Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ireland 3

July 31, 2012

Went last evening to a café on Bridge Street to a program of Yeats’ plays for dancers, put on by John and Sandra from Blue Raincoat. John was a handsome, stocky man with a blond beard. Sandra had a hard face but a sensational figure, and both had that deep as-from-a-throat-of-bronze voice Irish actors can have, and which is necessary for epic theater such as Yeats’. I was not filled with confidence, as they were preparing before my eyes (I, as usual, having come early) but in the event they were wonderful. The readings from the plays were poetry, and both, especially Sandra, possessed a scholar’s knowledge and an actor’s fluidity of expression. The bridge and Castle Street were visible from the upper floors of the café, but what I was thinking was what a delight to be able to hear and hear about material that there is, literally, in my life no one else about which to confer. I was like a man returning from a far country, hearing his own language. Blue Raincoat had done the dance plays, so it was not theoretical. I gobbled it up gluttonously. Felt a shock of recognition, too, when they were prefacing Dreaming of the Bones, for Tiernan O’Rourke was king of Breffni, and Breffni was here, and my mother’s family the O’Keenans were the bards of the O’Rourkes, so when I first walked the Garavogue thirty two years ago, overcome with the sense of belonging, I was remembering and not imagining. It was my ancestor’s voice who first sung that story, the chief of Ireland’s sorrows. Wanted to ask John and Sandra about Peter Davey, but I was afraid the response might be a blank look and a shrug.

Strode thereafter to the Methodist church on Wine Street to hear two poets associated with the Yeats seminar, which cohabits with Tread Softly this year. They were personable, charming, serious in their efforts, not very good. Met one of them in Hagadorn’s later, and didn’t tell him that. I’ve observed before that there seem to me to be levels of poetry, and one can achieve excellence in the precise-observation-of-things-around-you mode, and yet not quite approach true greatness. There must be a theme. There must be a reaching beyond the experience of the individual. One of the poets actually brought this up, discussing the greatness of Virgil’s Georgics, observing that it was precisely observed, accurate, but did not stop with that.
After poetry I cruised for a likely bar, and chose Hagadorn’s, where I assumed (rightly) that the poets and their entourages would be gathering. A man named Rory Lambe sat beside me, already drunk. Rory incited a Yeats-reciting contest in the bar, which for a while included a goodly number of celebrants, all of whom knew a little something of the bard. I won the contest handily, but might not have had Rory not been so drunk. Bought a round and left the bar, coming back to the Glass House. I myself was pretty drunk by then, but I think I chatted with the bartenders, one of whom was Irish/Japanese and had grown up in Berlin and spoke fluently to the many German guests, the other a smiling dark-haired local boy. And so, unless there’s something I’ve forgotten, to bed.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ireland 2

July 30, 2012

Brightest of days it has become. I wandered the alleys of Sligo, quickly recalling the past, adding the present. Visits here are less electrifying now that I’m no longer looking for him, but something’s lost and something’s gained. Serenity is surely gained. Picked up my tickets at the Hawk’s Well, up Harmony Hill and the Lungy, plotting to buy one of the empty houses along Church Street, The fact that I could makes the operation more complicated. Bought American money which had been languishing in the Hawk’s Well till, the lady said, for as long as anybody remembers. Visited the Abbey. I’m not sure I ever had before; maybe I was keeping it for this time. It’s all black stone and brilliant moss and sad sighing from the remembering soil. Many photos with the blue behind it. Down to the river, with the sacred two arches of the old mill. All the buildings they spent so much time building stand empty. One could rent a hundred storefronts and not fill up the vacancies. Went looking for David Roach, found the woman who bought their art store from his mother. She told me a place to put my card that he might see it. Drinks now in the Glass House lounge, its glory, above the sparkling waters. I wish for Sligo, for Ireland, better fortune.

Ireland 1

July 29, 2012

It looked as though I would not make it to Ireland this time, either. As delay piled upon delay at the various airports, I had a scene of dramatic resignation planned, wherein I demanded a refund of my thwarted tickets and a flight home the next possible moment. But one spasm of incompetence cancelled another out, as it were, and the flight to Shannon that I was meant to miss because of late departure from Chicago was itself three hours late, and I was there, finally, in plenty of time. Chatted with Jimmy, coming home to Clare from a stint of work in Oklahoma. Sat with Julie Yick from Mountain View, California. Half Irish and half Chinese, she did me the honor of allowing me to jabber on about Irish history, while she told me about her life and loves and her study of the culture of Puerto Rico. She gave me Hispanic poets to read, a couple of whom were so good I was ashamed never to have heard of them. Between Julie and effortless sleep, it was a good flight over. I promised her I would go to Puerto Rico, and I see no reason not to keep that promise.

