IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN?

Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can always be a challenge. Here are 10 new items from my end.

~*~

  1. Hard to think Christmas is so near. It’s just not in the air, at least for me, despite the bell ringers and carols around the stores. But then I’m often off on another planet.
  2. I always intend to put up our outdoor Christmas lights while it’s still warm. Rather than freezing my fingers.
  3. I’ve long said if she would only dance, she’d be perfect. OK, there are few other details I’d add, all these years later. Learning to read music, for one.
  4. Another old fear? If you get to know me, you won’t like me. Or maybe: You won’t like what you find. (That muscular reaction when someone gets too physically close in a conversation.
  5. I seldom I feel myself fitting in – in a crowd, an audience, a group, a family.
  6. NOT THE USUAL … one of my strictures in my desire not to repeat myself in blogging. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Not that I usually remember.
  7. I miss being able to get the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on local radio. These days I have to listen on my laptop or cell phone. Just ain’t the same.
  8. In a depression.: Do I really LIKE anyone? Being with them? Am I having ANY fun?
  9. Well, I am drinking Virgin Marys during Advent. (Cheers in the morning!)
  10. You were supposed to save me.

~*~

Yes, light snow counts.
Yes, light snow counts. We know what just might be really ahead.
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WHAT’S IN THE WIND

Just a taste of what’s popping up. In case you were looking for a prompt.

~*~

  1. My wife can’t resist an opportunity to make a holiday feast, and that means planning ahead. (Somehow the menu keeps growing, enough to feed twice as many guests as we have.) I’m impressed by the checklists she makes, too, to keep herself on track. Three days ahead – or more – the work actually begins. And then there’s the last-minute shopping for anything she wants to be fresh.
  2. Juncos and jays. Rituals and routines. Manners and mores.
  3. No matter my affinity, I never would have been comfortable in the Society of Friends in any of the earlier eras. I always would have chafed at the limitations and discipline. Nor, for that matter, do I see anywhere I would have fit in neatly. (We could start with my interior “fort” surrounding my emotions, despite my public interactions. Or my Aquarian/contrarian nature.) Well, the Mavericks have roots in Boston Harbor. Look ’em up. Doubt I’d fit in there, either.
  4. Opening my car door at the Nubble Lighthouse, I’m nearly knocked over by cold wind. Sustained, more than gusting. Barely a mile inland, only a mild breeze. This strange sensation of having my nostrils blown shut (or at least constrained): to breathe, I have to turn my back to the wind, a first in my experience. Make you wonder about sailors at sea?
  5. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, Mary is a temple of God that surpasses the one in Jerusalem. Within her, the Light or Logos becomes incarnate. The nuances are quite different from what I’ve heard in Western Christian teaching. How much else have I missed? I’m certainly invigorated by the sharp contrast to our austere Quaker aesthetic. I love the extremes.
  6. Launching this blog, as the horoscope said, came in my year to come out of hiding.
  7. In contrast to any sense of guilt or some shame or impoverishment: LOOK AT ALL THESE RICHES! Even the matters of what’s unfinished or undone, now turned to opportunity.
  8. A sense of progress, too.
  9. What do I really want? To be accepted and loved, without feeling pain? Certainly there’s more.
  10. What holds your life together?

~*~

I really should bring our bay trees and pots of rosemary indoors any day now. Yes, they can stand light snow or frost, but deep cold's another matter altogether. And we do like having fresh herbs at hand all winter.
I really should bring our bay trees and pots of rosemary indoors any day now. Yes, they can stand light snow or frost, but deep cold’s another matter altogether. And we do like having fresh herbs at hand all winter.

SAGELY, SAGGITARIUS

Why wait for the dust to settle? Here are 10 bullets from my end.

~*~

  1. Crows – dozens upon dozens – all over town, roosting together somewhere. Rook, as they say.
  2. Late afternoon driving: so much glare, not just the low sun, either, but blazing up in reflections. Wet pavement or a waterway I’m crossing.
  3. Midnight here now really fits around 10:30, unlike 12 in the summer, calculating midway from sunset to sunrise.
  4. Cranberries, so quintessentially New England, remind me of driving to Cape Cod and passing all the bogs where they’re grown.
  5. When it comes to Friends, we need new blood.
  6. Eastern Orthodox Advent starts on the 28th and continues to the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6 or 7, not our more widespread Christmas Day! Since we’re taking this up voluntarily, rather than under church discipline, we make some adaptations. Thanksgiving, for one, and ending Advent on Dec. 25, for another. Does it make us look like wimps?
  7. Poetry as a heroic journey. Holy, my voice. Or gritty.
  8. Where am I NOW? Where’s my HEART?
  9. Good to be reminded of ACTIVE WAITING, especially through periods when you feel suspended, on hold until others make a decision or act or all the pieces to fall into place. Drawing from James Nayler, Brian Drayton sees a sequence in spiritual response. The waiting prompts a response, which requires prompt obedience. Next is suffering, perhaps as embarrassment or upheaval. And then public witness – telling others, even if only in a small circle. Throughout, small steps count, however tentative.
  10. How much of being a public figure is a matter of being a performer, too – someone who needs a circle of fans?

