January Offerings – Part XII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Andrea Peyton

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Andrea Peyton: “Combining a love of nature and art, Andrea Peyton has spent her life studying nature and painting wild and still life subjects in realistically correct, yet artistically designed works. Andrea Peyton’s work has been featured in ‘Wildlife Art News Magazine.’ She was recently juried into the prestigious Lee Yawkey Woodson Art Museum show, ‘Birds in Art.’ Other honors and experience include awards in national and international juried exhibitions, book cover illustrations.”
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“All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore love for love’s sake, because it is the only law of life, just as you breathe to live.” – Swami Vivekananda, Hindu monk, chief disciple of Ramakrishna, a key figure in bringing Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world, and author of “Karma Yoga,” who was born 12 January 1863.

In the words of one historian, Vivekananda “is perhaps best known for his inspiring speech which began, ‘Sisters and brothers of America …,’ in which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.”

Some quotes from the work of Swami Vivekananda:

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
“In a day, when you don’t come across any problems – you can be sure that you are travelling in a wrong path.”
“The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.”
“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves.”
“All power is within you; you can do anything and everything. Believe in that, do not believe that you are weak; do not believe that you are half-crazy lunatics, as most of us do nowadays. You can do any thing and everything, without even the guidance of any one. Stand up and express the divinity within you.”
“They alone live, who live for others.”
“Anything that makes you weak – physically, intellectually and spiritually – reject it as poison.”
“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far. ”
“Neither seek nor avoid, take what comes.”
“Comfort is no test of truth. Truth is often far from being comfortable.”
“We reap what we sow. We are the makers of our own fate.
The wind is blowing; those vessels whose sails are unfurled
catch it, and go forward on their way, but those which have
their sails furled do not catch the wind. Is that the fault of
the wind?……. We make our own destiny.”
“Learn Everything that is Good from Others, but bring it in, and in your own way absorb it; do not become others.”
“Was there ever a more horrible blasphemy than the statement that all the knowledge of God is confined to this or that book? How dare men call God infinite, and yet try to compress Him within the covers of a little book!”
“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.”
“We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.”
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Musings in Winter: John Muir

“What a psalm the storm was singing, and how fresh the smell of the washed earth and leaves, and how sweet the still small voices of the storm!”
Idaho, horizontal, Northwest, America, America Engagement, America Mini, Rocky Mountain Wilderness, The West, landscape, scenic, nature, old growth forests, Kaniksu National Forest, rain storms, forests, trees, conifers

French Art – Part I of II: Jean Beraud

Born 12 January 1849 – Jean Beraud, a French artist noted for his paintings of Parisian life during the Belle Epoque.

Below – “The Billiard Party”; “The Letter”: “Symphony in Red and Gold”; “Café Gioppe”; “At the Bistro”; “Self-Portrait.”
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Musings in Winter: Edward Abbey

“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.”
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Parents and Children – Part I of V: Robert Hayden

“Those Winter Sundays”

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

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Musings in Winter: Hester Lucy Stanhope

“My roses are my jewels, the sun and moon my clocks, fruit and water my food and drink.”
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French Art – Part II of II: Nathalie Picoulet

In the words of one writer, French artist Nathalie Picoulet (born 1968) “studied at The University of Plastic Arts and pursued additional education in drawing at L’Ecole Superieur of Design in Amiens.”
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Musings in Winter: Marlene Van Niekerk

“Everything is important. To the smallest insect, even the mouldering tree, the deepest stone in the drift.”
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Parents and Children – Part II of V: Judith Kroll

“Your Clothes”

Of course they are empty shells, without hope of animation.
Of course they are artifacts.

Even if my sister and I should wear some,
or if we give others away,

they will always be your clothes without you,
as we will always be your daughters without you.
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Musings in Winter: Martha Brooks

“Everyone, no matter what their cultural background, has a right to discover the sacred in nature; to heal and be redeemed spiritually by nature; and to revere the ancestors. We are all haunted and saved by our memories.”

