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Archive for February, 2013

And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God

Matthew 19:24

In chess, we all know the bishop by the shape of the bishop and that it indicates a bishop’s hat.

Priesthood sounds wrong, but maybe that’s because I know what they’ve been up to. Then here’s the disturbing culture of repressed sexuality and misogyny, not to mention the rampant, hypocritical, life-damaging cover-it-up-to-protect THE PRIESTS AND NOT THE VICTIMS pedophilia.

I have seen the film The Magdalene Sisters and so should you. Since it’s a work of fiction, I urge you to google Magdalene Laundries and see what you come up with, all on your ownsome.

Of course, there is the Inquisition and the Crusades, but this post isn’t about the old-style tortures and abuses. I’m a modern woman, capiche?

We talked the other night at dinner about who makes the vestments and hats for the Catholic celebrity class—popes, bishops, archbishops, cardinals. I did find this, which is sort of interesting, but he is a collector, not a milliner.

When I see vestments that indicate a person is of rank within the Catholic church, I typically have a piss-poor reaction. This happens less here in Western Mass than when I lived in Ohio. When I grew up, you’d see the occasional group of nuns out to a restaurant or at the grocery store. I even used to work in a Catholic orphanage one summer when I was home from college. Yeah, me.

I did not set out to write this post today. Punning on the two cardinals set the ball rolling. Rolling right into what I have long pondered: how how how. I don’t mean to insult any of my Catholic friends. I want to respect your religion, but alas, I can only respect you and trust that you know how and why. That I much I got in me.

Now witness:

Is it real? Do these come in pink silk? That is something I could get behind.

I also like the hats that look like yarmulkes, the history of Catholics and Jews marrying each other in such great numbers right there (maybe you don’t know a lot of Catholics who married Jews, but HELL YES I do).

A fleet of pink silk hats with tassels—like pasties, you know.

And why aren’t the nuns allowed to wear bright colors like the rest of the clergy? Penguin suits, my god.

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blogger’s block

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I saw 2 male cardinals in the back yard this morning, such bright red. What else is bright red around here? Not much, not that particular red.

It seemed unusual, one male cardinal chasing the other in flight.

I have had some health challenges of late and maybe that is why I haven’t been writing here. Pain and exhaustion. Pain and questions. Boring boring health problems when all I want is to do as I please at all times that I please.

I am not writing poetry much more or less than any other time, I suppose, but I am working on a manuscript for submission. I get into a great space when I am working on it, a little vague when I’m not.

I know it’s a risk to lose readers when I don’t post regularly and it pulls at me.

My cat, she is crazy. Maybe the most bizarre and hard-to-love cat we’ve ever had. Just now? She had her front paws around the leg of the kitchen table, right next to my feet. Like she was in love with the table leg, hugging it.

The other morning, she climbed partway up the wall between the kitchen and basement landing. I had never seen that before. She jumped and clung pretty high up, I’d say about 4 feet and her body lingered there for at least a few seconds. That’s a long time when you are trying to defy gravity on a vertical surface with no footholds.

The cat is stir crazy, crazy for spring. Me, I want the snow we were promised on Saturday, the snow that never came. I am not ready for spring. I am glad for the snow and cold we’ve gotten even if I DO NOT LIKE the overcast skies day after day. I could do with more snow.

I think about the ocean a lot. I miss it. A winter ocean; a summer ocean; a tropical ocean; Ipswich, Cape Cod, my great loves. Even though I love the winter when it’s sunny and cold and when we get a lot of snow, I always love the ocean.

We were in Rockport, Mass last weekend, right on the ocean, but it was already nighttime and dark out and we could not see it. By morning, we got caught in a massive blizzard and had to hightail it west so we would not get stranded on Cape Ann.

I am the only one in the family who consistently loves the cat. She is a pain in the ass, always attacking humans when she wants to be fed. But she knows. She knows I’m the one who feeds her. So she hangs around me.

I saw the cardinals and I hope the cat will not get one come spring. This cat has never brought me a bird. Only mice and chipmunks. She is a keen attacker of human flesh (exposed feet, tender thighs) but maybe not a great hunter.

This you know.

(here is the link to this image: http://www.centralpark.com/usr/media/contest/winners-winter-2009/large.2nd.place.3.jpg)

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Happy Birthday little bug!

Happy Birthday to my little bug!

Seventeen! Unbelievable

So glad I’m here with you

XO, Mom

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(ginger molasses cupcakes with whipped cream frosting courtesy of the 14 year-old)

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the words lap into one another

OR

the words lap one into the other

the words lap onto the shore

the words lap up on the shore

the days lap into each other, waves on the shore, even in cold, in winter, even even even

I am chaste

I am sorry

je regrette tout

je regrette tout, she said with tears in her eyes

Cliché? also French

all is fiction; writing, a lie

While searching the web for a French translation, I come across “The Top 5 Regrets People Have on Their Deathbeds”

Surely, sharing my emotions freely shall not be a regret of mine, for I have shared to a fault

I love the swelling grandeur of the opening orchestration, the strings, the horns, and the incomparable Édith. I never saw that movie you know. What more does one need? Here is a woman of small stature and great power.

Regrets? That I never learned to roll my rs like Édith Piaf did; mais j’ai du temps, mes petites, j’ai du temps.

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I would title the post Love, but it looked and felt wrong. My next thought for a title? LOVE. Then, love. You can see what I finally chose.

Love is a kind of choosing, isn’t it? Even when we’ve been taken by love without our consent. Like the photos of adoptable dogs I pore over or the way I feel when I see my friend’s 3-year old son. That love comes without effort, question, or want.

