Still, Life

'Snow Face, Straight On' (2011): Gus, the Labradoodle, in a winter photo by Janet Nezon

[Image: “Snow Face, Straight On” (2011): Gus, the Labradoodle, in a wintry photo
by Janet Nezon at her
Lessons from Gus blog]

From whiskey river:

…It’s more like, if you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it… I know that sounds a little pious.

(David Foster Wallace [source]



In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.

(Bertolt Brecht [source])



First look from morning’s window
The rediscovered book
Fascinated faces
Snow, the change of the seasons
The newspaper
The dog
Showering, swimming
Old music
Comfortable shoes
New music
Writing, planting
Being friendly.

(Bertolt Brecht [source])

Not from whiskey river:

Yellow Glove

What can a yellow glove mean in a world of motorcars and governments?

I was small, like everyone. Life was a string of precautions: Don’t kiss the squirrel before you bury him, don’t suck candy, pop balloons, drop watermelons, watch TV. When the new gloves appeared one Christmas, tucked in soft tissue, I heard it trailing me: Don’t lose the yellow gloves.

I was small, there was too much to remember. One day, waving at a stream — the ice had cracked, winter chipping down, soon we would sail boats and roll into ditches — I let a glove go. Into the stream, sucked under the street. Since when did streets have mouths? I walked home on a desperate road. Gloves cost money. We didn’t have much. I would tell no one. I would wear the yellow glove that was left and keep the other hand in a pocket. I knew my mother’s eyes had tears they had not cried yet, I didn’t want to be the one to make them flow. It was the prayer I spoke secretly, folding socks, lining up donkeys in windowsills. To be good, a promise made to the roaches who scouted my closet at night. If you don’t get in my bed, I will be good. And they listened. I had a lot to fulfill.

The months rolled down like towels out of a machine. I sang and drew and fattened the cat. Don’t scream, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t fight — you could hear it anywhere. A pebble could show you how to be smooth, tell the truth. A field could show how to sleep without walls. A stream could remember how to drift and change — next June I was stirring the stream like a soup, telling my brother dinner would be ready if he’d only hurry up with the bread, when I saw it. The yellow glove draped on a twig. A muddy survivor. A quiet flag.

Where had it been in the three gone months? I could wash it, fold it in my winter drawer with its sister, no one in that world would ever know. There were miracles on Harvey Street. Children walked home in yellow light. Trees were reborn and gloves traveled far, but returned. A thousand miles later, what can a yellow glove mean in a world of bankbooks and stereos?

Part of the difference between floating and going down.

(Naomi Shihab Nye [source])


[Into his late thirties,] Proust wrote constantly, but published only a little of it. He practiced and perfected his style. He observed, observed, observed. But his subject continued to elude him. He made several false starts on his novel and after long efforts at writing put the drafts aside forever.

Late in 1908 he began writing a philosophical essay, Contre Sainte-Beuve. In it Proust articulated his theory that novels should present the remembered details of everyday life. It is in those details, he argued, that we can find the deep truths to which habit makes us blind. In hindsight it seems that Proust had already found his subject — memory and the everyday — but he still had not found a way for his artistic imagination to chunk the pieces together. Then in January 1909 he had some tea and a biscuit (transformed into a madeleine in his story). That afternoon Proust underwent the experience that proved to be the turning point of his life. Emotion and detail came together, and he had his subject. He knew how to talk about intellect and passion at the same time. The two are united by the experiences that give them their personal meaning. For Proust, imagination and memory had suddenly become the same thing.

(Edmund Blair Bolles [source])


Found Letter

What makes for a happier life, Josh, comes to this:
Gifts freely given, that you never earned;
Open affection with your wife and kids;
Clear pipes in winter, in summer screens that fit;
Few days in court, with little consequence;
A quiet mind, a strong body, short hours
In the office; close friends who speak the truth;
Good food, cooked simply; a memory that’s rich
Enough to build the future with; a bed
In which to love, read, dream, and re-imagine love;
A warm, dry field for laying down in sleep,
And sleep to trim the long night coming;
Knowledge of who you are, the wish to be
None other; freedom to forget the time;
To know the soul exceeds where it’s confined
Yet does not seek the terms of its release,
Like a child’s kite catching at the wind
That flies because the hand holds tight the line.

(Joshua Weiner [source])

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  1. haven’t read everything, yet, but that is one sad looking doggy!

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