AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

31 December 2010

Help.


Never worry about numbers.
Help one person at a time,
and always start with
the person nearest you.

- Mother Teresa

Thanks, Chuck.

J. Geils Band, "Jus' Can't Stop Me"

Remind.

"Nothing's perfect," sighed the fox. "My life is monotonous. I hunt chickens; people hunt me. All chickens are just alike, and all men are just alike. So I'm rather bored. But if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I'll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music. And then, look! You see the wheat fields over there? I don't eat bread. For me, wheat is no use whatever. Wheat fields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful, once you've tamed me! The wheat, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I'll love the sound of the wind in the wheat..."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Phil Keaggy, The Wind and The Wheat

True.

Leonardo, John, 1516.


The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.


- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Esperanza.


For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
- Romans 8:24-25

Happy Birthday, Matisse.

Henri Matisse, The Fall of Icarus, 1943



You study, you learn, but you guard the original naivete. It has to be within you, as desire for drink is within the drunkard or love is within the lover.
- Matisse

The BBC's Modern Masters series episodes on "The Dreamer" can be found by starting here then following the links. Don't miss this.

A great catalog of his work can be found here.

30 December 2010

Patient.


Morning Of My Life

In the morning
When the moon is at it's rest
You will find me
At the time I love the best
Watching rainbows
Play on sunlight
Pools of waters
Iced from cold night
In the morning
'Tis the morning of my life

In the daytime
I will meet you as before
You will find me
Waiting by the ocean floor
Building castles
In the shifting sands
In a world
That no one understands
In the morning
'Tis the morning of my life
'Tis the morning of my life

In the morning of my life
Ihe minutes take so long to drift away
Please be patient
With your life
It's only morning and you've still
To live your day

In the evening
I will fly you to the moon
To the top
Right hand corner of the ceiling in my room
Where we'll stay
Until the sunshines
Another day
To swing on clothes lines
May I be yawning
It's the morning of my life
It's the morning of my life

In the Morning.

27 December 2010

Thanks.

Headed back home tomorrow.


Thanks, Buff, it was fun.

More.

Michelangelo, Libyan Sybil (study), 1508


Michelangelo, Libyan Sybil, 1510


Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.
- Michelangelo

Haunting.

Jordi Savall, viola da gamba.

Check out the fiddlehead at 7:45.

Oh, to be able to stop time ...



A Cultural Offering of more old-time fiddle here.

Worthwhile.


There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live - I have no use for the sour-faced man - and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.

- Teddy Roosevelt in a talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmastime 1898

Balance.

Changes.


A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Unknown.

Russell Chatham, Valley of the Madison in Winter, 2010


My father said being an artist is the shortest road to the poor house , claiming "real" work is something you don't like. I ignored him through oppositional behavior, later reasoning that only an idiot sets out to find the poor house, not to mention devote himself to something he does not love. Instead, I discovered an interesting back road to the unknown , and deliberately without a safety net.
- Russell Chatham

Experience newly finished Chatham works here.

Wonder.

Michelangelo, The Delphic Sybil (detail), 1509


The few wonders of the world only exist while there are those with the sight to see them.
- Charles de Lint

26 December 2010

Uncharted.


I am always willing to pay the piper when I have a good dance; and every now and then I like to drink the wine of life spiked with brandy in it." These words, spoken by Theodore Roosevelt, summed up his attitude toward what he called the "strenuous life." It was a style of living he favored, both before and after serving as president of the United States. During a Brazilian jungle expedition in 1913, with his political life behind him, Roosevelt came quite close to paying "the piper" the ultimate tax -- his own life. Roosevelt came face to face with his own mortality while traversing the previously uncharted Rio da Duvida, the River of Doubt.

Read the rest here.

I received Candice Miller's The River of Doubt for Christmas. It is an account of Teddy Roosevelt's 1912 expedition to South America to chart the treacherous tributary of the Amazon for which the book is titled. As I was doing some research on the topic I came across some footage of the journey.

Part 1



Part 2

Again.


