Stuck. Time for a poem, or something that hints at one.

I’ve got too much on my mind just now to write even a sentence, let alone a post. I know, because an hour or so ago I gave it a go and—well, I had to leave that sentence be. One or the other of us—the sentence? Its author? Hardly matters, other than that one or the other of us is a half-brick shy of a full load. In a better time and place that sentence (and a caboodle of others) will (presumably) match up again with something worth saying, but the time, the place—ain’t now.

So … how to keep my hand in? I mean, I’d hate to have it slip away all over again. (I did, after all, begin this year with “For pity’s sake. It’s time to just write.” But methinks I need to take the easy way out and borrow someone else’s words. Having now just landed, half by accident, at a Goodreads page devoted to Walt Whitman, I offer this:

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

That’s old Walt for you, all right.

 

 

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What can you say of a dead man’s dreams? (part 2)

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Maybe you read my post of January 8 re: my father’s Last Will and Testament—the document tucked away among a cache of letters I’d stumbled across in my attic. Here’s the gist of what I said: finding that cache blew me away, because the father I met wasn’t the one I knew.

It’s not like I lacked for memories. But good grief—the man was born in 1892. Not that I’m any spring chicken now, but still, it was like growing up with a grandpa. As for older parents generally? Other than the occasional genetic mishap (btw, men churn out vastly more sex cells than women do—cells whose DNA have the potential to mutate), no, I don’t have anything against the older-dad thing; after all, some older dads are more stable.

Mine was not.

As a child I naturally lacked a suitable appreciation for certain… ahhhh. How to say? For certain eccentricities; is that the right word? Misplaced assumptions? Embroidered versions of reality? Fabrications? Downright lies?

Truth, lies, or fabrication?

OK, not lies. But while I don’t believe that my father lied, he assuredly made stuff up. Fabricated reality to fit his worldview. And don’t we all? Some of us are just luckier than others; have neurons more attuned to reality-checks or giving others the benefit of the doubt or forgiveness or mercy; whatever it takes to heal wounds, be they personal or political or anything else. That he was a clergyman? It’s not like being a minister gives you a green card for mental health.

So. Let’s review. I noted that for years (or so he said) he’d been in the habit of talking with his youngest child—that youngest child being me. OK, I’m totally clueless as to why somehow I ended up as his favorite child. And I have no memory of these conversations. Honestly, I hardly knew the man.

So. That Last Will and Testament. He had written: I went to Syracuse. God was with me, and a little girl’s prayers guided me. Subtended herewith is a photocopy of some of the “instant” results, or dividends, which accrued from this investment made by my junior partner.” Fabrication, pure and simple.

I’d found other letters from roughly the same era; letters my father wrote to one of his older sons of an earlier marriage, one of which accused my mother of having “de-Christianized” his children. Uh…really? (Sure, maybe one of us eventually let go of religion, but our mom had nothing to do with it.) So… the love my mom and dad once shared—those love letters were scattered through the cache too—went south in a big way by the time I was, what, six years old? Maybe someday I’ll spill those beans because they were scary bad, but not now or anytime soon.

Last Will and Testament, continued

Now back to that will: I’ve not up-cased “will” because—well, just because. Testament? He left nothing of tangible value, true. But by the definition of testament as a statement of fact or worth, well, in that sense it was, sort of. He continued:

“But more significant are the long-term results and dividends, not only financial, but sociological and ecological, as a means of combatting pollution, and conserving natural resources, and protecting the environment essential to the survival of the human species. As this is being written, in September 1972, dramatic new developments are taking place. New partners are unexpectedly appearing, and volunteering their services. And the Unseen Partner whose presence has always been near; whose ‘still, small voice’ speaks in the silence of the night, to all who are willing to listen, explaining mysteries that human wisdom is unable to solve; and whose strong hand, if we will grasp it, will keep us from falling, will guide us through every crisis, and bring us at last to a new promised land.”

OK, I’m coming up for air. Skipping to the last page. Man, he had but known—but hold that thought. He continues “I have been the inventor of a number of devices and processes, already mentioned,which have proved to be of considerable value, financially, as well as sociologically and ecologically. However, due mainly to the fact that I was “put through the ringer” by a Wall Street wizard whom I trusted, I am today without property or income, except for a monthly social security check, and for public assistance in the far of “food coupons” for which I am deeply grateful.