The drive to Sligo was long, after the long series of flights, but uneventful. I convince myself that there is some special peril in driving on the left, but it is, at the end, exactly the same as driving on the right. Perhaps I should count as an event passing Tobercurry, and the electrifying remembrance of the route I walked into town under a winter moon when I went to the theater festival, and tried as hard as I could to become one of them. Filled with momentary sadness. I wanted Knock Sidhe to stop me in my tracks, but it couldn’t quite.

Installed on the 5th floor of the Glass House, for all its newness and local pre-eminence, a grubby little production, decorated to emphasize the sort of deliberate cheapness that haunts Irish domestic design. For a place called “The Glass House,” the high, narrow window is disappointing, but what I can see through that window are the towers of the Cathedral and the Town Hall, and beyond them, Knocknarea, the whole of it, gleaming in her rainy holiness. That view pays for everything.

Wandered about in the almost empty Sunday streets, visiting the new Offig Failte and getting a program for Tread Softly. Many of my old haunts are closed. Connelly Street is a ghost town, except that Liam is still running his B&B there. Will for the most part have to find new bars, and hope that some of the old glamor endures. I analyzed the feeling I had when I started on the streets of Sligo, and that feeling was, oddly, comfort. I am comfortable here. That turns out to be good enough.

Ireland has been a rainy silvery green gleam all day, as if trying to win me back, but not too hard, at first.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 27, evening

Sidney writes that Bob Cuccioli, our last Lincoln, is Broadway’s new Green Goblin in Spiderman.

Strange day. I have done almost nothing but sleep, and if someone asked me how I am I’d have to say, “almost too sleepy to be sitting at the keyboard.” Sleep is my response to depression, but who knew I was that depressed? Can you be that depressed over a thwarted trip? Whether you can or not, I was. Am. Not under my control.

Plainchant on Spotify.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012

Am supposed to be writing in Sligo, but am not. DJ dropped me off, and I got to the check-in desk, where the man said, “Newark? It’s been cancelled.” He said it was weather, but if there was bad weather over Newark it affected only one carrier bringing flights from only one point of origin. I began to cobble together a new route to Newark (for there was plenty of time, and the weather had miraculously cleared), when I was told that United had cancelled the Newark to Shannon part, too, figuring I wouldn’t be able to make it. They had rebooked me for Saturday, two days later, seeing how their flights the next day were full. How I was supposed to know this I don’t know, for notification was not sent to me in any form. I was determined to get to Ireland that day, and they did try to find something, but I realized they were looking only at United flights. I went to the Delta guy at the next desk, and he found me a way (laborious, but acceptable), but he said United would have to assign the ticket to them. United would not do this. The man at the desk said, “I am not allowed to sign this ticket over to another carrier.” So, after arbitrarily cancelling a flight and then lying about it, after denying me passage I had paid for, they also refused the chance to address the situation by going with another carrier. I almost flat-out bought the other ticket, but I had twenty minutes to make all the choices, and finally I collapsed and let it be. United Airlines is the most hellishly incompetent and gleefully anti-customer corporation I have ever dealt with. Not one leg of one journey with them has been without mishap (all of them but one related to stupidity and bad practice) They know they have a captive audience and they don’t care how badly they play before us. The icing on the cake is that we’re supposed to be the ones to cleave to a certain level of decorum. I was not the only person stranded yesterday, of course. A family from Finland was trying to get home on the same Asheville to Newark flight. United had re-booked them, too, the wife and the kids, but they had somehow left out the father, who had no seat and no reservation, and all flights were full.  The Finnish father was a little shrill, I grant, but not in excess of the situation. The United staff gathered together behind the desk and bellowed at him how he was being abusive, and the only way that would lead was to jail.  I took a taxi home (with tip, $60). The taxi driver was one of those skinny rednecks you see in the TV shows, who had to finish messing with his. . . something in the front seat. . . before we could get going. On the way I learned the rather intricate status of his and his wife’s relationship. She is a check-out girl at Wal-mart, and he is ashamed that her paycheck is bigger than his, and he loves her dearly and he takes responsibility for the troubles between them, and if she just gives him another chance all will be well. I was glad to know all this. Home, I did check the United webpage for my reservation, discovering that I had been booked after a fashion, but had not actually been assigned seats. I followed the directions for getting seats for myself, some of which required an extra payment. The website would not let me pay those fees, instructing me that I had to fill in a valid state on the line provided, which I had done several times already. So, I dug around until I found a phone number, and after a nine minute hold, got that done, I think.

