Friday, October 31, 2014

(1) "WE BELIEVE IN REASON RATHER THAN BLIND FAITH."

       Watching TV early today, I relished a quotation from H.L. Mencken to the point of letting Sunday Morning carry on without me,   Like a book one can't put down, this was a screen I could not turn off.
       "The men that American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest the most violently are those who try to tell them the truth."
      I wanted to highlight every Mencken quotation and to add women to this equation. An egg-beater in the back of my mind stirred up my own beliefs regarding religion.
      Years ago I dubbed myself an agnostic, doubtful that a caring Goddess existed but not being so bold as to declare there was no such divinity.  "But who made God?" asked Timmy with ten-year-old temerity back in 1956. Well, no one, Timmy, god just is.
      So why can't it be true that our solar system big-bangingly just is, I ask now. And why can't it be true that the evolution of man/woman from he/apes and she/apes just is, with no divine intervention necessary?
      I particularly related to Mencken's conviction that there was neither something to look forward to nor something to fear at life's end.  He would just vanish, as I will, rejoicing with my last breath (if I still have a functioning brain with which to rejoice) that I was lucky enough to catch the golden ring in humanity's hugest lottery, miraculous conception.  Why should nothingness hereafter be feared any more than the nothingness that existed for each of us before we were conceived?
      I have recently subscribed to a bi-monthly magazine called Free Inquiry, Paul Kurtz is editor-in-chief, proponent of secular humanism. A statement of principles has this affirmation:  "We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality."  Makes sense to me, Mr. Kurtz.

(2) ALICEANN ASKS MY ADVICE ON HOW TO COPE WITH THAT HUSBAND OF OURS.

OUR SISTER JANETH'S HAND IS ON DICK'S SHOULDER, BUT
THE REST OF HER IS SO UNFLATTERING I'VE CROPPED IT.
SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL WELL INTO HER 80S.
May 15, 1991
From letter to my brother, Dick
      I was happy to hear that you liked Take My Ex.  Publishing a book has added a lot of excitement to my life.  I've autographed copies in two bookstores and appeared on a local cable TV program called "Pierson to Person."     
     At first the idea of even giving a newspaper interview was alarming‑‑how could I express myself properly without my computer and Roget's Thesaurus?  But gradually I've begun to relax and enjoy the interviews.  "Pierson to Person" was great fun because the host arranged for Ed and Aliceann to call in halfway through the program, with the Florida Malleys answering questions and making comments from their two telephones.  They were both articulate and funny.  
     Aliceann told the host and his viewers that she calls me from time to time to ask my advice on how to cope with that husband of ours.  It gets her goat when they are out boating and Ed tells her to bring the boat into the wind.
     "I say I don't know where the wind is or how to bring the boat into it."  Ed says, `Barbara used to do it,' and I say, `But I'm not Barbara!'"
    "Atta girl," I said into the mike.  "You tell 'im!"                  
ALICEANN PHOTO BY BBM AT TIM'S COOKOUT
     Wig has been generous about mentioning my book frequently on  his program.  Only this morning a friend told me she happened to tune into "Pierson to Person" just as Wig was announcing that my book had sold four thousand copies.
     Actually that figure represents the number of copies Little, Brown has distributed to bookstores all over the country.  They printed a total of seven thousand, and of course I'm hoping there will be a second printing.  And yes, dear brother, it would be very exciting if a movie producer became interested in my book. . . .

      

(3) FOUR Bs: BOOKS, BLOG, BRIDGE & COUNTING MY BLESSINGS.


HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT ALL THIS?  SORT OF LIKE THE TIME I FIRST SOLOED. 

August 14, 2013. . . would have been my sister's eighty-ninth birthday.  My ninety-second birthday is on the seventeenth of August.  I will spend it by continuing to work on The Janeth Journal, a book about the interactions between my sister and me after she contracted Alzheimer's Disease. Daughter Kathie is editing the 22 chapters.  Will keep you posted.

     I am quoted in the Boston Globe article as suggesting that I must have lived to this ripe old age because I still have a lot to do.  I'm not sure what this might be, unless it's these four Bs in my life:  Books, Blogging, Bridge, and counting my Blessings.

(4) WOW! HOW DID I GET TO BE SUCH AN ANTIQUE?

