Sunday, January 31, 2010

Adieu To Janaury.

OH, CRUEL MONTH! You were not that cruel this year. You do not deserve our pitiful whining about spring. Here is a poem about you ... I think it is.

January in Kyoto by Nishiwaki Junzaburo (1894-1982)

JANUS, old man,
Your name is damp and grey and too prolonged
A ring to rattle in my verse;
You double-faced, diluted churl of churls,
You corn-dull, poppy-wilted, beaver-brown,
You snow-eater, a parasite on roots and berries,
Iconoclast of gins and perries,
You're really one of the pariah dogs
Yelping, thrash-worth, at the belated gods.
I know the deities would rather inflate
And flow in pipes than in metric odes, but now
You suddenly brought us shy myth,
When we, disguised as Zeus and Hermes, went
At cuckoo-crow at the hell lady's door,
In the Hiei foot-hills by pebbly-purring streams.

We went into a peasant's cottage to see
How one cleans and adorns one's range
With a sprig of rue and a tangle of hips
To honour the bluff god of the kitchen fire.
The old baucis-and-philemon tree rustled its top:
"Reverend sirs, you are early. Well now."
My friend, Ben Johnson scholar at the university,
And a complete parr angler, could speak
The Yase doric: "Look what we've got,
Such lovely slender buds; may we leave
These things with you by this mercury bush,
As we're going to see Emau Convent up there?"

etc, etc. (Jane Austen is almost on; gotta get along)

When we returned full circle to the roots
Of our orchids, we maundered to sanctify
Fertility ... magic jabber ... over cups of tea.
The wife decanted golden mead to immortalize
Our chats and our pseudo-goldliness, but we tried
Hard to hide our mortality . . .

I KNOW ... I'm horrible to quote only part of a poem. See you in February - femminismo

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Can't Help Myself. I'm "Mad."

I CHOSE my dress and its color. I selected my jewelry (they didn't have pearl earrings to match the necklace) and chose my hair style. I even got to pick my nose. (Maybe "choose my nose" sounds better.) I did all this on the Mad Men Web site, where you can download your own self as a character. (That's Peggy's desk I'm standing in front of and Joan is in the background, but you can't see her here.)
I love "Mad Men," the show. Some of the people I dislike intensely. Don't even get me started on Peter Campbell. And I practically stop breathing when they're in a meeting and smoking their heads off.
So far they've had enough alcohol between them to empty the liquor store in our town.
Lately I've been watching reruns of earlier episodes being shown on Comcast's On Demand. So fascinating to watch Peggy do the Twist. And I don't think most have really experienced life until they've seen Joan Holloway do the cha cha.
Don Draper walked into his girlfriend's apartment and offered her a trip to Paris. She just had to get rid of her friends who were gathered there. She didn't do it, however, since they were already planning to get stoned and listen to Miles Davis.
Hmm. Would I give up a trip to Paris with Don? Now that's a conundrum - femminismo

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Light Is With Us A Bit Longer

THE DAYS are staying a little bit longer it seems and signs of renewal are all around.
Mushroom compost decays in the garden, promising a rich beginning for our summer garden. Tulips are rising from the flower beds and magnolias have fuzzy coats over the blossoms to keep them warm until next month. The Star Magnolia will unfurl first, with delicate white blooms. Then the tulip tree magnolia will burst forth in pink, with petals so thick and voluptuous you could serve them for dinner filled with Russian caviar.
The flowers come first and then the leaves. It's the same with the forsythia and cherry tree.
Tree peonies have dark green leaves unfurling too and we hope no February ice storms will head our way. Lenten roses are the saving grace of our garden, appearing early on with lovely blooms such a magnificent purple (in this planting anyway) and bullet-proof foliage.
The moss I brought down from the woods and placed on top of the bird feeder has flourished during the drippy winter weather and is a rich, bright green.
The small gray bird will not need the feeder, however. It has not lasted through our winter. Brought down from the skies to fall beneath the redwood tree, he lies there until he too becomes part of a little bit of everything. Insects, small mammals and soil.
I can't wait to smell the first breath of spring. Already we are hearing the noise of frogs awakening down at the creek at the foot of our street and they promise a quick return to the backbreaking work of weeding the flower beds. But it's exciting at the same time, and old promises of planting a greater variety of beautiful flowers to last throughout the summer are heard once more throughout the land.
I hope you see small signs of spring wherever you are - femminismo
p.s. The cat in the window was a photo I took at random from the movie "Love and Other Catastrophes." (please come visit me in jail)

