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Tuesday, 30 June 2009
So I looked up "blank", and this is what I found:
blank, adjective 1. not marked or decorated. 2. not understanding or reacting.
noun 1. a space left to be filled in in a form 2. a situation in which you cannot understand or remember something 3. a gun cartridge with gunpowder but no bullet 4. a plain or unfinished object
verb 1. (blank out) hide or block out 2. (Brit. informal) deliberately ignore someone
Yes! That's exactly how I feel. All of it. There is still so much I need to do that is connected to my mother's death a month ago. A lot of forms left to be filled in, for example, quite literally. Things I have to understand and remember myself. Things to get my dad to understand and remember. Things to get other people to understand and remember. All sorts of projects started but left unfinished, by me and by others. Feelings to unblock. Questions and problems and people and forms I'm deliberately ignoring... And right now I feel like there's not even any gunpowder in my cartridge...
My mind feels blank. A short sentence that really says a lot!
In order to give one's self, it is first necessary to possess one's self; but it serves no useful purpose to possess one's self, if it is not in order to be able to give one's self.
Paul Tournier, Secrets
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Saturday, 27 June 2009
For the rules of the game,
and for more stories,
go to Raven's Nest.
The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 16 - The Letter
Mini challenge: motorcycle, grandiose, summer, flying off the handle, blue jays
Lt. Skittles was beginning to question seriously whether he really had the right qualifications for his job. Right now, he felt he would need to be a psychatrist to be able to sort out whether this young girl was suffering from serious grandiose delusions, or just babbling. How do you continue questioning someone who has just informed you that she thinks of herself as "the goddess of the hunt"? In combination with the summer heat, he felt himself dangerously close to flying off the handle. He looked desperately around the room for inspiration, but all the strange objects in there were no help at all. That picture on the wall, for example, of two blue jays sitting on a motorcycle… Actually, anyone could go crazy growing up in a place like this, he suddenly thought.
Ten Word Challenge: Chorus line, clam chowder, apples, jack-in-the-box, puddles, Iran, quarry, housekeeping, speed, letter
"Look here," he started to say, but was interrupted by the butler appearing like a jack-in-the-box, carrying a tray with a letter, a glass of water and the aspirins that Skittles had asked for earlier.
"Oh, Bumblebee!" exclaimed Diana. "You're a darling, you always know exactly what I need!" She rose from her chair, took the pills and emptied the glass, before Skittles had time to even blink. "I'm so sorry you have to do all the housekeeping this weekend, but of course we shall have to change the menu for this evening. Do you think you could manage to whip up that clam chowder of yours instead? And I was thinking of asking you to make raspberry tart for dessert, but if there aren't any raspberries, you could use apples instead." She was talking with such speed that Skittles suddenly got the impression of watching a chorus line, except of course that she was performing solo.
"May I suggest bass instead of clam chowder, miss?" asked Bumblebee. "And by the way, I thought you might want to know that Puddles is back."
"Puddles? Who is Puddles?" said Skittles, hoping for some useful information at last.
"Oh, I'm so glad! I was wondering whether I would have to go out on a hunt again, with her as quarry," said Diana. Turning to Skittles, she added: "Puddles is my cat, a Persian. Like from Iran. I mean, Iran used to be Persia, you know. But don't worry, I don't really hunt cats any more, that was just an attempt at a joke." She took the letter from the tray that Bumblebee was still holding out to her. "Oh, excellent!" she exclaimed. "This is the blackmail letter I sent to myself. And the right postage, too."
Readers feeling as confused as Skittles at the last sentence are advised to look back at chapter 12 (wordzzle challenge #65), and also at chapter 15 (wordzzle challenge #68).
Monday, 22 June 2009
Vicky's message filled the kitchen, the hall and the room that still lay in darkness, it took up all the space, it consumed the oxygen.
"Hi, it's Vicky. Have you heard? Have you heard about the accident? It's about Yvonne. She's dead."
In the midst of the confusion I noted my own behaviour, as if watching myself from outside.
The strange thing was that I took out a clean tea towel and removed the strainer from the teapot before I called Vicky back.
No, it's not strange. It's how it is. The screw is there. In case of shock, please wind up for mechanical behaviour.
Vibeke Olsson (Swedish author)
(translated by me from a novel that I don't think is available in English, "Koltrasten i Tegnérlunden"; koltrast = blackbird)
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Since I've been a on a "break" from this game for a couple of weeks, I take the opportunity to make double use of this weeks words instead - first the 10 word challenge, then the mini, then all 15 together - to move along with my ongoing story:
The Slumber Party Mystery
Ten Word Challenge: sow, close, console, lives, minute, polish, bass, pussy, complex, resume
Chapter 13 - Meditations in the Garden
While Diana was pouring her heart out to Lieutenant Skittles in the library, William and Adam were left together out on the terrace, not knowing how to resume the conversation, or even if they were supposed to talk at all.
