This Post Might Make NO Sense

Abelard and Heloise by Salvador Dali

Not feeling especially placid today. Very tired of this stupid cold, but it’s still here. I have it on good information that I might be contending with it another four or five or seven days, but man!!! Yesterday a friend stopped by for a few minutes on her way from the eastern slope to the western slope. We haven’t seen each other in 3 years. I came out my front door to meet her (no one should come into this house; I’m sure it’s a virus culture) she said, “Two old women.”

It might be true, but good god…

Yesterday I read a post written my blog pal, Colin at Bon Jour from Brittany. He wrote about Abelard and Heloise. I didn’t know anything more about their story than that they were “star-crossed lovers.” The post discusses the mythology around them vs their actual letters to each other. As I read, I tried very hard to summon all my previous knowledge which is only slightly more than nothing.

We like the idea of a “star-crossed” love. It’s so roMANTic (sigh sigh sigh). Star-crossed love makes such a good story, too. All the happy love stories end in marriage; the stories are about courtship, near misses, averted tragedies and ultimate satisfaction — then marriage and the story is over. Maybe humans yearn to YEARN. But seriously; that kind of love never leads to happiness; sometimes to real misery.

Abelard paid a high price — castration — for his love affair. Maybe when the heavy clouds of this stupid cold have lifted from my brain, I’ll learn more.

Chain, chain, chain, chain of fools…

“Hey guys!!” iPhone 12 zoomed in. At this moment about 100 cranes were over the car, too.

Aretha Franklin sang, “chain, chain, chain, chain of fools…” I don’t know about it being a chain of fools any more. Maybe just ONE fool and a chain of mistakes. Last night I had a really un-fun dream. I dreamed about the men I’ve been married to or lived with. If you’re wondering about the number, it is 4.

The dream was no fun. I woke up at the point where I was remonstrating with the Evil X over something. Normally anything having to do with the Evil X means it’s time to get up. Shudder. My subconscious knows perfectly well that I don’t want to keep sleeping to see how “things turn out.” Ugh.

I guess all older people look back on their lives and see their mistakes and where they could have made a different, better, choice. Such back looking is unfair because THAT person who made those choices doesn’t know as much about life as does the person looking back. They haven’t lived through it and found out the ending. I know NOW what I only sensed back then that what I really wanted from life was dogs, hiking, nature, wild animals, travel, painting and writing. A fella’ who could jump into that would have been great, but I didn’t know myself well enough and, maybe, there’s no such fella’. It took 60 years for me to know/accept this about myself.

Ultimately the most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves.

In relationships that HAVE worked out, Teddy and I headed out to the Big Empty yesterday because 1) it wasn’t especially cold, 2) there was little wind to speak of. When we arrived a car was parked in the middle of the road and my first reaction was normal, “WTF?” but then as I got closer I remembered the season and, sure enough, not far from the road a small group of cranes was doing whatever it is they do at 10 am. The car moved ahead and then I saw, on the other side of the road, a bigger group of cranes. I stopped to roll down my window and take the featured photo, and just then dozens flew over my car.

Teddy and I had a beautiful time and, to confirm that, the last song playing on Mohammed’s radio was… You have to look at the radio but you might be able to guess from Teddy’s smile.

ChatGPT and Goethe

ChatGPT is not reliable as far as Goethe as concerned. First it told me that Goethe wrote “Wanderer’s Night Song” when he was an old man (he wasn’t an old man when he wrote it), and then, when I corrected it, the bot apologized and gave me a lovely but incorrect poem as the Marienbad Elegy. I had to say, “Dude, that’s not it.” It apologized, had another look, gave me a fragment of the correct poem, then told me to go to various websites to find the Marienbad Elegy, in other words, “go look it up.” 🤣 Just a warning that if you’re asking it for Goethe, you have to check its work. Maybe in the brave new world of the future, poetry isn’t going to be a big thing whatever forum the bot ends up with.

Last week I read that the bot seldom scores higher than a B- on most of the exams it’s been given which makes sense.