The surprising thing was how much this took out of me. I was so happy in the morning heading to the airport. Buoyant All was so well. When I got home I had to lie down. I did force myself to go to a movie, Batman, but the experience is dim and dull to me, and I came home and slept some more. Made some sort of mistake–I think it was, having not eaten all day, buying a couple of pieces of chicken from Ingall’s after they had set hours in their own grease–and was violently ill through the night, vomiting both in my mouth in sleep and copiously into the toilet. This morning it is as though I had not slept. I have no interest in going to Ireland at all. That is gone. Admitting the absurdity of the feeling, I still feel this all was a calculated cruelty, pointless and wasteful. I hide in my room like a beaten child.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26, 2012

Hottest night of all nights, I think, and I slept badly.

Breakfast with M, agreeing to produce his play at NC Stage, having come to an understanding that to produce in this case involved the least “hands-on” component. “Backer,” I suppose is a more accurate term. His self-confidence was a little off-putting, but he was trying to win me, and judgment must come on stage, where any brag can be redeemed by virtuosity. During NC Stage’s preview of the coming season his video was very impressive. The principle of play selection there continues to baffle me– two of the selections seemed weak, and with the world to choose from, why?-- but there’s no doubt that whatever is done will be done superbly. And, again, all is redeemed by the moment. The event was boisterous and well attended. I got into the elevator with a woman who said, “I haven’t laughed so hard in ages.”  Exiting that parking deck is always a trial, and last night it was especially bad. When I finally got close enough to see why, I saw that the attendant was fighting the gate, which could not be persuaded to stay open long enough to let the cars exit as they paid. Finally, three vehicles in front of me, the frustrated man jerked the gate into open lock position, and started motioning everybody to exit without paying. I would have thought an unalloyed stroke of luck, except for the look on the attendant’s face, probably anticipating that his employers would prefer for the cars still to be lined up now rather than to have lost that revenue.

City workers were digging the Phil Mechanic parking lot out from under the various landslides which keep engulfing it. The lot was filled with giant earth-moving machines. I arrived as they were taking their break, and they were surprisingly eager to talk about the operation. It is, or is promising to be, quite a feat of engineering, for a whole hill, cut too sharply on two sides by streets, wants to tumble down toward the river, and leaking water mains have been abetting it all the while.

Am packed, excited, afflicted with my customary traveler’s diarrhea,  and, I think, pretty much ready to sail off across the ocean.

Waiting for Kevin to begin his dawn song.

July 25, 2012

Mother’s 88th birthday.

Woke to pale lightning flickering in the sky. The flashes were more than one a second, and completely silent. I rose and saw the horizon enveloped in flickering pale gold light, as though the greatest storm in the world were raging somewhere miles to the east, as perhaps it is.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 24

From a GALA blog published online:

More shanties were the order of the day for Cantaria ("The Gay Men’s Chorus of Asheville"), which fielded just under 20 singers. But that small group comprised such strong voices, which blended so well, that with your eyes closed you would have sworn you were listening to a group four times as big. That large, rich quality of voice came through especially well in the chorus’ touching rendition of "Sure On This Shining Night."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