“Needless to day, the experience of seeing one’s life work, devoted to the public service, end in financial disaster, has been a bitter one. And yet, in this very experience I have learned something with fills me with incredulous astonishment and wonder. It was in the very hour and place of my bitterest humiliation that I found the Key Persons who are in the strategic position to adopt and sponsor our Project for Urban Climate Conditioning which is the vital first step toward averting the catastrophe which now threatens the well-being, and in fact the very existence of an entire generation of little children.

“‘God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform!’ Thank you, dear Lord! And thank you, all you wonderful partners, who have lent a helping hand, and a guiding word, and an encouraging smile, and a lift when all seemed lost!”

And that’s pretty much it as far as my dad’s testament is concerned. Of course, this just scratches the surface. Four paragraphs back I wrote …if he had but known—but hold that thought. Well, I’m not gonna take up that thread right away. It must wait for another day. Which is where—abruptly—I will leave this post. Except to append this one last photo. The date doesn’t match that trip to Syracuse that I emptied my so-called piggy bank to fund, but no matter. Where did the money go? My mother might have wished she knew.

$1775. In 1964, nothing to sneeze at. Worth nearly $14k now.

 

Frozen in time

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The Firebird, but of course. Who else could she be? In real life Maria Mosina. Photo via the Colorado Ballet.

Today’s story came out of the blue because about a week ago I stumbled across The Firebird, a narrative by Mariah Mottley in the Tompkins Weekly. (Let me call it “TW” and be done with it.) TW is an obscure little paper in Tompkins County, itself home to Ithaca and Cornell University. My guess: the TW-Cornell connection ends there.

And The Firebird? it’s the score for a ballet: a circa-1910, turn-of-the-last-century sort of thing. Though nearly three years have gone by, a French horn solo flits in and out of mind (my mind) now and then. Three years since… what? This backgrounder might help, posted in September 2016 and six months to the day after my cousin John died in far-off Sao Paulo, Brazil. (marywoodsen.com/2016/09/07/the-day-before-the-day-of/) Page over there for a moment and you’ll know why my emphasis on The Firebird and the horn. Also why, when the local ballet company staged The Firebird (don’t recall just when), I had to go.

But back to Mottley’s story. It was (a:) damn good and (b:) apropos. I was trying to explain the apropos part to my guy the other day. That “trying to” part? Has to do with tears; with the trouble they cause when you’re trying to talk. The horn solo I’d heard was oh, maybe a half-minute long. But I can call it up at a moment’s notice. Each time I remember it; each time I bring to mind the circumstances I heard it in, it’s as if it was yesterday. And each time I weep.

Now for the ballet. I bought my tix and found a seat in Ithaca’s State Theater near the front. Yes, Ithaca has a chamber orchestra and it’s not half-bad, but it lacks some of the requisite instruments for a show like this. So it was a recording that accompanied the ballet. I’d never seen The Firebird; barely recall The Firefly Suite in my family’s collection of old 78 rpm vinyl records five-plus decades gone by. But music runs in my DNA. And I’d listened any number of times between early March and my story in September, followed by that night in the State Theater, to that one lone horn with a new story to tell. (So easy to find these things online. Just go to Stravinsky’s Firebird, Finale Horn Solo – YouTube; if you want a longer version, you can find it online too.)

Like I said. I cried every time. Funny thing is—we weren’t a close family. Didn’t do much in the way of family time—I mean, I grew up all of two country miles from my cousins and danged if I can recall a single Thanksgiving or Christmas together. Doesn’t mean it never happened (our minds, our memories; who knows the delicate point where truth ends and embroidery begins?) but … still. It was only during the last couple of years of John’s life that he and his wife Nanci began bringing chunks of this North American branch of their extended family together, a case where (a:) a key person who drove a wedge in this family had croaked and (b:) she wouldn’t have used email anyway. (So maybe I’ve extrapolated the wrong material in (a:) and (b:); still, I think I’m on the right track.)

Back to business. I’m at the State Theater. The ballet is nearly over. We’ve gotten to the part where Prince Ivan has seduced (my interpretation) the Firebird; the Firebird frees Ivan from the curse of an evil ogre who turns intruders to stone. I’ll provide no more detail than that; look it up yourself. As for the horn? The curtain (translucent) drops. Yet you can still make out the dancers, frozen as if in time. (The ogre, it would seem, still rules the roost.) True, the violins are shimmering lightly; it’s not like the piece is done for. For the audience, though, it might as well be. Because what do you do when a curtain drops? You begin to clap—especially if you’ve no conductor to take your cues from. So they clapped—hesitantly at first, then with conviction. I’m not clapping. I’m listening. I know this part. 