~*~

It's always an honor for our choir to perform a set for the lighting of the huge Christmas tree at Faneuil Hall in Boston. The 80-foot tree is an annual gift from Halifax, Nova Scotia, expressing gratitude for relief given its citizens after the 1917 harabor explosion that killed an estimated 2,000 people. The tree is adorned with 30,000 lights.
It’s always an honor for our choir to perform a set for the lighting of the huge Christmas tree at Faneuil Hall in Boston. The 80-foot tree is an annual gift from Halifax, Nova Scotia, expressing gratitude for relief given its citizens after the 1917 harabor explosion that killed an estimated 2,000 people. The tree is adorned with 30,000 lights. Here’s the stage before we make our entrance.

A MISCELLANEOUS TENDRIL OF LITERARY ADVICE

Why wait for the dust to settle? Here are 10 bullets from my end.

~*~

  1. De-racinated, “no root system,” a criticism Tony Hoagland makes regarding so much contemporary American poetry. Also, he notes our fiction is far less diversified than our poetry, in its many tribes.
  2. Don’t know who described Franz Wright as not a formal poet yet “the structure of his poems develop organically, driven by music, rhythm, and symmetry.” Not a bad model!
  3. For that matter, who wrote, “Their humor often depends on a single word: in fact the whole laugh can rest on a single word choice,” before quoting Mark Twain: “The difference between any word and the ‘right’ word is the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.”
  4. TONE as the angle of sensibility toward the subject. Looking, too, for the fractional element – the bit that counters the previous.
  5. As far as the persona of the writer, think of that time before World War II and the larger-than-life characters who were largely self-created: the conductor Leopold Stokowski or movie star Cary Grant as examples who wound up as caricatures of themselves, or at least strangers. It was, after all, a Sol Hurok era. As for our own obsession with “celebrities” rather than “doers”?
  6. Czeslow Milosz: “The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person.”
  7. Denise Levertov corresponding with William Carlos Williams: “I have been honest in what I’ve written – but with what hypocrisy I have selected what I wrote!”
  8. To which Williams replied: “You know yourself better than anyone else can ever know you. … Perhaps you will never be able to say what you want to say … deep feeling that would reveal you in what may not want to be revealed … In that case, the loss will be great.”
  9. John Berryman: “You should always be trying to write a poem you are unable to write, a poem you lack the technique, the language, the courage to achieve. Otherwise, you’re merely imitating yourself, going nowhere, because that’s always easiest.”
  10. “And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey” (Joshua 9:13, KJV).

~*~

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Boston Public Library, left, faces Copley Square in Boston’s Back Bay. How many other landmarks, by the way, can you name that give honor to an American painter? At the right is the 1873 Venetian Gothic Revival style Old South Church. They are seen here from the steps of famed Trinity Church, whose shadow reaches across the green.

 

TURKEY TALK, TOO

The mind dances here and there, rarely in a linear progression. So what’s in my thoughts these days? How about counting on these fingers?

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  1. While driving through town, I glance over at a small cemetery and notice wild turkeys padding about. A whole flock, actually, reminding me of hunting season hereabouts and the national holiday just ahead. Somehow, the critters know the calendar, and the wiser ones find sanctuary in town. Good luck to the rest of their brood.
  2. With the return of cold weather, we once again use our front entryway and the mudroom beside the kitchen as auxiliary refrigerators. Don’t trip over the pots and pans when you visit.
  3. When it comes to problems, focus on what’s closest, rather than always on the horizon. (The view from Mount Aquarius.)
  4. It’s all New Work, in the works.
  5. After all the lost or difficult years, the dashed dreams and desires, broken promises, upheavals – mingled, curiously, with gratitude. I’M HERE!
  6. What never happened – and then?
  7. Asked how long they’d lived there, in an American Walden, the artist replied: “Too long!”
  8. Could the text be made simpler, rather than wildly reaching?
  9. It’s better to know, even if it’s bad news, than to be left hanging in limbo
  10. We keep trying to find a good system for storing our leeks through the winter. We’re very open to suggestions.

~*~

A mid-afternoon view of the Cocheco River running through Dover carries a forewarning of winter.
A mid-afternoon view of the Cocheco River running through Dover carries a forewarning of winter.