And what is the Marienbad Elegy? When Goethe was 73 he fell in love with a 17 year old girl and asked her to marry him. She refused. Goethe’s view of youth and age was a little different, but the reality of the situation was almost 60 years…

After he more-or-less got over his broken heart he wrote, when he was 77, he wrote…

When I was still a youthful wight,
⁠So full of enjoyment and merry,
The painters used to assert, in spite,
⁠That my features were small—yes, very;
Yet then full many a beauteous child
With true affection upon me smiled.

Now as a graybeard I sit here in state,
⁠By street and by lane held in awe, sirs;
And may be seen, like old Frederick the Great,
⁠On pipebowls, on cups, and on saucers.
Yet the beauteous maidens, they keep afar;
Oh, vision of youth! Oh, golden star!


Kind of the obverse of Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time.

Otherwise? Nothing much going on in the Bark of Beyond and that’s fine. The temperatures have warmed up to more-or-less normal for this winter. I don’t mind the cold, but it can be mildly challenging when the cold water hose to your washing machine freezes. In that situation, the important things are to be grateful it’s a hose not a pipe and to warm up the room.


The Evil X sat me down for a talk one day early in our “relationship” and said, “You have problems with trust.” That’s true. I did have problems with trust. I do. “I want you to trust me,” he went on. Interesting coming from the second-worst conman in my life experience. First, is, of course, TFG.

OK, you know that joke about carrying the snake across the river, right, or the scorpion and the frog? Wikipedia even has an entry for it.

When I was trying to figure out how love might be authentically present, it came to me that it would be in two things — kindness and consistency, two attributes of a trustworthy person. I thought about where I’d found that in my own life, so I could see my models of it. I found it, but the most reliable thing was nature. Still, tell that to the earthquake victims in Turkey or ranchers in Wyoming struggling to get their stock to safety in a very harsh and hungry winter.

The ONE trustworthy thing in life is that something will happen. To me, trust is an ideal. Skepticism makes a lot more sense.

I Don’t Know, but…

I’m not a pessimist. The worst is always out there (been there, done that) but so far so good (I’m still here as of now). As Scarlet O’Hara said, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

That said, I am pretty pessimistic about the arrival of any measurable amount of snow in the Bark of Beyond. Maybe next year. There I go again.

I have a friend who is Eeyore. It’s very draining to talk to him sometimes (often) because there is hardly ever any bright-side. Pessimism is paralyzing. It sucks all the individual power and will out of an endeavor. Sometimes I want to shake him and say, “Yeah, but Dude, you have some power here. Just make it work.” Feeling that one is defeated before a journey begins is, I guess, a hedge against the possibility of failure with the added bonus of getting to be right (“I knew it wouldn’t work out.”)

The reality is that we don’t know. It’s hard for a lot of people to say “I don’t know,” since we put such a premium on certainty. That’s just my theory and it probably has a lot of holes in it, but pessimism eliminates a lot of possibilities.

Generally I just figure it’s better to try. Trying will always lead to an experience and “all experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untraveled world.” (Alfred Lord Tennisball, “Ulysses“) In my life, the pre-eminent example of THAT is when I traveled to Italy for luv. Luv didn’t work, but I got to know Milan, saw thousands of paintings, learned a LOT, ate prosciutto and arugula sandwiches from a cart on the lawn of Castello Sforza, hiked the Cinque Terre, and revisited Venice.

“The Wedding is the Easy Part”

Seeing the prompt today — “Wedding” — I realized that the only weddings I’ve attended have been my own. I’ve been part of some pre-wedding stuff for my cousins, but otherwise? No. The only person saying “I do” in my life has been me, and as we know, I don’t. I should have said, “I might” not “I do.”

My first wedding was the whole shebang with expensive white dress, people in the church, reception, all of it. I was 22 and had known my husband since 9th grade. Our meeting in Mr. Morland’s biology class was one of those movie things — eyes meet, sparks fly but it was years (four) before we went out together. We’re in some classes together throughout high school. Various girlfriends and boyfriends and finally we find each other. I seriously think this might have been made into a Hollywood movie… Hmmm. ANYHOO it lasted 6 pretty miserable and scary years.

No, I wasn’t that innocent but nice photo…

Looking back I don’t know if it was a mistake or not. Back then, marriage was one of the “easiest” ways for a girl to get out of the family house.

