Reverence

O’ Pioneers!

 

The Edges of the Rain

Some thoughts on current events in the world, I don’t know how other people deal with trauma, cope with reality, with being in the world. The doors to madness are too much reality, and not enough of it. The doors into madness are laced with too much philosophical contemplation about existence, not enough letting one’s self be. What that means is, each of us is finding our own way. I hope we can all do that with as much decency and kindness as possible.

Work continues on the sequel to The Slick Furies. It’s slower going than previous writes as I am plucking all the good bits from other beginnings of this novel. This book has a different tone, historical, a different degree of seriousness. Certainly there will be humor. I’m not in a rush with this write, it’s important to me to get my vision of this book, this story, onto the page as I’ve imagined it. As with any sequel, building on the first book’s history, characters, some of the emotional bonds are deeper. I feel like, think, The Slick Furies really had a sense of connection between the main characters. It’s important to me to make sure that carries on, that I capture that with this second book as well, though some of the dynamics have changed, and that’s what keeps stories like this interesting. These characters aren’t stagnate, they’ve been affected by the events of the story of their lives.

I’m about to begin proofreading, making corrections to, “The Edges of the Rain.” This is one of the novellas I wrote in 2011, rewrote earlier this year. It was easy to write, I wrote the original draft in two weeks. It was tougher after the fact when I read it and realized what I’d written. I’m hoping to release it this fall. This book is a psychological thriller, a nightmare of greed, a horror story of human nature, and all the ways we compartmentalize ourselves. I’m ready to get to publishing it, to be moving on to other things. So, there will be updates on this book as things progress.

 

Those two books should keep me busy for the remainder of the year. I haven’t been able to really write for a few days after crashing my bicycle, one of my better spills, jammed both wrists/hands, one side of my body is dinged up. It hurts to ride. It’s always something. I get up limping every day as is. But, if I give in to all the hurts and park it on the sofa indefinitely, then I’m done. So I do what I feel like I can, as I can. Living with the arthritis for as long as I have, it’s a balancing act of rest and motion, when possible. The last few days, not so much doing. I say that not in complaint, but as statement of fact and appreciation for those things I can do when I can do them. Something I’ve learned from this, is that in all our commonalities, the things we can empathize with another about, there’s very rarely any actual comparison one human to the next, what is the same about each of us is that we are individuals. Part of why I don’t ever compare what I can do ( or be) on any given day, or ever, to anyone else. ( At least, I try not to.)

Rest in peace, Margot Kidder, Ms. Lois Lane. A story about her from someone who knew her for a time was making the rounds, said she loved the wolves inhabiting the area around her Montana home and would regularly leave meat out for them. According to this chap, she said she hoped that when she died, her friends would find her, tell no one, put her on a bed-sheet and drag her up the mountain so she could be the last meal she gave to the wolves she loved. I don’t know if I’ll ever be quite that at peace with myself in this world, but that’s one of the coolest stories I’ve ever heard.

TS

Forever Old

Within the drops of rain,
a broken diamond chain,
comes a flood of memories,
currents strong, the deepest seas,
of people I have been,
and lives I have lived in,
it doesn’t matter how,
for I am only here, and now.

Between the sun bright rays,
where darkness fills the days,
there is a secret dawn,
to help me carry on,
when never being sure,
just why I did endure,
only to find I hold the key,
to all eternity.

Upon the wings of night,
In misty candlelight,
While hearing silent screams,
I know are not just dreams,
the wisdom comes to me,
and in my visions I can see,
my heart and soul are gold,
I am forever old.

 

 

 

About being an “old soul,” and immortality.

From Red Line Wine, Available on Amazon now.

Be In Love With Your Life

I took about a two-week break from working on anything at all writing wise and that was about as much of a break from writing as I could manage. As for what I’m working on, the thing about that is that it doesn’t matter, until the work is completed. There are many things that I want to write, hope to write, and some of those things are more difficult to write or will be, than others. If you’ve ever actually completed the writing of a book, then you know first hand that it’s easier said than done. I think, I hope, I’ve finally learned to stop spouting about what the next project is because the truth about that is, there are some things that I want to write that I don’t know if I can write them. I don’t know if I have the skills to write what I want to write to the fulfillment of my ambitions about whatever it is. There are some things I want to write that now, having written a few books, I understand exactly how much work is involved. I don’t want to talk those things into the ground, and be all hat, no cattle.

