grass-powered organism

“Kneeling Cow” by Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) French Post-Impressionist Artist
“Kneeling Cow” by Paul Gauguin

So this is what commodity corn can do to a cow: industrialize the miracle of nature that is a ruminant, taking this sunlight- and prairie grass-powered organism and turning it into the last thing we need: another fossil fuel machine. This one, however, is able to suffer.
~ Michael Pollan
(The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals)

a wooden way

"The Little Owl" by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) German Artist
“The Little Owl” by Albrecht Dürer

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #372)

The Passion of the Italian Baroque

Amherst Early Music Festival program

Back on July 14, Tim won some tickets from a radio station to one of the performances of the Amherst Early Music Festival, The Passion of the Italian Baroque, at Evans Concert Hall at Connecticut College. (The same place we saw Vusi Mahlasela perform solo in 2005!) This was an opportunity not to be missed, so we brought my cushion and propped me up in a seat so we could see  and listen to the delightful Amherst Baroque Soloists play.

The Amherst Early Music Festival is the most comprehensive early music workshop in the world, with classes for amateurs and pre-professionals, a music and instrument exhibition, and a professional concert series. We offer programs of classes at all levels in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music and dance taught by an international faculty of well-known performers and teachers.
~ Marilyn Boenau, Executive Director

It was a beautiful concert with a soprano, viol, violin, violone, recorder, flute, two oboes, cello, and three harpsichords. Tim’s favorite piece was the opening number, Chamber Concerto in D Major, by Antonio Vivaldi, performed with the flute, oboe, violin, cello and harpsichord. I was especially enchanted with Canzona La Pighetta, by Tarquinio Merula, a composer previously unknown to me. It was played with the recorder, viol and harpsichord and it was mesmerizing!

The finale, which seemed have all the musicians on stage at once, was Venti turbini from Rinaldo by Handel. The exquisite soprano, Julianne Baird, sang a lovely refrain which was translated for us in the program:

Winds, storms, lend
Your wings to my feet
Heavens, Gods, take up arms
Against the one who gives me pain!

I like to think her request had been granted on behalf of my pain! 🙂 Although perched quite gingerly on the edge of my seat with cushion and rolled up sweatshirt for support I managed to stay seated for the entire program with minimal discomfort. Phew!

Because Tim is more into classical music than I am, I’m hoping he will leave a comment and elaborate on the comedy involving a couple of the harpsichord players, among other things…

a thorn in the foot

rose thorns by Xosema
rose thorns by Xosema

I went to the hill and I got it.
I sat on a knoll and I sought it.
And if I would get it I would leave it.
Since I did not get it, I took it with me.
~ Scots Gaelic Riddle
(The Celtic Spirit)

As I sat down very gingerly on the chair for my breakfast this morning, I opened my Caitlín Matthews book of daily meditations for the turning of the year. As I started to read I began to smile over the synchronicity I found there in her words as she elaborated on the riddle above. A thorn in the foot, an irritation. A thorn in the foot that hurts when one walks on it. Pains in my back and my legs when I sit.

There is no surefire way to avoid irritations, no magic formula that will ease them out of our way. They arrive without warning to plague us, and we have to get on and deal with them. Some of the tiresomeness can be alleviated, however, if we see many of our irritations are reminders of neglected areas of our life. … The universe has its own way of getting our attention and making us attend to what is important.
~ Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit)

Well, this bout of sciatica has certainly got my attention!!! Yesterday I wound up puttering around the house catching up on little chores and the constant movement kept the pain at bay. But when I sat down for lunch the pain returned and so for the afternoon I reclined and listened to three more Adyashanti CDs, which nourished me spiritually.

No magic formula, but an idea occurred to me while lying there to help me deal with this “irritation.” I dug my old exercise ball out of the closet and Tim pumped it up with air for me. We tested having me sit on it for a few minutes. No pain. He moved my laptop down here to the coffee table and this set up seems like it might just work!

This has been a painful reminder to me to pay more attention to how long I sit in front of the computer screen. I tend to have these marathon days where I visit a lot of blogs and catch up responding to comments on mine. On top of that, as the day wears on, as it did Saturday, my posture gets more and more sloppy and as a result the nerve gets irritated. If I’m honest with myself, most of these flare-ups occur after I’ve sat too long and incorrectly, usually during a long trip in the car…

Do you have a figurative thorn in your foot? What do you do to deal with it?

adolescence in reverse

Egyptian migraine therapy

My body-mind is miserable.

