the agitation in the nation– whatever the frustrations–
instigators and insurrectionists, racists, and white supremacists,
in armed rebellion to overthrow– it really happened—and they must go.
They should be tried for their crimes— spreading lies, hate, violence, and plagues—sad times
for our country, for the world, I cry for us all, for those who’ve been lost—the wind sighs
with their ghosts. This is not who we are, some say, yes, it is, but we can find another way.
Some will always be lost to hate, leave them to their fate. Deflate
what is possible, build from the ashes, anew. See there—the sun rises–golden beams reflect on blue,
in rosy haze, the geese take wing, then land— and like them, I hope we can have and stand,
with leaders who try to serve the many, not themselves only—preserve
out of many, one—come together, the sun rising, just begun.
I’m sure everyone knows what happened this past Wednesday—insurrectionists, incited by President 45, attempted to overthrow the U.S. government. He, the GOP lawmakers who supported him, and those who engaged in sedition should be arrested, removed from office and jobs, and tried. In addition to hate and sedition, they also most likely spread Covid. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Rising Sun chair. It’s the chair George Washington sat in while presiding over the sessions of the Constitutional convention. James Madison later wrote that Benjamin Franklin said of the chair, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I… know that it is a rising…sun.” You can see the chair here.
I also thought of how thousands, including me, have marched in peaceful protests.
Merril’s Movie Club: Last night we watched Elizabeth is Missing, which features an outstanding performance by Glenda Jackson. It was shown in the U.S. on Masterpiece. Some may not wish to see it because Jackson portrays a woman with Alzheimer’s. It was somewhat upsetting to me in that it made me think of my mom. At the same time, the movie and her portrayal are so accurate and sympathetic, that I felt myself thinking that’s how it must have been for my mom—except that she was nearly blind and far less mobile than Jackson’s character. The story, however, is about Jackson’s character solving two mysteries. The present-day disappearance of her friend, and the decades-old disappearance of her sister. We’re about to start Season 2 of Occupied (Netflix). Season 1 of this Norwegian series was excellent and exciting. I also finished Bridgerton (Netflix). I probably don’t have to say anything about that. Binge and swoon. (But if you don’t know anything about it, it’s a period piece and a Shonda Rhimes production. My daughter described it as Jane Austen with sex.)
The days blend together— mere words on a page, turned, the end of one chapter, becomes the start of the next without pause, the action, or lack thereof continues
one walk becomes another, but still full of wonder, and sometimes surprise— the truth in beauty, and I the Sylvan historian–
if I ask why on a dreary morning, a voice within says look, listen— the sky wakes with a slow, secret smile. . .
and it does.
This first Monday in January is grey and dreary. I haven’t gone anywhere or done much of anything in the past week. I keep forgetting what day it is. New Year’s Day felt like a Sunday. On New Year’s Eve, we did a Zoom meeting/dinner with dear friends. We ate Chinese food, as we’ve done for decades on New Year’s Eve, and we opened a bottle of champagne, too. I got a somewhat ominous fortune. I made a spicy black-eyed pea stew on a round loaf of bread for New Year’s Day, thinking the year needs all the help possible.
We’ve been catching up on shows. The Good Lord Bird, based on James McBride’s novel, is excellent—funny, sad, and timely. Ethan Hawke as abolitionist John Brown is wonderful, and equally good is Joshua Caleb Johnson as Henry “Onion” Shackelford, a young man who Brown thinks is a girl. Both my husband and I thought the show was good—acting, music, and the Fargo-like sly humor—but we weren’t really caught up in it until about half-way through, when suddenly we were. We also watched a French mystery, Frozen Dead (Netflix) (hoping there’s a second season), and started Occupied (Netflix), a Norwegian thriller set in the near future. The first few episodes are quite exciting.
I’ve read a few novels in the last couple of weeks: Kris Waldherr, The Lost History of Dreams; Cat Winters, The Uninvited; David Gillham, Annelies: A Novel, and I’m currently reading Susan Ella MacNeal’s The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent (Maggie Hope, Book 4–I think I’ve read one and three). I’ve been able to get all of these through our county library’s contactless pickup system. I also have a bunch of books on my Kindle for just in case. 😏
One breath—a cloud-blush and almost away, a fiery, fever-dazzle wakens, though you remember the ghost embrace, you are given morning, one, then two– each a secret unfolding–not always, but if, a window opens to sea scent and wind-kiss, linger in its whispered blue, wait for the caramel light–and after the soft laugh of stars.
The Oracle seems to be offering messages of hope at the start of the year. As usual, she knows everything. I looked out at a gray morning, but as I started walking the sun came through the clouds.