Monday, January 25, 2010

To the Brave Women of Haiti

TOMORROW I am going to begin reading "Breath, Eyes, Memory" by Edwidge Danticat. Her book dedication page says "To the brave women of Haiti, grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, daughters, and friends, on this shore and other shores. We have stumbled but we will not fall."
Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 (one year before my daughter) and raised by her aunt. She reunited with her parents in the U.S. at age 12. Two years later she published her first writings.
I wonder how autobiographical this novel is? But don't tell me, if you already know. This book is going to be my "lunch" tomorrow. I have started working four 10-hour days a week. I intend to have lunches away from my computer - maybe a short walk and then some reading. (The photo of Danticat is from the traditionofexcellence. files.wordpress.)
Today was my first 10-hour day. I took a short cat nap when I got home because I didn't sleep that well last night. I'll bet I sleep tonight!
In keeping with my journaling on subjects dear to my heart and reminding myself I'm keeping this blog so I will remember the days of my life, I want to put this photo here. Granddaughter after granddaughter - which isn't a bad thing, *at all* - and now finally a little boy. Alex, who will you be? What will you do? How far will you travel on these little feet?
All the days of your life you will know happiness and you will know sadness. May they be in equal proportion, so you will realize and treasure the joy when it comes. All the days of your life you will know sweet and you will know sour. All the days of your life you will know boredom and you will know excitement; you will know disgust and pleasure; you will know praise and criticism. None of it will last forever, so either enjoy it, ignore it or learn from it - depending on what it offers you.
(I took the baby toes pic and the Mister took the one of me and the kids.)
These are happy days, and poignant days - wishing I could share them with those far away or those gone from this life of ours. We keep it churning along, though, don't we? - femminismo

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Desert Highway ... or Not?

I ENJOYED l'astronave's video so much I've been laboring to produce one of my own. I am not sure this will work, but since I greatly admired her desolate "Wilderness" (or not?), which turned out to be her lying on the snow, focusing on the desolate formations, I thought I would try my own.
Is this
a desert highway wavering in the heat ... or not? (Granted. It's a stretch.)
Saturday I searched all over for signs of spring and found some. How surprised was I? Very. We've still got February to get through, but things are looking up.
Next time I write I may actually plan ahead and write about something that means a lot to me. Something heartfelt. For now, since I've wasted much too much time on Photoshop and Picasa uploading, this will have to do - femminismo

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome Alexander!

TODAY the earth greeted another guest. It seems impossible - but isn't - that my granddaughter has given me a great-grandchild.
His name is Alexander and he will grow up to conquer hearts, I am sure. Let us hope he is wise and generous and kind to everyone he meets and spreads his mother's infectious giggle.
Today, January 20, 2010, seems very important to me. I catch myself with a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes and a dozen memories flashing through my mind.
I feel the small body in my arms, even though I've not held him yet. I yearn to watch his face wrinkle and twitch and his mouth pucker and tremble.
May Alexander always be a joy and know much of it himself. (joy, that is) - femminismo

"Our grandchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends - and hardly ever our own grown children." ~ Ruth Goode

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr.

A DRAWING in memory of the man.
There are so many pictures today; so many drawings. I got my inspiration from a photograph of King taken when he was arrested.
He managed to look a bit saintly, a bit "aren't we beyond this?" and a bit angry. And in truth he probably wasn't trying to look any of these ways. He didn't have to, because there he was and those were most likely the exact feelings he was having at the time. But I can't put myself in his place. Can't judge what he was feeling. However, I remember where I was when I heard he was killed and I thought the world was crumbling around me with the violent deaths of America's leaders in the 1960s.
"WHAT makes dying easier is to be able to transcend the world into some kind of religious dimension. I would say that the most important thing is to know that beyond the absurdity of one's life, beyond the human viewpoint, beyond what is happening to us, there is the fact of the tremendous creative energies of the cosmos that are using us for some purposes we don't know. To be used for divine purposes, however we may be misused, this is the thing that consoles . . . I think it is very hard for secular men to die."
-- ERNEST BECKER (terminally ill, just before his death)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On Being Green

