• Tag Archives melancholy
  • More Doing

    Summer                                                      Hiroshima Moon

    More doing.  A couple of weeks ago our dogs, imagining we were bored, I think, decided to dig under the orchard fence rather than vault over it where I had put the electric fence.  Thing is, they succeeded.

    (a 2010 effort, getting ready for the Olympic digging)

    The first route underneath resulted in a shallow cave under the second of two blueberry mounds that we have, leaving them in danger of collapse.  That was when it was too hot to move, so indolence carried the task through until today.  Got out the shovel and reversed the dog’s action carried out with their two front feet.  If it was Vega and Rigel, and I’m sure it was, then they probably took turns, as I have seen them do numerous times.  One gets tired, the other steps in to continue the task.  Two big dogs can move a lotta sand fast that way.

    Digging underneath the fence requires a different strategy than electric fence since I don’t want to run a low wire-rope.  Too much trouble with plants, snagging, that sort of thing.  My method in this instance is to bury chicken wire after having wired it to the larger mesh we have between the wooden rails. This works.

    The California fence that we had put in for the vegetable garden, five foot tall chain link in
    black with red cedar posts, top rails and bottom boards, would have worked better here, too, but we didn’t choose it.

    (California fence)

    Also collected the onions whose tops had fallen over, the sign for harvesting, put up the old screen door on supports in the near garden shed and laid out this year’s yellow onion crop for drying.  After about a week they’ll go downstairs into our small root cellar simulacrum.  The yellows keep best.  Reds don’t keep at all; whites in between.

    Finished weeding the mounds around our fruit trees and the blueberry patches, helped Kate start the mower and came in.  Kate came in a few minutes later to say she had disturbed the ornery bees.  Two stings.  We have one hyper-vigilant colony and one almost somnolent.  Odd.


  • Leave Taking

    Spring                                                           Woodpecker Moon

    At the dentist this morning I told them Kate and I planned to use a dentist closer to our home here in Andover.  This was what got me thinking about leave taking.  We’ve been with Centennial Dental for over 22 years and making the change was not a trivial decision.

    In part we switched because our new dental insurance doesn’t include them, reason enough for sure; but, this was more a decision about not wanting a trip to the dentist to take three hours or so.  Centennial Dental is in Edina near the Macy’s Homestore.  They are great dentists.  That’s why we stayed so long.

    After that, a nap, and then off to Champlain High School and my third and last, for now, class on the Adobe Creative Suite.  This class is on Adobe InDesign. I’m cranking up to sell my books on Amazon, through the Kindle store.  InDesign will let me format my books myself and save them in a file congenial with the Kindle operating system, perhaps others, too.

    Then there’s the verdammt melancholy.  After the dentist I drove right at a car coming from my left.  I missed her, but my attention was not there.  Vacillating now between acting as if I’m fine and seeing if that will lift my spirits or biting the bullet, calling my old analyst John Desteian and my gp Tom Davis, take arms against this sky of clouds and by opposing them grow more cheerful.


  • Melancholia

    Imbolc                                                         Woodpecker Moon

    In what is, I suppose, a good sign, I’m getting fed up with this latest round of melancholy.  As I tried to do my Latin today, my ability to focus just wasn’t there.  The holding of one idea in my head while tracking down another seemed too hard.   I shook my head–ridding it of the annoyance I felt–and went upstairs for lunch.

    I have begun a look back and now find that my melancholic episodes probably started in high school and have continued, largely unnoticed, until now.  I say unnoticed because they were usually not incapacitating, though in one instance around 1975 I can recall sitting in a chair for days on end, unable to stop unraveling the patterns in the wallpaper.

    I believe I have experienced them as periods of slowing, waning interest or perhaps an unusual run of irritability, but not as episodes cycling through my life, a constant dysthymic hum, sometimes in the background and other times dominant, changing the course of things in my day to day world.

    Of course, these cycles interlaced with my drinking, my failed marriages, my occasional angry outbursts.  Perhaps they only reinforced these troubled times or, perhaps, they created some of them.  I don’t know.

