Monday, February 29, 2016

And so this happened


and this happened


and these, too!


I'd say spring is on the horizon!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Short Weekend, Long Day

Sunday: no day of rest.

Three-hour drive home.

Two+ hours of work.

Two hours of catch-up email, photograph download, blogging.

Four hours and fifteen minutes of work.

The Academy Awards.

Bed.

Please.

Soon.

It's all become a bit blurred.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Another Opening, Another Show

Ballet with the Greats dancing followed by a dinner/movie date (Miss Dots fried chicken [but the collard greens win the day] and the movie Hachi [a throat-catching film about loyalty and love]) with the nephew and two Greats (one human, one canine).


For some it might seem tutu much of a good thing, but not for me.


Home is where the heart always is, and that home is filled with it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

An evening out

with the nephew means brew (Trimtab's Zero Dark Thirty is five stars, no matter what the nephew in the mob cap says), barbecue (Dreamland's ribs are still the best), and Birmingham (a visit to The Club for the view at my request, proving the nephew's mettle [despite his complaining about the cold wind and low temperature]) makes for a highly satisfactory occasion.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's the little things

that save a day otherwise tainted by gray skies, a cat's problem ear and unplanned visit to the vet, ice pellets, a nagging headache.

Like five early daffodils, for example, blooming in woods where six deer nipped at other plants.

When the deer moved on, I moved out.

Now, the daffodils light my kitchen.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Where Shadows Rest

Naomi Shihab Nye encourages Ernest Mann to see poems in "shadows / drifting across our ceilings the moment / before we wake up."

Today, poems rest in shadows just beyond computer glare.











But oh how I long to wake from winter fog into light more brilliant out than in.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Fad of Which I Heartily Approve

A visit to the College bookstore this morning found me lingering at the adult coloring book display.
In childhood, I spent many happy hours (perhaps too many, but I made good grades in school with minimal effort, so why calculate how many?) coloring and completing paint-by-numbers sets. Why shouldn't adults do the same?

There are the pleasures of movement of the hand, of smelling the crayon or sharpening the colored pencil or washing to watercolor, of emerging color on an otherwise white page, of clear black lines -- all creating a mindlessness I enjoy when taking pictures and walking or used to enjoy when practicing transcendental meditation or playing the piano. (I've read prayer can have the same effect for religious people.)

I was charmed by several of the books, especially those by Joanna Batsford, whose beautiful graphic work started the current craze (I think), and one called  Parisian Street Style, which reminds me In and Out of the GardenSouth of France, and A Bowl of Olives (do choose "Look Inside") by Sara Midda.

Perhaps, when my high photography season ends late in the fall, I shall buy one or more coloring books to get my through the gray days of winter.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Note to Self

Whatever you do, do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, go for a walk under such a cloudy sky because -- even though every weather site promises clouds only without rain -- "if it can happen, it will." Good thing the digital camera holster had a rain cover (which I couldn't quite figure out how to use) and a generous person downtown gave me two plastic grocery bags.

Sometimes I feel just about as out of it as this bumper alongside the trail.


A Painter to Love

I

Many years ago, when I was perhaps 14, my neighbors entertained a Pennsylvania family, whose daughter was my age. They were Swedenborgians, as remote and foreign and exotic a religion as anything I can imagine even today. After leaving, she and I kept up a brief correspondence, and as a gift she sent me an official book of her religion. I read it, with great interest, and thought about the book and Swedenborg for many years after.

II

I didn't realize it at the time, but my initial interest in mysticism and spiritualism met its physical match in my passion for folk art, especially the kind of art made by religious folks like Sister Gertrude Morgan, Lonnie Holley, and Ben F. Perkins. I found in their obsessive compulsion to make art influenced by some form of divine inspiration so attractive, so compelling that I visited such artists and bought their work often (at their homes or in galleries), read about them and their work, and sought more and more information.

III

Yesterday, reading The Guardian, I happened upon an article titled "Hilma af Klint: A Painter Possessed" and felt the same rush of excitement I had experienced previously. Here was a woman painting beyond her gender and generation, creating works of astounding beauty and grace, of whom I had never heard (and should have, I thought, in art history courses or through other reading). How, for example, had I missed this?

IV

So this post is as much for me as for the casual reader of my blog. I want to know more and am determined to find more.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Another Day of Celebration!

