This is Olly. I “rescued” him. I was photographing the old foundation of our friend’s barn when I noticed this fuzzy thing sticking out of the leaf covered ground, all I saw was a piece of ear and a small portion of the back of his head (where the fur is greenish, was all that was visible.) I was afraid it was a dead animal buried in a shallow grave, but no, it was a plush toy that I assumed to be a bear of the Panda variety, but when my son looked at him, he thought it was a raccoon.
Bear/Raccoon, whatever. He was an absolute mess! I wasn’t sure if I could save him…poor thing. But I felt light of heart and determined that I would try my best to offer comfort. He was soggy, filthy, both eyes were missing, and he had roots growing through his face and paws. Who knows how long he’s been there, how he got there, and why. Like most strays and found things, there’s a story behind this little guy that will never be known.
So I brought him inside to wash him, I let him soak, squeezing the water through his body, coaxing out as much dirt as I could each time (the first bath was nigh black with gritty mud, I rinsed him out, and washed him again. He enjoyed at least 6 soakings in very sudsy hot water, lots of wringing out, and rinsing.
Soaking in a tub…he seemed happy enough to be seen to…it was about this point that I realized he was indeed a raccoon (the profile is clear.)
He spent the night draining in the bathroom sink, he still looked bad off, but much better than he was lying out there in the elements for (twenty years or more.)
Because his tag is faded I had no idea who made him, so late last night, I used my Google Kung-Fu and found a photo online of him.
He was produced in 1983 by Interpur, and made in Korea. He’s 35 years old!
This morning, I wrapped him in an old piece of flannel bed sheet, tied it with rubber bands and string (this was slightly disturbing to look at, like a corpse in a winding cloth, I couldn’t bring myself to photograph such a thing!) I put him in the wash machine and then let him tumble about in the dryer.
He came out looking much better. I don’t see any sign that he ever had a tail, which is odd for a raccoon to be without his tail. (Maybe I will make one…If I can make a donkey tail for Eeyore, I can make a tail for this wee raccoon!)
Because he was still full of plant matter, I spent a spell of time today plucking through his fur with tweezers to get the roots out of him, and carefully ruffling his fur with a sewing needle. I did this operation on our front porch at my work table, it was a nice day, and this little fellow needed some fresh air.
Then I found buttons, and felt for a possible patch job if I needed to, and set to work sewing up his face where he needed it.
We selected a pale button for his right eye. Since I didn’t have two buttons alike, I tried out the leftover buttons, none of them looked right, there were three that I set aside, but we were uncertain if they were right. Then while I was working, I explained to him that it would be all right to go with only one button, my kitty Popeye does all right with one eye (he came to us in bad shape, but we fixed him up too, and he’s such a handsome fellow!)
It was agreed we’ll wait n’ see how it goes. I can work on creating the felt patch for his missing mask, and then find a suitable button for his missing eye later should we decide to do it. Then I put a gray felt heart-shaped patch on the spot of his shirt that had a hole in it.
But doesn’t he look so splendid!
I just christened him “Olly” this afternoon while we sat on the porch together. I’ve never had a toy raccoon before, and wanted a unique name for him. My brain rambled over many, I sort of liked Olivia, but this raccoon is clearly a boy, so I thought Oliver would be nice, but that didn’t feel quite right, but I started to hear “Olly-Olly Oxen Free” in my head so Olly became Olly.
I love him.
He’s going to hang out with Distinguished, Sammy, Sunny, and the Yellow Gingham Piggy in the green chair. They’ll look out for him. (Distinguished is quite pleased to be in charge of this little fellow.)
A fine end to a long dark time in Olly’s life, to be brought back into the light, cleaned up, repaired, and then sat on the porch for much of the afternoon after his “surgery” and watched the world go by while feeling the sunshine on his fur.