On Christmas Eve, sugar-rushed to cookie-coma amidst twinkling lights, we settled, sofa-snug, with snoring cat, as the wind locomotive kept rushing past tumbling the tracks, but traveling on, and I finally slept–
waking to coffee scent and gifts, traces of dreams, trailing, falling, like the rain, silver-streaking the windows, before evaporating,
and now beyond grey curtains, the pale Christmas sun, waits to make her entrance,
rising with hopes– not if, but when— we see each other again, as the days grow longer and the light grows and flows through clouds to dance on branches
and brush the river with shimmering glow— then, I hold this beauty close—the unexpected gifts– that warm my soul within,
and I watch as a spirit flies from tree on white heron feathers winging toward dawn . . .
and a new day begins.
I know this is a very sad time for many people, and I know I am fortunate for what I have. Although I missed being with family and friends, I did have a good holiday. On Christmas Eve afternoon, we saw our younger daughter and her husband and puppy in the afternoon (when it started to rain, son-in-law came up with a creative idea), then we had fondue for dinner and watched Love Actually. In case anyone is wondering, you can use leftover flat champagne in fondue. I used the leftover bread to make baked French toast that we had for brunch on our post-storm Christmas Day, as we streamed a Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas special. It was very relaxed—the upside of no visitors and not having to be anywhere is that we had no schedule and didn’t have to worry about the house being clean.🤣 We Zoomed with family later in the afternoon and evening.
Crystalline sky turns grey, and again, the sun holds sway, briefly a queen, till retiring her light in longest night,
thoughts flit in shadows, reappear to soar on broad heron wings toward faint morning’s misty glow, and slow
the brightening, diffused through pink-tipped clouds. But– do you hear the river’s tongue, lapping up the shore, waking the day? Watch, stay
there, from a tree a cardinal chirps and robins sing, remember spring. And here, amidst festive red and green, we recall summer bright
and keep its flames burning in candlelight, reflecting out across the miles, ever fainter, like the stars that gleam, while
the moon hums a silver sheen across the snow. And buried below, are seeds and dreams, waiting–
and so, it goes. Again, birth to end, spinning earth, time flows, and light transcends us all, singing, winging across and beyond space
that shimmering star glow.
So a quick bit today for the winter solstice because I’m behind on everything, including reading others’s work. I apologize. I hope to catch up this week.
My birthday was last Tuesday. We took a long walk at the John Heinz National Wildlife Center at Tinicum. I will post more photos another time. It’s a wetlands sanctuary. The day was cold and there was ice on the water, but the sun was shining, and it was beautiful. We tried a new to us Indian restaurant for take out dinner, and it was great! (And we had it for two more dinners!). Younger daughter baked and delivered a chocolate-salted caramel cake. We celebrated the rest of Hanukkah this week, and I started on Christmas baking. Santa Claus drove by on a fire engine (no, I can’t explain it)—but in this time of Covid, everything is exciting.
Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We streamed The Wolves for my birthday. An excellent production by the Philadelphia Theater Company. We watched Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a terrific film adaptation of August Wilson’s play. Nuanced and powerful performances from all, and an especially fine performance by Chadwick Boseman in his final role. This is an intense and beautifully filmed movie. We also watched Enola Holmes, which was perfect, lighter viewing. It’s a lot of fun. Both movies are on Netflix.
Seek the stillness in the storm, as grey consumes, delight in light, within cold blue, find warmer hues
aglow in candle flames; await the glimpse of golden glimmer; delight in company–and dinner– watch the shimmer
of sun on water; and if time flows, listen for its shadow-wings that soar and circle back, to bring song from stars, soul-stirring
heart-burnished flickers. Rejoice in blood-pounding, and surf-tossed waves; a symphony blend of love, life, light begin and end, the past returns, and over again
in the passage of indigo night to rose-tipped sky find all is right, in the lullaby of the moon, the gentle sigh
of wind recalling earth-yearning, and the constant turning to find the songs and all the light, burning.
Last Thursday marked the start of Hanukkah. In this pandemic year, we could not be with family, but still we celebrated. I bought my sisters, daughters, and myself a bracelet that says “kvetch.” It seems appropriate.
As we move closer to the winter solstice, the sun sets earlier and earlier, but our weather has been crazy. We’ve had storms and sunshine, and the temperature was in the 60s F yesterday. We met my sister-niece to exchange gifts and walk on Forbidden Drive along the Wissahickon. We met younger daughter and her husband at William Heritage Winery for an early birthday celebration. Right now, there’s a steady rain. We’re supposed to get snow on Wednesday.
“She preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable.” –Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.” –Florence Nightingale (I can’t find a source.)