 

This Great girl 
lights up
every room she enters
creates things
laughs
makes others laugh too
loves learning
hikes
dances
camps
caves
cares for her pets 
teases
jokes
bursts with energy
radiates joy
empathizes
loves people
and tells them so:
today
she celebrates
and we all celebrate
her birthday!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

Housebound

Dear F,

I have of late felt housebound, probably because of the weather and cold, gray skies.

Today, to break the spell, I took a drive to Stevenson, AL, hoping to see lots of birds. I wanted especially to see cranes (Sandhills in particular). Alas, just diving ducks and gulls and one Great Blue Heron floated and dove stood and flew. So I drove home the long way, up through Bridgeport and South Pittsburg, along Jumpoff Mountain Road, and even then I was still restless.

So I went down to Abbo's Alley on the campus. And there I saw flowers starting in earnest: snowdrops of the kind you wrote "These make me happy" on Facebook, Lenten Roses, the first crocus (yellow and white), and tiny white blossoms (whose identity I forget every year) clinging to the stones marking the path. So many daffodil and bluebell leaves are pushing u, promising a good bloom this spring.

When three fraternity boys wandered down toward me, one holding a beer (it's Friday afternoon after all, the temp is warm, the sun strong), they asked, "Have you got some good pictures?" And I shared them. The boys, like you, were complimentary and wanted to know the flowers' names and where to look for them.

I wish you could see them live and in situ, but since you can't, I hope you'll enjoy these photos. (By the way, they'll improve when I have figured out my new camera and even better when I can afford a macro lens.)

Enjoy!

Best,
R





Thursday, February 18, 2016

Even Just a Tiny Improvement

in the weather brings folks out: plenty of flitting white bugs all along lake's shore; symphonic crows, chickadees, blue birds (so many bluebirds!), and cranes (sandhill, I think, beyond the woods); bikers; students and a professor armed with binoculars (bird watchers?); two dog walkers with three dogs; a hammocked individual slumped on the opposite shore.


video

It is as if the brilliant colors of blood and cara cara oranges leaked out, tasting like the promise of spring.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Bovine Encounter

Some cousins kept cows, but my suburban neighborhood saw none, not even at the zoo where more exotic animals, crowded in cages, paced and stank.

I have eaten cow, I have drunk cow milk, consumed cow cheese, used cow cream to top my raspberries and make scones. I have even skimmed cream from the top of a milk bottle, watched my mother stir it into iced coffee, making liquid marble.

But until I moved (again) to Tennessee a bit more than a decade ago, I had never really looked at a cow, noticed its size -- its startling heft and height, admired its steady gaze and protection of calf, its gathering into groups, following a leader, its seemingly placid nature, endurance in storm, and habit of standing in stomach-high water on a hot hot day.

I like them, and I have been eating less and less beef because I think about their faces, their eyes, the trust of their encounter, like this afternoon, when, on taking the long way home from a necessary errand, I saw this dozen in an Alto field, not for the first time, but this time stopping my car in the middle of the road, backing up, parking, grabbing my camera, getting out, and standing for a long while, looking. At first, I heard one and then two lowing or mooing in the distance, then more loudly, until finally they had approached me, each of us on our own side of the fence. They stared and stared at me as I did at them.

Dinner time, I imagine, they thought; someone coming to see to our needs. And then I felt a bit sad that I wasn't the one who would touch them and feed them today, and also that I was the one who had needlessly brought them forward. I thought these things as I drove off, watching them in the rear view, watching me still.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

And Still, Rain

Rim shot.

I've all I've got.


Monday, February 15, 2016

What It Is

When I went to sleep, there was rain.
When I woke, there was rain.
When I worked, there was rain.
When I ate, there was rain.
When I looked outside, there was rain.
When night fell, there was rain.
Today, I have had enough of rain.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Feeling the Walmart Love on Valentine's Day

I
Two luscious fruits in one day: ripe raspberries and blood oranges.




II
Standing at my buggy, puzzled about which aisle to take, I witnessed:

Spiky-haired Man: Hey, I like your hair!

Spiky-haired Stranger Woman: Thanks!

Spiky-haired Stranger Woman pointing to Spiky-haired Man's hair and laughing

Spiky-haired Man, on passing Spiky-haired Stranger Woman, turning back, smiling widely: I really like your hair!

Spiky-haired Stranger Woman smiled and turned into the aisle in front me.

