Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Night Frolic - The Bad Wife

His lower abdomen is punctured with tiny holes for the trocars, blown up with CO
and the wall is illuminated
She walks the city streets in Boston. Back Bay and Beacon Hill. He is in able hands.
There is nothing else to be done.
Three hours in the OR and three more in recovery. A stroll in the Public Garden.
The Swan Boats have been stored for the season. Still, the city's oasis sings botanic.
A poke in Shreve, Crump and Low. Too sparkly.
Lunch at Figs. Crinkled spinach, bacon and Parmesan salad. She eats
the very last dark leaf.
A massage. Soft tissue, she says. Stares from the headrest at the mossy green carpet.
What are they cutting now?
Isabelle's Curly Cakes on Charles Street: They make a
damn good cupcake.
It is, after all, owned by renowned chef Todd English. (As is Figs.) At four bucks
a pop every morsel is savored.
The surgeon calls and says he'd been looking for her in the family
waiting area, expected her to be there.
I'm around the corner, she says. Oh, well, says the surgeon, he's going to be fine.
She repeats it. Collapses, shutters inward relief.
She goes to the waiting room. The attendant says the surgeon was looking
for her. He seemed disappointed, she says.
Thanks, she thinks, I'm the bad wife.
No one misses the Chief.
They let her run up to recoveryonly on Ellison do they allow that, the attendant says.
She sees him on the gurney.
Bloated and wired with input and output, says he's happy to see her.
Boy, am I happy to see you. 
She collapses again. Smiles and says, the surgeon says you won't remember anything in
recovery. You remember the surgeon seeing you in recovery?
I do, he says.
Her hair is greasy with healing oils. She hopes he doesn't notice.
His head is wrapped in a cream colored blanket and he looks like an old Babushka.
She leaves him, again, to rest.
There is nothing else to be done.
Has dinner at PF Chang'sno Todd English at PF Chang's. Returns to the hospital.
Tubes and drains and Foley catheter. Instructions and prescriptions and precautions.
Call if this. Don't worry if that. He'll go home tomorrow.
The whole damn summer into fall. This'd better be the end of it, she thinks.
It's fall. Fall is not decay. Fall is renewal. Renewal.
There is nothing else to be done.
She drives him home the next day. Box of cupcakes on the backseat.

Kate Fenner, the Canadian musician with the rich and sultry voice, began her singer/songwriter career in the 1980's with the alternative rock band Bourbon Tabernacle Choir. Since the disbanding of BTC in the mid 1990's she has recorded two solo albums and several others with Chris Brown, with whom she founded BTC

Fenner's last solo recording (January, 2007), Magnet, produced by Brown, includes this beautiful duet with Brown:  

More from Magnet can be heard here.

And from her days with Bourbon Tabernacle Choir:

According to her website, Fenner and Brown are currently working on their own renewed collaborationan album with an unscheduled release date. One never knows what's around the corner.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Night Frolic - Welcoming Fall

Internet source unknown

Pondering the fall Frolic lineup as this rain drizzled last
day of summer walks out the door
the needle misses a few grooves and falls

into a troubling graphic transmission in which
the din pick up is where Michael Stipe et al
leave off

where minstrels of a certain character
examine the turn of each season

where one wakes to an amber fall
reddening maples sway, sprawl

shades of foliage from timber tall
shedding garnish raked by all

just before the seasons fall
a choir of bluebells stall

before the seasons fall
to the winter squall

the seasons fall
to football

seasons fall
the gall


into the Decemberistswho've been busy with their own sort of transition (including the above transmission)moving toward simpler American roots story telling and arrangements (assisted by a special vocalist and musician with whom we shall in the near future frolic), but not altogether abandoning the intricate high-brow narratives and sumptuous ballads written by Colin Meloy, the creative writing major and author of the pocket-sized sort-of-memoir The Replacements' Let It Be 33 1/3.

