Food for the Spirit and the Soul

Because the diverse parts of human nature need to be nourished in different ways.

May Offerings – Part XX: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Deborah Martin

In the words of one writer, “In her recent series ‘The Slabs: The Last Free Place in America,’ painter Deborah Martin turns her attention on the community of Slab City located outside of Niland CA on the Salton Sea. Slab City takes its name from the concrete slabs that remain from the abandoned World War II Marine barracks of Camp Dunlap. The site is both decommissioned and uncontrolled, home to year round slabbers and snowbirds in the winter months.”

Below – “The Slabs”; “Slab City Trailers”; “Slab City Tree”; “Slab City Steps”; “Cadillac”; “Bombay Trailer (Bombay Beach, CA).”
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“Cell phones are not a sign of power, they’re a sign of subservience.” – Doug Pappas, American lawyer, baseball statistician, and unpatriotic Luddite, who died 20 May 2004.

Below – Move along, people. There’s nothing to see here.
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Fancies in Springtime: Bill Watterson

“On gray days, when it’s snowing or raining, I think you should be able to call up a judge and take an oath that you’ll just read a good book all day, and he’d allow you to stay home.”
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A Poem for Today

“Before Dawn on Bluff Road”
By August Kleinzahler

The crow’s raw hectoring cry
scoops clean an oval divot
of sky, its fading echo
among the oaks and poplars swallowed
first by a jet banking west
then the Erie-Lackawanna
sounding its horn as it comes through the tunnel
through the cliffs to the river
and around the bend of King’s Cove Bluff,
full of timber, Ford chassis, rock salt.

You can hear it in the dark
from beyond what was once the amusement park.
And the wind carries along as well,
from down by the river,
when the tide’s just so,
the drainage just so,
the chemical ghost of old factories,
the rotted piers and warehouses:
lye, pigfat, copra from Lever Bros.,
formaldehyde from the coffee plant,
dyes, unimaginable solvents—
a soup of polymers, oxides,
tailings fifty years old
seeping through the mud, the aroma
almost comforting by now, like food,
wafting into my childhood room
with its fevers and dreams.
My old parents asleep,
only a few yards across the hall,
door open—lest I cry?
I remember
almost nothing of my life.
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American Art – Part II of V: C. M. Cooper

C. M. Cooper refers to herself as a “contemporary traditionalist.” According to one critic, “Her impressionistic paintings blend classic aesthetics with the modern figure, and Cooper’s delicate color sensitivity and wonderful sense of light create images that are filled with emotion.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Roman Krznaric

“In a culture obsessed with hard work and career success, it can be difficult to wean ourselves off the work ethic. And we may not want to if we are engrossed in a career that is making us feel fully alive. But if we do seek the advantages of a four-day week, and the space to nurture other parts of who we are, then we might be wise to put our hopes in the virtues of simple living.”
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Died 20 May 1971 – Waldo Williams, a Welsh poet.

“What is it to be human?”

What is staying alive? To possess
A great hall inside of a cell.
What is it to know? The same root
Underneath the branches.

What is it to believe? Being a carer
Until relief takes over.
And to forgive? On fours through thorns
To keep company to an old enemy.

What is it to sing? To receive breath
From the genius of creation.
What’s work but humming a song
From wood and wheat.

What are state affairs? A craft
That’s still only crawling?
And armaments? Thrust a knife
In a baby’s fist.

Being a nation? What can it be? A gift
In the swell of the heart.
And to love a country? Keeping house
In a cloud of witnesses.

What’s the world to the all powerful?
A circle spinning.
And to the children of the earth?
A cradle rocking.
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American Art – Part III of V: Carl Mydans

“One is not really a photographer until preoccupation with learning has been outgrown and the camera in his hands is an extension of himself. There is where creativity begins.” – Carl Mydans, American photographer, who was born 20 May 1907.

During the course of his long career, Carl Mydans worked for both the Farm Security Administration (recording the Depression-era plight of rural workers) and “Life” magazine (chronicling the events of World War II and the conflict in Korea).

Below – Senator John F. Kennedy campaigns with his wife in Boston, 1958; General Douglas McArthur wades ashore in Luzon, Philippines, 9 January 1945; on the road from Manville to Bound Brook, New Jersey, 1936; the bombing of Chongqing, China by Japanese aircraft, 1941; an exhausted Marine catching a nap while sitting on a cart full of ammunition, Korea, 1951.
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Fancies in Springtime: Henry David Thoreau

“Some of my pleasantest hours were during the long rain-storms in the spring or fall, which confined me to the house for the afternoon as well as the forenoon, soothed by their ceaseless roar and pelting; when an early twilight ushered in a long evening in which many thoughts had time to take root and unfold themselves. In those driving northeast rains which tried the village houses so, when the maids stood ready with mop and pail in front entries to keep the deluge out, I sat behind my door in my little house, which was all entry, and thoroughly enjoyed its protection.”

Below – Mary Wolf: “Rain on the Pond”
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20 May 1609 – Shakespeare’s sonnets are first published in London by Thomas Thorpe, perhaps without authorization.

“Sonnet I”

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’st flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
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British Art – Part I of II: Thomas Edwin Mostyn

Inn the words of one writer, “British painter Thomas Edwin Mostyn (1864-1930) was born in Liverpool. Raised in Manchester, he studied at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. Tom Mostyns work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1891 as well as being shown extensively abroad. Mostyn lived in London and later in Torquay, where he died on 22nd August 1930. Mostyn is generally known for his scenes depiciting a bold Romantisicm based on Victorian garden scenes.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Mark Edmundson

“In later life most good things happen very slowly; only bad things tend to happen fast.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“The Bethlehem Nursing Home”
By Rodney Torreson

A birdbath ministers
to the lawn chairs,
all toppled: a recliner
on its face, metal arms
trying to push it up;
an overturned rocker,
curvature of the spine.
Armchairs on their sides,
webbing unraveled.
One faces the flowers.
A director’s chair
folded, as if prepared
to be taken up.
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“Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” – Honore de Balzac, French novelist and playwright, who was born 20 May 1799.

Some quotes from the work of Honore de Balzac:

“It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.”
“When women love us, they forgive us everything, even our crimes; when they do not love us, they give us credit for nothing, not even our virtues.”
“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.”
“Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact.”
“The fact is that love is of two kinds, one which commands, and one which obeys. The two are quite distinct, and the passion to which the one gives rise is not the passion of the other.”
“Love is the poetry of the senses.”
“Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.”
“The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play the violin.”
“Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless.”
“Love or hatred must constantly increase between two persons who are always together; every moment fresh reasons are found for loving or hating better.”
“First love is a kind of vaccination which saves a man from catching the complaint the second time.”
“It is easier to be a lover than a husband for the simple reason that it is more difficult to be witty every day than to say pretty things from time to time.”
“I do not regard a broker as a member of the human race.”
“The habits of life form the soul, and the soul forms the countenance.”

British Art – Part II of II: Alain Choisnet

Here is how British sculptor Alain Choisnet (born 1962) describes his artistic career: “I was born in Britain at the foot of the magnificent castle of Ferns, but it was in a Paris suburb that I grew up. Philosophical studies gave me a solid understanding of the human being. This knowledge helped me tremendously to assert myself as an artist. It is enough to seize a gesture, an emotion, then to set them while preserving the sincerity of moment and the fluidity of the movement.”
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“It is our duty to preserve huge tracts of land in something resembling its native condition. The biological interactions necessary to insure the continuities of life are astonishingly complex, and cannot take place in islands of semi-wilderness like the national parks.”
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From the American History Archives: The Pinnacle of Fashion

20 May 1873 – Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss receive a U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets.

Below – Davis (left) and Strauss; Perfection in trouser form.
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A Third Poem for Today

“Children in a Field”
By Angela Shaw

They don’t wade in so much as they are taken.
Deep in the day, in the deep of the field,
every current in the grasses whispers ‘hurry
hurry,’ every yellow spreads its perfume
like a rumor, impelling them further on.
It is the way of girls. It is the sway
of their dresses in the summer trance-
light, their bare calves already far-gone
in green. What songs will they follow?
Whatever the wood warbles, whatever storm
or harm the border promises, whatever
calm. Let them go. Let them go traceless
through the high grass and into the willow-
blur, traceless across the lean blue glint
of the river, to the long dark bodies
of the conifers, and over the welcoming
threshold of nightfall.
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Fancies in Springtime: Mark Edmundson

“What Proust is describing is an act of self-discovery on the part of his reader. Immersing herself in Proust, the reader may encounter aspects of herself that, while they have perhaps been in existence for a long time, have remained unnamed, undescribed, and therefore in a certain sense unknown. One might say that the reader learns the language of herself.”
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American Art – Part IV of V: Jeremy Mann

In the words of one writer, “Jeremy Mann holds a Cum Laude BFA from Ohio University and an MFA with valedictorian honor from Academy of Art University in San Francisco. In his creative practice, Mann aims to imbue his city, San Francisco, with drama, mood, and personality. He paints his immediate surroundings with intimate, dynamic expression. A number of his compositions are inspired by wet pavement that reflects street lamps and neon signs and glitters in the rain.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Stable”
By Claudia Emerson

One rusty horseshoe hangs on a nail
above the door, still losing its luck,
and a work-collar swings, an empty
old noose. The silence waits, wild to be
broken by hoofbeat and heavy
harness slap, will founder but remain;
while, outside, above the stable,
eight, nine, now ten buzzards swing low
in lazy loops, a loose black warp
of patience, bearing the blank sky
like a pall of wind on mourning
wings. But the bones of this place are
long picked clean. Only the hayrake’s
ribs still rise from the rampant grasses.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Wonder, and its expression in poetry and the arts, are among the most important things which seem to distinguish men from other animals, and intelligent and sensitive people from morons.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Arnie Weimer (Part III)

In the words of one writer, “Even though Arnie Weimer holds the Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Cincinnati, he contends that experience has been his best teacher. During his over 30 years in Alaska, he has experimented with many styles and mediums. Bronze, oil, stone, wood, watercolor, printmaking, and jewelry are some of the many mediums in which Arnie has worked.

Arnie also has experience with the uniquely northern art of snow sculpting. He captained teams that placed in the Capital City Snow Sculpting Competition, winning first and second place in consecutive years. His first place team represented the state of Alaska at the National Snow Sculpting Competition, where they won a Spectators Choice Award for their sculpture, the bust of a Tlingit Chief.

Arnie worked with many native artists while he was employed by the Indian Studies Program in the public schools. He also operated a studio for several years where many Alaskan artists gathered to practice their work. Consequently, Arnie’s work shows influences from the many forms of art indigenous to Alaska.

Recently, Arnie has focused his talents on creating watercolor originals and reproduction prints, as well as embossed etchings featuring heavy influence of traditional Alaska native artwork. Arnie now lives in Juneau with his two cats and his dog Zorro. On many a summer day, Arnie can be spotted on a sidewalk or in a park, sketching or painting his next work of art.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – (Copper Reliefs) “Bear Legend” (square); “Bear Legend” (large); “Bear-Light Legends”; “Legend of Light” (large); “Poetry on Franklin Street”; “Raven –Lovebirds-Eagle.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“Home, you think. Home. This is my world. This is where I come from. Everyone I know, everyone I ever heard of, grew up down there, under that relentless and exquisite blue.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

Martin Walls:
“Cicadas at the End of Summer”

Whine as though a pine tree is bowing a broken violin,
As though a bandsaw cleaves a thousand thin sheets of
titanium;
They chime like freight wheels on a Norfolk Southern
slowing into town.

But all you ever see is the silence.
Husks, glued to the underside of maple leaves.
With their nineteen fifties Bakelite lines they’d do
just as well hanging from the ceiling of a space
museum —

What cicadas leave behind is a kind of crystallized memory;
The stubborn detail of, the shape around a life turned

The color of forgotten things: a cold broth of tea & milk
in the bottom of a mug.
Or skin on an old tin of varnish you have to lift with
lineman’s pliers.
A fly paper that hung thirty years in Bird Cooper’s pantry
in Brighton.
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“Our old pilgrims believed stories in which the West was a promise, a place where decent people could escape the wreckage of failed lives and start over. Come along, the dream whispers, and you can have another chance. We still listen to promises in the wind. This time, we think, we’ll get it right.”
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American Art – Part V of V: Alex Roulette

Artist Statement: “My current series of paintings depict fabricated American landscapes. The invented landscapes arise from archetypal citations of past and present cultural influences. Placing figures into these landscapes is an attempt to take advantage of the viewer’s natural ability to extrapolate narratives. By creating the paintings using a conjuncture of various photographic references, I continue to explore the distinctions between photographic and painted space. The disjointed nature of the source images, contrasting with the way they are realistically unified, take on a contingent sense of reality.
Inventing landscapes allow memories of places and events to be fictionalized. Coalescing unrelated photographs is done in a way comparable to the process in which the mind synthesizes images when recollecting memories or imagining new images. As opposed to culling images from an abstract memory bank, I utilized tangible sources, many of which come from the vast image resources our contemporary culture offers. The current expanding abundance of accessible images is allowing the imagination to expand the ability to visualize unseen places.”

Below – “At Swim”; “Buffalo Water Park”; “Chopping Wood”; “Hedges”; “Windmill”; “Dug-Out Pools”; “Blue Highway.”
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Dear Readers:
I will not be making my daily posts for the next couple of weeks, since I will be attending my youngest son’s wedding at the Flying Caballos Ranch in San Luis Obispo, California (see the photographs below). Following the nuptials, I will be spending some time in San Francisco and Mendocino, before heading back to Fayetteville by way of Boulder, Colorado. As everyone can imagine, I will suffer terrible aesthetic and cultural deprivations on this Road Trip, but I will nonetheless try to post some pictures of the less testing parts of the journey.
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May Offerings – Part XIX: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Richard Heisler

Artist Statement: “My paintings inspired by places of great importance to me as a person and as an artist. I strive to paint these places with exacting detail and commitment to the highest authenticity and realism of the image painted, in tribute to the experience and out of respect for the places and time spent there. My paintings as a whole serve as an album of sorts of my life. I can looks through my paintings over the years and know where life’s journey has taken me and be able to connect with these times and places through the work I have done and will continue to do. My paintings are not a pursuit of a certain genre or style of working, but come out of a necessary feeling to capture and present things to those who view my work as faithfully as I can.”

Below – “Kittitas”; “Radio City”; “After the Rain – Lancaster”; “Hamamatsucho (100 Views of Tokyo)”; “Shinjuku Evening (100 Views of Tokyo)”; “Asakusa #4.”
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“Beware of men who cry. It’s true that men who cry are sensitive to and in touch with feelings, but the only feelings they tend to be sensitive to and in touch with are their own.” – Nora Ephron, American journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, and director, who was born 19 May 1941.

Some quotes from the work of Nora Ephron:

“Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.”
“[A successful parent is one] who raises a child who grows up and is able to pay for his or her own psychoanalysis.”
“My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be comic stories the next.”
“I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.”
“In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.”
“I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive.”
“The desire to get married, which – I regret to say, I believe is basic and primal in women – is followed almost immediately by an equally basic and primal urge – which is to be single again.”
“As far as the men who are running for president are concerned, they aren’t even people I would date.”
“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
“My mother was a good recreational cook, but what she basically believed about cooking was that if you worked hard and prospered, someone else would do it for you.”
“With any child entering adolescence, one hunts for signs of health, is desperate for the smallest indication that the child’s problems will never be important enough for a television movie.”
“If pregnancy were a book they would cut the last two chapters.”

Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Among the educated young there is therefore a startling and unprecedented interest in the transformation of human consciousness. All over the Western world publishers are selling millions of books dealing with Yoga, Vedanta, Zen Buddhism, and the chemical mysticism of psychedelic drugs, and I have come to believe that the whole ‘hip’ subculture, however misguided in some of its manifestations, is the earnest and responsible effort of young people to correct the self–destroying course of industrial civilization.”
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American Art – Part II of V: Carole A. Feuerman

In the words of one art historian, “Carole A. Feuerman, American sculptor, is internationally recognized as one of the world’s most prominent hyperrealist sculptors with a prolific career spanning four decades. She lives and works in New York and Florida. Feuerman sculpts life-size, monumental and miniature works in bronze, resin and marble. She has had six museum retrospectives to date and has been included in prominent exhibitions at the Venice Biennale, The State Hermitage, The Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, the Kunstmuseum Ahlen and the Circulo de Bellas Artes.”
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A Poem for Today

“R & R”
By Brian Turner

The curve of her hip where I’d lay my head,
that’s what I’m thinking of now, her fingers
gone slow through my hair on a blue day
ten thousand miles off in the future somewhere,
where the beer is so cold it sweats in your hand,
cool as her kissing you with crushed ice,
her tongue wet with blackberry and melon.

That’s what I’m thinking of now.
Because I’m all out of adrenaline,
all out of smoking incendiaries.

Somewhere deep in the landscape of the brain,
under the skull’s blue curving dome—
that’s where I am now, swaying
in a hammock by the water’s edge
as soldiers laugh and play volleyball
just down the beach, while others tan
and talk with the nurses who bring pills
to help them sleep. And if this is crazy,
then let this be my sanatorium,
let the doctors walk among us here
marking their charts as they will.

I have a lover with hair that falls
like autumn leaves on my skin.
Water that rolls in smooth and cool
as anesthesia. Birds that carry
all my bullets into the barrel of the sun.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“Had Jupiter been several dozen times more massive, the matter in its interior would have undergone thermonuclear reactions, and Jupiter would have begun to shine by its own light. The largest planet is a star that failed.”
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South African Art – Part I of II: Shany van den Berg

In the words of one writer, “Shany van den Berg was born in Riversdale in the Western Cape in 1958, and matriculated from CJ Langenhoven Highschool. She studied ceramics part-time from 1982 to 1985 at Paarl College, and life drawing and painting part-time at Ruth Prowse School of Art from 1990 to 1992. Since then she has worked as a full-time artist, developing her own technique in oil painting and producing work exhibited at various galleries.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“How long have the planets been circling the sun? Are they getting anywhere, and do they go faster and faster in order to arrive? How often has the spring returned to the earth? Does it come faster and fancier every year, to be sure to be better than last spring, and to hurry on its way to the spring that shall out-spring all springs?”
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“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.” – John Betjeman, English poet, writer, broadcaster, and Poet Laureate (1972-1984), who died 19 May 1984.

Even if someone is not a fan of his work, there are two reasons why he or she should admire John Betjeman. First, this quote comes from the time when he was Poet Laureate: “I don’t think I am any good. If I thought I was any good, I wouldn’t be.” Second, in his “Who’s Who” entry, Betjeman described himself as “poet and hack.”

“Slough”

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town—
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who’ll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women’s tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It’s not their fault that they are mad,
They’ve tasted Hell.

