Sunday, April 29, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The very next Sunday, assured that the Titanic sinking involved no more of their acquaintances, the family pile into Daddy's treasured automobile and ride out to Graymont. There they find that the only possibly livable part of the house--indeed, the only part they can get inside of--is the south wing. The children have never been to Graymont before, and they are enchanted by it.
"I'm staying here," Dolly declares.
"You can't have my room," says Maybelle Buff-Orpington who greets them in the courtyard.
"We don't need a room," Camilla informs her. "I would live here if I had to sleep under a tree."
"Me, too," says Dolly. Her favorite place around the house is an old weather-scarred, rain-whitened gazebo that's just visible through the trees and undergrowth.
"That's my summer house," May claims.
"Mine now," says Dolly.
Maybelle mumbles something cross, and leads Camilla away to see another country wonder.
"Chipmunks," she says. "Did you ever see two chipmunks dancing, Cammie?"
Soon it's time to go home. Mama has settled herself in the car with Peter in her lap, and Daddy calls to the girls. That is, he calls to Camilla, who is talking to May in the courtyard. Dolly is nowhere in sight.
"She's prob'ly still at the gazebo," Camilla says, but they can't find her there.
After going up and down stairs in the south wing, and searching the woods and dark places around the house, they find themselves back at the gazebo. Peter hardly ever cries, but he is tired, hungry and fretful. It occurs to Camilla to call out.
She shouts as loud as she can. "Dolly! Where are you?"
"I'm up here," comes a squeaky little voice from somewhere over their heads. A creaking, grinding sound follows, and the roof of the gazebo slowly rises in the air.
"How did you get up there?" Daddy demands.
"I just climbed on the rail and shinnied up the pole."
As he is helping her climb down, it never occurs to Daddy to threaten her with punishment. He's wondering if he could still shinny up a pole if such became necessary or desirable.
We're going to Fairhope, Alabama on Friday, for the Alabama State Poetry Society spring awards luncheon. So I have to spend today and tomorrow getting ready, as far as possible. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate to travel. I like to have traveled, for something to look back on and feel as if I've done things and been places. But the actual experience is like holding my breath under water until I get back home.
I haven't always been so backwards; I've been all up and down the east coast of the U.S. and parts of the middle west. I've been to Canada, and across the water to England. Flew low enough over Ireland to see how green it is, and to wish I were down there. While I was in traveling mode, I should have gone out west and down to Mexico, and I would feel like I'd seen all of Earth that I was meant to see.
Some of the traveled spots I like to remember are Madison, Wisconsin; Wells Cathedral in England; an oolitic limestone formation near Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Cherokee, North Carolina. I think I could feel at home in Wisconsin. But when I crossed the line back into Alabama, I'd probably dissolve in happy tears, the way I've always done.
At least this weekend, we'll still be in Alabama.
The vet said she could give Mo a blood transfusion, and it might make him feel better for a few days. But if his bone marrow isn't making red blood cells, it wouldn't do any good in the long run. They have a calico cat running around the clinic who is their "donor" cat. I worry that maybe the blood types wouldn't match. Do cats have blood types? But she didn't sound optimistic about any treatment for him.
I know one thing: No more pets will enter this house while I'm in it, except to visit and go home elsewhere. Fleas, neither, if I can ever get rid of the ones I've already got.
I got antsy and phoned River City Publishing in Montgomery. Talked to a nice guy who said they were down to judging the final few manuscripts entered in the 2011 Fred Bonnie Memorial competition. He took my name and phone number and said he would get someone who knew more to call me. When I told him the title of my manuscript, he said, "Oh, I remember that!"
Posted by Joanne Cage -- Joanne Cage at 8:28 AM
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Mo the Cat is in the pet clinic, and the vet says "maybe this" and "maybe that." But he's severely anemic, Lord-knows how old, and I don't feel optimistic. We decided to give him another day to start eating and moving around, if he can. So tomorrow, we'll see how he's doing.
Dolly loves blue, and Camilla likes pink and green, so their room doesn't have a real color scheme. Each one expects to have a room of her own when they move to Graymont, but at present that seems to be only a temporary arrangement. The family will probably move back to their house when the renovations are done, and any extra rooms will be filled with babies.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Blam! Pterodactyl Time!
