Monday, December 30, 2019

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Heirs of Truth and Pure Delight

I had a moment in the Library of Congress among the presidential papers. I opened a folder, and there was an envelope in it. The front of the envelope was facing the table, so I didn't know what was in it. I opened it and out spilled all this hair. I turned the envelope over and it says, 'Clipped from President Garfield's head on his deathbed.'
~Candice Millard

Continuing my old post reruns! I was inspired to share this one from 2013 because Kat Apel and I went to the Library of Congress while she was visiting in November.


Lyric Poetry is the decoration theme in the South Mosaic Corridor, First Floor, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.

Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

Today I'm spotlighting info from On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the Buildings of the Library of Congress about the Lyric Poetry corridor.

Above the window at the west end of the corridor is a banner with a quotation from William Wordsworth:
The ceiling of the corridor has the names of lyric poets in its mosaic.

Ceiling, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

Six Americans are honored on the north side: LONGFELLOW, LOWELL, WHITTIER, BRYANT, WHITMAN, and POE. Poets honored on the south side are the Europeans HEINE, HUGO, MUSSET, BYRON, SHELLEY, and BROWNING. The names of ancient poets are inscribed in the center of the vault: THEOCRITUS, PINDAR, ANACREON, SAPPHO, CATULLUS, HORACE, PETRARCH, and RONSARD.

Henry Oliver Walker's mural Lyric Poetry--found at the east end of the corridor--provides the general theme. In it, Lyric Poetry stands with a lyre in the center. Around her are Mirth, Beauty, Passion, Pathos, Truth, and Devotion.

Alfred Tennyson's poem "Ganymede" is one of six poems depicted in paintings by Walker in the corridor. The most famous poet of the Victorian age, Tennyson is well-represented throughout the Jefferson Building; his name is in the ceiling of the Great Hall, and his poetry is also found in the Southwest Corridor on the first floor (The Greek Heroes) and the Great Hall's second floor North Corridor.


I have a poem by Tennyson today: "Love is and was my Lord and King"

Love is and was my Lord and King,
And in his presence I attend
To hear the tidings of my friend,
Which every hour his couriers bring.
Love is and was my King and Lord,
And will be, tho' as yet I keep
Within his court on earth, and sleep
Encompass'd by his faithful guard,
And hear at times a sentinel
Who moves about from place to place,
And whispers to the worlds of space,
In the deep night, that all is well.


Kat and Tabatha, LOC

Michelle Kogan has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Michelle!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Life Lessons

Look inside your soul and find your tools. We all have tools.
—Ruth Gruber, age 101

photo by Digidreamgrafix

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it! For Wellness Wednesday, charming folks who have seen a lot. Life Lessons from 100+ Year Olds:

Monday, December 23, 2019

Thou art beautiful

Love, I find, is like singing.
~Zora Neale Hurston

Two songs this morning. One by Ola Gjeilo (sung by Sjaella) and one by Vivaldi (sung by Andreas Scholl)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Dancing a Jig

The poetic side of me is Scottish.
~Annie Lennox

photo by Leighton Ramos

According to the ancestry info my mom gave me at Thanksgiving, I'm 21% Scottish/Irish.* Not a ton, but enough to appreciate a good jig. Here's a poem I first shared in 2014:

Reflections On a Scottish Christmas
by Johnny Cunningham

The dark of winter wraps around us tight.
The lamps are fired, and flickering light
beats time to the fiddle as notes float
softly down, like the years' first snow.
While outside the window
a blast of late December wind
whistles harmony to the drone of the pipes.
We push the old year back against the wall
so we can dance a jig for Christmas
and welcome in the new.


* Updated 9/2020 to be 43% Scottish. (Do these sites know what they are doing?)

Buffy Silverman has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Buffy!

Sealed in Ice

Water, in all its forms, is what carries the knowledge of life throughout the universe.
~Anthony T. Hincks

Today's re-run is from 2014, but the part about the puppy is still true:


We've got ice today, with many striking textures and shapes. My mother-in-law is fond of saying that there's no bad weather; there's only inappropriate clothing. I haven't really mastered the art of always wearing appropriate clothing, but since I will be out this winter walking our puppy no matter what, I'd better make more of an effort! *