It’s not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It’s not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren’t look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.
Resindential area, Slough

Fancies in Springtime: Sa’di

“If the diver always thought of the shark, he would never lay hands on the pearl.”
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South African Art – Part II of II: Kerry-Jane Evans

Artist Statement: “The painting process is all important to me. I do not plan my work; it begins without the conditioning of idea or even conception. It is through the action of painting that the compositions arrive, the figures move and adjust in relationship… they come and go and are my primary vehicle of expression. Figurative representation is where I find my greatest delight, that sense of pleasure and identification with the emotional aspects of life.
Figures move through their own, most often, bare space, they emerge without imagery, symbol, devoid of inheritance. They isolate moments of movement through a long narrative of inner and outer conflict and address the need for resolution and harmony.
In this very act of painting, the physical application of paint – through this energetic stillness – subtle ‘felt’ perceptions arise and my imagination grows with these perceptions. The movement of thought, of idea, of relationship, my relationship with the painting, with the world in me and around me…the images unfold through this dynamic and become the journey, the way to comprehending the self.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Mark Edmundson

“The English major is, first of all, a reader. She’s got a book pup-tented in front of her nose many hours a day; her Kindle glows softly late into the night. But there are readers and there are readers. There are people who read to anesthetize themselves—they read to induce a vivid, continuous, and risk-free daydream. They read for the same reason that people grab a glass of chardonnay—to put a light buzz on. The English major reads because, as rich as the one life he has may be, one life is not enough. He reads not to see the world through the eyes of other people but effectively to become other people. What is it like to be John Milton, Jane Austen, Chinua Achebe? What is it like to be them at their best, at the top of their games?”
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A Second Poem for Today

“In My Mother’s House”
By Gloria g. Murray

every wall
stood at attention
even the air knew
when to hold its breath
the polished floors
looked up
defying heel marks
the plastic slipcovers
crinkled in discomfort

in my mother’s house
the window shades
flapped
against the glare
of the world
the laughter
crawled like roaches
back into the cracks

even the humans sat—
cardboard cut-outs
around the formica
kitchen table
and with silver knives
sliced and swallowed
their words
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Fancies in Springtime: Roman Krznaric

“Highly empathic people are engaged in a constant search for what they share with other people, even when those people appear alien to them.”
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“‘I’m not sure he’s wrong about automobiles,’ he said. ‘With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization — that is, in spiritual civilization. It may be that they will not add to the beauty of the world, nor to the life of men’s souls.’” – Booth Tarkington, American writer, dramatist, and one of only three novelists (the others being William Faulkner and John Updike) to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once (in 1919 for “The Magnificent Ambersons” and in 1922 for “Alice Adams”), who died 19 May 1946.

A few quotes from the work of Booth Tarkington:

“Cherish all your happy moments; they make a fine cushion for old age.”
“There are two things that will be believed of any man whatsoever, and one of them is that he has taken to drink.”
“Gossip is never fatal until it is denied. Gossip goes on about every human being alive and about all the dead that are alive enough to be remembered, and yet almost never does any harm until some defender makes a controversy. Gossip’s a nasty thing, but it’s sickly, and if people of good intentions will let it entirely alone, it will die, ninety-nine times out of a hundred.”
“Arguments only confirm people in their own opinions.”
“Boyhood is the longest time in life for a boy. The last term of the school-year is made of decades, not of weeks, and living through them is like waiting for the millennium.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“That place, called the heliopause, is one definition of the outer boundary of the Empire of the Sun. But the Voyager spacecraft will plunge on, penetrating the heliopause sometime in the middle of the twenty-first century, skimming through the ocean of space, never to enter another solar system, destined to wander through eternity far from the stellar islands and to complete its first circumnavigation of the massive center of the Milky Way a few hundred million years from now. We have embarked on epic voyages.”
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American Art – Part III of V: Thomas Schaller

In the words of one writer, “A registered architect and architectural artist, Thomas Schaller founded Schaller Architectural Design + Presentation in New York City in 1985. Since 2006, he has been based in Los Angeles, California.
Widely known for his work in transparent watercolor, Mr. Schaller has authored two books on the subject and has won every major award in the field of architectural illustration. His work has been exhibited around the world and has been featured in numerous publications.
As a fine artist, Mr. Schaller’s watercolor work has become increasingly recognized, published, and exhibited.”
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“A man … needs to get out in the open air and sweat and blow off the stink.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Boy and Egg”
By Naomi Shihab Nye

Every few minutes, he wants
to march the trail of flattened rye grass
back to the house of muttering
hens. He too could make
a bed in hay. Yesterday the egg so fresh
it felt hot in his hand and he pressed it
to his ear while the other children
laughed and ran with a ball, leaving him,
so little yet, too forgetful in games,
ready to cry if the ball brushed him,
riveted to the secret of birds
caught up inside his fist,
not ready to give it over
to the refrigerator
or the rest of the day.
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Fancies in Springtime: John J. Geddes

“A rainy walk through leaves will cure almost anything”
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From the American History Archives: Shot Harry

19 May 1953 – The United States government conducts an above ground nuclear test in the Nevada desert. Code named “Shot Harry,” the blast sent so much fallout over St. George, Utah, that it became know as “Dirty Harry” when details were finally released to the press. The extent of the effects of such tests remained a closely guarded secret, until one American decided to expose the reprehensible conduct of her government. As one reviewer put the matter, “In her remarkable book ‘American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War,’ photojournalist Carole Gallagher has penetrated the veil of official secrecy and anonymity to document the incredible untold story of the Americans whose misfortune it was to live downwind of the nuclear detonations – those citizens described in a top-secret Atomic Energy Commission memo as ‘a low-use segment of the population’ – and of civilian workers and military personnel exposed to radiation at the Nevada Test Site. ‘American Ground Zero’ provides a gripping, courageous collection of portraits and interviews of those whose lives were crossed by radioactive fallout.”

Below – Shot Harry; St. George, Utah in 1953; Carole Gallagher’s book.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“But peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”
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American Art – Part IV of V: Lisa Reinertson

In the words of one writer, “Lisa Reinertson is known for both her life size figurative ceramic sculptures and her large-scale public sculptures cast in bronze.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Wendell Berry

“The river and the garden have been the foundations of my economy here. Of the two I have liked the river best. It is wonderful to have the duty of being on the river the first and last thing every day. I have loved it even in the rain. Sometimes I have loved it most in the rain.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Cliff Swallows-Missouri Breaks”
By Debra Nystrom

Is it some turn of wind
that funnels them all down at once, or
is it their own voices netting
to bring them in—the roll and churr
of hundreds searing through river light
and cliff dust, each to its precise
mud nest on the face
none of our own isolate
groping, wishing need could be sent
so unerringly to solace. But
this silk-skein flashing is like heaven
brought down: not to meet ground
or water—to enter
the riven earth and disappear.
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Fancies in Springtime: Mark Edmundson

“English majors want the joy of seeing the world through the eyes of people who—let us admit it—are more sensitive, more articulate, shrewder, sharper, more alive than they themselves are. The experience of merging minds and hearts with Proust or James or Austen makes you see that there is more to the world than you had ever imagined. You see that life is bigger, sweeter, more tragic and intense—more alive with meaning than you had thought.
Real reading is reincarnation. There is no other way to put it. It is being born again into a higher form of consciousness than we ourselves possess. When we walk the streets of Manhattan with Walt Whitman or contemplate our hopes for eternity with Emily Dickinson, we are reborn into more ample and generous minds. ‘Life piled on life / Were all too little,’ says Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses,’ and he is right. Given the ragged magnificence of the world, who would wish to live only once? The English major lives many times through the astounding transportive magic of words and the welcoming power of his receptive imagination. The economics major? In all probability he lives but once. If the English major has enough energy and openness of heart, he lives not once but hundreds of times. Not all books are worth being reincarnated into, to be sure—but those that are win Keats’s sweet phrase: ‘a joy forever.’”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Arnie Weimer (Part II)

In the words of one writer, “Even though Arnie Weimer holds the Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Cincinnati, he contends that experience has been his best teacher. During his over 30 years in Alaska, he has experimented with many styles and mediums. Bronze, oil, stone, wood, watercolor, printmaking, and jewelry are some of the many mediums in which Arnie has worked.

Arnie also has experience with the uniquely northern art of snow sculpting. He captained teams that placed in the Capital City Snow Sculpting Competition, winning first and second place in consecutive years. His first place team represented the state of Alaska at the National Snow Sculpting Competition, where they won a Spectators Choice Award for their sculpture, the bust of a Tlingit Chief.

Arnie worked with many native artists while he was employed by the Indian Studies Program in the public schools. He also operated a studio for several years where many Alaskan artists gathered to practice their work. Consequently, Arnie’s work shows influences from the many forms of art indigenous to Alaska.

Recently, Arnie has focused his talents on creating watercolor originals and reproduction prints, as well as embossed etchings featuring heavy influence of traditional Alaska native artwork. Arnie now lives in Juneau with his two cats and his dog Zorro. On many a summer day, Arnie can be spotted on a sidewalk or in a park, sketching or painting his next work of art.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “One Round the Sun”; “Mosquito Legend”; “Salmon Song”; “Spirit Dance”; “Whale Spirit Dancer”; “Whale of a Time.”
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“We tell stories to talk out the trouble in our lives, trouble otherwise so often so unspeakable. It is one of our main ways of making our lives sensible. Trying to live without stories can make us crazy. They help us recognize what we believe to be most valuable in the world, and help us identify what we hold demonic.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Speckled Trout”
By Ron Rash

Water-flesh gleamed like mica:
orange fins, red flankspots, a char
shy as ginseng, found only
in spring-flow gaps, the thin clear
of faraway creeks no map
could name. My cousin showed me
those hidden places. I loved
how we found them, the way we
followed no trail, just stream-sound
tangled in rhododendron,
to where slow water opened
a hole to slip a line in,
and lift as from a well bright
shadows of another world,
held in my hand, their color
already starting to fade.
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American Art – Part V of V: Adam Harrison

Artist Statement: “My most recent series has been an exploration of particular places that have been part of my daily life.

Over the past two years I have composed several large paintings that in essence have recorded my personal experiences with each location. It has been my goal to capture as honestly as possible the characteristics that individualize a specific space. It is typical for me to spend four to six months at one site, revisiting the canvas regularly, developing the image over a long period of time. The canvas then begins to take the shape of a living journal, documenting my experiences and interactions in a pictorial language. Everything within my worksite becomes important and in one way or another is woven into the structure of the canvas. Things such as changing wind patterns, migrating birds, wild tomcats, personal accounts, is (if not noted in the painting) impressed deeply into my understanding of that environment.

The work varies from vast cityscapes to empty, foreboding interiors. The most important thematic attribute to the work is stillness. Surprisingly, the scenes take place in a busy city where constant motion and activity abound, yet my paintings are void of the chaos of city life. There are no people, no cars, and no visible activity present within the compositions which may lead the viewer to think that the spaces are lonely and deserted; however, the treatment of light and color give the feeling of life’s energy.

The greatest hope for my artwork is that others would have a strong emotional response to it. I believe the better my understanding of a place in which I work and everything that makes it breathe: its history, the community who live and work there, traffic patterns, bird sounds, the more faithful my painting will be to the fullness of that area; making the work much more believable and therefore more tangible to the viewer.”

Below – “Lincoln Place”; “Ocean Park Alleyway”; “1900 Pico”; “Lapin”; “Santa Monica”; “South Street.”
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May Offerings – Part XVIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Matt Condron

Artist Statement: “I am a self-taught oil painter working in the realist style. I work from photos I take during my travels largely throughout the U.S.; though lately, some photographs from a recent trip to Chile have made the cut. Instinctually, the subject matter I gravitate towards has a lot to do with growing up in L.A. during the 70’s. A deep sense of nostalgia ignites in me over the style of that decade…the design, the music and the manufacturing palette. It was the first visual language I understood in terms of the objective world around me and feels comforting and familiar to me whenever I see it today. Moreover, I hope to capture that still point between hurried activity whereby the viewer alone might remain, suspended in some reverie or another of his or her own.”
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“And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop’t we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help—for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.” – From “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” (Edward Fitzgerald translation), by Omar Khayyam, Persian poet, philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer, who was born 18 May 1048.

A few more verses from the great poem:

“A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness–
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”

“Some for the glories of this world; and some
Sigh for The Prophet’s Paradise to come;
Ah, take the cash and let the credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant drum.”

“The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

Below – A bust Of Omar Khayyam in Nishapur, Iran; the Edward Fitzgerald translation of the “Rubaiyat.”
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Born 18 May 1822 – Mathew Brady, one of the first American photographers, best known for his scenes of the Civil War.

Above – Mathew Brady in 1875.
Below – Portrait of President Lincoln; Portrait of Walt Whitman; Portrait of Frederick Douglass; Portrait of Robert E. Lee (taken just days after the surrender at Appomattox); Portrait of General George Armstrong Custer; Antietam; Cold Harbor; General Grant at Cold Harbor; Chickamauga; Gettysburg – Three Captured Confederate Soldiers.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Louis Stevenson

“The rain is falling all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.”
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“Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
When hot for certainties in this our life!” – George Meredith, English novelist, poet, and author of “The Egoist,” who died 18 May 1909.

“Dirge in Woods*

A wind sways the pines,
And below
Not a breath of wild air;
Still as the mosses that glow
On the flooring and over the lines
Of the roots here and there.
The pine-tree drops its dead;
They are quiet, as under the sea.
Overhead, overhead
Rushes life in a race,
As the clouds the clouds chase;
And we go,
And we drop like the fruits of the tree,
Even we,
Even so.
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American Art – Part III of V: Akio Takamori

In the words of one writer, “Akio Takamori’s ceramic sculptures evoke an eerie sense of reality and presence. Often drawn from childhood memories of small-village life in Japan, his standing and sleeping figures depict ordinary people going about their day-to-day existence.”
Takamori was born in 1950 in Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Japan. He studied art at Masashino Art College, Tokyo, before moving to the U.S. in 1974. He received a BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1976 and an MFA at Alfred University in New York in 1978. Since 1993 he has been a faculty member in the University of Washington School of Art.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Life requires no future to complete itself nor explanation to justify itself. In this moment it is finished.”
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“These days, what isn’t worth saying is sung.” – Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, French musician, playwright, satirist, and revolutionary, who died 18 May 1799, making an observation that is decidedly apt for our time.

A few quotes from the work of Beaumarchais:

“I quickly laugh at everything for fear of having to cry.”
“Where love is concerned, too much is never enough.”
“It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them.”
“Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons, madam: that is all there is to distinguish us from other animals.”

A Poem for Today

“Everything Good between Men and Women”
By C. D. Wright

has been written in mud and butter
and barbecue sauce. The walls and
the floors used to be gorgeous.
The socks off-white and a near match.
The quince with fire blight
but we get two pints of jelly
in the end. Long walks strengthen
the back. You with a fever blister
and myself with a sty. Eyes
have we and we are forever prey
to each other’s teeth. The torrents
go over us. Thunder has not harmed
anyone we know. The river coursing
through us is dirty and deep. The left
hand protects the rhythm. Watch
your head. No fires should be
unattended. Especially when wind. Each
receives a free swiss army knife.
The first few tongues are clearly
preparatory. The impression
made by yours I carry to my grave. It is
just so sad so creepy so beautiful.
Bless it. We have so little time
to learn, so much… The river
courses dirty and deep. Cover the lettuce.
Call it a night. O soul. Flow on. Instead.

Below – Caspar David Friedrich: “Man and Woman”
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In the words of one writer, “Alexander Novoselov was born in Leningrad, Russia. He studied at the N.K. Roerich Art College from 1995-2000. From 2001-2007 he studied at the Repin Academy in St.Petersburg where he graduated from the studio of renowned Professor Andrei A. Mylnikov in monumental painting, which included training in mural painting, fresco, mosaic, and sgraffitto. During his studies he was awarded medals, including the Gold Medal of the Russian Academy of Art, and was honored as ‘Best Graduate of 2007’ of the Russian Academy of Art. In 2008, Alexander was accepted as a member of the Union of Artists of Russia.”
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“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, American novelist, short story writer, and author of “The Scarlet Letter,” who died 19 May 1864.

Some quotes from the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne:

“It contributes greatly towards a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.”
“No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”
“We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.”
“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
“Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not.”
“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.”
“Love, whether newly born, or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.”
“Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.”
“Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed. Their highest merit is suggestiveness.”
“Selfishness is one of the qualities apt to inspire love.”
“The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison.”
“A hero cannot be a hero unless in a heroic world.”
“Life is made up of marble and mud.”
“The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.”
“You can get assent to almost any proposition so long as you are not going to do anything about it.”
“Mountains are earth’s undecaying monuments.:
“Sunlight is painting.”
“Moonlight is sculpture.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Tintype on the Pond, 1925”
By J. Lorraine Brown

Believe it or not,
the old woman said,
and I tried to picture it:
a girl,
the polished white ribs of a roast
tied to her boots with twine,
the twine coated with candle wax
so she could glide
uninterrupted
across the ice—
my mother,
skating on bones.
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18 May 1897 – Bram Stoker publishes “Dracula,” and thirty-four years later, the novel finds its perfect cinematic expression.

Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Glucose Self-Monitoring”
By Katy Giebenhain

A stabbing in miniature, it is,
a tiny crime,
my own blood parceled
drop by drop and set
on the flickering tongue
of this machine.
It is the spout-punching of trees
for syrup new and smooth
and sweeter
than nature ever intended.
It is Sleeping Beauty’s curse
and fascination.
It is the dipstick measuring of oil
from the Buick’s throat,
the necessary maintenance.
It is every vampire movie ever made.
Hand, my martyr without lips,
my quiet cow.
I’ll milk your fingertips
for all they’re worth.
For what they’re worth.
Something like a harvest, it is,
a tiny crime.
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“To my embarrassment, I was born in bed with a lady.” – Wilson Mizner, American playwright and entrepreneur, who
was born 18 May 1876.