Below – “Her Ancestors”
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Artist Meewha Kim lives and works in Taejon, South Korea.
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Musings in Winter: Henry Beston

“We lose a great deal, I think, when we lose this sense and feeling for the sun. When all has been said, the adventure of the sun is the great natural drama by which we live, and not to have joy in it and awe of it, not to share in it, is to close a dull door on nature’s sustaining and poetic spirit.”
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Parents and Children – Part III of V: Li-Young Lee

“The Gift”

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
‘Metal that will bury me,’
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
‘Death visited here!’
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.
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Musings in Winter: Arnold Bennett

“It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is from the top.”
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Chinese artist Ma Jing Hu (born 1974) is a professional painter and a 2000 graduate of Nanjing Art Institute.
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Musings in Winter: Rebecca Solnit

“Suddenly I came out of my thoughts to notice everything around me again-the catkins on the willows, the lapping of the water, the leafy patterns of the shadows across the path. And then myself, walking with the alignment that only comes after miles, the loose diagonal rhythm of arms swinging in synchronization with legs in a body that felt long and stretched out, almost as sinuous as a snake…when you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.”
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Parents and Children – Part IV of V: Jean Nordhaus

“A Dandelion for My Mother”

How I loved those spiky suns,
rooted stubborn as childhood
in the grass, tough as the farmer’s
big-headed children—the mats
of yellow hair, the bowl-cut fringe.
How sturdy they were and how
slowly they turned themselves
into galaxies, domes of ghost stars
barely visible by day, pale
cerebrums clinging to life
on tough green stems. Like you.
Like you, in the end. If you were here,
I’d pluck this trembling globe to show
how beautiful a thing can be
a breath will tear away.
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Spanish painter Luis Serrano (born 1976) lives and works in Asturius.
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Parents and Children – Part V of V: Robert Louis Stevenson

“To Any Reader”

As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear; he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.

Below – “Child in the Rose Garden,” by Berthe Morisot.
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Musings in Winter: Gretel Ehrlich

“Love life first, then march through the gates of each season; go inside nature and develop the discipline to stop destructive behavior; learn tenderness toward experience, then make decisions based on creating biological wealth that includes all people, animals, cultures, currencies, languages, and the living things as yet undiscovered; listen to the truth the land will tell you; act accordingly.”
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Here is one writer describing the artistry of Ilia Zaitseff: “Born in St. Petersburg in 1961, Ilia immigrated to Canada in 1997 and settled in Montreal. He painted still lifes and landscapes until 2001 when he started producing paintings inspired by art from the Middle Ages and the Northern Renaissance. This change in genre coincided with his being selected by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to exhibit three of his paintings. Zaitseff was 24 when he graduated from the State Naval University of St. Petersburg. He studied mechanical engineering graphic design, majoring in naval construction. He nevertheless soon chose to indulge his love of art and at 28 he became a guide-interpreter at the prestigious Hermitage Museum.”
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Musings in Winter: Hermann Hesse

“Between the dark, heavily laden treetops of the spreading chestnut trees could be seen the dark blue of the sky, full of stars, all solemn and golden, which extended their radiance unconcernedly into the distance. That was the nature of the stars. and the trees bore their buds and blossoms and scars for everyone to see, and whether it signified pleasure or pain, they accepted the strong will to live. Flies that lived only for a day swarmed toward their death. Every life had its radiance and beauty. I had insight into it all for a moment, understood it and found it good, and also found my life and sorrows good.”
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A Poem for Today

“Extenuating Circumstances,”
By Paul Violi

I don’t know how fast I was going
but, even so, that’s still
an intriguing question, officer,
and deserves a thoughtful response.
With the radio unfurling
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, you might
consider anything under 80 sacrilege.
Particularly on a parkway as lovely
as the one you’re fortunate enough
to patrol—and patrol so diligently.
A loveliness that, if observed
at an appropriate rate of speed,
affords the kind of pleasure
which is in itself a reminder
of how civilization depends
on an assurance of order and measure,
and the devotion of someone
like yourself to help maintain it.
Yes, man the measurer!
The incorrigible measurer.
And admirably precise measurements
they are—Not, of course, as an end
in themselves but, lest we
forget, as a means to propel
us into the immeasurable,
where it would be anybody’s guess how fast
the west wind was blowing
when it strummed a rainbow
and gave birth to Eros.
Never forget that a parkway
is a work of art, and the faster
one goes the greater the tribute
to its power of inspiration,
a lyrical propulsion that approaches
the spiritual and tempts—demands
the more intrepid of us
to take it from there.
That sense of the illimitable,
when we feel we are more the glory
than the jest or riddle of the world
—that’s what kicked in, albeit
briefly, as I approached
the Croton Reservoir Bridge.
And on a night like this, starlight
reignited above a snowfall’s last
flurry, cockeyed headlights scanning
the girders overhead, eggshell
snowcrust flying off the hood,
hatching me on the wing
like a song breaking through prose,
the kind I usually sing
through my nose:

