From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXXXVI

Musings in Winter: Pablo Neruda

“I am a book of snow,
a spacious hand, an open meadow,
a circle that awaits,
I belong to the earth and its winter.”

A Poem for Today

“Living in Numbers”
By Claire Lee

Sunday, August 22, 2010:
Number of times I’ve woken up after
oversleeping and sprung out of bed like a ninja: 959
Number of broken bones: 3
Number of scars, physical: 4; emotional: 947
Number of funerals attended: 7
Number of friends, Facebook: 744, real: 9
Number of cavities filled: 0

Percentage of people I can stand in the world: 3.5
Number of times I’ve laughed so hard my sides would bruise: 2,972
Number of times I’ve wanted to bawl my eyes out: 320
Number of things I regret: 11
Number of things I know: 918,394

Monday, August 23, 2010:
Number of times I’ve woken up after oversleeping and sprung out of bed like a ninja: 960
Number of broken bones: 3
Number of scars, physical: 4; emotional: 1,293
Number of funerals attended: 7
Number of friends, Facebook: 800, real: 7
Number of cavities filled: 0

Percentage of people I can stand in the world: 3.4
Number of times I’ve laughed so hard my sides would bruise: 2,973
Number of times I’ve wanted to bawl my eyes out: 321
Number of things I regret: 13
Number of things I know: 918,390

Art for Winter – Part I of II: Michael Lewis (American, contemporary)

Below – “Shadows #3”

Musings in Winter: Glenn Gould

“I always assumed everybody shared my love for overcast skies. It came as a shock to find out that some people prefer sunshine.”

A Second Poem for Today

“Instructions on Damaging the Monster’s Cloak of Invisibility”
By Bradley Paul

Grendel appears as a wolf in the kitchen
Grendel appears as a shark
beneath the dining room floor
Grendel appears as a monster named Grendel

Might I have some money? asks a man
and you turn: is this the monster?
Here, says a nun, let’s watch TV together
I knew and liked your mother

Grendel Grendel Grendel
you say
cowering in the dream of the shark
that cowers inside the dream of the wolf
Say his name enough and
it sits like snow
on a chain link fence
not so invisible now

Musings in Winter: Shinji Moon

“You will fall in love with train rides, and sooner or later you will
realize that nowhere seems like home anymore.”

Art for Winter – Part II of II: Ted Lindenmuth (American, 1885-1976)

Below – “Along the Shore”

Musings in Winter: Wendell Berry

“No settled family or community has ever called its home place an “environment.” None has ever called its feeling for its home place “biocentric” or “anthropocentric.” None has ever thought of its connection to its home place as “ecological,” deep or shallow. The concepts and insights of the ecologists are of great usefulness in our predicament, and we can hardly escape the need to speak of “ecology” and “ecosystems.” But the terms themselves are culturally sterile. They come from the juiceless, abstract intellectuality of the universities which was invented to disconnect, displace, and disembody the mind. The real names of the environment are the names of rivers and river valleys; creeks, ridges, and mountains; towns and cities; lakes, woodlands, lanes roads, creatures, and people.
And the real name of our connection to this everywhere different and differently named earth is “work.” We are connected by work even to the places where we don’t work, for all places are connected; it is clear by now that we cannot exempt one place from our ruin of another. The name of our proper connection to the earth is “good work,” for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing. Good work is always modestly scaled, for it cannot ignore either the nature of individual places or the differences between places, and it always involves a sort of religious humility, for not everything is known. Good work can be defined only in particularity, for it must be defined a little differently for every one of the places and every one of the workers on the earth.
The name of our present society’s connection to the earth is “bad work” – work that is only generally and crudely defined, that enacts a dependence that is ill understood, that enacts no affection and gives no honor. Every one of us is to some extent guilty of this bad work. This guilt does not mean that we must indulge in a lot of breast-beating and confession; it means only that there is much good work to be done by every one of us and that we must begin to do it.”

