
through fog and filthy air
Atropos cuts

the string

Macbeth is the ultimate examination in fate. Here we have a reasonably ambitious man, but would he have gone to the lengths he did if those witches had not told him of his destiny? his future? Would there have been a story at all? Was Macbeth corrupted by the witches or did he choose his path all on his own. Free will vs. Destiny. Makings of a Greek tragedy - but better (if you ask me that is) its Shakespeare!

Given the choice would you want to know your future? Do you want to know when Atr
opos will be bringing her scissors for your thread, or even what Lachesis' plans are with it? or even how Clotho has spun it? If you're out walking the dog, or riding the bike one day when you encounter someone or ones who offer to tell your future - do you want to know? I know we say we will walk away, or run with our fingers in our ears calling la la la la la I can't hear you - but would we? Would the temptation be too sweet? I don't know.... What kind of spin would it put on your life - knowing? Now, if I were any good at all, or were working harder at this I would now insert a brilliant bit of wit or at least a joke that tied together spun (spinning, yarn, scissors - something!)- the fates - and Macbeth's witches, but alas and alack - I am not, and there is not even a lame pun to be had here. But wouldn't it be something if it was Macbeth that I missed this evening (I would be crying into my Jamison's for that!)

Really, in the end - is there such a thing as fate? Was I meant to be here tonight beside these rude cigar smoking men, writing, listening to bad piano music? Well I likely wouldn't have written this story had I gone home, and definitely not had I made it to the play. Given the choice however I think I absolutely would have preferred the play (I suspect no one will read this anyway).

There is a philosophy I have been trying to adopt for my life - it sounds great in theory - a little trickier in practice. It involves letting go basically, and flowing with that river (or wind, or how ever you would like to visualize it) that is your life. When you can manage it, it feels wonderful, no fighting the current, no being pulled under, no gasping for air, just flowing and accepting that your life is flowing as it should - sometimes there are rapids, sometimes lagoons, and if you're me right now waterfalls (must stop clinging to this rock on the edge and go with it and trust things will turn out). So is it a form of fate? Accepting a destiny? Don't know, but it IS an easier way to manage when you hand over some of the control of your life.

In the end, no matter what you call it, does it really matter? What happens will happen. Perhaps it is less important what happens to you, then how you deal with it.
"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: A rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights." ~ unknown

I've never had my luggage lost (mangled yes, but not lost), but when dumped tonight I came here and wrote - now just what does that say about me? (a certain amount of vanity to say the least!)

Time to go home and hang with my dogs, toss these heels for the nice fuzzy socks Catherine got me for Christmas and this dress for my Pjs - this I think was
meant to be...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

love and poetry

Sonnet XVII (100 Love Sonnets, 1960)

I don't love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn't bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don't know any other way of loving

but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.


Last night a finally got the opportunity to dig into a new (ish) book of poetry. This is only because after 2 days of me drinking nothing but tea and broth my family finally noticed at dinner last night I had been in pJs for two days. No one had noticed I'd been sick since they'd all been fed on time, clothes washed etc. So as a 'treat' I got half an hour to sit down while the dishes were 'washed'. Ah, a little Chopin and Neruda - almost cured me on the spot. But what struck me first was a few paragraphs that were included in the introduction - titled

"Some Thoughts On Impure Poetry"

here is part of it -

"Worn surfaces, the wear inflicted by human hands, the sometimes tragic, always pathetic, emanation from these objects (useful, everyday objects) give reality a magnetism that should not be scorned.

"Man's nebulous impurity can be perceived in them.....the mark of a hand or a foot, the
constansty of the human presence that permeates every surface.

"This is the poetry we are seeking, corroeded, as if by acid, by the labours of man's hand,
pervaded by sweat and smoke, reeking of urine and of lilies soiled by diverse professions in and outside the law.

"A poetry as impure as a suit or a body, a poetry stained by food and shame, a poetry with

wrinkles, observations, dreams, waking, prophecies, declarations of love and hatred, beasts, blows, idylls, manifestos, denials, doubts, affirmations, taxes.

