Saturday, May 26, 2012

dust motes

It is not that the attics were forbidden to us, not in so many words. But the attics were the most foreign and mysterious place I'd ever been, for we had three of them at our house, and no cellar at all, and the attics were full of all of the parts of us that we couldn't recognize but were told were our memories. As a child I believed that my memories were sacrosanct, that everything held suspended in formaldehyde in glass jars, where I could not just play back the memory of a perfect score on a test or the death of a dog or the arrival of a new kitten. Instead the memories were still and always alive, just there, and at any moment I could step sideways and be in the memory and it was all as clear and sharp as on the day it happened.

The attics challenged this notion of memories held in suspended animation, for they were full to overflowing with things I was supposed to recognize as belonging to myself, yet everything was all wrong. It was the wrong shape, the wrong color, the wrong size, the wrong item altogether, so it must be somebody else's past, some other accidental life living in this space that I wasn't forbidden from but wasn't really supposed to be in, this maze of memories held by someone who wasn't me. That summer I hid in the attics for hours, determined to find the person responsible for all these items, the mysterious suitcases and animal cages and nightgowns and musical instruments and aquariums and strollers and chairs.

reading about relativity
weather : the scent of peonies, all about

Friday, May 25, 2012

Keywords Relating to the Incident

marmot: stout bodied short legged burrowing rodent with coarse fur, a short bushy tail, and very small ears
They do not make good pets. Although they are more intelligent than hamsters and gerbils, their inability to settle down into domestic family life makes them inappropriate companions for all persons engaged in traditional bourgeois lifestyles. Marmots have been known to exchange important files with those of dubious merit, to shred passports and marriage certificates, to finish all but the last tablespoon of milk in the fridge and leave it for someone else to find, and to steal the dog's favorite chew toy and the infant's security blanket. They are mean spirited creatures, bored easily and capable of getting into constant trouble.

epitome: typical representation or ideal expression

Although it is all in the context, for what might be construed as typically egregious behavior by one might be an idyllic exaltation of expression in another. There are those who find the personality quirks of troublesome marmots to epitomize all that is wrong in adopting rodents. There are those who believe the marmot epitomizes the furry elegance of stout bodied creatures with small ears.

roister: to engage in noisy revelry
While there are devotees who will argue that the boisterousness and mischievousness character of the marmot merely signify its passion for roisterous parties within the extended family unit, those of a more calm and detached manner will recognize mindless abandon and drunkenness even in rodents, and call it what it is, which is simply antisocial rudeness.

definitions courtesy of Merriam Webster

Sunday, May 20, 2012

between planes

That was how it happened, and I took a turkey feather and ground oak galls down into powder, made ink from the powder of oak mixed with ash from our fire, and I was going to write out our stories, our past. But we had no paper, there were only books, and the books were already filled with writing. The books told how to combat a rattlesnake bite, how to drill a well, how to build a cabin right and true, how to treat frostbite, how to amputate when gangrene sets in, how to attend childbirth, how to plant crops when the moon is new and fog dances lightly over the ground. These were sacred texts, the commandments that ensured our survival, and my stories had no place in those books.

So I took my turkey feather quill pen, I took my ash and oak gall ink, and I wrote our stories wherever they would fit. I wrote on the fabric inside our caravans. I wrote on the outside of our wagons. I wrote on my clothing, I wrote on my skin. There were so many stories, and no where to write them, for we were always moving, there was no time, no materials. The stories were frivolous, silly, unvalued, and as I filled in margins and the backs of maps, the others began to see an illness in my obsession with the stories.

May 16, 2012

hi ho, Silver:


(new timing belt to follow in the very near future)

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I was asleep, or I was awake, or I was both asleep and awake, drifting in the embryonic aether of the unconscious as it merges into being.

It was afternoon and there was a sun-warmed breeze tinted with the scent of clouds and summer and it was morning and the sun had carried with it the noise of birdsong echoing through the open window.

I was alone in the house, and you were there, and everyone else was there, but we were all together and all alone and the sky kept expanding until there was nothing else, just a field of bright blue daylight everywhere all around.

I forgot to dream. I forgot what you asked me. I forgot what I answered. I forgot how you responded. Did we gaze deeply into the heart of the same afternoon before being consumed in that all-present field of light?

There was a pause that lengthened and became a hesitation, and the empty space grew longer and wider, it became awkward and unwieldy, a deep ravine across which further communication was impossible. Out of our words we built boats of intention and sailed them to distant shores, answers returned in foreign languages whose context and meaning were uncertain, vague, open to interpretation.

The birds call out. Again. There is a rustling amongst the greenery, a rustle which may be the wind or a chipmunk or my misplaced memory trying to reel in my attention to the matter at hand, which I've misplaced again. The window is open and my dreams fly out, dissipate into the air that you breathe, and I ask, are my dreams salty, are they bitter, do they taste of melancholy and loss, do they spoil your appetite for life, do they sour your hunger for experience? I apologize, I do not intend to poison your spirit, I do not wish to exhale the burden of existence which presses heavily into my heart, and weaves a rut around my thoughts.