The Calamity Song video, inspired by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, demonstrates a turn of direction that is evidenced by the Decemberists most recent release, The King Is Dead (January 2011). The video, shot in Portland, as noted on their website "portrays a game of Eschaton (basically, a global thermonuclear crisis recreated on a tennis court" as invented in Wallace's Infinite Jest.

From The Crane Wife (2003)a stunning compilation of ballads that are as gilded as a New England autumn:

Welcome all. Welcome the fall!
(Which, despite its gall, so happens to be my very favorite time of year.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Flash(card) Fiction

(À la 1960s) 
Because I am having too darn much fun with these...

Read between the lines.
(Or between the words, as the case may be.)

Very good. Now let's begin the story:


(Though one would be forgiven for doubting the same.)

As it so happened the comedy, The Misanthropewas being shown in the local theatre, but Mr. Blank did not see the humor in it. It served, rather, to accelerate his aggravation.

Everyone in the theatre gasped and scrambled beneath their chairs. Great masses of popcorn were heaved in the air.

But I tried. 
He kept shooting. The police rushed to the theatre and quickly intervened. Mr Blank was wrangled  to the ground, cuffed and brought to the lockup...

...where he denied any involvement and fabricated many stories.

(Particularly for his roommate, who stopped by police headquarters to wish him well. )

Mr. Blank's posturing was to no avail. He was booked for possession of a deadly weapon 
with intent to  kill.

Mr. Blank was promptly tried for his crime before a jury of his peersincluding his roommate. The foreman, upon seeing Mr. Blank, thought him guilty. (Turns out, in this case, one could tell a book by its cover.)
Many peopleamong them, his roommatecarrying paddles, attended the courtyard celebration.

And also, 

What was it about this sentence that he could not understand? He tried. He tried.

Mr. Blank was escorted out of the courtyard. There was much pomp and circumstance.

Mr. Blank probably should have said that he was

Now Mr. Blank will have plenty of time to read Robert Frost and write parodies of many classic poems. Every now and then, his roommate will drop by with news of Saratoga and a paintbrush and canvas. They will never discuss politics.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Eighteen Years on the 18th

18 yrs ago--with a weird shadow behind our heads.

For a while, I called him my Chicago Guy. Technically, though, he's my New Jersey Guy. Born and bred, baptized by Springsteen. But he has the heart and soul of Chicago. He has its big shoulders, beautiful parks,  the cool and calm of its great lake and the tenderness of Lincoln Park's polar bears (oh, but how they roar). He does not have any of its corruption.

Twenty-one years ago I got to know him in Chicago. For nearly a year, back and forth, Logan to O'Hare, O'Hare to Logan. Our life together began along that corridor and from there extended itself far and wide. It is from Chicago and its surrounding Midwest areas, where he traveled, that his twenty-five year old self wrote long rambling letters in which he noted on "unused pieces of legal stationary about to be fulfilled..." things like this:

"As I put pen to this paper I'm driving I-94 to Detroit--literally. My current problem would seem to be navigational by nature as it's damn difficult to hold a Mitsubishi on the road while steering with your knees. Just imagine how Captain Kirk would have felt if every time he launched into 'Captain's Log stardate 9312.23...' he had to worry about the Klingon hanging out in the breakdown lane. In fact, now that I think about it, that's probably just about the only reason they had that scrawny little Chekov guy on the show--so he could steer while Kirk stardated up a storm."

Romantic, eh?

Not to mention, a bit... reckless?

(It would seem that writing while driving is not a modern phenomenon. Texting, at least, condenses the correspondence. Not that I condone it!)

Today, we've been married eighteen years. Before I met Michael marriage was something I avoided with all the criminal ingenuity I could sum. I would sabotage advances and plot escapes. I was a cat burglar--slipping in and out of hearts, taking what I needed and hightailing out of the affair, almost, almost, unnoticed--until my husband walked me down that straight but not too narrow path. Much like one of his favorite movies, The Quiet Manhe is Sean to my Mary Kate, balancing the downward force with the upward. He first appeared in my life when things were a little shaky, we went for a long walk along the Charles and he took me by the hand, a blade of grass in his mouth, and said, Slow down, you will get there.

