12.1.2022 – morning drive across

morning drive across
salt marsh tidal flats under
live oaks spanish moss

Not so long ago, my morning drive was into downtown Atlanta, a commute rated in the top ten worst in America.

Today I reminded myself of that drive as I made my way to work on a island on the Atlantic Coast.

Atlanta.

Atlantic.

Atlanta was paved over roadways as far as the eye could see.

The road to Island is carved out of marsh grass and laid over swamp and tidal flats and over the inner coastal waterway.

The road to Atlanta went under other roads and light poles for lights that often didn’t work either because the city hadn’t paid the bill or someone had stolen the copper wire that connected the lights.

The road to the Island runs under live oaks and spanish moss.

It is a different drive.

In December, the sun, just minutes before having risen out of the ocean, shines into the eyes of anyone making the drive.

The going is slow and the road is full of cars but the amount cars, if you counted all of them, would total somewhere around 1% of the total number of cars that were on the roads in Atlanta.

With the magic that can be technology I can drive along with music playing in the car to match the mood.

There is something about driving along over a salt marsh and tidal flats and over water and under live oaks and spanish moss while listening to Appalachian Spring.

I don’t care if it is December.

11.30.2022 – feel joy suddenly

feel joy suddenly
unexpectedly do not
hesitate give in

Based on the words and thoughts expressed in the abstract poem, Don’t Hesitate by Mary Oliver.

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

With apologies, I want to repeat the last lines, in what my sister, Lisa, calls ‘my short sentence style.’

It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins.

Anyway, that’s often the case.

Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.

Joy is not made to be a crumb.

As for my ‘style’ I am reminded of the story of Winston Churchill getting a hair cut.

The barber asked, ‘What style?’

Too which Mr. Churchill replied with something like, “A man of my limited resources cannot be called upon to have a style. Just get on with it.’

As for my sister Lisa.

She is the one who told me about Mary Oliver.

11.29.2022 – of virtuosic

of virtuosic
reticence, a silk of sound
inward and wistful

Music critics get to use the best words.

In a recent review of the New York Philharmonic titled, At the Philharmonic: a Taste of Holiday Bounty: Stéphane Denève leads a program of extravagantly colorful French works, with the pianist Víkingur Ólafsson as the soloist in a Ravel concerto, Zachary Wolfe GOT TO WRITE:

It’s not that his touch is diffuse; it’s as clean as marble. And it’s not that the tempos he and Denève chose for the framing movements were slower than normal. But the effect Ólafsson got throughout, of a kind of virtuosic reticence, could be described in the same words I used for his performance in February: a “silk of sound, inward-looking and wistful in both major and minor keys, in both andante and allegro.

1st to have a job where you are paid to go to concerts in New York City.

Then to have job where you are paid to go to concerts in New York City and then be allowed, no, expected, to write about these concerts using some of the best words and the best USE of words that you can imagine.

Thanksgiving came a day early at the New York Philharmonic this year: the calories, the juicy fat, the whipped cream, the fun, the sense of endless bounty

Some pianists lean on the factory-machine regularity, the bright lucidity, of those parts

… opened the concert with an extravagance that offers proof of the survival of the orchestrational panache of the French tradition: its lurid lushness and sly squiggles, brassy explosions and sensual strings

The Philharmonic played well throughout, riding the many waves and swerves of intensity and pigment, from dewy dawns to mellow dusks

IT IS JUST NOT FAIR.

But I have this blog and I can write about the words.

And I can applaud the use of the words and thoughts.

And I can fell a little smug.

Mr. Wolfe notes that the soloist, Víkingur Ólafsson, played a tender Rameau encore.

I bet I know what he played.

I bet I know because in a post back in April, I recommended that you listen to playing Rameau.

I made another bet in that post.

I bet that if you listened to the piece through the link I had on the page, I bet that  you would instantly become happier.

I hold with that statement today.