Panic--greater standing mute or screaming?
Is this a death-in-life experience?
Better to lie still or run in circles?
Just now it's hard to tell the difference.
Flee, for your life, the south pole of inertia!
O tremor, shake this form with trembling!
Cliches and proverbs, exercise your power
And bring whatever comfort you can bring!
Tomorrow will be better--That's salvation!
Clutch at that thought with fingers cold as sleet!
There's still a mind that's capable of thinking,
Up there where dawn and dreams and reason meet;
And swirling in this nowhere-scape of shadows,
Familiar landmarks to the vision creep.
Ah, welcome, blessed angel of exhaustion!
With you at last, deliverance and sleep!
By Joanne Cage April 23, 2012
Apr. 23, 10:00 PM - I'll work on this poem, trying to clarify what it's about.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
After spending half an hour on the phone transferring my depression onto my son Jed, I felt so much better that I jumped up, fixed lunch and ate, then cleaned up the house. Well, not completely, but I got a good start.
Suddenly Beauty rushes in with a telegram that has just arrived. Everyone freezes. No one knows exactly what to do. None of them has ever received a telegram before. Finally, Billy suggests that Daddy open it and see what it says.
Daddy does so, then looks around the room, dazed.
"It's--" Daddy clears his throat. "It's from Brother Ned," he says. "He was coming home from England on the RMS Titanic, and the ship sank early this morning. He--he wanted to let us know he's all right, before we heard about the wreck from the [radio or the] newspaper."
[Breaking the stunned silence, Camilla says, "See, Mama? I told you we should buy that radio we saw at Harte's on Saturday!"]
Mama, who hasn't yet fainted, gasps, "I hope no one else we know was on board."
"Thank God Ned's all right," says Billy.
"Somebody run see if the afternoon paper has arrived. I'll go telephone to Mother. Ned doesn't say whether he telegraphed her," Daddy says, and leaves the room.
You know, when I look at pictures of my dollhouse, I get the same calm, right feeling that I had while writing Big Baby. Like I'm fulfilled in some way. Go figure.
MY MISTAKE: There was no radio except wireless telegraphy until 1920 or later. So Ned didn't mention "the radio," and Camilla didn't regret not buying one at the furniture store.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
The wall clock hanging over his head is one he calls "Goliath's pocket-watch."
Lucinda is cleaning the study again. It must be spotless, because she spends a lot of time in there. She's not as old as Grandma, but she's several years older than Daddy, and she's awfully fond of him. Daddy secretly thinks she's the only person in the house who understands and appreciates him.
Daddy notices what looks like a ghost peering in through the top left pane of the glass door to the balcony. If you click on the ceiling picture, you can see the "ghost."
"Lucinda, do you see that weird reflection in the glass door?"
Lucinda turns and, glancing at the door, says, "Why, Mr. D., that's not a reflection. It's just a jug of flowers I put on the balcony this morning. I declare, sir, you ought to start wearing your specs, or go get some new ones."
Daddy winces, hearing another cash register ringing. He has lost his old eyeglasses, having refused to wear them on a ribbon around his neck.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
My goal is to make every room in my house please me at least as much as my dining room does. Then I'll move away and leave it all.
I've been looking at houses to buy if we sell this one. But I've really only seen one that I liked as much, the one Jed and I looked at last week.
My grand-nephew Jesse's grandmother Billie has passed away, and I'm very sad for the family.
Posted by Joanne Cage -- Joanne Cage at 2:35 PM
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Ever since last Sunday, I've been feeling like a real poet instead of just a pretender. Because someone outside the immediate circle of poets, family and friends posted on FaceBook that I was one of her "favorite poets in all the world." But the euphoria is wearing off, and I realize that what I have to do is "lodge a few poems where they can't be ignored," as Frost said.
So I'm going to start annoying The New Yorker by sending them a group of four poems every month until they give in and publish one. I may have to use a pen name like Hrvak Jroykin or Po Nuyen. And send in my subscription renewal money.
And publish a book of all my prize-winning poems!!!
Susan's sister supper yesterday was wonderful. It was just the three of us, and we straightened everything out. Temporarily, at least.
There's a mockingbird outside my window, sitting on a holly bush and eating the berries. And turning her head this way every time I whistle.