I've never written about my husband, and probably won't again. He's a quiet and very private person, and probably wouldn't like it if I said much. Eighteen years is a long time. It's a long time of this and that and give and take and figuring it out together. I'm grateful for his Sean to my Mary Kate.

So, in lieu of telling more, I offer this gem of a video, a gift of love and literature to all: Litany (click for text), by another kind of thief, Billy Collins, who can ply more words from a literary device than I can from my husband:

So, did I get there? I don't know. But I feel like I know where I'm going. And I've learned to slow down. A little.

I wouldn't at all mind going back to Chicago. Soon. With my husband.
(And if you think this entry is a ploy to get him to read my blog, you are correct.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Night Frolic — Intimate Arrangements

Do you know this man? Hang on to your hats...  you're about to meet him. [source]

While the Suburban Soliloquist is away negotiating real estate agreements and finance arrangements (yes, she too, nearly forgot about that laborious and evidently not-so-captivating-dot-i-cross-t job where she redlines paragraphs packed with polysyllabic words such as herinafters and notwhithstanding-the-forgoings concurrently with vainly attempting to ward off the one-hundred-thousand-word migraine) she has made very special arrangements for you to see a very rare show in a tiny and somewhat cluttered but acoustically pleasant venue where very exciting things happen on a daily basis (which, to the best of her knowledge, do not include real estate or legal matters, at leastat the very leastnot on all-songs-considered day) that sometimes have the effect of giving her...


Are you dressed and ready to go? Well, fine, don't dress. Dress is optional.

Alright then, here are your TICKETS (click, click) for the show. You'll need them to get in. Now go. Seriously, go now. And Enjoy! (Oh, and take a look at the program, too.)

When it's over, please feel free to come back and let the Suburban Soliloquist know what you thought of it.  She likes hearing from you.

This is how the Suburban Soliloquist feels about the man in the show:

You can find the man's lastest CD and preview all songs here.

Disclaimer: The Suburban Soliloquist shall not be liable for any claims, accidents, damages or expenses of whatever nature arising directly or indirectly from any accident, injury or damage to any person or persons or property caused, in part or wholly, by swooning audience, nor shall she be responsible for the consequence of any actions--per se, swooning--of those attending the show, nor for disturbing her readers with redundant disclaimers.

(The Suburban Soliloquist likes her blogger job a whole lot better, unfortunately, that gig is pro bono. She will, though, endeavor to keep it.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


More about this to follow...
One of the benefits of living close to where I was born and raised is that I can easily return to the old quarter-acre city-lot homestead. There, I inevitably find myself sifting through bookshelvesof which there are many. My father built all of them. Three bedrooms and a bath can be found on the second level, along with a thigh-high bookshelf that lines the length of the half-open hall to the stairway. In it I find a blanched copy (1954) of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

In the sleeping quarters I shared with my two sisterslater converted to my parents' roomI find  a Second Edition of The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction in bookshelves above a writing desk.  It contains stories by many of my favorite storytellersjust some of the Bs for instance: Bellow, Borges, Barthelme, Bradbury. I'm making headway. Higher up on the shelves, I find this and stop:

Circa 1960 3 ½" x 1 ½" Flashcards

Have I told you about my dad? You may remember I've mentioned him here and there.

