Thursday, December 30, 2021

Not dispensible

if our disability is anything, it is a fire. we give our fire – our work, our own personal story back out to the world, not hoping for a grand conflagration, but a beacon for an ever-opening world.
~Stuart Ian McKay

I saw the documentary Crip Camp Wednesday night and LOVED IT. So good. Thank you to everyone involved with making it, including the Obamas. If you are like me, you don't watch documentaries much, but you should watch it.

On another topic that is actually the same topic, I live in a county where people have been good about wearing masks. Yesterday I was in Target and Barnes & Noble and I didn't see anyone not wearing a mask in either store. During the pandemic I have seen people not wearing a mask or wearing it wrong sometimes, but I have only been provoked to speak to someone about it once.

It wasn't the person so much as my personal circumstance that did it...I had just spent two weeks staying in the hospital with my husband, who had sudden kidney failure. So I had seen zero people not wearing masks for two weeks. What I HAD seen were folks who were doing their very best for others, putting other people's health front and center, and I just couldn't stand the sight of this woman at the grocery store wearing her mask under her chin. Such disrespect for everyone around her.

The poem I'm sharing today expresses why Crip Camp made me want to sob. It's not that the movie is sad, it's the utter disrespect and disregard the disabled community has been shown during the pandemic that is so heart-wrenching. (This poem is by a British poet but applies just as much to the U.S.)

Dispensible Other
by Janine Booth

Accept our rule and stop this hue and cry
Some loved ones have to go before their time
It's just the weak and sick and old who'll die

We have a theory here to justify
Our nudging unit thinks it's just sublime
Accept our rule and stop this hue and cry

No need to test or rest or notify
Our British stock is mostly in its prime
It's just the weak and sick and old who'll die

Forget your fragile neighbours and apply
Survival-of-the-fittest paradigm
Accept our rule and stop this hue and cry...

read the rest here


On the one hand, more people have turned out to be disappointing than I would have ever expected, but on the other hand (literally) watch people being creative and beautiful in this hand ballet from the 2020 Paralympics:


Carol's Corner has the Poetry Friday round-up today. Thanks, Carol!

P.S. My husband's kidneys are working now!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Life, meet Art

And from Humming-Bird to Eagle, the daily existence of every bird is a remote and bewitching mystery.
~Thomas Wentworth Higginson

We had a Carolina wren fly into the house again today (one flew in last week). It flew right past my face when I opened the door to walk the dogs. The wren landed on a lamp and then flew upstairs, ending up in the same bedroom as last week's wren. My son Dash got this funny picture of it apparently checking out a bird poster:

Another photo by Dash:

We wondered if it was the same one from last week. Here's a shot of that one (I can't tell.):

Monday, December 27, 2021

What ho!

If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.
~Horace Traubel

For Music Monday, White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes:

For something dramatic, The Cold Song:

Klaus Nomi, who sang it first as far as I can tell, is really something but I can't find a version that seems to have been posted by him or his people (so I can embed it). Also, here's a bass version by Dingle Yandell.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas Delivery

One kind word can warm three winter months.
~Japanese proverb

Catch you next week! 💖💖

Christmas Delivery
by Jose Frappa (1854–1904)

Monday, December 20, 2021

Ríu Ríu Chíu

Many people have fond memories of 'The Monkees.' I fondly remember it, too.
~Micky Dolenz

For Music Monday, two versions of Ríu Ríu Chíu, a Spanish carol from the 1500s. The Monkees and The Boston Camerata:

Saturday, December 18, 2021

A different kind of holiday letter

To write is human, to receive a letter: Divine!
~Susan Lendroth

Maybe some of you would be interested in Toni Bernhard's How a Holiday Letter From a Person Who Is Chronically Ill Might Read:
I want to start by saying that I’m aware of how this time of year can be stressful for everyone, regardless of the state of their health. People often feel overwhelmed by everything they need to get done. Others may have such fond memories of past holidays that they find themselves feeling blue this time of year (this can happen to me). I just want you to know that I recognize that I don’t have a monopoly on stress and frustration and sadness just because I’m chronically ill. However, my limitations are a particular challenge during the holidays because they remind me how much my life has changed since I became ill over 20 years ago.

read the rest here

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The homework of compassion

In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.
~Elizabeth Gilbert

Happy Poetry Friday, y'all! I picked a One Little Word for next year -- the first time I've chosen a word! I think I'm not supposed to tell you until next year, but I'm getting in the spirit of things already.

My OLW is: generosity. Not money, per se, but generosity of spirit, centering abundance and bounty and letting small stuff go.

Andrea Potos kindly gave me permission to share this poem, which illustrates generosity towards a difficult family member, but could also be thought of in terms of difficult people/situations in general.

Praise for the Difficult Family Member
by Andrea Potos

Praise for she who is the fingernail
on the blackboard of your calm,

who writes in careless cursive
words that dare you to erase them.

She could be the teacher who reminds you
how much work you have to do, as if

the homework of compassion will be yours
as long as you dwell

inside this body, separate, yet not,
from she who dwells in hers.