I watch the veterans gather in the park, realize the day and date of infamy—once stated– here on a battleground site, they hold flags and remember the dead; some were heroes, some were fools or the desperate or despised–perhaps
if not felled in attacks, in battles, bombed, bulleted, sabered, shattered to die in hometowns or foreign places, to be lost to the sea, buried in a mass grave, shrouded for eternity—heroes–
and I think of the nurses, the caregivers, the resisters, and deliverers of secrets, carriers of food; those who’ve hidden the persecuted, the arrested, the tortured, the executed only for helping and caring, for not despairing
that a better time will come. They strive, they try and if they wonder why, still they go on. I think of the heroism of the everyday. The unsung, the ungloried ones, who feed, teach, defeat addictions, live each day, finding a way to make it through
another day to night, and again and again, and perhaps even then to see the beauty of sun, moon, and stars, to listen to the geese in flight, soar with them in dreams of a better places and delight in each small triumph. Wait for storms to pass—
to glory in the light at last.
Merril’s Movie/Theater/TV Club: We streamed Heroes of the Fourth Turning, a production of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. The cast and crew quarantined and worked in a bubble of rented houses in the Poconos (filling in for Wyoming) to produce this excellent filmed production. Though it certainly is not a play for everyone. “Four Catholic conservative friends gather at a late-night backyard party in Wyoming, shortly before the 2017 eclipse. As they wait for the arrival of their mentor and newly appointed college president, secret passions and fears surface, revealing their troubled place in a divided country.”—Wilma Theater
We also are almost finished with the second season of The Umbrella Academy (Netflix). Not my usual type of show, but enjoyable, and I’m quite involved in this second season, which is surprisingly relevant. Elliott Page’s recent announcement reminded me that we hadn’t yet seen the second season of the show, and now we have only the last two episodes to watch. Today I read an op-ed by a young transgender activist saying what Page’s announcement meant to her. There are all sorts of heroes.
“If we're lucky ghosts and prayers Are company, not enemies I time travel straight back there You were singing back to me” --Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Between Dirt and Stars”
Without a dawn, this day doesn’t break but drifts from darkness, to violet, then grey– now beating on the windowpanes, the rain silver-streaks in drumming beats
and we wait for November storms to rinse the month away. Perhaps December will come in bright with holiday, and corona will again define only the gaseous light of incandescent sun and shimmery moon—come soon
this ending of our sorrow, this longing for tomorrow– still, I seize what happiness I can find in river walks and talks with loved ones, unwind
the spools of memory in conversations of before– do you remember, I say? And we discuss and laugh, cry over photographs. We dine apart, with heavy hearts– cranberry sauce red-berry bright, though unshaped, no art
to recreate what is not there. We’re plague-parted and squirrels must wait, even as they congregate on lawns and trees and parks. They scurry now in autumnal flurry, readying for winter’s cold—
and we get older, I’ll not say old—not yet— there’s more to say and do, to live without regret for what once was. To hear the ghosts, to mourn, to cry a storm—I toss a stone, torn
between yesterday and now but grateful for what I have. I listen to the singer sing of love and loss of memories and dreams—
tears may fall like rain in streams, but love remains beyond timelines, never ending, there within, we remember November ends, on to December,
with candles and cheer, we’ll lighten the gloom, Zoom our love soon with latkes and wine, dine and eat doughnuts, cookies, and cake— celebrate solstice, watch the stars align
in happier fortunes, we’ll look for hopeful signs in the fury and scurrying of squirrels and storms, the resting of ghosts in time’s circling arms, heed and harken how the waves flow and recede,
and carry the seeds
that bloom on a future shore. Just like before— there’s no more and more.
We have steady rain right now, though it’s warm for November. We may get thunderstorms though as a cold front comes in. Here in the US, we celebrated Thanksgiving this past Thursday, when it rained in the morning, and then was warm enough for many families to gather safely outside. We had a pre-Thanksgiving snack outside with one daughter. It was strange to not be together with everyone. My niece’s daughter and husband made our traditional cranberry squirrel, and the rest of us saw it only in photos. On the left is one from a previous Thanksgiving at my house, and the right is this year. It’s nice they have a similar gold-rimmed platter.
Merril’s Movie/Concert/TV Club: Last night, we streamed Mary Chapin Carpenter’s concert, “One Night Lonely,” performed live at Wolf Trap on November 27. She was alone on the stage, and there was no audience. I thought we were going to watch it for brunch, but it didn’t work out. I did make bagels though.
We finished The Queen’s Gambit(Netflix), which I highly recommend. I was almost ready to watch three episodes the first night. I’ve heard chess sets are in great demand now because of the show.