Posted by Joanne Cage -- Joanne Cage at 12:35 PM
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
These Brief Days
Life travels with the speed of light;
No sooner Monday than it’s Sunday–
A whole week gone, and it seems like one day!
Why do we name the days that fly
Like racing clouds across the sky?
Calling names won’t slow their flight.
Adam and Eve and all your kin,
This is how you’re paying for original sin.
In the garden–
In the garden,
Morning felt like forever;
Noon was time enough to walk
From the northwest corner of the north forty
To the southeast of the south.
In the garden a girl could grow up
In a single April afternoon
Under the apple blossom sprays, heavy,
Heavy with honey-scented white
And (suspicion being all that ever slept)
When the golden fruit
Weighed down the golden boughs,
Might feast in silver shadows,
Veiled from any troubled gaze.
A gentle comedy, unthinking players!
How could the apple stir our brains
Into the folly of naming these brief days?
We string them together in wilted daisy chains
And set them winding on time’s blurred wheel,
Whirling too fast for us to see
The worm at the core, the serpent at our heel.
By Joanne Cage, October 1979
I guess Jed's still in California. I've slept much of the time since he left here on Saturday, to keep from worrying about him. "If God had meant for man to fly," etc.
Susie is giving "Sister Supper" again tonight. I think I'll do that in May. Hope I've got the house in better shape by then.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.
O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life--that in me has rest,
As I--undying Life--have power in thee!
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,
To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The stedfast rock of immortality.
With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.
Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou were left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.
There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou--THOU art Being and Breath,
And what THOU art may never be destroyed.
By Emily Bronte
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Yesterday I worked in the basement and got a lot done. Meant to finish it today, but fate intervened and I received the Downton Abbey set I had ordered, so you know how that went.
Jed just phoned and said he would be in Decatur, AL tomorrow and would come by here in the evening and stay until Saturday. That's wonderful--I was getting lonesome for some good faces other than cats and the occasional Gretchen dog. Seriously, I will be very glad to see my boy.
Posted by Joanne Cage -- Joanne Cage at 4:04 PM
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Yesterday I put in several solid hours of work on the house, mostly outside. Cleaned up the deck, carried out loads of trash-- How can a house accumulate so much trash, with just one old woman and a cat living in it? Maybe houses ought to be phased out; they're beginning to take on a life of their own, collecting junk against the wishes of their occupants. I also called a guy about cutting the grass, did three loads of laundry, and then collapsed. Plans for today are much the same, but I ought to be writing.
When I'm writing, I think I ought to be cleaning, and vice-versa. I do have an idea for a story, somehow involving Charlotte Corday. Girondins, Montagnards. Marat, Robespierre. Corday was a Leo, born on July 27th. Maybe she's just a ghost at Graymont, sometimes carrying her head under her arm. But that has been done. Maybe a story will develop--but I suspect the only time a story develops is when someone sits down and starts writing it.
Anyway, in March I decided that April will be cleaning month. "April is the cruellest month...."
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Among the Dolls' relations, there's an old lady who lives 'way out in the sticks. Grandma calls her Granny Gray, though even Grandma gets confused when trying to trace the exact family relationship. This crone may be even older than Billy Bones claims to be, and her first name is Gertrude. Or Geraldine, or Gretchen. Gilda or Gwendolyn, no one is sure, because of the scrawled nature of signature on the rare greeting cards they receive from her.
A hundred or so years ago, Granny G's house was a mansion called Graymont, but now it is a (pardon the anachronism) rambling wreck crammed with all manner of trash and treasures. Much of the Dolls' household furnishing came from there. If anyone should want a bustle or a farthingale, a French clock with cherubs, a German player-piano called a Fortsenzitter or something like that, a death mask of George Washington, a steam-powered tricycle-- Well, Granny G can usually find whatever is needed in one cubbyhole or another, with the aid, so she claims, of various ghosts in the house.
With random hired help, she does keep a few rooms tidy and functional, such as the pretty suite occupied by little Maybelle Buff-Orpington, an orphan child who is said to be a grandchild of Step-Grandpa Barry Buff-Orpington.
Daddy Doll wants to send a crew of photographers to Graymont to record some of the flotsam there before the whole place goes up in flames or falls to dust. He hasn't yet found professionals willing to take on the job for a reasonable fee.