August 17, 2014   
     According to the calendar, I am now 93 years old, an exceedingly elderly female.  I used to hear old girls in their 70s and 80s claim they felt as young and frisky as ever inside. I thought they were full of old shoes.   
     Here is an honest fact:  I still play golf regularly, still find myself and my golf clubs in strange places like barns and supermarkets with Tiger Woods's type shots needed to get out of trouble . . . in my dreams.
     I won’t be celebrating by seeing if I can still fly an airplane, as I did on my 90th birthday. My walker would get in the way.
      I've been thinking what fun it would be if you kind visitors from other countries wished me a Happy Birthday in your native languages.  Click on "no comments" below, and a space will appear for your comment, headed by your name or "anonymous"  if you prefer. Then by all means take a look at Kathie's important blog, http://engagingpeace.com.  It would be lovely if you would leave a comment for her, as well.   
     Cheers and warm best wishes to all of you!
August 18, 2014
      One hundred forty-seven visitors yesterday but none left a comment.  I had a very nice birthday anyway, here at Linden Ponds where I'll never again have to load a dishwasher. The quality of the food? Delicious. I have asked helpful server Diane to convey my compliments to the chef.

(1) KEEPING TIME WITH HIS TAIL, HE EMITTED A WAIL. . .

[Ernestine Cobern Beyer, my mother, wrote her poems with the help of Jeeves, her name for her subconscious.] 
                                                       
                                                         THE CONCERT
                                                                        
                                    Yelchior, dressed in his black and his white
                                    Sat down on his skinny old shanks
                                    And sang, the old dear, without worry or fear--
                                    And, too, I might add, without thanks.

                                    Outlined on the rail by a bleary-eyed moon,
                                    He sang to a distant Maltese;
                                    Keeping time with his tail, he emitted a wail
                                    In eleven malevolent keys.

                                        Grace Lawrence
                                When windows flew open and nightcaps leaned out,
                                    He was thrilled to his flattered old roots,
                                    And he took a deep bow when his mounting me-ow
                                    Brought a thundering salvo of boots.
                                                                 
                                    "They cannot but recognize genius like mine!"
                                    Thought Yelchior, dodging a shoe;
                                    "Since they all stay awake for my talented sake,
                                    I will now rend an encore or two!"

                                    All evening he sang, but as dawn staggered in,
                                    (Worn out by the concert, I guess),
                                    He finished content, and he thought as he went:
                                    "I am surely a howling success!"

(2) THE BEE'S THE MINSTREL OF THE AIR.

The Troubadour
The bee's the minstrel of the air.
He is welcomed everywhere.
When they hear his mandolin,
Eager blossoms let him in.

Clad in brown and yellow bands,
Swaggering he lightly stands
On a carpet of perfume,
Strumming to a lily-bloom.

Duel
My love and I, we duel.
I know his every trick!
His rapier-wit is cruel,
My parry, sharp and quick.

Deaf to our hearts' pleading,
We wound each other deep,
Til staggering and bleeding,
We sheathe our words and weep.

The New Year
The New Year's a notebook whose pages are white;
The New Year's a penny untarnished and bright;
The New Year's a baby just this moment born,
A beautiful baby asleep in the morn.

Let's write in the notebook without any smudges,
Let's spend the bright penny and settle our grudges.
Let's comfort the baby who'll cry when he wakes
And discovers he's stuck with his father's mistakes!

Heritage
 In love's most secret alchemy, divine,
I bore you.  You are mine--and yet not mine.
Ancestral patterns blending with the new
Designed the special pattern that is You.

So did the present and the past devise
Your fair young face, your tender, laughing eyes!
Amazed, I look upon your grace and mirth
As might at some sweet flower the marveling earth.

First Love
When I was young and fair to see,
Happiness came courting me.
Alas, he fled at springtime's end.
'Twas then I found a truer friend.

Comforting my heart's distress,
Peace took the place of Happiness.
Yet sometimes as the long years go,
And evening falls, serene and slow,
I wonder, as he wanders free,
If my first love remembers me.

The New Lover
No more I listen for your tread,
And weep and moan;
No more I toss upon my bed
Alone . . . alone.
No more I wait for you;
I lie beside
A colder lover but more true;
His name is Pride.

