AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

19 June 2018

Setting.

Committed.


Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:  that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no person could have dreamed would have come his or her way.  Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

Johann Wolgang von Goethe

18 June 2018

Talker.

Reed, Night Talker, n/d

Uphold.


Heroes created our nation. Uphold it, so that their fame does not become your shame.

Frederick the Great

Dark.

Chatham, Fishing the Colorado, 2000


In the midnight Arctic seas,
stained tropical rivers at dawn,
the Gulf Stream at noon,
where thin shafts of light
chisel down into the blue-black;
a small creek in evening shade
beneath willows and sycamores;
in northern rivers
where salmon lie
in deep viridian hallows.
It is always the dark water
which promises the most.

Russell Chatham

Elvis Costello, "Everyday I Write the Book"

Sing.

John Prine, "You Got Gold"

Life is a blessing, it's a delicatessen
Of all the little favors you do.
All wrapped up together no matter the weather,
Baby you always come through.
It's a measure of treasure that gives me the pleasure
Of loving you the way I do
And you know I would gladly say I need your love badly
And bring these little things to you.



It's sandwich time.

Dream.


A POEM for MY LIBRARIAN, MRS. LONG

(You never know what troubled little girl needs a book)

At a time when there was not tv before 3:00 P.M.
And on Sunday none until 5:00
We sat on the front porches watching
The jfg sign go on and off greeting
The neighbors, discussion the political
Situation congratulating the preacher
On his sermon
There was always the radio which brought us
Songs from wlac in nashville and what we would now call
Easy listening or smooth jazz but when I listened
Late at night with my portable (that I was so proud of)
Tucked under my pillow
I heard nat king cole and matt dennis, june christy and ella fitzgerald
And sometimes sarah vaughan sing black coffee
Which I now drink
It was just called music

There was a bookstore uptown on gay street
Which I visited and inhaled that wonderful odor
Of new books
Even today I read hardcover as a preference paperback only
As a last resort

And up the hill on vine street
(The main black corridor) sat our carnegie library
Mrs. Long always glad to see you
The stereoscope always ready to show you faraway
Places to dream about

Mrs. Long asking what are you looking for today
When I wanted Leaves of Grass or alfred north whitehead
She would go to the big library uptown and I now know
Hat in hand to ask to borrow so that I might borrow

Probably they said something humiliating since southern
Whites like to humiliate southern blacks

But she nonetheless brought the books
Back and I held them to my chest
Close to my heart
And happily skipped back to grandmother’s house
Where I would sit on the front porch
In a gray glider and dream of a world
Far away

I love the world where I was
I was safe and warm and grandmother gave me neck kissed
When I was on my way to bed

But there was a world
Somewhere
Out there
And Mrs. Long opened that wardrobe
But no lions or witches scared me
I went through
Knowing there would be
Spring

Nikki Giovanni

Dog.

Nest.

Peccavi.


Thus it often is with us, we take a course, and we keep to it, as if we were infallible, and we allow nothing to alter our convictions. We persuade ourselves that we are right, and we hold on our course unmoved. Death steps in: and now, when the past is irrevocable, the scales that have so long darkened our eyes, fall at once to the ground, and we see that we were wrong after all. How much cruel conduct, how many harsh words, how many little unkindnesses do we wish unspoken and undone when we look upon a dead face we have loved, or stand by the side of a new-made grave! How we wish—how we wish that we could but have the time over again! Perhaps in past times we were quite content with our own conduct; we had no doubts in our mind but that we always did what was right and kind, and that we were in every way doing our duty. But now in what a different light do right and duty appear! How we regret that we ever caused tears to flow from those dear eyes, now never to open again! Why could we not have made those small concessions which would have cost us so little, why were we so hard upon that trifling fault, why so impatient with that little failing? Ah me! Ah me! If we could but live our lives over again, how different, oh, how different it should be! And yet while we say this, we do not think that there are others yet alive upon whose faults we are just as hard, with whose failings we bear just as little, and that these, too, may some day go down into the quiet grave, and that we may again have to stand beside and cry "peccavi."

