Another Birthday – 5 May 2017

Happy Childrens’ Day (Japan)

In the words of one writer, “Spring days begin when the sun bursts through grey sky and little wild flowers bloom into paradise meadows. In Japan, flying carp-shaped windsocks known as koinobori signal the changing of seasons to spring and a season of children’s celebration of Kodomo no hi (Japan’s national Children’s Day on May 5th) and Tango no Sekku (Boys’ Day). Japanese homes and public places are decorated with carp streamers hung on poles from April to early May.
Although these streamers are easily available in stores all over Japan, some would still prefer drawing carp patterns on paper or cloth making their personal pieces. These carp shaped windsocks symbolize courage and strength – values adopted from the carp fish, a freshwater fish with the ability to rocket out of water and going against the odds in swimming up waterfalls. The carp stands out as a spirited fish full of power, energy and determination to overcome obstacles to a reach the peak.
Japanese honor their children by decorating koinobori with hope that they will grow healthy and strong. A set of windsocks comes in three or more fish each representing every member of the family. Koinobari usually come in distinct colors – black carp (Magoi) representing the father, red carp (Higoi) representing mother while smaller green or blue streamers representing sons. Streamers are arranged according to family hierarchy and a new streamer is added for each newborn son.”

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Below – Reza Sepahdari: “Cinco de Mayo”

Musings on a Birthday: The Beatles

“They say it’s your birthday
It’s my birthday too, yeah
They say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.”

Art for a Birthday – Marc Chagall: “Birthday”

A Birthday Poem

“A Happy Birthday”
By Ted Kooser

This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.

A Happy Birthday To – Soren Kierkegaard:

Danish philosopher and author born 5 May 1813.

Art for a Birthday – Pierre-Auguste Renoir: “Luncheon of the Boating Party”

A Second Birthday Poem

“Ninetieth Birthday”
By R. S. Thomas

You go up the long track
That will take a car, but is best walked
On slow foot, noting the lichen
That writes history on the page
Of the grey rock. Trees are about you
At first, but yield to the green bracken,
The nightjars house: you can hear it spin
On warm evenings; it is still now
In the noonday heat, only the lesser
Voices sound, blue-fly and gnat
And the stream’s whisper. As the road climbs,
You will pause for breath and the far sea’s
Signal will flash, till you turn again
To the steep track, buttressed with cloud.

And there at the top that old woman,
Born almost a century back
In that stone farm, awaits your coming;
Waits for the news of the lost village
She thinks she knows, a place that exists
In her memory only.
You bring her greeting
And praise for having lasted so long
With time’s knife shaving the bone.
Yet no bridge joins her own
World with yours, all you can do
Is lean kindly across the abyss
To hear words that were once wise.

Art for a Birthday – Hokusai: “Umezawa Manor in Sagami”

A Happy Birthday To – Karl Marx:

German philosopher, sociologist, and journalist born 5 May 1818.

A Third Birthday Poem

“For K.R. on Her Sixtieth Birthday”
By Richard Wilbur

Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark,
Who round with grace this dusky arc
Of the grand tour which souls must take.

You who have sounded William Blake,
And the still pool, to Plato’s mark,
Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark.

Yet, for your friends’ benighted sake,
Detain your upward-flying spark;
Get us that wish, though like the lark
You whet your wings till dawn shall break:
Blow out the candles of your cake.

Art for a Birthday – Fritz Scholder: “Indians with Umbrellas”

Musings on a Birthday: Chris Geiger

“I don’t mind getting older; it’s a privilege denied to so many!”

Art for a Birthday – Vincent van Gogh: “The Courtesan”

A Happy Birthday To – Elizabeth Cochran Seamen (Nellie Bly):

American journalist, writer, industrialist, inventor, traveler, and charity worker born 5 May 1864.

Art for a Birthday – Albert Bierstadt: “Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California”

Musings on a Birthday: William Shakespeare

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”

Art for a Birthday: Ma Yuan: “Scholar Viewing a Waterfall”

A Happy Birthday To – Michael Palin:

English actor and screenwriter born 5 May 1943.

A Fourth Birthday Poem

“After the Gentle Poet Kobayashi Issa”
By Robert Hass

Fiftieth birthday:
From now on,
It’s all clear profit,
every sky.

Art for a Birthday – Frederic Remington: “The Coming and Going of the Pony Express”

A Fifth Birthday Poem

“Cheerios”
By Billy Collins

One bright morning in a restaurant in Chicago
as I waited for my eggs and toast,
I opened the Tribune only to discover
that I was the same age as Cheerios.

Indeed, I was a few months older than Cheerios
for today, the newspaper announced,
was the seventieth birthday of Cheerios
whereas mine had occurred earlier in the year.

Already I could hear them whispering
behind my stooped and threadbare back,
‘Why that dude’s older than Cheerios’
the way they used to say

‘’Why that’s as old as the hills,’
only the hills are much older than Cheerios
or any American breakfast cereal,
and more noble and enduring are the hills,

I surmised as a bar of sunlight illuminated my orange juice.

Art for a Birthday – Hiroshige: “Night Snow at Kambara”

A Sixth Birthday Poem

“Passing Through”
By Stanley Kunitz

—on my seventy-ninth birthday

Nobody in the widow’s household
ever celebrated anniversaries.
In the secrecy of my room
I would not admit I cared
that my friends were given parties.
Before I left town for school
my birthday went up in smoke
in a fire at City Hall that gutted
the Department of Vital Statistics.
If it weren’t for a census report
of a five-year-old White Male
sharing my mother’s address
at the Green Street tenement in Worcester
I’d have no documentary proof
that I exist. You are the first,
my dear, to bully me
into these festive occasions.

Sometimes, you say, I wear
an abstracted look that drives you
up the wall, as though it signified
distress or disaffection.
Don’t take it so to heart.
Maybe I enjoy not-being as much
as being who I am. Maybe
it’s time for me to practice
growing old. The way I look
at it, I’m passing through a phase:
gradually I’m changing to a word.
Whatever you choose to claim
of me is always yours;
nothing is truly mine
except my name. I only
borrowed this dust.

Below – Stanley Kunitz

Art for a Birthday – John William Waterhouse: “Hylas and the Nymphs”

Musings on a Birthday: Srinivas Rao

“Rather than see ageing as a reason to contract, we should view it as an opportunity to expand. We should make each year of our lives are more interesting than the one before.”

Art for a Birthday – Georgia O’Keeffe: “Ram’s Head with Hollyhock”

A Seventh Birthday Poem

“A Birthday Poem”
By Ted Kooser

Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with his bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.

Musings on a Birthday – Lisa T. Shepherd

“In raising my children, I have lost my mind but found my soul.”

Art for a Birthday – John Nieto: “Coyote”

Just in case someone is wondering what a PERFECT birthday present might be, I have a suggestion:

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