Smiles
Timothy's smile is whimsical, slow,
Mocking, the smile of Thomas;
Barnaby's smile is sudden woe
To her who believes its promise.

Peter's smile has power to haunt,
(The smile of a saint or satyr!)
But Barnaby's smile is all I want--
Though I shall be sorry, later.

The May Tree
The May-tree tosses a fragrant branch
Loosing a flower-avalanche;
And out of the dusk a bird is heard,
Speaking a lonely, silver word.

Silent I stroll in the garden walks
Where sway the sweet-breathed hollyhocks,
Trembling beneath the May-tree flood,
Feeling the star-dust in my blood,
Knowing the lonely, silver word
Is my heart calling--and not a bird!

The Winding Road
Road, O road that bids me stray,
Winding past my cottage door,
I have thrown my staff away,
I shall wander you no more!

I have found that roads are false;
Only little homes are true,
Waiting meekly in their walls--
No, I shall not follow you!

 Do not tempt my errant feet,
Do not call or beckon me.
(Ah, the road is wild and sweet . . .
Wait until I turn the key!)

Casual Encounter

We meet by chance and stop to talk together,
Two oldish people pausing for a chat.
He makes a smiling comment on the weather;
I nod . . . and wish I'd worn another hat!

I catch his glance.  At once my heart grows tipsy,
Yet casually my laughter greets his quips.
He does not guess a young, impassioned gypsy
Is kissing him in secret on the lips.

Love is My Song
Love is my song.  I do not sing
Of love when it is in its spring.
I sing of love that knows the years,
A tested love baptized with tears.
The love that has been proven strong --
This is my song!

I sing of love that grows more fair
With every dream the lovers share.
I sing of love that does not faint,
But bears life's pain without complaint,
  The love that lasts a whole life long . . .
This is my song.

O, may my faithful love for you
Grow richer, deeper and more true.
And when our mortal path is trod,
May we go hand in hand to God,
To join at last, the angel throng . . .
This is my song!

March
"Ho!" roared March, and his lusty cry
Made all the leaves and papers fly.
The clotheslines leapt at his jovial glance,
And the flannels jigged in a scarecrow dance!

"Hi!" laughed March, and he winked an eye
At a slim young thing who was coming by,
But April fled in her flowery clothes
And slammed spring's door on his bold red nose!

David and Goliath
Challenging his frosty foe
A crocus swaggers from the snow,
And with his tiny golden arrow
Pierces Winter to the marrow!

Spring
As in a small reflecting-glass
The sun's rays fiercely focus,
So Spring is captured in the grass
By one important crocus.

To a Butterfly

O little astronaut of winged dust,
The summer air is yours to try and trust,
An ocean, limitless, of sunny hours
With isles of rest which are the nodding flowers.

Your languid wings, how excellent their span,
Infallible, ineffable, their plan,
As casually you leave the flower there
And lightly soar the iridescent air.

The Craftsman

What patience filled the cosmic mind
That made all things both great and small,
That reared the mountains and designed
The rock-snail's tiny Taj Mahal.

What tenderness impelled the heart
That loosed the sea, the wind that blows,
Yet planned with sure and flawless art
The architecture of the rose.

Renewal
Now in the fields the clover-bloom exhales
The hoarded summers on her perfumed breath.
The new grass grows with zest that never fails
Spring's yearly resurrection after death.

Unquestioning, the young fern breaks the mold,
The jonquil's cup is filled with morning wine,
And life's bright flame, unquenched by winter's cold,
Is bright within the candle of the pine.

The Snail
Adventuring a tangled trail,
How slowly crawls the patient snail!
He pauses for a moment, brief,
To take the measure of a leaf;
Then up a twig and down a rose
His tiny covered wagon goes!

The Firefly

A firefly that tours my lawn
Turns his tiny flashlight on;
And with this valiant little spark
He bravely travels through the dark.

All night long he cruises there
On his avenue of air,
But daylight dims his winsome wink.
He has blown a fuse, I think!

Sudden Silver
The air is chill.  The clouds are rent asunder.
Upon the sky the lightning scribbles "Rain!"
"Rain!" corroborates the distant thunder,
And sudden silver glistens in the lane.

The Tippler
From the clover's convivial cavern
There issues a jovial hum
Where the bee in his velveteen tavern
Is quaffing his redolent rum.
Then tipsy with essence ecstatic
Distilled in the summery dawn,
Off on an errand erratic
He reels to his wings and is gone!

