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Each time I go to the toilet, I find red geranium petals floating in the water. A geranium stands with other plants on the adjacent windowsill, but it already dropped all its petals while I was on vacation. Who can say where the petals come from, like two or three drops of blood?
Geraniums remind me of Mother. I liked most of the plants she grew, but not petunias and geraniums. I disliked their gaudy pinks and reds, and the way they smelled. Now I have inherited this plant from a friend, and the thing keeps bleeding in my toilet.
Here's a tip for removing dents from wood: wet a clean cotton rag, lay it smooth over the dent and apply a hot iron. The steam will expand the mashed wood. It works on hardwood flooring and furniture. Just experiment somewhere hidden to make sure the procedure won't make a mess of the finish.
This is useful in organ building. I've been working on the frame of the case for the new organ for weeks now. Boards and panels tend to get dented in the course of carrying them around the shop. A little steam and they're good as new.
I've noticed when I think of a better way of doing something, my brain often frames it as imaginary advice from someone else. This often happens at work involving a conversation with my boss.
When I started steaming dents out of the new organ case, I walked across the shop every few minutes to dampen the rag.
"You could just get a pail of water and take it to where you're working."
I argue with this voice, trying to justify the old approach. It takes me a while to realize the advice comes from myself, that it's a good idea.
I suppose this is what people call their conscience. My grandmother used to talk about "the still, small voice." I wonder whether she heard God talking to her the same way I hear my boss. Sometimes the voice gets angry when I make a silly mistake, then I swear aloud.
Sometimes I swear at my shoelaces or a piece of silverware dropped on the unclean kitchen floor. I swear at their unaccountable stubbornness. Things work out of the natural order just to annoy me. I just tied my shoelaces and walked 10 paces. How could they possibly have come undone?
This month I have chosen to write about small things, because the past few months have been taken up with big things: love, the spirit, the body, a road trip to Winnipeg. I tend to get distracted by such things, and honestly there's nothing wrong with it. They're big, after all.
But small things are a writer's currency. It is the chatter of house sparrows outside my apartment window, or the laughter of strangers walking to the farmers' market that bring texture to a moment. If every living second our minds were occupied with big things, life would be unbearable.
Rain was forecast, but yesterday afternoon turned out to be sunny and warm with a refreshing breeze. Bryon and I hiked along the trail my daughters and I dubbed Lilac Way and stopped to survey the Eramosa River wherever we could.
In every pool of sunlight there were crowds of butterflies, skippers and damselflies. Most remarkable were the ebony jewelwings, large damselflies with iridescent emerald-sapphire bodies and black wings. The females have a white spot. Most we saw were males. Their wings seem too large and cumbersome in relation to their delicate bodies. It's a wonder they fly gracefully.
I haved had a recurring pain in my shoulder, very slight but persistent and annoying. Usually it is not there, but once in a while it has appeared. It sometimes responds to exercise, but most often I feel it just from rolling over in bed in the morning, like two sharp edges grating against one another. It discouraged me from continuing my weightlifting routine last November, and I haven't dared get back into it until recently. It is a sign of the oncoming decrepitude of my body, a little tear through which the hard wind of age seems to blow.
I have had a couple difficult days making a hard decision about a relationship, a pleasant adventure that has been distracting me from the big picture of life. I need to get back on track. The sacrifice brings grief, but also a little relief.
I sometimes use a meditation in which I visualize a rose unfolding. At a certain moment I ask a word or image to pop out of the middle, hopefully providing insight into whatever problem is troubling me at the moment. That would be a useful meditation now.
But I want to gaze into a real rose.
It's one of those days of peaceful rain that goes on and one. I woke in dull bedroom light, cracked the curtain to see a solid grey sky. Droplets cover the screens and windows.
I have an intense storm blowing inside.
I made a decision, but I did not communicate clearly or handle it well, and I've hurt people, especially my now ex-lover.
I wish I could take the day off work, but can't afford it. The work at hand is monotonous, not the kind that distracts me. I'll be alone with my thoughts and feelings and electric drill.
It's ironic: when I try to focus on small things, big things happen. I made it through yesterday, mind racing and at times heart pounding, thanks to Danny and Bill. A day is a small thing, just a step. You have to put one behind you and then another.
I need to take a break from trying to be conciliatory. We all need space, at least I do, to handle my own emotions. My own little world, filled with sawdust and the whine of routers. I'll try to forget what other people are saying and concentrate on what I need.
Alone is one of the smallest words. I am fucked up this morning, exhausted, burnt out, angry, scared, edgy. I feel the vague tingling in my neck and shoulders that tells me my chemistry is off balance.
