Through the Front Door Week of June 24

An appreciation of poets William Blake, and T. S. E.iot

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My Post (2)

From Jelly Beans to William Blake

My last post began with a quotation from William Blake. Week of June 17

Chances are, you don’t know anything about him. In a nutshell, he is a dead poet with a metaphysical point of view that breathed of scandal during his lifetime. I might consider him the father of free sex. Scholars consider him the most unread poet with the greatest impact on English poetry.

Two Bits About Blake

Literary boffins consider “Songs of Innocence” his masterwork. Nobody but boffins reads Blake these days, but those of us born before 1957 (in other words, those of us required to read in school) probably encountered “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright” during a high school English class.

Anyway while I was looking for the quotation that I used in last week’s post, I discovered treasure after treasure of William Blake quotations. They have inspired me to sit down and read some Blake-finally.

Two Bits About Poetry in General

When I was struggling through an English degree at UCLA, poetry was an obstacle to climb over in order to get a grade.  It required considerable more exertion of mind than prose. Over the decades, however, it is the poetry that has stayed with me.  Lines and phrases bounce inside my head.

Two Bits About T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot whose work showed up in every single class except Medieval Lit., was the bane of my existence.  Finishing a term paper assigned to his “Four Quartets” and it’s relation to Bergson’s theory of time  was two weeks in purgatory. Funny, it was the “Four Quartets” to which I turned to find words for my mother’s memorial: “in the end is our beginning.”  If I could go back in time, I’d do a better job on that term paper.

A Blake Quotation or Three

Returning to the original subject of Blake, I’ve listed some of the quotes that caught my attention.

“In the Universe there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between there are the doors.”

“What is now proved, was once only imagined.”

“We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”

That old chestnut “Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright” has something going for it.  It’s out there on the ‘net.’ Take a look at it for yourself.

 

 

Through the Front Door June 5

Castle in SpainI kick open the front door and drop my bags. Immediately I turn on music, filling the air with “A Thousand Years” by The Piano Guys. Opening wide my arms I twirl circles across the bare boards of a room filled with sunlight.  

It’s been months since I visited the Front Door.  Wouldn’t it be fun to say that I’d packed real bags and went visiting castles in Spain, and surf fishing on the beaches of Ibiza. Imagine posting Instagram photos of me outside Castle Coca, Castle Manzanares El Real, and Castle Alcazar of Segovia.

I have Spain on the brain because one of the things I actually did while vacationing from this blog is rereading that wonderful trio of novels by Lois McMaster Bujold, loosely known as the “Chalion novels.” They are fantasies set in a world based upon medieval Spain. All three books spin a yarn that speculates on the nature of the relationship between the human and the divine.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, of course, but I always close each book wondering how Bujold come up with the stuff she writes. I shelve her novels next to those eccentric little theological novels of Charles Williams, who as one of the Inklings, was a friend of C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien. Like olives and caviar, Williams is an acquired taste, but I reread his books annually.

In addition to re-reading theological fiction, I attended the April NaNoWriMo boot camp.  This is an online workshop for writers. I am happy to announce that I have lost my fear of the first sentence.  I remember how many times I started letters “Dear Friend, How are you?  I am fine” and never wrote another sentence.  Now I can knock out a paragraph or two with ease. AND, and, and, I am getting better at writing with an active voice.  

What Came Through the Front Door First Week of February

Graphic of a cat
Romeo in a Bag

Cute, What Is It?

A paper bag was left on the floor, and Romeo immediately climbed in then looked up at me. This was irresistibly cute, so I grabbed my camera and snapped this picture. Then I thought, “was is it that makes us call something cute?”

Merriam-Webster defines cute as attractive or pretty in a childish, youthful, or delicate way. What is that makes something seem childish, youthful, or delicate?  I thought about this long and hard for about five minutes which the outer limits of my attention. Then I looked at some “cute” photos.  My conclusion that the first important element required by cute is roundness of shape. The next important element is softness of line.

But here’s the next question “how is it that critters that are definitely not cute manage to do things that are cute?  For this I have no answer.

January 2018 Second Week

Socks! Socks!