Taking a break, for a minute, gave me a moment to think about what it is that I want to be doing. For me, there’s always a moment of, “I wonder if I can write this _______.” And then challenging myself to. In that, there are also moments when I’ve looked at something I’ve written and realized what it could have been, what it could be, the potential beyond what it was at the moment of creation and that’s always a pull to get back into something, to try to meet the challenge of one’s own vision. I find myself less interested in talking about the process of it all, or that, perhaps, the process is less interesting to me. I think, I hope, I’ve finally learned to let go of self-judgement with regard to my writing. There are some who never struggle with that, with accepting themselves as writers and what that ultimately means for them. Would you write if no one in the world cared anything about it other than you? I would. And I would write without placing any limits on my writing other than those dictated by what it is that I find to be interesting, what it is that I want to do. I don’t know if I will release another book this year.

I’m always writing poetry. I wrote this one today…I don’t know what the title of it is yet It might be “Falling In Love With My Mid-Life Crisis” or “The Last Time I Fell In Love When My Hair Was Turning Grey” or “I Remember the Last Time I Fell In Love When My Hair Was Turning Grey”… I think that’s the one.

 

I Remember the Last Time I Fell In Love, When My Hair Was Turning Grey

I am too old to have been this naïve.
But then, I’ll always remember this time.
Some days, I have the most beautiful heart,
and the most brilliant mind.

 

I love the complexity in the simplicity of this poem, it’s the old adage of “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” ( Alfred Lord Tennyson), bittersweet, coupled with the implication of “Some days” implying that “other days” I’ve been neither beautiful nor brilliant, some days I’ve been perfectly foolish, to say the least. I’ve fallen in love with writing again, and I’d just about fallen out of it! I’ve been thinking about that a lot, love, in general. They used to say that before a person could, or can, really understand and accept love from someone, they’ve got to learn to love themselves. I think a person has to learn to like themselves first, to know that it’s good and fine and okay to like yourself, and go from there. That means learning to appreciate one’s own imperfections, one’s flaws, and folly. Perspective, and other ten-dollar words.

“Be in love with your life, every minute of it.” ~ Jack Kerouac

 

Teri

On This Valentines Day

 

One of the most wonderful things within the many fine and good examples that Bruce Lee left us with, is his example of inclusiveness. Despite being met with prejudice throughout his life, he seemed to hold no such feelings in his own heart. He continuously broke with traditions. He fell in and love and married who he wanted to marry. If you came into his studio, dojo, with an open heart, an open mind, a willingness to learn and be taught, he would teach you. It made no difference to him what color your wrapping paper was, no difference to him if you were male or female, his wife, Linda, was one of his students. He stayed true to what he believed in despite being met with continuous opposition and challenges to his ideas, his philosophies, his approach to living. Bruce Lee understood that prejudice is the product of ignorance, and the antidote, is education.

I’m at the beginning of really checking this out thoroughly, but I can show some love for that example for sure.

Have a Happy Valentines Day.

TS

 

Bruce Lee, website

Bruce Lee, wiki

The History of Valentines Day

Thelxiepeia, Poems 2009 -2012, Available Now!

Thelxiepeia, poems 2009-2012, Now available on Amazon in paperback.

 

 

Basquiat…………………………………………………. 6
Thelxiepeia………………………………………………. 7
Manifest…………………………………………………. 8
Repairs…………………………………………………… 9
The Willow Tree…………………………………………12
Real Myths………………………………………………14
Private Hours……………………………………………15
The Talk Is Savage……………………………………. 17
Miss UnHoly……………………………………………. 19
If We Had These Roses………………………………. 21
Look, Pretty, Stand Still………………………………. 23
Care Full……………………………………………….. 25
Temple Within………………………………………… 27
The Devil Wore Red………………………………… 28
Sherbet…………………………………………………. 29
Dorothy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore…………….. 30
Thump, Thump………………………………………… 34
If Love Hates Me……………………………………… 35
Ichabod Marries……………………………………… 36
Some Obsession………………………………………. 37
Strange Ode to Levon Helm……………………….. 39
This Now………………………………………………… 40
The Ball Jars……………………………………………. 42
The Reincarnation of a Wax-Winged Bird……….. 44
Dirty Knees…………………………………………….. 46
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea…….. 48
Loved As Is…………………………………………….. 50
The Howling Dame…………………………………… 51
Scheherazade………………………………………… 53
Sacred Breath………………………………………… 55
The Fragile Veil……………………………………….. 57

You Don’t Mess Around With Jim

The Next Voice You Hear

 

 

Currently listening to Jackson Browne, discovering T Bone Burnett, trying to catch up on episodes of the podcast “Cocaine and Rhinestones.”