The Miser Squirrel

The squirrel, prince of friskers,
Who loves the nibbly nut,
Is mostly tail and whiskers --
In fact, he's nothing but.

He stores away the best nuts
In either roomy cheek.
With both jaws crammed with chestnuts,
He truly looks unique.

To satisfy my wonder,
I've watched him at his pranks,
And found he hides his plunder
In vaults of flower-banks.

Humming-Bird

A humming-bird airily nimble,
Pauses a moment to sup
From a flower as small as a thimble
That offers its delicate cup.
With nothing but blossoms beneath her,
And no one to see her but me,
She stands on a carpet of ether,
Sipping her humming-bird tea.

Seeds

The milkweed seeds drift lightly everywhere.
Carrying the weight of unborn springs,
They float along;
So seeds of thought that pollinate the air
Drift softly to my heart on filmy wings
To make a song.

In Autumn
Behold the timid twilight
With his starry folk;
Note the evening shadow
Stalking in his cloak,

Mark the minstrel cricket
With his lonely lute,
Prophesying winter
To a heedless root.

Fragile

My gift was delivered at seven
Just as I woke where I lay.
Postmarked explicitly "Heaven,"
My gift was this beautiful day.

One matchless, miraculous morning.
Surrendered in trust to my care,
It came bearing only this warning,
"Fragile.  Handle with prayer."

Legacy

The buttercups that gild the hills
What wealth provide us;
Earth's brimming tills of daffodils
Would dazzle Midas.

This is April's legacy
Which all inherit:
The tender gold of flower and tree.
Rejoice and share it!

The Weather Vane Horse

The weather vane horse, he trots his track
In the silvery dusk or dawn;
The wind is the jockey that rides his back
And urges him on and on.
He paws the sky with a sprightly hoof
And a brave inaudible neigh,
As gallantly there on the old red roof,
He gallops the years away.

The Grandfather Clock

The grandfather clock on the stair,
How solemn and courtly his air!
With motionless hands he patiently stands,
Recalling a day more fair.

Never again will he start.
Silent, he stands there, apart,
Holding the hour when life was in flower
Forever unspent in his heart.

Stars

The stars maintain eternal espionage
Above the earth, light centuries away.
To them our globe seems but a brief mirage
Created in experimental play.

In cosmic calm, indifferent, they beam
On good and evil, tears and wars and scars;
Earth--are you but a transitory dream
Envisioned by the cool and timeless stars?

Life

Oh Life that guards with care, immense,
The flickering ferny frond,
When ice with diamonds cements
The pale and fluid pond;

O wondrous and persistent spark,
O quenchless breath, divine,
That keeps alight through winter's dark
The candle of the pine!

Incredible, persevering Life
That wakes the frozen tree,
And fills with its insatiate strife
Philosopher and flea!

Trees Have Memories

Their boughs are bent with snowdrifts in December,
But trees forget not spring.  Their roots remember . . .
Remember how the bud was shaped and molded
And how the leaf within was pressed and folded.
In winter's seeming death their hearts are vernal.
Trees have memories of things eternal.

The Wounded One

Here in the dark I lie, but cannot sleep
For thoughts of you whom I have wounded deep.
For sins against you, sins now past recall,
These bitter tears at midnight slowly fall.
My better-self whose dreams I dared to blight,
It is for you, for you I weep, tonight.

 Healer

Night clasps the darkened earth in her embrace.
Me too, she clasps, compassion on her face.
O, she has heard full long the heartbreak sigh
Of those who love and suffer, dream and die.

Night bends to me.  I feel my brow caressed;
My tears are dried against her ageless breast.
Peace comforts me.  My sorrow drops away;
Night's gentle task is done . . . and it is day.

Mourning Dove

O little bird ineffably remote
That mourns behind a wall of flower and leaf,
Though you but woo your mate with pulsing throat,
You tremolo all loneliness, all grief!

The Measure

The strong warm hand, the broad and steady shoulder,
The face you love grown dearer, kinder, older,
The comrade-glance, the peace, the burden-sharing,
The well loved voice, the touch, the tender caring . . .
O, you who have this, guard it well and treasure it,
For only when you've lost it can you measure it!