But none of this is true. You exhale, leave behind the fog of lost emotions, and listen to the noises, the echoes of what isn't there. Remember that once this was all we had, the burden of memory of a place where time didn't exist and so we had no words to describe the ephemeral passage from nonbeing to being. I slept, and the universe slept, and the cosmic winds were quiet in the tides of night; there was a scuttling of noise, which may have been field mice in the farmhouse walls or may have been the distant reverberations of an earthquake at the bottom of a distant sea, and I turned, saw there was form, fell back into a world with shadows and outlines and beings.

The planets spun and tilted and transited, methane rained down from frozen skies, oceans outlined by asteroid impacts, my core displaced by a comet at high speed, Venus transits across the sun and it is day. The grey shadows turn to objective reality and there is something I meant to hold onto, there was wisdom and understanding taken straight from the stream of dark matter, the souls of the departed animating the quiet dark hours. But I hesitate, begin to form a question, and it is gone, lost in the glare of examination.

I shrug, for there are rivers of things that are forgotten, rivers filled with lost knowledge and half-formed intentions, and by the side of the river of knowledge of good and evil is a ferry landing. I did not think to carry a coin for passage to the distant shore, my boat tossed about in the tsunami of dreams, and I stand on the far bank and use semaphore to tell you all I hope and fear. There is a moment where the shapes almost coalesce into letters, and then a fish leaps from the water, snatches the letters before they form words, and all is lost.

The river is cold and clear and fast, the river is the methane fallen and collected in the winter, and when I start to swim across it, the methane dissolves flesh. There is underneath an array of tendon and blood vessel that weaves an intricate rope of physicality from toes to crown, and I watch, fascinated, the interplay of nerves from thumb to thumb, then the nerves and tendons melt and there is nothing except a skeleton, porous where bone marrow and connective tissue once metabolized thought into action, and as I swim I am pure form.

Lost in the beauty of form, floating downstream, not paying attention to the distant shore that had been my goal, for this is more compelling, this essential nothingness washed and purified, bleached and held lightly into a form without memory. There was something I wanted to be known, or there was some truth I wanted to know, but now ignorance and knowledge are alike, are full complements of one another, and all is as it should be.

The fish that jumped from the water to eat my words swims silently alongside that which may or may not still be me, for without the memories carefully stored in origami tissue paper folds of my mind, I am no longer who I once was. The fish is weaving a net out of words, only all the words are in an unknown order, where the interstitial knots are formed is nonsense, a scrambled mess of alchemy, geometry, semiotics, recipes for life and recipes for comfort and recipes for loss all hopelessly intertwined. The net surrounds me, the fish has caught me in a web of my own words so carefully fashioned that I could not escape back to the free flowing current of the river even if I had the inclination and ambition to swim and create form.

On the riverbank are gathered all of you, all of the yous that existed independently are compelled to separate and reform into a haze of humanity, each shade of emotion, frustration, rage, disgust, envy, disappointment, respect, admiration, love, each an entity with individual form and feature. I recognize none of you, although I know all of you, and I do not struggle in the net of words as I am brought closer to shore.

There is a fire built on the bank, and over the fire is a stockpot filled with an amber liquid, cloudy as old glass. There are shapes, animated, chasing one another across the surface of the boiling amber, there are butterflies, there are kites, there are monkey bars, there are willow trees, there are snapping turtles, there are dandelions. None of the people are speaking, or all of the people are speaking, but they are not speaking in words. If they spoke in words, I know that the net of language in which the fish has captured me would grow tighter and more dense, the knots would multiply and strengthen and I would be caught up not only in a web of my own making but a web of universal and thus infinite complexity.

They are speaking in sound, in tone, in music, a formless inflection of the chant and the aria. There are the contrapuntal patterns of Bach and the atonal harmonies of the medieval mass, there is the syncopation of jazz, there is the lyricism of the romantics. The tones form a cocoon of sound, turning my net of words into a chrysalis, and as the music threatens to become cacophony, the boiling amber liquid is poured over me, and I solidify in a glowing cavern of silence.

There is nothing to do, I am caught tight, the vocalizations of my thoughts are petrified in the hardened amber, and time loses all meaning and definition. Forests grow from saplings into dense acreages where children build forts and create territories, the forests are razed for ranch land and for houses, in the back yards of houses children play in sandboxes and construct worlds of mountains, filled with panthers and blue whales and dinosaurs, while climbing roses cover everything in the scent of early summer, the heady anticipation of endless adventures in long afternoons, ready or not making way for ambushes in the no man's land scrub.