    If this is right, and I’m pretty sure it is, it also means that I dealt with the death of my mother in 1964 influenced by these cycles.  It is my belief now that the charged, dark feelings of that difficult time still come along for the ride, packed in a baggage car as the melancholy train pulls into the station.

    These complicated threads make these cyclic turns difficult to sort out, place in perspective.  It also makes them difficult, as a direct result, to get any particular treatment for.

    Anyhow, out there, tomorrow or maybe the next day or if not then soon, the heaviness will lift and I’ll be able to get back to the incredible lightness of being.

  • Another Beautiful Day. Bah.

    Imbolc                                                Woodpecker Moon

    Another beautiful day. Yes.  But.  What dark forces work to push the boundaries of weather around like so many children’s blocks, a lego castle on wheels rolling north, careening over everything in its wake?  As I hope I’ve said here before, efforts to control global warming are NOT about saving the planet.  The planet will keep on whirling around the sun as long as gravity and spacetime remain.  Well, not quite, there is that whole red giant business, but it’s a really long time from now.

    No, good ol’ h. sapiens will catch the fever.*  Of course, those with an eye to irony or just desserts might not see this a totally uncalled for solution; but, hell, I love our funny two-legged species, roaming around making babies, art, war, sport, roombas, nailguns and rainbow ponies.  What will the universe do for a laugh when we’re gone?

    Fans of schadenfreude will rejoice.  Though whether one can be very schadenfreudie when you’re baking along with the ones responsible for delaying action, I don’t really know.

    So, as a paid up member of the northern European gene pool, I’m tellin’ you it’s no wonder I’m melancholy.  The world is going to hell in a Hummer, not a handbasket.


    *Scientific American

    LONDON (Reuters) – Global greenhouse gas emissions could rise 50 percent by 2050 without more ambitious climate policies, as fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Thursday.

    “Unless the global energy mix changes, fossil fuels will supply about 85 percent of energy demand in 2050, implying a 50 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions and worsening urban air pollution,” the OECD said in its environment outlook to 2050.

    The global economy in 2050 will be four times larger than today and the world will use around 80 percent more energy.

    But the global energy mix is not predicted to be very different from that of today, the report said

  • Shadow Line Approaching

    Imbolc                                                 Woodpecker Moon

    Not sure how serious, but I can feel the clouds rolling in, a definite darkening of the inner horizon.  Missed a call tonight for the Sierra Club legislative committee through some technological foul up.  Maybe on my part.

    Sorting through my fear about exposing my writing to the light of day.  I know this needs to change and change can trigger a melancholic episode, too.

    Doesn’t have to be reasons when the light begins to dim.  I feel heavy, slow, molasses on the floor, thick curtains to push through.  Could be the unseasonable weather.  I know it seems weird, but I really like the cold and the gradual procession of seasons.  This tempering and sudden switching feels somehow wrong to me.

    As I said the other day, I know I can’t change the weather, so adapting to it makes sense.  Enjoy the beautiful day!  Sunshine and warm weather.  What’s not to like?  But a part of me, a strong part, wants March back in late winter.

    Or, maybe, I feel this way because I’m becoming melancholic.

    The melancholy is a family thing, a genetic inheritance.  The bipolar gene runs in my family, I’ve said it before here.  I’m not bipolar, but I have these melancholic episodes from time to time, sometimes with little or no trigger.


  • Fall-ing

    Lughnasa                                                  Waxing Harvest Moon

    As August slides away and the sky shifts its colors toward deeper hues, an inner barometer detects higher emotional pressures.  The atmosphere weighs more, cuing those momentary pauses, breaks in attention.  It may signal a storm ahead, but more likely the prediction carries gray skies and mist, perhaps early morning fog.

    Melancholy comes calling this time of year, an acquaintance, maybe a friend, of long standing.  Mom died in October, 1964, 47 years ago, a year longer than she lived.

    Her death came at different moments in life for all of us.  Mark, 5 at her death, has few memories of her; she lingers in his past as a faint spirit, an enigma.  Mary, 12, has more, a young girl heading into adolescence, becoming a woman, missed the guidance a mature woman could give as she made that critical transition.  At 17 my life had already begun to pull away from the family, in my senior year of high school, the last, college plans in the making, I had her longest of all, only a brief time less than Dad.

