Monday, October 31, 2005

Jesus in Limbo

This morning when I awoke the two sick children to determine whether or not they were of schoolworthy health (they were not), I plucked from the chaotic mass of childhood paraphrenalia that is their bedroom floor, their Renaissance Art Game and delivered a short lecture on not leaving "nice" games and toys to be trampled with the McDonald's happy meal trinkets. Ever alert for play opportunities, the younger daughter promptly requested a game.

So what better did I have to do, since they weren't going to school?

Soon the cards had been dealt, and we were playing happily away right there on their rumpled bed. For those of you who've never had the opportunity to play The Renaissance Art Game, I'll explain that it consists of a 3o cards, each with a picture of a masterpiece by one of five renaissance artists (six masterpieces per artist). The object is to collect complete sets of each artist's works from the other players, very much like Go Fish. One catch, though, is that you can't just ask for an artist's card in general; you have to name the specific masterpiece you're looking for. (Each card also lists all six masterpieces in its artist's set along the bottom.) So in theory your children learn to say, "Mother, have you Michelangelo's Madonna of the Steps?" or "Might I persuade you to part with Fra Angelico's Christ in Limbo?" or even, "I say, dear Sister, could you spare Botticelli's The Annunciation?"

In reality, you get something more along the lines of this (from the younger daughter), "Mama, do you have Broccoli's The Annunclian?" or this (from the older), "Ok. I need Fran Alleco's Christ in Limbo...Hey, wait a minute! Shouldn't Jesus be bent more backward with his head back in that one?"

If I hadn't have fallen apart right there on the counterpane, she probably would have asked where the limbo stick was, too.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Last Weekend's Reunion

Last weekend's extended family get-together went off very well, thank Goodness. Lots of small, very fun moments, and the place we stayed (which I booked without having actually laid eyes on it in real life) was absolutely perfect: quiet, a grassy playground for the little ones to play, a large conference room where we could all hang out and eat together, nice individual rooms. I was given requests to book the same place next year, and we even came up with a date, which will save a lot of effort on my part as far as trying to arrange a time with everyone scattered across the country.

The most entertaining moment had to have been when my mother finally arrived. Unbeknownst to most of our family, my brother and I had plotted for over a month to find a way to enable him to be there. He's in the Air Force, stationed in Tucson, AZ, and he hasn't been able to come to the reunions for years now. We pulled it off. Mom didn't suspect a thing when she entered our cabin (which was crammed with relatives all waiting to see her reaction--they'd all been surprised too and hung around waiting for the next person to arrive and be shocked and pleased). She didn't even recognize him when he walked right up to her. She kept talking to the person next to her and looking around at everyone else. Finally he tapped her on the shoulder. At last she looked at him (still talking--she's good at that) still without really seeing him, turned, paused, then turned back around, cried his name, hugged him and started crying. It was great. I shall glory in the moment for months.

We came home, and the girls promptly got sick. Then I succumbed. Am not doing particularly well, and I'm only in the beginning stages. Hopefully the girls are on the way back to health and will soon take care of me in my decrepitude. (Risky proposition, that.)

A side note of interest and amusement. You know you live in a conservative part of the country when you are near forty and get carded.

While buying a six pack of cream soda.
"Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds."

---Jojo Jenson
Dirt Farmer Wisdom

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday Quote: Jamison On Limitations

"We all move uneasily within our restraints."

---Kay Redfield Jamison
An Unquiet Mind

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Note for Blogger Spellcheck Users

A few posts back, Blogger's spell check program tried to convince me that for the word "childhood" I needed to substitute the word "clitoris".

May I heartily advise against using the spell check indiscriminately?

The Week and a Birthday

First the birthday... Happy Birthday, today, Beth!!!!!! :::insert confetti, balloons, cheering, silly party hats, cake and many, many, many happy returns here:::

Then, the week... Today I ran errands with my mother. Tomorrow the younger daughter has a field trip (I'm a regular chaperone of the girls' school trips). Wednesday the older daughter has a field trip. Thursday is an early out from school for the girls, followed by parent/teacher conferences; it's also the day I have to do laundry, clean and pack for the weekend. Friday morning I have a Super Top Secret errand to run in a town an hour away from here, the girls get out early again, and then we all climb in the car and head out to the weekend-long, four-generation family reunion I've had the responsibility and privilege to put together again this year. Somewhere in the week I need to finish putting the family directory together and make copies, shop for the weekend's food, and finish and deliver some beaded spiders to the scrapbooking store (which buys them from me) in the next town. This is assuming no one springs upon me new reservations that need to be made or any other reunion related business to which I've forgotten to attend. (And, oh, my dear friends, is this ever a likelihood; I am NOT an organizer by anyone's stretch of the imagination!)

There may not be much posting going on this week. There may, on the other hand, be a great deal of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. A fascinating phenomenon to observe.

Save when one is the chicken.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Friday Quote: On Soaring

"Eagles may soar, but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines."

