get up ya bowsies /  and clean out your cells

What time of day do you write?

There’s an Irish song written by Brendan Behan that goes: In the early mornin’ /  the screws were bawling /  get up ya bowsies /  and clean out your cells. Well, that’s how I feel in the early morning: Get up, ya bowsie. I want to get up before the small mundanities and the stupidities and the prison guards of the Internet. Clean out my cell. Or my cells. Get the words down on paper. A perfect day for me begins in the dark before anyone else has woken, say 4:30 or 5 am. Two hours or so of this. In the quiet. And then, when the house begins to stir, the rest of my life will too. But for a small parcel of early morning hours, I feel entirely free. And then I go out and walk the dog.

~ Colum McCann, from “Colum McCann on Ulysses, Mary Lavin, and Drinking with John Berger” (Literary Hub, February 25, 2020)


Notes: Thank you Sawsan for sharing.

It’s been a long day

That night on the show, there’s an expert giving advice about how to survive disasters, natural and man-made. He says it’s a myth that people panic in emergencies. Eighty percent just freeze. The brain refuses to take in what is happening. This is called the incredulity response. “Those who live move,” he says.

~ Jenny Offill, Weather: A Novel (Knopf, February 11, 2020)


Notes:  Photo: Nirav Patel.  Related Posts: It’s been a long day

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Indian soldiers rode their camels past billboards of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump in Ahmedabad on Friday, ahead of Mr. Trump’s visit to India this week. Photo: Amit Dave / Reuters
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

 

One Tiny Beautiful Thing

Paying attention to what is happening in Washington is a form of self-torment so reality altering that it should be regulated as a Schedule IV drug. I pay attention because that’s what responsible people do, but I sometimes wonder how much longer I can continue to follow the national news and not descend into a kind of despair that might as well be called madness. Already there are days when I’m one click away from becoming Lear on the heath, raging into the storm. There are days when it feels like the apocalypse is already here.

Except it isn’t, not really. Not yet. One day when the relentless rains let up for a bit, I went to the park an hour before sunset to walk on the muddy trails and take a break from the bad news. The woods were as lovely as they ever are after a rain: the creeks full of rushing water, the gray bark of the fallen trees slick with moss. Above the trail, the limbs of the living trees creaked in the rising wind, the kind of sound that makes your heart ache for reasons too far beyond words to explain. Though the forest understory is already beginning to green up, weeks too soon, the towhees scratching for insects stirring in what’s left of last fall’s leaves were not in any way sorry about the early arrival of spring.

A few hundred yards on, my eyes caught on a tree I hadn’t noticed when I was walking in the other direction. About seven feet up the trunk was a knothole, a place where a limb had long ago broken off and let water in to rot the wood. Perhaps a woodpecker had helped to deepen it, too, and given the water more purchase over time. The hole was small, a dark grotto in the thickly grooved bark of the stalwart oak, a hiding place that reached far into the mass of that old tree, and the failing light deepened its darkness. Who knows how many miniature woodland creatures have crept into its crevice over the years to nest, to shelter from the wind and rain, to hide from predators — or to wait for prey.

But a creature lurking inside it is not what singled this knothole out among the hundreds, even thousands, I had passed on the path as night came on. What caught my eye was a cluster of tiny seedlings colored the bright new green of springtime, so bright it seemed to glow in the gloaming. The tender plants were growing in the loam inside the knothole. Far above the ground, a hole made by decay in a living tree had become a cold frame, a natural greenhouse that lets in light and keeps out frost. Life in death in life…

Instead of giving up something for Lent, I’m planning to make a heartfelt offering. In times like these, it makes more sense to seek out daily causes for praise than daily reminders of lack. So here is my resolution: to find as many ordinary miracles as a waterlogged winter can put forth, as many resurrections as an eerily early springtime will allow. Tiny beautiful things are bursting forth in the darkest places, in the smallest nooks and deepest cracks of the hidden world, and I am going to keep looking every single day until I find one.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “One Tiny Beautiful Thing” (NY Times, Feb 23, 2020)


Photo: Mohan Bhat

Sunday Morning

I don’t believe in religion, but the aesthetics of Catholicism have stuck with me. I love the way church incense coats my hair and skin. It is a safe smell, like a blanket… I envy the faithful. There are shrines dotted around the hillsides here in Ireland, places where saints have supposedly appeared and healed the sick. There are wells of holy water and statues in the rocks, huts filled with prayer cards and gardens filled with painted stones in memory of loved ones who have passed away. I like to visit them occasionally. I sit in the stillness and observe people crying and praying and I close my eyes and try to let some of their hope get carried on the air and through my pores. I would like to believe that everything is accounted for, that there is life after this one, and that all of our decisions hold some kind of significance or moral worth. There is weight in religion. It is an anchor of sorts.

~ Jessica Andrews, Saltwater: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 14, 2020)


Notes: Photo: Patryk Sadowski with Church of Ireland

Guess.What.Day.It.Is? (12 sec)


Notes:

  • Camel Farming (like for milk, not for eating Sawsan! Horrors!)
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

 

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call: Up!


Source: “My pupper Louise Billy-Fawn June…Some say she’s still flying to this day” via imgur

Driving I-95 S. With Kerouac.

Yesterday, Sunday afternoon.

No rush hour traffic. No meetings. No conference calls. No deadlines to hit. No work tomorrow.

