Friday, March 30, 2018

Apr 2018

Love Amid the Ligatures...

April 1878:
Elizabeth Lovell Peak,
Twenty-six, self-assured,
Typesetter,
Born in Cambridge,
The old one, in England,
Arrives in New York City
With sister, Rebecca,
Another typesetter. Both
Full of girlish hope
For careers and families
In new world.

June 1878:
Rebecca decides to
Move on to Winnipeg,
Later home to Winnie the Pooh,
Is there some connection?
Maybe someone will
Connect dots.
Not I.

July 1882:
Still in New York City
     Mr. McNutt publishes a
     Weekly newspaper in
     Calvert, Texas.

Publisher friend introduces
Typesetter Elizabeth to
Potential employer.
     Oh, The Calvert Courier?
She asks—not because
She knows the paper,
But because alliterative mastheads
Are de rigueur in England.
     Why…. Yes, Miss Peak.
Answers Alexander Dewitt McNutt.
Smile in eyes as well as on lips.

That’s the beginning.
Mr. McNutt doesn’t hire
The young typesetter.
He courts her via letters
And telegrams.
They marry.
Elizabeth joins him in east Texas
Where they live
In white corner house in Calvert.
The Calvert Courier becomes
Renown regional rag,
Circulates beyond
Robertson County,
Even to Dallas:
Repository of Texas gentry,
Wealth and society.

Four daughters
Arrive in bi-annual installments:
Alice, my grandmother, the bright one.
Alexandria, the wild one.
Mary, the difficult one.
Florence, the beautiful one.
Little Dee, sole son,
Dies of consumption at four.

November 1895:
On Galveston shopping trip
With three-year-old Mary,
Elizabeth reads of ship
Sailing for England… today.
Sudden bitter homesickness
Overwhelms.
Counting money in purse
She finds enough for
One-way tickets.
     Have gone home with Mary.
     Will wire for money when
     Ready to return.

Terse telegram to Mr. McNutt.
Six months later they return
To blooming east Texas roses.
No explanation required.
Mr. McNutt is accustomed
To wife’s self-directed nature.
He welcomes her back home
With those smiling eyes.

The Calvert Courier flourishes.
The McNutt family prospers,
Lives happily.
Photos show little girls
In splendid dresses and
Feathered hats.
Elizabeth sets type on occasion and
Helps out in Courier office on occasion.

September 1898:
When Mr. McNutt dies
At fifty-six.
She carries on as publisher.

Sorting through his papers
Elizabeth finds old invoice
Squirrelled away in roll-top desk:
Cost for new masthead
Changing
     The Calvert Messenger
To
     The Calvert Courier.
It’s dated September 1878.

Elizabeth Lovell Peak McNutt sits,
Stunned to learn
Twenty years on,
Effect of her first remark
To Alexander Dewitt McNutt,
And significance of
His first smile
In eyes as well as on lips.
...
Pic is from my entrance all. Of course, that's Alexander on the left and Elizabeth on the right.

The marble torso is one of mine, carved from a hunk of pink marble Phoebe found on her grandmother's property outside of Dilly, Texas. Pink marble is not native to Texas so its presence there remains a mystery. Actually, it was originally a much larger hunk but the cowboy her grandma sent to fetch it, used a sledgehammer, breaking it into five smaller pieces to make it easier to carry. This hunk was a happy birthday present from Phoebe. I call this piece the Cilician woman, because I had been studying Anabasis in Greek and this woman, queen, general aided Cyrus in his Persian expedition.
The small silver dish with honeycomb edge peeking out (and a bee you can't see here!) is done by Lyn Belisle, a university classmate Phoebe and I met the first time at our reunion in 2015. The little green bird has no story. I like his colour and he fits on this perch watching over all my comings and goings.
...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Mar 2018

Delicate promises...

I was going to show you the skaters enjoying our newly-completed hockey rink and recreational skating area in Riverdale Park. From the comfort of my balcony, I've watched them day-after-day as they affirm what a good idea these rinks are. I've not skated for yonks, of course, but I do remember learning how to skate in San Antonio, Texas. I also remember taking Peter to skate in Sydney, Australia... at a very melty outdoor rink! In Toronto, I remember skating at City Hall and quaffing a very welcome hot chocolate afterwards. Memories of joyful slipping and sliding—and yes, even falling—gently nudge me.