I’m listening. Listening for the horn.

Then collectively the audience begins to realize: something is going on here. The applause came too soon. They are silent now. Listening. The strings—still shimmering, still softer than velvet. (I’d bet dollars to donuts that someone on staff, anticipating this moment, had paused the music; brought the velvety violins back at exactly the right time.) Another heartbeat and at last—that one lone horn with a new story to tell.

And for me, each note a dying man’s heartbeat.

So of course I’m crying, though no one notices because by now the harps, keyboard and strings; the woodwinds, brass and timpani; they’ve all piled in. Really, the main reason I bring this up now is because like I said, I was trying to explain it just last week and choked up. Nearly three years gone by and I still can’t keep the tears out of my voice.

What can you say of a dead man’s dreams?

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I’m looking at my father’s “Last Will and Testament” of 1972, written when he was eighty years old and six years after I, the youngest child, had left home. I stumbled across the will around this time last year, tucked in among a cache of letters I’d probably dragged into my attic in the late ’80s. By then our dad had been dead some time, or what felt like it. Gotta say—finding that cache blew me away, because the father I met therein wasn’t the father I knew.

So hereupon—the Preamble. Funny; “preamble” is the only header in the entire doc. Granted, later my father does appoint me as the executor of his estate, but methinks a lawyer would have approached this differently. No matter; the man is dead. I inherited only his dreams, and of those I partook little—though this last point is arguable. With luck I’ll get to it some other day (should I remember what I meant; already it’s slipping away).

The father I met and the father I knew

The will begins thusly (thusly, hereupon, herein; all a nod to my father’s probable proclivities in matters such as these. On the other hand, maybe I’m indulging in the same sort of embroidery he’d have stitched together, were he in my shoes):

“Preamble: About eight years ago, I experienced another in a series of financial crisis which have punctuated my career as a freelance inventor, and inventioneer, of new ideas and projects, some of which have already proved of considerable value, not only commercially,  but also sociologically and environmentally, as an effective means of combatting pollution and the environment, and of conserving the natural resources on which will depend the well-being, and even the survival of future generations—including  with “future generations” those already present and enrolled in kindergarten.

“About eight years ago, I had reached the end of my rope, financially; I had planned an important trip to Syracuse when, abruptly, I found it was impossible even to fill my car’s gas tank, due largely to my ow lack of ordinary business commonsense. For years, I had been in the habit of talking with my youngest child….”

A preamble to a dream

Brock last will2

1972. The will, the testament—the preamble to a dead man’s dream.

Ah. Here’s where this veers into the realm of the surreal. For a while, anyway, and for me. (For you, dear reader, just know that fabrication—making up reality on the fly, both in writing and speech—runs a bit too close to the bone in my lineage.)

But let me pick up where I left off.

“…talking with my youngest child, Mary Ada, frankly discussing my problems—my hopes and dreams, my difficulties and disappointments.

“Mary, I’ve reached the end—the end of my rope—the end of everything—what can I do? “Just wait a minute, Daddy!” She ran up to her room, and brought down a birthday present from many years ago—her piggy bank. She unlocked it and emptied its contents on the table. Methodically she counted every bill, and every coin. $16.87! She had always been a thrifty little Scotch lassie. She shoved it all toward me. She insisted that I take it all—every penny! “Go to Syracuse, Daddy, and God be with you.

“I went to Syracuse. God was with me, and a little girl’s prayers guided me. Subtended herewith is a photocopy of some of the ‘instant’ results, or dividends, which accrued from this investment made by my junior partner.”

Let’s stop there. My father’s intentions were good. But the storyline? Patently false. I remember no such conversations. I have a slipshod memory; true enough. But about this, more than five decades ago? Assuredly false. True, I have vague memories of riding with him on the occasional trip to Rochester or Syracuse when I was a kid. For all I know he spilled his dreams while I stared out the window. But frank discussions? Ahhhh….

Not.

