American Art – Part I of III: Maria Gracia Brunso
Maria Gracia Brunso is a contemporary California painter.
A Poem for Today
By Richard Kenney
Sky a shook poncho.
Roof wrung. Mind a luna moth
Caught in a banjo.
This weather’s witty
Peek-a-boo. A study in
Blues! Blooms! The yodel
Of the chimney in night wind.
That flat daffodil.
With absurd hauteur
New tulips dab their shadows
Boys are such oxen.
Girls! — sepal-shudder, shadow-
Musings in Winter: David McCullough
“To me, history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn’t just part of our civic responsibility. To me, it’s an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is.”
Some quotes from the work of John Jay Chapman:
“Good government is the outcome of private virtue.”
“People get so in the habit of worry that if you save them from drowning and put them on a bank to dry in the sun with hot chocolate and muffins they wonder whether they are catching cold.”
“People who love soft methods and hate iniquity forget this; that reform consists in taking a bone from a dog. Philosophy will not do it.”
“All progress is experimental.”
“A magazine or a newspaper is a shop. Each is an experiment and represents a new focus, a new ratio between commerce and intellect.”
“The world of politics is always twenty years behind the world of thought.”
“Wherever you see a man who gives someone else’s corruption, someone else’s prejudice as a reason for not taking action himself, you see a cog in The Machine that governs us.”
“A vision of truth which does not call upon us to get out of our armchair – why, this is the desideratum of mankind.”
“The present in New York is so powerful that the past is lost.”
“The reason for the slow progress of the world seems to lie in a single fact. Every man is born under the yoke, and grows up beneath the oppressions of his age.”
Italian Art – Part I of II: Ennio Montariello
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Italian painter Ennio Montariello (born 1960): “Ennio Montariello is a portrait artist. He creates magic with beautiful expressive faces in his work. Each and every portrait has a story to tell and a feeling to express.”
Musings in Winter: Susan Ertz
A Second Poem for Today
“Three Things That Make Me Outrageously Happy in March”
By Madeline DeFrees
Begin with the evergreen ‘Clematis montana.’ Shy
about opening, blooms pulse into view
a few at a time against the night sky. Some
morning, a creamy tsunami
sweeps over the chain-link fence in a spring
seizure of yearning. Drenches the passerby in
dizzying scent and charges winter’s
dark air without warning.
Next, the black umbrella
ribs of ‘Styrax japonica’ open to rain. Their
delicate green incipient leaves
reverse the gradual losses of autumn. remember
this overture to the Japanese Snowbell
symphony in May when it’s time to clean up
the carpet of dried flowers and pods, time to
cart uprooted seedlings away.
When navel oranges
kissed by lazy California sun, glow like
moons in every supermarket, I go
crazy, buy all I can carry. At home, they
tumble from the sack to kiss my eager lips, and as
that nectar of the gods floods my veins, I live
in lovers’ paradise every juicy moment
of Seattle rains.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” – Theodore Seuss Geisel, American writer, poet, and cartoonist best known for his children’s books written and illustrated as Dr. Seuss, who was born 3 March 1904.
Some quotes from the work of Dr. Seuss:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”
“Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.”
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”
“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
“They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!”
“I’m afraid that sometimes you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you.”
“Remember me and smile, for it’s better to forget than to remember me and cry.”
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
Italian Art – Part II of II: Ugo Riva
A Third Poem for Today
By Gary Snyder
A few light flakes of snow
Fall in the feeble sun;
Birds sing in the cold,
A warbler by the wall. The plum
Buds tight and chill soon bloom.
The moon begins first
Fourth, a faint slice west
At nightfall. Jupiter half-way
High at the end of night-
Meditation. The dove cry
Twangs like a bow.
At dawn Mt. Hiei dusted white
On top; in the clear air
Folds of all the gullied green
Hills around the town are sharp,
Breath stings. Beneath the roofs
Of frosty houses
Lovers part, from tangle warm
Of gentle bodies under quilt
And crack the icy water to the face
And wake and feed the children
And grandchildren that they love.
Musings in Winter: Robert W. Service
“There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t sit still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Their’s is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.”
“All people dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they dream their dreams with open eyes, and make them come
true.” – D. H. Lawrence, English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic, painter, and author of “Women in Love,” who died 2 March 1930.
Some quotes from the work of D.H. Lawrence:
“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
“But better die than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions.”
“No form of love is wrong, so long as it is love, and you yourself honour what you are doing. Love has an extraordinary variety of forms! And that is all there is in life, it seems to me. But I grant you, if you deny the variety of love you deny love altogether. If you try to specialize love into one set of accepted feelings, you wound the very soul of love. Love must be multi-form, else it is just tyranny, just death.”
“It is a fine thing to establish one’s own religion in one’s heart, not to be dependent on tradition and second-hand ideals. Life will seem to you, later, not a lesser, but a greater thing.”
“Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.”
“I want to live my life so that my nights are not full of regrets.”
