Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Frustration at the delays

I have another on-line diary somewhere in cyberspace in which I write chatty, conversational entries pertaining to my life, including my family, my work and my friends. I like it over there. It didn’t take long to develop a sense of community with other bloggers of like interests and temperaments. I now feel as though I have a circle of friends with whom I exchange ideas at times and whose lives are laid bare for me to see the most intimate details thereof. Of course, I hide nothing from them either, except that the names are changed to protect the innocent. The chances of meeting any of these bloggers in person (except for the couple whom I knew before I started blogging there) is pretty slim. There are some I would love to meet, who seem to have interests similar to and lifestyles compatible with mine.

So what’s the problem? The site has overloaded servers and it makes adding a new entry a hit-and-miss affair. One can upgrade one’s account by paying money to the site, and these “gold members” are able to update more easily than the rest of us cheapskates, although they are experiencing different problems. In my case, I click on the add-entry button and get an error page, over and over again. It is very frustrating. At the same time, the ability to change templates is compromised as well. The same error page comes up. Sadly, I hit the add-entry button by error earlier today and a white box appeared immediately, which I banished. Now I want that white box, and it is as elusive as the proverbial butterfly of love.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Cactus Flower

It blooms in the dark, releasing into the air its subtle scent, enticing nectar seekers who are unwitting players in the courting dance of pistils and stamens. For one brief night the cactus flower plays out its lust, and then it is gone, hiding its shame with the morning light, soon to wither and be replaced by the pregnant globe of its indiscretion.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Coyote Music

Coyote smoked his cigarette,
And as he watched the smoke
Rise spiralling to the stars,
I could tell he was planning a prank
From where I sat across the fire.

“We’re going to grab us some moonlight
And put it in a bag;
And when Nokomis finds it’s missing
We’ll just play wide-eyed,
You and I.”

“Coyote,” I said, “how in the world
Do you go bagging moonlight?
That’s like trying to capture a sigh
Or a ray of sunshine,
Or a passing breeze.”

“You just leave it to me,” he said
With that glint in his golden eye.
Then he turned up his furry face
And gave a howl into the night.
It echoed off the hills.

Then he whipped out a leather pouch
And opened it wide to the night;
And just as quick he drew the drawstring tight,
Tucked it back behind his belt,
And took another drag.

“You haven’t got anything there,” I said,
Smirking at him through the flames.
“Whyn’t you show me.”
“No way,” said he, “the light’ll get out
And there won’t be any trick!”

Just then Nokomis entered the circle,
A scowl on her ageless face
And something else, a smudge,
Darkening one cheek.

“Nanabozho,” she said, her voice like cool silver,
“Coyote,” she shouted, now the anger clear;
“Trickster,” she thundered, a vein pulsing in her neck,
“What have you done with my light?”

Coyote bayed at the stars,
Yipped like a kit,
Danced on his hind legs and laughed
And turned to me,
“Now do you believe?”

And I sat there, mouth agaping,
As the fire died down to coals,
As Nokomis waited for her answer
And the stars wheeled above
And the night owl hooted in the trees.

Coyote leapt up and danced;
He pulled out the leather pouch,
Tossing it from hand to hand,
And when Nokomis was fit to burst
He pulled the string,

And out burst a blaze of moonlight,
Silver and brilliant and clear,
And Nokomis burst into brilliance
And outshone the stars as she glowed,
Her light restored.

But of course you don’t believe me
Like I didn’t believe Coyote.
do you capture a moonbeam
And hide it in a rawhide pouch
On a starry, moonless night?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I am not Cassandra

Cassandra was a beautiful woman, a Trojan princess, daughter of Priam and Hecuba, who was endowed with the gift of prophecy. Wooed by Apollo, she spurned him and was punished: Even though her predictions invariably came true, as in the case of Troy being invaded by the Greeks, no one believed her until it was too late. She was carried off to Mycenae as a spoil of war by Agamemnon and murdered along with him by her captor’s wife Clytemnestra, and her lover Aegisthus, who sought vengeance for the sacrifice of their daughter Iphegenia in order that the Greek fleet would have good sailing winds.

Poor Cassandra! The worst part is that she saw it all coming and was powerless to do anything about it. She even saw past her own death to the tale of bloody revenge exacted by Agamemnon’s children, Electra and Orestes, the subject of Aeschylus’ famous trilogy.

And what is the moral of this sad story, you may ask? Do not spurn the love of a god.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

I rage at the phage which devours me: Age.

Long conversation with my mom today. More like a monologue with appropriate insertions by me. She is extremely self centered. I don’t mean conceited, I mean that the world revolves around her, and her world is very small.

Her eyesight is deteriorating because of macular degeneration. That means that she still has peripheral vision, but there are problems with it. The doctor has declared her legally blind in her left eye, 50% sighted in her right. Apparently this is still legal to drive, but at 85 she is not about to hop into a car and start barrelling down the 401, even if she had a car, which she doesn’t anymore.

For quite a while we have done the same crossword puzzle every Saturday (hers from the Globe, mine from the Gazette) and compared notes on Sunday. Every Sunday for a long time now she has been complaining about how difficult it is to see. It’s been getting worse. She has now decided that it is too painful and has given up the Saturday crossword. I am saddened by this. It was something we could do over the distance that brought us together.

