Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Wet & Rainy Days

... call for soup. 

Have been thinking of doing a bit more cooking lately. Maybe learn some typical Swabian/Bavarian dishes, now that I am in the region? 

Oi there

It was the first of May
A lovely warm spring day
I was strolling down the street in drunken pride,
But my knees were all a-flutter,
And I landed in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.

Yes, I lay there in the gutter
Thinking thoughts I could not utter
When a lady passing by did softly say
'You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses' — And the pig got up and slowly walked away.

- Anon., "The Pig"

Sounds familiar

My sister held on to our old turntable
and all the old records we listened to
through the long Italian opera

of our childhood. So tonight
we sit in the living room with some wine
and Puccini, as the needle scratches

the black door of the past, the air comes to life
with that lovely, cornball melodrama,
and our father is sitting in his chair,

ice cubes clinking in his scotch,
and our mother is in the kitchen
trying to be quiet, trying not to disturb

Maria Callas as she explains
to Tito Gobbi that she has lived for art
and she has lived for love, but it's hard

to fry pork chops and dice an onion
without making a certain amount of noise,
and pretty soon my father is shouting at her,

he's trying to listen to the music
for God's sake, could she for once
show a little respect,

and our mother says nothing,
it's just the same old argument
between ghosts, after all—the music

won't let them sleep—
though it has my sister in tears,
and even Tosca has begun to weep.

- George Bilgere, "Tosca"

The inimitable

“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

“I can't sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend, and walk round with my hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do. It is my energetic nature. I can't help it.”

“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing. ”

- Jerome K. Jerome

On proposals, to date

While considering options and flights: "Maybe we should just get married."

On proposals, again...

The morning after I told you that I love you, over breakfast: "I can see myself being married to you." "Was that meant to be a proposal?" "Only if you say yes."

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

On proposals

While hanging off of the edge of a cliff attached to one another with climbing rope looped around ever so much like bondage gear - that's a good time. I find that the threat of imminent demise generally helps with making one's case.

When we topped the climb you said "Did you ask me to spend the rest of my life with you because you thought we only had five more minutes to live?"

哎呀呀呀你這個死小子 XD

Good advice


Made to be broken

Promise me no promises,
So will I not promise you:
Keep we both our liberties,
Never false and never true:
Let us hold the die uncast,
Free to come as free to go:
For I cannot know your past,
And of mine what can you know?

You, so warm, may once have been
Warmer towards another one:
I, so cold, may once have seen
Sunlight, once have felt the sun:
Who shall show us if it was
Thus indeed in time of old?
Fades the image from the glass,
And the fortune is not told.

If you promised, you might grieve
For lost liberty again:
If I promised, I believe
I should fret to break the chain.
Let us be the friends we were,
Nothing more but nothing less:
Many thrive on frugal fare
Who would perish of excess.

- Christina Georgina Rossetti, "Promises Like Pie-Crust"

Monday, 28 July 2014



Painting the backdrop

I always think of social down time (no one calls, nothing to do, nobody to talk to) as time to paint the scenery. When the theatre is closed and the curtains are drawn, it's time to sew the buttons back on the costumes and touch up the backdrop again.

Except those times are kind of rubbish.

Today I discovered some great new music on NPR's Tiny Desk series, and there was no one to share my enthusiasm with. This is also why I hate travelling alone: all that joy and (metaphorical) ice cream and nobody's nose to lick (if you know, you know. if you don't, i'm not sure you'd want to).

I whinged a little to Julian (being able to do so is quite a luxury). But he still had to go out and couldn't stay to keep me company. So I photographed things, cleaned the flat a little, cooked myself a nice dinner, and read. Then I realized that as much as I hate these times, they're necessary and beneficial. I also realized that I can bring momentum into my own life, and that sense of mental and physical progression goes a long way to keep me sane.

... and of course it would be unreasonable to expect my life to be a party all day and all night all the time.

So here's to feeling desperately lonely sometimes. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014


Today, completely unbidden: "some stories have happy endings."

Might this be a watershed? 

Been there, done that

WE stood in the shrill electric light,
Dumb and sick in the whirling din
We who had all of love to say
And a single second to say it in.