Some quotes from the work of Wilson Mizner:

“Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.”
“Don’t talk about yourself; it will be done when you leave.”
“Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something.”
“God help those who do not help themselves.”
“If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.”
“There is something about a closet that makes a skeleton terribly restless.”
“I hate careless flattery, the kind that exhausts you in your efforts to believe it.”
“Art is science made clear.”
“A fellow who is always declaring he’s no fool usually has his suspicions.”
“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while, he knows something.”
“To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it.”
“I respect faith, but doubt is what gives you an education.”
“I can usually judge a fellow by what he laughs at.”
“In the battle of existence, Talent is the punch; Tact is the clever footwork.”
“Life’s a tough proposition, and the first hundred years are the hardest.”
“Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages. Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly. Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.”
“Hollywood is a sewer with service from the Ritz Carlton.”
“The difference between chirping out of turn and a faux pas depends on what kind of a bar you’re in.”
“Those who welcome death have only tried it from the ears up.”
“If you count all your assets you always show a profit.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Dim”
By Jim Daniels

Today my son realized someone’s smarter
than him. Not me or his mom —
he still thinks we know everything —
one of the other kids, Nathan. Making fun
of him at the computer terminal
for screwing up at the math game.
Other kids laughing at him. Second grade.
I’m never gonna be as smart as him,
he says.
I’m never gonna be as smart
as half my students if we’re talking
IQs. He doesn’t want me to explain.
He wants me to acknowledge
that he’s dumb. He’s lying in bed
and taking his glasses off and on,
trying to get them perfectly clean
for the morning. I’m looking around
his dark room for a joke or some
decent words to lay on him. His eyes
are glassy with almost-tears. Second grade.
The world wants to call on him.
I take his hand in mine.
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From the Cinema Archives: Chow Yun-Fat

“You see I am very stupid. I don’t understand or talk well. I take it easy every day. I am like an idiot. Be like this every day, and then you’ll look young.” – Chow Yun-Fat, Hong Kong actor, who was born 19 May 1955, waxing philosophical.

Chow Yun-Fat is justifiably praised for his roles in films such as “The Killer,” “Hard Boiled,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “The Replacement Killers,” but his greatest performance to date is inarguably as the Monk With No Name in “Bulletproof Monk.” In fact, this film has almost everything requisite to qualify for cinematic greatness: a plot nearly Shakespearean in its complexity, a deeply spiritual theme, emotionally nuanced characters played by vastly talented actors, and weapons – lots of weapons – as well as a flock of cranes. And a bulletproof monk.

Three quotes from “Bulletproof Monk” (feel free to meditate on them, Grasshopper):

Monk With No Name: “Why do hot dogs come in packages of ten, but hot dog buns only come in packages of just eight?”
Monk With No Name: “An enlightened man would offer a weary traveler a bed for the night, and invite him to share a quiet conversation over a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.”
Monk With No Name: “Water which is too pure has no fish.”

Fancies in Springtime: Mary Oliver

“Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain –
imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.”
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Here is one writer describing the artistry of Chinese painter and printmaker Zhang LiuFeng: “Mr. Zhang Liufeng’s art works are characterized by a very distinctive style. These lithographs have an atmosphere of their own. The people that are shown look so real but somehow lost and left alone. For many people, these images cannot be interpreted, but they have a mesmerizing charm that is hard to describe.”
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Nobel Laureate: Bertrand Russell

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic, who was born on 18 May 1872.

When Russell won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950, it was, in the Nobel Committee’s words, “in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.” Russell spent the majority of his career defending individuals from pernicious threats to their political, social, moral, and intellectual liberty, including Nazism, Stalinist totalitarianism, the Vietnam War, the nuclear arms race, and organized religion.

Some quotes from the work of Bertrand Russell:

“Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who’ll get the blame.”
“Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.”
“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
“I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its Churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”
“I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn’t wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.”
“I’ve made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I’m convinced of the opposite.”
“If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.”
“What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.”
“In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards.”
“The secret to happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible.”
“Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?”
“Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.”
“It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Roman Krznaric

“Our culturally inherited vision of perfect romantic love is symbolized by Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture ‘The Kiss.’ There is no doubt that it embodies the romantic ideal: the lovers see completely eyet-to-eye, wrapped in an all-encompassing embrace. They are soulmates, united into an inseparable fused form. But ‘The Kiss’ also embodies everything that is wrong about romantic love. These lovers are locked into a relationship that allows no breathing space between them. Their independence and uniqueness as individuals have disappeared, and they have turned their backs on the rest of the world, oblivious to the lives of others. They have become captives of their own love, trapped by an emotional myopia.”

Below – Constantin Brancusi: “The Kiss”
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American Art – Part IV of V: Dan Beck

According to Dan Beck, painting is “a balancing act between opposite ideas – direct observation and instinct, control and spontaneity, even between the literal and the symbolic. It seems to me that although a painter is deeply involved with his own private investigation, his real aim is to communicate something that only the person looking at the painting really understands.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Mark Edmundson

“When the goals of the Self are the only goals a culture makes available, spirited men and women will address them with the energy that they would have applied to the aspirations of the Soul. The result is lives that are massively frustrating and not a little ridiculous. People become heroically dedicated to middle-class ends – getting a promotion, getting a raise, taking immeasurably interesting vacations, getting their children in the right colleges, finding the best retirement spot, fattening their portfolios. Lives without courage, contemplation, compassion, and imagination are lives sapped of significant meaning. In such lives, the Self cannot transcend itself.”

Below – Tanya Johnston: “Self-Transcendence”
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From the American History Archives: Mount St. Helens

18 May 1980 – Mount St. Helens erupts, resulting in the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States.

Below – The mountain and the surrounding landscape before and after the eruption; the aftermath of the eruption.
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View of Mt. St. Helens from Mt. Margaret

Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“On the wall above the place where I write there is a bedspread embroidered by a Hmong woman, imaginary animals on a field of tropical green, a royal red elephant with black ears, a turtle with yellow-and-blue-and-red checkered shell, a blackrabbit, an orange monkey on a branch, a parrot, a peacock, and a green prehistoric creature with white horns. It is the work of a woman transported a long way from her homeland, who stayed tough enough to dream up another story. It gives me hope.”

Below – Hmong embroidery.
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Back from the Territory – Art: Arnie Weimer (Part I)

In the words of one writer, “Even though Arnie Weimer holds the Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Cincinnati, he contends that experience has been his best teacher. During his over 30 years in Alaska, he has experimented with many styles and mediums. Bronze, oil, stone, wood, watercolor, printmaking, and jewelry are some of the many mediums in which Arnie has worked.

Arnie also has experience with the uniquely northern art of snow sculpting. He captained teams that placed in the Capital City Snow Sculpting Competition, winning first and second place in consecutive years. His first place team represented the state of Alaska at the National Snow Sculpting Competition, where they won a Spectators Choice Award for their sculpture, the bust of a Tlingit Chief.

Arnie worked with many native artists while he was employed by the Indian Studies Program in the public schools. He also operated a studio for several years where many Alaskan artists gathered to practice their work. Consequently, Arnie’s work shows influences from the many forms of art indigenous to Alaska.

Recently, Arnie has focused his talents on creating watercolor originals and reproduction prints, as well as embossed etchings featuring heavy influence of traditional Alaska native artwork. Arnie now lives in Juneau with his two cats and his dog Zorro. On many a summer day, Arnie can be spotted on a sidewalk or in a park, sketching or painting his next work of art.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Alaska Bear Fare”; “Bear Legend”; “Feather Dancer”; “Fog Woman Legend”; “Legend of Light”; “Legend of the Human Mother and Bear Father.”

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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Road Report”
By Kurt Brown

Driving west through sandstone’s
red arenas, a rodeo of slow erosion
cleaves these plains, these ravaged cliffs.
This is cowboy country. Desolate. Dull. Except
on weekends, when cafés bloom like cactus
after drought. My rented Mustang bucks
the wind—I’m strapped up, wide-eyed,
busting speed with both heels, a sure grip
on the wheel. Black clouds maneuver
in the distance, but I don’t care. Mileage
is my obsession. I’m always racing off,
passing through, as though the present
were a dying town I’d rather flee.
What matters is the future, its glittering
Hotel. Clouds loom closer, big as Brahmas
in the heavy air. The radio crackles
like a shattered rib. I’m in the chute.
I check the gas and set my jaw. I’m almost there.
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American Art – Part V of V: Sharon Feder

Artist Statement: “Humanity is archival, like the strata that compose the earth. Our structures and art, superfund sites to cathedrals, exist because of us. The things we create form layers upon the earth, reflecting humankind, interwoven with the natural world that birthed us. We make the marks we make, like creases in one’s face, witnessing and demonstrating the story of each life.

We won’t be here forever. We can’t be. It is not tragic. Our choice is whether to exist in fear, or to see our existence as a celebration of our existence. Life is archival.

My paintings contemplate the geometry and emptiness of structures, visually and metaphorically. Like silent sentries, structures observe, record and imply change in time. Buildings, as elements in the gigantic still life constructions that form our urban environment inform both an understanding and unity with the made and natural world.”

Below – “Building No. 28”; “Spine”; “Culver City No. 2”; “Goose”; “Horizon – Blue”; “Jet’s Trees – Blue”; “Station No. 4”; “Trainyard No. 14”; “Building No. 14”; “Stacks No. 2.”
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May Offerings – Part XVII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Stephen Magsig

Artist Statement: “When I think about the conventions of painting — a tradition I respect immensely — I notice that my concern has always been with the interplay of light and structure. Light, since it defines everything, is what my work is about — how light changes things, how it inflects the surfaces of places we imagine for ourselves and inhabit, like sunlight touching a window sill, illuminating and creating contrasts and shadows.”

Below – “Bus Stop Café”; “Brooklyn Bridge Shadows”; “Webster Hall”; “Moulin Bleu”; “Cornelia Street Café”; “Spring St. Station.”
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A Poem for Today

“County Fair”
By Mary Karr

On the mudroad of plodding American bodies,
my son wove like an antelope from stall
to stall and want to want. I no’ed it all: the wind-up
killer robot and winged alien; knives
hierarchical in a glass case; the blow-up vinyl wolf
bobbing from a pilgrim’s staff.
Lured as I was by the bar-b-que’s black smoke,
I got in line. A hog carcass,
blistered pink on a spit, made its agonized slow roll,
a metaphor, I thought, for anyone
ahead of me—the pasty-faced and broad. I half-longed
for the titanium blade I’d just seen
curved like a falcon’s claw. Some truth wanted cutting
in my neighbors’ impermanent flesh.
Or so my poisoned soul announced, as if scorn
for the body politic
weren’t some outward form of inner scorn,
as if I were fit judge.
Lucky my son found the bumper cars. Once I’d hoped
only to stand tall enough
to drive my own. Now when the master switch got thrown
and sparks skittered overhead
in a lightning web, I felt like Frankenstein or some
newly powered monster.
Plus the floor was glossy as ice. Even rammed head-on,
the rubber bumper bounced you off unhurt
and into other folks who didn’t mind the jolt, whose faces
all broke smiles, in fact,
till the perfect figure-eight I’d started out to execute
became itself an interruption. One face
after another wheeled shining at me from the dark,
each bearing the weight of a whole self.
What pure vessels we are, I thought, once our skulls
shut up their nasty talk.
We drove home past corn at full tassel, colossal silos,
a windmill sentinel. Summer was starting.
My son’s body slumped like a grain sack against mine.
My chest was all thunder.
On the purple sky in rear view, fireworks unpacked—silver
chrysanthemum, another in fuchsia,
then plum. Each staccato boom shook the night. My son
jerked in his sleep. I prayed hard to keep
the frail peace we hurtled through, to want no more
than what we had. The road
rushed under us. Our lush planet heaved toward day.
Inside my hand’s flesh,
anybody’s skeleton gripped the wheel.

Below – Persis Clayton Weirs: “Country Fair”
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Fancies in Springtime: Sherwood Anderson

“The fruition of the year had come and the night should have been fine with a moon in the sky and the crisp sharp promise of frost in the air, but it wasn’t that way. It rained and little puddles of water shone under the street lamps on Main Street. In the woods in the darkness beyond the Fair Ground water dripped from the black trees.”
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From the “Something I’m Glad My Mother Didn’t Read Department”:

“It will all go on as long as women are stupid enough to go on bringing men into the world.” – Dorothy Miller Richardson, English writer, journalist, and feminist, who was born 17 May 1873.

Here is how Swiss photographer William Dalton describes his artistic genesis: “For many years I traveled the world as a global VP for a fortune 500 fragrance and flavor company. I witnessed first-hand the wonders and beauty of our world. I have attempted to photograph some of the beauty of our world to share with others. Many years ago I came across a wonderful French term, ‘objet trouve.’ Webster’s Dictionary defines the term as, ‘a natural object found by chance and held to have aesthetic value, (e.g. driftwood) especially though the working of natural forces.’ I attempt to create ‘objet trouve’ in my photographs. The wonders I find in nature are photographed in an attempt to create art.”

Below – Seven of William Dalton’s “Wave” photographs.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.”

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“I did not fully understand the dread term ‘terminal illness’ until I saw Heathrow Airport for myself.” – Dennis Potter, English writer and creator of the remarkably intelligent BBC television drama “The Singing Detective,” who was born 17 May 1935.

Some quotes from the work of Dennis Potter:

“The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they have been in.”
“To love it too much is to obscure and not see what is there.”
“I think childhood is to everyone a lost land.”
“You have to assert something about yourself in order to be yourself.”
“A bad act done will fester and create in its own way. It’s not only goodness that creates. Bad things create. They have their own yeast.”
“I believe everybody is responsible for what they do themselves.”
“Ideals jump across the hierarchies of the printed word.”
“It is a dangerous thing to have instant access to your emotions.”
“Just letting it out is one of the definitions of bad art.”
“That vision of a common culture is now simply a remote wistfulness.”
“The loss of Eden is personally experienced by every one of us as we leave the wonder and magic and also the pains and terrors of childhood.”
“The strangest thing that human speech and human writing can do is create a metaphor. That is an amazing leap, is it not?”
“The thing about imagination is that by the very act of putting it down, there must be some truth in one’s own imagination.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Ray Bradbury

“Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw? Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies?”
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American Art – Part II of III: Walasse Ting

Died 17 May 2010 – Walasse Ting, a Chinese-American visual artist and poet.

Below – “I Love You”; “I See You”; “Look at Me Twice”; “Two Ladies with Flowers”; “I Love Chrysanthemums”; “Three Geishas with Horse (Blue)”; “Cat in the Garden”; “Three Women, Birds, and Fruit”; “My New Girlfriend”; “Beautiful Lady, Red Hair.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Fifteen”
By Leslie Monsour

The boys who fled my father’s house in fear
Of what his wrath would cost them if he found
Them nibbling slowly at his daughter’s ear,
Would vanish out the back without a sound,
And glide just like the shadow of a crow,
To wait beside the elm tree in the snow.
Something quite deadly rumbled in his voice.
He sniffed the air as if he knew the scent
Of teenage boys, and asked, “What was that noise?”
Then I’d pretend to not know what he meant,
Stand mutely by, my heart immense with dread,
As Father set the traps and went to bed.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“A handful of sand contains about 10,000 grains, more than the number of stars we can see with the naked eye on a clear night. But the number of stars we can see is only the tiniest fraction of the number of stars that are. What we see at night is the merest smattering of the nearest stars. Meanwhile the Cosmos is rich beyond measure: the total number of stars in the universe is greater than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the planet Earth.”
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From the Movie Archives: Dennis Hopper

“’Easy Rider’ was never a motorcycle movie to me. A lot of it was about politically what was going on in the country.” – Dennis Hopper, American actor, filmmaker, and artist, who was born 17 May 1936.

Dennis Hopper delivered brilliant performances in several movies, including “Easy Rider” and “True Romance” (an underrated gem of a film), but some of his great on-screen moments came in “Apocalypse Now,” including this one:

“I had to develop my own style. I began to dig out places of my own . . . I loved to paint villages, and I’m glad, because they’re pretty much gone now. They’ve all changed, fallen down, or been destroyed.” – Alfred Joseph Casson, Canadian painter, who was born 17 May 1898.

Below – “White Pine”; “Country Store, McMichael”; “Birches in the Winter”; “Rain, Mist, and Sun”; “Summer Hillside, Kamaniskeg”; “Sunset, Algonquin Park”; “Hillside Village”; “Old House, Haliburton”; “Village at Sundown”; “Pike Lake.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Jack Kerouac

“It was a rainy night. It was the myth of a rainy night.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“In The Black Rock Tavern”
By Judith Slater

The large man in the Budweiser tee
with serpents twining on his arms
has leukemia. It doesn’t seem right
but they’ve told him he won’t die for years
if he sticks with the treatment.
He’s talking about his years in the foundry,

running a crane on an overhead track in the mill.
Eight hours a day moving ingots into rollers.
Sometimes without a break
because of the bother of getting down.
Never had an accident.
Never hurt anyone. He had that much control.

His problem is that electricity
arced through his body and accumulated.
When he got down at the end of a shift
he could squeeze a forty-watt light bulb
between thumb and finger and make it flare.
All the guys came around to see that.
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Fancies in Springtime: Roman Krznaric

“An even more insidious effect of capitalist love is how we increasingly market ourselves as objects of desire. Although human beings have been preening themselves with fine clothes and makeup since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians, it was in the twentieth century that they most fully became commodities, spending vast amounts on making themselves attractive to prospective partners. This began with a fashion for designer clothes in the economic boom years following the Second World War, and is now most apparent in the cosmetic surgery industry: around 10 million operations are performed in the United States each year, from breast enlargements and nose jobs to liposuction and abdominoplasty.”
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“It is not so important to be serious as it is to be serious about the important things. The monkey wears an expression of seriousness which would do credit to any college student, but the monkey is serious because he itches.” – Robert Hutchins, American educator, philosopher, Dean of Yale Law School, and Chancellor of the University of Chicago, who died 17 May 1977.

Before anyone reads the quotes below, there is something he or she should know: When he was the Chancellor of the University of Chicago, Robert Hutchins not only eliminated varsity football but also forced undergraduates to complete “The Hutchins Plan,” a program based on Great Books, Socratic dialogue, and comprehensive examinations. The man was clearly a politically incorrect fascist. He is also one of my intellectual heroes.

Some quotes from the work of Robert Hutchins:

“A liberal education… frees a man from the prison-house of his class, race, time, place, background, family and even his nation.”
“Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their horizons, inflame their intellects, and teach them to think straight, if possible.”
“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”
“This is a do-it-yourself test for paranoia: you know you’ve got it when you can’t think of anything that’s your fault.”
“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.”
“When I feel like exercising I just lie down until the feeling goes away.”
“A world community can exist only with world communication, which means something more than extensive short-wave facilities scattered about the globe. It means common understanding, a common tradition, common ideas, and common ideals.”
“Education is a kind of continuing dialogue, and a dialogue assumes different points of view.”
“The college graduate is presented with a sheepskin to cover his intellectual nakedness.”
“The three major administrative problems on a campus are sex for the students, athletics for the alumni, and parking for the faculty.”
“There is only one justification for universities, as distinguished from trade schools. They must be centers of criticism.”
“To solve a problem it is necessary to think. It is necessary to think even to decide what facts to collect.”
“We can put television in its proper light by supposing that Gutenberg’s great invention had been directed at printing only comic books.”

Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The development of objective thinking by the Greeks appears to have required a number of specific cultural factors. First was the assembly, where men first learned to persuade one another by means of rational debate. Second was a maritime economy that prevented isolation and parochialism. Third was the existence of a widespread Greek-speaking world around which travelers and scholars could wander. Fourth was the existence of an independent merchant class that could hire its own teachers. Fifth was the Iliad and the Odyssey, literary masterpieces that are themselves the epitome of liberal rational thinking. Sixth was a literary religion not dominated by priests. And seventh was the persistence of these factors for 1,000 years.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“A Yellow Leaf”
By Alberto Rios

A yellow leaf in the branches
Of a shamel ash
In the front yard;
I see it, a yellow leaf
Among so many.
Nothing distinguishes it,
Nothing striking, striped, stripped,
Strident, nothing
More than its yellow
On this day,
Which is enough, which makes me
Think of it later in the day,
Remember it in conversation
With a friend,
Though I do not mention it—
A yellow leaf on a shamel ash
On a clear day
In an Arizona winter,
A January like so many.
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“There’s a darker problem with the Western. It’s a story inhabited by a mythology about power and the social utility of violence, an American version of an ancient dream of warrior righteousness. Because of that, it’s a story many of us find threatening. We don’t want to live in a society fascinated by fantasies of killer wish-fulfillment. We keep hoping the Western will just go away. But it won’t. From ‘The Song of Roland’ to ‘Shane’ to ‘Star Wars,’ these hero stories just duck out of sight, like Clark Kent stepping into a telephone booth, and reemerge with renewed vitality.

The dreaming goes on. We all know how Westerns proceed. There is the society of good simple folk who only want to live decent lives, and there are the evil unshaven bad guys, driven by undisciplined lusts and greed. And there is the hero, who cuts through the shit. Shane straps on his sixguns and solves the problem of Jack Palance. The obvious implications, taken seriously by a society like ours, so deeply and often frustrated, and so adept in the sciences of destruction, are literally unthinkable. Nuke the bastards.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Katie Sevigny (Part V)

In the words of one writer, “Katie moved to Haines, Alaska in 1994 as a young adult in search of a better life. She met her husband, Craig, in 1997. Katie and Craig moved to Anchorage in 2000 and married in 2002. Katie gave birth to their first son, Cooper, in 2003 and second son, Rowan, in 2005. Katie and Craig started to see the freedom of having two sons off to school and then they decided to throw themselves back into the trenches and gave birth to their third son, Satchel, in 2011!!
Katie has two great loves, her family and Art. One brings her joy and the other sanity! Between her three sons and a busy schedule, Katie tries to live her dream of being a successful artist.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Reflection Tree”; “Seahorses”; “Spring”; “Tangled in Blue”; “Texture Trees”; “Trees of Green”; “Tangled Octopus”; “Trees on Fire”; “Tricky Trees”; “Warrior Bear”; “Winter Green Tree.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“Contemplated as one grand whole, astronomy is the most beautiful monument of the human mind; the noblest record of its intelligence.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“The Wind Chimes”
By Shirley Buettner

Two wind chimes,
one brass and prone to anger,
one with the throat of an angel,
swing from my porch eave,
sing with the storm.
Last year I lived five months
under that shrill choir,
boxing your house, crowding books
into crates, from some pages
your own voice crying.
Some days the chimes raged.
Some days they hung still.
They fretted when I dug up
the lily I gave you in April,
blooming, strangely, in fall.
Together, they scolded me
when I counted pennies you left
in each can, cup, and drawer,
when I rechecked the closets
for remnants of you.
The last day, the house empty,
resonant with space, the two chimes
had nothing to toll for.
I walked out, took them down,
carried our mute spirits home.
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Fancies in Springtime: George Lukacs

“Happy are those ages when the starry sky is the map of all possible paths – ages whose paths are illuminated by the light of the stars. Everything in such ages is new and yet familiar, full of adventure and yet their own. The world is wide and yet it is like a home, for the fire that burns in the soul is of the same essential nature as the stars.”
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American Art – Part III of III: Patricia Chidlaw

Artist Statement: “When asked what kind of paintings I make, I usually call my work ‘Urban Landscapes’ to distinguish them as paintings about areas of human habitation rather than landscapes that reference the natural world. But my subjects are certainly not all urban – some are suburban, some small towns and some are ruins, such as a faded sign and abandoned business bleaching in the desert sun as once populated areas return to their former empty silence. While I often treat older architectural forms, I want to make it clear these are not paintings about nostalgia – all are contemporary scenes, recently observed. Currently I’ve painted a number of pictures which seem neither urban nor rural but are set in that particular non-space that now covers so much of the landscape – the limbo of freeway exits and on-ramps and their attendant fast-food franchises.

What I feel these mostly unpopulated places I choose to paint have in common is a potency, some kind of emotional charge that enables them to function as settings for a subjective fictional narrative. As the artist I choose and edit the scenes, setting the stage for viewers to bring their imaginations and private meanings to these places made special by my selection and attention.”
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May Offerings – Part XVI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Tom Goldenberg

Painter Tom Goldenberg earned a B.F.A. from the University of Illinois, Champaign in 1970.

Below – “Sandro’s Hill”; “Neptune”; “West Field”; “Lavender Valley”; “West II”; “South.”
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“It’s exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful.” – Adrienne Rich, American poet, essayist, and feminist, who was born 16 May 1929.

Some quotes from the work of Adrienne Rich:

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you…it means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. It means being able to say, with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre: ‘I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all the extraneous delights should be withheld or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.’
Responsibility to yourself means that you don’t fall for shallow and easy solutions–predigested books and ideas…marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems. It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short…and this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society which say that women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the places assigned to us. It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be ‘different’…The difference between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.”
“Lying is done with words, and also with silence.”
“Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.”

Fancies in Springtime: Christopher Fowler

“It was true that the city could still throw shadows filled with mystifying figures from its past, whose grip on the present could be felt on certain strange days, when the streets were dark with rain and harmful ideas.”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Barbara Lee

Born 16 May 1947 – Barbara Lee, an American vocalist and member of The Chiffons.

A Poem for Today

“Cartoon Physics, part 1,”
By Nick Flynn

Children under, say, ten, shouldn’t know
that the universe is ever-expanding,
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies

swallowed by galaxies, whole

solar systems collapsing, all of it
acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning

the rules of cartoon animation,

that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.
Anyone else who tries

will crash into the rock. Ten-year-olds
should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,
ships going down—earthbound, tangible

disasters, arenas

where they can be heroes. You can run
back into a burning house, sinking ships

have lifeboats, the trucks will come
with their ladders, if you jump

you will be saved. A child

places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,
& drives across a city of sand. She knows

the exact spot it will skid, at which point
the bridge will give, who will swim to safety
& who will be pulled under by sharks. She will learn

that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff
he will not fall

until he notices his mistake.
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From the Music Archives – Part II of II: The Beach Boys

16 May 1966 – The Beach Boys release “Pet Sounds,” one of the best and most influential albums in the history of popular music.

Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Indeed, one of the highest pleasures is to be more or less unconscious of one’s own existence, to be absorbed in interesting sights, sounds, places, and people. Conversely, one of the greatest pains is to be self-conscious, to feel unabsorbed and cut off from the community and the surrounding world.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“To Play Pianissimo”
By Lola Haskins

Does not mean silence.
The absence of moon in the day sky
for example.

Does not mean barely to speak,
the way a child’s whisper
makes only warm air
on his mother’s right ear.

To play pianissimo
is to carry sweet words
to the old woman in the last dark row
who cannot hear anything else,
and to lay them across her lap like a shawl.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robinson Jeffers

“While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening
to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence;
and home to the mother.
You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly
long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.”
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American Art – Part II of IV: Karen Offutt

Artist Statement: “As and artist, I am very aware of my environment which invites me to be a constant observer. I see potential in everything and my emotional reaction guides me to the specific inspiration. There are different aspects to my painting, for example technical skill, creative freedom and emotional truth. My goal is to create work that guides all these elements in a direction that moves me.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Charles Bukowski

“sleeping in the rain helps me forget things like I am going to
die and you are going to die and the cats are going to die
but it’s still good to stretch out and know you have arms
and
feet and a head, hands, all the parts, even eyes to close
once
more, it really helps to know these things, to know your
advantages
and your limitations, but why do the cats have to die, I
think that the
world should be full of cats and full of rain, that’s all, just
cats and
rain, rain and cats, very nice, good
night.”
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“The world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me.” – Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua, Chicana scholar of cultural and feminist theory and author of “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza,” who died 16 May 2004.

Some quotes from the work of Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua:

“Nobody’s going to save you. No one’s going to cut you down, cut the thorns thick around you. No one’s going to storm the castle walls nor kiss awake your birth, climb down your hair, nor mount you onto the white steed. There is no one who will feed the yearning. Face it. You will have to do it yourself.”
“I change myself, I change the world.”
“Do work that matters.”
“In trying to become ‘objective,’ Western culture made ‘objects’ of things and people when it distanced itself from them, thereby losing ‘touch’ with them.”
“We are taught that the body is an ignorant animal intelligence dwells only in the head. But the body is smart. It does not discern between external stimuli and stimuli from the imagination. It reacts equally viscerally to events from the imagination as it does to real events.”
“The struggle is inner: Chicano, indio, American Indian, mojado, mexicano, immigrant Latino, Anglo in power, working class Anglo, Black, Asian–our psyches resemble the bordertowns and are populated by the same people. The struggle has always been inner, and is played out in outer terrains. Awareness of our situation must come before inner changes, which in turn come before changes in society. Nothing happens in the ‘real’ world unless it first happens in the images in our heads.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“What’s wrong with technology is that it’s not connected in any real way with matters of the spirit and of the heart. And so it does blind, ugly things quite by accident and gets hated for that.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Family Album”
By Diane Thiel

I like old photographs of relatives
in black and white, their faces set like stone.
They knew this was serious business.
My favorite album is the one that’s filled
with people none of us can even name.

I find the recent ones more difficult.
I wonder, now, if anyone remembers
how fiercely I refused even to stand
beside him for this picture — how I shrank
back from his hand and found the other side.

Forever now, for future family,
we will be framed like this, although no one
will wonder at the way we are arranged.
No one will ever wonder, since we’ll be
forever smiling there — our mouths all teeth.
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American Art – Part III of IV: Margaret Wozniak

New York sculptor Margaret Wozniak was born in Poland and studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Krakow. Originally working in bronze, she now devotes her time exclusively to clay, a transition that allows for wider scope, freedom of expression, and the exceptional use of color. Each work is handbuilt and meticulously painted with carefully formulated glazes.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“Each of us is a tiny being, permitted to ride on the outermost skin of one of the smaller planets for a few dozen trips around the local star.”
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“It isn’t easy being green.” – Kermit the Frog (also known as Jim Henson), the most famous Muppet, who died 16 May 1990.

A few croaks – I mean quotes – from Kermit:

“Time’s fun when you’re having flies”
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice.”
“A best friend is someone who makes you laugh, even when the jokes aren’t funny.”

Fancies in Springtime: Tony Hillerman

“From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“December Notes”
By Nancy McCleery

The backyard is one white sheet
Where we read in the bird tracks

The songs we hear. Delicate
Sparrow, heavier cardinal,

Filigree threads of chickadee.
And wing patterns where one flew

Low, then up and away, gone
To the woods but calling out

Clearly its bright epigrams.
More snow promised for tonight.

The postal van is stalled
In the road again, the mail

Will be late and any good news
Will reach us by hand.
aMcCleery

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“And a human being whose life is nurtured in an advantage which has accrued from the disadvantage of other human beings, and who prefers that this should remain as it is, is a human being by definition only, having much more in common with the bedbug, the tapeworm, the cancer, and the scavengers of the deep sea.” – James Agee, American writer, journalist, film critic, poet, screenwriter, and author of “A Death in the Family,” for which he won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize (posthumously), who died 16 May 1955.

Some quotes from the work of James Agee:

“Some people get where they hope to in this world. Most of us don’t.”
“How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. So far, so much between, you can never go home again. You can go home, it’s good to go home, but you never really get all the way home again in your life. And what’s it all for? All I tried to be, all I ever wanted and went away for, what’s it all for?
Just one way, you do get back home. You have a boy or a girl of your own and now and then you remember, and you know how they feel, and it’s almost the same as if you were your own self again, as young as you could remember.
And God knows he was lucky, so many ways, and God knows he was thankful. Everything was good and better than he could have hoped for, better than he ever deserved; only, whatever it was and however good it was, it wasn’t what you once had been, and had lost, and could never have again, and once in a while, once in a long time, you remembered, and knew how far you were away, and it hit you hard enough, that little while it lasted, to break your heart.”
“And somewhat as in blind night, on a mild sea, a sailor may be made aware of an iceberg, fanged and mortal, bearing invisibly near, by the unwarned charm of its breath, nothingness now revealed itself: that permanent night upon which the stars in their expiring generations are less than the glinting of gnats, and nebulae, more trivial than winter breath; that darkness in which eternity lies bent and pale, a dead snake in a jar, and infinity is the sparkling of a wren blown out to sea; that inconceivable chasm of invulnerable silence in which cataclysms of galaxies rave mute as amber.”
“In every child who is born, under no matter what circumstances, and no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“He sought a way to preserve the past. John Herschel was one of the founders of a new form of time travel…. a means to capture light and memories. He actually coined a word for it… photography. When you think about it, photography is a form of time travel. This man is staring at us from across the centuries, a ghost preserved by light.”

Below – John Herschel (1792-1871) in 1867.
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“What Calls Us”
By David Bengtson

In winter, it is what calls us
from seclusion, through endless snow
to the end of a long driveway
where, we hope, it waits—
this letter, this package, this
singing of wind around an opened door.
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Fancies in Springtime: Charles Bukowski

“It will rain all this night and we will sleep transfixed by the dark water as our blood runs through our fragile life.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Katie Sevigny (Part IV)

In the words of one writer, “Katie moved to Haines, Alaska in 1994 as a young adult in search of a better life. She met her husband, Craig, in 1997. Katie and Craig moved to Anchorage in 2000 and married in 2002. Katie gave birth to their first son, Cooper, in 2003 and second son, Rowan, in 2005. Katie and Craig started to see the freedom of having two sons off to school and then they decided to throw themselves back into the trenches and gave birth to their third son, Satchel, in 2011!!
Katie has two great loves, her family and Art. One brings her joy and the other sanity! Between her three sons and a busy schedule, Katie tries to live her dream of being a successful artist.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Raining Raven”; “Loey’s Trees”; “Moose Forest”; “Nature’s Path”; “Otter Love”; “Perspective Tree”; “Poppies”; “Mid Flight Raven.”
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“Shelled apples and pears, various cheeses, decent wine: As evening came down over the tree-lined boulevards on the north side of Great Falls, there was a well-lighted reception in the Charlie Russell Museum.
A raggedy man came in off the street, boots wrapped with duct tape. Somebody told him that the feast was free. He smiled and poured for himself.
Somebody wanted to show him out, but nobody did. What I remember is his judicious expression as he sipped his wine and studied a Russell painting, and the uneasiness in that hall full of the enfranchised (we the people with OK automobiles and new shirts).
The tension softened after somebody said the old man was probably the only person in the place Charlie Russell might have tolerated. Everybody smiled and knew it was true.”

Below – Charles M. Russell: “Cowboy on a Bay Horse,” part of the permanent collection of the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana.
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A Sixth Poem for Today

“Mongrel Heart”
By David Baker

Up the dog bounds to the window, baying
like a basset his doleful, tearing sounds
from the belly, as if mourning a dead king,

and now he’s howling like a beagle – yips, brays,
gagging growls – and scratching the sill paintless,
that’s how much he’s missed you, the two of you,

both of you, mother and daughter, my wife
and child. All week he’s curled at my feet,
warming himself and me watching more TV,

or wandered the lonely rooms, my dog shadow,
who like a poodle now hops, amped-up windup
maniac yo-yo with matted curls and snot nose

smearing the panes, having heard another car
like yours taking its grinding turn down
our block, or a school bus, or bird-squawk,

that’s how much he’s missed you, good dog,
companion dog, dog-of-all-types, most excellent dog
I told you once and for all we should never get.
aBaker

American Art – Part IV of IV: Dean Larson

Artist Statement: “Painting is all about exploration and variety, and I create all my paintings with that in mind. It’s hard to have too much variety, and even the balance comes from the variation of shapes, values and colors. Being committed to a more representational degree of finish I’ll often begin a composition out of doors, painting directly in front of the subject, where viewing the scene over a period of hours allows me to capture the essential topographical information necessary to create a strong underlying foundation for the painting. Later on I’ll complete the work back in the studio from photo references and studies adding detail where needed. As an artist I’m constantly searching for new subject matter that in some way connects and calls out to be painted. In particular the relationships between light and shadow, and the constant fluidity and movement of modern daily life inspires new urban landscapes, interiors and figurative works.”

Below – “Bay Bridge, Soaring”; “Half Dome, Yosemite”; “Autumn, San Francisco”; “Mt. Tamalpais and Marin Wetlands”; “Glow of the City”; “Trees and Snow, Yosemite”; “Strong Light, California Coast”; “Land’s End and Sea Cliff.”
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Add a comment

May Offerings – Part XV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of VIII: Todd Gordon

Artist Statement: “As a perceptual, realist painter, I am committed to the tradition and rigorous practice of working only from observation. The industrial zones in Brooklyn and Queens where I paint possess characteristics which are specifically urban and uniquely American, yet they could just as likely be neighborhoods in any of the Rust Belt towns I remember from my childhood in the Midwest. My personal relationship with each place begins with something I might see that initially interests me on a formal or compositional level – the way a straight road seemingly bends elliptically in space, the expansive curve or color of a bridge, the interplay of graffiti on a corrugated metal fence – and gradually develops or changes significance with each successive visit. Eventually, the focus, subject, or very meaning of the work might shift organically through the openness of the painting process itself. By including as much information as possible, both literally and physically, I attempt to avoid the typical sentimentality common, historically, in most conventional landscape painting.”

Below – “Bushwick Backyards”; “Intersection of Myrtle, Irving and Grove”; “Cypresses”; “Morrow County Line”; “The Baltic Sea”; “The Gauntlet”; “Morgan Avenue Alamo”; “Amarcord.”
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“I found nothing really wrong with this autobiography except poor choice of subject.” – Clifton Fadiman, American author, editor, and radio and television personality, who was born 15 May 1904, discussing Gertrude Stein’s autobiography.

Some quotes from the work of Clifton Fadiman:

“Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself on any kind of thinking, including thinking about not thinking.”
“A sense of humor is the ability to understand a joke – and that the joke is oneself.”
“Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality.”
“Experience teaches you that the man who looks you straight in the eye, particularly if he adds a firm handshake, is hiding something.”
“For most men, life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed.”
“The German mind has a talent for making no mistakes but the very greatest.”
“When you read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.”

Fancies in Springtime: Sherwood Smith

“The only noise now was the rain, pattering softly with the magnificent indifference of nature for the tangled passions of humans.”