Lilac Bush
photo by Jayme Frye

Blocks of ice in Jökulsárlón, with Breiðamerkurfjall behind

Ice Crystal Dancer
photo by Len Burgess

Iceland Norðurland Eystra - Reykjahlíð
photo by Hansueli Krapf

Ice Lanterns
photo by Corey Taratuta

Sailing with skates on the ice
Unknown photographer, 1890-1900

Car race on the ice
unknown photographer, 1890-1900

* I scheduled this re-run before knowing what yesterday would bring. If you know me at all, you know that I was relieved about no one being above the law. So Wednesday brought relief, but it also brought grief. Arielle, the young woman I referenced in July passed away.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Embraceable You

The best part about playing a mom is that people hug moms. I get hugs all the time. It really makes hard days a lot easier, and easy days are downright joyous.
~Kim Rhodes

Today's re-run is from 2015:

Time to celebrate hugs! ALL kinds of hugs... even face ones :-)

Group Hug
photo by Peter Harrison

by Twice25 & Rinina25

Senior Chief Construction Mechanic Renato Hidalgo hugs his son before departing for an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Ace Rheaume

Free hugs
photo by Matthew G

Douglas Gets Hugged
by Marji Beach

by popofatticus

Self-Portrait with Her Daughter
by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun

Free Face Hugs
by Nathan Rupert

Free Hugs shirt

Monday, December 16, 2019

Here we come

WASSAIL the trees, that they may bear
You many a plum and many a pear:
For more or less fruits they will bring,
As you do give them wassailing.
~Henry David Thoreau (in Wild Apples: The History of the Apple Tree)

For Music Monday, a post from 2010:


Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.


* A frothed wassail recipe (uses eggs)
* an alcoholic wassail recipe (no eggs)
* a non-alcoholic recipe
* Hymns and Carols of Christmas has a very informative Wassail page
* So does Colonial Williamsburg.
* Wondering what to eat with your wassail? A recipe for shepherd's or cottage pie.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Out with the old

The computing field is always in need of new cliches.
~Alan Perlis

a sketch of a petard, such as one might get hoist by
which is an expression I like & don't want to replace, tbh

A rambling discussion of how my brain works awaits you. (I would bail now!) When I was growing up, I read a lot of British books. Between that and my father's extensive vocabulary, I ended up with kind of a weird lexicon for an American kid. What I wanted to talk about today, though, was how my grandfather's sayings stuck. I must have heard them at an early or impressionable age because they are wedged in tight.

This morning I found myself being glad that, although it was raining, it wasn't as hard as a cow p*ssing on a flat rock, and I thought, "Darn you, Granddaddy!"

His expressions at mealtime come to mind when I've eaten a lot. His "I'm fit to pop" is fine, but "I'm full as a tick" admittedly has an element of "ugh."

The saying that I've particularly tried to get rid of is "cold as a witch's titty." Did that get passed down from colonial Puritans? What the heck? I have tried to replace it with "cold as a polar bear's nose" with some success.

How does this relate to Poetry Friday? We're always looking for fresh comparisons.

Matthew Baldwin collected new expressions for a "Cliche Rotation Project." Some of my favorites were:

Replace "It's a win-win situation" with "Everyone gets ice cream!"
Replace "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it" with "We'll chop that tomato when the salsa runs out."
Replace "Reinvent the wheel" with "Start a whole new batch of sourdough."

(Apparently I particularly like the food ones.)
(None of the list were for expressions my grandfather used.)

The Morning News did a Non-Expert’s Contest for Total Idioms to come up with original idioms. The winner was "If A Bird Can't Fly, It Walks," meaning that there's no real excuse not to do what you can.

The Poetry Object has exercise worksheets for Overcoming Clichés and Using Specific Imagery that look helpful for teachers and others.

I have to include a poem! Here's one by Mac Hammond that takes a fresh look at an old subject:

Once upon a Time There Was a Man
by Mac Hammond

Once upon a time there was, there was a man
Who lived inside me wearing this cold armour,
The kind of knight of whom the ladies could be proud
And send with favours through unlikely forests
To fight infidels and other knights and ordinary dragons.
Once upon a time he galloped over deep green moats...

read the rest here


Elizabeth Steinglass has the Poetry Friday round-up today. Thanks, Liz!

Hunters in the Snow

[Bruegel] swallowed all the mountains and rocks and spat them out again as panels on which to paint, so close did he attempt to approach nature.
~Karel van Mander

Repeating a post from 2008 today!


This week, we're just looking at one painting, but we're looking at it closely. The painting is Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 16th century.

Wish I could see it in person! I also like The Beekeepers, Netherlandish Proverbs, and Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Wrapping it up

One Christmas I had no money, and so I went home and just, like, wrote a poem; I mean, I didn't write them, but I just handed out poems as Christmas presents. Like, 'Here's a Pablo Neruda poem that really made me think of you.'
~June Diane Raphael

Do I love y'all? Why, yes I do. How will I prove it? I'll share this video. (Diagonal wrapping! How did I not know about that?)