With anxious yearning now we see
That past in darkness drenched;
With this world's water never we
Shall find our hot thirst quenched:
To our old home we have to go
That blessed time again to know.


- George MacDonald, from Novalis, Hymns to the Night

Read the rest here.

Alive.

Annibale Carracci, Angel Playing The Violin, 1585


Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
-John Eldredge

Dance.


INTERVIEWER
You said earlier that one’s dream life is the foundation of art.

HARRISON
It is for everyone whether they like it or not. Or that sleeping/waking period early in the morning. Your brain has spent the night evolving a sequence of metaphors that allows you to survive the day, and sometimes it comes out in such poignant, distinctive terms.

INTERVIEWER

Hemingway spoke about stopping work when it was going well and then not thinking about it until the next day. Can you actually shut down the process at the end of the workday?

HARRISON

Not altogether successfully. You want to give it as much chance to occur as possible, but not too much. It’s similar to that Faulknerian notion that if you grovel before the muse, she’ll only kick you in the teeth. You have to court her, do little dances, all these things you do to keep right with her.

Read the rest here.

Hugh Johnson, continued.

Good morning.

Episode 5, How to store wine



Episode 6, How to tell the age of a bottle of wine



Episode 7, How to decant a bottle of wine



Episode 8, How to use port tongs



Episode 9, How to serve wine at the right temperature



Episode 10, How to choose wine in a restaurant

Experiences.


Poems are not simply emotions . . . they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and things . . . and know the gestures which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you have long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained . . .; to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel . . . and it is still not enough.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

25 December 2010

Gifts.


God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Let's think of the steeple and the gargoyle. The steeple is this beautiful thing reaching up into the sky admitting, as it were, its own inadequacy—attempting something utterly impossible-to climb up to heaven through a steeple. The gargoyle is this little man grinning and laughing at the absurd behavior of men on earth, and these two things both built into this building to the glory of God. He's laughing at the inadequacy of man the pretensions of man, the absolute preposterous gap-disparity-between his aspirations and his performance, which is the eternal comedy of human life. It will be so till the end of time you see.
- Malcolm Muggeridge

24 December 2010

Glory.

Leonardo, 1510.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

Caravaggio, 1607.

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Raphael, 1503.

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Botticelli, 1482.

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Mischief.

Hogarth, Singing Choir, 1731


I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.
-Mary Oliver

Drum roll, please.

Thanks, Veerle.

Hugh Johnson.

Ritual.

Respect.

Reason.

These tenets are central to appreciating, producing, and enjoying the art of food.

Hugh Johnson is my hero. His pamphlet, How To Enjoy Wine provided the foundation of my knowledge and appreciation of the glories of wine ... this useful education comes with a healthy dose of humor and pretension is 86ed.

I recently found episodes of a public broadcasting series that he did back in the 80s. They are fascinating. There are more to come but these are the thirst, I mean first four episodes. They'll help get the bottle open and choose a glass (if you feel the need) ... the rest is pretty simple, right?

Pour a glass (make sure to "polish it vigorously") and enjoy. Cheers.

Episode 1, Opening a bottle



Episode 2, How to extract a broken cork



Episode 3, Opening a bottle of Champagne



Episode 4, Choosing a glass

Homecoming.

Norman Rockwell, A Christmas Homecoming, 1948.


Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
- Bob Brush

Jethro Tull, "A Christmas Song"



Once in a royal David's city
Stood a lonely cattle shed,
Where a mother held her baby,
You'd do well to remember the things He later said.
When you're stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties,
You just laugh when I tell you to take a running jump;
You're missing the point I'm sure does not need making,
That Christmas spirit is not what you drink.

So how can you laugh when your own mother's hungry?
And how can you smile when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
And if I just messed up your thoughtless pleasures,
Remember, if you wish, this is just a Chrismas song.

Singing.


Shine! shine! shine!
Pour down your warmth, great Sun!
While we bask—we two together.

Two together!
Winds blow South, or winds blow North,
Day come white, or night come black,
Home, or rivers and mountains from home,
Singing all time, minding no time,
While we two keep together.


from Whitman's Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, published today in 1859.