 

Reading “Cotton Tenants: Three Families” by James Agee with photographs by Walker Evans. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon,

“In 1941, James Agee and Walker Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a four-hundred-page prose symphony about three tenant farming families in Hale County, Alabama at the height of the Great Depression. The book shattered journalistic and literary conventions. Critic Lionel Trilling called it the “most realistic and most important moral effort of our American generation.
The origins of Agee and Evan’s famous collaboration date back to an assignment for Fortune magazine, which sent them to Alabama in the summer of 1936 to report a story that was never published. Some have assumed that Fortune‘s editors shelved the story because of the unconventional style that marked Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and for years the original report was lost. But fifty years after Agee’s death, a trove of his manuscripts turned out to include a typescript labeled “Cotton Tenants.” Once examined, the pages made it clear that Agee had in fact written a masterly, 30,000-word report for Fortune.
Published here for the first time, and accompanied by thirty of Walker Evans’s historic photos, Cotton Tenants is an eloquent report of three families struggling through desperate times. Indeed, Agee’s dispatch remains relevant as one of the most honest explorations of poverty in America ever attempted and as a foundational document of long-form reporting. As the novelist Adam Haslett writes in an introduction, it is “a poet’s brief for the prosecution of economic and social injustice.” -end quote

I purchased this book sometime ago, was reading another book before the holidays but got sidetracked and never got back to it. This book is of particular interest to me because while it is not literally the story of my grandfather’s family, it is essentially the story of families  for whom the circumstances of survival were the same as his. One of seven children, my grandfather’s family had no indoor plumbing, of any kind, they had a well, and an outhouse (eventually), typically sharing only a few rooms, two or three, in tin roof houses. When they didn’t have a mule to plow the fields, when they couldn’t borrow one, which was frequently, the boys took turns pulling the plow. They were the definition of “dirt poor.” And my grandfather would readily say that there were those who were poorer yet.

Son of a sharecropper (not a photo of my grandfather but it could have been) working near Chesnee, South Carolina, 1937, photo by Dorothea Lange

Growing up I heard these stories, these family histories, on visits to those places that held the spent youth of my grandparents, not fully understanding the larger history and story that I was being told and taught. My grandfather stands as the best person I have ever known. ~ Personal interest aside, the book is, thus far, a fascinating read and account of a particular time in our country. The passion of the author, James Agee, with regard to his subject, is evident from the first page. It is not an unbiased portrait of the times or the plight of the cotton tenants, but in this case, that has not seemed to interfere with the accuracy of it.

James Agee     Walker Evans   Dorothea Lange

 

 

Still reading from The Big Book of Joan. “We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live.” Joan Didion ~ The more I read from this book, the more I want to read from it. At 1160 pages, it keeps on giving. I count it as one of the best book purchases I’ve ever made.

I was watching a show called “Mountain Men” but I started calling it “Men Walking in Snow” or “Men Walking in Snow After Something Breaks” and then I started fast forwarding through those parts and decided I had to quit it. What caught my attention about it was that as the commercial for it pointed out, it is a way of life that people are not running to in droves and thus many of the skills, and much of the knowledge necessary to sustain life away from so-called civilization, are going by the wayside. Case in point, I read a BBC story this morning about companies that are selling “Raw Water” (untreated spring water) as the latest trend in… trendy…beverages. For those who really don’t know why drinking “raw” unfiltered, unsterilized, untreated, water is dangerous, I urge you to look that up, ask a healthcare professional if you can, and I would say to you that when they say that untreated water has to be boiled in order to sterilize it so that it is potable, that doesn’t mean that you should drink boiling water or water that is boiling hot, ever. Really, just, don’t. Ironically, “Idiocracy” was running on one of the movie channels last night. My husband said, “Someday ( in the future) they’re going to find a copy of “Idiocracy” and think it was a documentary.” ( I hope not.) Speaking of documentaries, sporadically watching Ken Burns’ series on both “The West” and “The Civil War”, both are excellent. Also looking to get into the new season of “The X-Files”, whilst still keeping up with episodes of “Supernatural.”

Fall was quite lovely. The holidays were hectic, unusually so, as well as being unusually poignant this year. Just before Christmas, we weathered the passing of my mother-in-law after a lengthy illness. Though not entirely unexpected, grief is an exceptionally private matter, and a strange animal, that often reverberates long after its primary impact. It seemed to me that I should wait a time before posting again or, I’m not sure what, but then it is time to be trying to get things moving forward.