History and the Bible and Facebook

Blundered into a discussion on Facebook about the historicity of the history of the bible, the accuracy of its science. My adversary sounded pretty reasonable at first, but it took about two exchanges for him to pull back his arguments behind the walls of inerrancy. The enterprise is a hopeless and unnecessary welter of contradictions. A biblical literalist who wishes to present the “history” of the bible as actual history must apply the most baroque and fanciful interpretations to passages he pretends to be taking literally. He asserted that the Apostles prophesied all history between them and us. In order to achieve that stunning bit of generalization you have to interpret at fifty miles an hour; you have to assume that certain words are at once allegorical and literal, contemporary and prophetic, and that the plain-speaking Apostles were tying knots of gnosticism that would baffle a Jesuit; you have to retool the interpretations of individual passages to include events at other times and other places: Rome must be not only Rome but New York and Moscow and Las Vegas and the city councilman who wouldn’t give you a zoning variance. If you point out that nothing in the Hebrew scriptures (saving Omri and the second temple) is verified by any other source, you have it pointed out that the bible does mention historical persons and events– Cyrus, Assyria, etc. But this is like saying that my rich fantasy life, peopled by unicorns and visited by aliens, suddenly becomes history if I mention television or Barack Obama from time to time. My contention was never that the bible is “wrong,” but rather that it presents sacred and not scientific history. That it is a kind of novel. Archaeological discoveries are irrelevant to the believer; you would not say the same of the historian. A believer whose faith is strengthened by the discovery of a fragment of stone with marks on it which might be part of the name “David” is really missing the point. My friend was not ignorant of history. He was able to say, for instance, that God allowed Sumer to exist because out of one of its reconstituted cities came Abraham. The most fanatical Christians are the most worldly and the least imaginative ones. They have never gotten the point that there is spiritual truth as well as physical truth, and are thus constantly trying to shove the spirit into bodies it was not meant to inhabit. Oddly, they see the awkwardness, and must declare the limping enterprise divinely ordained in some way, raised above healthy critique. It’s like my being a bad carpenter (which I am) and insisting that God prefers my crooked shelves and loose screws in mysterious ways that you would acknowledge if you really loved Him.

July 23, 2012

For a moment I thought I was back home on Goodview Avenue; the banging of something metal sounded so like the coupling of boxcars along the Little Cuyahoga.

When I went out at dawn a single turkey was in the yard. I’d heard they were aggressive, and I hoped this one would be so she would come closer, but she was timid, and when I approached she fled away. But I felt blest nevertheless.

Met with Frank about his plans for the YMI pharmacy. He was so prepared and businesslike and eager; I felt like a proud father.

Sally Ride is dead.

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 22, 2012

Blaze of sun at barely 9 AM. Kevin’s song is already lethargic. I sat on the terrace of Edna’s and wrote a poem–a good poem, I thought in the writing of it– and finished the re-read of The Iliad. Wept with Priam and Achilles weeping over the brutal futility of war. Behind me an excellent father tended to his two little girls, keeping them happy amid their conflicting desires.

Coach Paterno’s statue is removed from the Penn State Stadium. I think, all in all, that is a misstep. History does not change because you were hurt, and you should probably not expect the world to tip-toe around your hurt forever. Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages and all the drop-scenes drop at once upon a hundred thousand stages, it cannot grow by an inch or an ounce. I wonder if this sounds cruel? I do think I live it in my own life, though, not expecting others particularly to honor my sensitivities, and being a little embarrassed when they do. Paterno’s error was an error in retrospect; nothing else he did changes because of it. I say this, not caring the least bit about football one way or the other. My supposition is that he did not believe the accusations concerning Sandusky, and did not want to smirch the reputation of one he thought honorable. Direct personal experience assures me that accusations of moral turpitude are at least sometimes false. They weren’t this time. How would one, in the moment, judge?  The motivations of the dead are unknowable. Balancing the good of a good man’s (I suppose) long life against an error in judgment which must have seemed negligible at the time, how do we come to fair measure? Indignation is over-indulged in these times. Like faith in former times, it is allowed to subvert both compassion and reason.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 21, 2012

The cleaning girls smashed the green lamp in the hall, assuring me that every fragment had been swept up. Every fragment hadn’t, and last night there was something of a theater of blood as a sliver slit open my heel. I’m still finding drops and gobbets of gore by the pale morning light.

Woke to turbulent dreams of trying to get to two gets of rehearsals at once. The actor Ben Stiller was the director of one of them, a sort of ballet based on some Victorian novel, and I was trying to please him. He had been ill and was very delicate.

Finished Night Music. What a curious history this play has had, having been almost fully contained in another play with, I thought, a completely different subject. It’s testament to my theory that forcing a work into saying what you mean it to say is always a mistake. This is what I meant when I was straining to say what I thought I meant..

Good painting at the studio. Amy bought Inside the Blizzard.