Green Gift Wrapping Alternatives

If you are a Harry Potter fan like myself, check out this uber-fan's creativity:

I'll end with two personalized gift ideas that I did this year...

* I designed a calendar using photos that my family members contributed based on their birth month. For instance, I picked the one for March and my mom's photo is featured in August. The theme was "plants" because I thought that would be pretty easy. Our birth months are spread out enough that we only had one overlap (my daughter Elena moved to October because she and my dad were both born in September). I used Picaboo and was very happy with how it turned out.

* My mother-in-law just moved from her house into a retirement community (this week!). She paints, so I had a custom porcelain ornament made using a painting she had done of her house. A photo works equally well.

I have some other presents I hope to make. They are all a bit touch-and-go (not sure they will turn out). Are you making anything?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Help for the holidays?

photo by David Swait

I think therapist Lori Gottlieb's advice in The Atlantic is valuable reading for anybody because it points out so well how our perception of someone else's behavior can be based on a misunderstanding of their experience:

A parent struggles with how one son’s mental-health issues have affected the entire family

photo by Tim Mossholder

Monday, December 9, 2019

Rejoice greatly

When one looks at the world, there's only one thing to say, and it's hallelujah. That's the way it is.
~Leonard Cohen

Returning to an Art Thursday post from 2010 for today's Music Monday. George Frideric Handel's Messiah:

The Trumpet Shall Sound

A performance of Handel’s Messiah at Penrith (on Sydney sandstone)
By Jack Featherstone

From the Lilly Library

Albums (I'm interested in abstract representations of the oratorio):

A poster:

A score:

Not sure about these two...posters?

* The texts for Messiah along side-by-side with modern translations
* Listen to Susan Stamberg ask classical music commentator Miles Hoffman questions about Messiah
* Smithsonian Magazine's The Glorious History of Handel's Messiah
* Handel as word painter

Must include a Messiah Random Act of Culture:

Friday, December 6, 2019

Mentor poems (and songs)

Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.

photo by Rookuzz

Mentor poems (and songs) today!

* If I could write like Tolstoy by Laura Scott ­­
* Melancholia by Eric Pankey
* April Incantation by Maggie Dietz
* Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird By Wallace Stevens

Ones I liked the idea of but didn't do:
* The Secret Shape (Alicia Ostriker)
* Arrhythmia by Hailey Leithauser

* Animal Couplets
* Double Dactyl
* Five things about...
* Found Poem from The Hare with Amber Eyes
* A Golden Shovel
* Ten Things Found in a Wizard’s Pocket by Ian McMillan (List poem)
* Helen Keller by Langston Hughes (Bio poem)

A couple of funny country music inspirations:
* Nobody to blame but me
* A Half-Broke Heart

A sweet song inspiration:
* That's What's Up

* Poems about Poets


Tanita Davis has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Tanita!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Snow Globes

You know those little snow globes that you shake up? I always thought my brain was sort of like that. You know, where you just give it a shake and watch what comes out and shake it again. It's like that.
~Gary Larson

This is a re-run from 2015!

Reindeer Snow Globe
photo by Abbie

NYC Snow Globe
photo by Miles Davis

Lights Around the Globe
photo by Jim

Vienna-themed Snow Globes
photo by Mark Turner

photo by Phil Long

I love this snow globe painting by the Art Meister.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


You don't need much to change the entire world for the better. You can start with the most ordinary ingredients. You can start with the world you've got.
~Catherine Ryan Hyde

I didn't start Wellness Wednesday until November 2016, so I don't have a big WW archive to fall back on. I spotted this post from 2010, though, which seemed appropriate.


I read about a generosity-based publisher on Kurious Kitty's blog. What does "generosity-based" mean? Concord Free Press gives away books with the understanding that, in exchange, the recipient will make a donation to someone in need. Also, recipients are asked to pass along the book to someone else when they are done with it.

Concord Free Press doesn't sell books (since they are giving them away), but they do sell t-shirts and posters. I wanted to show you these:

I like the reading patriot logo:

More "pay-it-forward" ideas

Monday, December 2, 2019

Blue Song

I ain't got the blues no more I said
~Mint Royale

Although I have been singing Christmas songs to myself for a week or two, I'm not quite ready to dig into my holiday music archives yet. So no rerun today.

Mint Royale. This video's ending made me laugh.