Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My brother.  As I typed the date, I remembered that today is my brother’s birthday.  He would be 63 today.  I trust his soul is resting, healing from the circumstances that impelled him to his final act of desperation, suicide at age 51.

Queen Anne’s Lace!  A couple of years ago, I hoed part of the north border and put in a handful of seeds from Iredell County.  When I saw the young weed this spring, I thought it was interesting and did not pull it. I did not know what it was.   It quickly grew chest high.  Last week one flower bloomed.  Yes, Queen Anne’s Lace.  Now twenty-eight other flowers will follow.  Welcome, long awaited guest.

Mimosa trees.  On two of my walks I come near mimosa trees.  I have an aversion to them.  I don’t know why.  On one walk, I walked under a branch and gazed at a flower askance.  Perhaps I can grow to know them better.  They repel me, the only tree which does.

Bees.  They are busy among the lavender flowers.  They will make good honey from them, yes.

A Red Wheelbarrow.  I spotted it at a  yard sale from almost a block away while I was on an early morning walk.  I stopped, looked at it, and paid for half the asking price.  I explained that I was on a walk, that I would have to go home to get money and return in about an hour.  The woman in charge took it and placed it by the porch and marked it SOLD.  From home, I walked a mile back to the sale, paid, and pushed it home.  At the railroad tracks, I enjoyed the sound of KA PLUNK KA PLUNK.  Since the traffic light at the track was red, I turned around and repeated the fun.  KA PLUNK KA PLUNK.  Then back to the traffic light.  KA PLUNK KA PLUNK.  I didn’t look at the people in the two car waiting for the light to change.

It may become glazed with rain water, but I don’t think that white chickens will find their way to it.  Perhaps someone will make me white chicken cut outs to place by it.  (See “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams.)

At the Local Farmers’ Market.  “You’re one of the first hundred today,” said a pretty young woman wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals.  “You get a five dollar coupon to spend with any vendor.”  I used it to buy salted peanuts from the VFW.  I also bought eggs with thick, bright yellow yolks, delicious.  The only think I didn’t like about the eggs was the name of the farm, “Windy Bottoms.”

On walks.  (1) “Hey, Mister, look what I got,” said a young boy, who was playing in the dirt driveway across the street from where I was walking.  He held up a large plastic container.  “What is it?”  I asked.  “Ants!” he said proudly.  “What are you going to do with them?” I asked.  “Keep them in here forever!” he said.  “Well, there you go,” I said as I continued walking.

(2) “If it wasn’t for clover, I’d have no yard at all,” said the middle-aged woman as she greeted me as she was leaving her house for work.  “My yard’s clover and other weeds,” I said.  “I love the clover.”  “And so do rabbits, I believe,” she said as she put her brief case into the car.”  “Yes,” I answered, “and bees, and the earth itself.  It holds the earth together well.  I recommend clover for a yard.”  “Well, I’ve got it. Have a great day, she said.  I don’t think I convinced her.

(3) A tall, lanky, red haired teenager stood across the street in his driveway, waiting for a ride.  I greeted him and said, “Is this your last week of school?”  “Yes, sir, tomorrow’s the last day,” he said. “Good plans for the summer?”  “Yes, sir, I’m going to the beach with my girlfriend.”  “That will be a good summer Have fun.”  “And you have a good day, sir.”

(4) There is again a large summer garden on the walk I named Rachel’s Studio Walk.  Early in the morning, the gardener was not there, but I did see a small cardinal hopping quietly on the red earth,  in the young corn.  Nice try at camouflage, bird.

(5) As I passed the office of my eye physician, I saw him at the back of the office lot, taking out garbage.  “Hello, Dr. Barker,” I called.  “Good morning, good morning,” he said, his voice musical and full of friendliness.