“Money poisons you when you’ve got it, and starves you when you haven’t.”
“This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed.”
American Art – Part II of III: Bill Rhea
Artist Statement: “The scenes I like to paint, the images that ‘grab me,’ so to speak, always seem so obviously right that I’m surprised that I don’t have to stand in line to paint them.
Armed with a strong subject, it feels as if the composition will fall into place. A strongly composed picture – the composition being the ‘bones’ of the picture, if you will – is a pleasure to paint and continually suggests that the next logical step in the painting process.
The thing that I like the most in painting is form and weight boldly indicated with light, shadow, and rich color. To paint something well is deeply satisfying and I feel there is wealthy of subject matter just waiting to be found.”
Musings in Winter: Hermann Hesse
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Danusha Lameris
I don’t know when it slipped into my speech
that soft word meaning, “if God wills it.”
Insha’Allah I will see you next summer.
The baby will come in spring, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this year we will have enough rain.
So many plans I’ve laid have unraveled
easily as braids beneath my mother’s quick fingers.
Every language must have a word for this. A word
our grandmothers uttered under their breath
as they pinned the whites, soaked in lemon,
hung them to dry in the sun, or peeled potatoes,
dropping the discarded skins into a bowl.
Our sons will return next month, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this war will end, soon. Insha’Allah
the rice will be enough to last through winter.
“If you care about something you have to protect it – If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.” – John Irving, American novelist and author of “The World According to Garp” and “The Cider House Rules,” who was born 2 March 1942.
John Irving won the 1999 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his script of “The Cider House Rules.”
Some quotes from the work of John Irving:
“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”
“Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!”
“What is hardest to accept about the passage of time is that the people who once mattered the most to us wind up in parentheses.”
“It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious.”
“My life is a reading list.”
“We often need to lose sight of our priorities in order to see them.”
“In this dirty minded world, you are either someone’s wife or someone’s whore. And if you’re not either people think there is something wrong with you…but there is nothing wrong with me.”
“They were involved in that awkward procedure of getting to unknow each other.”
“Never confuse faith, or belief—of any kind—with something even remotely intellectual.”
“So we dream on. Thus we invent our lives. We give ourselves a sainted mother, we make our father a hero; and someone’s older brother and someone’s older sister – they become our heroes too. We invent what we love and what we fear. There is always a brave lost brother – and a little lost sister, too. We dream on and on: the best hotel, the perfect family, the resort life. And our dreams escape us almost as vividly as we can imagine them… That’s what happens, like it or not. And because that’s what happens, this is what we need: we need a good, smart bear… Coach Bob knew it all along: you’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed. You have to keep passing the open windows.”
“Religious freedom should work two ways: we should be free to practice the religion of our choice, but we must also be free from having someone else’s religion practiced on us.”
“In increments both measurable and not, our childhood is stolen from us — not always in one momentous event but often in a series of small robberies, which add up to the same loss.”
“The only way you get Americans to notice anything is to tax them or draft them or kill them.”
“People only ask questions when they’re ready to hear the answers.”
“Imagining something is better than remembering something.”
“It’s not god who’s fucked up; it’s the screamers who say they believe in him and who claim to pursue their ends in his holy name.”
“The consequences of sex are often more memorable than the act itself.”
“A truly happy woman drives some men and almost every other woman absolutely crazy.”
Musings in Winter: Thomas Pynchon
“It’s been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home. A messenger from the Kingdom, arriving at the last moment. But I tell you there is no such message, no such home — only the millions of last moments . . . nothing more. Our history is an aggregate of last moments.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“The Afternoon Is Bright”
By Antonio Machado
The afternoon is bright,
with spring in the air,
a mild March afternoon,
with the breath of April stirring,
I am alone in the quiet patio
looking for some old untried illusion –
some shadow on the whiteness of the wall
some memory asleep
on the stone rim of the fountain,
perhaps in the air
the light swish of some trailing gown.
Musings in Winter: Ken Levine
A Sixth Poem for Today
“The Truth the Dead Know”
By Anne Sexton
For my mother, born March 1902, died March 1959 and my father, born February 1900, died June 1959
Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.
We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.
My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one’s alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.
Musings in Winter: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
From the American History Archives – Part I of II: The Arkansas Territory
Musings in Winter: Andy Goldsworthy
From the American History Archives – Part II of II: Mount Rainier National Park
2 March 1899 – President McKinley signs the bill that creates Mount Rainier National Park, America’s fifth National Park.
Below – View of Mount Rainier from Paradise; at the summit of Mount Rainier, 1888 – left to right: D.W. Bass, P. B. Van Trump, John Muir, N.O. Booth, Edward Sturgis Ingraham, photograph by Arthur Churchill Warner; view from the summit of Mount Rainier (14,410 feet; 4,390 meters).