".......the degrees of touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing, the desire for justice and sexual desire, the sound of the ocean, nothing deliberately excluded, a plunge into unplumbed depths in an excess of ungovernable love ..... with the scars of teeth and ice, a poetry slightly consumed by sweat and war....."

So this is poetry, and also love I think. Its the poetry I'd like to be able to write. And maybe in about 10years, I'll consider love, but right now its the kind of poetry I'd like to write - with my wrinkles, my feelings striped raw, caressed with my hands, tasted in my mouth carved from my soul....

maybe one day - love... naaaahhh.....
I think I will stick to writing about it.

he's all yours honey.

As Calvin, in my daughter's favourite comic book states "Do you think love is nothing but a biochemical reaction designed to make sure our genes get passed on?" of course he has decided to ask this question in the middle of the night to a very tired mother. Her answer? "Whatever it is, it's all that's keeping me from strangling you right now." Not too reassuring, but being a mother of three often true (don't tell my kids will you?). Love is such a complex thing, I have a friend who is very fond of saying it is merely the opposite of hate, but I disagree, I think appathy is their opposite. Love, hate, anger, passion all these strong emotions seem to come together- where as happy, sad, bummed out, bored do as well. Recently I decided that not all people experience emotions, life, even the taste of food on the level I do - that had never occurred to me before. I had always been dumbfounded by those who could (apparently) live these happy shallow lives, have conversations about basically nothing, eat bland food and still they seem happy - obviously it was ME who didn't fit with this picture. So I made nice. For about 15 years, but it didn't work too well, parts of me would keep popping out demanding attention (never could I completely be asssimaleted - constant foot in mouth). So I'm almost out now - almost, my mum won't like it, and likely others as well. Ah well to quote one of my favourites....
"Be yourself everyone else is already taken" ~~Oscar Wilde

So its a life of poetic love now? Is this the ultimate? I hear the term bantered about, and have never quite under stood it. Somehow it seems viewed as a higher ideal. But if I want to write poetry corroeded, as if by acid, poems pervaded by sweat and smoke, reeking of urine and of lilies, poetry stained by food and shame, poetry with wrinkles, observations, dreams, waking, prophecies, declarations of love and hatred, beasts, blows, idylls, manifestos, denials, and doubts.. where exactly does that put me poetic love wise? I remain concerned, and confused by the term. (no definition seems to exsist either) - I think I better just skip the poetic love part as well - sounds slightly dangerous...

Now why I feel I must go on about love now is beyond me, rereading too many old favourites maybe, getting separated, swearing off men for the rest of my life? (that could be it). Perhaps I am turning it into an intellectual exercise to somehow take it from myself and put it down in words, in poetry, and then I really could be free of it... worth a go. I'm sure you've guessed by the picture what I've been rereading - at least going over my favourite parts (all marked in pencil - some librarian's child I turned out to be). I first read it when I was 15 (that book long gone, read it to death) and even then was struck by Catherine's description of her love of Heathcliff ~
"because he is more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; ... my great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each one from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished and he remained, I should still continue to be; and all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger; ..... my love for Lindton is like the foliage in the woods... My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath - source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He is always, always in my mind- not a pleasure any more than I am a pleasure to myself, but my own being."
I think if we could get over the idea that a lover is
suppose to be a source of daily delight, some sort of romantic servant - thank you television for setting the most ridiculous standards - people could be happier. But what do I know? (look at my record) AND I'm a sucker for romantic movies (good ones - according to me of course) - Like Sense and Sensiblity, An Affair to Remember, love Last of the Mohicans for several reasons, A Walk on the Moon, Bridges of Madison County, Romeo & Juliette (lastest one with all the guns) and Wuthering Heights. Looking back at this list - not one has that story book happy ending, what does that say about me?