    When that dark angel comes, and he comes for us all, finality is the hardest lesson to absorb.  No more mom.  No more.  Memories, yes, but memories fade and change as life goes on and here all three of us are, 47 years later.  47 years.  A lifetime.

    Why a friend?  How could melancholy be a friend?  Well, in this way.  As life patters on, this event following the other, we can become accustomed to its rhythms, lost in its small decisions and its casual absorption of our energy.  So lost, in fact, that we forget the Self that carries us forward, the Self into which we live and which lives itself into us.

    Melancholy can turn us away from the day to day and cause us again to walk down the stairs leading to what Ira Progoff calls the Inner Cathedral.  We often forget this quiet place within, our own sanctuary, and melancholy can call us to visit it again.

    So, yes, melancholy can be a friend of the Self, a guide back into the depths and resources of your Self.

  • See You In September

    Lughnasa                                                            Waxing Honey Extraction Moon

    The end of the day.  The time when the season turns on a pivot toward fall and away from the Solstice.  My mood has shifted to melancholic.  Not sure why.  Maybe the end of the day, the time of year.  It is around this time in the year when I turn melancholy, a sort of seasonal affective disorder, perhaps more related, to the nearness of the school year.

    No, not because of any negative associations with school.  No, maybe because I’m not going back to school.  Not anymore.  School was good to me.  I got lots of strokes from lots of folks, school was feel good time for me.  Yes, I had some troubles that happened during school, but they were extra curricular, the school part, that always grooved.

    Well, not quite always.  That first year at Wabash I encountered German.  German and I did not get along.  I found myself near mid-semester and staring at a D.  A D!  I graduated at the top of my high school class.  I didn’t get D’s.  But I was about to get one.  So, I dropped it.  Not my finest hour academically, but it did save my bacon.  Why was I taking German?  I wanted to read philosophers in their own languages and German seemed like a good place to start.

    Other than that first semester at Wabash, school was fun.  I enjoyed learning, studying, taking tests, writing papers.  Weird, huh?  Now when See You In September begins to play on the oldy stations, my nostalgia meter hits a high.

    Hmmm.  Just occurred to me.  This may be the way successful athletes feel when the school year starts, in those day after their career has ended.  Those were the best years of my life.  That sort of feeling.

    No.  That’s not it.  Those weren’t the best years of my life.  These are the best years. Right now.

    It may explain why I keep throwing myself into things like the docent program, learning Latin, Tai Chi, always going for the burn that comes from conquering a learning curve.  That life long education idea really took hold in me.  I believe in it, body and soul.

    Though I do, each year when the evening’s cool, the leaves begin to change and parents start packing their kids up to take them off to college, I wish, a part of me wishes, I could go along with them.

    Here’s something a bit strange.  The song that always comes to mind for me at this time of year is See You In September by the Happenings.  Here’s a youtube version filmed on Lake Calhoun.

  • What Get’s You Up In The Morning?

    Beltane                                                         Waxing Last Frost Moon

    Several years ago, maybe twenty, I sat down with my friend Lonnie Helgeson at the Walker cafe, a table overlooking downtown Minneapolis and the Sculpture Garden.  Lonnie, I said, I could die now.  I feel good about what I’ve done with my life and would have no regrets.

    Lonnie looked at me, thought a moment, then asked, “But Charlie where’s your passion?”

    Oh.  Yeah.  A passionate man would not declare he was ready to die, he’d be asking, what’s next!

    Now, at 64, I can honestly say, “What’s next!”  Not sure what was going on at that moment in my life, but I think I’d hit a caesura, a pause in the melody of my life, a rest stop on the way.  While there, I mistook the rest stop for a destination, rather than a place to catch my breath, consider what direction my path now lead.

    Older now and several caravan serai of the soul moments later, I welcome those times when life ceases to press with urgency, when the TV or  a novel or a long vacation beckons.  These are moments of consolidation, a time perhaps to welcome the god Janus for a good look back and a strong gaze forward.