G.A. Henty

Raven.

Chatham, Raven, n/d

Excellent.

An excellent book ...

Certainly.


We must not indulge in unfavorable views of mankind, since by doing it we make bad men believe they are no worse than others, and we teach the good that they are good in vain.  Many laws as certainly make bad men, as bad men make many laws.

Walter Savage Landor

Excellent.

An excellent book ...

17 June 2018

Happy Father's Day, Pop!


Happy Father's Day to the best dad I could ever hope to have.  Love, wisdom, guidance, and infinite patience still mercifully abound.

Pictured (l-r): Uncle Fred, RCF, Sarge (Higgins Lake perch frying in cast iron on the Weber, foreground), c. 1971.

16 June 2018

Another.

Shishkin, The Forest of Countess Mordvinova, 1891


From the vast, invisible ocean of moonlight overhead fell, here and here, a slender, broken stream that seemed to plash against the intercepting branches and trickle to earth, forming small white pools among the clumps of laurel. But these leaks were few and served only to accentuate the blackness of his environment, which his imagination found it easy to people with all manner of unfamiliar shapes, menacing, uncanny, or merely grotesque.

He to whom the portentous conspiracy of night and solitude and silence in the heart of a great forest is not an unknown experience needs not to be told what another world it all is - how even the most commonplace and familiar objects take on another character. The trees group themselves differently; they draw closer together, as if in fear. The very silence has another quality than the silence of the day. And it is full of half-heard whispers, whispers that startle - ghosts of sounds long dead. There are living sounds, too, such as are never heard under other conditions: notes of strange night birds, the cries of small animals in sudden encounters with stealthy foes, or in their dreams, a rustling in the dead leaves - it may be the leap of a wood rat, it may be the footstep of a panther. What caused the breaking of that twig? What the low, alarmed twittering in that bushful of birds? There are sounds without a name, forms without substance, translations in space of objects which have not been seen to move, movements wherein nothing is observed to change its place. Ah, children of the sunlight and the gaslight, how little you know of the world in which you live!

Ambrose Bierce

Life.

Georgia O'Keeffe: A Life in Art ...

Van Morrison, "Take Me Back"

Twined.


All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.

Ah, cruel Three! In such an hour,
Beneath such dreamy weather,
To beg a tale of breath too weak
To stir the tiniest feather!
Yet what can one poor voice avail
Against three tongues together?

Imperious Prima flashes forth
Her edict to "begin it"--
In gentler tones Secunda hopes
"There will be nonsense in it"--
While Tertia interrupts the tale
Not more than once a minute.

Anon, to sudden silence won,
In fancy they pursue
The dream-child moving through a land
Of wonders wild and new,
In friendly chat with bird or beast--
And half believe it true.

And ever, as the story drained
The wells of fancy dry,
And faintly strove that weary one
To put the subject by,
"The rest next time"--"It is next time!"
The happy voices cry.

Thus grew the tale of Wonderland:
Thus slowly, one by one,
Its quaint events were hammered out--
And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun.

Alice! a childish story take,
And with a gentle hand
Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined
In Memory's mystic band,
Like pilgrim's withered wreath of flowers
Plucked in a far-off land.

Lewis Carroll

Michael Martin Murphey, "Geronimo's Cadillac"



It's sandwich time.

Happy birthday, Geronimo.


Geronimo was born on this day in 1829.

I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes. I can go everywhere with a good feeling.

Geronimo

15 June 2018

Quality.


We do not live merely to "do something" –- no matter what. Activity is just one of the normal expressions of life, and the life it expresses is all the more perfect when it sustains itself with an ordered economy of action. This order demands a wise alternation of activity and rest. We do not live more fully merely by doing more, seeing more, tasting more, and experiencing more than we ever have before. On the contrary, some of us need to discover that we will not begin to live more fully until we have the courage to do and see and taste and experience much less than usual.

