Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Quote: On Indolence

How beautiful it is to do nothing and then to rest afterward.

--Spanish Proverb

Yesterday we ran errands like our lives depended on it, braving both a factory outlet mall and Stuff-Mart in one fell swoop. We came home exhausted and cranky. Ok, I came home exhausted and cranky. This morning we have done nothing but laze around like beached sea slugs (but without the slime). It has been wonderful.

One moment of excitement did rouse us to a flurry of phone calls. The cast list for "Laura's Memories" came via email this morning. Two of the girls' friends tried out also, so there has been much heating up of the phone lines in mutual congratulations and discussion. Rehearsals begin June 5. We'd better pack in all the sea slug time we can in the next two weeks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


One of my favorite cartoons ever.

And a close runner-up.

Journal Excerpt: May 1, 2007: On Choices and Ambivalence

11:57 p.m.

All day I have been forgetting that this is the first of May. All day time has meant nothing to me save that it touches upon the necessity of picking up the girls after school and eventually feeding them.

I have been playing with fountain pens and inks tonight, foolish ink-stained wretch that I have become. I form letters, loops and backloops, humps and dots and swirls, as if they matter, as if they have meaning there upon the page. "Noodler's Burgundy," I write, and, "Diamine Royal Blue," "Private Reserve Purple Haze" and "Unknown Black." I write them over and over, some with fine nibs, some with medium. Some I write with flex nibs, adding unnecessary flourishes and scrolls until, impatient, I begin to write too quickly, and the flowing lines turn into scrawls and worse-than-scrawls. Afterward there are pages and pages that mean nothing, that say nothing save that I was restless. Nowhere on the pages do the words "conflicted" or "dissatisfied" appear. "Unhappy" is not among the eloquence of looping lines, nor "discouraged" nor "slipping," "dark," "falter" or "lost." Only the objective and the cheerful names of inks: "Apache Sunset," "Purple Martin," "Sapphire Blue,""Claret."

A power line was down across the road in town this morning. I had to back up and turn into a parking lot, then turn around, go back the way I'd come and try a different route to my destination. What if the destination is unknown? What if one finds oneself in a parking lot three times a day? Four? Five? Six? Turning and heading back up the path already traveled? Without direction, without a goal, one loses the way. There is no coming or going save only to keep moving, long for rest as one may well do.

The rain is falling outside, pattering on the walk. It, at least, knows its own direction, single-minded, enviable phenomenon of nature.

"...when we choose
the way by which our only life
is lived, we choose and do not know
what we have chosen, for this
is the heart's choice, not the mind's;
to be true to the heart's one choice
is the long labor of the mind.
He chose, imperfectly, as we must,
the rule of love, and learned
through years of light what darkly
he had chosen: his life, his place,
our place, our lives..."

(For whole poem, click quote and scroll down to Thursday, Aug. 26, 2004.)

Wendell Berry's words strike home both as a sharp blade and as a life preserver that having been thrown, hits the person in need of it and gets his attention. I think of choices I have made, choices I repeat weekly, sometimes daily. I think of how, unknowing, I first chose, how knowingly I continue choosing, a life in which I am so restless, how still that life is full of love and how choosing against it would betray myself far more deeply than I have yet to do, even traitor that I am. "We live the given life and not the planned," writes Berry in another poem, and I believe these words, too, believe that they are not in opposition to the others, believe our hearts in making their own choices, result in given lives, lives far different than anything our minds would have ever planned.

Perhaps it is an exercise in humility and discipline at last, to subjugate the lofty mind to the inexplicable and single-eyed determination of the simple heart. At least there is in it for me this consolation of choice: "...his life, his place,/our place, our lives." It lightens the weight of doubt to consider that my own choice of the rule of love is a choice that has resulted and continues to result in the places and lives of our two daughters and perhaps to some lesser degree, Great Scott's, too. I do not choose perfectly, but I choose. I choose.

What's in YOUR Refrigerator?

Today was supposed to be The Younger Daughter's party for the gifted program after school, but her teacher called and had to cancel.

Too bad. I had already made something to take.

Guess what greeted Great Scott when he opened the refrigerator upon his arrival home.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thirteen Recent Moments of Serendipity or Sheer Amusement

1. Finding a given-up-for-good earring on the school parking lot this evening as we left the girls' spring concert. It was one of my favorite pair, one I lost Wednesday afternoon.

2. Seeing three deer in the field last night, while walking. One leapt out of some trees rather near me and ran, making startled deer noises, across the field and into the woods. The other two studied me at length before running halfway across the field and then stopping to study me some more. They did this so long that I expect they will present their theses at the end of this semester.

3. Finding purple salvia at the local grocery store's parking lot greenhouse.

4. The Older Daughter's deciding to forgo the school reward field trip in order to do something alone with me that day for a treat.

"Are you telling me you'd rather do something with your family than with your friends?" I asked, astounded.

She looked at me as if I was utterly brainless, "Well, yeah!" I am still reeling in befuddled wonder.

5. Sitting at my table with my father soldering phone wires and fastening them to receptacles and talking or not talking, as the mood struck us.

6. A working internet connection.

7. And phone lines that don't buzz in our ears.

8. Walking down to the creek in the rain while we were under a flash flood warning and watching the water tearing past at four times the width of the normal stream bed.

9. Looking out the window during last Friday evening's slumber party to see the younger daughter and her two best friends in the driveway having an all-out mud fight .

10. Hosing them down afterward. In well water.

11. Overhearing the younger daughter tell her father over dinner, "I like 'Red Green', even if it is a show for middle-aged men!"

12. Participating in the napkin fight that erupted as a result of the above comment.

13. Lying on my stomach across a made bed in the middle of the day, watching a steady rain soak the earth outside the window and listening to it on the leaves and grass. Luxury.