is this your heart arithmetic?

How much do you love me, a million bushels?
Oh, a lot more than that, Oh, a lot more.

And tomorrow maybe only half a bushel?
Tomorrow maybe not even a half a bushel.

And is this your heart arithmetic?
This is the way the wind measures the weather.

[Carl Sandburg, 'How Much?', from The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg]


how little our eyes permit us to see

What follows are a few of the sights from the past week.

Hour-long drive with half-hour detour. Old friend. Pizza & beer. The end.
After some time to recover--different friend. Different beer, this time with nachos. Delicious.
Same night, my second beer choice. Different but also delicious--this time, with chicken strips. The bar does a punch-card deal with their very wide selection of fancy beers; so far we've got about eight punches. 
Lying on the ground on a gentle rise in the park, looking up at the tree overhead. A bit sinister close up.
A different tree, up the rise, closer to the river.
Only one of the street lights at the levee has ivy on it, though it grows in proximity to each of them. Mysterious!
The ivy-covered light pole, from the opposite direction, with bridge and sunset.
Farmers' Market on Saturday. Hotter than blazes (yes, I was mostly in the shade) and a great atmosphere. I can't wait to go back.
Tube cat, sleeping next to me while we watched The Princess Bride. As you wish, Buttercup.
Other cat, always curious. She loves me--til she needs to bite me.

[the title quotation is by Dorothea Lange, and reads in its entirety: "While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see."]


it's easy to cry when you realize that everyone you love will reject you or die

Too many feelings and nowhere for them to go.

the truth is
that I miss you so
A warnin' sign
It came back to haunt me, and I realized
That you were an island,
and I passed you by

Roaming through this darkness
I'm alive but I'm alone
Part of me is fighting this
But part of me is gone

How could she say to me
Love will find a way?
Gather round all you clowns
Let me hear you say

Hey--you've got to hide your love away

[the title quotation is by Chuck Palahniuk]


sing our praise to forgetfulness

The morning air is all awash with angels
[Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World”]

The eyes open to a blue telephone
In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.

I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,
Proctologist, urologist, or priest?

Who is blessed among us and most deserves
The first call? I choose my father because

He’s astounded by bathroom telephones.
I dial home. My mother answers. “Hey, Ma,”

I say, “Can I talk to Poppa?” She gasps,
And then I remember that my father

Has been dead for nearly a year. “Shit, Mom,”
I say. “I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry--

How did I forget?” “It’s okay,” she says.
“I made him a cup of instant coffee

This morning and left it on the table--
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years--

And I didn’t realize my mistake
Until this afternoon.” My mother laughs

At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days

And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.

[Sherman Alexie, 'Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World' from Face]


other things may change us, but we start and end with the family

Weekends are funny. There's either nothing to do, and then they feel wasted, or too much to do, making them feel more like workdays. The last few days have been an odd combination of very busy and totally aimless, with the odd result that I feel both lazy and exhausted.

Yesterday (and today) was the annual Family Camp-Out and Picnic, held on some property that my godparents own. It is my dad's side of the family, plus a couple of different sets of in-laws extending out from there. When everyone is present, the group is very big. This year's was apparently on the smaller side, but one person counted 68 people when we finally all sat down to eat lunch.

It was my first time at the event. In previous years, I've been either back in the Flatland or here but with other plans. I was not terribly enthusiastic about attending, but finally decided that it was likely to be better than anticipated and also just easier to go than not.

I spent most of the day getting reacquainted with my closest-in-age cousin, Jenni. Off and on over the years we have been good friends, although less so since marriages and her children led us in different directions. It was particularly nice to spend some time with her because she will be moving in a few weeks. We have tentative plans for me to visit her when I can; we'll see how feasible that turns out to be.

There was also time to catch up some with some other cousins (including the ones that I see every month or two) and the aunts and uncles. I answered the same questions a few times (where I am now, where I was before, where I'm working, what sort of house I'd like to buy...) and had some blessed silence while sitting with my brother.

The biggest news out of the party was that I got badly sunburnt (no need to scold; that has all been done and over-done), and that we left too early to experience the full-on argument between a pair of brothers over something that was published to FB without the express permission of the others it affected. I'm glad that it happened when I wasn't there, because that sort of thing really pushes my buttons; I'd have had a hard time not going OFF about it.

Today I've been reading, dozing, and slathering the burns with lotion. And making lots of plans for the week; I have plans nearly every day. With luck, there will be photo proof of ...most of it.

[the title quotation is by Anthony Brandt]


more precious than emeralds, and dearer than fine opals

The next in a continuing series from Listography: Your Life in Lists (written by Lisa Nola, illustrated by Nathaniel Russell)--

List Your Best Purchases
  • My bed. It cost a bundle, but I never regretted it. Most comfortable bed EVER.
  • Republic of Tea. Good tea is priceless, and this stuff is really good.
  • One of those spring-top nail polish remover bottles like they have in a salon. It makes the whole process neat and easy.
  • Black Coach wallet
  • My first cell phone. It caused and/or led to no end of problems, but it was a key to happiness. Matching outside to inside.
  • Diamond earrings. The big ones.
  • 'The Brothers K' from Book-of-the-Month Club (for cover art alone).
  • That creamy-white bra from Victoria's Secret in Orlando, near Church Street Station.
  • My desktop computer. I needed a server, really, and this does most of that job perfectly.
  • Original art. Any and all.
It was hard to think about this in context other than "expensive but worth it." Where does your mind go?

[the title quotation is by Oscar Wilde, from The Happy Prince, and reads in its entirety: “Surely Love is a wonderful thing. It is more precious than emeralds, and dearer than fine opals. Pearls and pomegranates cannot buy it, nor is it set forth in the marketplace. It may not be purchased of the merchants, for can it be weighed out in the balance for gold.”]


every man lives by exchanging

I'm working on a big, complicated post that should be ready in a week or so. It's taken forever (one of those that I'll write notes about and research and plan) so the pressure is strong to make it just right.

The camera purchase plan just got a couple of boosts. First, I managed to sell a bracelet that I've owned for several years but never actually liked. It was a gift, freely given, and the giver would not (I am certain) be offended that I was able to sell it. (Or, for that matter, that it will go toward a camera.) The jeweler offered more than I had expected, so it was a win all around. The proceeds have already been squirreled away in the pickle bucket.

Second, a good friend who's a photographer set me up with a good deal of advice about what to buy and where to find it. That, combined with a "shopping list" that I'd already had (provided in part by another photographer friend), should help me find just the right thing for me--and at a decent price. Now I'm very excited and eager to get it into my hands!

I went clothes shopping with a friend from work tonight. It was more like wandering the aisles making fun of things and silently wishing I were four sizes smaller, but...it was fun, too. It's been a very long time since I've splurged on clothes, and the desire was strong. Someday!

A piece of rather odd news has made its way to me. I found out that my former spouse's current spouse has acknowledged something in which I play a part, on social media. It surprised me for two reasons: one, that our paths even cross at all; and two, that she would deign to "like" something of that sort. It is an endless and inherently unpleasant puzzle, being in this relative position. I'd certainly not anticipated it before I got here.

I really should have been a welder. Or an HR Generalist. (And every time I see a job posting for "Plant Manager" I interpret it the wrong way.)

[the title quotation is by Adam Smith]