|It’s a color spectrum wheel! There are too many of them…ahhhhh…my eyes!|
Monthly Archives: February 2013
I am painting a broad red stripe
On a wall in the church outside the room
Where the ladies quilting guild is meeting.
My work requires no skill, just
A can of paint, a tray and a roller.
It’s a big dumb job.
As I roll on red enamel
I hear them murmuring as they work
Cooing like doves,
Most of their words indistinct
Although a few float out to the hall,
“Kidney,” “grandchildren,” and “visit.”
I peek into the room to see them
Bent over quilt squares, embroidery, counted cross stitch
Faces relaxed as they talk and ply their skilled needles.
I do my dumb painting
While they are stitching their lives together.
And, to be sure, there are young people who don’t do squat. I once had a student whose avowed purpose in life was to “slack.’ And slack he did. He worked after school in a bakery, a job that takes a concerted effort to slack off.. Some of my other students worked with him and said, yes, he was slacker and created work for everyone else with his dedication to slacking.
This situation reminds me of the old joke about the man who owned a boomerang. He became very upset one day and made an appointment with a psychiatrist. When they met, the man was obviously agitated. “Tell me what is troubling you,” the psychiatrist said.
“It’s my boomerang,” the man answered.
“Yes, I keep trying to throw it away but it keeps coming back.”
I told you it was an old joke. And also not a very good one. But I was thinking of it a couple of weeks ago when I tried to throw an old trash can away.
I put it out beside the main trash can since that was too full to put the discarded trash can into the main can.
The nice trash people didn’t take it.
The next week, I did put it into the main trash can. They carefully left it by the curb.
I’m glad they’re careful to not throw away something that might be useful. But I didn’t want the trash can any more. It was dirty and ripped up. So, I did what I should have done in the first place, and put it into a trash bag. The trash people took it. End of story.
Life continues to have lessons to teach us, if only we look for them. I wish I had a nice aphorism to sum this up, but I don’t. Sigh.
Teaching Irony through Poetry
(for Mary G., who understood irony and so much else)
A Poem in the Form of a Dialogue between Teacher and Students
Teacher: “Robert Frost’s ‘Mending Wall’
Has an excellent example of the use of irony.
Since you’ve all read it for homework
Where is the irony in the poem?”
Student: “In the title?”
T: “Good guess, but no. Keep trying.”
T: “Any other ideas?”
T: “What about the neighbor’s statement, ‘Good fences make
Good neighbors?’ “
S: “That’s not ironic; it’s true.”
T: “Do you think Frost believed that it was true?”
S: “Can we ask him?”
T: “No; hes dead.”
T: “Yes, well, it happens to the best of us. Now, what if I told you that he believed the opposite?”
S: “That good fences make bad neighbors?”
T: “Yes, something like that.”
S: “That’s not true–our neighbor has a dog that digs up our flowers and pees all over the lawn. My parents have asked them to put up a good fence to keep the dog out. They won’t, so aren’t they bad neighbors?”
T: “Sounds like it.”
S: “So: no fences make bad neighbors. Good fences would make good neighbors where there’s an untrained dog involved.”
S: “So what was irony again?”
T: “Let’s try that another day. I’ve had too much fun today.”
S: “You always say that. Do you mean it?”
T: “Oh, yes.” With all my heart.
(Based on a number of dialogues with students over the years)
This past Saturday, we had our first rehearsal for Voices United 2013, a concert sponsored in recent years by the Manassas Chorale, which I am a part of.
Voices United brings singers from all over the area from a variety of backgrounds to a two-day workshop with a guest composer director who works on the anthems with the group and then directs them in the concert Saturday evening. American composer Joseph Martin was our director last year; this year, we have Pepper Choplin, an outstanding composer and musician with over 2000 anthems to his credit.
The VU 2013 Choir will be performing “One Voice” by Mark Hayes (a former VU director as well);”For the Beauty of the Earth” (arranged by English composer John Rutter, perhaps the premier composer in English today. Becky and I met him this summer and he is both charming and humorous. And musical.); “I’m Going Home,” a Sacred Harp song arranged by Choplin; “River in Judea,” a composed spiritual by Linda Marcus and Jack Feldman and arranged by John Leavitt; and “Create in Me” by local musician and composer Kimberley Hill, who will be singing in the choir. (This is Kim’s third published anthem, and we are very proud of her.)
The Voices United Concert takes place Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 7:30 PM at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William Campus of George Mason University. Check the Chorale’s website at http://www.manassaschorale.org/home.aspx for more information. I hope you’ll come and I think you’ll enjoy the concert!
|A hunka hunka burning…sun…|
A Lesson on Metaphor
On a bright spring Friday, after lunch,
I told a sleepy class,
“This is an example of metaphor:
‘The evening sun is a dying ember.’
Something is being compared to something else
Essentially unlike it. Now give me another example.”
“The sun is a star,” one boy ventured.
A girl raised her hand, “The sun is a giant ball of
Another boy said, “The sun is the sun.”
“No,” I said. “Those are definitions, not metaphors.
They’re not comparing two essentially unlike things.”
“But,” the first boy insisted, “They’re true.”
“Unquestionably, they’re true. They’re just not
“Are metaphors true?” asked the girl.
The bell rang and they ran off before I could answer.
I had no answer because metaphors are and are not
The children ran off blinking in the spring sun.
Maybe I should have taught science
And not poetry.
In science, the sun is
A giant ball of gas
A dying ember.
|Nacho the Medical Cat Off Duty in a D-28 Case|
Nacho the Cat, described accurately by her vet as a “dog in a cat suit” has been with us since 2002 or 3, when Alyssa picked her out from the animal shelter. She has taken a liking to me (so she’s “my” cat) and is a terrific companion. However during these years we have noticed that Nacho also has medical training.
When Becky broke her hip a number of years ago, while she was healing, Nacho came and got very close to the healing hip. As Becky underwent physical therapy and improved, Nacho moved to the bottom of the bed and then to a chair across the room and finally to the entrance of the room. She seemed to sense the progress of Becky’s healing.
We’ve since noticed this phenomenon on other occasions. I’m told by people who study cats that they see us as large cats who provide them food and protection. It makes sense that when they sense that their “big cat leader” is injured that they do what they can to protect their protector.
So, there’s another role for cats: they’re cute, furry, entertaining, sure, but you can add body guard and healer to that list as well.