Musings in Winter: Albert Camus
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Kwame Dawes
It was Christmastime,
the balloons needed blowing,
and so in the evening
we sat together to blow
balloons and tell jokes,
and the cool air off the hills
made me think of coffee,
so I said, “Coffee would be nice,”
and he said, “Yes, coffee
would be nice,” and smiled
as his thin fingers pulled
the balloons from the plastic bags;
so I went for coffee,
and it takes a few minutes
to make the coffee
and I did not know
if he wanted cow’s milk
or condensed milk,
and when I came out
to ask him, he was gone,
just like that, in the time
it took me to think,
cow’s milk or condensed;
the balloons sat lightly
on his still lap.
Musings in Winter: Ansel Adams
“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”
“It is not all bad, this getting old, ripening. After the fruit has got its growth it should juice up and mellow. God forbid I should live long enough to ferment and rot and fall to the ground in a squash.” – Emily Carr, Canadian artist and writer inspired by the Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, who died 2 March 1945.
Emily Carr is one of my favorite painters – and persons. She was a smart, articulate, talented, brave, independent-minded woman who led an interesting and sometimes difficult life.
An Eighth Poem for Today
“The snow’s/feet slip”
By Marty Walsh
slope it comes
flat on its back
as it passes,
left and right
until it comes
to a juddering
of the little village
in the valley far below.
Musings in Winter: Nick Flynn
“Here’s a secret: Everyone, if they live long enough, will lose their way at some point. You will lose your way, you will wake up one morning and find yourself lost. This is a hard, simple truth. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, consider yourself lucky. When it does, when one day you look around and nothing is recognizable, when you find yourself alone in a dark wood having lost the way, you may find it easier to blame it on someone else — an errant lover, a missing father, a bad childhood — or it may be easier to blame the map you were given — folded too many times, out-of-date, tiny print — but mostly, if you are honest, you will only be able to blame yourself.
One day I’ll tell my daughter a story about a dark time, the dark days before she was born, and how her coming was a ray of light. We got lost for a while, the story will begin, but then we found our way.”
“A cult is a religion with no political power.” – Tom Wolfe, American writer, journalist, and author of “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” and “The Right Stuff,” who was born 2 March 1931.
Some quotes from the work of Tom Wolfe:
“Everybody, everybody everywhere, has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.”
“Sometimes we don’t even realize what we really care about, because we get so distracted by the symbols.”
“I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.”
“A glorious place, a glorious age, I tell you! A very Neon renaissance – And the myths that actually touched you at that time – not Hercules, Orpheus, Ulysses and Aeneas – but Superman, Captain Marvel, and Batman.”
“Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later… that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life.”
“America is a wonderful country! I mean it! No honest writer would challenge that statement! The human comedy never runs out of material! it never lets you down!”
“You can be denounced from the heavens, and it only makes people interested.”
“In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, old people in America had prayed, ‘Please God, don’t let me look poor.’ In the year 2000, they prayed, ‘Please God, don’t let me look old.’ Sexiness was equated with youth, and youth ruled. The most widespread age-related disease was not senility but juvenility.”
Musings in Winter: Tom Robbins
“Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it in, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life’s bittersweet route.”
A Ninth Poem for Today
By Margaret Hasse
Our high school principal wagged his finger
over two manila folders
lying on his desk, labeled with our names—
my boyfriend and me—
called to his office for skipping school.
The day before, we ditched Latin and world history
to chase shadows of clouds on a motorcycle.
We roared down rolling asphalt roads
through the Missouri River bottoms
beyond town, our heads emptied
of review tests and future plans.
We stopped on a dirt lane to hear
a meadowlark’s liquid song, smell
heart-break blossom of wild plum.
Beyond leaning fence posts and barbwire,
a tractor drew straight lines across the field
unfurling its cape of blackbirds.
Musings in Winter: Loren Eiseley
“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.”
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Sandy Shepard
In the words of one writer, “Sandy has always had a love for the outdoors. Inspired by the natural beauty in southeast Alaska, she has continued to present her paintings at local shows and galleries. In the past years she has won many awards through the Arts Guild and the Ketchikan Arts and Humanities Council juried art shows.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Musings in Winter: Billy Collins
A little heat in the iron radiator,
the dog breathing at the foot of the bed,
and the windows shut tight,
encrusted with hexagons of frost.
I can barely hear the geese
complaining in the vast sky,
flying over the living and the dead,
schools and prisons, and the whitened fields.
American Art – Part III of III: Carol Rosemond
In the words of one writer, “Carol Rosemond paints brief moments of magical light, blazing sunsets, ever-changing moods and seasons, and wild vistas untouched by the hand of man. By chronicling scenes that are familiar and loved by those who travel the shores of the Pacific Ocean, she is preserving memories of the natural landscape of her time, to be treasured and contemplated in the present and by future generations. Her seascapes are a stark portrayal of the indomitable and mysterious forces of nature. Rosemond’s work is such that many viewers come away with a sense that they have shared a rare moment in time, as well as a personal moment with the artist herself.”