here/now

PierreAugusteRenoir.umbrellas
“Umbrellas” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The Drop, that wrestles in the Sea –
Forgets her own locality
As I, in Thee –

She knows herself an incense small –
Yet small, she sighs, if all, is all,
How larger – be?

The Ocean, smiles at her conceit –
But she, forgetting Amphitrite –
Pleads “Me”?

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #255)

~~~

I’m saying open up
And let the rain come pouring in
Wash out this tired notion
That the best is yet to come
But while you’re dancing on the ground
Don’t think of when you’re gone
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Pig) ♫

human inventions

“The Reader (Young Woman Reading a Book)” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) French Impressionist Painter
“The Reader (Young Woman Reading a Book)” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
~ Carl Sagan
(Cosmos: The Persistence of Memory)

but the child is right

“Jean Drawing” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
“Jean Drawing” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Children will draw pictures with everything in them … houses and trees and people and animals … and the sun AND the moon. Grown-up says, “That’s a nice picture, Honey, but you put the moon and the sun in the sky at the same time and that isn’t right.” But the child is right! The sun and moon are in the sky at the same time.
~ R. Buckminster Fuller
(Buckminster Fuller to Children of Earth)

we return thanks

“Bouquet of Chrysanthemums” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
“Bouquet of Chrysanthemums” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with water.
 We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters,
the beans and squash, which give us life.
 We return thanks to the bushes and trees, which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind, which, moving the air, has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather He-no,
that he has protected his grandchildren from witches and reptiles,
 and has given to us his rain.
We return thanks to the sun,
that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficient eye.
 Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in whom is embodied all goodness,
and who directs all things for the good of his children.
~ 19th-Century Iroquois Prayer
(The Joy of Family Traditions: A Season-by-Season Companion to Celebrations, Holidays & Special Occasions)

keeping the channel open

“The Dancer” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
“The Dancer” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.
~ Martha Graham
(Dance to the Piper)

artist date

Recently Jeff posted a great story about what he called an artist date with a friend. At the end of the post he posed the question, “Have you allowed yourself an artist date in a while, if so what, where?” That question started a long trip down memory lane for me, and although I never thought of it in those terms before, I have had a few very memorable artist dates over the years…

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

In the late 1980s my mother and I found ourselves staying at the YWCA in Boston to be there for my grandfather, who was having by-pass surgery at a hospital there. All the details escape me. But while Grandfather was actually having the surgery, to keep ourselves from going nuts, Mother and I decided to go to the museum and check out a current show. It was something about the object as art, or something like that. Mother had already been diagnosed with and had some treatment for her breast cancer. In her opinion some of the “art” in the show didn’t seem to be worthy of the name, and I had to agree. It was the first and only time I went to an art museum with my mother. The wild taxi ride, zigzagging at high speeds over the crooked little back streets of Boston, back to the hospital, was much more memorable!

I think it must have been in the late 1990s when I visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts again, this time with Tim. I had chanced across a used coffee table book on Renoir at the Book Barn, which I bought, and then fell in love with paintings, which seemed to me to be expressing celebrations of the simple joys in life. When I learned that Dance at Bougival was at the museum in Boston I had to go see it. When we got there we studied the floor plan to try to figure out where it might be, and set off on our search. As we went from room to room I started to fret, thinking I must have been mistaken about it being there, etc… I almost walked past it, it was on the wall behind us as we entered a room. “Barbara,” Tim said from behind me as he gently tapped me on my shoulder. “Look.” I turned around and there it was! Much larger than I expected, life-sized! And then I had an intense moment of transcendence, don’t know what else to call it. Time seemed to stand still and at the same time the dancing couple was moving. They were as alive as could be. The colors were vivid. I was stunned and got a huge lump in my throat as I tried not to let the tears come.

“Dance at Bougival” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

That’s when I learned how art is similar to music. One can listen to a recording with great pleasure and appreciation, but there is nothing like live music to stir the soul. And one can also look at a picture of a painting with great pleasure and appreciation, but there is nothing like the original painting with the living spirit of the artist still present on the canvas and in the paint used to create it.

It’s time for me to continue cleaning for tonight’s party. It was too cloudy to see the lunar eclipse last night. 🙁 And I wish I was on Cape Cod — they got 11 inches of snow in Dennis yesterday!!!

first snow

“Early Snow” by Konstantin Kryzhitsky

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
~ J. B. Priestley

It looks as if I have a busy day ahead of me, but my spirits have been lifted by an early snowfall, and, even if the snow will melt away as the day goes on, the feeling of delight it gave me continues… I heard two rumbles of thunder during the night, so I was not expecting to see snow when I got up out of bed! It felt so good to bundle up and go out to warm up the car for Tim, and brush the thick wet stuff off of it. I know I’m weird, but I love going outside in the winter, and this is the time of year when one can see bright yellow leaves from autumn resting on the still-green grass from summer, covered with a dollop of winter white snow.

One year back in the 1980s sometime it happened to snow one day in October, during the peak of fall color on a weekend. We were on a hike deep into the woods of Pachaug State Forest with two other families. It was so very enchanting! Everything seemed bathed in a magical light… (I call it snowlight.) We cooked a meal we brought over a campfire and took in the sounds of nature, the stillness of the snow, the fading light. Even the eight little ones were quietly mesmerized and not complaining about a thing. We reluctantly turned back so we could be out of the woods by dusk.

Things are not going well for Auntie. She’s had a trip to the emergency room in an ambulance and numerous visits to doctors and clinics in the past couple of weeks. Somehow during all this she broke some of her ribs, a painful addition to all her other problems. We’re all feeling the strain.

In my moments of solitude I’ve been exploring the vast treasures to be found at Wikimedia Commons, discovering artists I never knew existed from Ukraine and Norway and other interesting places. I went through a phase years ago where I dragged Tim, Larisa or Fran with me to museums from Boston to New York to Washington, to see all the Renoir paintings I could locate. In the process Larisa fell in love with Rodin. And now that I’ve “discovered” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, I hope to be dragging one or all of them with me to find one of his paintings in the near future!

Early Snow, the painting above, is by Konstantin Kryzhitsky, an Ukrainian painter, who lived from 1858 to 1911.