Musings in Winter: Willa Cather
“The pale, cold light of the winter sunset did not beautify – it was like the light of truth itself. When the smoky clouds hung low in the west and the red sun went down behind them, leaving a pink flush on the snowy roofs and the blue drifts, then the wind sprang up afresh, with a kind of bitter song, as if it said” “This is reality, whether you like it or not. All those frivolities of summer, the light and shadow, the living mask of green that trembled over everything, they were lies, and this is what was underneath. This is the truth.” It was as if we were being punished for loving the loveliness of summer.”
A Poem for Today
“A Daughter of Eve”
By Christina Rossetti
A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.
My garden-plot I have not kept;
Faded and all-forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept:
Oh it was summer when I slept,
It’s winter now I waken.
Talk what you please of future spring
And sun-warm’d sweet to-orrow:
Stripp’d bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
I sit alone with sorrow.
Below – Dante Gabriel Rossetti: “Portrait of Christina Rossetti”
Art for Winter – Part I of II: Arthur M. Hazard (American, 1872-1930)
Below – “Summertime, Gloucester, Massachusetts”
Musings in Winter: Guy de Maupassant
“It was one of those bitter mornings when the whole of nature is shiny, brittle, and hard, like crystal. The trees, decked out in frost, seem to have sweated ice; the earth resounds beneath one’s feet; the tiniest sounds carry a long way in the dry air; the blue sky is bright as a mirror, and the sun moves through space in icy brilliance, casting on the frozen world rays which bestow no warmth upon anything.”
Art for Winter – Part I of II: Mary Brewster Hazelton (American, 1868-1953)
Below – “Reverie”
George Carlin – Part I of II (Part II tomorrow)
George Carlin (1937-2008) was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, actor, author, recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (2008), and National Treasure.
Some quotes from the work of George Carlin:
“I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.”
“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”
“If it requires a uniform, it’s a worthless endeavor.”
“Have you noticed that most of the women who are against abortion are women you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place? There’s such balance in nature.”
“Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody: ‘The Public Sucks. Fuck Hope.’”
“Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!
But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money!”
“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”
“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
“We’re so self-important. So arrogant. Everybody’s going to save something now. Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save the snails. And the supreme arrogance? Save the planet! Are these people kidding? Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves; we haven’t learned how to care for one another. We’re gonna save the fuckin’ planet? . . . And, by the way, there’s nothing wrong with the planet in the first place. The planet is fine. The people are fucked! Compared with the people, the planet is doin’ great. It’s been here over four billion years . . . The planet isn’t goin’ anywhere, folks. We are! We’re goin’ away. Pack your shit, we’re goin’ away. And we won’t leave much of a trace. Thank God for that. Nothing left. Maybe a little Styrofoam. The planet will be here, and we’ll be gone. Another failed mutation; another closed-end biological mistake.”
“Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.”
“I do this real moron thing, and it’s called thinking. And apparently I’m not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions.”
“Atheism is a non-prophet organization.”
“I’ve begun worshipping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, and a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to ‘God’ are all answered at about the same 50% rate.”
“Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” “When you’re born into this world, you’re given a ticket to the freak show. If you’re born in America you get a front row seat.”
Musings in Winter: Anthony Liccione
“I don’t know what’s worse by number in America, the vacant houses standing, or the homeless people falling into them.”
A Second Poem for Today
“The Street of Broken Dreams”
By Minnie Bruce Pratt
The dog lunged at me and choked on its chain
guarding a house on the street of broken dreams.
What does it take to be safe? A sun-porch window
barred shut with a wood-spooled bed frame. Fradon
lock store down the block, a giant curlicue key
advertising sleep all night, sweet dreams. A bumble-
bee in the clover fumbling to find its damp-dirt home.
No way to tell who owns my neighborhood homes
until the for-sale-by-bank signs grow overnight,
and of course there’s the bank at James and Lodi
with the blue light, CHASE, that stays on 24/7.
On my street some people harrow a vacant lot,
green turned under into small rows, they harvest
weathered rocks and pile those up in the corner.
In another city, some foreclosed people got so angry
the big finance company had to hide its sign, AIG.
The people were so angry. That makes me feel more
safe, the people come out of their houses to shout:
“We demand.” Not rabble and rabid, not shadow, not terror,
the neighbors stand and say: “The world is ours, ours, ours.”
British Art – Jake Wood-Evans
In the words of one writer, “Mixing the two worlds of classical and contemporary art, Jake’s oil paintings range from small, sensitive studies to large scale, epic canvasses. With his loose, instinctive use of paint he creates dark, ethereal works which capture imaginations, and provoke emotions, whilst at the same time being both unsettling and beautiful.”