"Good-by!" "Good-by!"--you turned to go,
I felt the train's slow heavy start,
You thought to see me cry, but oh
My tears were hidden in my heart.
- Sara Teasdale, "In a Railroad Station"

Just sayin'

Now thou has loved me one whole day,
Tomorrow when you leav’st, what wilt thou say?
Wilt thou then antedate some new-made vow?
Or say that now
We are not just those persons which we were?
Or, that oaths made in reverential fear
Of Love, and his wrath, any may forswear?
Or, as true deaths true marriages untie,
So lovers’ contracts, images of those,
Bind but till sleep, death’s image, them unloose?
Or, your own end to justify,
For having purposed change and falsehood, you
Can have no way but falsehood to be true?
Vain lunatic, against these ‘scapes I could
Dispute and conquer, if I would,
Which I abstain to do,
For by tomorrow, I may think so too.

- John Donne, "Woman's Constancy"

For my more Catholic moments...

Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

- John Donne, Meditation XVII

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Carry nothing forward

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since speaking to you of poetry...

I've gone back on a Writers' Almanac binge, and rediscovered many poems that I know and love, as well as finding new ones to excite me.

All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,
but the contentments made
by men who have had little:
the fisherman’s silence
receiving the river’s grace,
the gardener’s musing on rows.
I lack the peace of simple things.
I am never wholly in place.
I find no peace or grace.
We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness
and wish for the dumb life of roots.

- "The Want of Peace," by Wendell Berry

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

On makeup

As a child, after a long bath I would stand on the edge of the tub while my father wiped down my face with a cloth. He would then bunch the washcloth over his index finger and draw it over my eyebrows and my lips and dust it on my cheeks, telling me that he's putting makeup on my face to make me all pretty.

Growing up I missed out on those teenage years when girls are allowed to look absurd whilst experimenting with makeup. Later I tried to catch up on these skills but it never felt like me.

Thinking back the washcloth is probably still my favourite kind of getting pretty. 

Reading and re-reading

these lines (yours, mine). I realize that this is where I keep myself. 

The Waking & the 0.1%

I am 99.9% sensible and 0.1% absurd. If the answer cannot be found it's because I'm not asking for what I really want to know. In truth knowing that the quantity is "some" is enough. Whether x is > or < than 3 probably depends on what unit you measure in. (I've always thought it might be whales).

In any case what is today may not be what is tomorrow.

and then this...

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

- Theodore Roethke

Monday, 21 July 2014


Sunday, 20 July 2014

how much is enough

"But my dreaming self refuses to be consoled. It continues to wander, aimless, homeless, alone. It cannot be convinced of its safety by any evidence drawn from my waking life. I know this because I continue to have the same dream, over and over." (Moral Disorder, Margaret Atwood)

Perhaps it's never enough because my dreaming self remains unconvinced. There'll never be enough proof. Never enough bolt holes. 

And yes, I do have the same dreams over and over. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

from Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

"Now we're at the door. The persistence of material objects is becoming an amazement to me. It's the same door - the one I used to go in through, out through, year after year, in my daily clothing or in various outfits and disguises, not thinking at all that I would one day be standing in front of this very same door with my grey-haired little sister. But all doors used regularly are doors to the afterlife." (61)

"The objects I chose were designed to hold something, but I didn't fill them up. They remained empty. They were little symbolic shrines to thirst. I knew they were worthless clutter, but they made it into the tin trunk whenever I packed up again." (104)

"But my dreaming self refuses to be consoled. It continues to wander, aimless, homeless, alone. It cannot be convinced of its safety by any evidence drawn from my waking life. I know this because I continue to have the same dream, over and over." (112)

Atwood, Margaret. Moral Disorder. Toronto: Seal Books, 2007.

Bigger and better than ever before

random thought of the day: I used to have to write these internal product launch notices at Synology, the contents of which can be summarized mainly as "here it is, bigger and better than ever before (last year's model). come n get it kids." But instead of being succinct it always had to be hyped up and reviewed to death. Very glad I don't have to do that any more because I never really saw the point.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014


you are weak. sometimes you are strong. sometimes you stick your neck out. sometimes you go out on a limb and hope the branch doesn't break. sometimes you are brave and take a gamble (because the world is not fundamentally malignant, you think).