With ample gesticulation, he loved to tell amusing stories that, usually, had a moral. After all, what was a story worth without a moral? (Said the teacher.) By way of example, there was this old parable he would tell about the Head:
Once there was this Head--just a Head—no body or appendages on which to drape fancy clothing.   The head was often sad and lonely, separate as he was from a world of full of bodies. Day after day the Head would roll to work, roll to lunch and roll home. Each day the Head would look longingly at the woman who worked at the desk next to his, but he could never work up the courage to speak to her—because, well, who would want to talk to a Head? Every night he prayed that he'd wake up as something different than a head. But every morning, he'd would wake as the same 'ole Head. Finally, late one night in the darkness of his bedroom, the Head could no longer contain his agony, and he cried out, "God, please help me. Why’d you make me this way? I don't want to be just a head. I want to be ANYTHING but a Head!"  The next morning, when he looked in the mirror he was amazed to discover he was no longer a Head. He’d been transformed into a Grape. 
“What great luck, he thought, now I can do something with my life—everyone loves grapes!" He happily rolled out his front door, and over to the house of the woman from work so he could ask her out. He bumped against her door   until she answered. She opened the door, but seeing as how she had legs and he did not, she looked out over the top of the Grape and didn’t see him, so she promptly closed the door. The Grape, however, refused to be denied. He again rolled up against the door until she responded. This time she opened the door, and again seeing nothing, stepped out the door to look around. As she did so, she stepped directly on the grape and squashed him.  

No, that's not true. Not entirely. The audience simultaneously frowned and chortled.  And they got the moral, too.

Whether oral, paper or electronic, stories are a ligament to our pastand often an augury of our futurethat reveal the desires, beliefs and values of a culture. When we blog, we contribute our own unique narrative to the great library of anecdotes. The tales are importantmoral or not. And you don't need to be Hemingway or Borges to tell a story.

Which brings me to the Liebster: I'd like to thank Tim, a middle school English teacher who chronicles wonderful, little slices of life at Life of Riles, for passing along to me some Liebster Blog (above award, or is it meme?) love. Go and see him, he's a very nice guy (one can tell these things, even in the blogosphere) and his slices always make me smile. I've received this awmeme in the past, but failed to adhere to the rules, which include award-passing, because I'm overcome with schoolgirl awkwardness and anxiety whenever I try choose a prescribed, finite number of recipients. There are just too many bloggers who pepper me with wit and consequential pondering. Once in a while, I'll make reference to them in my posts. 

For instance, today I stumbled upon Pueblo Waltz, a blog about the arts (music, literature, etc.) written by college student and Taylor J. Coe. He also writes his own music and plays it for you on this fairly new blog. His first post, concerning choice of blog name, describes the talented/tragic Townes Van Zandt (found on my Frolics page) as the real-life Bad Blake (the protagonist of Crazy Heart, written by one of my former professors whom, by the way, was a student of Barthelme's). I read the post with interest, of course, but that isn't how I stumbled onto Taylor's blog. To tell you the truth, I don't remember how I stumbled over thereI do a lot of stumbling maybe it had something to do with art and literature. 

Oh, heck, I'm going to just get over my schoolgirl awkwardness and bestow upon Taylor his very first blog award. Congratulations Taylor, the Liebster is yours for the taking. Nice job, my friend. And good luck with school this year. :)

In any event, my talented raconteurs: Write. Spread the love through narrative, poetry, song, however your hearts desire. I love sifting through your well-endowed blogger bookshelves—what I find is valuable and treasured.

(Oh, and if you're looking for vintage vocabulary flashcards like the ones my dad bought all those years ago, turns out you can find some in the the other jungle, eBay!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering September 11, 2001

The other morning I woke with this Sharpie-marked, carpe diem napkin-note draped across my chest:

I am having pie for breakfast! Thank u! -- Lulu

I smiled and thought, That rascal, that petite gamine, taking full advantage of her late-rising family! 

It is a  rare moment that the girl should wake and get downstairs before her mother. And that banana cream pie from the night before... how does a twelve-year-old resist? How does a twelve-year-old not seize the day?

We are holding one another a little tighter today. We are staring at the endless blue sky and listening to requiems and sad, so very sad, stories. My brother-in-law, Tim, took his ten-year-old daughter, M,  to the Hatch-Shell at the Boston esplanade today to volunteer at the memorial gathering and tribute for those lost ten years ago on this same blue-skied September morning. M got to hold a dove before a whole slew of them were released.