Read the rest here.

Christmas Eve.

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, singing Once In Royal David's City.


Listen for more today.

Mistletoe.

Norman Rockwell from 1917 ...


The Druids started it. Mistletoe, a hemi-parasitic plant that grows on trees, has long been considered a cure-all with special properties: In the Aeneid, the hero brings a bough thought to be mistletoe—a symbol of vitality that remains green even in winter—to the underworld. But the earliest mention of mistletoe's romantic powers was by Roman natural historian Pliny the Elder, who scoffed at the Druids of the 1st Century A.D. for believing that "mistletoe, taken in drink, will impart fecundity to all animals that are barren." That romantic association was later expanded by the Norse myth about Baldur and his mother, Frigga, the goddess of love and marriage. According to legend, Frigga got all the plants and animals of the Earth to promise not to harm her son—except mistletoe. Loki, the god of mischief, took that opportunity to kill Baldur with a spear made of mistletoe. In some versions of the tale, Frigga's tears then turned into mistletoe berries, which brought Baldur back to life, prompting Frigga to declare mistletoe a symbol of love.

Read the rest here.

In his essay on Christmas Eve, Washington Irving vividly describes the proper setting ...
As we approached the house we heard the sound of music, and now and then a burst of laughter from one end of the building. This, Bracebridge said, must proceed from the servants' hall, where a great deal of revelry was permitted, and even encouraged, by the squire throughout the twelve days of Christmas, provided everything was done conformably to ancient usage. Here were kept up the old games of hoodman blind, shoe the wild mare, hot cockles, steal the white loaf, bob apple, and snap dragon; the Yule-clog and Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe with its white berries hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids.*

*The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.


Go on an' getchasum.

The Yule Log.


There were many regional variations on the ritual, but the English version—the one we know best—was probably the simplest. On Christmas Eve, members of the household ventured into the woods to find and cut a great tree, preferably an oak. Size was important, because the Yule log had to burn throughout the twelve days of Christmas. Once cut, the log was dragged home with much celebration. As many people as possible grabbed onto the ropes to help pull, because doing so was believed to bring good luck in the new year. Even passersby raised their hats in tribute.

The Yule log was dragged to the hearth of the great open fireplace—a common household feature in old England. The log was lit with a scrap of burned log carefully preserved from the previous year, a practice that ensured the continuity of good fortune not only from year to year, but also from generation to generation.


More here.

23 December 2010

Genuine.

William Morris, Acanthus Leaves (wallpaper detail), 1875


The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.
- William Morris

Winds.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
- William Shakespeare

A morning walk.



Trust.


Anything large enough for a wish to light upon, is large enough to hang a prayer upon.
- George MacDonald

Viktoria Mullova.

Bartok's Duos for Violin and Cello.

Eternity.


To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.

- William Blake

Fate.

van Gogh, Wheatfield Under A Cloudy Sky, 1890


It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, - is already in our bloodstream. And we don't know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can't say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.


Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final


— Rainer Maria Rilke

22 December 2010

Funk.

Happy hour will be even happier with the addition of some gems from Cypress Grove ... Midnight Moon and Humboldt Fog.

Oh dear, beloved goat's milk ..

Will.


Our life is no dream; but it ought to become one, and perhaps will.
— George MacDonald

Sunrise.

Virginia Beach.








21 December 2010

David Gilmour, "The Blue"



Shameless sea
Aimlessly so blue
Midnight-moon shines for you

Still, marooned
Silence drifting through
Nowhere to choose
Just blue...

Ceaselessly
Star-crossed you and me
Save our souls
We'll be forever blue

Waves roll
Lift us in blue
Drift us
Seep right through
And colour us blue

Wait for me
Shamelss you, the sea
Soon, the blue
So soon...

Williamsburg.

The family wandered the 300 year old streets of Williamsburg, Virginia today. The architecture was astounding and the constant smell of woodsmoke in the air made the afternoon very special.