The Last Will and Testament thus far: not what happened. No piggy bank that I recall. This sales trip presumably happened in 1966, the year I graduated from high school. By then those occasional trips would have been a thing of the ever-receding past; by high-school more worrisome things had taken over my life and my mind. Meanwhile I’d variously worked summers since I was 15 as a chambermaid in a motel, a hot-walker at a racetrack, and a bench-worker in an electronics plant making circuit boards for televisions, radios—and for all I know, computer motherboards. I had a bank account. I was thrifty because it was what I’d learned to do.

Sure, I gave him whatever I had on hand. He was my dad. But I didn’t count every bill, every coin. If he says it was sixteen and change, maybe it was. But neither did I say “Go to Syracuse, Daddy, and God be with you.” Like I said, my memory is nothing to write home about, but—no. That’s just not what happened.

Meanwhile…well, let’s not go into my state of mind back then; I might touch on it later. Still, having inadvertently opened that can of worms let me say that I don’t think I prayed much anymore; I was the youngest child and for the three of us left in that rambling old house, life was a little too harsh for prayer. Let alone conversation.

Yet that cache of letters I found? Go back two-plus decades to the early ’40s and those letters revealed an entirely different man. A man who had reason to dream.

So now I’m thinking the dad I knew in the ’50s and beyond was deeply depressed. Had to be. Which is plenty enough for now. Oh—except for this: now I understand my father’s undying conviction that Nixon would go down in history as the greatest president ever. With which I shall close. I’m hungry; it’s nearly suppertime—it’s time.

For pity’s sake. It’s time to just write.

It’s been a year, give or take, since I first committed to repopulating my website with posts. I spent hours, weeks, charting a better way to organize this site. Ended up with more than two-dozen folders and files and then…and then…. Hmm. Seems “commitment” was the wrong word.

Two-dozen files, it appears, is at least a score too many for a brain like mine to handle. It’s like having two-dozen keys on my keychain and hoping one of them will open the door. Damn near drove myself batty. And given my track record with blogging, it’s not exactly like I’m looking for you, dear reader. For one, this post I began working on fewer than a half-score days ago has already stalled.

Giving it a working title—what can you say of a dead man’s dreams?”—that was the easy part. But I ramble when I write. It’s not just a brain thing, regardless how intimately my synapses play into it. I mean, I’ve spent hours on this already and…. Oh—wait.

I dash to kitchen to turn off the teakettle. Forget why I put it on. Hah—it all comes back to me now. So I (switch to past tense)
• turned off teakettle
• raked the coals in the woodstove and tossed in a couple more logs and
• hmmm. Forgot.

Oh yeah. I was
• about to check out best foods for potassium
• something to do with hardened arteries and all they foretell. (I was in the bathroom; picked up the magazine on the footstool; the header? Health scare of the week.)

The pity is that when I left off it was Xmas eve. Today the teakettle spoke to me again, twice. In less than three hours, this first day of a brand-new year will be history. What stopped me? An entire weeks-worth of unanticipated day-job must-do’s popped up, along with the inevitable volunteer- and household must-also-do’s, which boring as they might sound on the surface of things, could warrant further exploration. Just not today.

So. What can you say of a dead man’s dreams? Or rather—what can I say of a dead man’s dreams? The man in question being my father. Which is as good a place to leave it as any. For now.

The day before the day of

So do do I begin where I left off with my last post? Begin with prepping that possum or with the day before?

Forget the possum. I’ll get to it or I won’t. The day before.

By then we all knew it was just a matter of time and not much at that. A family in Sao Paulo holding a dying man’s hand. Me sitting in a parking lot with room for just one thought. Crazy, how these things just come out of the blue.

I turn on the radio. Forget the rock ‘n’ roll, though John might have preferred it. I click on over to the classical station. Out comes something Debussy-like and lovely, though I couldn’t name it. I gather my bags and go into the store. Back out 20 minutes later, start the car. The music again. At first I think: surely Debussy. But it can’t be. So distant yet familiar; something, perhaps, from my girlhood. (Trashy as we were, only classical music got let in the house; my mother’s fave—Porgy and Bess—made the cut.) But if not Debussy, what? Bassoon, oboe, strings, harp. I begin to cry. And then—an eruption of brass; the whole orchestra piling it on every which way for just a moment or so.