As night thickens I realize that I haven't accomplished much today. It's been, I must confess, an entirely unproductive day. I've tried to write. I've tried to do something, anything that might make me feel like I'm seizing the day, that would pull me from the tube or the laptop or my own deepened depression. But I've felt woozy with the pain of those grief-stricken moments from all those years ago. I know people who lost loved ones. We all lost loved ones.

My husband was headed to Washington on September 11, 2001. He had left early morning to catch his flight out of Providence. At work, where I had watched the events unfold on a centrally located television I ran to my office and tried to phone my husband after the second plane hit the South Tower. The lines were taxed and I was unable to get through. I sat in my chair in my office, stared out the window and cried, cried, cried. Back then, my husband traveled so often that I didn't ordinarily have his itineraryI knew I'd hear from him when he reached his destination. That morning, I didn't know where he was. I didn't know that he had a connecting flight through Pittsburgh. I was panic-stricken for more than three hours. It was early afternoon when he first got through to me on his cell phone. The Pittsburgh flight, scheduled to depart for Washington soon after 9:00am, had been grounded and he'd been trying to secure a rental car in the mass confusion and frenzy. It would be two days before he was able to get himself home.

The morning of September 11, 2001. I cannot fathom the grief. I know the dread of not knowing. Not knowing if a loved one would return. The skies seemed brim with terrorists that day. Who was on what plane? Where were they headed? Where were they coming from? But a loved one not returning? The amount of utter grief. I cannot imagine. 

Tim sends me little updates from his Blackberry:

10:12am Boston. M is checking in choir members while I label seats for TJX families. Families of folks that could have easily been Betty [Backwoods Betty] or her Ad friends.

3:58pm. Boston. The bird of peace makes me wonder how hard it is for all of us to see that hate is senseless. Even as a response to violence, we still need to preach peace.

Today, especially, we mourn the loved ones who never returned to their families, we pay tribute to them and to those who willingly continue to risk their lives to aid and protect us. We count our blessings. We remember.

Listen to the stories. Tell the stories. Make peace with the world.

And seize the day, dammit. Eat pie for breakfast. Before it's all gone.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Night Frolic — Hacking Through The Jungle

Oh, I could only dream of the dreams we’d have, 
how our hearts would be entwined, 
if you would let me be the one 
to open up your mind.
                                                           -Jeff Tweedy, lyrics from Open Your Mind


And speaking of September 27th releases...

The unraveling of  the alternative country band Uncle Tupelo, in 1994, left an ensemble of talented musicians to grapple with what next. But singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy swiftly gathered the same musicians, minus Jay Farrar, and knotted together the band known as Wilco (an acronym for two-way radio voice procedure). Tweedy, Wilco's mercurial frontman, tours occasionally on his own and is especially brilliant when he does so. As in this performance:

[Joy of joysthe lyrics to Open Your Mind, along with the chords, can be found here! And they're all pretty simple chords except for that dang A minor, but yes! I am warming up the banjo.]

It's  impossible not to hear the influence of early country and folk genres, as well as punk and alternative rock, and artists like Neil Young (for whom Wilco has opened), Johnny Cash and Tommy Stinson in Tweedy's songs, nor see the pilferage of classic literature in his pure, honest lyrics. With the Chicago based Wilco, Tweedy's music assumes a thick, bittersweet consistencythe likes of which he deftly jarssuch as this emotive, demon-filled, uh... um... ballad:

Here, Tweedy spills out his weighty contents once again:

More about Wilco, from Wikipedia, here. Wilco's The Whole Love, to be released September 27, 2011, can also be found in that overgrown, thicketed jungle  if you hack your way here. Seriously, bring your machete.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When You Want Something...

.... all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
                                              ~Paulo Coelho

Logging out of as difficult as looking at this picture

Did you ever notice how difficult it is to sign out of Or is it just me? It's like navigating the Amazon Rainforestit's steamy (well, yes, it can be) and rich with broad-leafed verdure and slithery, fidgety creatures that come at you from all angles. I'm hypnotized by all the newness (and oldness) it has to offer. I could get lost in it for hours, days, even monthsnot that I want to—and I begin to feel like I've picked up some exotic virus as I try to weave myself out of its knotty green web. I need a fine-honed machete to carve my way out of that habitat. Fortunately, unlike a rain forest, it has a help button.

