From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXI

Musings in Winter: Mark Helprin

“Winter then in its early and clear stages, was a purifying engine that ran unhindered over city and country, alerting the stars to sparkle violently and shower their silver light into the arms of bare upreaching trees. It was a mad and beautiful thing that scoured raw the souls of animals and man, driving them before it until they loved to run. And what it did to Northern forests can hardly be described, considering that it iced the branches of the sycamores on Chrystie Street and swept them back and forth until they rang like ranks of bells.”

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A Poem for Today

“Since Hannah Moved Away”
By Judith Viorst

The tires on my bike are flat.
The sky is grouchy gray.
At least it sure feels like that
Since Hanna moved away.

Chocolate ice cream tastes like prunes.
December’s come to stay.
They’ve taken back the Mays and Junes
Since Hanna moved away.

Flowers smell like halibut.
Velvet feels like hay.
Every handsome dog’s a mutt
Since Hanna moved away.

Nothing’s fun to laugh about.
Nothing’s fun to play.
They call me, but I won’t come out
Since Hanna moved away.

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Musings in Winter: David Baldacci

“It’s been my experience that most folk who ride trains could care less where they’re going. For them it’s the journey itself and the people they meet along the way. You see, at every stop this train makes, a little bit of America, a little bit of your country, gets on and says hello. That’s why trains are so popular at Christmas. People get on to meet their country over the holidays. They’re looking for some friendship, a warm body to talk to. People don’t rush on a train, because that’s not what trains are for. How do you put a dollar value on that? What accounting line does that go on?”

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Art for Winter – Part I of III: Juliana Veenstra

Below – “Intoxicating”

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Musings in Winter: Kenneth Grahame

“No animal, according to the rules of animal-etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter.”

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Art for Winter – Part II of III: Julius Delbos

Below – “Menemsha Harbor, Martha’sVineyard”

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Musings in Winter: Candace Bushnell

“Thank goodness for the first snow, it was a reminder–no matter how old you became and how much you’d seen, things could still be new if you were willing to believe they still mattered.”

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A Second Poem for Today

“Your Catfish Friend”
By Richard Brautigan

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, “It’s beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,”
I’d love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them.”

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Art for Winter – Part III of III: Roger Dennis

Below – “Western Sky”

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Musings in Winter: Jiddu Krishnamurti

“I maintain that Truth is a pathless land … A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others.”

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A Third Poem for Today

“I Have Not Come Here to Compare Notes But to Sit Together in the Stillness at the Edge of This Wound”
By David Kirby

Asked if it isn’t weird to be at an awards ceremony with Gregory Peck,
Dylan says, “Well, listen, everything’s weird. You tell me something

that’s not weird.” He might as well have said “big,” that his songs are
a witness to magnitude, that your poems are. And why shouldn’t they be?

Look at the epic of your life, at the people in it, all heroic. And to think
it began with an accident. Somebody looked up at the night sky and saw a star,

somebody in Cracow or Belgrade, maybe, or the city where you live now.
Carbon, nitrogen . . . there was an explosion, and now you have to pay attention

to everything. At the party, everyone was talking about the crappy TV series
that’s so popular, and you didn’t say you wanted better, wanted more.

That same night, you met the man you’d love so hard it made your teeth hurt.
He said, “Hey, baby,” and you snapped, “I’m not your baby.”

I have nothing to say to you, really. I just want to see what I’m looking at.
I want so much not to listen to you after all this time but to hear.

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Canadian Art: Vladan

Artist Statement: ”The woman in my paintings is a self portrait of everyone, a person that is to be. It is someone that I am searching for, not literally, but searching for through the process of discovery and exploration as I paint.”

Below – “Immersively Herself”; “Hitchhiking”; “French II”; “Daylight”; “Galvanic”; “Haiku.”

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Musings in Winter: Philip Reiff

“To be busy, spirited, and self-confident is a goal that will inspire only those who have resigned the ghosts of older and nobler inspirations.”

