From the Pacific Northwest – Part XLV

Musings in December: Isabella Olivia Ellis

“Isn’t it strange that all life can pretty much end, but the universe goes on as it is? No one else exists, but the moon keeps shining and the stars keep falling.”

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A Poem for Today

Haiku
By Buson

Lighting one candle
from another –
Winter night

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Art for December – Part I of III: Lady X

Below – “State of Love”

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Musings in December: Maggie Stiefvater

“This new world was a vicious, sleek world made of street lights and tight jeans, sharp smiles and fast cars. This was a city, edited. A city, pared down to its bare minimums, beautiful and abusive.”

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Art for December – Part II of III: Vivian Thierfelder

Below – “Pear on a Silver Platter #2”

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A Second Poem for Today

“On Darkness”
By Rainer Maria Rilke

You darkness, that I come from,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes
a circle of light for everyone,
and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything;
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them!—
powers and people—

and it is possible a great energy
is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.

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Art for December – Part III of III: Gordon Apple Smith

Below – “Sea Edge”

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Musings in December: Sigmund Freud

“I am going to the USA to catch sight of a wild porcupine and to give some lectures.”

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A Third Poem for Today

“Glass House”
By Heather McHugh

Everything obeyed our laws and
we just went on self-improving
till a window gave us pause and
there the outside world was, moving.

Five apartment blocks swept by,
the trees and ironwork and headstones
of the next town’s cemetery.
Auto lots. Golf courses. Rest homes.
Blue-green fields and perishable vistas
wars had underscored in red
were sweeping past,
with cloudscapes, just

as if the living room were dead.
Which way to look? Nonnegative?
Nonplussed? (Unkilled? Unkissed?)
Look out, you said; the sight’s on us:

If we don’t move, we can’t be missed.

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American Art – Stephen O’Donnell

In the words of one writer, “Almost entirely self taught, Stephen O’Donnell was first ‘educated’ as an artist as a consequence of his great interest in history and biography. Historical portraits have been his greatest ongoing influence. Gender ambiguity has played a large role in his work and, especially recently, it appears in conjunction with his favored genre: the portrait historié. Literally, a historicized portrait, in which a recognizable subject is portrayed in historical or mythological guise, it was a popular conceit employed by many of the great seventeenth and eighteenth century masters.
Not surprisingly, Stephen most often uses the self-portrait as the basis for his work. And by using himself as the model, he feels that he is able to avoid the biggest limitation of the portrait as a form: that it is ‘about’ someone specific. If the portrait is only of the artist, then the viewer has more opportunity to find their own narrative in whatever visual scenario is presented.”

Below – “Autumn in Winter”; “Crown(n)”; “Le Vermillon”; “Pan”; “Penchee”; “Tatouage.”

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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Water Picture”
By May Swenson

In the pond in the park
all things are doubled:
Long buildings hang and
wriggle gently. Chimneys
are bent legs bouncing
on clouds below. A flag
wags like a fishhook
down there in the sky.

The arched stone bridge
is an eye, with underlid
in the water. In its lens
dip crinkled heads with hats
that don’t fall off. Dogs go by,
barking on their backs.
A baby, taken to feed the
ducks, dangles upside-down,
a pink balloon for a buoy.

Treetops deploy a haze of
cherry bloom for roots,
where birds coast belly-up
in the glass bowl of a hill;
from its bottom a bunch
of peanut-munching children
is suspended by their
sneakers, waveringly.

A swan, with twin necks
forming the figure 3,
steers between two dimpled
towers doubled. Fondly
hissing, she kisses herself,
and all the scene is troubled:
water-windows splinter,
tree-limbs tangle, the bridge
folds like a fan.

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Musings in December: Rob Nixon

“It is a pervasive condition of empires that they affect great swathes of the planet without the empire’s populace being aware of that impact – indeed without being aware that many of the affected places even exist. How many Americans are aware of the continuing socio-environmental fallout from U.S. militarism and foreign policy decisions made three or four decades ago in, say, Angola or Laos? How many could even place those nation-states on a map?”

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Canadian Art – Part I: Joan Armour

In the words of one writer, “Armour has painted for more than 25 years with her acrylics ‘en plein air’ to capture the natural light.”

Below – “Summer Road”; “Tamaracks”; “King Township”; “Late Autumn Afternoon”; “Overlooking Georgian Bay”; “Autumn Impression.”

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Musings in December: Jim Butcher

“‘Apocalypse is a frame of mind.’ [Nicodemus] said then. ‘A belief. A surrender to inevitability. It is a despair for the future. It is the death of hope.’”

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A Fifth Poem for Today

“December Moon”
By May Sarton

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
where the wild creatures ranged
while the moon rose and shone.

Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we’ll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.

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Musings in December: Fei Xiaotong

“American children hear no stories about ghosts. They spend a dime at the drugstore to buy a Superman comic book…Superman represents actual capabilities or future potential, while ghosts symbolize belief in and reverence for the accumulated past…How could ghosts gain a foothold in American cities? People move about like the tide, unable to form permanent ties with places, still less with other people…In a world without ghosts, life is free and easy. American eyes can gaze straight ahead. But still I think they lack something and I do not envy their life.”

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Canadian Art – Part II: Bob Arrigo

In the words of one writer, “Bob Arrigo paints the beauty he sees in the natural world. He is an artist who strives to express the images his eyes see through composition and design.”

Below – “Shoreline Pools”; “After the Rain”; “Looking West”; “Shadows in the Woods”; “Gathering Pond”; “End of the Trail.”

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