Beleaguered in Bothell – 24 December 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: I accidentally discovered this photograph during an internet search for Christmas presents. It is not a hint of any kind to any person whatsoever. Really.

Sucking Up to Santa – Part I of III: Thomm Quackenbush

“Santa is like a queen bee. All the elves are his drones, who exist to feed him royal jelly, which I guess would be milk and cookies. If an elf escapes and eats royal cookies, it will turn into another Santa. That’s what all those mall Santas are. They’re trying to start their own festive colonies.”

Seasonal Musings: Mark Spragg

“I am fond of the sound of horses in the night. The lifting of feet. Stamping. The clicking of their iron shoes against rock. They mouth one anothers withers and rear and squeal and whirl and shuffle and cough and stand and snort. There is the combined rumblings of each individual gut. They sound larger than they are. The air tastes of horses, ripples as though come alive with their good-hearted strength and stamina.”

Below – John Nieto: “Night Ride”

Last Minute Gift Ideas – Part I of III

“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom.” – Helen Thompson

Seasonal Art – Part I of V: Ed Wheeler

Below – “The Birth of Venus”

For Your Information: 24 December is National Eggnog Day in the United States.

A Poem for Christmas Eve

“The Oxen”
By Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Below – Charles Coleman: “Oxen in Stable”

Sucking Up to Santa – Part II of III: Jon Bon Jovi

“Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?”

Seasonal Musings: Alice Walker

“Horses make a landscape look beautiful.”

Last Minute Gift Ideas – Part II of III

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.” – William Shakespeare

Seasonal Art – Part II of V: Ed Wheeler

Below – “Nymphs and Satyr”

A Second Poem for Christmas Eve

“A Blessing”
By James Wright

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

Sucking Up to Santa – Part III of III: Alton Thompson

“The three phases of Santa belief:
(1) Santa is real.
(2) Santa isn’t real.
(3) Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

Seasonal Musings: Alan J. Hamilton

“I was drawn to horses as if they were magnets. It was in my blood. I must have inherited from my grandfather a genetic proclivity toward the equine species. Perhaps there’s a quirk in the DNA that makes horse people different from everyone else, that instantly divides humanity into those who love horses and the others, who simply don’t know.”

Last Minute Gift Ideas – Part III of III

“Horses change lives. They give out young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls, they give us hope.” – Toni Robinson

Seasonal Art – Part III of V: Ed Wheeler

Below – “The Gulf Stream”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 24 December 1822 – Matthew Arnold, a British poet and cultural critic.

“Dover Beach”
By Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

This Date in Art History: Born 24 December 1877 – Sigrid Schauman, a Finnish painter and critic.

Below – “Trees”; “Road by the Shore”; “Summer View”; “Motif from the Park”; “Model”; “Shore Landscape.”

Seasonal Art – Part IV of V: Ed Wheeler

Below – “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe”

Remembering a Nobel Laureate on the Date of His Death: Died 24 December 2008 – Harold Pinter, English playwright, screenwriter, director, actor, and recipient of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Harold Pinter:

“You wouldn’t understand my works. You wouldn’t have the faintest idea of what they were about. You wouldn’t appreciate the points of reference. You’re way behind. All of you. There’s no point in sending you my works. You’d be lost. It’s nothing to do with a question of intelligence. It’s a way of being able to look at the world. It’s a question of how far you can operate on things and not in things. I mean it’s a question of your capacity to ally the two, to relate the two, to balance the two. To see, to be able to see! I’m the one who can see. That’s why I can write my critical works. Might do you good…have a look at them…see how certain people can view…things…how certain people can maintain…intellectual equilibrium. Intellectual equilibrium. You’re just objects. You just…move about. I can observe it. I can see what you do. It’s the same as I do. But you’re lost in it. You won’t get me being…I won’t be lost in it.”
“One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.”
“There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened.”
“I think we communicate only too well, in our silence, in what is unsaid, and that what takes place is a continual evasion, desperate rearguard attempts to keep ourselves to ourselves. Communication is too alarming. To enter into someone else’s life is too frightening. To disclose to others the poverty within us is too fearsome a possibility.”
“It’s very difficult to feel contempt for others when you see yourself in the mirror.”
“The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law.”
“I’ll tell you what I really think about politicians. The other night I watched some politicians on television talking about Vietnam. I wanted very much to burst through the screen with a flame thrower and burn their eyes out and their balls off and then inquire from them how they would assess the action from a political point of view.”
“The past is what you remember, imagine you remember, convince yourself you remember, or pretend you remember.”

Seasonal Art – Part V of V: Ed Wheeler

Below – “Nighthawks”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 24 December 1950 – Dana Gioia, an American poet and critic.

“Thanks For Remembering Us”
By Dana Gioia

The flowers sent here by mistake,
signed with a name that no one knew,
are turning bad. What shall we do?
Our neighbor says they’re not for her,
and no one has a birthday near.
We should thank someone for the blunder.
Is one of us having an affair?
At first we laugh, and then we wonder.

The iris was the first to die,
enshrouded in its sickly-sweet
and lingering perfume. The roses
fell one petal at a time,
and now the ferns are turning dry.
The room smells like a funeral,
but there they sit, too much at home,
accusing us of some small crime,
like love forgotten, and we can’t
throw out a gift we’ve never owned.

This Date in Art History: Born 24 December 1885 – Paul Manship, an American sculptor.

Below – “Prometheus” (Rockefeller Center); “Dancer and Gazelles”; “Diana”; “Europa and the Bull”; “Day”; “Evening.”

Season’s Greetings, My Friends.

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