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 19, 2012

Gave my first red tomato to Jack and Leland, but ate the first golden ones myself. They were hot from the sun, sweet, Edenic.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18, 2012

Overcast as the day leans toward afternoon thunder. In this time of relaxation I must still husband my time, fending off (unsuccessfully) temporal assaults on all sides. The chiropractor– whom I went to heal my shoulder, and who hasn’t touched my shoulder– wants my time, and the cupping therapy guy wants my time and I refrain from saying, “leave me alone, you’re a quack,” because I might be wrong, My doubts about the various therapies offered to me this summer build on the fact that there was a sales pitch before there were any diagnostics, and the one sees problems and the other sees progress where I see none.

Blue Raincoat Theater sent, more or less randomly, notice of Tread Softly, the first annual Yeats festival, to be held in Sligo beginning next week. It took me as long as it took to check the dates to decide to go. So, against my earlier determination, I am off to Ireland next Thursday. I was cautious at first, trying to think of reasons not to do it, but now that I’m committed, I’m glad and excited. I’ll be staying in the Glass House, which replaced the Silver Swan– where I always dreamed of staying but never could–at the pool where the Garavogue tumbles down to become an estuary. I got the very last ticket to the reading by Seamus Heaney at Hawk’s Well. When I hung up the phone I watched “Sold Out” appear on the ticketing screen. I’ve thought of nothing but Sligo since I booked the room and the flight.

First Stage in Los Angeles will be putting on The Future of the Theater on July 27.

Pavel passed Edward the King along to a friend who might produce it at the Celebration Theater in Los Angeles.

Began a play featuring Voltaire and Madame du Pompadour.

Drinks with J to discuss our class. Her aversion to the classics is deep-seated. I mentioned that I was re-reading The Iliad, and she took the news as if I’d confessed to violent crime. I think the reaction has something to do with resentment of authority, of a type seen almost exclusively (according to my experience in the classroom) in women. If a work is likely to be approved by the sort of person by whom one has felt slighted or by whom one was once corrected, then the work must have tyrannical intent. The actual content of the piece makes little difference, only its assumed place on what is supposed to be the hierarchy of the canon. I can see why resigning oneself to the perception that Homer and Shakespeare, etc, really are That Good is enraging. I’m a little enraged by it myself, but seeing is believing. J assumes that all opinions and all achievements are more or less equal, and so the idea of discontinuity between Homer and Jane the Angry Lesbian at Open Mic at the coffee shop infuriates her. I think. Maybe she, as I do sometimes, takes positions in order to support a point with which she does not absolutely concur. I’m championing Homer right now because of the re-reading, and the conviction that no on else has ever written like that, nor will. Book XX is the full Sublime. “Simplicity,” you want to say, is the key, but then you must add, “the Simplicity of Sunrise over All the High Places of the World.” It is not simple at all, but its complexity defeats scrutiny.  I can read one book or two before needing to lie down. Who would I be out of that crew? Odysseus, I think, though I cherish the bit of god-assaulting Diomedes in me.

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 15, 2012

Heard a sung version of Blake’s “Nurse’s Song” from Innocence, and thought it the single finest poem in the world, expressing all that poetry really wants to express. How do you know when a poem is good? All the hills echoed-ed.

Transcribed 16th and Curtis from my traveling journal.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 14, 2012

Yellow dawn. Kevin greeting it.

When I came into the study, an indigo bunting was perched within the rose bush.

 A robin lay drowned in Kevin’s favorite pond. Maybe he was telling me that, and I didn’t know how to listen.

Painted well early morning at the studio. Planted a mulberry tree and a surrounding apron of heliotrope in light opened by the breaking of the branch. Still sweating from the labor, which includes, as ever, the breaking of tangles of vines and the uplifting of endless massive stones. But it means I can nap in good conscience the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


July 13, 2012

Sweet rain brought my hibiscuses to white and pink and scarlet flower. Kevin sings happily in the midst of his kingdom which now includes the world. Monteverdi on Spotify. Of all composers, Monteverdi is the most like rain.