I thought I would be okay staying here and talking to Danny on the phone, but maybe I should have gone to Toronto.
Over the phone we can be beside each other, but all it takes is a little touch to bring the body in synch. Two tailbones touching under the covers in the middle of the night.
The sight of his smile.
Writing to a friend about his newly-completed, monumental Piano Concerto No. 2, Johannes Brahms described it as "some little piano pieces", and the intense scherzo as "a little wisp of a scherzo". It is one of my favourite compositions. The first two movements are tempestuous, the slow movement warm and gentle, the fourth movement bright and graceful. It lifts me up.
The apartment is full of the the deliciousness of a strawberry-rhubarb crips I'm baking for the chorus barbecue this afternoon.
Yesterday I was fragile as paper, weepy, panicky, exhausted. This morning I woke up with startling optimism.
Mirtazapine is just a pill. Generally the highest dosage recommended for daily use is 45 mg. For several years I had been taking 60 mg (two pills) to combat symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.
I had been feeling so well that several weeks ago, with doctor's supervision, I cut back to 45 mg. Maybe it was a mistake. It seems I do not have enough resilience to handle the response from my ex-lover and his partner. Maybe I should have thought everything through more carefully. I didn't expect things to go this way. You never know, do you?
Sunday afternoon my daughters and I visited my Mom's best friend, an aunt to us. Joyce lives in a new house on rolling farmland. A meadowlark and field sparrow sang in the distance.
In the car Marian kept pointing out interesting clouds; so like me!
We stopped at a greenhouse selling edible plants. The 30-something woman with a smudge of golden pollen on one cheek launched into a description of the herbs, vegetables and flowers.
Brenna spotted a pale grey tree frog huddled on one of the benches. Its throat vibrated rapidly. Otherwise it lay motionless while we inspected.
I had to leave the chorus visioning session for a few minutes. It had grown intense, hitting a hard resonance with my own distress. I walked downstairs and peered into the church sanctuary but it was dim and uninviting.
I went out into the garden where heavy rain had left droplets on every leaf. Standing in the wet grass I felt a sudden reframing of the world, a surreal shift of light. The foliage called me to its embrace. Weeping, I kissed a moist redbud leaf. Then looking around again I noticed all the leaves were hearts pointed toward me.
I think of anxiety as a slow drip of adrenalin (though honestly, I don’t know whether it involves adrenalin at all). Panic is a big shot.
It doesn’t take much to set me off these days. Yesterday I was trying to make a dadoe setup on the table saw. I’ve been using the saw repeatedly for months, but this time it made me nervous. Then my boss came in and made some critical comments and he was in a hurry to leave again, so his tone was abrupt. It flipped a switch and anxiety began to burn.
This morning I read the article about whooping cranes in this month's
. The chicks are tiny but they have to grow into such large creatures in order to make the monumental flight from Canada's boreal forest to the Gulf Coast of Texas. It's a wonder anything can grow so fast.
It makes me think of the monumental energy I must muster in order to move forward. I was born like a new baby a few days ago. The landscape of life has changed, and I have to learn how to navigate it. How do I learn to fly?
When you're falling in love, you lose all sense of proportion. The look in a lover's eyes or a grazing touch down the middle of the spine seem like the biggest, most powerful things that ever happened. The little bumps of instinct, rumblings of discomfort suggesting divergent expecations, seem so minimal they're easy to ignore. Only later you realize the mole hills really were mountains.
Nothing is more important than understanding your differences and figuring out how to negotiate them. When my children get into new relationships I always ask, "Have you learned how to have a good argument yet?"
This morning I ran my 11th annual Breeding Bird Survey. It starts 30 minutes before sunrise in Dwight. I follow Highway 35 south, turn at Nordic Inn Road, then left at Livingstone Lake Road. I stop every 0.8 km, get out of the car and record every bird seen or heard in three minutes. I always do it around June 21 to celebrate the solstice.
The last stop overlooks a river through spruce and tamarack swamp. I usually observe something nice there. This year was no disappointment. I heard the distinctive “Quick! Three beers,” of an olive-sided flycatcher.
So many times I have come to this lake feeling weary and broken, and it has brought relief. This time my head keeps spinning with things I must say and how to say them. It is sad.
Yesterday afternoon while Danny was sleeping I went out and took photographs of the delicate little
flowers, five white petals with pink veins. Photography is the best way I know to pull myself out of my head and into my senses. The brain focuses on the complex mathematics of light and composition. We all need pastimes like this to help us heal.