The second wedding was a lot simpler. It happened in my mom’s backyard. I guess I shredded the photos of that in the great Purge of the Evidence of the Examined Life. BUT I had a GREAT dress and everyone had a good time. The only downside is that the man I probably SHOULD have married showed up a couple days before the wedding. I hadn’t seen him in years. He lived in Europe. He’d just packed up, crossed the “pond,” got a job delivering a new car across the US so he could get to me economically. Long story… Anyway, the Good X and I got home from ordering the wedding cake and found him on the steps to our apartment building. The day of my wedding, even my mom said, “So who IS the groom?”

When the universe speaks to me, even shouting isn’t loud enough.

The Good X and I had 12 mostly OK years together. We’re still friends and a kind of family.

There was a third wedding, and it was my favorite. Extremely low-key. It even had a reason beyond “luv'”. In fact the witness — my good friend — took me aside and said, “This doesn’t have anything to do with ‘luv’ does it?”

“No, god no.”

“OK. Then I’ll do it. Let’s go.”

Destiny designs rollercoasters for each of us and these were some of the “thrills” on mine.

Some weddings lead to happy, if complex, lives together. I admire that. Here are two that I know of. ❤

The featured photo is a car in Guangzhou decorated for a wedding back in 1983.

Yung Luv’

“I don’t think he’s going to call me EVER.”

“Probably not. I don’t see you as a pair.”

“What does THAT mean? I thought you said he likes me?”

“Yeah, but not in THAT way.”

“Why not?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“I thought he was your friend.”

“He is but, believe it or not, we talk about other stuff. We don’t talk about you.”

“You’re mean.”

“No. I’m honest. I’m just telling you like it is.”

“Does he have a girlfriend now? You said he doesn’t have a girlfriend.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I’m not with him 24/7. Why don’t you just go find something to do and forget about Keith?”

“I can’t ‘forget about Keith’. I’m in love.”

“Oh god. Again?”

“Kids! Supper!”

“Let’s go in. Mom hates it when supper gets cold.”

What are you kids doing, anyway?”

“Brenda is in love again,” Ryan pulled the bar stool away from the breakfast bar in the kitchen where they ate their meals.

“Oh. Well, it’s to be expected.”

“What do you mean, mom? You’re as mean as Ryan.”

“Honey, you’re fifteen. You’re just boy crazy.”

“That’s not fair! I really LOVE Keith. He’s THE ONE I want to spend my whole life with. Didn’t you and dad meet in high school?”

“You really want me to repeat THAT story?”

“You loved each other, right?”

“Yeah, for a while. But then we didn’t love each other any more…”

“Why did you stop loving dad?”

“Honey I don’t really want to talk about it. It’s over, in the past, we’ve worked out a way we can be here for you, sometimes that’s the best two people can do. Your dad is happier with Cynthia than he ever was with me.” Mom shrugged.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“OK, Brenda, I’ll lay it all out for you. When we’re young hormones rage through our bodies…”

“Everyone blames ‘hormones’. This isn’t ‘hormones’. It’s love.”

“OK, but you asked a question, and I’m trying to answer it. Your dad was cute, I was cute. We were propelled by higher forces toward each other and there was Ryan, so we had to get married.”

“You weren’t even MARRIED when you made me?” Ryan almost tipped over his barstool, laughing.

“No, we weren’t married. It made things very very difficult. I had to drop out of school to have you. Your dad had to go to work while he finished school. We weren’t kids any more. Life changed from one thing to another thing, a very serious thing.”

“Why didn’t you use a condom?”

“Buying a condom in those days was embarrassing. You had to go to the drug store and ASK for one.”


“Listen, kids, the world doesn’t stay the same. Something changes every day. Anyway, as time went by, I got my GED, dad went to community college, Brenda came along, we got a house, and, sometime in there, we realized we had nothing in common. Your dad was already sleeping with Cynthia. He didn’t want to break up our family, but… So, Brenda, when I say ‘hormones’ I mean ‘hormones’. When I see your dad now I wonder what I was thinking. In fact, I wasn’t thinking.”

“There you go, Brenda. If Keith isn’t calling you, it’s not because he doesn’t like you. It’s because his hormones don’t.”