Did not keep good record during the time in Denver, but will try to catch up. Getting there was none of the fun at all. Every single leg of the journey with United Airlines was plagued by some completely (or nearly so) avoidable disaster. They keep gobbling up other airlines while incapable of running the one they had to begin. Even arriving back, finally, at 11 last night was not the end of it. DJ and I are awaiting our “delayed” baggage, which one could hardly blame for not being able to follow the route of our changes and re-bookings. On the other side, they went out of their way to help DJ with difficulties in getting into and out of the plane. The airline people actually before us were sweet and helpful, shielding the money grubbers who run thing so stupidly and ruinously from behind closed doors. I heard myself grumbling as I walked through the empty corridor of the Asheville airport seven hours after we were due, “There is no reason for it to be so hard.”

Denver is a welcoming, friendly, high-hearted city, a truth I learned on my first visit, and which my second visit confirmed. There was a day of rain (quenching the fires that burned Colorado), but other than that the weather was blue, stainless, perfect. Our name tags singled us out, and the locals were happy to see us. I suppose we spent wildly. But also, I think they were just curious, in the sweetest of ways. The Curtis Hotel is playful, with each floor dedicated to a different genre of movie (we were Science Fiction). The hotel staff was friendly and, to use the word again-- because it was both surprising and delightful-- playful. I got into the practice of rising when I usually do (which is two hours earlier in Colorado) and having coffee at the Starbucks at 16th and Curtis. Out of that I got a one-act play (about having coffee at the corner of Curtis and 16th and watching the world go by) and a hundred observations to keep with me and mull over. The local homeless evidently start their day there too; I got to know at least three of them fairly intimately: the handsome, ruined loner with his wadded sleeping bag under his arm, the wild-man artsy type, the screaming insane lady who is either cajoling or lamenting, wrapped in a pale gray blanket. From there I moved to the Starbucks on Larimer, where I watched the artsy part of the city waking. Cocktails on Larimer, too, of a night. I had forgotten (since New York) the joy of being drunk in the afternoon. Denver gave that back to me. Of course I will be remembering random impressions from now on. Such as the horde of dragonflies outside our 8th floor window. Such as the half moon pale in the pale sky when I rose to go to Starbucks. Such as the rabbit grazing in peace under the feet of six thousand partygoers in the sculpture garden. Such as the Hispanic boy in the elevator who kissed my shoulder and said, “I can’t find my boyfriend, and I am so very horny,” and all I could think was, “You are so very young!”

GALA itself was excellently organized, flawlessly executed, and–contrary to my expectations–a mountaintop experience. Many of the choruses were good. Some of them passed good into categories of excellence all their own, including the choirs from Calgary, San Francisco, Seattle. Orange County, Portland. Such beauty is not satisfying; it is shocking, journey-provoking. I was moved to tears about half the time, a great and necessary cleansing. Some choruses were bad. No need to name them. After we had sung I thought I’d put us in the “quite good” category, but not in the same league with the big choruses whose oceanic tone cannot be rivaled by a group like ours. There’s no sensation like that of a mass of men singing together. Our last piece went awry, but exuberance guided us through, and that is a better pilot than caution We were not quite the smallest chorus, but we were from the smallest town represented. Sick with nerves, which is unlike me, but all was well when I stepped out in front of what I suppose to be my largest audience ever Once on stage I was so happy tears stood in my eyes. I personally had never sung those pieces better, and the thrill of a thousand people standing and cheering for you is epically inspiring. The audiences tended to be over-appreciative, but that was part of the tone of the whole event, supportive, brotherly, joyful, emotional, open-hearted. That it managed to be all those things while still being artistically credible– nay, artistically singular–is the biggest tribute I have to pay. I was sick of singing a month ago, Now I want to sing again as soon as I can.
The funny woman on the elevator, who remarked wryly about her duty to attend “the woman’s kumbaya concert. . . .”
The boys from Buffalo who adopted me in ten seconds, took my picture with themselves, and sent me home with one of their gold buffalo membership pins. . . .
The girl from Dublin who gave me a lollipop whenever she saw me, because I had complained I had not gotten one of the lollipops they were passing out. . .
The rickshaw boy who debated with me the relative merits of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky . . .

Returned to the art museum, a miscalculation, considering the state of exhaustion DJ and I were in.  Saw maybe half of it, though all was lovely. One of the memorable images is of the museum snack bar girl running across the pavement shouting my name, to tell me that the cab she had called for us was on its way.