But a love like Catherine's and Heathcliff's - that's something, no simmpering, just essential love.

or perhaps it's Calvin who's right,
" love is nothing but a biochemical reaction designed to make sure our genes get passed on?"

Friday, December 09, 2005

"hey lady"

Today a Dove

Today a dove,
plumage downy fawn
fluffed against cold winds.
and then another,
and another still
slender necks
soft peaceful eyes
velvet mourning cries -
begin my day.

And now round juncos
as if dipped in soot
delicately dance away the chill;
tiny jumping
muffled hops,

o'er icy ground

There on branches laid
bare the

courtly sings
red crest flaming against
white canvass - so clean
with his
cutting through

frozen air

and into them
a auburn squirrel charges -
claiming all his own;
and sits -
and eats -
with oh-so-clever-hands,
and ever-twinkling eyes.

Today a dove
tomorrow, sparrows, finches
and perhaps a chickadee;
their tender quiet plumes
do brush against my soul
diffusing warmest sunlight
within me .

Yesterday, in a fit of insanity (this my husband did argue - avidly this afternoon) - during a fairly decent amount of snowfall (for the midwest anyhow) I happened to pass by my favourite bird supply store... and...well.... it has become very tedious thawing and breaking ice on the front yard bird bath, and the one in the back - well forget it. So slyly I slipped in - collar turned up, head down (in case I was spotted). Once inside I showed a remarkable amount of self control and only purchased one (reasonably priced) heated bird bath and a (smallish) bag of seeds for my cardinals.

In a further fit of decadence have spent the morning NOT doing paper work (am sitting on it) but listened to Chopin & Beethoven, did some writing, caught up on emails and watched my birds 'experiment with their new toy - while drinking chai tea and eating dark chocolate - will there be no end to this lunacy?? But if you could see a junco in a heated bird bath, maybe you would understand.

The one feeder (I have 7 or 8 in total) is attached to window by my desk so the birds are about 2ft away from me - a fact not always lost on my cats as they make a mad dash across the carpet landing on my desk (losing their footing on the 20 layers of paper which they spread out in fan formation onto the floor) usually ending in a flap of exiting feathers, and an uncomforting thud as McCavity's head hits the glass window. sigh.... I do love this feeder, because it seems the birds look right at me. (especially when the seed is getting low, then there is an abrupt tap and a "hey lady" (translated of course from several bird dialects) and dutifully I go out and re-fill...

It is a similar look I receive from my dogs, and cats, and gerbils (
Elizabeth's), and rats (Catherine's, Graham's) and fish (mine?? - can't remember how they came to live with me) and especially my kids (and of course their friends and friends and friends' friends) - except that they talk (loud & often - I am trying to remember the logic behind all those early language exercises I did with them...).

The "hey lady" look. my life is defined by it somedays. here. the humane society. the shelter. birds. friends who just need an ear over lunch - I feed people. my animals, my kids, their friends, my friends, people on the street, whoever is hungry should have food.

"Hey lady"

okay, I'm coming.....

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Fall Song ~~by Mary Oliver

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Sonnet V

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body's work's expired:

For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,

Looking on darkness which the blind do see

Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.

Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee and for myself no quiet find.