I’ve had a “background” headache since July 8. It’s making me crazy, lurking around under the surface, waiting for a chance to break through and incapacitate. One dose of Zomig left to last me until the prescription can be refilled on August 7. I rail against insurance corporations, who think they have more right to decide what a patient needs than her doctor does. And who think $60 a month is a fair co-payment for six doses of a needed drug.

Appointment to see sympathetic doctor on Monday. Keeping my fingers crossed… Woke up this morning, head still stabbing. Should I beg my sister to give me some of her Zomig? We’ve helped each other out in the past. There have been times when I’ve only needed as little as one dose for a whole month. I call and put her on standby. Sisters understand…

Lately I’ve heard what I think is a very misleading commercial for Excedrin Migraine. While it can work sometimes, I don’t see how they can dare to guarantee that it will always work in half an hour. It might, perhaps half the time. And that bit about being #1 recommended by neurologists is hogwash. The first thing a neurologist will insist on is that you stop using Excedrin because people wind up taking it daily in increasingly futile attempts to treat rebound headaches.  When Excedrin Migraine first came out I checked the label and it’s the same acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine that is in regular Excedrin. Do they think we’re really so gullible? Or were my parents unique in teaching me to read labels thoroughly before taking any medication?

Caffeine. Well, I’m weaned from it for almost four years now so maybe it will work? Worth a try? I made myself a cup of black coffee and took my ibuprofen, which works better than acetaminophen or aspirin for this patient. It worked, for the most part. I can still feel the headache wanting to materialize. Maybe this will be a stopgap measure to keep most of the pain manageable until Monday so I won’t have to raid my dear sister’s stash. Still, I should probably get my eyes away from the computer screen to be on the safe side.

Pondering my predicament. I’ve been so careful to avoid triggers. “Why is this happening?” I cried out to Tim Sunday night, utterly frustrated. Slowly gathering my wits about me. I connect a few dots and recall that hormonal fluctuations are my biggest triggers and they (along with fluctuations in atmospheric pressure) I simply cannot control. Now I think this is perhaps some sort of menopausal last hurrah.

If you want to know where your power really is, you need look no further than the processes of your body that you’ve been taught to dismiss, deny, or be afraid of. These include the menstrual cycle, labor, and, the mother of all wake-up calls, menopause. The years surrounding menopause are a time when most women find themselves in a crucible, having all the dross of the first half of their lives burned away so that they may emerge reborn and more fully themselves. Menopause can be likened to adolescence in reverse – the same stormy emotions we experienced during puberty often return, urging us to complete the unfinished business of our early years.
~ Christiane Northrup
(Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical & Emotional Health & Healing)

I remember reading somewhere that the way a child handles the emotional work of toddler-hood will be the same way she handles the emotional work of adolescence. And now, adolescence in reverse. The mother of all wake-up calls. Must be what this nightmare is all about. A crucible. A month-long hot flash. Unfinished business. I wonder…

This morning I found a quote that spoke to me…

Everyone confesses in the abstract that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us all; but practically most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive him to do. Even I would not write this article were not the publication-day hard on my heels. I should read Hawthorne and Emerson and Holmes, and dream in my armchair, and project in the clouds those lovely unwritten stories that curl and veer and change like mist-wreaths in the sun.
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
(Household Papers & Stories)

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe

I have so many lovely unwritten stories. I need more exercise. I feel lazy writing this, I “should” be doing more to help with the elder-care or even doing my own chores. I think we all feel unmotivated or overwhelmed at times, but that’s not laziness in my way of looking at things. But do I really believe my own assertions about this, deep down inside? Harriet Beecher Stowe includes “everyone.” Somehow that comforts me to know that others need incentives to get certain things done, too.

And now, as I write this, a song comes up on my iPod playlist shuffle. Still can’t listen to it without crying…

Now, I’m sailing on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I’ll drag them all down to hell and I’ll stand them at the wall
I’ll sell them to their enemies
I’m trying to feed my soul with thought
Going to sleep off the rest of the day
~ Bob Dylan
♫ (Working Man’s Blues #2) ♫

It’s been a very long haul since Dad first fell in 2000. It’s getting harder and harder. And Auntie is needing more and more attention, too. Sometimes I think having to deal with menopause while caring for my elders is a double whammy and has made me more impatient and persistently irritable.

I’m tired!!! So often I “sleep off the rest of the day.” So often I fail to “feed my soul with thought.” I don’t have enough energy for elder-care and the “stormy emotions” of menopause!

Okay. That’s enough self-pity for one day. This too will pass, right?