An Appetite for Meaning (Seasoned with Words)

'Mowing Word,' by user grob831 on Flickr

[Image: “Mowing Word,” by user grob831 on Flickr. (Used here under a Creative Commons license.) For more information, see the note at the foot of this post.]

From whiskey river:

Land of the Living

Earlier tonight, a young monk, laughing,
splashed my face
with holy water. Then, just as unexpectedly,
he flew down a banister, and
for one millisecond
was an angel—robed,
without feet—
all irrepressible joy
and good news.

(Kathleen Norris [source])


If one day you become sick of words, as happens to us all, and you grow tired of hearing them, of saying them; if whichever you choose seems worn out, dull, disabled; if you feel nauseated when you hear “horrible” or “divine” for some everyday occurrence—you’ll not be cured, obviously, by alphabet soup.

You must do the following: cook a plate of al dente spaghetti dressed with the simplest seasoning—garlic, oil and chili. Over the pasta tossed in this mixture, grate a layer of Parmesan cheese. To the right of the deep plate full of the spaghetti thus prepared, place an open book. To the left, place an open book. In front of it a full glass of dry red wine. Any other company is not recommended. Turn the pages of each book at random, but they must both be poetry. Only good poets cure us of an overindulgence in words. Only simple essential food cures us of gluttony.

(Héctor Abad [source])

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Momentary Pastures

[Video: if anyone’s having a moment right now, it’s Welsh folk singer/songwriter/harpist Georgia Ruth,
who just won the Welsh Music Prize for her debut album — which, like this opening track, is also
Week of Pines. Regular readers of RAMH will understand that one of the things which appealed to
me about the album was its mix of English- and Welsh-language songs.]

From whiskey river:

Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you — sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever.

(Lauren Oliver [source])


Fall Song

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries — roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay — how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

(Mary Oliver [source (and elsewhere)])

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SheePong, Inter Alia

Just when you thought your dog is just, like, the smartest little thing ever because she’s learning not to pee on the carpet…

(Hat tip to rm preston. In a comment at the Seven Impossible Things… blog’s weekly “7-Kicks” extravaganza yesterday, rm listed this as one of the highlights of her previous seven days. It would’ve been one of mine, too!)

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Glan Rhondda*

In 1990, having finished the first (the blitz) draft of Crossed Wires — during whose composition I read mysteries almost exclusively — I stopped at a bookstore in South Jersey, hungry for something to read. My appetite of the moment was for a book, any book, which I’d been curious about for years but had never read. I wanted something substantial, preferably not overpowering (no Finnegan’s Wake, please). A classic, but one which I could carry in a hip pocket.

I departed the store with Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.

Many have had a similar chance encounter with the tales of King Arthur, and like me have said to themselves, “Hmm…,” and then gone on to investigate something more of the story, which leads them to more, and then even further to other related back alleys of myth and literature. The hobby seems so innocent at first, just a pleasant diversion — deluded (as such hapless folk are) into thinking it’s all “just” the story of Knights of Old, the Round Table, the Holy Grail, Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot…

Finally they emerge at the far end (if they ever do) blinking, as though they’ve just spent a week spelunking and emerged at high noon in the desert. (High noon, right. It wouldn’t much surprise us to be greeted by Gary Cooper, wielding a broadsword instead of a revolver: that’s how surrealistic the experience can feel.)

Suddenly they know more than they ever imagined knowing about odd stuff like metallurgy, pre-Roman Britain, the odd and quite mysterious turnings and mergings of one legend into another, medieval French Romances, ecclesiastical rumor and history, and… Wales.

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Whitford lighthouse, very low tide (click for enlarged version)

[In the wake of yesterday’s post (which began as a study of someone else’s neurosis but ended as a study of my own), I’m really feeling the need today to just write about something completely free (for me) of any, y’know, import. Here’s what floated to the surface, as it were.]

A while back, I participated in one of those “blog parties” which seem to come along periodically. The topic (selected by the party’s organizer, Rebecca Ramsey) was Wonders of the World, in which participants celebrated, well, wonderful things or occasions which held some special appeal for them.

My topic was waterfalls. As I explained in an aside there, for some unknown reason I’ve been fascinated by the country of Wales, which I’ve never visited. (Nor, as far as I know, has anyone I know ever visited there.) (Okay, you can all announce yourselves now.) Although I’m not actively looking for information on the Welsh language, Welsh countryside, Welsh history or folklore, whatever, my mind still goes into heightened-interest mode when I come across any of that stuff.

The lighthouse shown here has not been operational for some time. It’s referred to as the Whitford (or alternatively Whiteford) lighthouse. Built in 1866 to replace the original (which was in turn erected in 1854), it was deactivated in 1926. It’s 130 feet high, made of cast iron, and at low tide — as shown here — requires a five-mile walk to reach. The Whitford lighthouse watches over the Burry Inlet, on the southern coast of Wales.

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Water Falls. It Really Does.

[First, to get this out of the way, allow me to introduce you to Miss Globe-head. That’s her over there on the right. And if you don’t know why I’m introducing the two of you, please check my previous post.]

For a number of reasons — most of them having to do with writing, by the way — I’ve been fascinated for years by the country of Wales.

(The Missus might argue with that “most of them,” by the way. She believes that I must have lived a former life there, and maybe she’s right. Not that I have any memory of it. Or evidence of it, for that matter, beyond the fascination.)

This Welsh thing of mine has taken several turns. I’ve got books about the history and culture of Wales. I’ve got a Welsh-English/English-Welsh dictionary. Somewhere along the line I even picked up a cassette-tape “teach yourself Welsh” language-instruction course.

Sometime in the early ’90s I was in a used bookstore in Charlottesville, Virginia, and came across a beautiful picture book called The Waterfalls of Wales, by one John Llewelyn Jones. (And it was beautiful, despite the fact that except for the cover, all its photographs were in black-and-white.)

Aside from the Welsh connection, I think what drew me to the book was the subject: waterfalls in general.

Now, if you’ve been following weather news during this hurricane season, you know that the topic of running water is especially fraught for people around the state of Florida right now. But the water-borne terrors of Fay, say, are of a completely different character than the sorts of running water I’m thinking of.

Consider, for example, this photograph (not from the book) of Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn, Afon Mellte (roughly, “White Meadow Lower Falls, [on the] River Mellte” — and if anyone can supply more polish to the translation, please speak up!):

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