At the post office.  I had just entered the parking lot and was thinking of taking a place in front of the door, but before I could get there, a silver VW Jetta swerved rapidly into the space, cutting me off.  I drove around the corner to park, wondering who would be driving so fast and sporty.  By the time I got into the post office, the driver was already at the counter.  He was tall, about 6’5″.  He wore designer jeans, a white dress shirt, and highly polished black leather shoes.  He was waiting for a package, scowling.  I bought three sets of stamps, and the clerk moved with characteristic slowness, having trouble finding one that I wanted.  “Do you have any Harvey Milk stamps over there?” she asked the other clerk.  “Let me check,” he said.  “Yes, this is our last set.”  My clerk took my credit card and  slowly drew it through the machine facing speed man.  He had to move away for her to complete the procedure. He looked at his watch. “There.  You have the circus stamps, the Nevada stamps, and the Harvey Milk stamps.  Anything else?  Would you like an envelope to carry them in?”  “Yes, thanks,” I said.  As I left, I noted that the fast driving customer was still waiting, still scowling.  As I drove by his car, I slowed down to confirm the make. Yep.  VW.  Jetta.

Viewing.  “The Secret of Roan Inish,”  John Sayles.  The film concerns silkies, creatures half sea and half human, one of which has, during human incarnation, given birth to children.  A ten-year-old girl discovers the truth of her family and the relationships need for the fulfilled happiness with seals and with people.  There are scenes of meadows of flowers, a star studded night, dark grey seas, thick fog.  Haunting Irish music comprises the soundtrack.  The stories told by characters are entertaining and intriguing, told with musical and lilting accents.  The film shows that we are part of a mysterious, magical, and wonderful creation.

Reading.  Fiction.  James Joyce,  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  (1916)  Six of my favorite quotations from the book:

“The stars began to crumble and a cloud of fine star-dust fell through space.”

“The voice of his youngest brother from the farther side of the fireplace began to sing the air, ‘Oft in the Stilly Night.’  One by one the others took up the air until a full chorus of voices were singing.  They would so for hours, melody after melody, glee after glee, till the last pale light died down off the horizon, till the first dark nightclouds came forth and night fell.”

“He was alone.  He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life.  He was alone and young and willful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight and gayclad lightclad figures of children and girls and voices childish and girlish in the air.”

“. . . you do not intend to become a protestant?. . . I said that I had lost the faith…but not that I had lost selfrespect.  What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?”

“I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do.  I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church, and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use, silence, exile, and cunning.”

“Welcome, O life!  I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smith of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

The book concerns the young protagonist and his awareness of political, religious, and familial realities of his time.  It uses stream-of-consciousness technique throughout.

I especially enjoyed an extended sermon on Hell, a discussion between two young men about aesthetics, and the protagonist’s growing into Faith and then away from it.

The book raised the question for me of how does organized religion provide meaning, or not, for any particular person.

The Barnes&Noble Classics edition, edited and annotated by Kevin J.H. Dettmar, provides excellent notes, especially for religious, political, and mythological references.

Thank you for reading.  I hope you are having good days.  Next week’s blog will be posted on Tuesday, not on Wednesday.  Have a good week and weekend.  Enjoy the Full Moon, the Strawberry Moon, on Friday.


About billwednesdayblog

Retired high school English and French teacher.
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2 Responses to Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  1. Margaret McNeely says:

    I like the idea of planting Queen Ann’s Lace as a border. Guess what I got for my first birthday present yesterday–an interesting-looking book entitled WILL!!

  2. Dave A says:

    Queen Anne’s lace. For my first 12 years as a child growing up in northwestern PA, we had what we called “the gully” between the house and highway. The bottom of the depression was thick with elderberry bushes which we harvested each year — jelly, jam, and at least one poor attempt at wine. When we were younger, the bushes provided wonderful cover for paths we trampled down to play “hide and seek.” The upper banks were always white with Queen Anne’s lace, a good contrast to the darker elderberries below. Alas, sometime during my high school years, the highway was widened eliminating the elderberries and most of the Queen Anne’s lace.

    Our first house in Denver had a small back yard with a bit of Queen Anne, but mostly “snow on the mountain” which thrived in the afternoon shade provided by the tall bushes in front of the fence on the western-facing upper bank. When they were very young, our friend’s children (later the grandchildren) made their own paths in the snow on the mountain, a very resilient plant. The kids were always amazed — “Gee, it’s grown back, Uncle David,” as they chased each other and the family dog. When our snow on the mountain turned brown, it was a good “Farmer’s Almanac” indicator of approaching colder fall weather. After a year or two of experimentation, I found that a late fall mowing brought a good, early covering next spring.

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