Below – April Gornik: “Rain, Light and the Sea”
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American Art – Part II of VIII: Andrea Kemp

Here is the Artist Statement of American painter Andrea Kemp: “Painting had its way of creeping into my life. I do not know how or why, but I am so fortunate it did. Though it is a large part of who I am, its meaning is ever changing. My journey as a painter takes me to new places that end up either, presenting unique ideas and challenges, or paralleling other events in my life. Painting in itself is a teacher that if we pay attention to, we learn from and grow from, not only as an artist, but to be a better person. Its possibilities are boundless and the adventure of painting presents numerous challenges. It’s not always easy to meet those challenges.
A famous women writer, who I cannot recall, describes the experience of having a great idea and the desperate need to capture it by comparing it to train and how you can hear it approaching, which sends you into a fury preparing yourself for when it passes by so that you might capture its power and greatness, for when it is gone, it may be gone forever. Though writing and painting may be two different mediums of communication, I still could very much relate to this metaphor.”
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A Poem for Today

“Sonnet”
By Alice Notley

The late Gracie Allen was a very lucid comedienne,
Especially in the way that lucid means shining and bright.
What her husband George Burns called her illogical logic
Made a halo around our syntax and ourselves as we laughed.

George Burns most often was her artful inconspicuous straight man.
He could move people about stage, construct skits and scenes, write
And gather jokes. They were married as long as ordinary magic
Would allow, thirty-eight years, until Gracie Allen’s death.

In her fifties Gracie Allen developed a heart condition.
She would call George Burns when her heart felt funny and fluttered
He’d give her a pill and they’d hold each other till the palpitation
Stopped—just a few minutes, many times and pills. As magic fills
Then fulfilled must leave a space, one day Gracie Allen’s
heart fluttered
And hurt and stopped. George Burns said unbelievingly to the doctor,
“But I still have some of the pills.”

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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“The world comes to us in an endless stream of puzzle pieces that we would like to think all fit together somehow, but that in fact never do.”

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British Art – Part I of II: Ralph Steadman

“Governments are not running the show anymore. Scumbag Entrepreneurs are, and they have a harsh and ruthless agenda.” – Ralph Steadman, British cartoonist best known for his work with Hunter S. Thompson, who was born 15 May 1936.
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From the Music Archives: Peter, Paul & Mary

15 May 1963 – Peter, Paul & Mary win their first Grammy Award for “If I Had a Hammer.”

Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The Cosmos may be densely populated with intelligent beings. But the Darwinian lesson is clear: There will be no humans elsewhere. Only here. Only on this small planet. We are a rare as well as an endangered species. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Philip Levine

“They Feed They Lion”

Out of burlap sacks, out of bearing butter,
Out of black bean and wet slate bread,
Out of the acids of rage, the candor of tar,
Out of creosote, gasoline, drive shafts, wooden dollies,
They Lion grow.
Out of the gray hills
Of industrial barns, out of rain, out of bus ride,
West Virginia to Kiss My Ass, out of buried aunties,
Mothers hardening like pounded stumps, out of stumps,
Out of the bones’ need to sharpen and the muscles’ to stretch,
They Lion grow.
Earth is eating trees, fence posts,
Gutted cars, earth is calling in her little ones,
“Come home, Come home!” From pig balls,
From the ferocity of pig driven to holiness,
From the furred ear and the full jowl come
The repose of the hung belly, from the purpose
They Lion grow.
From the sweet glues of the trotters
Come the sweet kinks of the fist, from the full flower
Of the hams the thorax of caves,
From “Bow Down” come “Rise Up,”
Come they Lion from the reeds of shovels,
The grained arm that pulls the hands,
They Lion grow.
From my five arms and all my hands,
From all my white sins forgiven, they feed,
From my car passing under the stars,
They Lion, from my children inherit,
From the oak turned to a wall, they Lion,
From they sack and they belly opened
And all that was hidden burning on the oil-stained earth
They feed they Lion and he comes.
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British Art – Part II of II: Philip Harris

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter
Philip Harris (born 1965): “He specialises in photorealistic figurative painting and portraiture, rendered in oils or pencil drawing. Despite the extraordinarily technical approach to his work he is a highly personal, idiosyncratic, expressive artist whose paintings may be disturbing and confrontational.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Some Boys are Born to Wander”
By Walt McDonald

From Michigan our son writes, How many elk?
How many big horn sheep? It’s spring,
and soon they’ll be gone above timberline,

climbing to tundra by summer. Some boys
are born to wander, my wife says, but rocky slopes
with spruce and Douglas fir are home.

He tried the navy, the marines, but even the army
wouldn’t take him, not with a foot like that.
Maybe it’s in the genes. I think of wild-eyed years

till I was twenty, and cringe. I loved motorcycles,
too dumb to say no to our son—too many switchbacks
in mountains, too many icy spots in spring.

Doctors stitched back his scalp, hoisted him in traction
like a twisted frame. I sold the motorbike to a junkyard,
but half his foot was gone. Last month, he cashed

his paycheck at the Harley house, roared off
with nothing but a backpack, waving his headband,
leaning into a downhill curve and gone.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“It is interesting that Hindus, when they speak of the creation of the universe do not call it the work of God, they call it the play of God, the Vishnu lila, lila meaning play. And they look upon the whole manifestation of all the universes as a play, as a sport, as a kind of dance — lila perhaps being somewhat related to our word lilt.”
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American Art – Part III of VIII: Richard Avedon

“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” – Richard Avedon, American photographer, who was born 15 May 1923.

The author of an obituary in “The New York Times” wrote of Avedon that “his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century.” While most critics are likely to agree with that assessment, I have decided to post not only some of Avedon’s “fashionable” work but also several poignant photographs from his collection “In The American West.”

Below – Richard Avedon; four of his “stylish” photographs; the cover of “In The American West”; seven photographs from “In The American West.”
Richard Avedon, self-portrait, Photographer, Provo, Utah, August

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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“The world has no existence whatsoever outside the human imagination. It’s all a ghost, and in antiquity was so recognized as a ghost, the whole blessed world we live in. It’s run by ghosts. We see what we see because these ghosts show it to us, ghosts of Moses and Christ and the Buddha, and Plato, and Descartes, and Rousseau and Jefferson and Lincoln, on and on and on. Isaac Newton is a very good ghost. One of the best. Your common sense is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of these ghosts from the past. Ghosts and more ghosts. Ghosts trying to find their place among the living.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Holy Cussing”
By Robert Morgan

When the most intense revivals swept
the mountains just a century ago,
participants described the shouts and barks
in unknown tongues, the jerks of those who tried
to climb the walls, the holy dance and laugh.
But strangest are reports of what was called
the holy cuss. Sometimes a man who spoke
in tongues and leapt for joy would break into
an avalanche of cursing that would stun
with brilliance and duration. Those that heard
would say the holy spirit spoke as from
a whirlwind. Words burned on the air like chains
of dynamite. The listeners felt transfigured,
and felt true contact and true presence then,
as if the shock of unfamiliar
and blasphemous profanity broke through
beyond the reach of prayer and song and hallo
to answer heaven’s anger with its echo.
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American Art – Part IV of VIII: Edward Hopper

“What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.” – Edward Hopper, American painter and printmaker, who died 15 May 1967.

Below – “High Noon”; “Nighthawks”; “Summertime”; “New York Movie”; “Rooms by the Sea”; “Woman in the Sun”; “Early Sunday Morning”; “Sun in an Empty Room”; “Rooms for Tourists”; “Self-Portrait.”
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” . . . the fog is rising.” – The last words of Emily Dickinson, American poet, who died 15 May 1886.

“I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –“

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
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Korean painter Lee Soungsoo graduated from Seoul National University in 1999 with a degree in sculpture.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“I can talk about my father in ordinary conversation without feeling more than the slightest pang of loss. But if I permit myself to remember him closely—his sense of humor, say, or his passionate egalitarianism—the facade crumbles and I want to weep because he is gone. There is no question that language can almost free us of feeling. Perhaps that is one of its functions—to let us consider the world without in the process becoming entirely overwhelmed by feeling. If so, then the invention of language is simultaneously a blessing and a curse.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Sunday Brunch at the Old Country Buffet”
By Anne Caston

Here is a genial congregation,
well fed and rosy with health and appetite,
robust children in tow. They have come
and all the generations of them, to be fed,
their old ones too who are eligible now
for a small discount, having lived to a ripe age.
Over the heaped and steaming plates, one by one,
heads bow, eyes close; the blessings are said.

Here there is good will; here peace
on earth, among the leafy greens, among the fruits
of the gardens of America’s heartland. Here is abundance,
here is the promised
land of milk and honey, out of which
a flank of the fatted calf, thick still
on its socket and bone, rises like a benediction
over the loaves of bread and the little fishes, belly-up in butter.
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“We know the story of civilization; it can be understood as a history of conquest, law-bringing and violence. We need a new story, in which we need to value intimacy. Somebody should give us a history of compassion, which would become a history of forgiveness and care-taking.”
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American Art – Part V of VIII: Sharon Allicotti

Here is the Artist Statement of American painter Sharon Allicotti: “I have found that contemplating the spare beauty and silence of the desert region east of my home in Los Angeles seems to empty the mind of the trivial, with the poetic taking its place. These vast, abandoned landscapes inspire a state of creative reverie and, as featured in my work, are evocative of the profound mystery of the mind. Verisimilitude is crucial to the effectiveness of the work. The high degree of detailed pictorial realism engages the viewer in a resonant illusion meant to convey stillness and timelessness– as well as a sensation of subtle, inward intensity. The painstaking technique is employed to produce a compelling equivalence of observed appearances and a restrained surface quality appropriate to the works’ quiet, meditative expression. The dry, elemental properties of pastel, charcoal, and chalk feel particularly well-suited to describing features of an arid environment. The city-dweller must travel ever-increasing distances to find the rewards of relative solitude. The automobile, although a product of advanced technology, can privately convey us away from civilization and its material distractions. In the West, it is the largely undeveloped desert where we may find a renewed connection with what often remains elusive: our essential self.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.”
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“The past is never where you think you left it.” – Katherine Anne Porter, American journalist, essayist, short story writer, novelist, political activist, and recipient of the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (for “The Collected Stories”), who was born 15 May 1890.

Some quotes from the work of Katherine Anne Porter:

“There seems to be a kind of order in the universe…in the movement of the stars and the turning of the Earth and the changing of the seasons. But human life is almost pure chaos. Everyone takes his stance, asserts his own right and feelings, mistaking the motives of others, and his own.”
“I shall try to tell the truth, but the result will be fiction.”
“I get so tired of moral bookkeeping.”
“Love must be learned and learned again. There is no end.”
“Trust your happiness and the richness of your life at this moment. It is as true and as much yours as anything else that ever happened to you.”
“The trial of Jesus of Nazareth, the trial and rehabilitation of Joan of Arc, any one of the witchcraft trials in Salem during 1691, the Moscow trials of 1937 during which Stalin destroyed all of the founders of the 1924 Soviet Revolution, the Sacco-Vanzetti trial of 1920 through 1927- there are many trials such as these in which the victim was already condemned to death before the trial took place, and it took place only to cover up the real meaning: the accused was to be put to death. These are trials in which the judge, the counsel, the jury, and the witnesses are the criminals, not the accused. For any believer in capital punishment, the fear of an honest mistake on the part of all concerned is cited as the main argument against the final terrible decision to carry out the death sentence. There is the frightful possibility in all such trials as these that the judgment has already been pronounced and the trial is just a mask for murder.”
“The thought of him was a smoky cloud from hell that moved and crept in her head.”
“You waste life when you waste good food.”
“It is a simple truth that the human mind can face better the most oppressive government, the most rigid restrictions, than the awful prospect of a lawless, frontierless world. Freedom is a dangerous intoxicant and very few people can tolerate it in any quantity; it brings out the old raiding, oppressing, murderous instincts; the rage for revenge, for power, the lust for bloodshed. The longing for freedom takes the form of crushing the enemy- there is always the enemy! – into the earth; and where and who is the enemy if there is no visible establishment to attack, to destroy with blood and fire? Remember all that oratory when freedom is threatened again. Freedom, remember, is not the same as liberty.”
“The Grandmother always treated her animal friends as if they were human beings temporarily metamorphosed.”
“The whole effort for the past one hundred years has been to remove the moral responsibility from the individual and make him blame his own human wickedness on his society, but he helps to make his society, you see, and he will not take his responsibility for his part in it.”
“The road to death is a long march beset with all evils, and the heart fails little by little at each new terror, the bones rebel at each step, the mind sets up its own bitter resistance and to what end? The barriers sink one by one, and no covering of the eyes shuts out the landscape of disaster, nor the sight of crimes committed there.”
“It’s a man’s world, and you men can have it.”
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American Art – Part VI of VIII: Rose Frantzen

American artist Rose Frantzen (born 1965) trained at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and her paintings have been featured in many art magazines and journals.

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From the American History Archives: Las Vegas

15 May 1905 – Las Vegas, Nevada is founded when 110 acres, in what would become downtown, are auctioned off.

Below – The Las Vegas land auction held on 15 May 1905; Las Vegas in 1905; Las Vegas railroad depot in 1905.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“You have seen that the universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate ‘you’ to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real ‘you’ is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For ‘you’ is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new.”
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American Art – Part VII of VIII: Seamus Conley

Award-winning painter Seamus Conley (born 1976) lives and works in San Francisco.
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Geology”
By Bob King

I know the origin of rocks, settling
out of water, hatching crystals
from fire, put under pressure
in various designs I gathered
pretty, picnic after picnic.

And I know about love, a little,
igneous lust, the slow affections
of the sedimentary, the pressure
on earth out of sight to rise up
into material, something solid
you can hold, a whole mountain,
for example, or a loose collection
of pebbles you forgot you were keeping.
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Fancies in Springtime: Jack Gilbert

“Rain”

Suddenly this defeat.
This rain.
The blues gone gray
And the browns gone gray
And yellow
A terrible amber.
In the cold streets
Your warm body.
In whatever room
Your warm body.
Among all the people
Your absence
The people who are always
Not you.

I have been easy with trees
Too long.
Too familiar with mountains.
Joy has been a habit.
Now
Suddenly
This rain.
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I am interested in all the expressions of human culture: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:

Back from the Territory – Art: Katie Sevigny (Part III)

In the words of one writer, “Katie moved to Haines, Alaska in 1994 as a young adult in search of a better life. She met her husband, Craig, in 1997. Katie and Craig moved to Anchorage in 2000 and married in 2002. Katie gave birth to their first son, Cooper, in 2003 and second son, Rowan, in 2005. Katie and Craig started to see the freedom of having two sons off to school and then they decided to throw themselves back into the trenches and gave birth to their third son, Satchel, in 2011!!
Katie has two great loves, her family and Art. One brings her joy and the other sanity! Between her three sons and a busy schedule, Katie tries to live her dream of being a successful artist.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below –“Fireweed”; “Firework Tree”; “Folk Festival”; “Forget-me-not”; “Halibut”; “Icon Trees (wide)”; “Icon Trees (tall)”; “Jellyfish.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robinson Jeffers

“The Eye”

The Atlantic is a stormy moat; and the Mediterranean,
The blue pool in the old garden,
More than five thousand years has drunk sacrifice
Of ships and blood, and shines in the sun; but here the Pacific–
Our ships, planes, wars are perfectly irrelevant.
Neither our present blood-feud with the brave dwarfs
Nor any future world-quarrel of westering
And eastering man, the bloody migrations, greed of power, clash of faiths–
Is a speck of dust on the great scale-pan.
Here from this mountain shore, headland beyond stormy headland
plunging like dolphins through the blue sea-smoke
Into pale sea–look west at the hill of water: it is half the
planet:
this dome, this half-globe, this bulging
Eyeball of water, arched over to Asia,
Australia and white Antarctica: those are the eyelids that never close;
this is the staring unsleeping
Eye of the earth; and what it watches is not our wars.
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American Art – Part VIII of VIII: David FeBland

Artist Statement: “My work explores the ever-modulating space between aspiration and reality. It’s an uncomfortable place for some, that sense of not quite being where or what you think you are – a mental state filled with frisson that approximates the combustible edge of colliding urban neighborhoods, its corporeal equivalent. After observing just such city spaces for many years, I have grown to realize that the concept of an Edge – or more precisely the turmoil where they collide – is as much a state of mind as a physical reality and therefore eminently transportable.

This isn’t a view I have come to quickly. For years, I embraced the boast that “it can only happen here”, as New Yorkers are fond of saying, and, truly, it has always been convenient for me to mine for inspiration from the perch of a densely populated Island, my home in Manhattan, where everything happens at a stone’s throw. Living in New York, I appropriated the common phrase, “living on the edge”, making it a Cardinal Rule of Survival at home but applying a second, more literal, meaning. Surviving here meant staying as close to the water as possible, far from Midtown, thus avoiding the City’s crushing and overheated core. The natural extension of such a strategy was eventually to CROSS the water entirely, leaving the Island to observe new places and subjects. I learned that interpreting the life I lived and observed in New York was certainly expedient but by no means necessary.

When I was given the opportunity to exhibit in Los Angeles, it seemed the perfect time to decisively step across that water, with its implied risk in crossing swift currents, to view an entirely different city and its culture. While the model of life is vastly more expansive than the compact, pedestrianized cities of Europe – or even of Manhattan – my observation of this city confirms my belief that whatever the nature of our lives in urban areas, most human interaction is universal.

In fact, I have always traveled extensively, long before I began making art, and mostly by bicycle. When venturing across the great mass of development we call LA, I adopted the local mode of transport, the automobile, and many of the paintings that came from this experience were made after observing life in a multitude of far-flung neighborhoods accessible in a short time only by traveling that way. The result is a series of paintings that are less direct observations than they are studio inventions that express my interpretation of the unique qualities of light and space I discovered in the context of this city’s culture.

Over a period of 35 years, I’ve often lived as both an insider and outsider, witnessing patterns of human behavior across cultural frontiers. These paintings express both roles for me: a city dweller traveling in a place both familiar and strange.”

Below – “Flamingo”; “Nut Job”; “Sound of the Sea”; “Little Maylm”; “Citadel”; “Mistral”; “Trestle”; “Five in a Row”; “Always.”
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May Offerings – Part XIV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Julian Cardinal

Artist Statement: “Loose brush strokes, muted hues, and unique textures help define my paintings as dreamy and airy. I like to work as fast as possible, without rushing. If you wait too long to complete a piece, the initial intention will fade. I choose images that my style works well with. Compositionally, I prefer simple subject matters and lines. I often pick black and white photos that I can add an element of color and depth too. I’ll look through hundreds of pictures, and will usually pick a couple from that list. When I paint nudes and flowers, however, I like to paint live. There is something about setting up a bouquet and painting it that is very rewarding.
I am very inspired by vintage subject matter, especially early 20th century French fashion. Once I gain a sense of the picture’s composition, I then can duplicate the images using different sized canvas, colors, and line patterns. My goal — to combine the vintage style of fashion with contemporary expressionism.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Hospitals should be arranged in such a way as to make being sick an interesting experience. One learns a great deal sometimes from being sick.”
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14 May 1924 – Virginia Woolf’s novel “Mrs. Dalloway” is published.

