AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

01 December 2021

Bah.

Rule.


Whatever the circumstances may be, always put the Invisible before the visible, the Supernatural before the natural; if this rule is applied to all your actions, know that you will be equipped with strength and bathed with deep joy.

Léon Bloy 

Excellent.

An excellent albums ...

Pleasures.

Wyeth, Brandywine in Winter, 1943


DECEMBER

While snow the window-panes bedim,
The fire curls up a sunny charm,
Where, creaming o'er the pitcher's rim,
The flowering ale is set to warm;
Mirth, full of joy as summer bees,
Sits there, its pleasures to impart,
And children, 'tween their parent's knees,
Sing scraps of carols o'er by heart.

And some, to view the winter weathers,
Climb up the window-seat with glee,
Likening the snow to falling feathers,
In fancy infant ecstasy;
Laughing, with superstitious love,
O'er visions wild that youth supplies,
Of people pulling geese above,
And keeping Christmas in the skies.

As tho' the homestead trees were drest,
In lieu of snow, with dancing leaves,
As tho' the sun-dried martin's nest,
Instead of ickles, hung the eaves,
The children hail the happy day -
As if the snow were April's grass,
And pleas'd, as 'neath the warmth of May,
Sport o'er the water froze as glass.

John Clare

30 November 2021

Existence.


If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon, but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.

Ulysses S. Grant

Curiosity.


To surround anything, however monstrous or ridiculous, with an air of mystery, is to invest it with a secret charm, and power of attraction which to the crowd is irresistible. False priests, false prophets, false doctors, false patriots, false prodigies of every kind, veiling their proceedings in mystery, have always addressed themselves at an immense advantage to the popular credulity, and have been, perhaps, more indebted to that resource in gaining and keeping for a time the upper hand of Truth and Common Sense, than to any half-dozen items in the whole catalogue of imposture. Curiosity is, and has been from the creation of the world, a master-passion. To awaken it, to gratify it by slight degrees, and yet leave something always in suspense, is to establish the surest hold that can be had, in wrong, on the unthinking portion of mankind.

Charles Dickens

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Happy Birthday, Palladio



Andrea Palladio was born on this date in 1508.

Beauty will result from the form and the correspondence of the whole, with respect to the several parts, of the parts with regard to each other, and of these again to the whole; that the structure may appear an entire and complete body, wherein each member agrees with the other, and all necessary to compose what you intend to form.

Andrea Palladio

PALLADIO: The Architect and His Influence in America ...

Excellent.

An excellent book ...

Presence.


I know about the despair of overcoming chronic temptation. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience, etc. don’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence. 

C.S. Lewis

Happy Birthday, Churchill


Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.

Sir Winston Churchill, born on this day in 1874.

29 November 2021

Happy Birthday, Lewis


C.S. Lewis was born on this day in 1898.

In those days a boy on the classical side officially did almost nothing but classics. I think this was wise; the greatest service we can do to education today is to teach fewer subjects. No one has time to do more than a very few things well before he is twenty, and when we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects we destroy his standards, perhaps for life. Smewgy taught us Latin and Greek, but everything else came in incidentally. The books I liked best under his teaching were Horace’s Odes, Aeneid IV, and Euripides’ Bacchae. I had always in one sense "liked" my classical work, but hitherto this had been the pleasure that everyone feels in mastering a craft. Now I tasted the classics as poetry.

C.S. Lewis

Surprised by Joy ...

28 November 2021

Always.


History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this? The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour.

Sir Winston Churchill

Genesis, "Firth of Fifth"

Best.

Wyeth, N. C., Nathan Hale, 1922


I find the earliest years of my life are the source of my best inspiration. 

N. C. Wyeth

Happy Birthday, Blake

Blake, Self-Portrait, 1802


William Blake was born on this day in 1757.

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise

William Blake

26 November 2021

Gordon Lightfoot, "Blackberry Wine"

There's a south wind risin' and
The moon shines on my window sill
I've got a feeling I might walk on over the hill
I'm bent but not broken, all I need is some rest
And a bottle of your very best
Blackberry wine

I love this guy ...

Learn.

Undissected.


It is precisely the colouring, the atmosphere, the unclassifiable individual details of a story, and above all the general purport that informs with life the undissected bones of the plot, that really count.

J.R.R. Tolkien

25 November 2021

Happy Birthday, Desmond


Paul Desmond was born on this day in 1924.
I think I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted it to sound like a dry martini. 

Paul Desmond
Desmond with the Dave Brubeck Quartet performing "Audrey" and "Stomping for Mili" ...

Evacuation.


Today is Evacuation Day ...
On this day 1783, nearly three months after the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the American Revolution, the last British soldiers withdraw from New York City, their last military position in the United States. After the last Red Coat departed New York, Patriot General George Washington entered the city in triumph to the cheers of New Yorkers. The city was captured by the British in September 1776 and remained in their hands until 1783. Four months after New York was returned to the victorious Patriots, the city was declared to be the capital of the United States. It was the site in 1789 of Washington’s inauguration as the first U.S. president and remained the nation’s capital until 1790, when Philadelphia became the second capital of the United States under the U.S. Constitution.

Thanks to THIS DAY IN U.S. MILITARY HISTORY

'Commodate.


WHEN the FROST is on the PUNKIN

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me—
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

James Whitcomb Riley

Determined.


I had made up my mind to find that for which I was searching even if it required the remainder of my life. After innumerable failures I finally uncovered the principle for which I was searching, and I was astounded at its simplicity. I was still more astounded to discover the principle I had revealed not only beneficial in the construction of a mechanical hearing aid but it served as well as means of sending the sound of the voice over a wire. Another discovery which came out of my investigation was the fact that when a man gives his order to produce a definite result and stands by that order it seems to have the effect of giving him what might be termed a second sight which enables him to see right through ordinary problems. What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.