I suppose Valentine’s Day is the most fun of all holidays if it is not taken too seriously. For if you take it too seriously, you will find something in which to be disappointed: I have no boyfriend/girlfriend; my beau didn’t get me flowers, or enough or the right color; my beau didn’t propose to me today; my love didn’t give me chocolate, a dinner out, a blowjob. Single people could be bummed out and feel less than; paired off people could find fault; so why not take it with a grain of salt? There is enough love of many kinds to go around.

All the years with children have made it fun indeed. Decorating cards to hand out in school when they were little, decorating the breakfast table, cutting food into heart-shapes. Chocolates and flowers some years, some not.

I finally got excited for Valentine’s Day at about 4 in the afternoon yesterday and went on a chocolate-buying spree and made plans in my head for the girls’ breakfast. At 4 am, I woke and paper-punched some tiny hearts all over the table, crawled back into bed and at 8:30 am (one day a month is late start day for the school), I made batter for waffles.

In the past, I would have used some sort of cut-out heart to sprinkle a heart pattern on top of their waffles, but I could not summon more motherly love than I already had. Sigh.

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I’ve always loved Rickie Lee Jones doing this, but Chet Baker comes in a close second. Be still my beating heart.

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Y’all know I am not a fan of The Grateful Dead and enough said about that.

But several years ago, I picked up a CD of Not For Kids Only, with Dave Grisman and Jerry Garcia. It was then that my classical-guitar playing friend said how much he liked the Grateful Dead. I was fairly shocked, WHY? He said Jerry’s playing and singing is soulful; and finally, I too found it to be so.

My kids grew up listening to this CD pretty frequently. Thinking about Freight Train of late inspired me to dig it up. Right away, my eldest started playing the CD over and over. I used to sing some of these songs as lullabies and I asked the girls if they remember them very well. Yes, of course.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sometimes as a parent, you do something right.

CD or no, the music is in them.

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The songs float in the ether, remnants of tunes carried to my ears. To hear fragments of such things as an adult is haunting in itself, like poetry, like electricity, like wind, snow, heat.

Family Movie Night has turned from features such as The Incredibles (I think everyone but me knows the entire script by heart) to somewhat more grown-up titles. Of course, the kids have their own viewing of almost anything they want nowadays and LOTR marathons abound on long weekends.

Last Friday night, before Paul’s long trip to Deustchland (which we affectionately call Deustchland über Alles), we had the pleasure of exposing the children to their first Coen Brothers’ movie, Raising Arizona.

While I’ve seen the movie more times than I can count and was aware of the song Ed (Holly Hunter) sings to Nathan Jr., I don’t think I ever paid as close attention as I did this time around.

Down in the Willow Garden:

We all sing strange lullabies to our babies, usually not knowing where they come from. I don’t know any murder ballads by heart, but I still sing All the Pretty Little Horses to my girls. It is a haunting tune, also sung in a movie—Silkwood—with Meryl Streep singing it to Cher as they swing on the front porch at night. That was the first time I paid close attention to it and was compelled to hunt down the lyrics (before the Internet!!!).

Even I didn’t have the heart to sing about the babies’ eyes being pecked out and I still don’t. My kids know the words as we have them in a few different songbooks. I suppose, then, mine has been a sin of omission.

There’s a tendency to make the lyrics of some songs more palatable, a revisionist move and one of the casualties of the Politically Correct movement that overtook everything about 25 years back. In children’s lullabies, it is a sign of our inability to cope with the underlying spirit of certain eras. Music IS history.

Here’s a book that bothers me (click on the link, okay my pets?). At first glance, it seems to be inclusive and embracing, I suppose because the people pictured are African American, but it actually robs the history right out from us. Cake is shown and butterflies come around (you’d need a copy in hand to see all of the pages). While some verses of the song cannot be attributed to slaves, some of them tell us what undoubtedly the slaves were not allowed to say in plain English, the code hidden in the words that tell it like it was. This is one way slaves communicated right under the noses of Whitey—through imagery and innuendo. Music was a survival tool and helped to convey information that helped people travel north to Canada (often coded as Canaan in spirituals) via the network of the Underground Railroad. To be able to sing one’s pain (which was more often couched in the stories of struggle from the Old Testament*) in a non-religious text was even more complex, as we can hear in the original lyrics to All the Pretty Little Horses. I cannot abide by the happy pictures in the book. The melody gives it away—it is a mournful song, of grief and sorrow—and the happy characters do not tell the story that the song is trying to tell us.

Read the afterward to the reconfigured lyric in Sylvia Long’s book of Hush Little Baby. The zeitgeist of political correctness was swallowed hook, line, and sinker by this author. While I find the new lyrics sweet and the illustrations quite pretty, to fear that our children learn EVERYTHING THEY NEED TO KNOW FROM ONE LULLABY’S LYRICS displays an immense hubris. To forget and sweep under the rug the richness of our folksong heritage is a crime. It is revisionist and points to our lack of ability to trust our parenting to have mettle and our children to have backbones.

As songs traveled and shifted across the ocean and up and down our country, words changed places within songs, jumped to other songs, were added and left behind. This is WHY they are folk songs—they belong to the people. The words may have been written down at times, but more likely not. To publish a book with revised lyrics is an entirely different matter. It is no longer a folk song. In this instance, it is the author’s whim. I wouldn’t mind so much if the original lyric was presented somewhere in the book, but her ENTIRE point is that the original lyric is–gasp–DANGEROUS to children.

Next two flicks on the docket for Family Movie Night? Rushmore and Down by Law and we all know about the songs in those.

Another one I used to sing to my babies. Let’s not shy away from death either. God bless Elizabeth Cotton.

*Wade in the Water is not just the story of struggle that harkens to the Jews in the Bible, but also contains the very symbolic language to which I also refer in this post. For instance, the colors that the “children” wear may have been worn by people helping the slaves cross north at different stops along the way. But you already knew that, right?

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