Author Archives: deemallon

Heavenly, challenging prose

From “Unexplained Presence” by Tisa Bryant:

What we have is Woolf’s then in our now. Parse the registers. The cusp between them dark as oil, snaking and slick, cleaving the land with a liquid that moves dusky beings on ships and barges from one country to the next. We talk to the page, the screen, or the scrim of imagination. How to be a man? A woman? See to the mark: there, there, and there. And we are? Where? Reading the figures of time, image after image after image.

We add our voices to history and bodies move across time. Lineage, not forgetfulness, is spoken and does not define and demarcate “us” from “them”.

Her prose blows the top of my head off. I love it that I can’t even really say what she means. I love that I will read the 8 or 9 page piece more than once and let the words flow over me in a delirium of appreciation (much the way I did with Woolf’s fiction in college) and STILL not necessarily know what she means.

Here is a link exploring Tisa Bryant‘s, including some taped remarks.

And there’s this.

let the rocks speak

Our forms displace a precise amount of air.
We have volume.
Your thoughts do not.

We remember all that made us.
You do not.
The air and the fire, the currents of water,
grains of sand, and eons of pressure.

Our value is not relational.
Yours, sadly, is.

Gutter, rooftop, buried, shattered, exalted, exposed,
it is all the same to us.

You collect us as trinkets.
That does not make us trinkets.

We adore gravity.
You do not.

It’s no accident
the only time you felt real today
was when you walked in the rain
and through water-speckled glasses
looked at your dog
looking at you.

[After losing several posts connected to these pictures, I submitted myself to them. The story of conspiracy and monopoly (think: Comcast) and co-dependence and Murphy’s law (mine, the Universe’s) will have to wait].

The power of stuff to undo us

The Weight of Things, Part I

Look at the lovely Rosenthal platter — that flourish along the scalloped edge; delicate blue flowers draping off the rim. I have service for eight plus another smaller platter, a casserole, a tea pot (squat and round) and coffee pot (tall and slender), plus matching sugar and creamer, candlesticks.

They were a wedding gift from my mother.

Recall this: Mother is back from a trip to Germany with her second husband. They are seeing the world! While on the continent she buys an entire set of china for her daughter who, at the age of 33, is at last engaged to be married.

When Mother hands Daughter the crumpled brochure, Daughter doesn’t bother to hide her dismay. Are the dishes too feminine? Is she inclined toward blue these days? Such a fraught exchange!

They’ve been here before. A history of thwarted choices gives Daughter an unhealthy sense that she’s entitled to sour incivility. So many items ticked off! How much did Mother spend, exactly?

There will be a cost to Daughter’s wounding response and she knows it. It’s no longer a gift-giving occasion. It’s all about Mother’s hurt feelings. Daughter’s cooing and back peddling will be accomplished with a combination of guilt, annoyance, and compulsive, middle-child diplomacy. Of course the dishes will be beautiful! It took a second, is all! Of course, it was a generous gesture!

They’ve been here before, too.

Does it matter that I love the dishes now? That as I wash off the residue from last night’s dinner, I do so with care, knowing how inconsolable I’d be if the platter broke — my mother dead and gone these 22 years past. Stuff has the power to undo us sometimes.

The Weight of Things, Part II

We’ve purchased a shed in the sorry acknowledgement that our belongings have outpaced our capacity for sorting, disposal, or storage. The garage is packed: sports equipment, gardening tools, lumber, Christmas decorations, craft booth panels, two table saws, bikes and chairs. There’s beer brewing equipment, scuba gear, coolers, kayak paddles and beach chairs. At least three complete socket wrench sets, possibly more.

img_3262Now picture Son moving to Parts West with two suitcases. His entire apartment is boxed up in the garage, too. Now what? Most is too heavy to ship.

Too heavy indeed! Here are the pots and knives Mother purchased in such industrious cheer — the dish towels and extension cords, an array of spices! He’ll make curry and roast chickens! He’ll eat on Mexican dishes while looking at the spectacular skyline. Oh that view, Mother exclaimed, that view!

And then there was the dreadful pick up eight months later. Utter disarray.

Seeing these things makes for uneasy recollection. For some reason it is the contrast between the early optimism and the later despair that gets to me the most. I don’t know why. The hard questions arise, prime among them — how could I have missed so much?

I know how — because I wasn’t even looking.

It’s a little better now — maybe you can build up an immunity to memory by repeated exposure to triggering belongings. Things have resumed their status as objects. They are once again problems to be solved — sell? donate? keep?

The iron skillet is coming in the house, but — anybody want a waffle iron?

 


A Temporary Guest

“Landscape has a secret and silent memory, a narrative of presence where nothing is ever forgotten.”  John O’Donohue (this and all following quotes from “Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom”).


According to the ancient Celts, “Landscape is not matter nor merely nature, rather it enjoys luminosity. Landscape is numinous”.

To “consider yourself as a complete stranger … who has just stepped ashore in your life” is to realize that you are not “the helpless owner of a deadened life but rather a temporary guest gifted with blessing and possibilities you could neither invent nor earn”.

Have a great weekend! I am off to the garden center with a friend and not likely to have clean fingernails for awhile.

Anam Cara is Gaelic for ‘soul friend’.

Did I create a monster 

When we invited Finn into our lives, I wanted to raise him to be unafraid of the vacuum.  With all that shedding black fur, I knew I’d be vacuuming A LOT.

And so, for months I made sure that I never startled him with the cord, or bumped into him with the canister, or acted anything but super casual-cool about the noise. It worked! Look — there’s a dog relaxing on the couch while his human runs the vacuum — I was so proud.



But then one day he tossed the star toy down next to the canister and fool that I am, I flung it across the room.

You can guess the rest. Now every single time I start up the vacuum, he thinks it’s time for a game. It. Just. Took. One. Time.

(Noticing the speed of conditioning makes me fearful about how I dismiss a few less than exemplary moments of parenting (once? It just took once?)). But never mind. I can’t go there today. It’s sunny and 80 degrees out and I have the afternoon to myself.

Palm sky house



Too much blue? Added more today including at rooflines. Those are the pieces I’m considering taking off.

The bottom dark blue floral strip came from a pair of rayon pants I bought a couple of weeks ago.

More progress shots, just for fun.


Another rainy day here. Spent part of the morning at a program for the 21st Annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.

The chilly season and hideous pj’s

Being cold begins to feel like an existential state. Grey day after grey day dampens the mood.

Fortunately, the plants don’t seem to mind. Up they come.



Except the newly-installed petunias. It appears that the rabbits have been dining on them.

A shed arrives Monday  — meaning we will be moving the last of the shade lovers from its proposed corner out back. I’ve already moved: ostrich ferns, comfry, anemone, and sedum. Some days, it’s just been too cold. But a sign that the gardening season is (finally) upon us: yesterday morning at 6:20, I ‘found myself’ outside completely absorbed in gardening. There I was moving rogue perennials around, turning the soil, and potting up a few things for my sister without having bothered to change out of my pj’s and slippers. 

These were not my usual black stretchy things that could pass for pants in a pinch. These were cheap plaid red & green flannels dotted with some nameless breed of puppy — absolutely hideous pj’s in other words, made of a cloth so awful you’d pass it by even if it was marked down to $2.00 at the Christmas Tree Shoppe (need I say these were purchased online?)



What are the most embarrassing clothes you’ve made an appearance in? 

(There WERE people out and about, in case you’re wondering).