‘So much to love,
A bit less to scorn.
What have I done?
To what end was I born?

To teach and delight.
Delight … or offend.
Luck’s been no lady,
Truth a sneaky friend.

Got the heater on full blast,
Window jammed down,
Odometer busted,
Speedometer dead wrong:
Can’t tell how fast I’m going,
Don’t care how far I’ve gone.’

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Musings in Winter: Annie Dillard

“Think of a globe, a revolving globe on a stand. Think of a contour globe, whose mountain ranges cast shadows, whose continents rise in bas-relief above the oceans. But then: think of how it really is. These heights are just suggested; they’re there….when I think of walking across a continent I think of all the neighborhood hills, the tiny grades up which children drag their sleds. It is all so sculptured, three-dimensional, casting a shadow. What if you had an enormous globe that was so huge it showed roads and houses- a geological survey globe, a quarter of a mile to an inch- of the whole world, and the ocean floor! Looking at it, you would know what had to be left out: the free-standing sculptural arrangement of furniture in rooms, the jumble of broken rocks in the creek bed, tools in a box, labyrinthine ocean liners, the shape of snapdragons, walrus. Where is the one thing you care about in earth, the molding of one face? The relief globe couldn’t begin to show trees, between whose overlapping boughs birds raise broods, or the furrows in bark, where whole creatures, creatures easily visible, live our their lives and call it world enough. What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is a possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek.”
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“I ride over my beautiful ranch. Between my legs is a beautiful horse.
The air is wine. The grapes on a score of rolling hills are red with autumn flame. Across Sonoma Mountain, wisps of sea fog are stealing. The afternoon sun smolders in the drowsy sky. I have everything to make me glad I am alive.” – Jack London, American writer, journalist, wine lover, social activist, and author of “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang,” who was born 12 January 1876.

Some quotes from the work of Jack London:

“I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.”
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.”
“And how have I lived? Frankly and openly, though crudely. I have not been afraid of life. I have not shrunk from it. I have taken it for what it was at its own valuation. And I have not been ashamed of it. Just as it was, it was mine.”
“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”
“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”
“To be able to forget means sanity.”
“Intelligent men are cruel. Stupid men are monstrously cruel.”
“But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called — called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.”
“As one grows weaker one is less susceptible to suffering. There is less hurt because there is less to hurt.”
“Ever bike? Now that’s something that makes life worth living!…Oh, to just grip your handlebars and lay down to it, and go ripping and tearing through streets and road, over railroad tracks and bridges, threading crowds, avoiding collisions, at twenty miles or more an hour, and wondering all the time when you’re going to smash up. Well, now, that’s something! And then go home again after three hours of it…and then to think that tomorrow I can do it all over again!”
“But I am I. And I won’t subordinate my taste to the unanimous judgment of mankind.”
“A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of laughter more terrible than any sadness-a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.”
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Musings in Winter: Maud Hart Lovelace

“The wastes of snow on the hill were ghostly in the moonlight. The stars were piercingly bright.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Budding Scholars,”
By April Halprin Wayland

Welcome, Flowers.
Write your name on a name tag.
Find a seat.

Raise your leaf if you’ve taken a class here before.
Let’s go around the room.
Call out your colors.

I see someone’s petal has fallen—
please pick it up and put it in your desk
where it belongs.

Sprinklers at recess,
fertilizer for lunch,
and you may snack on the sun throughout the day.

Excuse me . . .
what’s that in your mouth?
A bee?