On the homefront, Ben the Tree Guy had taken out one of the big yellow pines.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8, 2012

Epic (if trivial) dream through the night. My mother and I ran a second-hand store. We would put certain things in front of the house on a vast concrete apron– sometimes a mobile home, sometimes salt shakers-- and people would come buy them. Aunt Esther visited, and I complained because she kept the house too hot. This was one of those dreams shallow enough that I could critique it as it unrolled, and to which I would return after moments of wakefulness. Sour stomach caused by a more powerful wine than I’m used to.

In a few hours we’re on a plane. There's never more to do in a house than two hours before you must be at the airport.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 7, 2012

Bird-song-y first of morning. Kevin the frog has note yet joined the chorus. There usually needs to be a little more light for him.  Ben the giant tree man and his less giant helper hauled the broken limb and the debris away. The magnolia was not broken at all. She was bent over completely onto the ground under the weight of her neighbor, but was supple enough that with a little help is erect and hopeful again today. Replanted the royal fern whose planter was smashed away around it. A few days will tell what was killed and what merely bunged up a little. Yesterday’s brief, sweet rain helped.  My attitude toward the back yard is changed though, like one who has gone through an earthquake. I’m watchful walking under the sweetgum. I listen for the neighbors’ great oak, overarching both my vehicles, to come crashing to the pavement. Ben and I have selected the trees which go next. Caroline is ecstatic, for they are yellow pines which border her parking area, and she claims they rained down ruin on her cars. Nobody speaks up. This could have been done years ago.

All this has made me tired and dispirited. The garden was meant to be a refuge. One doesn’t expect to be attacked by it.

Off to Denver tomorrow. Am not looking forward; dreading, in fact, but this is usual with me.  Eighty five things must be done before we leave.

Kevin gives voice. It’s time to start the day.

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 5, 2012

Late on Independence Day afternoon about 1/4 of the sweetgum eased down onto the ground, with loud crack, but no other warning, in dead calm weather, without a cause. Maybe a fat bird landed in exactly the wrong place. The limb and all its branches were green. Sweetgums are a queer tree anyway. I fear the whole thing must go now, for all its branches are on one side, and I imagine a heavy rain or an ice storm pulling it right out of the ground onto DJ’s roof. It took out my little magnolia, and roses, and time will tell what else, though, of course, I should be noting all it missed, notably my house, which anyone looking as it fell would have thought would be a goner.

Got my chainsaw out of mothballs, oiled it up, and went to town on the downed tree. I would have got it cleaned up, too, except one big limb had too much pressure on it, and vised the saw in the cut so I couldn’t get it out. There is a sculpture in my back yard of a chainsaw balanced perfectly in a fallen tree. Called enormous Ben, the tree guy, who said he would clean it up tonight, but did not. Evening and drizzle begin to fall, so this drama is carried into a further day. I like chainsawing, as it turns out.

Cataclysmically tired– maybe the heat, maybe the chainsawing and log lugging. Painted a little, and well, and gossiped with Jolene and Madison. Madison and I decided it’s a bad idea to belong to any local arts organization that is run by a woman. That measure of, or that kind of, power turns the local girls into conspiracy-sniffing, micro-managing martinets.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4, 2012

Two planets low in the east at dawn, far north of where the moon rose, one atop the other, though a little askew. One must be Venus and the other Jupiter, but I’m not sure of that. They are more golden than I am used to those planets’ being. They shine in lonely majesty, while all the rest of the sky–except where the moon sinks in the west– is deep blue marble.

Call from KNB, in the midst of which I realized I had missed, again, my reunion at Hiram. But this was the 40th, a big one, probably the last that will mean anything. I did know about it and might have gone. A certain coldness– I can’t explain it. For most of my life my experience there meant the most to me of any segment of my life, and I spent time and thought trying to get back. But now. . . there is some grudge in my heart, and I don’t know what it is. It’s not the place it was, of course, hostile now to the sort of free intellectual inquiry that once reigned, more a business than a school. I did offer–even beg–to come back when a position was open, but the said they couldn’t afford me, which may or may not have been the truth. But I think it’s something more metaphysical. Maybe Adam, passing along the bitter road and realizing suddenly where he was, wouldn’t have turned aside for a glimpse at former Eden. The pain would have been too great.

Kevin the frog hymns the two vast hanging lights above his pond.

It being Independence Day, I am going to think of America all day long.

