I have put off writing until now. There are days when I dread facing that blank screen and keeping my eye on the word count. What do I have to write about? Who cares? Why does any of this matter?
I don’t have good answers for any of those questions. All I know is that I made a commitment to write one thousand words a day, so I am here to do that.
Dennis stopped at the grocery store after bringing Henry to driver’s ed. We were down to less than a gallon of milk and fewer than a dozen eggs, so I asked Dennis to buy some. He called to tell me that there was no milk at the grocery store, and none at Rite-Aid. The forecast has freezing rain on the docket for Saturday, which probably explains the run on milk, yet I was still surprised—not that I can blame people. Who wants to lose power or have to run out in terrible weather? I don’t even want to do it in good weather. Thankfully, Dennis was able to locate milk at one of the nearby gas station convenience stores, so we’re ready to deal with the next couple of days, I guess.
Stella was quite taken by the date today. She had to write it on the pages she did for lessons, and more than once, she mentioned that today is 1-1-1-1-8. It’s nice to find a little bit of joy in simple things, isn’t it?
Stella was also excited that the temperature had gotten high enough to make the snow good for packing. She and the boys made a few snowmen in the backyard.
Sam reports that the television is working again. Whenever we lose power, the TV refuses to turn on for at least 24 hours, more often 48 or 72. Perhaps Dennis, Bridget, and I will watch the second episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. We took in the premiere earlier in the week (before the power went out), and enjoyed it.
I cannot get over how much losing my desktop computer has affected my life. It’s such a little thing, but it is rocking my world in ways I never would have imagined. I most certainly am a creature of habit. Here’s the funniest thing: I feel more discombobulated having to use this laptop than I did when I had no computer at all during our week without power. I think I know why, though. During our weeklong power outage, I kept my expectations in line. I knew that people all over the state were without power, and we would very likely have to wait days for ours to be restored. In fact, the power company did a very good job of updating its website and keeping residents in the loop, and Dennis kept up with it all via his phone. Now, though, I have what seems like only half of my normal computing capabilities, and it leaves me unmotivated to do much—at my desk, anyway.*
I’ve worked on cleaning up and organizing the basement, have put away all of the Christmas decorations—except for the tree; I need a few more evenings to enjoy its lights—and have gone to work on getting rid of stuff in my studio.
Okay, something needs to change here and now. It’s time to pull out a writing accelerator. Let me turn to one of my commonplace books and see what there is to find.
“So many fences stretch between our minds.” That’s a line from “The Glens,” a poem by John Hewitt about the differences between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.** I found the poem in a book of Irish poetry I bought long ago when I was in college. I’m not sure that I’ve read the whole thing, but I have read a lot of it. Titled Ireland in Poetry and edited by Charles Sullivan, the book also features photos of the Emerald Isle, and reproductions of art created by Irish artists. The dust jacket sports “Hellilil and Hildebrand, Meeting on the Turret Stairs,” a watercolor by Sir Frederick William Burton. I think I loved the dust jacket of the book more than the book itself. Yes, I must have, because it took me years to read a significant number of the poems, but I searched high and low for a copy of Burton’s painting. It was in the days before the Internet, and every time I walked into a frame shop, I looked through the catalogue of available prints or asked the proprietor if I could get my hands on the Burton piece. The answer was always No. I even considered writing to the publisher for a replacement dust jacket, so I could cut out the front and frame it.
It’s the blue of her dress, the detail in the chain maille, and the framing of the archway that attracts me, but mostly it’s the blue of her dress—and the story that the painting tells. I think I’ve mentioned before that I long ago fell in love with Ivanhoe, Beowulf, and The Iliad, and even in recent years, I’ve found myself smitten by Rosemary Sutcliff’s stories of Roman Britain, along with medieval tales that take place in Nordic countries. Then, of course, there’s The Lord of the Rings and The Quest of the Holy Grail. I guess all of that is why the painting speaks to me.
Then there’s Hewitt’s poem, which I enjoyed, especially that line about the fences stretching between minds. It is a great example of what poetry does best: makes us look at something we deal with all the time in a new way, so we discover something we never noticed before. If I had bothered to read the poems in the book when I bought it, and if I had given them the time they deserve, I might have figured out an important truth decades before it finally sunk in. On the other hand, at that point, there would not have been enough accumulated input in my mind, and I might not have been able to remove the line from the context of the poem and the situation in Ireland.
*Dennis tells me that the video card is not slated to arrive until Monday, so I guess I’d best get used to this state of affairs.
**To read the poem, along with some of my thoughts on it, head on over to this post at The Ruff Draft.