ART SPARKER was looking for things that are green. It's one of my favorite colors and I seem to veer toward it whenever it comes to furnishing our home with a new rug or chair.
In Oregon I find this color almost anywhere I go, and it appeared beneath my feet on a recent walk.
(Look closely! Do you see the metal dragonfly earring I lost? This is where I was soon before I noticed it was missing. It began to snow that day and then everything was covered in 4 inches of white fluff.)
I wanted to take a picture of a little green dress, handmade, that must have belonged to a little girl who didn't wear it for very long. It was in great shape when I bought it at a garage sale.
What was the story that Ernest Hemingway wrote in six words? "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn." Poignant.
I like to think the little green dress (with rick rack, I think) was just outgrown quickly.
I am still glancing through "Your Mythic Journey" by Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox. The book is open to a section on "Gifts and Wounds."
The authors say "Everyone alive has received some share of the gifts that make and keep human life human. The giving and receiving of gifts plays a large part in most cultures. Gift giving is rooted in the primal feeling that the world itself is a gift, a banquet already spread before us when we arrive on the scene. Something - chance, God, the trickster, or divine reason - arranged things to support human life."
Then, "Generosity is a recycling of the gifts of life."
And "Wounds are as universal as gifts: sooner or later suffering and death strike us all. The ancients wove myths around this basic ambiguity of life."
Along with me, remember the people of Haiti tonight before you close your eyes, and if you have the wherewithal, be generous with a gift of money for the victims - femminisimo

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Looking For Something to Post ...

I WAS looking for something to post and took down the book "Your Mythic Journey," by Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox.
A line of text caught my eye: "At least 51 percent of the people in a society are not self-consciously aware of the myth that informs their existence."
There are lots of pieces of paper in this book; rambling thoughts I had while reading it. I came across one set of scribbles that actually went somewhere. I might have been doing an exercise in the book. Here's what it says:
Where did I come from?
I came from a blind date - two people with separate dreams and myths, colliding in a world of joy and danger.
I came from Oregon - the mists, the rain, the grasshopper afternoons of summer.
I came from a small high school with a chance for a classical educations: Latin, physics, literature, music, chemistry. I came from "Peyton Place," "Lady Chatterley's Lover," True Story magazines and Mad Magazine. I grew up wondering what halvah was. I came from "Marjorie Morningstar" and Grimm's fairy tales. I came from Shakespeare and Dante.
I came from Dear Abby, crossword puzzles and early morning coffee with cream, oatmeal I couldn't stand, burnt pancakes on a winter morning.
I came from a small old barn with two cows, steaming in the cold morning, being milked by my father.
I came from a hide out in the scotch broom where I left my copy of "Alice in Wonderland." I never found the book again and to this day believe it was taken by the White Rabbit.
I came from a spring strawberry field on a steep hill. I would lie in the row with my head pointed down the hill, staring at the clouds in the sky.
I came from a house cluttered with the clothes and belongings of seven people.
I came from a family that had dinner every night at 4 p.m., listened to Walter Cronkite, watched "The Honeymooners" and Ed Sullivan, went to the beach often and sat in the car looking out at the rain and the ocean.
I came from a family that laughed, shouted, cried and worried.
I came from love - femminismo

Monday, January 11, 2010

Remarkable News!

LOOKING ahead to July 2010, you will never believe where the Mister and I are going!
Can you tell by the map? Is it big enough so you can see the names of the wonderful cities we will visit?
This is still somewhat unbelievable for me -- an opportunity to experience a little more of Europe and other cultures.
We will arrive in Venice July 24th and then travel by ship to Dubrovnik, Corfu, Taormina, up the Amalfi Coast, Florence, Monte Carlo, Portofino and then to Rome. July should find us in very warm weather with thousands of other tourists exploring the Heart of the World. (Or "The Stomach of the World," since the food is among the best in the universe.) We must begin studying all the places where we'll touch down so we will be prepared to take off quickly and make the most of our shore excursions.
We will be traveling with my sister and brother-in-law, so will have the delight of knowing at least two people on board. Ciao for now - femminismo

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Can You Tell Who Got A Blu-ray Player?