Did you
bring enough
for everyone?
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Musings in Winter: Carl Safina

“People have been on earth in our present form for only about 100,000 years, and in so many ways we’re still ironing out our kinks. These turtles we’ve been traveling with, they outrank us in longevity, having earned three more zeros than we. They’ve got one hundred million years of success on their resume, and they’ve learned something about how to survive in the world. And this, I think, is part of it: they have settled upon peaceful career paths, with a stable rhythm. If humans could survive another one hundred million years, I expect we would no longer find ourselves riding bulls. It’s not so much that I think animals have rights; it’s more that I believe humans have hearts and minds- though I’ve yet to see consistent, convincing proof of either. Turtles may seem to lack sense, but they don’t do senseless things. They’re not terribly energetic, yet they do not waste energy… turtles cannot consider what might happen yet nothing turtles do threatens anyone’s future. Turtles don’t think about the next generation, but they risk and provide all they can to ensure that there will be one. Meanwhile, we profess to love our own offspring above all else, yet above all else it is they from whom we daily steal. We cannot learn to be more like turtles, but from turtles we could learn to be more human. That is the wisdom carried within one hundred million years of survival. What turtles could learn from us, I can’t quite imagine.”

Below – Andy Warhol: “Turtle”
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American Art – Part II of III: John Singer Sargent

“Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend.” – John Singer Sargent, American artist considered the leading portrait painter of his generation, who was born 12 January 1856.

Below – “Portrait of Madame X”; “Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood”; “A Dinner Table at Night”; “Morning Walk”; “Muddy Alligators”; “Theodore Roosevelt”; “Robert Louis Stevenson”; “Self-Portrait.”
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Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood ?1885 by John Singer Sargent 1856-1925

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Musings in Winter: Richard Nelson

“I’ve often thought of the forest as a living cathedral, but this might diminish what it truly is. If I have understood Koyukon teachings, the forest is not merely an expression or representation of sacredness, nor a place to invoke the sacred; the forest is sacredness itself. Nature is not merely created by God; nature is God. Whoever moves within the forest can partake directly of sacredness, experience sacredness with his entire body, breathe sacredness and contain it within himself, drink the sacred water as a living communion, bury his feet in sacredness, touch the living branch and feel the sacredness, open his eyes and witness the burning beauty of sacredness.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Woodcut,”
By Thomas McGrath

It is autumn but early. No crow cries from the dry woods.
The house droops like an eyelid over the leprous hill.
In the bald barnyard one horse, a collection of angles
Cuts at the flies with a spectral tail. A blind man’s
Sentence, the road goes on. Lifts as the slope lifts it.

Comes now one who has been conquered
By all he sees. And asks what—would have what—
Poor fool, frail, this man, mistake, my hero?

More than the hands on the lines and the back aching,
The daily wrestle with the angel in the south forty,
More than this forever lonely round
Round hunger and impotence, the prickly pair:
Banker or broker can have dreamed no fate
More bankrupt than this godlike heresy
Which asks of love more leave than extended credit,
Needs comradeship more than a psalm or surely these
Worn acres even if over them
Those trained to it see signs of they say God.
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Musings in Winter: Washington Irving

“Her mighty lakes, like oceans of liquid silver; her mountains, with bright aerial tints; her valleys, teeming with wild fertility; her tremendous cataracts, thundering in their solitudes; her boundless plains, waving with spontaneous verdure; her broad, deep rivers, rolling in solemn silence to the ocean; her trackless forests, where vegetation puts forth all its magnificence; her skies, kindling with the magic of summer clouds and glorious sunshine – no, never need an American look beyond his own country for the sublime and beautiful of natural scenery.”

Below – The Grand Tetons.
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American Art – Part III of III: Aaron Coberly

In the words of one writer, “Aaron Coberly was born in Seattle in 1971. He has been drawing for as long as he can remember. He started taking art seriously as a teenager after being invited to attend a life drawing class. Living and traveling in Europe further inspired him. He began oil painting in 1999. His work is primarily figurative with a stylistic nod to the Masters and the Impressionists. Aaron runs an open painting and drawing session in Seattle. He resides in the greater Seattle area and is married with a young son.”
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