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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Letter to Denise”
By Hayden Carruth

Remember when you put on that wig
From the grab bag and then looked at yourself
In the mirror and laughed, and we laughed together?
It was a transformation, glamorous flowing tresses.
Who knows if you might not have liked to wear
That wig permanently, but of course you
Wouldn’t. Remember when you told me how
You meditated, looking at a stone until
You knew the soul of the stone? Inwardly I
Scoffed, being the backwoods pragmatic Yankee
That I was, yet I knew what you meant. I
Called it love. No magic was needed. And we
Loved each other too, not in the way of
Romance but in the way of two poets loving
A stone, and the world that the stone signified.
Remember when we had that argument over
Pee and piss in your poem about the bear?
“Bears don’t pee, they piss,” I said. But you were
Adamant. “My bears pee.” And that was that.
Then you moved away, across the continent,
And sometimes for a year I didn’t see you.
We phoned and wrote, we kept in touch. And then
You moved again, much farther away, I don’t
Know where. No word from you now at all. But
I am faithful, my dear Denise. And I still
Love the stone, and, yes, I know its soul.

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Musings in Winter: Mark Edmundson

“This commitment to candor that Socrates nurtures may not seem much at first glance, but consider the matter more closely. How much deception does the average individual practice in a day or a week? People say what they can to avoid conflict, to please their superiors, to advance their interests. When they do not lie directly, they lie by omission. They fail to speak up when their principles are under attack. They offer instead what Emerson calls their ‘mortifying social smiles.” They hide within the contours of convention, even when convention seems to them empty or unjust. They go along to get along. Socrates will not do so: he is always ready to offer his perceptions, no matter how unpleasant or unpopular they may be. He never trims his truth and never backs down. Socrates: the man (is he maybe the only man?) who doesn’t lie.”

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American Art – Part I of III: Donald Demers

Artist Statement: “Painting is a poignant balancing act between inner vision, virtuosity and mystery.”

Below – “The Rocks at Pemaquid, Maine”; “Clearing Horizon”; “Old Dock House”; “Littoral Paths”; “Upon the Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island”; “Monhegan Moment.”

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Musings in Winter: Roman Krznaric

“We might live our lives in a thousand different ways. And the civilisations of the past enable us to recognize that our habitual ways of loving, working, creating, and dying are not the only options before us. We need only open the wonderbox of history and look inside to see new and surprising possibilities for the art of living. Let them spark our curiosity, captivate our imaginations and inspire our actions.”

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American Art – Part II of III: Katie Swatland

Artist Statement: “Painting has been a part of my life since I was very young. There was always a wealth of paint, brushes, and paintings in the house.
Although I have always felt the artist stirring within me, my early formal studies gave no hint that I would turn out to be a painter. In fact, I graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and I turned down two offers for full scholarships to graduate school to pursue my passion…painting. However, I am grateful for my education because engineering taught me how to think analytically and solve problems. Painting, after all, is as much about problem solving and a technical challenge as it is a passionate filled emotional journey. In its own way engineering can be as highly creative as art. The great and beautiful things man has built testify to that. So when the artist in me waiting to emerge could no longer be denied, I was grateful for the lessons I learned in my university training.”

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Musings in Winter: John Burroughs

“What a wild winter sound,— wild and weird, up among the ghostly hills…. I get up in the middle of the night to hear it. It is refreshing to the ear, and one delights to know that such wild creatures are among us. At this season Nature makes the most of every throb of life that can withstand her severity.”

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American Art – Part III of III: H. Craig Hanna

In the words of one writer, “H. Craig Hanna’s paintings are hauntingly beautiful. The majority of his work is comprised of diptychs which he paints on to canvas, timber or copper. One panel of the diptych is abstract, either gestural or with unassociated images placed randomly on the plane. The other panel is a figure or face that is executed with an Egon Schiele-esque boldness of line and startling explicitness. He paints recognisable human beings as opposed to standard images of physically perfect or stereotypically imperfect ‘types’. They are not, however, portraits, and most have their identities effaced, faces obstructed, but their presence is the strongest and most captivating element in the painting.
Hanna plays off apparently unrelated elements against this depiction of the human figure. By splitting the picture surface into two in an almost cinematic way (one thinks of ‘split screen’), he combines figuration and abstraction, representation and association. These paintings work the tension between different orders of sign, using juxtaposition to create formal harmonies and visual metaphors.”

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