I am looking forward to this:

Paulo Coelho's Aleph will be released on September 27, 2011. You can pre-order a copy at

An excerpt from Aleph, as printed in Coelho's blog:

I see that Hilal is starting to feel uncomfortable.
‘I’m not interested in what our relationship was in a past life. We’re here in the present. In Novosibirsk, you made me forgive you and I did. Now I’m asking you a favour: tell me that you love me.’

I hold her hand.
‘You see this river?
“ Well, in the living room in my apartment at home is a painting of a rose immersed in just such a river. Half of the painting was exposed to the effects of the water and the elements, so the edges are a bit rough, and yet I can still see part of that beautiful red rose against a gold background.
“I know the artist. In 2003, we went together to a forest in the Pyrenees and found a dried-up stream and we hid the painting under the stones on the stream bed.
‘The artist is my wife.
“When I met her, I was convinced that our relationship wouldn’t work out, and for the first two years, I was sure that one of us would leave.
“ In the five years that followed, I continued to think that we had simply got used to one another and that as soon as we realised this, we would each go our separate ways.
“ I thought that a more serious commitment would deprive me of my “liberty” and keep me from experiencing everything I wanted to experience.’
‘I understand and respect what you’re saying,’ Hilal says. ‘But in the restaurant, when you were talking about the past, you said something about love being stronger than the individual.’
‘Yes, but love is made up of choices.’
We are both gazing at the river.
‘Silence is also an answer,’ she says.
I put my arms around her, so that her head is resting on my shoulder.
‘I love you,’ I tell her.
‘I love you because all the loves in the world are like different rivers flowing into the same lake, where they meet and are transformed into a single love that becomes rain and blesses the earth.
‘I love you like a river that gives water to the thirsty and takes people where they want to go.
‘I love you like a river which understands that it must learn to flow differently over waterfalls and to rest in the shallows.
‘I love you because we are all born in the same place, at the same source, which keeps us provided with a constant supply of water. And so, when we feel weak, all we have to do is wait a little. The spring returns, the winter snows melt and fill us with new energy.
‘I receive your love and I give you mine.
“Not the love of a man for a woman, not the love of a father for a child, not the love of God for his creatures.
“But a love with no name and no explanation
‘Like a river that cannot explain why it follows a particular course, but simply flows onwards.
‘A love that asks for nothing and gives nothing in return; it is simply there. I will never be yours and you will never be mine; nevertheless, I can honestly say: I love you.’
Maybe it’s the afternoon, maybe it’s the light, but at that moment, the Universe seems finally to be in perfect harmony. We stay where we are, feeling not the slightest desire to go back to the hotel, where Yao will doubtless be waiting for me.
"I love you like a river which understands that it must learn to flow differently over waterfalls and to rest in the shallows."  Oh my, I'm so looking forward to this.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Night Frolic — Reckoning With Forces Part II

"Oh,' said a very white body as it threw a wrist watch to the ground which broke without attracting anyone's attention, 'Oh, how can anyone not love poetry, natural machines, large white houses, the brilliance of steel, crimes and wild passions?" 
Robert Desnos

Tree in the Wind by Joan Miró 

...Or violent storms?

She departed late Sunday afternoon, leaving us with waves of warm breath and felled limbs and lines. The Canadians had skedaddled (I can no longer use that word without thinking of JeannetteWalls's memoir, The Glass Castle) the previous day, rushing to get ahead of Irene before she heaved in like the great big storm she was meant to be. And she was, at least that is, in many areas around New England.

We are minus a tree. It fell into a gurney of wire and rubber netting.

Isn't it beautiful?

This tree fell across the street directly into a neighbor's driveway.