~~ William Shakespeare

One Saturday a month I do a meditative walk with a group through this beautiful wooded area around a lake. We go rain or shine, no matter how cold or hot or windy. So far we are experts damn cold and bloody windy. But being a hardy Canadian, and having lived in good ol' Thunder Bay (bloody damn cold & windy in winter) I scoff out loud, and shiver within. That's what bravado gets you. We generally start with a reading, or a task, something to guide our walking meditation, then we set off. Of course there ARE "rules". I break fewer of them now, perhaps I should keep a chart to mark my progress. The first week I was trying a very daring babysitting experiment, (read: insane) I was letting my 12year baby-sit her siblings, and for this reason I was carrying a turned on cell phone (rule #1 no cell phones) which rang 3 times, loudly, and I answered (rule #2 no talking) the third time I said to Catherine in a voice slightly above a hiss that I was SUPPOSE to be meditating – Catherine being the wee hippie Unitarian preteen that she is was suitably horrified that she had interrupted someone mediating apologized and hung up immediately. Naturally during all these conversations that I was not supposed to be having I lagged seriously behind the group (rule #3 try not to lag too far behind) – but I'm a lagger on a good day when I'm in the woods. So now I'm not thinking about our reading I'm considering where I could put the velcro wall in the house to use as my next babysitting option. (okay it wasn't an official rule, but I docked myself points for un-zen-like thoughts of velcroing my kids to a wall during "my time"). So, am BAD meditator, the only way I can do it at home is with music, so now I end up with several concurrently playing songs in my head, none of which I like.

Then I step in dog poo - thank god it was frozen. That had to karma kick back for being a rule breaker. Last rule, but I didn't officially break it - I just longed so much for my camera (no cameras - NOT a fair rule) grumble grumble....

The following month was colder with snow, but my behaviour had improved AND did not have toresort to duct tape or velcro for the kids (dad was home - whew!). Our job this time - collect seeds.No problem. Right. I have to have a problem, I can never conform. Collected about 4, and then thought, wait! I can't take these birds, and rabbits are eating them - bad conversationalist! Have now been identified as rebel in group. Of course it turns out we're planting the damn things and returning them to nature, sigh. Rebel without a cause.... Number of rules broken was slightly lower. No cell phone (very good! - hate the damn things anyhow), but I did talk (see rule #2above), I was sitting very quietly (and thus seriously lagging behind - again - rule #3) looking a group of birds feeding on the ground when a nice couple said good morning and asked why the paper bag, well what could I do? Pretend I didn't hear them? Feign deafness? At least I spoke quietly, I mean that HAS to count for something - right? Still grumbling about my camera at home - could have shot at least 2 rolls - am seriously considering smuggling it in. Still had music running through my head when I am suppose to keep my mind clear... Long December by Counting Crows - at least it was appropriate.

Actually I really didn't keep my mind on the "seed theme" it went off on its own on a music theme and could not get off it. Everything sounded musical that morning. The wind going through the leaves that even in death were still clinging to their trees, the birds feet through the leaf-litter coated ground, the three women whose voices I heard long before I saw them, they had this lyric song like rhythm in their speaking that I just wanted to keep listening to (and yes, you guessed it I DID speak to them, just to be a brief part of their song), then there was the swish of roller cross country skies going by, the breath of joggers in-between their footfalls and my own very quiet steps (careful not to tread on any of the rabbit foot prints. So maybe I did mediate - just a little....

The best part is after freezing our noses we get together for teas and yummy food by a roaring fire, and if get there early enough you can have the seat by the fire, because even if you are from the Great White North, you can still get very cold and really like sitting beside a very warm fire with hot tea and a warm muffin.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Words from my friend

I Am Here
Trust me
I am here.
For you
I am here.
I am here.

You reach out
and I am here
Catch my hand
and I am here
Break away
I am here

You return ~
and I am here ~ Fingers fold ~
and I am here ~ 2 hands hold ~ I'm still here

4 feet forward ~ I am here ~ 4 feet further ~ I'm still here ~
For forever ~ still I’m here

In the morning ~ I am here ~ Night time day time ~ I am here ~ Even sleeping ~ I am here

In depression ~ I am here ~ Grief or anguish ~ I am here ~ howls of sadness ~
I’m still here

You breath in ~ and I am there ~ ‘breathing in ~ the same air ~ We exhale ~ I am there

Going forward ~
I am there ~ And in happiness ~ I’m there ~ Because you are ~ I am there

In the end ~ where are we ~ 2 hands held ~ 2 hands free ~ All together ~ from the start

Yes for you ~ I am here. ~ Always yes ~ I am here. ~ You can ~
trust me ~ I am here

.thank you Sean...
for the words and the buttercups