The simple things of life can boost me over the moon. Others may win Super Lotto. But I now own five pair of the perfect socks. For a long time, I’ve had sock issues. The were too thick in the sole. They weren’t quite high enough. Recently they started slipping down the heel and bunching up under my foot. Walking half a block to get the mail was a misery. My world turned grey and lifeless. Then inspiration! Buy new socks. I took immediate action. I opened my browser to Amazon. There they were! Wool blend socks, of the perfect height, of the perfect thickness. Five pair in multiple colors. I pushed the buy button. As I write, my feet feel cozy in pair of salmon socks with turquoise toes, and ecru tops. Now I can walk a mile in my shoes without my socks sliding down my heels. Life is good.

If I had written this little ditty as a college student, nobody would have understood what I was talking about. The IBM Selectric was the last word in writing technology. If you used the word “Amazon” you were either talking about a very long river in South America, or mythological women warriors. Furthermore, I would have had to leave the house, walk to a store that sold socks and fork over real cash (college students of my generation rarely had credit cards).

The time they are a changing – day by day. Hope we don’t change ourselves into Atlantis and find ourselves at the bottom of the sea before the quarter century mark.

 

The Expanding World of Christmas Decorations

The last few days have been dedicated to taking down the Christmas decorations. On a microcosmic level, it is proof that we are living in an expanding universe. The decorations have expanded far beyond the storage in which they existed before Christmas. It required the purchase of three more 49 gallon storage tubs to pack them all, and there are still odds and ends that need fitting in somewhere.

What Came Through the Door First Week of January

Joy and Sadness

This week two strangers received joyous news. A match was found for a new kidney. Their struggle to live under the shadow of renal failure is over. The donor was my cousin Penny, who passed from this life January 4th when her life support was disconnected. One door closing opened two others. Life passes to life. Like water, life takes many forms and shapes that are beyond our ability to see. Penny lives in our memory, and in the lives of others as well.

Quentin, Who is Two

Quentin blew through the door (accompanied by his parents). They traveled from  Canada to visit his great-grandmother Genivieve Duffin. He turned two in December, and is a full-fledged member of the tribe known the world over as “the Terrible Twos.” Watching this little guy chasing the cat, running back and forth around the living room, and grabbing for everything interesting that he saw, I found myself thinking “it is the terrible twos” because it is terrible to be two. Here are these little tykes, waking up to a bright and shiny world full of wonderful things to explore, and all they encounter are people yelling “NO” and “DON”T TOUCH, and “YOU KNOW THE RULES!” When you are two it’s only natural to explore and grab and touch and climb. How else does one learn to negotiate the world? Of course one doesn’t know the rules. Big people tell them something that makes no sense in their world, then expect them to both understand and obey immediately. At two, you are so small that people can pick you up out of the blue and carry you away right in the middle of something interesting. It takes a lot of grit to survive being two.

No Bracelets, No Shield, and Her Uniform Made Her Look Fat

graphic photo-lyudmilla-pavlichenkoDuring World War II, when Russia, Great Britain, and the United States were allies, Eleanor Roosevelt became friends with a diminutive young woman from Russia. Her name was Lyudmilla Pavlichenko and she was a sniper with a confirmed kill count of 309.

Continue reading “No Bracelets, No Shield, and Her Uniform Made Her Look Fat”

Speaking of Succulents

A year and a month ago, I was a posy person. Flowers meant roses, peonies, pansies, daffodils and tulips. I wouldn’t have spared a glance for succulents and their cacti cousins without giving them a glance.

Today, I walk among succulents every time I follow the walk between the patio and the carport.

The scorching summer turned me into a water brigade of one. Standing among the succulents, sprayer in hand, I see them with new eyes. First are the shapes. Some geometric: precise angles assembled by blueprint. Others artsy: imprecise curves assembled by whim. Then there are the colors: soft pastels subtly blended or layered over each other. Almost daily, there is a surprise waiting for me. Overnight something grey and spiny erupted into yellow blossoms. A plant, half-dollar sized, wears a coral button for a flower. That once overlooked and disregarded has become magical, enchanting.