At the last minute, though, I've opted to focus on an optimism for the near future. Thank you, Agnes, for this filigreed image. The memories this one stirs are of the sun warming my soul as well as my skin. All of nature remembers, too. And whether we're greeted with lion or lamb this March morn, we're ready. It may be hot chocolate today, but soon it'll be cold lemonade again.

Remember?
...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Feb 2018

Making the invisible visible...

Over the hols,
My balcony Buddha
Became enlightened
For all to see.

It might be blinding,
But NOW, like Neo,
He's finding
It's also binding...
He can't go back
To the not-knowing
Or the not-caring.

NOW, all he thought
He knew
Is new NOW...
And he's new NOW
With new purpose
And even new gravity...
NOW.

I say NOW,
But we all know
The original Buddha's
NOW was a very long time ago.
And still, it's NOW...

Because once we're
Blinded by the Light,
We're always all revved up
Like a deuce,
Another runner in the night...

Seeking.
Being.
Here.
NOW.
For all to see.
And mostly...

To see ourselves.
...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Jan 2018

Eh-Deen!

That's the way Aussies say it.
The first part sounds like
That common Canadian punctuation word, Eh?
When I first moved to Oz
I thought it sounded funny, Eh?
But then my Texan ears adjusted
And after all these years
My now-Canadian eyes
Still pronounce it in Strine, Eh?
I am, after all, tri-lingual...
All in English.

Cogitating about this turn of words
And their sounds and comforts
Made me remember a prezzie from my mum
Circa 1968.
Twas a used book called
Ounce, Dice, Trice
Writ by Alistair Reid
And illustrated by my fave
Jewish artist, Ben Shahn...
Both who applied liberal slatherings
Of humour and whimsy...
Two of my favourite forms of nonsense.

You see, Mr. Reid, offers us alternative universes
Of real English words used in new and enchanting ways.
To count, from one to ten, he suggests:

  1. Ounce
  2. Dice
  3. Trice
  4. Quartz
  5. Quince
  6. Sago
  7. Serpent
  8. Oxygen
  9. Nitrogen
  10. Denim
I might add
Elephant and Twee

For an even dozen
And invite all of you to sing
The Twee Days of Christmas.
with me.

And I wonder:
What words would you choose
As counting words?
And more...
What words would you play with
In this New Year's
Eh-Deen different ways, Eh?

So I'm challenging youse all
To my
18 Days of Verbose Nonsense.



http://bit.ly/2CkSNTQ

Click on the above image to get to my DropBox Nonsense folder.
if problems clicking, just copy and paste this link into your browser:
http://bit.ly/2CkSNTQ

You don't have to have a DropBox account, but if you do, note: I'm not sharing the folder,
only giving you access, so it won't count against your memory. Inside you will find two more folders

  1. My-Challenges
  2. Your-Responses
Each day for 18 days, starting January 1st:
  1. Pick up (download) each day's challenge sheet from the first folder listed above It's a PDF identified by the day's number.
  2. Send me an email with your responses, each day at the address. which is listed on the challenge sheet.
  3. Please put the day's number in your subject line.
  4. I will assemble your responses ASAP and put them into another PDF... identifying each of you only by initials.  Then I’ll put these in the “Your-Responses” folder. You're welcome to download and peruse those at your leisure..
  5. I'm asking you please to respond within a day or two of each challenge. so we can all feel the momentum.
  6. At the end of the 18 days I'll make and share a PDF including all our Nonsense.
  7. You don't have to participate every day, but I'm hoping many of you will want to.
  8. Each day's challenge will be different and they'll each give you all plenty of scope for your silly creativity and imagination to run rampant.
  9. A little lewd is OK, but not crude, please. I will, of course, reserve the right to decide what's lewd and/or crude.
Let's all have a silly 2018!

...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dec 2017

Watching out...

Since our new balcony railings were installed a couple of years ago, pigeons eschew railing in favour of decking. These two were hanging out on my upstairs neighbour's balcony floor, aka my balcony ceiling. I always find myself wondering why so often two of them... seldom only one.. and if another arrives the two incumbents quickly flee, before the interloper's partner arrives.

I also wonder what they're watching — or watching out for. They've got a good viewpoint there. I wonder how far they can see... surely all the way into December... maybe all the way to Santa's mythic voyage.