It’s funny how I came upon this latest Ondaatje book—I thought to myself one day, “I wonder if he’s made a new one yet, it’s been a while…” and there it was—Warlight. I adore it. His voice is always steady—following the thread of a character’s life, shifting perspectives, wandering, the barely linear moment to moment present because the cause and effect sideways hiccups of the past infiltrate who we are, who we become. The actions of others influence us in more ways than we can ever imagine, the ripples of that pebble tossed radiate out and away—the future is a wait n’ see what happens.
Indeed, it does. Schwer is just another word for shit happening. Because of schwer, this will likely be the most quoted quote from the book…
“Mahler put the word schwer beside certain passages in his musical scores. Meaning “difficult.” “Heavy.” We were told this at some point by The Moth, as if it was a warning. He said we needed to prepare for such moments in order to deal with them efficiently, in case we suddenly had to take control of our wits. Those times exist for all of us, he kept saying. Just as no score relies on only one pitch or level of effort from musicians in the orchestra. Sometimes it relies on silence. It was a strange warning to be given, to accept that nothing was safe anymore. “ ‘Schwer,’ ” he’d say, with his fingers gesturing the inverted commas, and we’d mouth the word and then the translation, or simply nod in weary recognition. My sister and I got used to parroting the word back to each other—“schwer.”—pages 31-32
Without indulging in the “what it’s about,” I’m going to say for the most part, it is a quiet, contemplative book, until schwer happens. It was worth the wait for this one. Here is a book that will have a relationship with readers that will come at the right time for them, or it’s not jiving with their present experience, if not now, then later. The writer brings a book into being through inspiration a fickle whimsy that can be a blessing and a curse, the ideas pour out or stall; it blooms into something or dies on the vine. The ones with promise grow in a fertile minefield of the unknowns that reveal themselves in unexpected ways. The writer fills in the blanks with experiences and when the knowledge needed is not handy, research sheds the necessary light. A reader comes to a book with their experience and along with that they bring their expectations. Sometimes a reader is ready for it, other times, a reader isn’t “there yet” to embrace the story being told. For me, I settled in and enjoyed the read, although at times I felt sadness, and nostalgia because both my mother and father are gone, and all I have left are their things, my memories—and photographs. The mysterious images of my parents before they knew each other, well before they brought me into the world, feel most priceless.
There’s a photograph I have of my mother in which her features are barely revealed. I recognize her from just her stance, some gesture in her limbs, even though it was taken before I was born. She is seventeen or eighteen, and snapped by her parents along the banks of their Suffolk river. She has been swimming, has climbed into her dress, and now stands on one foot, the other leg bent sideways in order to put on a shoe, her head tilted down so that her blond hair covers her face. I found it years later in the spare bedroom among the few remnants she had decided not to throw away. I have it with me still. This almost anonymous person, balanced awkwardly, holding on to her own safety. Already incognito.—page 16.
I work in an art museum, in this job, I preserve the things from the past made by artists, and I preserve their memory—who they were and what they made during their lifetime. During my journey through Warlight, I recognize many things…
And now they have somehow entered the fifteenth century, with a thousand or so remnants confiscated from monasteries or surrendered by overthrown aristocracies, even incunabula from the infancy of printing. All of it gathered and protected here after once being damned and therefore hidden for generations. “This is the great afterlife,”—Page 249
He prefers older maps that are cityless, marked only by contour lines so they can even now be used for accurate reconnaissance.—page 249
Oh, and this too…
He loves the permanent judgement on the faces of statues, their clear weakness or deviousness. Page 250
As an adult—one who pretty much “ran away” from the small town where I was born, I returned home to clear away our parent’s house—and relived so much of the past—our mother has been gone for seven years as of August 3rd, and our father followed later—but this passage resonated to me so much—even tho’ their house was built in the 1950’s, I knew every inch of the place and the noises—the voice of the house that our father built…
But it was an old house. She knew each slight incline of hall, every stiff window casing, the noise of winds during different seasons. She could have walked blindfolded through its rooms into the garden and stopped with assurance an inch from a lilac. She knew where the moon hung each month, as well as which window to view it from. It was her biography since birth, her biology. I think it drove her mad. Page 253.