William looked at the marigolds that he himself had helped the gardener sow, thinking about how much he would like to be close to Diana and console her. She had seemed so upset about the fire, even though it had been put out (by him, William!) before it had done any real damage.
Adam, meanwhile, absentmindedly polished the smooth surface of a marble statue with his handkerchief, contemplating how complex the whole situation was, and how people's lives can change in less than a minute.
A cat came strolling over the lawn. William tried to call it: "Pussy-pussy-puss…" but the cat ignored him and disappeared around the corner of the house. Seeing the cat reminded Adam of that time several years ago that he had caught Diana chasing another cat in the same garden, with a bow and arrow from her grandfather's collection. He did not know what to make of the young woman she had grown up to be. Deeply absorbed in his own thoughts, he hardly took any notice when William said:
"If the lieutenant asks for me, tell him I just went round to the kitchen to help Bumblebee with the groceries. I really need to explain to him why he got bass instead of stingray."
Mini challenge: bow, sewer, house, import, intern
Chapter 14 - Following the Cat
William followed the cat around the corner of the house. Entering the kitchen, he made a polite bow to Bumblebee. He had always found the butler a very impressive man, and he himself was really only a sort of intern at the grocery store, at least when it came to dealing with more important things than just driving the van.
"I'm very sorry about the fish, sir," he said. "I know you wanted stingray, but there was some kind of problem with the import regulations and the bill of lading, so we didn't get any. I took the liberty of bringing you bass instead."
For a moment, William felt that the butler looked at him as if he was something that had just come up out of the sewer; but then he just sighed and said in a quite friendly tone of voice: "Never mind, it obviously wasn't your fault. And by the looks of things no one will be wanting a barbeque this evening anyway…"
Chapter 15 - A Life of Pretending
In the library, Diana had had another attack of tears, and Lieutenant Skittles was trying to console her and make her resume her complex story; which he still sensed might possibly be of some import, although he found it difficult to understand.
"Come, come," he said in a deep bass voice, "take a minute to calm yourself, and then try to explain it all to me again.
"My grandmother used to say, we all reap what we sow," sighed Diana, "and I guess she was right, wasn't she, although we were never really close. It wasn't all easy, you know, growing up in this house. Sometimes I felt like an intern, a prisoner, or something they had had to rescue from the sewer. It often seemed to me that in this family, we had to polish our lives as well as all the silver and brass. But all that shiny stuff, that's not really me. So that's why I started making up my own adventures. Like pretending Pussy was a tiger, and borrowing grandfather's bow for the hunt, to make it feel real." She looked at Skittles to see if he understood, but he just stared back blankly at her.
"You don't get it, do you?" she said. "The only thing I felt I had as a child that was really my own was my name: Diana. And Diana is the goddess of the hunt. That I learned from these books." She made another gesture around the walls of the library. "So all the games I played as a child were based on that. And when I took up writing – well, I didn't realize it at first, but I do now – it's just been another way of continuing the same game."
Friday, 19 June 2009
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Monday, 15 June 2009
Times are hard. It's a hard time,
but everybody knows all about hard times.
The thing is, what are you gonna do?
Well, you cry and try to muscle through.
Try to rearrange your stuff.
But when the wounds are deep enough,
and it's all that we can bear,
we wrap ourselves in prayer.
Paul Simon, Wartime Prayers
(Album: Surprise, 2006)
Saturday, 13 June 2009
The sun did not shine, but neither did we have to huddle under umbrellas, on the day of my mother's funeral. It rained in the morning, and it rained the next day; but not right before, during or just after the funeral.
And this is a picture of my parents, sitting on a park bench
overlooking another lake; this one was sent to me
by a friend of theirs after the funeral.
This photo, too, reminds me of the Bookends/Old Friends
lyrics by Paul Simon, from which I borrowed the title of this post.
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Monday, 8 June 2009
To meditate, to seek the will of God, is not to know securely what this will is. Far from it! It is to grope for it in the darkness, to often be mistaken, sometimes even to remain for long periods with no response to our pressing questions. It is to run a risk, but it is to persevere obstinately, despite all difficulties, for it is more important to seek than to find.
Paul Tournier, Fatigue in Modern Society
(link to Wikipedia article)
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
I'm very touched by all the comments I received on my post "Life Is Fragile" last week. Since then, the little energy I have has been split between funeral arrangements for my mother (the funeral will be next Thursday) and organizing a "new life" for my father, who is also not well.
To one as young as you, I'm sure it seems incredible, but --- it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
(Dumbledore to Harry)