Alexander Graham Bell

Excellent.

An excellent album ...


A treasured gift from my friend, Kurt, this collection has become a Thanksgiving tradition.

Answerable.


Let it not grieve you that you have been instruments to break the ice for others, who come after with less difficulty; the honor shall be yours to the world's end.  All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both met and overcome with answerable courage. 

William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation

PBS' masterpiece, The Pilgrims is HERE.

Always.


Remember always that you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.  We look for a younger generation that is going to be more American than we are. We are doing the best that we can and yet we can do better than that, we can do more than that, by inculcating in the boys and girls of this country today some of the underlying fundamentals, the reasons that brought our immigrant ancestors to this country, the reasons that impelled our Revolutionary ancestors to throw off a fascist yoke.

Frankin Delano Roosevelt, from his April 21, 1938 address to the Daughters of the American Revolution

24 November 2021

Best.

A-Crackling.

Schutler after Durrie, Home to Thanksgiving, 1867


THANKSGIVING TIME

When the night winds whistle through the trees and blow the crisp brown leaves a-crackling down,
When the autumn moon is big and yellow-orange and round,
When old Jack Frost is sparkling on the ground,
It's Thanksgiving Time!

When the pantry jars are full of mince-meat and the shelves are laden with sweet spices for a cake,
When the butcher man sends up a turkey nice and fat to bake,
When the stores are crammed with everything ingenious cooks can make,
It's Thanksgiving Time!

When the gales of coming winter outside your window howl,
When the air is sharp and cheery so it drives away your scowl,
When one's appetite craves turkey and will have no other fowl,
It's Thanksgiving Time!

Langston Hughes

Liquor.


Lucy Buffett's Oyster Dressing is a nearly thirty year-old tradition in our house (but I've yet to surpass the quality and longevity of Mum's sage dressing, the technique of which will remain a family secret) ...

INGREDIENTS
  • 12 tablespoons/1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 (8-inch-square) baked and cooled cornbread, preferably on the sweet side
  • 15 slices white or wheat bread, toasted and cooled
  • ½ large white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • ½ large green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 2 dozen freshly shucked or jarred oysters, preferably Gulf oysters, drained and coarsely chopped (reserve the oyster liquor)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, preferably Crystal
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 ½ teaspoons truffle salt or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
PREPARATION
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by 13-inch baking dish.
  2. Crumble cornbread into a large bowl. Tear toasted white or wheat bread into very small pieces, add to cornbread, and toss to combine
  3. Melt 8 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and bell pepper; sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Cover pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are almost translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove cover, add broth, and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, for 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to cook mixture for 1 more minute, then remove from heat, add to bread mixture, and stir to combine.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together oysters, lemon juice, hot sauce, parsley, sage, salt and white pepper. Add to bread mixture and stir well to combine. If dressing seems too dry, add a little oyster liquor and up to 1/2 cup more chicken broth; mixture should be very moist.
  5. Pour dressing into greased baking dish (cast iron skillet. -Ed.). Cut remaining 4 tablespoons butter into small pieces and scatter over top of dressing. Bake until top and sides are browned, 40 to 45 minutes.

Wrought.


The VILLAGE BLACKSMITH

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
     ⁠The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
     With large and sinewy hands,
And the muscles of his brawny arms
     Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long;
     His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
     He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
     For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
     You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
     With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
     When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
     Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
     And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
     Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
     And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
     He hears his daughter's voice
Singing in the village choir,
     And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother's voice
     Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
     How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
     A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling,—rejoicing,—sorrowing,
     Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
     Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
     Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
     For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
     Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
     Each burning deed and thought.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thanks.

21 November 2021

Supertramp, "Take the Long Way Home"

Released.


Steely Dan released Gaucho on this day in 1980.
Sure he's a jolly roger
Until he answers for his crime
Yes, I'll match him whim for whim now

Donald Fagen and Walter Carl Becker from "My Rival"

Hunger.


It is not sufficient to receive; one must welcome. One must, say the pedagogue and the dietitian in the same voice, "assimilate."  In order to do that, we are advised not to read too fast and to be careful not to swallow too large a bite. We are told to divide each difficulty into as many parts as possible, the better to solve them. Yes, chew well, drink a little at a time, savor poems line by line. All these precepts are well and good. But one precept orders them. One first needs a good desire to eat, drink and read. One must want to read a lot, read more, always read.

Thus, in the morning, before the books piled high on my table, to the god of reading, I say my prayer of the devouring reader: "Give us this day our daily hunger ..."

Gaston Bachelard,  from the introduction to The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos

Modernity.


Thus modernity has given birth to the most empty civilisation mankind has ever known. 


Thanks, Kurt.

The Oyster Months Notebook (rev. November 2021)

Revised November 2021 ...

Masters of the Baroque Hurdy-Gurdy
Matthias Loibner


Weiss: Sonatas for Transverse Flute and Lute
Duo Inventio


Holborne: Pieces for Lute
Federico Marincola


THE ORIGINAL COLLECTION:

Holborne: Pavans and Galliards, 1599
The Consort of Musicke & The Guildhall Waits, Anthony Rooley & Trevor Jones


Purcell: Sonatas Of 3 Parts, 1683
Pavlo Beznosiuk, Rachel Podger, Christophe Coin, Christopher Hogwood


Telemann: Trio Sonatas
Erik Bosgraaf (recorder), Dmitry Sinkovksy (violin)


German Lute Music of the 18th Century
Alberto Crugnola