11.28.2022 – how can that creepy

how can that creepy
guy be a hero to you
all in big trouble

Commenting on the ’60s and Lyndon Johnson, Doris Kearns Godwin writes in her book on LBJ, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, that:

“How in the hell can that creepy guy be a hero to you?” Johnson asked me after we saw The Graduate in the movie theater on his ranch.

“All I needed was to see ten minutes of that guy, floating like a big lump in a pool, moving like an elephant in that woman’s bed, riding up and down the California coast polluting the atmosphere, to know that I wouldn’t trust him for one minute with anything that really mattered to me.

And if that’s an example of what love seems like to your generation, then we’re all in big trouble.

All they did was to scream and yell at each other before getting to the altar.

Then after it was over they sat on the bus like dumb mutes with absolutely nothing to say to one another.

Don’t know why but I never imagined LBJ watching The Graduate.

Now that I know, I am not one bit surprised by his reaction.

The scary part, now in my 60s, I am not sure that I don’t disagree.

What was the quote sometimes attached to Mr. Churchill?

To be 25 and not be a liberal is to have no heart.

To be 50 and not be a conservative is to have no brain.

11.27.2022 – Ohio came to bury

Ohio came to bury
Michigan … game over … was
someone else instead

Forgive me or at least indulge me this little bit as again I go into sports.

My team won yesterday.

My team won the latest edition of the biggest game of the big game.

While the big game is the BIG GAME, and it is played every year without COVID, there are probably about 4 or 5 that can be counted as greatest BIG GAME in my lifetime.

After one of these BIG GAME’s in 1976, long time Michigan Football Radio Announcer, Bob Ufer, read off a short little poem to commemorate the victory that went like this:

Ohio Came To Bury Michigan, All Wrapped In Maize And Blue
The Words Were Said, The Prayers Were Read And Everybody Cried
But When They Closed The Coffin, There Was Someone Else Inside!

The Bucks Came To Bury The Wolverines – But Michigan Wasn’t Dead,
And When The Game Was Over, It Was Someone Else Instead.

Twenty-Two Michigan Wolverines Put On The Gloves Of Gray,
And As Cavender Played “The Victors”, They Laid Woody Hayes Away!

To update for today:

Ohio Came To Bury Michigan, All Wrapped In Maize And Blue
The Words Were Said, The Prayers Were Read And Everybody Cried
But When They Closed The Coffin, There Was Someone Else Inside!

The Bucks Came To Bury The Wolverines – But Michigan Wasn’t Dead,
And When The Game Was Over, It Was Someone Else Instead.

Twenty-Two Michigan Wolverines Put On The Gloves Of Gray,
And As the Band Played “The Victors”, They Laid Ryan Day Away!