I’m working on a variety of projects, none of which I care to discuss any further than that other than to say fiction and poetry. Still planning to release the next collection of poems, “Thelxiepeia” sometime early this spring. I had set up a coffee station in my office ( to make tea with) but that didn’t work out, I didn’t use it the way I thought I would. I need another bookshelf in the space. So I’m planning on moving the apothecary table back to the kitchen and this spring, getting busy with a small garden. I’ll have these grandiose ideas about decorating but then I’ll see something that speaks to my soul and all previous ideas get renounced. This, in one way or another, has been at the crux of much of my existence, the battling of my exceptional brain, and my heart. My ongoing sobriety, as well as my own changing, evolving, ideas about aging, have put me on a path to a healthier existence overall. (though no sooner spoken than I think I might have a cold)

 

coffee station that didn’t work out

apothecary inspirations, from pinterest

current reality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ability to be comfortable is luxury, to sit at my kitchen table and look out our window is a dream come true. The last few weeks have borne with them a humbling astonishment at, and thankfulness for, every good grace. My life has been so difficult sometimes, incredibly challenging, and really, just hard, but then to think of where my husband’s mother began her life as the daughter of Sicilian immigrants in New York in the 1930’s, to think of where my grandparents began, so many other things, it brings perspective to simple joys, to everyday goodness. I’m so thankful right now. I think that’s a good way to begin the new year.

TS

 

 

Goodbye 2017! Now get on with it…

I want to say something about this year, about 2017, as we head into the final two weeks of it. The thing about that is, I don’t know what I want to say. That being the case, wisdom would seem to dictate that it would probably be better not to say anything. So…anyway…

I think, I want to say that I’m feeling incredibly grateful for any and every good thing in my life, and in life in general. Lately I’m finding myself humbled by that feeling of gratefulness.  Lately I’m feeling like I’m incredibly lucky. This year was hardly without its challenges though I felt less inclined to vent quite as much and was more likely to quietly contemplate. I marked one year sober in September. I spent not a little time this year working on healing some relationships. There’s a wonderful quote from the film “Tombstone”, where Doc asks Wyatt what he wanted. Wyatt answers that he just wanted a normal life. Doc says, “There is no normal life, Wyatt. There’s just life.  Now get on with it.” I think I began to really understand that this year.

I was thinking about the times when we’ve lived in old houses, the kinds of houses where we had to use the fireplace for heat, the kinds of houses where you have to go outside to “check” things during bad storms to make sure they haven’t come loose or blown away or leaked, how hard those kinds of houses can be to live in and how much we learned from them. That’s probably some kind of metaphor about getting older but really, it’s about actual old houses and being grateful for those lessons but understanding that everything else is like that too. It can be challenging to stay in the awareness of taking nothing for granted when things are good. Thinking about those old houses can help to keep things in perspective. There have been times in my life when I haven’t had much. I am appreciative of every good thing.

This year there were events in the world left me feeling flabbergasted time and again. I used to imagine that once I got to be a certain age, the world wouldn’t be quite so baffling to me anymore. I thought I’d gotten to be pretty jaded. This year proved to me that I’ll never really be all that jaded and that the capacity for human beings to be horrible to one another is endless. In that, my awareness of giving was re-awakened. When a person, any person, is in the middle of a personal storm, then they’ve got to deal with themselves, and make no mistake about that or the importance of that. I believe a person has to take care of themselves and take care of their own first, in order to really be able to give anywhere else. I think sometimes that people under-estimate the value of giving even in small ways and so they don’t “bother.” I thought, well, if I’m going to talk about how shocked I am at the world this year, then I ought to talk about things that are hopeful as well. There are two charities that my husband and I have donated to for years when we can and sometimes it isn’t much but that isn’t the point, or it is because every little bit helps these organizations. One of those charities is the local mission here in town, and I urge anyone who is of a mind to give to a charity to find a good local organization to give to, and the other is St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. It’s another good reminder that every kindness matters, and that there are people trying to do good in the world.

At this juncture of my life, I’ve never been more grateful for my writing, for being a writer. This year I felt like I really understood again the value of it for myself and what it means to me personally to be able to do this and in that, so much nonsense fell away. In the beginning of being a writer, or thinking that I was a writer, or trying to be a writer, there was all this insecurity, I started trying to publish and then there’s all this getting caught up in expectations and what we think other people think or don’t and worries, wonderings, doubts, trying to “succeed,” and feeling like I was perpetually out of my league, and of having to prove something, if only to myself. Somewhere in the middle of all that I remembered the place where I was writing just for me, where I was writing all day and all night and on and on and it had nothing to do with anyone else or anything else, only me, writing. I think every writer knows that place.  Along those lines there’s an essay, and article, recently published at Literary Hub, about protecting, really about cherishing and honoring, one’s “inner life” as a writer, and it’s worth a read for any writer. ( Link here.)

I don’t know what to say about the year ahead other than I hope it’s a good one. That might seem kind of dull, all things considered but, all things considered, sometimes a bit of boring is good, sometimes calm is really wonderful.

Teri

 

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

Modesto Gospel Mission