My current home of 23 years—I expect it will be my last residence that I will own as I can’t imagine leaving it, ever—the continuation of the above passage leads into this—
She would open a door and find herself in her grandmother’s life. She could witness the generations of women in their labours with a husband’s visit now and then, and child after child, cry after cry, wood fire after wood fire, the bannister smoothed from a hundred years of touch. –Pages 253-254
There is a sense in any house of those who came before—their essence is in the walls, the floors, the things they used, the marks they made to measure the growth of a child, the wear on the stair treads of our travels up and down. The safe feeling of familiarity—
She felt protected by what she believed was her total insignificance and anonymity to those in the village, while within the house there was the nightingale floor—that landmine of noises which would signal any intruder entering her territory. Her nightingale in the sycamore. —Page 255
I had to look up what a nightingale floor was—I knew at the time that I read it what he meant, but I still looked it up to learn more about it. I never heard a floor called that before, tho’ I have heard the chirp of such a floor in old houses that I’ve visited. I always learn something special in an Ondaatje book. The English Patient taught me about the wonderful smell of a dog’s paw—and loved my dog’s paws more because of it—and even tho’ my dog is no longer with me, I treasure the memory of his paws almost as much as that soft fur behind his ears where he smelled sweet like a sunny day at the beach. A good book teaches us things about life and such things as creaky floors, dog’s paws, and schwer.
Who hasn’t heard the catcall while walking from point “A” to point “B” down the sidewalk.
That time at fourteen, wearing a pretty sundress, sitting on the steps overlooking the street—enjoying the quiet summer night air, just thinking.
Then you notice the same car driving by—and the man inside watching you, smiling.
His dick in his hand. You ran home.
At the school dance, did you receive a kiss that was more than just a kiss—
There was that time at the bar when his hand groped your flesh.
Kidding! He said with a laugh.
Unexpected. Yet—Not surprised.
You were asking for it, right?
Your mother asked when you told her.
No. Not really. You replied, indignant, yet, guilty. Your body betrayed you.
You were only thinking, “Maybe I’d meet someone nice. We’d have a drink. I’d laugh at the funny things he said. Maybe he’d walk me home.”
You were just feeling prettier because someone noticed you.
He seemed nice. At least until—
He really wasn’t all that funny. No. Not really.
Who hasn’t heard the wolf whistle while Walking from point “A” to point “B” down the sidewalk.
It’s only hilarious in Bugs Bunny cartoons because he dressed like a she, and had them all fooled.
The rascally rabbit took care of that shit the minute the ears and tail became clear.
Think fast rabbit.
Hillbilly Hare © Warner Brothers Bugs Bunny
The classic cartoon, wickedly funny – I learned a great deal about life from Bugs Bunny.
Being a member of Amanda Palmer’s Patreon gives me a front row seat to the creation process of a song, a video, anything that she makes happen…and I’m more than happy to put my little money towards the creation of the “things” she makes because I totally dig what she does. This song…is the Holy Fuck of mother fucking songs…the two voices, Amanda and Jasmine, the piano, the strings…the whole production is haunting.
Fucking listen to it with headphones on so you don’t miss a thing. Or if you have an awesome sound system, go for it, turn it up to eleven, rattle the windows. Piss off your neighbors…
Here are a few incoming reviews:
Amanda Palmer’s “Mr Weinstein Will See you Now” is the beginning of a new era for #MeToo” https://www.the-pool.com/news-views/opinion/2018/21/caroline-o-donoghue-on-amanda-palmer-mr-weinstein-will-see-you-now
Why Amanda Palmer Wrote A Song Called “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now” https://www.refinery29.com/2018/05/199968/amanda-palmer-song-mr-weinstein-will-see-you-now
and this one, from a patron here, aimsel:
Amanda Palmer & Jasmine Power release scorching, triumphant “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now” https://aimselontherecord.com/2018/05/23/amanda-palmer-jasmine-power-release-scorching-triumphant-mr-weinstein-will-see-you-now/
I don’t know what else to say…I’ll let the song say it.