We are minus, actually, many, many trees. Trees that never seemed more alive split and pivoted and drifted where Irene commanded. Trees hurled themselves toward the farm and the highland beyond that to the west and the shuttered city to the south, and treacherously, toward capes and colonials and bungalows. But I saw only one home that had been hit by a tree. Two trees, in fact—the damage transparently marginal. (Perhaps not to the homeowner.)

We had no power for days. (My electricity was restored by Tuesday night, though as I write this piece,  serviceincluding the internetis prickly and more than fifty thousand Rhode Islanders are still minus electricity.No electricity, no internet, no phones and for many, no water. Irene, not without warning, adorned us with coal-tar, high-voltage snakes hissing and snapping at air. Crack-mouthed spectators studied the spectacle. Sometimes too closely. 

We are minus power. We feel we should go to bed when the sun sets and awaken as it rises.

Isn’t it beautiful? 

Now, many people have jobs where there were none before, like cutting through fugitive trees and hauling their limbs and trunks. Electricians replace ballasts and perform other terrifying high-wire acts. Carpenters repair molding and roofers take to the sun-faded and wind-lashed tiles. Noise, noise everywhere!

(Those who've been re-energized—thanks to the hardworking professionals who are now working so hard they've no time to sleep—share water and help others in all ways possible, like offering a warm shower, or an oven or a refrigerator or food, or wine!) 

And as some continue to wait for the flicker of lights, even the rattle of little plastic and metal playing pieces and their game boards are once again heard. Books—spined, paper books are comfortably cosseted and the flipping pages set the timbre and timing like a worn metronome.  

But before the noise we walked into the streets, into a surreal scene. Nothing looked as it should be but looked as one would expect it to be. Everything appeared to still be there but much of it had been re-positioned in dangerous ways so that it was clear to the observer that it would soon not be there. Many trees that lay broken are now gone. The beautiful trees. At night, when we went to bed, we slept in star-blotted black quiet, without the rumble of fans or air conditioning or even a songbird. There is a certain eloquence to silence, the August moon was as silent as it's ever been.

The blackness was blinding. And enlightening. Many conversations erupted: Remember old wooden ice boxes and the rag man? Outhouses and reading by oil lamps, laundry scrubbed on washboards and dried on the line? (I remember my mother tying my brother to the line—but that, as they say, is another story). Grass cut with push mowers instead of machines we sit on? Wood fires burned all day to heat the homestead? Walking, yes walking, to school? (Wait—what does that have to do with a hurricane?!)

And we think we work hard. 

In Rhode Island, we are minus surf deaths. Actually, in Rhode Island, Irene took no one. Though sadly, over forty people in thirteen states were killed in storm related accidents, and lush, gorgeous Vermont is in crisis. More than two Irene related deaths were caused by rough surf. What compels one to throw a surfboard into the sea during a hurricane? But the surfers: they died doing what they love, didn't they?

There is a French expression known as l'un dans l'autre. Which means, in English, literally all in all or all things considered, on balance. In French, the phrase is expressed more like one thing in another or seeing one thing through another.

Things are as we see them (until we see them differently). We are minus this and plus that. What may be beautiful to one is ugly to another. There is nothing like a ferocious storm—the moments before, during and after—to remind us of this.

One might say what the French writer and poet, Andre Breton, observed: The birds have never sung better than in this aquarium.

Isn't it beautiful?
* * * 

Guitarist Ottmar Liebert and his Luna Negra band have been recording nouveau flamenco style music since 1989. His instrumental music, a sanctuary from the storm, offers clarity and hope. Each song tells a story, conjures a specific place and time, and the silent narrative is both mesmerizing and emotional. The music, like his song titles, is passing storms. It is Turkish nights, Spanish rumbas, a Havana club, and light: morning light, moonlight, streetlight. It is flowers, butterflies and  falling stars and beating hearts. It is beautiful.

Leibert is not entirely without words, he keeps an online journal here. And his complete website, here.