“Pretty much,” said Mom. “You want more Tuna Helper?”


I’ve often been the long point in the isosceles triangle. It’s not a very comfortable position. What I mean is more than once I’ve been “the other woman” which is not to say that I was some vampish female who entrapped and led men into committing adultery. Not at all and never, but I’ve often been the “other girl” usually without ever being told. One of my guy friends (just a friend) said of this to me once, “Well, you make a good ‘other woman’.” Whatever that meant. But then, to be fair, I’ve been one of the softer points in triangles of my own while some guy hung out at the rarified distances wondering if I was ever going to leave a husband.

Love can be messy.

One of the most wonderful books ever written (according to my dad who was a mathematician) is “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions.” by Edwin Abbott. It’s a kind of science fiction in which all the beings live in a two-dimensional world. My dad gave it to me soon after I learned to read (maybe?) in any case, it was very hard for me to get my child-mind around. He tried to explain it, but in every respect it was over my head. I do remember that in Flatland there are strict rules for movement because it’s very important (naturally) to avoid injury. If a Flatlander happens to run into (literally) the pointy end of an isosceles triangle, it can mean death. It’s a real danger, too, because from the front, that point just looks like a line. No way to know if you’re looking at the happy broadside of a rectilinear “person” or the point of an isosceles triangle.

I never read the whole book. I think even its theme was way beyond me at the time. I ultimately just took my dad’s word that it is a brilliant satire and geometry lesson and mind warping story about living in 2 dimensions. “We’re lucky we live in 3, MAK,” he said, “But we really live in more. We live in at least four dimensions.”


“Time, honey.”

Now, as it happens, a fifth has been discovered.

In other news, Teddy gets his stitches out today! I look forward to him flying freely through the yard and not crashing his cone into my legs. ❤ He’s been a patient patient, though.

Shuffle Bored

“You wretch.”


“Nothing. A script for that play.”

“What play?”

“The one. You know. I told you. The one next month at that theater.”

“Sorry Babe. If you told me, I don’t remember.”

“Do you even listen to me when I tell you things?”

“I always listen. I might not always remember.”

“Part of listening is remembering.”

“I’m sorry, Char. I have a lot going on at work right now.”

“But I’m your girlfriend! I’m ‘going on’ too and this is your LIFE not just your job.”

“Sweetie, come here.”

“I have to learn these lines.”

“OK. You want me to help?”

“No. You have ‘important’ stuff to think about.”

Jack shrugged. Char could be moody. He’d always known that. And self-centered. He’d always known that, too. In fact, he’d always known Char. She had been the literal “girl next door,” and he’d decided, way back when they were six that he was going to marry Char. Twenty years later, it still had not happened, but they were, at least living together.

“Why can’t we get married and live together?” he’d asked her.

“What if we can’t get along? We need to know each other before we get married,” she’d answered. He’d brought up the point that they’d known each other since they were two. She’d just said, “It’s not the same. What if the way you brush your teeth drives me insane? I need to know that before I make a life-long commitment.”

Jack had thought, “But we’ve been on camping trips together, our families, just us, you KNOW how I brush my teeth.”

In some of Jack’s wiser brain cells he knew Char wasn’t all that into him, but he had managed to convince those cells to shut up most of the time. ALL of his brain knew she was hard to please.

He put down his book and went to the basement where he was slowly regaining space from the bizarre 1960s interior design the homeowners had done back in the day. It was a big job, involving the up-rooting of asbestos/asphalt tiles placed in arcane triangles exactly 8 feet apart. And why in hell would anyone put numbers on their floor?

“It has to mean something,” the realtor had said, “but godnose what.”

“Mom would know,” said Jack.

“Your mother’s dead, babe,” said Char.

It was Jack’s inheritance that had bought their house. Jack was a little nervous about buying a house with a woman who didn’t want to marry him, but whatEV.

He hadn’t done much with the floor lately, but tonight he felt a real need to do something that would lead somewhere.

