26 December 2004

The Obligatory Post-Christmas Entry

      Christmas has come and gone again, a thousand little stresses finally given way to the tranquility of over-dome. It's late-- or early, one supposes-- as I write this, Leonard Cohen's Dear Heather wafting in the background, my darling visitor curled up on the floor a few steps away, and me, little drained me, drinking Ancient Coast Gamay Nouveau and smoking cigarettes with the ease of a man released. The day itself was exhausting but not bad, my little cousins, particularly the five year-old Nathan, having done their work of using me as a jungle jim, and thoroughly making sure their would-be uncle has compensated for most of the rest of the days in the year when I'm not around. Much of the past few hours have been spent doing, blessèd be, absolutely nothing, merely watching television with my little visitor cuddled up on my chest or against my legs or with her sweet head adoze on my hand, purring everso gently and letting me know that, yes, indeed, she is very happy here. Yes, for all intents and purposes, she's been adopted, and she's my adoptee-- or I hers-- such that she doesn't go more than a few feet from my side when I'm in the house. She's very, very clearly my girl, and there's an indomitable sweetness to her affectionateness. And she's won everyone over, even Trouble. I knew she would. I just knew it. This means coming up with a name for my rather lemur-like lass, a thing I'd avoided because I've no Adamic tendencies and I'd not wanted to get too attached to her. But there's something about an animal that brings out both the child and the parent in me, and in so many. That this is happening at Christmastime is no doubt grist for the mill for those that have dared to suggest that even the most cynical can be warmed by the spirit of the season. Kids and animals, kids and animals: they're the only things I'm not cynical about. And days spent with them can be wonderfully restorative, however exhausting they may be. That's what Christmas should be about-- restoration, replenishment, rediscovering one's capacity to be taken by a sense of wonder. So it has been Good. It still is. My little one hasn't budged.

      So now I should name my little one-- and even though I hate repeating myself, there's something about the word "little" that calls itself to be used, as if it were the crucial, inescapable adjective to which one simply must return. I'm thinking of calling her Raea (pronounced rai-yah), a name that means something to me but not to anyone else, which seems only appropriate. Am also thinking-- though much less so-- about Lorca, but again not for the reasons the more literate among you might expect. (Anyone expecting explanations will be sorely disappointed.) There's thankfully no hurry. She comes to "girl" and "girly-girl," a series of words that should have every heterosexual male thinking, "If only it were that easy." For the record, I'm increasingly convinced-- whether rightly or wrongly-- that she's a Tibetan, based on her markings, fur, disposition, and eye-colouring. A quick toss on the Net turns this up, which seems about right, even if the pictures don't entirely match up. And, yes, I've been writing a lot about this cat lately, which is probably as annoying as a new-parent ranting about his or her child. I plead guilty. Jer and his animals, Jer and his animals.... It's hardly an unfamiliar sutra.

      So, I confess, I'm probably a little-- there's that word again-- out of character right now, or seeming that way to those of you that only know me in one or three contexts. (Remember Whitman: I contain multitudes. And sometimes platitudes.) Be glad none of you have to see it. I'd probably make myself vomit right now. Don't worry, the Not-So-Good Doc hasn't gone soft; but let's just say there's a very slight lightening in the otherwise despicable air.

      It's now approaching "late," atleast for a night in which I've not been galivanting between public houses and behaving like an utter gad. The Gamay is all-but-finished, and enough of my nicotine-soldiers have fallen to warrant a Henrician mention. Dear Heather isn't terrific, but it features some lovely songs, including his adaptation of Byron's "So We'll Go No More A-Roving" for Irving Layton, and "The Letters," "There For You," "Nightingale" and "The Faith" are pure Cohen. "Villanelle For Our Time," a setting of the poem by F.R. Scott, is very good, and a reminder of what Cohen really can do with more traditional lyric forms. There's nothing on the album as truly incandescent as, say, Van Morrison and Ray Charles' duet on "Crazy Love," but it's a gently restorative document, a caress of an arrest, or a warm but hoary purr from a voice hardly unfamiliar with its sutras. Raea, if I decide to call her that, keeps indicating that she wants me to go to bed. I probably should, this entry no doubt too long by half. But to those of you reading me here-- and especially to those of you doing that and waiting for me to answer emails you've sent of late-- you've now had a glimpse of things as they are, which hopefully pardons, or at least mitigates, my silence in recent days. If not, take a step askance and check out RK's blog, which features, among other things, a stunning portrait of Jill Furse, whose poem "Carol" really is very good.

      Good. I'm not used to using that word anymore. Colour this blog a-tingle to pleasant surprises lately. Don't worry: normal grumbling and grousing will soon return. You can probably count by seconds.

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