Sunday, December 21, 2014


December 21, 2014

Arrived home from Atlanta to find the furnace was out. Typing in the unheated upstairs with surprisingly little misery. Bundled up, of course. It’s a rule that the furnace will go out on Saturday night. The trip was eventful. Two hours were added to the journey south because of two spectacular, and fatal, traffic accidents within ten miles of each other in I-85. When I got to the wreck spot, one truck lay fifty feet up in the trees, looking like it had exploded. At that spot stood a highway patrolman pumping his arms in perfect fury, red faced, trying to hurry is along and hurry us along, as though all the delay had been our faults. I was not inclined to understand his plight. How long and how hard will the police have to work to overcome the impression of recent years that they are, at best, bumblers, and at worst murdering cowards. I was sure before I saw it–and not fully convinced otherwise after–that it was some mishap the cops and bumbled, multiplying miseries unnecessarily. The incidents made the news, though the reporter somehow neglected to mention my being inconvenienced. Great time with sister and nephews. The boys, who will not be parted from one another, have an easy and heroic relationship, though their intermingled and competitive bravadoes can inspire a certain measure of mischief. Their neighborhood friend apparently moved in for the weekend to bask in it all. Much eating, much talking, my second dose of The Battle of the Five Armies. The only five seats together were in the front row, where we had an amazing perspective on everybody’s pores. I disliked it less the second time–unexpectedly– but the boys hated it. Their friend Nick tweeted, “Peter Jackson shit the bed.” Nothing has the sweetness and energy– and, I suppose, danger– of a pack of young males. They may be coming here as a leg of a ski trip. If so, the cold house will prepare them for the slopes. Trip home uneventful but very, very long. I lost patience somewhere between Greeneville and Spartanburg. Open house at Jack and Leland’s, where my 2nd cheesecake was a hit. Stayed less than an hour. Lit the space heaters.

Not that it saved me time in the end, but I left Asheville before dawn, and saw a blood sky under a fading sliver of moon in the east.

Maud has found the attic. I wouldn’t mind, except that I fear she’d fall through the ceiling in places that aren’t planked.

Picked up LeGuin’s translation of the Tao te Ching, by far the best I know, or the most useful to me. It is quite true in saying that if you focus on what you want you will see that; if you do not focus at all, you will see everything else. I have focused fiercely on what I want, but I have done so because it was denied. If this irks God, he had better allow me what is mine, so that I am able to see whatever it is he wishes me to see. I have learned all my unbelief from God. This is a paradox I would write about if I knew how.

Friday, December 19, 2014


December 19, 2014

Most definitely phlebitis. Yesterday was the Day of Alternating Fever and Chills. The chills were so devastating that my muscles began to seize up. This condition obtained throughout the Cantaria concert, my performance in which was thereby certainly affected. Drank shocking amounts of water. Feel better today, for the drive to Atlanta.
   
Saw the latest and last Hobbit. As an interpretation of Tolkien it gets a D, some beautiful moments annihilated by arrogant and pointless deviations from the text. In every case, Tolkien’s drama, Tolkien’s suspense is better than Jackson’s. Someone should have been there to say no. . . no. . . no. . .no. . . . What goes on in an interpreter’s mind? There may be cases in which the interpretation is richer and better than the original, but so few one should take it as miraculous. No miracle here. And it will make a zillion dollars. Good acting from Martin Freeman. Dark morning. Time to set out.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


December 18, 2014

The illness doesn’t behave like phlebitis, but like the flu, I can say in day 4. So everything I have been doing was futile. I suppose that’s good news, or at least normal news.  

Now we’re letting our cultural life be dictated by North Korea. Interesting development.

Did a little writing. Attended rehearsal. Slept, slept, slept.

Adam’s New York apartment was robbed. I’m giving him my Apple lap top when he arrives, to replace one that was stolen.

There must have been more, if I could only think of it--

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


December 17, 2014

Yesterday was a long sleep. Every now and then I would get up and do chores (bought a couple of interesting houseplants, coasted around Main Street in Weaverville for a while), but would return and lie down and sleep with the cats arrayed around me. This didn’t prevent a full night’s sleep last night. I am grateful that the antibiotics cut the agony, though they don’t quite eliminate the exhaustion. Ate only Edna’s chili, which is almost supernaturally good. Must make something of this day. Must prepare for the drive. Must. . . at this late hour. . . do something. . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


December 16, 2014

The sickness came upon me yesterday, after a spasm of baking that included a chocolate cheesecake and a batch of vanilla cookies. Someone better invite me to a party so all these baked goods can be used. As for the sickness, the pills push it back, but I slept to a shocking 7:30 this AM and look forward to a day of frequent naps. It’s cloudy enough to be a good day for writing. Troubadour songs on the CD. Missing S.

Monday, December 15, 2014


December 15, 2014

Curved moon over the quiet yard. Trying to decide whether to write first or go to the gym first, I note what effort it would take to defrost the car windows if I try to start before the sun, so writing comes first.

Irritating “dress rehearsal” last night, to which one sweet soul actually wore his tuxedo. The soli are good; maybe we should just go with soli. As every establishment closed as we walked in (before 9 PM), DJ and I finally got a drink at a Mexican restaurant, where they cheerily waited for us to gobble and go. My penalty was to throw it all up about an hour later. Irritating dreams, as though my mind were content neither asleep nor awake.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


December 14, 2014

I recollected that the Madison County Arts Council was having some sort of sale, so I took a break from writing and headed there in brilliant winter light, arriving at the exact moment of the Marshall Christmas parade. Couldn’t get into town, so parked about a half mile out along the railroad tracks. The parade was made of fire engines and beautiful horses with tinsel around their hooves and bells on their tack. It was going so slow that I joined it, walking along with the engines, heading, as it was, for Court House Square, where there was a faulty recording of Harry Connick Jr singing Christmas carols.. Behind the horses were troops of Boy Scouts jumping over hazards of horse droppings, and carts with local people and the names of churches on them. People were throwing candy from the “floats,” but someone had told them not to throw right at folks, so they were tossing candy on to the pavement for the kids to pick up and store in various sacks. It was rough and sweet, and I was grateful (and rather astonished) that I had come at exactly the right moment. Bought a box someone had made, and came home to renew my labors. Party in the evening at Merritt’s– convivial. I made myself sick on too much chili, walked it off by taking the longest path home imaginable, that did not involve circumnavigating the world.

Fighting the cough I’ve had since before New York.

Gave up the Facebook fight to show people who think of themselves as secular and above faith-based convictions that their central convictions are faith-based– things like “all white people are racist,” which, like “Jesus is the only answer,” is not verifiable, probably wrong, and only temporarily useful– but in any case, an article of faith, which seems different, somehow, because it comes from pop sociology. My students are thoroughly secular and yet almost unreachably rigid in their pop-culture faith convictions, which they will defend with the unreasoning emotional fury of a Torquemada. It is the worst of several worlds.