Our being is not to be enriched merely by activity or experience as such. Everything depends on the *quality* of our acts and our experiences. A multitude of badly performed actions and of experiences only half lived exhausts and depletes our being. By doing things badly we make ourselves less real. This growing unreality cannot help but make us unhappy and fill us with a sense of guilt. But the purity of our conscience has a natural proportion with the depth of our being and the quality of our acts: and when our activity is habitually disordered, our malformed conscience can think of nothing better to tell us than to multiply the *quantity* of our acts, without perfecting their quality. And so we go from bad to worse, exhaust ourselves, empty our whole life of all content, and fall into despair.

There are times then when in order to keep ourselves in existence at all we simply have to sit back for a while and do nothing. And for a man who has let himself be drawn completely out of himself by his activity, nothing is more difficult than to sit still and rest, doing nothing at all. The very act of resting is the hardest and most courageous act he can perform: and often it is quite beyond his power.

We must first recover the possession of our own being before we can act wisely or taste any experience in its human reality.

Thomas Merton

Merle Haggard, "Take Me Back to Tulsa"

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Unfinished.

Chatham, Spring Creek, 1995


These days between late spring
and early summer are like paintings
already hanging but not yet finished
[…] still waiting for their final touches
and smelling of linseed and turpentine:
everything fresh, the paint still wet,
the taut sky primed with a wash of blue.
The Siberian irises, not yet
unfurling, their buds still tight,
look like paintbrushes saturated
with ultramarine; buttercups
spatter the meadow with yellow.
From an arbor of scribbled vines,
blossom-clusters of wisteria
dangle, glistening with last night’s rain.
A wood thrush calls in liquid trills
from deep within the background’s
mass of pale, soft greens. The air
chills while the sun warms the scene.
May these days remain unfinished
a while longer, with no artist
jostling his way in
to apply some final flourish
or a coat of varnish that will
only darken. Let the bumblebee
fumble among the blossoms.

Jeffrey Harrison

14 June 2018

R.E.M., "Fireplace"

Crazy crazy world crazy crazy times
Crazy crazy world crazy crazy times
Hang up your chairs to better sweep
Clear the floor to dance
Shake the rug into the fireplace

Crazy crazy world crazy crazy times
Crazy crazy world crazy crazy times
Hang up your chairs to better sweep
Clear the floor to dance
Sweep the floor into the fireplace

Hang up your chairs to better sweep
Clear the floor to dance
Throw the chairs into the fireplace

Hang up your chairs to better sweep
Clear the floor to dance
Throw the walls into the fireplace

Mukwa

Beard, The Bear Dance, 1870


The gypsies believe the bear to be a brother to man because he has the same body beneath his hide, because he drinks beer, because he enjoys music and because he likes to dance.

Ernest Hemingway

Mukwa ... bear medicine.

Mozart, Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, K.219

Isaac Stern performs with the Radio France Chamber Orchestra, Alexander Schneider conducting ...



It's sandwich time.

Carry.


Come, let me sing into your ear;
Those dancing days are gone,
All that silk and satin gear;
Crouch upon a stone,
Wrapping that foul body up
In as foul a rag:
I carry the sun in a golden cup.
The moon in a silver bag.

Curse as you may I sing it through;
What matter if the knave
That the most could pleasure you,
The children that he gave,
Are somewhere sleeping like a top
Under a marble flag?
I carry the sun in a golden cup.
The moon in a silver bag.

I thought it out this very day.
Noon upon the clock,
A man may put pretence away
Who leans upon a stick,
May sing, and sing until he drop,
Whether to maid or hag:
I carry the sun in a golden cup,
The moon in a silver bag.

W.B. Yeats

Hang.


GRATITUDE to the UNKNOWN INSTRUCTORS

What they undertook to do
They brought to pass;
All things hang like a drop of dew
Upon a blade of grass.

W.B. Yeats