    It feels like one may be coming.  Last night I finished my literal translation of Ovid’s story of Diana and Actaeon.  The legislature ends this session (we think) on May 20th or so.  The touring season begins to loosen as schools close down for the summer.  Then I’m left with the bees and the gardens, the novel, too, of course.

    These kind of moments when the pacing changes dramatically often yield breaks.  Often, as I’ve looked back over my life, I’ve responded to these breaks with melancholy, a drifting down, moving into a sense of purposelessness.  What do I do now?  I might die.  That would be ok.

    Probably where I was that afternoon long ago having lunch with Lonnie.

    The melancholy is ok, too.  It’s an old friend, one I’ve come to appreciate as a gathering in, a time to be with myself, in myself.  The melancholy slows down my appetite for life, forces me to pay attention to subtler, inner things, so when I reemerge, I’m ready for another road on this one-way trip.

    So, if you talk to me a month from now and I seem a bit distracted, maybe a little down, you’ll know I’m really just resting, getting ready to come out of my corner.  Again.

  • Ordinary Stuff

    Beltane                                       Waxing Strawberry Moon

    The half Strawberry moon hangs just above the basswoods in our woods.  The night has a velvet texture, not the Elvis portrait kind but the backing for a stunning diamond necklace kind.  The moon lays upon it as a gem of unique character, instead of fire it has a subtle glow, a depth that promises mystery.  As it always is here at this time on night, it is quiet.  Solitary.  Right now it’s just the moon and our house floating along on a dark, silent river.

    Somehow melancholy can be transformed now, as if the inner and the outer merge for a moment and the ache dissolves, only a small blackness measured against space.

    A friend from long ago, the Alexandria days, wrote on facebook that he had had a tumor removed from his bladder.  His sister-in-law wrote to say she loved him.  I got a quick jolt of time having passed, so much time.  We were high school buddies when I left and now he’s an aging baby boomer like me with health problems and a family that loves him.

    This is ordinary stuff, yes.  But it has history, breadth, too, for Larry and I know many of the same people, grew up with them, played little league and sat through 5th grade with Mrs. Craig and listened to Hit the Road, Jack on the high school public address system.

    We remember when Alexandria had a thriving downtown, a strong sense of itself, a small town with muscle.  Now it has and has had for a long time, a wasting disease.  Empty storefronts.  Chain businesses on the edge of town with big box architecture and big city charm.  Ferguson’s, a women’s clothing store, is gone.  So is Baumgartners for men.  There was a moment when Alexandria had two movie theaters and plenty of patrons.  We all remember it.

    The place where the child has played can never be recovered or repeated, only remembered.  It was there, for me, in that little town, with all those others.  My friends.

  • Minnesota: Where We Are

    Beltane                                   Waxing Strawberry Moon

    Had another bowl of strawberries fresh from the patch, grown under the Strawberry Moon.  There’s something special about food that comes from your own land, nurtured by your own hands, a something special beyond the nutritional and taste benefits.  It relates to be who you are because of where you are.  We’re a Seven Oaks family and you can’t be a Seven Oaks family if you live in Ohio.

    I had another frisson of this yesterday when I sat in the Minnesota Environmental Partnership offices and looked across the conference table to a black and white photograph of a boundary waters lake.  Since I shifted my political work to the environmental and away from the economic four years ago, I have sat in meeting after meeting (the unglamorous fact of political life) dedicated to making this state’s overall environment better in some way.  Seeing that photograph as we discussed initiatives for energy in Minnesota, the context for our work snapped into place.

    We’re talking about our home, this place, the place where we are who we are because we are here.  You could say a gestalt of the work gelled.

    Been a little down since yesterday’s stop by the policeman.  It embarrasses me, as it is supposed to do, and calls the rest of my life into question, which it is not.  Then, my Latin tutoring session today found me floundering, wondering where my mind had been when the rest of me engaged this week’s translation from English to Latin.  Mix it up with the fact that I missed my nap yesterday and my exercise.  Result:  glum. In spite of the sun.

    So. Exercise now.  It always makes me feel better.