Some quotes from “Mrs. Dalloway”:

“She had the perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very, dangerous to live even one day.”
“He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink.”
“Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely? All this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?”
“Mrs Dalloway is always giving parties to cover the silence.”
“Beauty, the world seemed to say. And as if to prove it (scientifically) wherever he looked at the houses, at the railings, at the antelopes stretching over the palings, beauty sprang instantly. To watch a leaf quivering in the rush of air was an exquisite joy. Up in the sky swallows swooping, swerving, flinging themselves in and out, round and round, yet always with perfect control as if elastics held them; and the flies rising and falling; and the sun spotting now this leaf, now that, in mockery, dazzling it with soft gold in pure good temper; and now again some chime (it might be a motor horn) tinkling divinely on the grass stalks—all of this, calm and reasonable as it was, made out of ordinary things as it was, was the truth now; beauty, that was the truth now. Beauty was everywhere.”
“She thought there were no Gods; no one was to blame; and so she evolved this atheist’s religion of doing good for the sake of goodness.”
“Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“When one isn’t dominated by feelings of separateness from what he’s working on, then one can be said to ‘care’ about what he’s doing. That is what caring really is, a feeling of identification with what one’s doing.”
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Russian painter Ksenia Lavrova graduated from the prestigious St. Petersburg “Mucha” Academy.
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A Poem for Today

“The Round”
By Stanley Kunitz

Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.
So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
and still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
“Light splashed…”

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.

Below – April Gornik: “Fresh Light”
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“After hearing much from his patients about alleged faith-healing, a Minnesota physician named William Nolen spent a year and a half trying to track down the most striking cases. Was there clear medical evidence that the disease was really present before the ‘cure’? If so, had the disease actually disappeared after the cure, or did we just have the healer’s or the patient’s say-so? He uncovered many cases of fraud, including the first exposure in America of ‘psychic surgery’. But he found not one instance of cure of any serious organic (non-psychogenic) disease. There were no cases where gallstones or rheumatoid arthritis, say, were cured, much less cancer or cardiovascular disease. When a child’s spleen is ruptured, Nolen noted, perform a simple surgical operation and the child is completely better. But take that child to a faith-healer and she’s dead in a day.”
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Here is part of the Artist Statement of Dutch painter Helene Terlien (born 1960): “Painting has become an all consuming passion to me, especially when working with oil paints.
People and Animals are a source of inspiration from which a fantasy, when taking shape on the canvas, starts leading its own live. And I, as an artist, am left to follow in its path. People, animals and objects function, alone or together, to tell a story with room for different viewing points.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Quickthorn”
By Siobhan Campbell

Don’t bring haw into the house at night
or in any month with a red fruit in season
or when starlings bank against the light,
don’t bring haw in. Don’t give me reason
to think you have hidden haw about you.
Tucked in secret, may its thorn thwart you.
Plucked in blossom, powdered by your thumb,
I will smell it for the hum of haw is long,
its hold is low and lilting. If you bring
haw in, I will know you want me gone
to the fairies and their jilting. I will know
you want me buried in the deep green field
where god knows what is rotting.
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“When we can’t dream any longer, we die.” – Emma Goldman, American anarchist, political activist, author, and orator, who died 14 May 1940.

Some quotes from the work of Emma Goldman:

“The philosophy of Atheism represents a concept of life without any metaphysical Beyond or Divine Regulator. It is the concept of an actual, real world with its liberating, expanding and beautifying possibilities, as against an unreal world, which, with its spirits, oracles, and mean contentment has kept humanity in helpless degradation.”
“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”
“Anarchism stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion and liberation of the human body from the coercion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. It stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals.”
“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.”
“If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.”
“Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think.”
“Patriotism … is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.”
“No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time. ”
“No real social change has ever been brought about without a revolution – Revolution is but thought carried into action.
Every effort for progress, for enlightenment, for science, for religious, political, and economic liberty, emanates from the minority,
and not from the mass.”
“The most violent element in society is ignorance.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Radiator”
By Connie Wanek

Mittens are drying on the radiator,
boots nearby, one on its side.
Like some monstrous segmented insect
the radiator elongates under the window.

Or it is a beast with many shoulders
domesticated in the Ice Age.
How many years it takes
to move from room to room!

Some cage their radiators
but this is unnecessary
as they have little desire to escape.

Like turtles they are quite self-contained.
If they seem sad, it is only the same sadness
we all feel, unlovely, growing slowly cold.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“My parents died years ago. I was very close to them. I still miss them terribly. I know I always will. I long to believe that their essence, their personalities, what I loved so much about them, are – really and truly – still in existence somewhere. I wouldn’t ask very much, just five or ten minutes a year, say, to tell them about their grandchildren, to catch them up on the latest news, to remind them that I love them. There’s a part of me – no matter how childish it sounds – that wonders how they are. ‘Is everything all right?’ I want to ask. The last words I found myself saying to my father, at the moment of his death, were ‘Take care.’

Sometimes I dream that I’m talking to my parents, and suddenly – still immersed in the dreamwork – I’m seized by the overpowering realization that they didn’t really die, that it’s all been some kind of horrible mistake. Why, here they are, alive and well, my father making wry jokes, my mother earnestly advising me to wear a muffler because the weather is chilly. When I wake up I go through an abbreviated process of mourning all over again. Plainly, there’s something within me that’s ready to believe in life after death. And it’s not the least bit interested in whether there’s any sober evidence for it.

So I don’t guffaw at the woman who visits her husband’s grave and chats him up every now and then, maybe on the anniversary of his death. It’s not hard to understand. And if I have difficulties with the ontological status of who she’s talking to, that’s all right. That’s not what this is about. This is about humans being human.”
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Argentinean painter Mercedes Farina earned a degree in Plastic Arts at Buenos Aires University.
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Fancies in Springtime: James Dashner

“He turned to look just in time to see the rain start falling out as if the storm had finally decided to weep with shame for what it had done to them.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Marching”
By Jim Harrison

At dawn I heard among bird calls
the billions of marching feet in the churn
and squeak of gravel, even tiny feet
still wet from the mother’s amniotic fluid,
and very old halting feet, the feet
of the very light and very heavy, all marching
but not together, criss-crossing at every angle
with sincere attempts not to touch, not to bump
into each other, walking in the doors of houses
and out the back door forty years later, finally
knowing that time collapses on a single
plateau where they were all their lives,
knowing that time stops when the heart stops
as they walk off the earth into the night air.
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Greek artist Katia Varvaki (born 1957) studied painting, hagiography, and sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts.
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“The universe is a continuous web. Touch it at any point and the whole web quivers.” – Stanley Kunitz, American poet, who died 14 May 2006.

“The Layers”

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.
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American Art – Part II of IV: Kuniyoshi Yasuo

Died 14 May 1953 – Kuniyoshi, Yasuo, an American painter, photographer, and printmaker.

Below – “Dream”; “My Fate Is in Your Hand”; “Woman in Front of a Mirror”; “New England Landscape”; “The Swimmer”; “Girl in Summer
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“If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” – Hal Borland, American author and journalist who wrote “outdoor editorials” for “The New York Times” for more than thirty years, who was born on 14 May 1900.

Some quotes from the work of Hal Borland:

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”
“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable…the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street…by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese.”
“Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.”
“A woodland in full color is awesome as a forest fire, in magnitude at least, but a single tree is like a dancing tongue of flame to warm the heart.”
“You can’t be suspicious of a tree, accuse a bird or squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.”
“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”
“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”
“The Earth’s distances invite the eye. And as the eye reaches, so must the mind stretch to meet these new horizons. I challenge anyone to stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see a new expanse not only around him, but in him, too.”
“I grew up in those years when the Old West was passing and the New West was emerging. It was a time when we still heard echoes and already saw shadows, on moonlit nights when the coyotes yapped on the hilltops, and on hot summer afternoons when mirages shimmered, dust devils spun across the flats, and towering cumulus clouds sailed like galleons across the vast blueness of the sky. Echoes of remembrance of what men once did there, and visions of what they would do together.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Roman Payne

“It’s not that we have to quit
this life one day, but it’s how
many things we have to quit
all at once: music, laughter,
the physics of falling leaves,
automobiles, holding hands,
the scent of rain, the concept
of subway trains… if only one
could leave this life slowly!”
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American Art – Part III of IV: Robert Bechtle

Born 14 May 1932 – Robert Bechtle, an American painter and one of the earliest practitioners of photorealism.
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Against Lawn”
By Grace Bauer

The midnight streetlight illuminating
the white of clover assures me

I am right not to manicure
my patch of grass into a dull

carpet of uniform green, but
to allow whatever will to take over.

Somewhere in that lace lies luck,
though I may never swoop down

to find it. Three, too, is
an auspicious number. And this seeing

a reminder to avoid too much taming
of what, even here, wants to be wild.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“Drifting is what one does.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Katie Sevigny (Part II)

In the words of one writer, “Katie moved to Haines, Alaska in 1994 as a young adult in search of a better life. She met her husband, Craig, in 1997. Katie and Craig moved to Anchorage in 2000 and married in 2002. Katie gave birth to their first son, Cooper, in 2003 and second son, Rowan, in 2005. Katie and Craig started to see the freedom of having two sons off to school and then they decided to throw themselves back into the trenches and gave birth to their third son, Satchel, in 2011!!
Katie has two great loves, her family and Art. One brings her joy and the other sanity! Between her three sons and a busy schedule, Katie tries to live her dream of being a successful artist.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Blue Moose”; “Blue Trees”; “Capture”; “Blue Octopus”; “Circle Tree”; “Circle Tree at Night”; “Dandelions.”
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittrredge

“So I examine my beliefs, if they were beliefs – they felt more like dreams. What a peculiar thing, examining beliefs. There is no methodology. Beliefs are like air; they are not justifiable; they are the medium we live in.
What do you believe? I question myself. You don’t need reasons, I tell myself, and I discover (I think I discover; maybe this is a story I invented in the act of that attempt at discovering) that what I believe is simpleminded and positive and that it derives from memories of childhood and nature. Way back then I understood that the apparent world resonates with all the meaning there is ever going to be.”
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A Sixth Poem for Today

“On A Moonstruck Gravel Road”
By Rodney Torreson

The sheep-killing dogs saunter home,
wool scraps in their teeth.

From the den of the moon
ancestral wolves
howl their approval.

The farm boys, asleep in their beds,
live the same wildness under their lids;
every morning they come back
through the whites of their eyes
to do their chores, their hands pausing
to pet the dog, to press
its ears back, over the skull,
to quiet that other world.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Although the rhythm of the waves beats a kind of time, it is not clock or calendar time. It has no urgency. It happens to be timeless time. I know that I am listening to a rhythm which has been just the same for millions of years, and it takes me out of a world of relentlessly ticking clocks. Clocks for some reason or other always seem to be marching, and, as with armies, marching is never to anything but doom. But in the motion of waves there is no marching rhythm. It harmonizes with our very breathing. It does not count our days. Its pulse is not in the stingy spirit of measuring, of marking out how much still remains. It is the breathing of eternity, like the God Brahma of Indian mythology inhaling and exhaling, manifesting and dissolving the worlds, forever. As a mere conception this might sound appallingly monotonous, until you come to listen to the breaking and washing of waves.”
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Nicholas Evans-Cato

Artist Statement: “My subjects are genuine locations. They all have names, and many have familiar and private associations. But my attraction to a particular street or building often comes, in part, from a suspicion that it is also, in a sense, nameless. I nurture enduring relationships with a terrain. But for me, a particular motif resonates when it seems eligible for a larger catalog of spatial forms. My paintings are less portraits of Brooklyn than pages in an expansive, borderless inventory of space and light. Their index-like titles and typically symmetrical or balanced compositions intend to hint at something of the monumental, appropriate to a classifying program.

It is neither the landscape’s planning nor its architecture which conjures the shapes I paint. Rather, it is its observation; it is how a place appears that forms a distinct typology. At street level, tight, box-like canyons of space offer motifs best captured in a square format, while aerial, panoramic views from a rooftop invite me to explode them in a wider canvas. When looking around to frame a wider view, the optical distortions of curvilinear perspective weave parallel lines into trajectories mirroring the dome of the sky. And on a clear day, the path of the sun traces analogous curves across it. Only turning achieves a panoramic view, and sky and street are themselves revealed as events. At times, glare, fog, rain and snow are also deliberately organizing factors in my choice of standpoint. I wait for and design with all of them.

Land maps posit an objective viewpoint. But star maps are simply precise drawings made from Earth’s orbit. The Constellations are mnemonic tools which gather together otherwise unrelated stars for the purpose of giving recognizable shapes to an empirical measure of time. Likewise, framing architectural geometries inside four corners requires witnessing. In the dark an apple is not green. Time and light render the American vernacular something fragile, less an anchor than an apparition. I am sustained by its silence, and its modesty.”

Below – “Dragon”; “Minefield”; “Axis”; “Snow”; “Rise/Tilt”; untitled.
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May Offerings – Part XIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Derek Buckner

Artist Statement: “For me, painting is not about inventing something new but instead it’s the act of seeing and considering my world from new perspectives. A painting, unlike a photograph, does not represent a moment in time but is itself and collection of memories and decisions – an artifact of an experience. It is the desire to translate my experience of seeing through paint, which compels me to put my brush to canvas. In order for me to paint I need to be emotionally excited by a subject.”

Below – “Freeway #4”; “Gowanus Factories”; “Conspiracy”; “Gowanus Factories”; “Gowanus Canal Evening”; untitled; “Manhattan Bridge.”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Mary Wells

Born 13 May 1943 – Mary Wells, an American singer who helped define the Motown sound.

Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“There were human cultures that taught an afterlife of the blessed on mountaintops or in clouds in caverns or oases but she could not recall any in which if you were very, very good when you died you went to the beach.”
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A Poem for Today

“Pandrol Jackson”
By T.R. Hummer

Along a derelict railroad, abandoned machinery takes
its last tour of duty toward rust. Another town is stalling.
Another house smolders with rot while a television rages.
Crows patrol banked cinders beside a landfill with a sign:
‘No Dumping.’ We were Jews in Austria. No, we spoke German
in Czechoslovakia—by order of the Alliance, we filed
Into a railroad car and died. No, we were black in Arkansas.
Here is a filthy contraption, like a grim lawn mower
With flanged iron wheels, ‘Pandrol Jackson’ in blue paint
on its rotted housing: a rail grinder, used to polish steel
To brilliance, forgotten here as after the Rapture. And the carcass
of a boxcar warps just down the track, groaning with a cargo of bones.
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British Art – Part I of III: Peter Henry Emerson

Born 13 May 1856 – Peter Henry Emerson, a British writer and photographer who was one of the first individuals to promote photographs as an art form. According to one critic, Emerson “is known for taking photographs that displayed natural settings and for his disputes with the photographic establishment about the purpose and meaning of photography.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Real travel requires a maximum of unscheduled wandering, for there is no other way of discovering surprises and marvels, which, as I see it, is the only good reason for not staying at home.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Stevie Wonder

Born 13 May 1950 – Stevie Wonder, born Stevland Hardaway Morris, an American musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist.

Fancies in Springtime: Robinson Jeffers

“I have heard the summer dust crying to be born.”
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British Art – Part II of III: Frank McNab

Artist Statement: “I live and work in Scotland and am considered by many who have the misfortune to know me personally as a bad-tempered intolerant grumpy old bastard. This is how I appear, but it hides a belief in me that people are generally good, the world is a wonderful place, and we are all exceptionally fortunate to be in it. It is my delusion and I still have it, but you wouldn’t know it if you met me…
Thanks for taking the time to look at my paintings. The pictures are a combination of how I see the world and how I want to see the world. I am aware that I have to sometimes use ‘deliberate delusion’ in order to see the way I do. This is the same process we all use when we believe we are ‘in love’ – we see what we want to see.”
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13 May 1648 – The construction of the Red Fort in Delhi, India is completed. This imposing structure was the palace of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who also ordered the building of the lovely Taj Mahal.

British Art – Part III of III: Antony Gormley

In the words of one critic, English sculptor Antony Gormley (born 1950) “has made sculpture that explores the relation of the human body to space at large.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“A Pot of Red Lentils”
By Peter Pereira

simmers on the kitchen stove.
All afternoon dense kernels
surrender to the fertile
juices, their tender bellies
swelling with delight.

In the yard we plant
rhubarb, cauliflower, and artichokes,
cupping wet earth over tubers,
our labor the germ
of later sustenance and renewal.

Across the field the sound of a baby crying
as we carry in the last carrots,
whorls of butter lettuce,
a basket of red potatoes.

