32° F (Feels like 26° F)

Silence…

thrilling cold —

so much beauty.

Like breathing pure oxygen.

~ Susan Sontag, from “As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks 1964-1980


Notes:

  • Inspired by: “The universe is still and complete. Everything that ever was, is; everything that ever will be, is – and so on, in all possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we imagine that it is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and quite astonishingly beautiful. In the end, or rather, as things really are, any event, no matter how small, is intimately and sensibly tied to all others. All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue.” ~ Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale (via beyondthefieldsweknow.org)
  • Photo Source: Your Eyes Blaze Out

Riding Metro North. With ‘My’ Little Bird.

So, let’s back up the bus a bit and set this up.  It was a New Year post titled What’s Your Spirit Bird where Margaret Renkl explains that “There’s a New Year’s tradition among bird-watchers: The first bird you see on New Year’s Day is your theme bird for the year. Your spirit bird.” 

So, I’ve seen many birds since Jan 1, but not my bird. Not the right bird. And I don’t want to hear from you rule-sticklers that it’s not keeping with the “first” bird rule.

And the mind slips off the rails to a rabbit trail in Gail Honeyman’s” Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: “I don’t need anyone else — there’s no big hole in my life, no missing part of my own particular puzzle. I am a self-contained entity. That’s what I’ve always told myself, at any rate.” No Hugely Holes. Not Bigly anyway. Trump’s infiltrating the mind. God, I do have problems. Bigly problems. OMG. Help me.

Monday, was, a long day. 7am flight to Dallas. 4 hour flight. 5 hours on ground. 4 hour flight back.  4 hours of sleep. (I don’t know if this math adds up. Who cares?)

And then, it’s Tuesday. I’m sitting in the warming hut waiting for a off-peak 10:00 am train to Grand Central. Light snow is falling.  Darien Schools have closed for the day. 2-3 inches, and the world stops these days. (When I was young, I used to walk to school in 2 feet of snow – I’m sure, it was in bare feet, I was that tough.  Snow days? WTH is that? The world has gotten soft.)

I shift on the steel bench, the train is scheduled to arrive in 4 minutes. I flip through my messages. And out of the corner of my eye on the ground in front of me is movement.

I lift my head.

And there she is. Has to be she. Just has to be.

Sparrow. Fluffy. Furry. Staring at me. Me staring at her. Spirit Bird? You? [Read more…]

TGIF: It’s been a long week!

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Awakened by the sun flooding my bed.

A day like a crystal cup overflowing with an uninterrupted blue and gold light.

~ Albert Camus, from Notebooks 1951-1959

Notes:

  • Photo via Mennyfox55. Quote via Schonwieder
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

It’s been a long day

That sound of settling into the sheets and the covers has to be one of the best things in the world. Sleep is a mercy. You can feel it coming on, like being swept up in something.

– Marilynne Robinson, Lila: A Novel


Notes: Photo: Tatiana Koshutina (via see more). Quote via quotespile

Guess.What.Day.It.Is? (Snow Day!)


Notes:

It’s better than sex.

Speedskating on natural ice is a beloved Dutch national pastime. The tradition is alive and well — just not necessarily in the Netherlands, where climate change now yields winters too warm for the waterways to freeze over with any consistency. The consequences of this have been felt most profoundly in a historical event called the Elfstedentocht, a one-day, long-distance speedskating tour through 11 cities of the Friesland province. It maintains a sacred place in Dutch sports culture. This week, the original Elfstedentocht is passing a worrisome milestone: Friday will be the 8,070th day since the previous edition, the longest period without a race since its inception. But the Dutch refuse to let its spirit die. So every winter, close to 6,000 people from the Netherlands make a pilgrimage to Weissensee (Austria)…

A thousand Dutch skaters congregated before dawn on the frozen surface of the Weissensee, the long, slender lake that gives this small Austrian mountain town its name. The sky was dark, and the headlamps of the shivering skaters cast a spiritual glow onto the charcoal ice. They had been warned not to remove their goggles, lest their eyeballs frost over in the wind. The conditions, by any reasonable standard, were brutal. But the skaters were in heaven. “The most beautiful thing in life is skating on a floor of black ice, in the cold, hearing the sounds of ice skating in nature,” said Wim Wiltenburg, 53, a banker visiting from Tilburg. “It’s better than sex.”

~ Andrew Keh, from Racing the Clock, and Climate Change (NY Times, Feb 7, 2019)

Miracle. All of it.

Hello, welcome.

My name is Julie Yip-Williams. I am grateful and deeply honored that you are here. This story begins at the ending. Which means that if you are here, then I am not. But it’s okay.

My life was good and my life was complete. It came to so much more than I ever thought possible, or than my very humble beginnings would have given me the right to expect. I was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an immigrant, a cancer patient, a lawyer, and now a writer. I tried to live always with good intentions and a good heart, although I am sure I have hurt people along the way. I tried my best to live a full, rewarding life, to deal with the inevitable trials with grace, and to emerge with my sense of humor and love for life intact. That’s all. Even though I am dying in my early forties, and leaving my precious children behind, I am happy.

My life was not easy. That I survived infancy was something of a miracle, that I made it to America, also a miracle. Being born poor and blind in Vietnam on the losing side of a bloody civil war should have defined my life and sealed my fate. Those things marked me, but they did not stop me. Dying has taught me a great deal about living—about facing hard truths consciously, about embracing the suffering as well as the joy. Wrapping my arms around the hard parts was perhaps the great liberating experience of my life.

Directly or indirectly, we all experience the hard parts. The events that we hear about on the news or from friends, those tragedies ending in death that happen to other people in other places, which make us sad but also relieved and grateful as we think, There but for the grace of God…—destructive hurricanes and earthquakes, violent shootings and explosions, car accidents, and of course, insidious illnesses. These things shake us to the core because they remind us of our mortality, of how impotent we truly are in the face of unseen forces that would cause the earth to tremble or cells to mutate and send a body into full rebellion against itself.

I set out here to write about my experience of that, both the life lived and the trials endured—neither comprehensively, you understand, but enough to fully show you the distance I traveled and the world in which I made my life. And what began as a chronicle of an early and imminent death became—if I may be very presumptuous—something far more meaningful: an exhortation to you, the living.

Live while you’re living, friends.

From the beginning of the miracle, to the unwinding of the miracle.

Julie Yip-Williams, February 2018

~ Julie Yip-Williams, “Prologue” from The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After (Random House, February 5, 2019)


Notes:

Guess.What.Day.It.Is? (Don’t Miss this 90 seconds…)


Notes:

  • Robert Irwin, 15-year-old son of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, brings some interesting animals to show Jimmy, including  a camel named Wednesday. Thank you Horty for sharing!
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Super Bowl LIII 2019 Ad of the Year (60 sec)

Experience ASMR with Zoë Kravitz, inspired by beer in its organic form. Introducing Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold.

(ASMR = “ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and it specifically refers to a tingling, often-pleasurable sensation that people can receive from sounds or visuals that please the brain. Typically, people feel the pleasure in their head, with some people reporting that it travels all the way down their spines.”)

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