When I was a girl, my parents wanted Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve, but how to have presents suddenly arrive when we weren't asleep? They quickly established the tradition of my childhood: First we put out cookies and milk for Santa. Then we all three exited our back door and climbed into the car, with my daddy driving. As we backed out of the driveway, my mom suddenly said, "Oh, I forgot the binoculars!" Daddy pulled to the curb in front of our house and my mom quickly dashed up to the front door and disappeared into the house while Daddy reminded me to watch the sky around the brightness of the moon (or whatever brightness he could point out to me that year) to see Santa's sleigh in silhouette. Soon my mom re-emerged bearing the binoculars... which she reported having some difficulty finding. Then we set off.

We drove around admiring neighbourhood lighting displays, much less lavish than those today, but delightful to the little me. And at least once each year, Daddy pointed and said, "Look! There he is!" And I always just barely missed seeing Santa, but I always heard his sleigh bells. Always.

When we returned home, we went into the living room and sure enough, Santa had come and gone, leaving presents along with cookie crumbs and and an empty milk glass and even a thank-you note. Santa was always so pleased with our offering.

This was the routine even when we had visiting family... there were just more people crammed into the car.

When Peter was six, we returned from Australia and spent Christmas in San Antonio with my parents. Peter was at that age where he thought he knew there was no Santa, but he went along with the unfolding evening, willing but a little bemused. That time I got the full behind-the-scenes action as I helped my mom remove our coats from the entrance closet and ready them for the Santa-sighting trip... then we stashed the prezzies in that same entrance closet along with a prepared note from Santa and a plate with cookie crumbs and an empty glass with obvious milk film... AND the binoculars on the shelf... PLUS a strip of bells in her purse! The routine proceeded, but this time I was the one who ran inside and moved the prezzies to their place under the tree and exchanged the full plate and glass for the empty plate and glass AND placed the note... THEN grabbed the binoculars, which apparently were not where my mom had told me but which I found nearby and brandished with glee as I dashed back to the waiting car.

As we drove around the neighbourhood my dad did indeed point away and exclaim, "Looky! There he is1" while my mom removed the bells from her purse and gently rattled them outside the window she had rolled down "in order to see better." This was south central Texas, remember. Nobody complained about the cold.

And when we returned home, we were all surprised that Santa had come and left our presents strewn under the tree. Peter was agog. We all clapped with joy!

~

I think these pigeons know what they're watching out for. Don't you?
After all, you better watch out, you better not cry,
You better not pout, I'm telling you why...
Santa Clause is coming to town.
...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Nov 2017

As the dark descends...

It's not just Halloween
That creeps and gloms,
It's the gloom of nights that seep
Into our days earlier and earlier.

Autumn gleefully parades
Her fiery cadmium yellows and oranges
But...
We'd better imprint them fast
Before
They're sucked into rich burnt umbers
And eventually deep lamp blacks
Before our ever-surprised eyes.

After all these years
I'm still amazed
And, yes...
Charmed.
...

Have fun treating and/or tricking tonight.
And
Have a great Mo/November.
Be sure to remember
To remember
On the eleventh:
Vonnegut
Et al.
His birthday
And his pleas
For humanity.
...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Go here for a higher resolution version of this month's calendar for your desktop.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Oct 2017

We’ve survived Summer’s reboot...

I met Kyla on the streetcar when she asked me about my Nordic walking poles. Recovering from double sciatica, they really help me to walk better and farther and all without pain... or exhaustion. I was on my way to my chiro and she was on her way to hers. Not the same chiro, but, we soon discovered the now-retired-to-full-time painting-in-Crystal-Beach David Drum was our chiro-in-common in the past. We sang his praises as we changed streetcars, and bragged about the replacements each of us had finally found. We also learned we are nearby neighbours. We quickly exchanged phone numbers before going our separate ways.

A few days later Kyla phoned to invite me to the hot house that she tends in the summers. It's a lovely remarkable place very nearby, too.  We went that Sunday morning to a space behind a public high school for adult learning. The hot house on that school's grounds, is not open to the public but rather host during the school year to elementary school programmes teaching about plants and caring for them. Kyla looks after the plants during the summer when both students and the programme's teacher are doing summertime things.

While Kyla watered, misted and snipped, I snooped and snapped. I could have done 4 calendars this month just like I did for last month! I chose these orchids, tho, because they offer us all a gentle glimpse at the charm and hope that summer can bring even while we rail against her oppressive intensity.
 

Now let’s all enjoy the coolth... and join in the Aussie initiative to end violence against children, Polished Man Month. 
...
If this isn't nice, what is?
              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Go here for a higher resolution version of this month's calendar for your desktop.