I want to remember us this way—
late September sun streaming through
the window, bread loaves and golden
bunches of grapes on the table,
spoonfuls of hot soup rising
to our lips, filling us
with what endures.
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Argentinean painter Marcelo Zampetti (born 1967) studied at the University of Cordoba in Argentina.
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Fancies in Springtime: Ray Bradbury

“I went to bed and woke in the middle of the night thinking I heard someone cry, thinking I myself was weeping, and I felt my face and it was dry.
Then I looked at the window and thought: Why, yes, it’s just the rain, the rain, always the rain, and turned over, sadder still, and fumbled about for my dripping sleep and tried to slip it back on.”
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Pulitzer Prize: Willa Cather

13 May 1923 – The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to Willa Cather for “One of Ours.”

“Life was so short that it meant nothing at all unless it were continually reinforced by something that endured; unless the shadows of individual existence came and went against a background that held together.” – From “One of Ours”
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Greek Art – Part I of II: D. Andreadakis

In the words of one critic, “D. Andreadakis (born 1964), artist and professor at the University of Crete,
creates oil paintings and watercolors that capture the human form in all its aspects.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alire Saenz

“The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Shackleton’s Biscuit”
By T. R. Hummer

Of ox and luncheon tongue, six hundred pounds;
of Wiltshire bacon, seven-tenths of a ton.
Seventeen hundred miles they walked, and it was
pony meat that saved them. But one biscuit, this one
Of thousands, baked by Huntley & Palmers, a special formulation
fortified with milk protein, survives—the men
Long dead, and the ponies, whose lives flew through
Bullet holes easily over the frozen labyrinth of the Fortuna Glacier,
all gone to powder. Found a century later in the wrecked
Larder of one of Shackleton’s way stations, it remains
perfectly nutritious, and sold at a Christie’s auction
Is worth a thousand-some sterling. “We had seen God in
His splendors; we had reached the naked soul of man,”
He wrote. And: “This biscuit,” said a Christie’s director,
“is an object that really catches the imagination.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“I know what it is! We’ve arrived at the West Coast! We’re all strangers again! Folks, I just forgot the biggest gumption trap of all. The funeral procession! The one everybody’s in, this hyped-up, fuck-you, supermodern, ego style of life that thinks it owns this country.”
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Greek Art – Part II of II: Odysseas Oikonomou

Albanian-born painter Odysseas Oikonomou (born 1967) lives and works in Greece.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robinson Jeffers

“The beauty of things was born before eyes and sufficient to itself; the heartbreaking beauty
Will remain when there is no heart to break for it.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of German-born artist Kathrin Longhurst (born 1971): “My art is about desire, the desire to show how every woman can be transformed by letting her inner being shine through. By removing, the mask of self-doubt and changing a world that says women must conform to unrealistic images that are portrayed on countless glossy women’s magazines.
My desire is to show through an ultra feminine style how women can see themselves if they choose. This idea stands in complete opposition to the proletarian and rather masculine art of East Germany where I grew up. This has become a visual response to my early life experience: like a gesture of artistic liberation. My paintings aim to fulfill a quest for beauty and luxury, which I was denied when growing up in Eastern Europe.”
Kathrin Longhurst lives and works on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“Some thrive for time, while most quickly vanish.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“What We Need”
By Jo McDougall

It is just as well we do not see,
in the shadows behind the hasty tent
of the Allen Brothers Greatest Show,
Lola the Lion Tamer and the Great Valdini
in Nikes and jeans
sharing a tired cigarette
before she girds her wrists with glistening amulets
and snaps the tigers into rage,
before he adjusts the glimmering cummerbund
and makes from air
the white and trembling doves, the pair.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“For man seems to be unable to live without myth, without the belief that the routine and drudgery, the pain and fear of this life have some meaning and goal in the future. At once new myths come into being – political and economic myths with extravagant promises of the best of futures in the present world. These myths give the individual a certain sense of meaning by making him part of a vast social effort, in which he loses something of his own emptiness and loneliness. Yet the very violence of these political religions betrays the anxiety beneath them – for they are but men huddling together and shouting to give themselves courage in the dark.”
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American Art – Part II of III: Benjamin Anderson

American painter Benjamin Anderson (born 1977) has studied in Florence, Italy and the San Francisco Academy of Art.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“The branches and leaves move with each light breeze as if it were expected, were what had been waited for all this time.”
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Poet to Poet: Amy Lowell to Li Tai-Po

Yesterday was the anniversary of American poet Amy Lowell’s death, and while many people are acquainted with her poetry, not as many know that Lowell was also a promoter of historical poets. For example, in the words of one historian, “her book ‘Fir-Flower Tablets’ was a poetical reworking of literal translations of works of ancient Chinese poets, notably Li Tai-po (701-762).” Li Tai-po is more commonly known by the name Li Po or Li Bai in the West, and he was one of the great poets during the Tang Dynasty, known as the “Golden Age of China.” In the words of one literary critic, “(his) poems were models for celebrating the pleasures of friendship, the depth of nature, solitude, and the joys of drinking wine.”

Here is Lowell’s statement of purpose in the Introduction to “Fir-Flower Tablets”: “LET me state at the outset that I know no Chinese. My duty in Mrs. Ayscough’s and my joint collaboration has been to turn her literal translations into poems as near to the spirit of the originals as it was in my power to do. It has been a long and arduous task, but one which has amply repaid every hour spent upon it. To be suddenly introduced to a new and magnificent literature, not through the medium of the usual more or less accurate translation, but directly, as one might burrow it out for one’s self with the aid of a dictionary, is an exciting and inspiriting thing. The method we adopted made this possible, as I shall attempt to show. The study of Chinese is so difficult that it is a life-work in itself, so is the study of poetry. A sinologue has not time to learn how to write poetry; a poet has no time to learn how to read Chinese. Since neither of us pretended to any knowledge of the other’s craft, our association has been a continually augmenting pleasure.”

Four of Amy Lowell’s transliterations of poems by Li Tai-Po:

“Looking at the Moon After Rain”

The heavy clouds are broken and blowing,
And once more I can see the wide common stretching beyond the four sides of the city.
Open the door. Half of the moon-toad is already up, 17
The glimmer of it is like smooth hoar-frost spreading over ten thousand li. 18
The river is a flat, shining chain.
The moon, rising, is a white eye to the hills;
After it has risen, it is the bright heart of the sea.
Because I love it – so – round as a fan,
I hum songs until the dawn.

“On Hearing the Buddhist Priest of Shu Play His Table-Lute”

The Priest of the Province of Shu, carrying his table-lute in a cover of green, shot silk,
Comes down the Western slope of the peak of Mount Omei.
He moves his hands for me, striking the lute.
It is like listening to the waters in ten thousand ravines, and the wind in ten thousand pine-trees.
The traveller’s heart is washed clean as in flowing water.
The echoes of the overtones join with the evening bell.
I am not conscious of the sunset behind the jade-grey hill,
Nor how many and dark are the Autumn clouds.

“Descending the Extreme South Mountain; Passing the House of Ssu, Lover of Hills; Spending the Night in the Preparation of Wine”

We come down the green-grey jade hill,
The mountain moon accompanies us home.
We turn and look back up the path:
Green, green, the sky; the horizontal, kingfisher-green line of the hills is fading.
Holding each other’s hands, we reach the house in the fields.
Little boys thrown open the gate of thorn branches,
The quiet path winds among dark bamboos,
Creepers, bright with new green, brush our garments.
Our words are happy, rest is in them.
Of an excellent flavour, the wine! We scatter the dregs of it contentedly.
We sing songs for a long time; we chant them to the wind in the pine-trees.
By the time the songs are finished, the stars in Heaven’s River are few.
I am tipsy. My friend is continuously merry.
In fact, we are so exhilarated that we both forget this complicated machine, the world.

“Drinking Alone in the Moonlight”

IF Heaven did not love wine,

There would be no Wine Star in Heaven,

If Earth did not love wine,

There should be no Wine Springs on Earth.

Why then be ashamed before Heaven to love wine?
I have heard that clear wine is like the Sages;

Again it is said that thick wine is like the Virtuous Worthies.

Wherefore it appears that we have swallowed both Sages and Worthies.

Why should we strive to be Gods and Immortals?

Three cups, and one can perfectly understand the Great Tao;

A gallon, and one is in accord with all nature.

Only those in the midst of it can fully comprehend the joys of wine;

I do not proclaim them to the sober.

Below – Laing K’ai (1140-1210): “Li Bai on a Stroll”; Amy Lowell in her garden.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Katie Sevigny (Part I)

In the words of one writer, “Katie moved to Haines, Alaska in 1994 as a young adult in search of a better life. She met her husband, Craig, in 1997. Katie and Craig moved to Anchorage in 2000 and married in 2002. Katie gave birth to their first son, Cooper, in 2003 and second son, Rowan, in 2005. Katie and Craig started to see the freedom of having two sons off to school and then they decided to throw themselves back into the trenches and gave birth to their third son, Satchel, in 2011!!
Katie has two great loves, her family and Art. One brings her joy and the other sanity! Between her three sons and a busy schedule, Katie tries to live her dream of being a successful artist.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “More Trees”; “Summer Whispers”; “Bear Face”; “Birch Forest”; “Birch Trunks”; “Black Tail Deer in Forest”; “Blue Grass Poppies.”
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“I imagine children on a trampoline. What kind of singularity on earth am I trying to invent? Is our happy land still part-way intact? Our lilac bloom and buzz with honeybees and hummingbirds. Can we find ways to live in some approximation of home-child heaven?”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Tangerine”

By Ruth L. Schwartz
It was a flower once, it was one of a billion flowers
whose perfume broke through closed car windows,
forced a blessing on their drivers.
Then what stayed behind grew swollen, as we do;
grew juice instead of tears, and small hard sour seeds,
each one bitter, as we are, and filled with possibility.
Now a hole opens up in its skin, where it was torn from the
branch; ripeness can’t stop itself, breathes out;
we can’t stop it either. We breathe in.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“The orange turns to dull bronze light and continues to show what it has shown all day long, but now it seems to show it without enthusiasm. Across those dry hills, within those little houses in the distance are people who’ve been there all day long, going about the business of the day, who now find nothing unusual or different in this strange darkening landscape, as we do. If we were to come upon them early in the day they might be curious about us and what we’re here for. but now in the evening they’d just resent our presence. The workday is over. It’s time for supper and family and relaxation and turning inward at home. We ride unnoticed down this empty highway through this strange country I’ve never seen before, and now a heavy feeling of isolation and loneliness becomes dominant and my spirits wane with the sun.”
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American Art – Part III of III: Aaron Apsley

Artist Statement: “I’ve been painting and drawing my entire life, usually just observing and depicting things around me that I find interesting or beautiful. When I moved to New York, I was limited by the amount of workspace in my apartment so I decided to focus on working mostly in watercolors. I am working on an ongoing series of watercolor street scenes of New York, because I am so amazed by the great variety and scale of the architecture in the city.”

Below – “Out of the Blue”; “Jefferson Street”; “26th Street”; “Broadway, Jackson”; “Portsmouth Street”; “9th Ave”; “Habersham Street Ghosts.”
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May Offerings – Part XII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of VI: Eric Hesse

Artist Statement: “The act of building is generally considered synonymous with growth and progress. In the cities I’ve called home, construction more often seems the imposition of one will upon another. Visually, the result is a sort of competition; angles wedge their way into vegetation and undaunted, the foliage always pushes back. All it takes is a look out of an airplane window and it becomes abundantly clear; human lines are the simple ones, the un-nuanced ones, the only forms that have somewhere immediate to go. Underneath, the natural landscape undulates and meanders, oblivious though scarred. In Los Angeles, the distinction between the created and the natural is most pointed, and the struggle between them most beguiling.”

Below – “A New Horizon III”; “Sunset Garage II”; “Bay Window”; “Filling In”; “Letting in the Night”; “Stag.”
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A Poem for Today

“The Night of the Snowfall,”
By Mo H. Saidi

Snow falls gently in the Hill Country
covering the meadows and the valleys.
The sluggish streaks of smoke climb quietly
from the roofs but fail to reach the lazy clouds.

On Alamo Plaza in the heart of the night
and under the flood of lights, the flakes float
like frozen moths and glow like fireflies.
They drop on the blades of dormant grass.

They alight on the cobblestones and live awhile
in silence, they dissolve before dawn.
The wet limestone walls of the mission
glow proudly after the night of snowfall.
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From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Duke Ellington

12 May 1934 – “Cocktails For Two,” by Duke Ellington, reaches number one on American popular music charts.

Fancies in Springtime: Vladimir Nabokov

“Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”
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American Art – Part II of VI: Angela Bentley Fife

Artist Statement: “Much of my work is created out of my own confusion of stereotypes, roles, and expectations that surround us and shift with time. I question our cultural ideals, why we place emphasis on certain characteristics both male and female, and I express my own weaknesses and insecurities through painting. In grouping symbols that are similar or contrasting, I can present an idea as concretely as I choose, while allowing space for interpretation. The underlying drive is that I have an urge to paint because of the physical process as well as the emotional development of an idea.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“I Hear America Singing”
By Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics–each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat–the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench–the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song–the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother–or of the young wife at work–or of the girl sewing or washing–Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day–At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.
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From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Will Parnell

Born 12 May 1945 – William Parnell, an American singer and member of Archie Bell & the Drells.

In the words of one historian, “‘Tighten Up’ is a 1968 song by Houston, Texas–based R&B vocal group Archie Bell & the Drells. It reached #1 on both the Billboard R&B and pop charts in the spring of 1968. It is ranked #265 on ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is one of the earliest funk hits in music history.”

Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“Ethnocentrism, xenophobia and nationalism are these days rife in many parts of the world. Government repression of unpopular views is still widespread. False or misleading memories are inculcated. For the defenders of such attitudes, science is disturb­ing. It claims access to truths that are largely independent of ethnic or cultural biases. By its very nature, science transcends national boundaries. Put scientists working in the same field of study together in a room and even if they share no common spoken language, they will find a way to communicate. Science itself is a transnational language. Scientists are naturally cosmo­politan in attitude and are more likely to see through efforts to divide the human family into many small and warring factions. ‘There is no national science,’ said the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, ‘just as there is no national multiplication table.’ (Likewise, for many, there is no such thing as a national religion, although the religion of nationalism has millions of adherents.)”
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American Art – Part III of VI: Saul Steinberg

“People who see a drawing in ‘The New Yorker’ will think automatically that it’s funny because it is a cartoon. If they see it in a museum, they think it is artistic; and if they find it in a fortune cookie they think it is a prediction.” – Saul Steinberg, Romanian-born American cartoonist and illustrator best known for his work for “The New Yorker,” who died 12 May 1999.

Below – Saul Steinberg; “View of the World from 9th Avenue” (Steinberg’s most famous work); “Twenty Americans.”
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12 May 1970 – Harry A. Blackmun is confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Some quotes from the work of Harry A. Blackmun, who served on the Supreme Court until 1994:

“By placing discretion in the hands of an official to grant or deny a license, such a statute creates a threat of censorship that by its very existence chills free speech.”
“Disapproval of homosexuality cannot justify invading the houses, hearts and minds of citizens who choose to live their lives differently.”
“It is precisely because the issue raised by this case touches the heart of what makes individuals what they are that we should be especially sensitive to the rights of those whose choices upset the majority.”
“The right of an individual to conduct intimate relationships in the intimacy of his or her own home seems to me to be the heart of the Constitution’s protection of privacy.”
“The states are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies.”
“What the Court really has refused to recognize is the fundamental interest all individuals have in controlling the nature of their intimate associations.”

French painter Nathalie Mulero Fougeras (born 1970) lives in the south of France with her husband and their cat.
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“We need to inhabit stories that encourage us to pay close attention, we need stories that will encourage us toward acts of the imagination that will in turn drive to the arts of empathy, for each other and the world. We need stories that will encourage us to understand that we are part of everything, the world exists under our skins, and destroying it is a way of killing ourselves. We need stories that will drive us to care for one another and the world. We need stories that will drive us to action.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Coins”
By Richard Newman

My change: a nickel caked with finger grime;
two nicked quarters not long for this life, worth
more for keeping dead eyes shut than bus fare;
a dime, shining in sunshine like a new dime;
grubby pennies, one stamped the year of my birth,
no brighter than I from 40 years of wear.

What purses, piggy banks, and window sills
have these coins known, their presidential heads
pinched into what beggar’s chalky palm–
they circulate like tarnished red blood cells,
all of us exchanging the merest film
of our lives, and the lives of those long dead.

And now my turn in the convenience store,
I hand over my fist of change, still warm,
to the bored, lip-pierced check-out girl, once more
to be spun down cigarette machines, hurled
in fountains, flipped for luck–these dirty charms
chiming in the dark pockets of the world.
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From the Movie Archives: Katharine Hepburn

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” – Katharine Hepburn, American actress of film, stage, and television, who was born 12 May 1907.

Katharine Hepburn won four Academy Awards, the record number for an actor or actress. She received the Best Actress Oscar for her performances in “Morning Glory,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “The Lion in Winter,” and “On Golden Pond.” In the words of one historian, “In 1999, Hepburn was named by the American Film Institute as the greatest female star in Hollywood history.”

Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples.’ Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”
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South African painter Candice Charlton (born 1968) lives and works in both Volterra, Italy and Norg, Holland.
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Pulitzer Prize – Part I of II: Julia Peterkin

12 May 1929 – The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is awarded to Julia Peterkin for “Scarlet Sister Mary.”

“Everything has its way of speaking and telling things worth knowing. Even the little grass-blades have their way of saying things as plain as words when human lips let them fall…the choice bits of wisdom…were never written down in any books.” – From “Scarlet Sister Mary”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robinson Jeffers

“A little too abstract, a little too wise,
It is time for us to kiss the earth again,
It is time to let the leaves rain from the skies,
Let the rich life run to the roots again.”
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Italian artist Ademaro Bardelli was born in Florence in 1934, attended the Art Institute of Florence from 1949-1953, and then, after a stint traveling and working abroad, returned to Tuscany, where he lived and painted from 1956 until his death in 2010.
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Pulitzer Prize – Part II of II: John Updike

12 May 1982 – The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is awarded to John Updike for “Rabbit Is Rich.”

“You have a life and there are these volumes on either side that go unvisited; some day soon as the world winds he will lie beneath what he now stands on, dead as those insects whose sound he no longer hears, and the grass will go on growing, wild and blind.” – From “Rabbit Is Rich”
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In the words of one critic, Polish painter Andrzej Borowski (born 1969) “focuses on traveling, and not only to different places in Europe, but to study the work of classic artists who are the sources of European art.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The key point of the Tunguska Event is that there was a tremendous explosion, a great shock wave, an enormous forest fire, and yet there is no impact crater at the site. There seems to be only one explanation consistent with all the facts: In 1908 a piece of a comet hit the Earth.”

Below – The aftermath of the 1908 Tunguska event.
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British Art – Part I of III: Edward Lear

“There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’” – Edward Lear, English artist, illustrator, author, and poet, who was born 12 May 1812.

Edward Lear is best known as a writer of witty limericks, but he was also an accomplished and widely traveled landscape painter.

Below – “A View of Adam’s Peak, Ceylon”; “Kinchenjunga from Darjeeling”; “Argos from Mycene”; “Thermopylae”; “The Temple of Apollo at Bassae.”
(c) Government Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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(c) The Fitzwilliam Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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“In this life he laughs longest who laughs last.” – John Masefield, English poet, writer, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death on 12 May 1967.

“Sea Fever”

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
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British Art – Part II of III: Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“Love is the last relay and ultimate outposts of eternity.” – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, English poet, illustrator, translator, painter, and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who was born 12 May 1828.

“Sudden Light”

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

You have been mine before,—
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turn’d so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.

Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?

Below – “The Blessed Damozel”; “Proserpine”; “Lady Lilith”; “The Daydream”; “The Blue Bower.”
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“I am tired, Beloved,
of chafing my heart against
the want of you;
of squeezing it into little inkdrops,
And posting it.” – Amy Lowell, American poet and posthumous recipient of the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for “What’s O’Clock”), who died 12 May 1925.

