Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The firefly tree

The firefly tree

This is a sketch I did tonight of one beautiful moment in my life. It was many years ago when Kirk and I lived in Wiliamsburg, VA. It was also a terrible time for us.  We were trying to start a family and, unbeknownst to us, the water supply in that part of Virginia was tainted with a chemical that caused stillbirths and miscarriages. I had two miscarriages while we lived there and was just heartbroken.

Heartbreak has been on my mind because my husband has just come back from visiting his baby sister who has an incurable malignant tumor in her brain. He was there to visit her of course, but mostly he was there to help with her eight children. So I was remembering this night in Williamsburg when Kirk and I went on a disconsolate evening walk. We only lived a block away from Colonial Williamsburg so we wandered over there because there was no traffic. As we headed up the dark road through the old town we saw one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life; a massive tree completely aglow with the twinkling lights of tens of thousands of fireflies. We stood still and gaped for I don't know how long and for that time the pure beauty of it erased all our grief and pain and helped me to go on. 

In times like this, it does me good to remember those rare perfect respites - like coming upon the firefly tree - because it helps remind me that there will be other moments like it ahead. Sometimes I think this is the only way to get through these devastating things life serves up again and again; by leaping from moment of beauty to moment of beauty like someone leaping from stone to stone across a dark fast dangerous river.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Scandalous me!

Someone just tried to register to leave comments here and she reported that she got this message: "Sorry but your website is listed as unsafe for children or dangerous by one of our website rating services."

First let me say how honored I am to receive this recognition from the Academy. Also I want to thank the big guy upstairs (by which I mean Bill Gates, who has made it so easy for me to offend complete strangers). But most of all I want to thank the gay boys who ensorcelled me into promoting their scary Big, Gay, anti-family (by which I mean pro-family) Agenda by being so kind, lovely, and funny. Without you I never would have scandalized anyone!

Monday, September 20, 2010

"About suffering..."

My husband had a good, hard, exhausting, heartbreaking visit with his sister and her husband and children. She will have surgery on Thursday to try and reduce the size of the tumor and extend her life. But short of a miracle, it seems, there is not much hope, so we hope and pray for a miracle.

Kirk said that, because of the tumor, her personality had changed and that he felt she was slipping away. I keep thinking of a story he once told me of being a little boy - three-years old - and looking out his bedroom window to see the EMTs carrying the sheet-covered body of his older sister Laurie, who was five, down the front walk of his house and away forever. And now another sister is slipping away from him.

At times like this, I always think of W.H. Auden's "Musee des Beaux Arts," which is, to me, one of the most perfect explorations of human suffering ever written.

Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Brueghel's Icarus for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A sad time

We've just found out this week that my husband's sister has a large brain tumor. Worse, it's situated in a part of the brain that makes it very hard to remove and has spread into her brain tissue. She has eight children. The youngest is only eight months old. It's a very sad and frightening time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Yes my dears, this is a real book.

And it was written in 1885 by - I kid you not - Palmer Cox!
I think that shows some real prescience on his part!

(Image from lolaleeloo's flickr file.)