OK, assuredly not Debussy. But the strings are back. Velvety, tremulous—edgy. I’m wiping my eyes again. Still no clue what I’m hearing. A moment’s hesitation against the backdrop of softest velvet. A heartbeat, maybe two, and—ah, one horn and but for the soft velvet of strings, alone.

A lone French horn with a new story to tell.

Familiar. OK, I know this piece. Just can’t remember its name, is all. The horn’s is a short story; I count the beats. Something like twelve beats long. Heartbeats. Takes one relaxed breath; repeats. I’ve always loved brass, but the horn takes brass into the realm of … of … well, no instrument does haunting and ethereal the way the horn does.

The strings amp up a notch. Next in—the harps. Woodwinds, including that gorgeous bassoon I’d heard not long before. The brass pile it on. Timpani. The whole orchestra takes that solo like the wind and then it’s … just done. I sit there crying and my cousin lies dying and I have to turn up the dial to hear what—oh yeah.

Not that it matters it was The Firebird I was listening to. But still, I couldn’t get that horn out of my head. Not for days, weeks, months; more, should it matter. And should it matter, this post isn’t quite done either. Or maybe it is.

By the time I went to bed that night, I knew that John’s system was still at work, still quietly slowing down. Shutting down. One beat at a time. I woke up early. Checked my email. Got breakfast, got down the hill to the bus, got to work. Sao Paulo is a long way away but the word came soon enough.

Today is six months to the day.

I listened to it again last night. The horn solo, that is. It still has the same story to tell. The possum has to wait. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WsqK1mCGeY

I brake for roadkill (part 2)

the transition from how I began this post to where I’ve ended up and beyond, back to the idea as I first conceived it? It ain’t gonna happen. Not in this post, and probably not for a while. Which is how I ended that other post regarding roadkill, dated on July 1.

On my mind that July day? My cousin John. The one in Brasil. The one who used to live in Brasil, I guess I should say; it’s been past tense now since early March. The one who lay dying on March 6. My birthday. Not that such small details matter much. It’s simply a marker: easy to remember. But I don’t aim to forget.

John’s brain went silent early on the 7th. The next “month-anniversary” on September 7, if so it may be called, marks the sixth since his death. His family in Brasil grieves terribly. I think of them now as my cousins, though we have yet to meet. I grieve in my own way, as do my cousins scattered here and there across North America. I don’t know for sure, but my hunch is this Brasilian family has more family far distant in East Asia. As do I. That’s two hemispheres, three continents, 16 time zones.

By happenstance on March 7, I got a call from a colleague, if you will, in the green burial movement, way east on Cape Cod. She wanted me to know that Bri Barton, young woman from the Philly area, was swinging by Ithaca for a book talk; had self-published Everything Dies, a coloring book for adults, and did I want to get in touch? So I did. Why not? Death was much on my mind and it seemed fitting. So I drove into town as evening fell and found the venue. When Bri was done reading I bought the book.

But what I was thinking about that whole time was that family in Brasil.

On the way home my headlights picked up a small white body off to the side of the road. “Possum,” I thought, and drove on. I’m rather fond of possums; they leave the most delightful tracks in the snow. And for anyone unlucky enough to have chronic Lyme, know this — possums are tick hoovers. (More on that some other time.)

Then I thought — looks fresh. Go back. Check it out. It was an order and I obeyed. I favor homegrown food and this fit the bill. I’d like to think John would have too, had my brain been the one shutting down. Because despite the immensity of Sao Paulo, where he lived for nearly 20 years, John’s hillbilly roots went a good deal deeper than mine. So I pulled over on the shoulder behind the possum and put on the four-way flashers. The slightest tinge of blood spoke of a glancing blow to its head; but at 55 mph for so small an animal, a glancing blow means death. Its body? Still limp, still warm. I had a couple of plastic bags (pure coincidence, since I’m not a plastic-bag kind of gal) on the floor behind the seat. I double-bagged the possum, turned up my twisty-turny road, and pulled into the driveway.

Which is where I’ll end tonight. It’s been a long day. I’m done. More (maybe) anon.

what’s on your mind?

How curious that WordPress and Facebook use the same prompt: What’s on your mind? OK. I’ve plenty on my mind, frankly. Who doesn’t? I’ll leave politics alone for now; whatever flag we fly, pretty much all of us have political turmoil on our minds.