One more:

The Returns of Love
by Luci Shaw
after George Herbert

There is such generosity in love it will not fit
Within a modest box with corners and a key.
But what if I offer more than I receive? If
My love’s largesse, though open, unencumbered, free...

read the rest here


Also read Andrea's When Beginning the Poem. (Plus, check out Noon Meditation by Cicada.)

Jone Rush MacCulloch has the Poetry Friday round-up. Mòran taing, Jone!

Lawren Harris

During the 1920s, Harris’ works became more abstract and simplified, especially his stark landscapes of the Canadian north and Arctic. He also stopped signing and dating his works so that people would judge his works on their own merit and not by the artist or when they were painted.

Canadian painter Lawren Harris with some winter art for Art Thursday:

Mountain Forms
by Lawren Harris

Pine Tree and Red House, Winter City
by Lawren Harris

Ice House, Coldwell, Lake Superior
by Lawren Harris

Winter Landscape with Pink House
by Lawren Harris

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Moths in flight

It's an amazing thing to watch a lizard fold a moth into its mouth, like a sword swallower who specialises in umbrellas.
~Elizabeth McCracken

Got five minutes? Need to relax? (Nobody gets eaten!) A video from Dr. Adrian Smith's Ant Lab:

Monday, December 13, 2021

Ae Fond Kiss

Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
~Robert Burns

Aye, I should save these videos for Burns Night in January, but I am listening to them now so for Music Monday, Hozier and Coda:

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Not root but wick

All of a sudden I looked around my life and realized that the stacks of books by my bed were poetry books and that what I had pinned up on the walls and door of my office were poems and even what I had taped up all around the mirror were poems!
~Annie Lighthart

Thank you, Annie, for giving me permission to share this!

A Cure Against Poisonous Thought
by Annie Lighthart

Believe the world goes on
and this bee bending
in honeysuckle just one
of a mighty nation, golden
beads thrumming
a long invisible thread.

In the green drift of an afternoon,
the body is not root but wick:
the press of light surrounds it.

from Iron String © Airlie Press, 2015.


Also go to Annie's site to read The Kindness of the Cello and The Second Music


For your amusement, a bookmark alignment chart. I have done a lot of these, but am prone to chaotic good, true neutral, and lawful evil.

Merely Day by Day has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Cathy!

I like it

Fabio Petani tries to get carried away by the matter, aiming at ending the periodic table with a cluster of artworks able to tell a story about the alchemy between art, chemistry and nature.

For Art Thursday, Fabio Petani:

Fabio Petani FLUORO (флуор) & MALVA SYLVESTRIS from Fabio Petani on Vimeo.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Tall and Deep

People like bluegrass. It's had a following amongst a lot of hip and young people. A lot of college kids like bluegrass.
~Dolly Parton

I don't know if Dolly's right, but I know this unhip person likes it. For Music Monday, performances that are food for my spirit by Michael Cleveland, Tommy Emmanuel, and Jason Isbell:

Michael Cleveland:

Australian Tommy Emmanuel with Nashvillian Jason Isbell:

Bonus: an amazing guitar version of Somebody That I Used To Know

Thursday, December 2, 2021

In praise of being unfinished

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand?
~Wm. Shakespeare

I love Macbeth, and I love Rosemerry Wahtola would have been great to go with her to see the performance that inspired this poem:

Two Hours Upon the Stage
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Again tonight Macbeth kills Duncan,
stabs him in his sleep as he has done
for four hundred twenty-five years,
as he’s destined to do for how many
hundreds of years more, never able
to break from what’s been written,
ever a victim of his flaws. As I walk
away from the blood-stained stage
into the warm night, I notice how
with every step across the damp grass
my story is still being written,
notice how unfinished I am—
a flawed human yet in service
to the human I will become.
Praise the power to evolve,
the chance to choose to be flower
and not the snake beneath it. Praise
the power to walk away from the script,
to walk away from prophesy, to walk
into the next scene as it comes. Praise
the chance to change, to transform, to turn
while the candle, though brief, still burns.


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

A poem for our friends who have suffered a loss this year: Blue Christmas by Barbara Crooker

Thinking about coziness

The quiet transition from autumn to winter is not a bad time at all. It's a time for protecting and securing things and for making sure you've got in as many supplies as you can. It's nice to gather together everything you possess as close to you as possible, to store up your warmth and your thoughts and burrow yourself into a deep hole inside, a core of safety where you can defend what is important and precious and your very own. Then the cold and the storms and the darkness can do their worst. They can grope their way up the walls looking for a way in, but they won't find one, everything is shut, and you sit inside, laughing in your warmth and your solitude, for you have had foresight.
~Tove Jansson

Someone (I don't remember who) posted on Twitter recently that they were looking for ideas about how to make their apartment cozy. They got many many responses that were some variation of: have lots of soft blankets, electric candles/fairy lights, and fuzzy pets. Lights, warmth, softness. A commenter linked to an interesting article about people wanting coziness indoors because the world outside seems threatening, which has always been true (in terms of winter being dangerous and dark) but seems particularly true these days.

When I went looking for cozy art, I nearly gave up. The coziest art I found was of people reading.

Reading. Family Scene by Lamplight
by Salvador Dali

Reading A Story
by James Tissot

One more quote:

The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.
~Kenneth Grahame

Do you have favorite cozy art?