II
A man and his daughter (maybe 5?) looked and looked and looked and looked at the flower-filled display till she exclaimed, "These!" He lifted the child and she chose a bunch of red roses.

IV
Low flying gulls in the parking lot, nesting, jostling, riding the air.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

After the Funeral Today

In the homily, A, a priest beloved by the deceased, said: "G made things. Out of any material at hand. All the time. Habitually." She added, "G could make something beautiful out of nothing."

At that moment, I was reminded of Lonnie Holley, folk artist and long-ago friend, and his compulsion to make things. Out of anything. All the time. Habitually.

But while he talked about his making, compulsively, in a spiritual or political context, G didn't. And while her husband went to church every Sunday, she stayed home. Despite the angels she created and sold and the angels she acquired from others to sell, she was, as A said, "On the fence about God."

A few years ago, when G and her husband went to Paris, where they liked to spend time, she sent me photos of their rented apartment, excited to share our mutual interest in folk art. Works by artists in her and my collection covered the white walls, and her favorite, a bent wire face, was Lonnie Holley's.

I sent her a photo of my own Holley wire sculpture, and on her return I showed it to her. She wanted to buy it, and I promised if I were ever ready, I'd let her know first. But I was never ready.

Today, as the community walked to the cemetery, preceded by a New Orleans style brass band, followed by her family, some of whom held their decorated umbrellas high in a celebratory funeral second line, I felt so many strands of my life converge that I felt a bit dizzy.

Now, I find myself wishing I had at least lent her the sculpture she loved as much as I.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Who'd a Thunk it?

Einstein did. That's who.

For years, I taught Hamlet, itself a sublime human achievement, in which Hamlet opines, "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty!"


I thought of that speech (without Hamlet's cynicism) this morning when I read that the LIGO team had heard what the New York Times called "a cosmic chirp [that] vindicates Einstein."


  

Elsewhere in today's paper, Lawrence M. Krauss wrote, "Too often people ask, what's the use of science like this, if it doesn't produced faster cars or better toasters. But people rarely ask the same question about a Picasso painting or a Mozart symphony. Such pinnacles of human creativity change our perspective of our place in the universe. Science, like art, music and literature, has the capacity to amaze and excite, dazzle and bewilder. I would argue that it is that aspect of science -- it cultural contribution, its humanity -- that is perhaps its most important feature."

Count me among those who doesn't ask the use. Science is amazing, and this "music" is dazzling.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Snow with Silver Skies

but for a brief moment today, this happened:
blue sky, the curative I've needed.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

BAC's Request

She asked me 
to open the door.
I knew better.
It's cold
and windy
with wet snow.
She doesn't know snow.
Doesn't go out
doesn't even try,
content with inside
and inside things.
Like her sister
whom she sometimes
torments, sometimes
licks and cuddles.
Like cold water
swirled in a metal bowl
wide enough
to accommodate
her generous whiskers.
Like the Taj Mahal
of a litter box
big enough for her
to recline
or insist upon
entering where
her sister
the littler one
already pees.
But sometimes
she asks and
today I offered
I opened the door
to snow
and cold
and wind
and dampness.
And for a long time
she cowered;
behind the trash bin
she peeked outside
and finally took
one step, looked long,
sniffed the base plate,
then scampered
to the living room,
lay under brass lamps,
groomed and slept.
BigAssCat's over it,
the snow
and the whole
wide world
beyond her womb-house. 


Monday, February 8, 2016

Here, But Not Here

Sometimes,
everything's
just a bit
out of focus.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Cloak of Darkness

Standing at the hoop house, I hear animal noises across the road. Goats? Chickens/ Something more sinister?

I don't know.










What's there,
what lies beyond, 
remains a mystery.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sewanee Traditions

a woman, and her last dog, and her shop

Friday, February 5, 2016

Last Sound

I have heard the last sense to go is hearing. 

If so, may this will be the final sound.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Looking Up

Finally, a sunny afternoon, and a decent walk in the woods, from Lake Cheston to Clara's Point and back.


Almost an hour of slow walking and stopping and snapping, encountering only two other people -- young men from the College, running along the trail at the rim of the plateau.

I stepped aside to let them pass, said, "Beautiful afternoon, isn't it?"

One answered, "Yes!"

And the other, just as he passed me, added, "Five stars!" and held out and up the fingers of his right hand.

It's easy to forget that the sun does sometimes shine here in winter, and that sometimes even the students seem to enjoy it, and nature, as much as I.