Thursday, December 31, 2020
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Monday, December 21, 2020
I was looking at my 2020 Susan Branch calendar and saw that the last piece of verse she noted on the December page is the last verse of this poem. It is quite fitting for our very strange and sad year. Ah, Longfellow. Always and forever one of my favorites. He puts his whole soul into his work. And I've just ordered a brand new biography of him! So excited.
This was first published in 1838. His first wife had died just a few years earlier after a miscarriage.
Here is an 1840 portrait of him done by Cephas Thompson.
A Psalm of LifeBy Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
I am currently watching a New Zealand show on Acorn TV called Nothing Trivial, and I just saw a quote from George Bernard Shaw that I had never heard before.
"A happy family is but an earlier heaven."
Isn't that just the best!
Here's a picture of the man.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Gotta focus on the music
Focus on the heart of things
Focus on the peace that music brings
Musicians have been very creative in getting their music out there. This "quarantune" was an early example. You can see it is as homemade as it gets.The singer, the guitar, the recording device.
There were three evenings in the past few months when music did "carry me merrily and gently down the stream".
The first one was early on, in March. Chris Smither was on what is called a Parlor Room Home Session. He is a longtime time favorite of Tom and I, and it was a delight to see him in his own home. He told stories and sang his wonderful songs. I was transfixed. The music was just what I needed when everything had changed so much in such a short time. You may watch it here. Just to let you know, it takes a few minutes before he appears.
The second one was Keith Urban, live streaming on Amazon Music. An hour in which I thought of nothing. I just basked in the music. There are several videos on YouTube from the show. Here is one where Keith sings with Pink.
The third was a live stream of Farm Aid. You may find most (all?) of the performances here. I hope that address works, but if not, just go to YouTube and type in Farm Aid 2020. This is where I first heard Lukas Nelson, and I've since bought an album, and follow him on Instagram where he often posts videos. Lately he's been doing something called Soundcheck Songs where his band Promise of the Real explores "songs and artists, some well-known, some more obscure, that have influenced us as a band in one way or another." These are also on YouTube on his page. Farm Aid introduced me to other artists I'd not heard before like Black Pumas, whose album I've also bought. You may see a Tiny Desk Concert of them here.
And speaking of Tiny Desk Concerts, they are a wonderful music source to visit, if you haven't already. The main page is here.
Music gives solace to my soul and is as necessary as air, never more than in this strange and sad year.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Yesterday the birthday pals, Tom and Hazel celebrated their special day. And indeed, this one was particularly special, numerically speaking! Hazel turned 7 and Tom 70 which means he is, for this year TEN times older than she is!!
And turning seven is in itself a special day. There is quite a quite a wonderful article here, if you are interested. It isn't necessarily exactly seven. Kids develop differently. But it is right around seven that is a real milestone in one's life.
If you watch the Up series, you'll remember that the first episode began with these words:
Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.
I've looked it up and they have been variously attributed to Aristotle, Francis Xavier, and the Roman Catholic Jesuits.
"Six or seven or eight" is in Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. I'll quote the whole song because it is so moving.
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
There's a lovely version done by James Taylor here.
So, it is a big deal to be turning seven!
I thought I'd put up pictures of Tom and Hazel over these seven years. Most of them on or near their birthday.
The first one, the very first time Tom held her, one day after she came home from the hospital - February 9, 2014. If you don't know her story, you made read it here.
December 5, 2014
December 6, 2015
December 5, 2016