And now, having started and stopped and stopped and started this post way too often this evening, I’ve opted to ditch it instead. And offer in its place what I consider to be the one original creative thought I’ve had in my life: that no other animal, given our frontal cortex and opposable thumb, could have done any better by the planet and each other than we have.

 

I brake for road kill (part 1)

Mmmm … let me qualify this. That image — roadkill? What’s just impaled my mind isn’t so much the animal knocked unconscious well off the side of the road, with maybe a little blood oozing from its mouth and yet undiscovered by an army of scavengers and decomposers. Rather it’s the one slammed midway across the road at dusk and nailed repeatedly throughout the night. You know what I mean. It’s disturbing, actually. Unsettling. Because beyond the sheer messiness of it lies another layer — the vulnerability of death, of lying exposed and gutted on hard pavement. Maybe that’s why so many of us swerve to avoid roadkill, should we see it in time.

But it’s not such a good idea, any more than swerving to avoid a chicken crossing a road is, though these instincts are damn hard to avoid. No time to consider the consequences — we’ve already hit the brakes.

I’ve known of people who wrapped themselves around a tree that way and spent the rest of their lives in a wheelchair.

But mainly what’s in the back of my mind right now is … that I should be so lucky. To live in a place distant from all those other places. A place where the occasional road-killed possum or woodchuck or deer is a proxy of sorts for the mass slaughter of scores, hundreds, thousands of creatures. Children. Elephants. Women. Gazelles. Men. Bonobos. Refuges. Babies girls boys nurses doctors  women men males cubs wolves females herds flocks prides fleeing … refugees. Thousands. Millions.

So many dying. So many dead.

So surely I had something else in mind when I began this post? Well, yes. I did. Most emphatically. Yet from that very first thought …. If you don’t know me well, just know this: I go off-topic for any of a kazillion reasons, none of which I understand. Circuitous thinking—that’s my specialty. So let me try again to qualify this, then let it be. The transition from how I began this post to where I’ve ended up and beyond, back to the idea as I first conceived it? It ain’t gonna happen. Not in this post, and probably not for a while.

brain like a sieve

OK, so for weeks now I’ve kept thinking I’d post again, oh, y’know, after I’d hung out the wash or paid the bills or called my state’s senators about that bill re: Lyme disease … or any number of things, some pressing, others not.

More on Lyme disease and why that bill matters later. I mean, I’ve gotta look into it; maybe they (the Senate) already dropped the whole thing. Which did seem an imminent threat a couple of weeks ago, when I placed my calls.

So here I am, a spinning top with a brain like a sieve. Since I began this bit of blather I’ve already been up a half-dozen times doing scatter-brained things I can no longer remember while thinking maybe I should sift (again) through my folder packed with scribbled notes, each hinting at something I thought would make a really cool post — but I’m better (or so I imagine) at coming up with wacky or way-cool ideas that posting about them. Partly it has to do with the perfectionist syndrome; and yes, if I could just get those stories (some true, some not) whipped into shape and accessible online — which is mainly why I set up this site in the first place — wouldn’t that feel good? And better yet, gotten my act together and added photos that help bring those posts to life? And … um … and have I lost you by now?

Brain like a sieve? Literal proof. Also the first selfie I've ever (intentionally, that is) taken. Not that I'm happy with it. For one thing, it seems that either it's just a tad above thumbnail size or it takes up way more real estate than I want to give it.

Brain like a sieve? Literal proof. Also the first selfie I’ve ever (intentionally, that is) taken. Not that I’m happy with it. For one thing, it seems that either it’s just a tad above thumbnail size or it takes up way more real estate than I want to give it.

Days have gone by and here I am, fiddling with this post again, trying a different pic. Meanwhile, since I seem to have little control over formatting the caption, let me rant on by saying how much I hate centered text. At least this theme (Chateau, should you wish to know, only with the cool little dealie above that first “a”) lets me use itals, which clears one line of text. Or did, until exasperated by the new editor I went back to the old, only to find myself exasperated because … oh, wait a minute. Apologies, WordPress. I’m back in the new editor and hey, it lets me resize the  photo and caption both. Now by rights I should rewrite the caption because the old pic is history, but ya never know — I might plunk the old one back in too, just for old time’s sake. Next? Well, could I learn how to make that cool little dealie over the “a”? Will WordPress even let me?  Time will tell. (Not that I’m fond of this three-word ending, but perfectionist syndrome has gotta go.)