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And Words Are All I Have

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A Reader's Perspective, The Complex Shadings of Grief,

Falling Fast.

Best tweet of the week:

I'm thinking of watching a movie with my boyfriend.
Can anyone recommend a good boyfriend?

@Sarcastic Dreams

The Flip Side

Following my satirical look last week at my longtime “marriage to the grid,” I heard from a friend and former classmate with whom I correspond, who moved from Canada to Australia as a young man. Wilfred entertainingly offered up the flip side to my narrative in an intriguing letter, and has agreed to let me share it here.

As my lovely father often said, and sometimes in wonderment, “There are so very many ways to live.”

Here's Wilfred's letter --

Dear Tricia -

As you might be aware, we (Deborah & myself, plus 2 dogs - not all the same ones, but two at a time anyway), lived entirely “off grid” for over 20 years. As we were semi isolated and “old age” crept into our lives, we moved into town (small) for all the conveniences - doctors, drug stores, x ray machines and public transport to mention a few; as well as daily grocery shopping as required.

We had no water other than what we collected and stored off our roof (when it rained; we did survive a 3 year drought without any major problems. We didn't have any grass to water and the native trees found their own supply having been there before.) Our self composting toilet needed no water and also fertilized the soil quite well. Solar of course provided our hydro needs and we did work in town, 45 minutes away so groceries were never a problem as long as you planned ahead.

Did we like our experience? Wouldn't have traded it for anything. To be “self reliant” of sorts was akin to living in paradise (I think).

Side note: (We had all modern appliances, expect air conditioning); our stove and hot water system were propane and the house was gravity fed from an elevated storage tank...all installed by Deborah and myself!

With 550 acres of forest/scrub bush around you at the end of the road, and a 300m high cliff on three sides (the view was spectacular), you didn't see the neighbours until you invited them over. Our house (dwelling) was self built from all recycled timber, most over 100 years old. We found a newspaper under a floor dated Toowoomba Chronicle 1929.

Before I started building I literally didn't know which end of a hammer was held in the hand and which hit the nail!

Would we do it again? In a heartbeat...

It's not for everyone, granted, but for those of us that enjoy it, can't be beat...


(His view is pictured below.)

Wilfs land in Australia.


This morning I misread Tantrism for Tourism and it’s been downhill
ever since. Elephants are dying in the Okavango Delta and no one
knows why. A man I love crumples into himself on a railway
platform away from home. My sister calls to tell me about
her aged cat, who keeps collapsing, then rising to roam
the house in wobbly confusion. It is all falling, falling.
A poet on the internet talks about a Jewish legend,
where we are given tears in compensation for
death. I would cry about the perfectness of it
except I’m incapable. My ophthalmologist
has made a diagnosis of dry eye so I
must buy my tears in a pharmacy.
I think of what this is doing to
all the rotten grief inside me—
unable to create salt bathing
pools to fire up my wounds,
this body powered by
breath, dragging its
legs through
the vast
that have
lost their will to
transform me. All
the unknowing we
must accept and fold
like silk pocket-hankies
pressed against our chests.
The theory of spanda in
Tantra advises you to live
within the heart. I’m a tourist
here, so bear with me, but imagine
a universe vibrated into being. All things
made and unmade by a host of small movements,
my favourite being matsyodari —throb of fish when
out of water. Just the word throb, you understand, hints
at longing, but also distress, and suddenly, language opens.
All the etymologies I used to think were useless in the arena
of bereavement are echoing over the great plains of beige carpet,
saying, We interrupt your weeping to tell you the world is real, rejoice!
The elephants in the Okavango are keeling over like ships. No one
can say why. A die-off sounds worryingly like a bake-off but
without the final prize. At night I squeeze drops into my
eyes, whispering the magic words, Replenish, ducts,
replenish. If you play elephants the voices of their
dead, they’ll go mad for days, searching for
their beloveds. To fall is never an action
in slow motion. The snap of elastic
in your pants, going going gone.
Belief caving in like a bridge.
My heart, your heart, the
elephants’—here’s a
crazy thought—
what if they’re
dying of
Tishani Doshi : “There’s something marvelous about the conciseness and smallness of poems. I love that they are small and yet very big, and that you can spend time with one poem and it can expand so much in you. There’s something about the distillation of the form that is allowed to say things in a way that we can’t do with other arts. There’s something mysterious about it. Nobody is able to define exactly what a poem is; nobody’s able to say what makes a poem good or not—these are still questions that are out for debate, and, in a way, I think they’re meaningless. If a poem touches you or moves you, it has the possibility of transformation, and I’m really interested in that. Of course, novels can do that, and dance is capable of those transformative moments, but a poem for me also reaches back to a tradition of orality, the spoken word, of putting something into existence just by speaking it, by naming it. There’s something ancient in that. There’s something powerful about incantation. I’m less interested in breaking down a poem than in the sense of a poem just washing over you and changing you somehow.”
anger is grief
There should be a statute of limitation on grief. A rulebook that says it is all right to wake up crying, but only for a month. That after 42 days you will no longer turn with your heart racing, certain you have heard her call out your name. That there will be no fine imposed if you feel the need to clean out her desk; take down her artwork from the refrigerator; turn over a school portrait as you pass - if only because it cuts you fresh again to see it. That it's okay to measure the time she has been gone, the way we once measured her birthdays.”

Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper

fell into bed

Finally, she mused that human existence is as brief as the life of autumn grass,
so what was there to fear from taking chances with your life?

~~ Mo Yan

And this from the Scots poet Edwin Morgan !

when you go
pencil drawing red heart
I am here, listening. Share your own stories with me, gentle reader.
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