No lower back pain. No shoulder pain. No bite from cervical spondylosis. Body at peace.

I exit down the ramp onto I-95 South and head home from running an errand.

I’m driving directly into the sunset.  It is of such indescribable beauty that it triggers Mind to think of God. And then, No God. And then, Heaven. And then, no Heaven. And then, my late Brother.  At which point, I kill the heat and lower the window to let the late winter chill fill the cabin. Need to feel alive.

Lori introduced me to “e·phem·er·al” (adj.) /əˈfem(ə)rəl/. Lasting for a very short time. Fleeting. Passing. Short-lived.

And to “e·the·re·al” (adj) /əˈTHirēəl/. Extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world. Beautiful. Graceful. Delicate.

And I reflect on how few of these moments, I have. Not chasing. Not rushing. Not anxious. Not obsessed by Next.

And Lori again, this time with “epiph·​a·​ny” (n) /i-ˈpi-fə-nē/.  An illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure.

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have understood what Kerouac meant.  It wouldn’t have registered. But here it is, slowly seeping in.

Bless and sit down…and you will realize you’re already in heaven now. That’s the story. That’s the message.”


Notes:

  • Photo: I-95 S. near Exit 10. Feb 16, 2020. My shot.
  • Post Inspiration: “I used to think it was great to disregard happiness, to press on to a high goal…But now I see that there is nothing so great as to be capable of happiness; to pluck it out of “each moment and whatever happens.” ~ Anne Gilchrist, The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman (Source: Brainpickings)
  • Post Inspiration:  “To love beauty is to see light.” — Victor Hugo
  • Kerouac quote: Thank you Whiskey River.

 

Sunday Morning (Feels like 21° F)

Q: How is the goodness of God manifested even in the clothing of birds and beasts?

A: Small birds, which are the most delicate, have more feathers than those that are hardier. Beasts that live in the icy regions have thicker, coarser coats than those that dwell in the tropical heat.

~ Jenny Offill, Weather: A Novel (Knopf, February 11, 2020)


Photo: European Starling by Ostdrossel

Flying AA1487 JFK to PHX. More Lav Follies.

I ran the themes of this post by S&S (Spouse and Son).

Both gave me the meh“.  “Tired.” “You’ve done this before.” “What’s so strange about that?”

Give me a hat tip. I choked down my usual retort. “Dumb and Dumber. What do you know?

But Mind only needs a bit of push back, and they had me spinning away from the Topic. Maybe they’re right.

He who- what was it?- walks out of step, hears another drum.”  Me and Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The Lav drum beats.

JFK to Phoenix. Wide body Airbus.  My usual seat. Exit Row. One seat back from Lav, and clear shot of incoming and outgoing Lavatory activity.

5+ hour flight.  300 minutes of Showtime.

Game time.

  1. Occupant. Male. Boomer. In. Out. Leaves door open. Looks back down aisle, notes door is open, keeps walking.
  2. Occupant. Male. Millennial. In, with Smartphone in right hand. Out, with Smartphone in left. Can’t be without a connection at all times. Helps bowel movements.
  3. Occupant. Female. Boomer +. Waiting in aisle for Lav to free up. Slides into our row to let another passenger pass by. Backs her toosh right into my seatmate’s face.
  4. Occupant. Female. Blonde. Gen X. First in line of 3. “Stinks really bad. I can’t go in there.” Nose scrunched up. Walks to back of plane to find another lav.
  5. Occupant. Male. Millennial. Was standing behind Occupant #4 above. Looks around to see if anyone heard previous occupant. Dips nose in, concludes: Toxic.  Line stretches out.
  6. Occupant. Flight Attendant. Comes by to check the root cause of ruckus. Toilet not flushing.  Accumulation backing up. Steps in. Repairs malfunction. “This was not in the damn training manual.”
  7. Occupant. Millennial. Female. Bose wireless over-the-ear headphones. No point in skipping a tune while conducting your bus-i-ness.
  8. Occupant. Retiree +. Male. Cardigan. Jacket over the top of cardigan. He is pushing, pushing, pushing on door. Passenger taps him on shoulder and points up to the Occupied sign. He shrugs his shoulders and shuffles down the aisle to the Lav in the back of the plane. Occupant inside at the time comes out with “WTH is going on?!?” look. Lady waiting in line lip syncs: Not me!
  9. Occupant. Mom. In 20’s. Holding diapers. With Toddler. Little boy, blond hair, sucking on lollipop, runs back down the aisle. “Poopy Mommy. Poopy.”
  10. Occupant. Man. Early 30’s. Grey Hoodie. Faded blue jeans rolled up to show ankles +. (That’s still in style?) Neck pillow, around his neck. Never know when you’ll need your neck pillow in the Lav when it gets rockin’ in there.
  11. Occupant. Man. Gen X. Face covered with Face Mask, Coronavirus protection?
  12. Occupant. Woman. 50’s. Wearing dark blue, down puffer jacket. Buttoned up to the neck. She comes out, red faced, forehead glistening.  Puffer Jacket in Lav? Really?
  13. And let’s close with the Finalist and Award Winner.  Occupant. Man. Middle Aged. Sport coat. Slacks. Silver pin in lapel. Stripped socks. No shoes. No Shoes. No Shoes. No. No. No.  Can’t be possible. No. No Way!

Photo: View from the Wing

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