- unknown

Monday, October 10, 2005

Don't Tell Whoppers

This afternoon I brought home a box of malted milk balls.

Older daughter: Oh, look! Wumpers!

Mommy: (giggles) Whoppers.

Younger daughter: Mommy! Can we have some Whompers?

Mommy: (laughing now) WHOPPERS.

Older daughter: (laughs too) Ok. Sorry, Mom! Can we have some Whuppers?

Sooner or later they're going to call them "Whimpers," which by that time will be an apt description, at least as far as their mother is concerned.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Quote: On Spilling Over

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." ---Ray Bradbury

Usually I let the Friday quote stand alone, but today some thoughts on Bradbury's words are chasing themselves around in my head. I have not been writing much of late. Here on the blog, yes, but not poetry, and not on topics of particularly deep concern. Call it a period of gestation; call it laziness; call it writer's block; call it what you will. I know its truest nature is my own unwillingness to see with "poet-vision".

Beth at Inscapes asked me on her latest meme, "When do you *see* the things you *show* us in your poems? Do your eyes ever just pass over the world as mine do, or do you always see things the way I always narrate events?"

I recognize the things that spill into my work only when I've come to a point of surrender, usually through physical exaustion or emotional despair. The cup, though, is always filling, always filling, always filling somewhere underneath the surface, deep beneath my desperate attempts to block its subterranean source with trivialities: compulsive reading, eating, internet perusing, cleaning closets, mopping floors--anything to block its flow. I can tell you why so many writers have been alcoholics and suicides: it hurts to "*see*". The vision is unquestionable, definitive, certain and strong, both in intensity of light and in depth of darkness, and for the poet, often it isn't just a matter of seeing (as in witnessing) these things, but a even more a matter of becoming at once both the light and darkness within the poem, especially during the writing process. There is beautiful stuff within the cup, yes, but it is so exquisitely lovely because its beginning was unlovliness. A poet is an alchemist who transforms not lead, but dung, usually his or her own, with no guarantee of gold as the end result of the process.

So, to answer your question, Beth, yes, the deepest part of me does continually interpret the world around me through transformative vision, but it's too painful to live a daily life from this place, so I "block" its insight purposefully (and too often compulsively) in order to be able to function like I think a "normal" person should. Not doing this would be the emotional and spiritual equivalent of walking around having had one's skin flayed from the flesh.

The blocking itself is problematic in other ways, of course. A guard can only be on watch so long before weariness decreases his or her effectiveness. That's what happened last night. I'd been blocking to the point of sleeplessness, and Teri's post yesterday on Bo of the Bales contained an unintentional challenge, one that an intrinsically contrary person such as myself could hardly pass up: to turn an unwelcome and somewhat bizzare phone call about menstruation and irritable bowel syndrome into something of literary value. My full intent in posting my reply (draft-y though it was) in the comments was to be satirical and above all, clever. Instead the cup tipped, and I got broadsided with not entirely comfortable observations on the human condition. Good insights, but not particularly warm fuzzy ones. Granted, this poem wasn't especially painful to write, but years of guarding the cup have made it harder to tip and made me more cautious about allowing it to do so, since I've no idea from poem to poem whether the "beautiful stuff" inside will be in its raw or refined form.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Saturday's Child

This morning at breakfast I recited for the girls an old rhyme about the days of the week:

Monday's child is fair of face;
Tuesday's child is full of grace;
Wednesday's child is full of woe;
Thursday's child has far to go;
Friday's child is loving and giving;
Saturday's child works hard for a living;
and a child that is born on the Sabbath day
is blythe and bonnie in every way.

After I'd explained to them that the poem's writer evidently hadn't understood that the Sabbath isn't Sunday, but Saturday, and emphasized the need for accurate understanding of the facts before any sort of literary undertaking, they clamoured to know upon what days of the week they had been born.

Mommy: Saturday. Both of you.

Older daughter: You stinker!!!

Mommy: I had very little say in the matter, Young lady. You were the one who decided when to be born.

Older daughter: Hey! I didn't know it was Saturday! There wasn't a calendar in there!

Logophiliac Fix--Wall Words

I do not often post links to retail sites. In fact, I think only Despair, Inc has rated a QL link thus far. Today that changes. Go take a look at Wall Words.

(Disclaimer: The author of Quotidian Light shall not be responsible for any bodily injury resulting from fellow logophiliacs hyperventilating and falling from their desk chairs.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Latest Procrastination Tool

Here's a lovely little procrastination tool by way of Way Seeker's blog. I have to admit, the description is uncannily accurate.

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
Brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, October 03, 2005

To Blog or Not to Blog

Lately I've been going to bed in the wee hours of the morning. Some people, I understand, feel a daily increasing tiredness when they do this. Personally I hardly notice any effect for several days. Then I crash. Like bodyslamming a brick wall. I am SO there.

So today, I can post a deeply philosophical, inspiring, heartwarming, sparklingly witty and astonishingly intelligent post. Or I can take a nap with the GGSC (Great Golden Sun Cat).

No contest.