April 29th is a day that I celebrate every year for the last nineteen of them, I quietly acknowledge that this is the day that I picked up an empty salt n’ pepper composition book and filled it with the words that I needed to get out of my system. Those words became my first novel, Washed Glass. When I finished writing it six months later on October 29, it had a beginning and an end, and lots of shit happening in the middle—maybe too much. I revised it many times and set it aside in 2004. That time from 1999-2004 was pretty intense, I had the floodgates wide open and all of these stories came into being. I was writing them as fast as I could, very often simultaneously—it was madness, and I was incredibly happy and miserable at the same time. As it is, Washed Glass is still very raw—it has chronic first novel-itus—which usually is a death knell for many first novel attempts. I know it has lots of potential to become what I have envisioned for it, it’s going to take time and focus. I believe that more than one book can be dredged out of what’s there, the fractals of possibilities branch out and keep making more stories to explore.
I visit Washed Glass occasionally to tweak a detail here and there because it overlaps with my three other novels, Dusty Waters A Ghost Story, The Fractured Hues of White Light, and Drinking from the Fishbowl, maintaining the consistency from one book to the next is a challenge. This community of characters that I have created are all connected in some form—as in real life, people influence one another in various ways, for good or bad. I check in with the two main characters, Katharine Tierney and Jonathan Wiley, from time to time as they wander in and out of the story threads of the other novels, leaving bread crumbs that will lead to their story, and I am so excited that their turn is coming. I’m certain that I can make it right.
(Drinking from the Fishbowl is in the final, final, final stages of “dotting i’s and crossing t’s”, I swear fuck damn it, this time it’s going to be done!)
This object, the stack of drafts, manuscripts, folly, work, writing, paper, paint, sweat, and tears—years in the making.
Compared to my drawings and paintings that are more immediate because they’re right there hanging on the wall, a book isn’t so easy to ask people to read—especially one resembling a doorstop. Over the years that I’ve spent writing this book, I’ve accumulated several drafts and decided to use them to create this mixed media 3-dimensional object to represent what I’ve been doing all these years. Look at this thing…
The investment of time to write a novel is overwhelming, especially those early drafts when the work in progress is rough and awkward. The inspiration for it came into being sometime around 1999 and 2001, the novel began with a few lines of conversation between two nameless people. No aspiring writer knows what they’re getting into when they first start a novel, it’s a gray area of unknown proportions until the words form— black on white. Once I started jotting down ideas on any available piece of paper, post-it, or notebook, the cast of characters eventually acquired names, a shared history, a mythology, and the story gained a life of its own after a spell of trial and error. By 2003 it had a beginning and an end, and all the stuff in between, I set it aside to work on other novels I had in the works. Now it’s on the cusp of being published.
Precarious and chaotic at the bottom of the pile…
The top layer is the more recent manuscript, less of a mess, progress being made…
The stack of paper is a testament to the time I spent creating this work, and since my artwork is mostly paper based creations, it only made sense to use these drafts to create an art object; this piece is comprised of manuscripts from 2010-2018 when I set my focus on polishing the rough document I had created well before I knew what I was doing. It became a better work after waiting for me to become a better writer.
I learned a lot through the process of writing this novel—as with my paintings and drawings, the process of creating is the part I love the most—once it’s done, it’s in the reader’s hands. It’s the creative journey that I want to celebrate.
My little friend, Pigasus, an appropriate paperweight.
“You know just as well as I do that this book is going to catch the same kind of hell that all the others did and for the same reasons. It will not be what anyone expects and so the expecters will not like it. And until it gets to people who don’t expect anything and are just willing to go along with the story, no one is likely to like this book.” (quoted from page 26, March 8, Thursday.) Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters, John Steinbeck