He went at the tiles with a heat torch, a knife and a flat shovel. One at a time they came up. He stacked them in a pile to the side. They had called in an expert who said that since the tiles were in pretty good shape, they weren’t dangerous and they could cover the whole mess with a carpet or even pour a new concrete floor over them, but Char was freaked out by the asbestos. Jack shook his head.

When Jack came to, he was outside in the cold air, wrapped in blankets, strapped to a gurney, an oxygen mask over his face.

“You’re lucky your wife smelled fumes,” said the EMT.

“She’s not my wife,” Jack mumbled.

“WhatEV’. you’re lucky. The fire department was able to put out the fire before it could do much damage and we were able to get you out of the basement. What were you doing down there? You don’t look like a guy who snorts glue or some shit.”

“What?” Jack’s head hurt. He realized his hands were burning, but he couldn’t lift them to see why. “My hands?”

“Third degree burns. Probably be OK.”

“Where’s Char?”

“She went to her mother’s. She said she’d call. Lie back now. You’re hurt, you’ve had a close call. We’re taking you to the hospital.”

A cell phone rang, Jack’s. “Can you get that? It’s in my right front pocket. It could be Char.”

The EMT found Jack’s phone, “Just a moment, Ma’am,” he said, and put the phone to Jack’s ear.

“You wretch,” she said, and hung up.

You Say Hello…

In my life “Good-byes” fall into four main categories — those I can’t avoid, those I instigate, those that are instigated by others, and those that happen slowly over time, kind of an “evolving door” rather than an exit.

The first “good-bye” I couldn’t avoid was the death of my grandmother Beall which happened when I was 10. I didn’t understand any of what was going on at the time, honestly. There was the adult world of grieving daughters — my mom and her sisters — and the quiet world of confused cousins, my peers. It was just strange. But it was my first experience with death. The second was to be my cat, Henry, who came home one day with a broke back and while I was at school, my parents had him put to sleep. It was right and completely different from my grandma’s death, not so much because it was just a cat, but because there was a clear injury. I’d gone out to the garage to let Henry in and found him like that. He tried to jump up into my arms as usual.

The next was my father’ death which resembled Henry’s death far more than it resembled my grandmother’s. I had the chance to say “Good-bye” to my dad one afternoon and from that I learned that, if you can, control that moment so you can hold within your heart a perfect memory, a perfect image.

After that, over the years, there was what anyone in this temporal existence expects. One death after another. One permanent good-bye followed by another. Grandmother, mom, aunts, dogs, dogs, dogs, friends. You can’t always say good-bye but after a certain time, “Good-bye” is part of every “hello.”

I’ve had to break up with some boyfriends, divorce some husbands, and end a few friendships intentionally. Those are hard good-byes. They can involve packing up some future-ex’ crap and putting it in a wheel-barrow in the front yard. They can involve difficult phone calls, “No, Sweet-cheeks, I really mean it. I’m tired of you calling me and venting about your horrible boyfriend and not doing anything about it. I’m not your sob-sister. I’m your friend. That guy treats you horribly. If you hadn’t told me all these stories about him over the years, it would be different. I feel used because you don’t do anything about it. I don’t want to hear from you anymore.” Ending friendships can involve “ghosting,” leading to numerous “Why don’t you call me back?” messages which you answer in your mind, “because you kicked my dog, you excrescence.”

And, of course, there’s being dumped. In my life that’s probably been no weirder than in anyone else’s.

Then, you know, people move away. People’s interests change. People’s lives evolve. A lot happens in our lives, and the silent “good-byes” often have no bad feelings. Maybe there are going to be thousands of miles between you or that our lives that — once similar and synchronous — are now wildly different.

I have a few friends with whom I’ve been connected for more than fifty years. The friendships have survived because someone has held on — loosely. Our lives have gone in their own ways over the decades, but the connection remained alive. Some of these friends are old boyfriends (now literally, senior citizens) which is actually kind of cool. Whatever the connection was back in the dim recesses of time, something more important than the feelings of being “in love” was born and endured. My best woman friend from the 70s is still my friend today. We never agreed on everything — in fact, we disagree on a lot of things — but we value the other deeply for certain ineffable qualities of being that we never discovered elsewhere.

“Good-bye” is inevitable and while I’m not sure that every good-by opens the door to someone new, it’s useful to believe it does.