The sun sets, a river of orange washing across the horizon, and the orange is the melted amber from my cocoon. Night slowly blankets the plans and hopes of childhood, the cool evening breeze blows apart the net of my hibernation. I rise, I stretch, there is a shooting star across the constellation of Leo, and there you are. I remember, but I do not speak, as all the stars of the sky gather and dance across the fabric of the night.
May 13, 2012
asleep in the sun

Friday, May 18, 2012

my soul to keep

She did not seem to be seeking to create a life of her own; one day a tinker appeared, selling the refuse of society and seeking odd jobs, and he stayed, and she bore a son. The child, like his mother, saw the tigers as his playfellows, and spent his days under the haphazard oversight of the aging grandfather and tigers. The tinker stayed, the woman watched the land go through another winter, another long, hot summer; she felt the wind pick up the melancholy of the approaching autumn, and she knew that it was time to step fully into her identity, into the future.

The village had never quite accepted these newcomers, saw an old man, a silent, foreign daughter, a tinker, as evidence that the world is unforgiving, and not to be trusted. No one knew, for certain, about the tigers, but there were rumors and suppositions and stories. Children were warned to keep their distance, and teenagers dared one another to approach the land, the family that they feared and disapproved of. There was no vandalism, no larceny, no arson, for there was too much uncertainty about the mysterious powers of these strangers. When deliveries began, large vans with markings in foreign script on their side, no one knew what it might be, but in the conservatism endemic to their habits, they worried and disapproved and wondered. The deliveries continued: by lorry, by wagon, by train, strangers with heavy beards and hats with gold braid bringing any number of questionable unknowns to this quiet outpost on the fringe of the forest.

May 12, 2012
reading in the sunshine of a perfect May afternoon

Thursday, May 17, 2012

memories of darkness

I am the white tree, I am the crescent moon, I am the cow patiently watching the grass sway in the wind, I am the wind; and as the wind I surround you, and I become you: for you are also at this moment of weightlessness freed from your own identity and your own reality, and you are the planet Mars and you are the grasses swaying in the wind and you, too, are the wind. We, all, are freed from the constraints of form, we are released from our own identities, and in this freedom of being the cosmic wind we surround and become and are the heart of the universe.  At this hesitation, the night sky at its darkest, the stars vivid lights, beacons of the boundaries of the potential world, at this indrawn breath, we dream.

May 11, 2012
writing in the shadow of a birch tree, reaching into the night sky

songs of the trees

It was after what I thought was lunchtime (in the woods, the sun is never overhead, and a watch had been left off my essentials list, as runaway intentions heed no factory schedule) that the music began. The woods were rumored to be the destination of pagans meeting up with their gods; there were stories of rites and sacrifices at the full moon that had people keeping their cats indoors, just in case. The woods were also rumored to be where people of otherwise good character lost sight of their morals and became animals, fueled by alcohol and the invisibility cloak of night. This wasn't that type of fiddle music, this was more like a country wedding with lots of barbeque and dancing on the lawn, perfume mixed up with the smell of mosquito repellent. That's the type of bluegrass music it sounded like, from far away, and as I got closer and could hear more of the melody. It wasn't exactly foreign, it felt like I could sing along, except I had forgotten all of the words.

May 9, 2012
reading the arrival of spring through the raindrops of storms

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


There's an unfortunate backlog of several thousand words awaiting entry into the hard drive. Here's an ampersand update and a mousse recipe in the meantime.

Two extermination companies across the street from each other (and just a few blocks from a garden cemetery), one which has do-it-yourself-poisons and the other which sends insects to heaven. Horsham, PA.

I would double the amount of cocoa powder in the above mousse recipe.

BBC Radio 4 recently had a presentation on ampersands.

visits to Lilac Land, a private lilac reserve in Pelham, MA

Running in the family / Michael Ondaatje

Friday, May 4, 2012

everything was still potential

"Where are we going, Grandfather?" "When will we arrive?" At first I thought that he was going to go back to harrumphing and not tell me anything at all, or, even worse, try to throw me overboard for insubordination, but he tied the sail into a position he liked, and knocked out his pipe on the side of our boat, and leaned back into his cushion. When he was all prepared, he began, not in his nickel magic voice or his harrumphing voice but in his Christmas Eve voice, when he told stories about the winter, and I sat up straight and listened hard.

"Once, when I was about your age, my father told me a story about an island he had visited on his way home from China. It was unlike any land he had ever seen before: there were tall, jagged mountains wrapped around by dark fog, and there were waterfalls with little rainbows coming out of them, and there were trees that swayed in the wind and had bananas growing on them, but the bananas tasted like pineapples. There were little fresh water lagoons for swimming that were filled with tiny silver fish, and the sand by the water's edge was as black as midnight."

The Cat's Table / Michael Ondaatje

"This Saturday evening, take a look at the night sky and you might see something special. The moon will make its largest, most stunning appearance of the year—an event known to scientists as “the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system” and to the popular skywatching public simply as the “supermoon.”" -- Smithsonian Magazine