11.26.2022 – nothing consciously

nothing consciously in mind see things never know you’ll discover

I love this. That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this picture of my wife running after my grand kids on the beach with a boogie board in the foreground. It really is a great picture.
The second thing that came to mind was a famous photograph by the famous photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. The photograph is of a Marching Band Drum Major and a line of kids strung along behind them. I had seen this photo for years and it had been included in both the LIFE MAGAZINE BEST PHOTOGRAPHS book that I thumbed through often and the famous Family of Man exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1955. I later learner that the photograph had been taken in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Drum Major was the Drum Major of the University of Michigan Marching Band. Mr. Alfred Eisenstaedt had an assignment from Life Magazine to photograph the band for an upcoming feature on the band director, William D. Revelli. With that in mind, I took a closer look and realized I knew exactly where this was. This was just on the other side of the brick wall on State Street from where my friend Doug lived. I played football on this field many times. According to Doug, they spent so much time out on their balcony watching football practice that someone was sent over to maker sure they were really students at Michigan. Mr. Eisenstaedt would later say, “It was early in the morning, and I saw a little boy running after him, and all the faculty children on the playing field ran after the boy. And I ran after them. This is a completely spontaneous, unstaged picture.” Time Magazine, the Time in Time-Life, claimed that, “Generations later, the picture remains one of the great photographer’s most beloved. When Bill Clinton was offered any Eisenstaedt print as thanks for a sitting he and his wife and daughter granted the then-94-year-old photographer on Martha’s Vineyard in 1993, the president reportedly chose this one.” There was a time in my life when I wanted to be a news photographed and I studied the work of Mr. Eisenstaedt. He told the story of his first assignment to cover the wedding of some minor European Royalty. Hungary or Rumania or Macedonia or something. Mr. Eisenstaedt said he took pictures of everything and this in the day when each slide of file meant replacing the back of the camera. He had brought some 200 frames of film and shot everything. Everything, that is, except the married couple. Mr. Eisenstaedt reported that he never forgot that. Still, Mr. Eisenstaedt would later write: “People sometimes ask me, ‘When you go off on an assignment, what do you have in mind?’ The truth is, unless the briefing from the editors is very specific, I don’t usually know. I may have nothing consciously in mind. I have to see things first. You never know what you’ll discover.” According to Time Magazine, this is the happiest photo ever made. I think my photo comes close. There is this one problem. I did not take it. My daughter did.

11.25.2022 – ain’t got no home, just

ain’t got no home, just
a-roamin’ ’round, ain’t got no home
this world anymore

Based on the Woody Guthrie tune, I Ain’t Got No Home.

My life in no way compares to the people in Mr. Guthrie’s song.

Recently on a unexpected trip up north, I recounted my current lifestyle and was told, “You are living the dream.”

Not don’t get me wrong because in many ways, I am living the dream.

But in some ways, to be honest, the dream is a bit of nightmare.

If I take this world, this country, election cycle, I worry all the time like I never did before.

If I take in the world of my kids, that I have no control over but I wish I could I wave a magic wand and make it all better, I worry all the time like I never did before.

If I take in the world of my Grand kids, that I have no control over but I wish I could I wave a magic wand and make it all better, I worry all the time like I never did before.

If I take in the world of some of my family, that I have no control over but I wish I could I wave a magic wand and make it all better, I worry all the time like I never did before.

If I take in parts of my world , that I have no control over but I wish I could I wave a magic wand and make it all better, I worry all the time like I never did before.

I feel like I ain’t got no home.

I feel like I do not feel at home in this world.

I worry all the time like I never did before.

Still, I am living the dream.

And if asked, don’t wake me up.

If only I could wake up and appreciate it.

Here are the lyrics of I Ain’t Got No Home.

I ain’t got no home, I’m just a-roamin’ ’round,
Just a wandrin’ worker, I go from town to town.
And the police make it hard wherever I may go
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.

My brothers and my sisters are stranded on this road,
A hot and dusty road that a million feet have trod;
Rich man took my home and drove me from my door
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.

Was a-farmin’ on the shares, and always I was poor;
My crops I lay into the banker’s store.
My wife took down and died upon the cabin floor,
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.

I mined in your mines and I gathered in your corn
I been working, mister, since the day I was born
Now I worry all the time like I never did before
‘Cause I ain’t got no home in this world anymore

Now as I look around, it’s mighty plain to see
This world is such a great and a funny place to be;
Oh, the gamblin’ man is rich an’ the workin’ man is poor,
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.

11.24.2022 – O Lord, we thank Thee

O Lord, we thank Thee
and grant that we may feast in
paradise with Thee

A Thanksgiving Prayer … to be read in unison:

“O Lord, we thank Thee for this food,
For every blessing, every good.
For earthly sustenance and love
Bestowed on us from heaven above.
Be present at our table, Lord.
Be here and everywhere adored.
Thy children bless and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee.”

By Garrison Keillor.

Mr. Keillor recommends have the prayer on a poster on the wall as that printing the prayer on cards would … would feel like a school assignment. Instead, I just look up at the wall and start singing (to the tune of the doxology), and everyone else in the family chimes in.