A Third Poem for Today

“The Escape”
By Mark Halperin

Amused when she asks, “is your wife Jewish?” and,
because it’s easier, because I don’t
want to think, I answer yes. It’s the first time.
Later, a pushy man wants to know my
son’s birthday. Confused, I make him younger
and the shift of dates feels so natural

I let it stand. Then it’s happening with family
names, with where I work, how long, with
whom—minor changes in my ‘vita,’ small alterations,
other lives, one variant for this person,
another for that, as though I were picking out
ballpoint pens or books, rummaging for

keep-sakes to give away, a different self to
each, each time. Months pass before I
catch on too and admit I’ve done what I did out of
caution, an attempt to screen the self,
erase the scent, obscure the trail with a series
of dead-ends until no one could thread

a way ahead through those dense thickets back to
me, reeking of fear. what did I think I
had worth hiding and who was I trying to deceive?
Tell me: surrounded by those casual lies
fabricating with disarming aplomb, why didn’t I ask
whose escape I imagined I was fashioning?

Musings in Winter: Katherine Rundell

“Wolves, and stars, and snow: Those things made sense.”

Japanese Art – Keita Morimoto

Painter Keita Morimoto (born 1990) earned a BFA degree from OCAD University.

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”

French Art – Part I of II: Bernard Lamotte (1903-1983)

In the words of one writer, “A typical example of the self-made painter, Bernard Lamotte never sought any other avenue in life but that of artistic creation. From his earliest childhood, he ignored traditional games in favor of pencil and paper. A fall down a staircase at age sixteen left him bedridden for two years, which he spent at his window, observing and recording the ever-changing atmosphere of the Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré. Like Toulouse-Lautrec, Lamotte’s physical limitation opened his vision; he developed a keen memory and ability to evoke a story from the most commonplace scenes, assets which served him for the rest of his life.”

Below – “Autumn in Paris”; “Boats on River”; “Gypsies, Greece”; “Bay of Naples”; “Preparing Dinner”; “Child in Garden.”

Musings in Winter: Margaret Atwood

“The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Left-Handed Sugar”
By Jane Hirshfield

In nature, molecules are chiral—they turn in one direction or the other. Naturally then, someone wondered: might sugar, built to mirror itself, be sweet, but pass through the body unnoticed? A dieters’ gold mine. I don’t know why the experiment failed, or how. I think of the loneliness of that man-made substance, like a ghost in a ‘50s movie you could pass your hand through, or some suitor always rejected despite the sparkle of his cubic zirconia ring. Yet this sugar is real, and somewhere exists. It looks for a left-handed tongue.

French Art – Part II of II: Julien Spianti

Painter Julien Spianti (born 1982) earned a Master Degree in Philosophy and Aesthetics from the Sorbonne in 2005.

Musings in Winter: Josh Gates

“Travel does not exist without home….If we never return to the place we started, we would just be wandering, lost. Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world.”

A Fifth Poem for Today

“What Is the Difference”
By Laurie Sheck

Stein asked what is the difference. She did not ask what is the sameness. Did not ask what like is. Or proximity.  Resemblance. Did not ask what child of what patriarch what height what depth didn’t use a question mark but still wondered at the difference what mutinies it carries over what vast Arctic what far shore.

What is the difference between blind and bond. Between desk and red. Between capsize and sail. Between commodity and question. A lively thing, a fractured thing. To smile at the difference.

(Such gray clouds passing over. Thick, wet sky.)

What is the difference between mutiny and dust. Between noose and edge. Between brittle and obey.

Between shunned and stun. What is the difference.

As now, Mary Shelley’s monster flees to the north, his sack of books his lone companions.

Musings in Winter: A.D. Posey

“Close your eyes. Hear the silent snow. Listen to your soul speak.”

American Art – Part I of II: Zacheriah Kramer

Painter Zacheriah Kramer lives and works in Colorado.

Musings in Winter: Ann Zwinger

“The sky is a meadow of wildstar flowers.”

American Art – Part II of II: Dorothy Churchill-Johnson

Artist Statement: “I call my paintings visual haiku after the Japanese poetic tradition of observing nature ‘ferociously’ until substance gives way to spirit. Like haiku, they are meant to represent moments of heightened awareness and existential beauty. I feel that focusing lavish attention on the mundane often elevates it to the sublime. Objects become complex in proportion to the attention one pays them.
I’ve used selected natural objects, exaggerated them, and isolated them in an otherworldly landscape, thus creating a realm of virtual reality. Looking at the paintings it is difficult to judge with certainty, the exact spatial relationships between the background and foreground. The physical perspectives are destabilizing, asking the viewer, in their momentary disorientation, to imagine a world governed by laws other than those we deem universal. For me, they evoke an alternative world, composed of imaginary elements and odd juxtapositions, and a sense of being an isolated consciousness in a beautiful, uninhabited universe which is chillingly indifferent to individuals.”

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