YES, it's true. A Blu-ray player and surround sound and we've watched about seven movies in the past week. The blogging life has suffered.
Work is going well and I feel I'm getting more done. This morning did a rare thing and went by slowly. It seemed to be accommodating me by stretching itself but not leaving me bored by the clock's slow moving hands. I seemed to swim through my chores with an endless amount of time at hand - no stress. That will surely have to make up for yesterday - and perhaps tomorrow.
The Mister and I watched "Iris" last night, with Judy Dench, Jim Broadbent and Kate Winslet. Now there's a powerhouse trio, if ever there was one! Got to be my three favorite actors. High up there anyway.
Tonight we watched "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Two questions Morgan asked Jack (this is what the Egyptian gods asked at heaven's gate): "Have you experienced joy in your life?" "Have you given others joy?"
I can say "yes," and "yes" to the Egyptian gods who will then let me pass into heaven.
I may have some remarkable news tomorrow. Stay tuned - femminismo
p.s. The photo is from Life magazine archives, hosted by Google. I find the most extraordinary images on this site.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Piece of Art

STARTING January 2010 off right has taken a little while. A bit of winter cleaning has been happening, with one half of the office getting cleaned and being put on the other side of the room. I sit in my chair at the computer and things look more organized, but all I have to do is glance over my shoulder and become discouraged.
It is time to get big boxes and pack up books that I never intend to read and will not use for anything beyond a paperweight. It is time to go through papers and save what I will really use and toss the rest.
Meantime, since I know many of you have wondered what the Mister and I really look like, I bring you this hugely realistic composition from Stefano, the Italian portrait painter. (Actually, it's a drawing I did New Year's Eve and finished today - with one of my favorite "paints," makeup. Please don't tell the Mister he's wearing makeup.) I think I made up my eyes a little too heavily, but the mascara wand didn't work on paper like it does on lashes. Don't you love the Mister's bronze tan. Time spent on the Riviera is never wasted!
My raven tresses are all the rage there too. Big hair is back and it's ... well ... big! - femminismo
p.s. Did you do something creative today? Show me!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Pause To Remember

ON Totalfeckineejit's blog was a suggestion we all pause at 12 noon on New Years Day and remember those we have lost in the past year, decade or 100 years.
This is a gesture of remembrance, but also a light to hope for the coming year. Check out the festival of light and be inspired.
My list of people who have gone before me are Bob Jackson, the boy who walked with me down the aisle and up onto the stage at our high school graduation. He died in a automobile accident shortly after that. Drinking and speeding were the cause of his death. He was a passenger in the automobile and the first person my own age - that I was close to - to die. Mortality is a difficult concept to face when you are 18 years old.
Of course I gratefully recall my grandparents, Rose and Peter and Ira and Anna, the essence of everything we are today and the values we hold dear. My uncles, Frank, Truman, Ray, Bud; my aunts, Mildred, Jo, Mary, Min, Dorothy, Mary Lou and Tina.
In the photo above, right next to the candle, are my parents George and Margaret. To be born into their loving arms was one of the luckiest things to happen to me. I will miss and love them forever.
I remember Orv and Ruth, and Grandma and Grandpa Matteson - Georgia and Ernie - born in another century, believing that all you had to do with a bathtub or toilet ordered from Sears Roebuck was put them in a room and they would do their job. Plumbing? What's plumbing?
I recall other friends from school and the community, gone too soon.
In their memories, and for our children and grandchildren, let us all endeavor to make the world better in our small part of it. You never know how far goodness will spread. To start you off on the right foot this year, check out this spot on the dial, Don't Almost Give. I have found myself - too often - putting aside a charitable request envelope "for later" and then never doing anything with it. This is the year I put my energy where my mouth is, and my extra currency, also. Won't you do the same? No money? Your time, then. You will never regret it - femminismo
edited at 6:30 p.m. - I forgot my Aunt Ellen, who taught me that people who are "different" can also love life as strongly as any "normal" person and love God even more fiercely.