When I was young, in teens and early adulthood, my brain used to spin fantasy stories instead of things I needed to tell people. Maybe it is the same thing. This tendency for my head to keep replaying the same words, working them over and over, has redeveloped since I cut back the dosage of mirtazapine. Maybe I need this. It is the power to obsess. Such is the focus and drive I need to propel my creative ambitions. Yesterday I went to the dock for a last swim and found myself pacing up and down, oblivious to the scenery.
One of the spurs has broken off the half-inch brad point bit again. It is just a tiny piece of metal, but now the bit is useless. I discovered this yesterday afternoon, but couldn't deal with it. Brad point bits are not available from the hardware store. Les has to go to Lee Valley Tools in Burlington. Unless, just possibly, something can be found at Canadian Tire. Maybe I could stop on my way to work and see what can be found. The brad point is useful for drilling holes for dowels to joint two pieces of wood together.
His silly premise--that his feelings are valid but mine can be dismissed because I broke up with him--is making me crazy. This is just another shape of the same imbalance that existed before the breakup, when he wouldn't acknowledge the stress I experienced trying to keep things together. I'm letting him diminish me. It has to stop.
This morning I woke up with just the tiniest glimmer of hope at the idea I don't have to communicate with him anymore. But I am exhausted and deflated. I have not yet said goodbye, and don't know how to proceed.
Four hours sleep last night. It is the worst in a string of sleep deficits, and I'm exhausted again. I can't afford time off, but can't trust my concentration enough to drive or use saws. I am calling in sick today. I will try to relax and see whether I can catch up on sleep.
I took a melatonin tablet around 5:30 and went back to bed, to no avail. It mellowed out my conscious thoughts, but then the rest of my nervous system responded. Every time I started to doze, a mini panic attack would jolt me awake.
The day off did tremendous good. A rainy night and morning cleared the sweaty air. By midday the weather cleared and it turned into a brilliant, mild day. I wandered down to the park for a walk but was too tired, so I just sat on benches, looked at the river and bought ice cream, sometimes putting the camera to my eye and taking pictures. The catalpas were dropping their flowers and a flotilla of elaborate white blossoms drifted downstream. There are few creatures as cute as mallard ducklings with their dapper brown streaks and facial markings over golden down.
I woke up with something strange spinning through my head: the murders of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. When I got up, I looked them up on Wikipedia. Why do I become obsessed with knowing more details about something so abhorrent and disturbing? On Youtube I found a videotape of an interview between a detective and murderer Paul Bernardo in prison. He railed on and on about the police and media calling him a liar. So manipulative. It was so awful I had to stop it, regardless of my fascination. Why do I let something like this ruin my morning?
Holly and Allison got married at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Danny and I attended the campfire reception last night. With one group campsite all to ourselves, we pitched our tent in the middle of a meadow. It was a warm, sodden evening. At dusk the air simmered with birdsongs: an indigo bunting, a wren, robins, goldfinches, red-winged blackbirds and a grey catbird (in the morning I even heard a bluebird, but only once, and never saw it). Sitting outside at dusk with Danny made me incredibly happy. So did the grilled portabello mushrooms someone brought to the campfire later.
I cup of tea is a small kindness to pay one's self in the morning. I have a whole drawer full of tea: green tea, licorice spice, lemon blossom, elderberry, osmanthus frangrance flower, orange truffle rooibos, chamomile, peach country passion, coconut mango wuyi oolong, and many others. Sometimes I choose caffiene tea, sometimes herbal, depending on my mood. I have regular orange pekoe, but that is just for guests; I don't care for it. I'm looking for the perfect elixir that will lift me out of this morning doldrum feeling without the jittery unpleasantness of caffeine. It probably doesn't exist.
Yesterday I was extremely tired and low. I managed to drag myself through most of a work day, but broke the tip off another drill bit. How can such a little thing cause so much frustration and embarrassment?
I find it hard to blog on LiveJournal for fear of how people who have set themselves against me will spin my words. I suppose there are few things I hate more than being misunderstood, and there are many different modes of misunderstanding. Under the circumstances what offends me most is when people use my words to support their own selfish arguments.
In the mornings my head spins with all the previous day's unpleasantness, playing it over and over. I wish I could just turn it off sometimes. All the time. Just let go of things I can't control.
Sometimes I find a little gratitude helps put me in a better state of mind for the day ahead. Perhaps that should be the focus of my 100 daily words for the month ahead.
For this morning, I am grateful for sunlight that opens my mind, commercial-free CBC Classical playing in the background, and having enough energy to go to work today.
The Tip Jar