Thursday, April 05, 2007

We do
doodely do doodely do doodely do
What we must
muddily must muddily must muddily must
doodely do
doodely do doodely do doodely do
Until we bust
bodily bust bodily bust bodily bust.

-From Kurt Vonnegut's Wampeters, Foma and Granfaloons.

Life in a bureaucracy ain't all that it's cracked up to be.


Update: May he Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Friends of the Cold

Detail from Three Friends of Winter by Zhao Mengjian, Chinese, 13th Century

On my wintry way to work this morning, I noted the sorrel and chives peeping out of the semi-thawed dirt in my garden patch. About a block away from the house, my peripheral vision caught a flash of gold: the first forsythia of the year. Arching overheard were maple buds on the verge of becoming bright red blooms.

Surely all these will survive the cold and the snow predicted for the rest of this week. They were bred to thrive in this adversity, to show us what a real stiff upper lip is, to pave the way for the tenderer harbingers of spring.

This brought to mind the Asian classic "three friends of winter," ume-plum, bamboo and pine. Here's a bit of poetry on that:

Peach and plum in springtime, don't be too proud of your blossoms;
Think instead of the faithful pine and green bamboo at year's end.
What season changes these noble stalks and their luscious evergreen?

-Kim Yuki, Korean, 17th century

Pure white plum blossoms
Slowly beginning to turn
The color of Dawn

-Yosa Buson,
Japanese, 18th century

My spring is just this:
A single bamboo shoot,
A willow branch.

-Kobayashi Issa, Japanese, 18th century


Also, there's an interesting exhibit which touches on this at the Sackler. I think it's only up for another week at the most, so sorry for the late notice. If you do have the free time, however, go see it. I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Pablo has been coming over for dinner several nights a week since forever, it seems. Sometimes he brings a bottle of wine. Other times, maybe some fruit or cheese and crackers. A few times, when I was dead broke (happens more times than I'm comfortable with - it's expensive to live here and no one gets into my line of work to become rich), he shopped for groceries. While I cook, he reads. While I do dishes afterwards, he reads. If it's not too late, we'll move from the kitchen to the living room, I'll take up my knitting, and he'll continue to read.

In this manner, we've made our way through quite a pile of books. Currently, we're alternating between excerpts from Twain's Life on the Mississippi and Herodotus's Histories. (This begs the question: was Twain an American Herodotus or was Herodotus a Greek Twain?)

Today is my dinner partner, storyteller and friend's 39th birthday. As always, I wish him much comfort and happiness, and I hope that his day is a pleasant one.

A Happy Birthday

This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.

-Ted Kooser

Monday, April 02, 2007

Though I enjoy fresh and new for this venture, sometimes it's nice to revisit old favorites. These three keep turning up in my spirit at about this time every year:

This, as, though technical Spring has been here for a couple weeks, a "winter mind" is necessary to make sense of an Easter that could very well be a snowbound one.

This, because when Spring *does* get around to making an appearance, it's a subtle one whose cues are unmistakable for us Northern Types.

This, because I'm starting now, with much help from my loves, to feel my way out of the earth like a seedling making its way towards the sun. (It's been a very difficult couple years, sickening, dying and now starting to come back. I couldn't do it without my army of 'tus' know who you are.)

(What looks like about the only translation of the Rodriguez. Go figure.)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fooled!

March does not have and never did have 32 days. Being caught with my head in the clouds and my pants down, I don't have much planned for the moment, save for an a propos bit by Emily Dickinson:

This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell
–This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.