Musings in Winter: Ruth Stout
“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you ….. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”
A Third Poem for Today
“A Few Surprising Turns”
By Ira Sadoff
A few surprising turns follow us everywhere.
I was shopping for something to replace
what I once felt. Weren’t there buildings there
where we once lived, fully furnished
and looking out on the sea? Didn’t we distill
from neighbors the necessary codes
and gestures? At the core we were all traipse
and meander, governed by fill in the blank.
But it was here, the ramshackle Cape Cod
with rattling shutters eaten away
then revived, mended and painted over.
It takes just a scent of sea spray
to bring back the once was: skimpy,
the bikini, the beach, the conversation,
the veil of summer, skimpy the engine
that chugs toward love, skimpy the cover
of the universe. Thanks to this fragrance
we can sit under our favorite cedar,
or picture the old dreaded barber shop.
Now I want my hair touched, and my cheek.
I want the salt rubbed out with a handkerchief.
Musings in Winter: David Goodis
“Winter was gray and mean upon the city and every night was a package of cold bleak hours, like the hours in a cell that had no door.”
Iranian Art – Iman Maleki
In the words of one writer, “Iman Maleki paintings are known for its realistic touch that contributes to the line of photo-realistic paintings. Iman is an Iranian artist who was born on 1976 in Tehran. During his childhood days, he showed amazing interest on art. He started learning painting at the age of 15 under the great realist painter Morteza Katouzian.
He completed his graduation in Graphic Design from the Tehran Art university. He established his own studio named ARA painting studio and started to teach painting. Iman participated in different realistic exhibitions and received William Bouguereau award in 2005.”
Musings in Winter: Donna Lynn Hope
“Joy – in the fall, winter, and always in the mountains where people are few, wildlife is abundant and there is peace in the quiet.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Sophie Cabot Black
As the leaves turn their backs on us
And the lilac gives over to dusk, nothing
Is ever certain, not even the house, stubborn
In twilight as it outlasts the grove
It was wrestled from. Those left behind,
The oak and ancient elm, lean against each other
As if in consent. Out of dirt, out of
Some small mistake, comes the seedling;
It too has learned to watch, as we walk in and out
Of what wilderness was, and will again become,
As we enter our home, the way we enter love
Returning from elsewhere to call out
Each other’s names, pulling the door closed behind us.
German Art – Christian Schoeler
Painter Christian Schoeler lives and works in Dusseldorf.
Musings in Winter: Patricia Hampl
“The cold was our pride, the snow was our beauty. It fell and fell, lacing day and night together in a milky haze, making everything quieter as it fell, so that winter seemed to partake of religion in a way no other season did, hushed, solemn.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Crooked as a Dog’s Hind Leg”
By Melissa Range
Yanking my lank hair into dog-ears,
my granny frowned at my cowlick’s
revolt against the comb, my part
looking like a dog’s shank
no matter what she did, crooked
as the dogtrot path
out the mountain county I left
with no ambitions to return,
rover-minded as my no-count granddaddy, crooking
down switchbacks that crack the earth
like the hard set of the mouth
women are born with where I’m from.
Their faces have a hundred ways to say
“Don’t go off,” “Your place is here,”
“Why won’t you settle down?”—
and I ignored them all like I was one
of their ingrate sons (jobless, thankless,
drugged up, petted to death), meandering
like a scapegrace in a ballad,
as a woman with no children likes to do,
as a woman with crooked roots knows she can.
“When you coming home?” my granny
would ask when I called, meaning “to visit”
but meaning more “to stay,”
and how could I tell her
that the creeks crisscrossing
our tumbledown ridges
are ropes trying to pull my heart straight
when it’s a crooked muscle,
its blood crashing in circles?
Why should I tell her
that since I was a mop-headed infant
and leapt out of my baby bed,
I’ve been bent on skipping
the country, glad as a chained-up hound
until I slipped my rigging?
What could I say but “I’ll be home Christmas,”
what could I hear but “That’s a long time,”
what could I do but bless
the crooked teeth in my head
and dog the roads that lead all ways
Italian Art – Elena Arcangeli
In the words of one writer, “Elena Arcangeli, born in Florence in 1972, graduated from the high school for visual arts in 1991. After studying graphic arts for a period and working in decorative painting, Ms Arcangeli enrolled in The Florence Academy of Art in 1994 and completed the painting program in 1998.”
Musings in Winter: Marty Rubin
“Winter gold: the sparrow’s footprints in the snow.”
American Art – Bonnie Sklarski
Bonnie Sklarski earned a BFA from Pratt Institute and an MFA from Brooklyn College.