Most of my recent 4ths have been spent out of the country, where they celebrate it as much as we do. Fireworks in Sligo. Huge parties in Galway. Sweet picnics at Lucy Cavendish under the perfect trees.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 3, 2012

Baked yesterday with a sort of idiot mania. Did make a fairly successful crust at last. But the rest– it was like a race, where speed counted but not so much pleasure in the process.

Late in the evening took to writing on a couple of plays, one new, one a revision. Will look in a few minutes at the results. The revision was of beautiful lines trapped within a piece which was, all in all, a bad idea.

Our Chief Justice is on Malta. I read all the articles online just for the pictures, to get glimpses of familiar places.

Went to the chiropractor today. Unfortunately, nothing that happened challenged my ingrained prejudice that it’s a fraud: a big sell at the beginning, no effort to address my specific problem, but rather to find the subluxions (or whatever it’s called) everywhere else. The X-rays actually look pretty good. I have wide whatever-you-call-em’s between my vertebrae, which means I’ll probably be dead before the bones start rubbing together. Nevertheless, I signed up for the initial barrage of treatments, on the possibility that it may be wonderful, and because the doctor is cute. I do actually feel energized after the first encounter.

Tremendous golden moon surrounded by a halo of deep red.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 2, 2012

Sweeping thunderstorms last night, and a sweet light drizzle when I awoke. Won’t have to water today, anyway.

Surprised by how many mistakes I made in our first “off book” rehearsal for Denver.

Kevin the frog croaks and bellows into the moist air.

If their own statements on the Internet are to be believed, everyone who opposes Obama’s health care package is either 1) deeply stupid, or 2) wickedly invested in the predatory aspects of the present health care system, or 3) so hysterically opposed to the President that they would repeal oxygen if they though it did him good. The problem is that Americans are no longer embarrassed by being stupid (perhaps we never were). Making sense, basing arguments on facts, being reasonable are varieties of elitism which the real American eschews.

Determined to conquer pie crust. Some success, in that the crust itself was acceptable, though I don’t know how efficiently to get the crust off the wax paper and into the dish without its sticking or falling apart. More flour, I guess. Baked two zucchini pies in the acceptable crusts. Forgot the milk, but I can’t see that the pies are any worse for it; maybe better, spicier, more body. Took one of them to my secretary.

Agitated, energized today, without specific cause.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 1, 2012

Took Marco to Brief Encounters at MF last night. He’s good company, in a way unlike most of the rest of my friends, innocent and tough, like a soldier in a movie.  Mesha’s play originated in my class, written to a prompt I invented, which is to say its origins were arbitrary and artificial. Yet it was good-- as far as gravity and radiance are concerned, the best thing in the show. I repeat to my classes, “never fear the arbitrary,” and Mesha’s play could be an exhibit of proof. Some other pieces I have seen are clearly arbitrary also– what if person X were in situation Y– but the difference between Mesha’s work and the others is that she explored, while they controlled the vision to make the first manifestation of it work. Since it had not arisen in the heart, the minor writer allows the artificial inspiration to remain distant from it, an intellectual exercise or an occasion for wit. The major writer finds a way to tie the artificial to the heart, to bring it home. There is always a path between any incident and any human heart; the task is to find it. A sweet and happy evening, ending with champagne and a lopsided moon.

A little gardening today in defiance of the heat. Wild clematis had grown a tangle of tendrils behind a plank of siding-- amazing, and a little sickening, like a cancer or an orgy of pale green squid.

An impression from the Iliad is how devastating those bronze weapons were. Limbs are sheared off, bones penetrated, guts spilled  by the strength of mere human arms. Modern weapons are not more devastating, merely more wholesale. Great King Idomeneus takes out one guy with a spear, face to face; some idiot can take out twenty with artillery, and never lay eyes on them.

Ache in my shoulder became unbearable, so I went to the gym and did a pretty hefty weight set. The ache was then bearable.

Rabbit. Rabbit.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

June 30, 2012

Maybe because I napped so much yesterday in the heat, my dreams last night were abundant, lengthy, and what I would call “shallow”– not deep and weird like some, but almost like waking life. Feel I must hose the garden against melting or bursting into flame, Kevin against his boiling in his own pond. At the crack of dawn assembled The Book of the Mystic for some guy in Spain who offers 7000 euros for mystical poetry. I should tell him I have nothing else but.