Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Fall Visits

November First - Andrew Wyeth

Some of my favorite people in the world are also relatives - a happy circumstance.  

For me the end of one week is usually designated for beginning to worry about what the next will bring; however... 

today starts with a newsy/talky (mostly me talking) phone conversation with a smart, patient young woman who happens to be related to me. Once I disconnect, it's off to the auto repair shop to find out why the repair bill is so darned high - labor costs are a killer.  The bill paid (with a surprise discount) the revived car sits in  it's customary spot snuggled among mounds of pin-oak leaves. 

Back home, dishes are quickly done - the fireplace warms the living room against a blustery, gone-cold autumn day. A car pulls up in front of the house and in come my baby sister and a favorite aunt.  For a couple hours the kitchen is filled with chatter of school pictures, cousins, bad puns, health issues and reviews of my first attempt at making an apple pie from scratch. Laughter is plentiful. A handsome, bearded man clad in cargo shorts and a heavy flannel shirt emerges from the basement where he is working on electronics.  Teacups warm the hands, the company warms the heart.  The soon to be 14-year-old resident beagle sits at my feet, making known that, if she can't have a piece of pie, then non-stop scratching of her head and neck is the price. 

The Last of Autumn - Andrew Wyeth

Visits by telephone, via text/e-mail or in person feed my heart and soul.  Knowing someone thinks enough of me to take the time for a visit, in whatever form, can lift the heaviest of sorrow, loneliness or care.  Autumn is an especially good time for this as darkness comes sooner, lasts longer and rings a melancholy chord in my heart - will spring keep it's yearly promise of naked trees suddenly etched with blooms, forsythia waving golden fronds and a profusion of fragrant lilacs  painting the winter-bleached landscape?  Surely it will. In the meantime, I will tap into the "lemony sunshine, restorative spring breeze" stockpile that visits like today's have built.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Looking out. Looking in. (Andrew Wyeth's windows)

Andrew Wyeth

This time of year brings the paintings of Andrew Wyeth to my mind.  I enjoy the colors of his work - whether people, landscape, livestock.  He captures the essence of the subject well.  

Wisteria - Andrew Wyeth

Her Room - Andrew Wyeth
His windows have intrigued and beguiled me forever. The way in which he pulls the viewer's gaze through the window to settle on heavy, hanging gray clouds, fields gone tawny in a late autumn afternoon, the dusty brownish husk of a tree laid bare by winter.  I can imagine curling up on an overstuffed chair, an afghan over my lap and a steaming cup of tea within easy reach and just staring out one of those windows.  Maybe some music playing softly in the background (John Barry's "Across the Sea of Time"?). My brain and heart travel past the panes to places I will likely never see in "real" life, but the journey is breathtaking.

Around the Corner - Andrew Wyeth
Wyeth's windows do another trick in that they seem to invite me to a type of friendly voyeurism.  Nothing unseemly, but I am at once engaged in dreamy speculation about what is on the other side of the partially-shaded window I see from outside. Is there a pleasing domestic scene, lovers embracing, loneliness?  And, at times, I am caught by the awareness that, depending on the light Wyeth employs in creating the window I am looking into, all I may see is my own reflection.   Intentional or uncalculated, his windows open onto endless stories, unlimited possibilities...looking out or looking in.

Wind from the Sea - Andrew Wyeth

Monday, October 19, 2015

Jesse Stuart - Poet Laureate of Kentucky 1954 - 1984

Jesse Hilton Stuart (August 8, 1906 – February 17, 1984)

My dad died recently.  He was born and raised in Ashland, Kentucky and had a lifetime love and longing for the land and the people of his youth.  He had quite a collection of books by Jesse Stuart.   It seems that Mr. Stuart knew my dad's dad so, along with a personal connection, Dad also appreciated the way Mr. Stuart was able to capture, with quiet eloquence and bold imagery, the beauty of the region of which he was a native.  Jesse Stuart's writing is indeed rich and worthy of multiple visits, preferably over  many years, as the words speak to different parts of the heart and the head depending on when they are read.  If you aren't familiar with this poet/author/educator, think about spending a quiet autumn afternoon "dipping a toe or two" into one of his many books.  My guess is you will be transported to an Appalachian locality that might induce you to work the land, compose a ballad, fall in love or marvel at the people who populate this land - a land both deep in poverty and bounty.

Check out the following links:

The Jesse Stuart Foundation :
WVU Library Jesse Stuart Exhibit:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Happiness is a beagle (as long as you have no sense of smell)

Sweet beagle puppy
Sleeping old beagle - 13 1/2 years later

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Condolences and epitaphs

{Doug Savage}
I recently took a new job that allows me the opportunity to "hear" what people say about those who have died and the things they say to the bereaved.  For the most part, what is said is overwhelmingly positive - many superlatives, sweet remembrances, funny stories, abbreviated (but sometimes extensive) genealogies to explain kinship to deceased/bereaved.  Occasionally, and usually jarringly, I come across the odd spectacularly negative comment - "she was a horrible person", "Glad he's dead - what a jerk." or "oh well!".  While completing household chores, trying to fall asleep or watching a movie, an unbidden but insistent thought pops into my head... "what would I want people to say about me after I die?" (will I even know or care about what is said once I'm dead?).  A (big) part of me would like people to say wonderful things about how kind, selfless and funny I was. I certainly wouldn't want to be remembered for the me of my weaker/weakest moments when my fatigue, frustration, impatience, less than brilliant utterances and selfishness in thought or deed paint me with an ugly brush.  What would I want my loved ones to hear about me and my new state? Would it be helpful to them to hear that I am in heaven, that I am now an angel, that I am pain-free and will no longer experience unhappiness?  Death is a funny business -  a mysterious certainty for all.  My brain chugs along trying to make sense of it all and makes no headway.  I guess I just hope that, when I go, people who care enough to comment on it have had the good fortune to have parents somewhere in their pasts who taught them "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's like looking in a mirror....

                                                                                               B. Watterson

Monday, October 22, 2012