Although you must all resume toting the barge and lifting the bale tomorrow, it’s inspiring to hear 15 people find harmony around the Thanksgiving table. And it sets a tone. No crying in the cranberries. Lighten up. It could, as we say, be worse.

11.23.2022 – gather together

gather together
to ask the Lord’s blessing
sing praise to His Name

Having talked about the smells of Thanksgiving, it is fair to talk about the sounds.

And for me the sounds of Thanksgiving included the sound of singing the Hymn, We Gather Together.

I always knew it was of Dutch origin and for that reason I wanted it sung at our wedding and we did.

I learned more about the hymn from an article in the book of essays, Thanksgiving : the American holiday by Laurie C. Hillstrom.

The essay, We Gather Together,” A Thanksgiving Hymn (1894) states:

“We Gather Together” is a hymn that is closely associated with Thanksgiving. For the first half of the 20th century, it was commonly sung by children in schools as well as by worshippers in churches across the country.

But few people realize that this short hymn has a long and complicated history that began in 16th-century Europe.

The melody used for “We Gather Together” started out as a European folk song, and it had various lyrics associated with it through the years.

It turned into a hymn about overcoming religious oppression in 1597, when a group of Dutch Protestants defeated the Spanish Catholics who had long occupied their town and sang to celebrate their religious freedom.

The first printed version of the song appeared in a book of patriotic songs called Nederlandtsche Gedenckclanck, which was published in Holland in 1626. The Dutch-language version of “We Gather Together” traveled to the New World with early Dutch settlers. It was first translated into English in 1894 by Theodore Baker, an American scholar who heard it while studying in Germany.

The song began appearing in American hymnals in 1903, and its popularity increased during both World Wars.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Source: “We Gather Together,” 1597. First published as “Wilt heden nu treden” in the Dutch songbook Nederlandtsche Gedenckclanck, collected by Adrianus Valerius, Haarlem, Holland: 1626. Translated into English by Theodore Baker, 1894.

11.22.2022 – I was downwind from

I was downwind from
camp and the odor of their
soup drifted to me

Adapted from the passage written by John Steinbeck in his, 1962 book, Travels with Charley where Mr. Steinbeck writes:

Fortunately the tents and trucks and two trailers were settled on the edge of a clear and lovely lake.

I parked Rocinante about ninety-five yards away but also on the lake’s edge.

Then I put on coffee to boil and brought out my garbage-bucket laundry, which had been jouncing for two days, and rinsed the detergent out at the edge of the lake.

Attitudes toward strangers crop up mysteriously.

I was downwind from the camp and the odor of their soup drifted to me.

Those people might have been murderers, sadists, brutes, ugly apish subhumans for all I knew, but I found myself thinking. “What charming people, what flair, how beautiful they are.

How I wish I knew them.”

And all based on the delicious smell of soup.

Maybe it’s the thought of the smells of Thanksgiving that brought this passage to mind.

In a recent New York Times Opinion Piece (Nov. 20, 2022), Pamala Paul asked, Is There a Problem With Thanksgiving? and answered her question with:

We could start with the base-level perennials — the godawful travel, the risk to one’s diet, the cousin who is loudly certain that someone has slipped gluten into the gluten-free stuffing.

There’s typically a grievance against the potatoes: the format, mashed or casserole, whether or not to marshmallow, why is there never enough.

Someone has canceled at the last minute; someone nobody invited shows up anyway.

At least one child refuses to sit at the kiddie table, the teenagers refuse to put their phones down at whichever table, an uncle insists on watching the football game at the table.

The table itself looks nothing like tables on Instagram.

Notice she doesn’t touch on the smell.

Think of all the issues named by Ms. Paul.

Then think of all the delicious smells of Thanksgiving.

Don’t you think about anyone connected with those smells that charming people, what flair, how beautiful they are?

And all based on the delicious smells.