“A Lover”

If I could catch the green lantern of the firefly
I could see to write you a letter.
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British Art – Part III of III: Andrew Hemingway

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Andrew Hemingway: “Born in Yorkshire, where he still lives, Andrew Hemingway works in pastel and egg tempera, producing images, particularly in pastel, of remarkable precision and depth. He is probably one of the most important still life artists in pastel working today.
He attended the Barnsley School of Art and took a degree in Fine Art and the History of Art at Camberwell. He studied in Italy and Norway and visits Holland regularly; the Dutch Old Masters, he freely acknowledges, have been an influence on his own painting.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“A Promise to California”
By Walt Whitman

A promise to California,
Or inland to the great pastoral Plains, and on to Puget sound and Oregon;
Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel toward you, to remain,
to teach robust American love,
For I know very well that I and robust love belong among you,
inland, and along the Western sea;
For these States tend inland and toward the Western sea, and I will also.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“Mountains like these and travelers in the mountains and events that happen to them here are found not only in Zen literature but in the tales of every major religion. This allegory of a physical mountain for the spiritual one that stands between each soul and its goal is an easy and natural one to make.”
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From the American History Archives: The Battle of Palmito Ranch

12 May 1865 – The Battle of Palmito Ranch begins. In the words of one historian, “The Battle of Palmito Ranch, also known as the Battle of Palmito Hill and the Battle of Palmetto Ranch, was fought between Union Army and Confederate States Army forces on May 12–13, 1865 near Brownsville, Texas. It was the last land battle of any size or significance of the American Civil War. The battle was fought on the banks of the Rio Grande about 12 miles (19 km) east of Brownsville, Texas, and a few miles from the seaport of Los Brazos de Santiago, which was located on the present-day ship channel of the Port of Brownsville.”

The battle concluded the next day. Private John J. Williams of the 34th Indiana was the last man killed.

Below – A map showing the location of the battle; John J. Williams, the presumed last soldier to die in the American Civil War; diorama depicting the battle in the Texas Military Forces Museum, Camp Mabry, Austin; the site of the battle today.
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American Art – Part IV of VI: Katie Wilson

Artist Statement (partial): “Working with collage pushes me to be more innovative. It allows me to put down color, pattern and texture where I wouldn’t have otherwise with any other medium. I am intrigued by the imagined drama or peace of a past moment. My desire is to translate that moment through my own interpretation of the subject’s inner person by creating the drama and mood with color, texture and facial expression.”
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“If you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.” – George Carlin, American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, and author, who was born on 12 May 1937.

If you have watched any of Carlin’s HBO specials, you have witnessed a character type that our culture produces in sad abundance: The disappointed idealist. In measuring the yawning disparity between America’s lofty view of itself and the often fatuous and grubby actualities that attend life in our Republic, George Carlin is in the ranks of such luminaries as Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Hunter S. Thompson. In his brilliant and savagely witty indictments of our collective follies, he is perhaps closest in spirit to Mark Twain, and it is therefore decidedly appropriate that George Carlin was the recipient of the 2008 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Some quotes from George Carlin:

“Atheism is a non-prophet organization.”
“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”
“‘I am’ is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that ‘I do’ is the longest sentence?”
“I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.”
“The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.”
“If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.”
“Religion is just mind control.”
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
“People who say they don’t care what people think are usually desperate to have people think they don’t care what people think.”
“When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat.”

American Art – Part V of VI: Caroline Douglas

Artist Statement: “I became enchanted with clay when I spent summers as a teen at Penland School of Crafts in the mountains of North Carolina. Then, for many years, I had a business called Cerantics, and I traveled all around doing shows with my clay jungle gyms and fish bowls. Family life took over and I taught children for years as my children were growing up.
I received a BFA in ceramics at the University of North Carolina and have worked with clay for 30 years. Currently, my figurative sculptures are evocations of a dream world. Inspiration comes from mythology, fairy tales, and dreams, as well as the antics of animals and children.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“At the Edge of Town”
By Don Welch

Hard to know which is more gnarled,
the posts he hammers staples into
or the blue hummocks which run
across his hands like molehills.

Work has reduced his wrists
to bones, cut out of him
the easy flesh and brought him
down to this, the crowbar’s teeth

caught just behind a barb.
Again this morning
the crowbar’s neck will make
its blue slip into wood,

there will be that moment
when too much strength
will cause the wire to break.
But even at 70, he says,

he has to have it right,
and more than right.
This morning, in the pewter light,
he has the scars to prove it.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“I talked yesterday about caring, I care about these moldy old riding gloves. I smile at them flying through the breeze beside me because they have been there for so many years and are so old and so tired and so rotten there is something kind of humorous about them. They have become filled with oil and sweat and dirt and spattered bugs and now when I set them down flat on a table, even when they are not cold, they won’t stay flat. They’ve got a memory of their own. They cost only three dollars and have been restitched so many times it is getting impossible to repair them, yet I take a lot of time and pains to do it anyway because I can’t imagine any new pair taking their place. That is impractical, but practicality isn’t the whole thing with gloves or with anything else.”
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“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.” – Farley Mowat, Canadian writer, naturalist, environmentalist, and author of “Never Cry Wolf,” “A Whale for the Killing,” and “People of the Deer,” who was born 12 May 1921.

Farley Mowat’s “And No Birds Sang” and “My Father’s Son: Memories of War and Peace” are among the finest memoirs written by a combatant in World War II.

A few quotes from the work of Farley Mowat:

“Whenever and wherever men have engaged in the mindless slaughter of animals (including other men), they have often attempted to justify their acts by attributing the most vicious or revolting qualities to those they would destroy; and the less reason there is for the slaughter, the greater the campaign for vilification. ”
“It is to this new-found resolution to reassert our indivisibility with life, to recognize the obligations incumbent upon us as the most powerful and deadly species ever to exist, and to begin making amends for the havoc we have wrought, that my own hopes for a revival and continuance of life on earth now turn. If we persevere in this new way we may succeed in making man humane … at last.”
“I wonder now… were my tears for Alex and Al and all the others who had gone and who were yet to go? Or was I weeping for myself…and those who would remain?”
“Whenever and wherever men have engaged in the mindless slaughter of animals (including other men), they have often attempted to justify their acts by attributing the most vicious or revolting qualities to those they would destroy; and the less reason there is for the slaughter, the greater the campaign for vilification.”
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“Too much order and artificiality makes us crazy.
The feel of mud where the leeches breed, as it oozes around my ankles, and osprey fishing with their killing clarity of purpose, rot on the evening breeze, all the stink and predatory swiftness of things, they are part of what I understand as most valuable. We are born to messes.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Brenda Schwartz (Part III)

In the words of one writer, “Brenda tells us that her novel method of painting watercolors on marine charts began when she was a child and used her parent’s charts for her sketches. She has come a long way from those roots, and is now one of Southeast Alaska’s most famous and admired artists.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Season’s End”; “Secluded Harbor”; “Sentinel Light”; “Steamboat Bay”; “Timeless Guardian”; “Wrangell Reflections”; “Tracy Arm.”
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A Sixth Poem for Today

“There Is Another Way”
By Pat Schneider

There is another way to enter an apple:
a worm’s way.
The small, round door
closes behind her. The world
and all its necessities
ripen around her like a room.

In the sweet marrow of a bone,
the maggot does not remember
the wingspread
of the mother, the green
shine of her body, nor even
the last breath of the dying deer.

I, too, have forgotten
how I came here, breathing
this sweet wind, drinking rain,
encased by the limits
of what I can imagine
and by a husk of stars.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robinson Jeffers

“Nature knows that people are a tide that swells and in time will ebb, and all their works dissolve … As for us: We must uncenter our minds from ourselves. We must unhumanize our views a little and become confident as the rock and ocean that we are made from.”
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American Art – Part VI of VI: Danny Heller

Artist Statement: “I paint the reality of the Southern California environment: how structures once revered for their groundbreaking ideas in design and social planning have been perpetuated and how they have been forgotten.

Primarily focusing on the area’s mid-century identity, I play with lighting, dramatic angles, and specific colors to form engaging paintings that also capture architectural elements. I use a realistic style to paint those moments where design and environment come together harmoniously in order to showcase the compelling characteristics of these spaces. In some ways, I act as a type of documentarian of an endangered architectural culture in California. However, these paintings are a bit more personal, as they tend to focus on locations from my childhood or at least slices of an era recounted to me from my parents’ and grandparents’ times.
By painting these historically and personally significant scenes, I hope to reconnect with a presumably by-gone time period whose remnants actually still exist. Because especially in Los Angeles, where the past is demolished to make way for the brand new, we are at risk of losing our cultural history. Without which, we leave ourselves devoid of a foundation to build our future on.”

Below – “Oldsmobile in Driveway”; “Twin Palms Afternoon”; “Window Shopping”; “DWP Fountains at Sunset”; “Downtown at Dusk”; “Eichler Atrium Afternoon”; “Swiss Miss and Mountains.”
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May Offerings – Part XI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Robyn O’Neil

Artist Robyn O’Neil lives and works in Los Angeles.
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A Poem for Today

“From Space”
By Katherine Coles

You are smaller than I remember
And so is the house, set downhill
Afloat in a sea of scrub oak. From up here
It’s an ordinary box with gravel

Spread over its lid, weighting it, but
Inside it’s full of shadows and sky.
Clouds pull themselves over dry
Grass, which, if  I’m not mistaken, will erupt

Any minute in flame. Only
A spark, a sunbeam focused. From up
Here, enjoying the view, I can finally
Take you in. Will you wave back? I keep

Slingshotting around. There’s gravity
For you, but all I ever wanted was to fly.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”
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Died 11 May 1996 – Robert Edwin Hall, a New Zealand mountaineer. In the words of one historian, Hall is “best known for being head guide of a 1996 Mount Everest expedition in which he, a fellow guide, and two clients perished.” Jon Krakauer provides a riveting account of the doomed expedition in his best-selling work ‘Into Thin Air.’
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From the Music Archives: Bob Marley

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” – Bob Marley, Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter and guitarist, who died 11 May 1981.

A Second Poem for Today

“The Education of a Poet”
By Leslie Monsour

Her pencil poised, she’s ready to create,
Then listens to her mind’s perverse debate
On whether what she does serves any use;
And that is all she needs for an excuse
To spend all afternoon and half the night
Enjoying poems other people write.
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“The Theory of Evolution, like the Theory of Gravity, is a scientific fact. Evolution really happened. Accepting our kinship with all life on earth is not only solid science, in my view, it’s also a soaring spiritual experience.”
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American Art – Part II of V: Alfredo Arreguin

Here is one critic describing the background and artistry of Alfredo Arreguin: “Although born in Mexico, Arreguín developed as an artist and consolidated his professional career in Seattle, Washington, where he has lived almost continuously since 1956. His early childhood and adolescence, as well as later experiences that led to his maturity as a genuinely American painter, in the real, hemispheric sense of this term, endow him with a unique perspective on life and the world. Many of the intricate and exuberant elements that stamp a distinctive character on his works are generated by his memories of his country of birth. Mexico’s alternately vibrant and ascetic culture––its exquisite ceramics, textiles, and wood handicrafts; its tumultuous and glorious history, from the cosmogonies and sacred rites of the Tarascan (Purhépecha), Mayan, Aztec, and Olmec civilizations to the wars of conquest and independence; its verdant and torrid nature and landscape––eventually overlaps and blends, dreamlike, with his experiences in this serene and beautiful corner we call the Pacific Northwest of the United States.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The theologian Meric Casaubon argued—in his 1668 book, ‘Of Credulity and Incredulity’—that witches must exist because, after all, everyone believes in them. Anything that a large number of people believe must be true.”
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Nobel Laureate: Camilo Jose Cela

“Literature is the denunciation of the times in which one lives.” – Camilo Jose Cela, Spanish novelist, short story writer, essayist, and recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Literature “for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability,” who was born 11 May 1916.

A few quotes from the work of Camilo Jose Cela:

“There are two kinds of men: the ones who make history and the ones who endure it.”
“Ideas? My head is full of them, one after the other, but they serve no purpose there. They must be put down on paper, one after the other.”
“When debts are not paid because they cannot be paid, the best thing to do is not talk about them, and shuffle the cards again.”

A Third Poem for Today

“The Dancer”
By David Tucker

Class is over, the teacher
and the pianist gone,
but one dancer
in a pale blue
leotard stays
to practice alone without music,
turning grand jetes
through the haze of late afternoon.
Her eyes are focused
on the balancing point
no one else sees
as she spins in this quiet
made of mirrors and light—
a blue rose on a nail—
then stops and lifts
her arms in an oval pause
and leans out
a little more, a little more,
there, in slow motion
upon the air.
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“We are animals evolved to live in the interpenetrating subjectivities of all the life there is, so far as we know, life that coats the rock of earth like moss. We cannot live without connection, both psychic and physical. We begin to die of pointlessness when we are isolated, even if some of us can hang on for a long while connected to nothing beyond our imaginations.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Australian hyper-realistic painter Matthew Doust (1984-2013): “Exhibiting exquisite detail and attention to the minutae of the human landscape, Doust used portraiture to boldly map an intriguing interpretation of external physicality and internal impressions.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“There’s no greater sign of the failure of the American educational system than the extent to which Americans are distracted by the possibility that Earth might end on December 21, 2012. It’s a profound absence of awareness of the laws of physics and how nature works. So they’re missing some science classes in their training in high school or in college that would empower [them] to understand and to judge when someone else is basically just full of it. Science is like an inoculation against charlatans who would have you believe whatever it is they tell you.”
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Died 11 May 1995 – David Avidan, an Israeli poet, painter, filmmaker, and playwright.

“Concerning the Gloomy Love of J. Alfred Prufrock”

One day the sober wisdoms will come to wake us
from our dull and heavy slumber, like cannon balls
on a very bright Saturday morn. Then behind us
Alfred Prufrock’s gloomy love will travel to our towns
across a long and shifting road that will tactfully go round our throats –
and there it will become when the time comes
a well-preserved collection of late recollections
yet our songs will refuse to take and be taken
and this will be a sure sign of our youthful days.

And yet, either way, every resistance breaks.
Let us then take the last road
leading to our seashore, to the sands,
into the kingdom of lost precincts where only
we are allowed entry, and the secret password
is to be uttered firmly but softly,
and there’s a door that will open and shut,
and there’s always yet another untried
option, and the day is still wide open.

And there, in underwater housing projects, sea-maidens
will frolic across our knees, on their faces
the appearance of frightened bliss, and the remembrance
of skies too high and too many eyes,
and the incessant question who’s coming who’s coming,
and there, our legs outstretched,
to the distant sound of interlude singing
we’ll suck their lips until we sink.

Below – Melvin Vargas: “Mermaids”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”
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In the words of one critic, “Andrei Belichenko was born in 1974 in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He is a graduate of the Republican Art School (1990). Andrei studied in the Graphic Department of the Academy of Arts. Consumed by the importance of detail, realism, and the individual expression of his subjects, Belichenko’s exceptional talent and excellence in academic standing earned him a Master of Fine Arts within five years instead of the customary six.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“At Twenty-Eight”
By Amy Fleury

It seems I get by on more luck than sense,
not the kind brought on by knuckle to wood,
breath on dice, or pennies found in the mud.
I shimmy and slip by on pure fool chance.
At turns charmed and cursed, a girl knows romance
as coffee, red wine, and books; solitude
she counts as daylight virtue and muted
evenings, the inventory of absence.
But this is no sorry spinster story,
just the way days string together a life.
Sometimes I eat soup right out of the pan.
Sometimes I don’t care if I will marry.
I dance in my kitchen on Friday nights,
singing like only a lucky girl can.
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From the American History Archives: Glacier National Park

11 May 1910 – President William Howard Taft signs a bill that creates Glacier National Park, which had formerly been a forest reserve.

Below – “St. Mary Lake and Wildgoose Island”; “Chief Mountain”; “Two Medicine Lake with Sinopah Mountain”; “Bowman Lake”; “Going-to-the-Sun Road.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“It’s nice to start journeys pleasantly, even when you know they won’t end that way.”
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American Art – Part III of V: Anne Leone

Painter Anne Leone earned a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from the University of Cincinnati.
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Pulitzer Prize: Robert Frost

11 March 1924 – Robert Frost is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the first of four that he would win, for “New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes.”

“Fire and Ice”

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice. – From “New Hampshire”
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American Art – Part IV of V: Yuqi Wang

Artist Yuqi Wang (born 1958) has studied painting both China and the United States and now lives and works in New York City. One critic describes Wang’s canvases thusly: “The influence of Rossetti and Burne-Jones is unmistakable, and in the tradition of the Pre-Raphaelites Yuqi manages to create work which is as sensitive as it is powerful.”
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Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge

“We must define some stories about taking care of what we’ve got, which is to say life and our lives. They will be stories in which our home is sacred, stories about making use of the place where we live without ruining it, stories that tell us to stay humane amid our confusions.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“What I Learned From My Mother”
By Julia Kasdorf

I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The Milky Way Galaxy is one of billions, perhaps hundreds of billions of galaxies notable neither in mass nor in brightness nor in how its stars are configured and arrayed. Some modern deep sky photographs show more galaxies beyond the Milky Way than stars within the Milky Way. Every one of them is an island universe containing perhaps a hundred billion suns. Such an image is a profound sermon on humility.”
Hubble Frontier Fields view of MACSJ0717.5+3745

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American Literary Genius: William Faulkner

11 May 1942 – William Faulkner’s collection of short stories, “Go Down, Moses,” is published. This volume contains “The Bear,” one of the great initiation stories in the history of American letters. In the words of one critic, ‘The thematic patterns of ‘The Bear’ extend beyond the hunting narrative to implicate multiple tensions that have defined American life, including the conflicts between the wilderness and civilization, Native American ethics and European exploitation, freedom and slavery, pagan values and Christian duties, innocence and knowledge of sin.”

Every American should read “The Bear” at least once.

“It was of the wilderness, the big woods, bigger and older than any recorded document:–of white man fatuous enough to believe he had bought any part of it, of Indian ruthless enough to pretend that any fragment of it had been his to convey….” – From “The Bear”

Below – Boyd Saunders: A stone lithograph accompanying William Faulkner’s “The Bear.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Brenda Schwartz (Part II)

In the words of one writer, “Brenda tells us that her novel method of painting watercolors on marine charts began when she was a child and used her parent’s charts for her sketches. She has come a long way from those roots, and is now one of Southeast Alaska’s most famous and admired artists.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “New Eddystone”; “Northbound”; “Northern Voyage”; “Pelican”; “Petersburg Vista”; “Rounding the Point.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts

“Life is like music for its own sake. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to music we are not listening to the past, we are not listening to the future, we are listening to an expanded present.”

A Sixth Poem for Today

“Grasses”
By Heather Allen

So still at heart,
They respond like water
To the slightest breeze,
Rippling as one body,

And, as one mind,
Bend continually
To listen:
The perfect confidants,

They keep to themselves,
A web of trails and nests,
Burrows and hidden entrances—
Do not reveal

Those camouflaged in stillness
From the circling hawks,
Or crouched and breathless
At the passing of the fox.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig

“So we navigate mostly by dead reckoning, and deduction from what clues we find. I keep a compass in one pocket for overcast days when the sun doesn’t show directions and have the map mounted in a special carrier on top of the gas tank where I can keep track of miles from the last junction and know what to look for. With those tools and a lack of pressure to ‘get somewhere’ it works out fine and we just about have America all to ourselves.”
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American Art – Part V of V: Sarah Williams

Painter Sarah Williams earned a BFA in Studio Art from William Woods University and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of North Texas.
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