Since her heart attack she has been on a very restricted diet: no salt and no fat. One of her few pleasures in life, eating, is no longer a pleasure. I hear her complain about her problems and I think, “Why go on? If there is no joy in existing, why continue to do so?” Yet, she changes topic suddenly and starts talking about how beautiful the trees are in a certain park where my cousins took her picnicking, or how lovely the paintings are on the walls in her house.

Then I realize that the poor eyesight, the tasteless meals, the painful hip and the angina do not lessen in any way her continued zest for life. Her mind is still clear, even though her memory is faulty, and her determination to remain independent as long as she can has not diminished.

We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the Devil’s bargain; and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Bathroom musings

When we were in Greece five years ago, we started rating establishments such as restaurants on the basis of how appealing were their bathrooms. Sometimes the nicest dining room with the most delectably prepared food would score the lowest marks in the restroom category while the highest marks, believe it or not, went to the facilities in the McDonalds in a suburb of Athens.

The biggest detractor for Greek plumbing is the fact that the sewage systems could not handle toilet paper. This entailed having a little covered can in every stall for the disposal of used toilet paper, not a pretty sight (or smell). Greek people are pretty used to the system, since the same situation applies at home as well.

But, unfortunately, tourists from more septically-advanced countries were not always cognizant of the rules, and would flush all sorts of forbidden items into the void. Hence, it was usually public toilets that scored lowest on our list: the ones at museums, national monuments and archaeological sites. The very worst was the ladies’ room at Epidavros: toilets running non-stop, full of paper towelling. Who throws paper towelling into a toilet? And of course this would be the time when you were desperate for a washroom. We did a lot of knee crossing during our Greek sojourn.

But back to the McDonalds for a moment, if you will. Not only was the washroom clean and in good working order, there was no little wastebasket in which to deposit spent toilet paper. They must have paid for it somehow, perhaps with daily plumbing procedures. But the illusion of American convenience and expertise was perpetuated there under those golden Athenian arches.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

When stone speaks

While cleaning up my desk I found a brochure from an art gallery specializing in works by Native Canadian artists advertising a show by Joseph Jacobs, an Iroquois sculptor. My brother and I were at this gallery, just looking, and just by chance, when we saw this man’s sculptures. To say we were blown away would be an understatement. We were amazed. This artist’s ability to give an inaminate material life was just short of miraculous.

There were several pieces of his in the gallery, all beautiful, all complex. The gallery owner, unfortunately, felt he had to keep up a constant patter explaining the symbolism expressed in the carvings, how it related to Iroquois religious belief, the mythologies behind it, et cetera. Neither my brother nor I could care less at that moment. We were just enthralled by the depth of feeling imbued in the stone through this man’s exemplary craft. I have included his website as a link on this page, since I feel more people should have the opportunity to view his work.

I understand that religious beliefs have played an enormous rôle in the production of art over the ages; early European painting was all about Christianity. At some point I would like to learn more about Iroquois beliefs, and I must admit that Joseph Jacobs’ art has been the inspiration. However, even without understanding what inspired him, I can still appreciate the finished product as a work of exceptional talent and a thing of beauty.

Monday, June 14, 2004

How I control the weather.

Yes, I control the weather. I have supernatural powers. If I want sunshine, I just have to get a sunburn the day before. If I want rain, I just have to hang out a load of laundry. Today I did the latter. It will probably start raining within the hour. Do I care? Do I sound like I care? Rain is good, my flowers will slurp it up and reward the heavens by lifting their colourful faces skyward in abundance. The grass will grow, the river will run high, and all will be green and shiny in the world. Except for my laundry, which will be sodden and heavy and depressed hanging from the clothes line.

On the line right now, apart from the socks, underwear, tennis clothes and bathmats, is a Hallowe’en costume: Death’s black, hooded robe. It flaps in the wind as though the Grim Reaper himself were wearing it on his rounds, although it is as empty of an occupant as Death is empty of compassion. Once wet, it will be mournful, morose, melancholic. It will drag groundward as it tries to enter the nether realm. It will be unsuccessful. Because eventually the sun will come out and do its thing, and Death’s robe will revert to its innocuous form of a Hallowe’en costume.

Friday, June 11, 2004

What happens to the light when you turn off the switch?

Where do the words go when they disappear from the screen because your sleeve caught some keys when you were talking on the phone? What happens to your ordered thoughts, your proper syntax and grammatically correct phraseology when you hang up the receiver and notice that the white box has gone completely blank? Do you start over? Do you try to recreate what was so spontaneously spewed onto the page, knowing that it cannot match that first attempt? There is no hope. We must say no for today and try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


It’s all about the peach, the fruit that is. Today it was their smell that enticed as they sat nestled in their respective indentations in the plastic liner of the cardboard box: ripe California peaches. The smell was heavenly, the epitome of “peachiness” that perfumers of candles, hair products and body lotions can only hope to approximate.

And then the flavour as the slightly acid, gently sweet, oh so juicy pulp floods the taste buds. My god there is no description for it as the juice drips down your chin, trickles down your throat. Let us rejoice in fruit, revel in the joy that is the peach, the perfection, nay the apex of ripe ecstasy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Unsullied splendour

Ah, the very first page of a brand-new weblog, not dissimilar to the first page of a brand-new notebook, a promise of creativity in the same way that the first act of sexual intercourse ensures the end of virginity and the possibility of new life. Celebrations are in order! Pop the cork on the champagne, drink from the glass slipper, indulge in the nuptial spread. We begin life with joyful exuberance and optimistic anticipation. Let the party begin!