Poem of the Week

An article online about poetry prompted me to find and share this one.

Digging

By Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

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Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d begin by saying that it’s been rainier than usual here, but I don’t mind much. It’s also been rather cool and as I’m not one for sunbathing, it’s fine. You don’t need bulky layers to go out and about so I’m happy.

Saturday I went on a walking tour with a friend around Chicago’s Streeterville. Streeterville has an interesting origin. In the 1880s riverboat pilot Captain George Streeter ran aground in Lake Michigan. He left the boat there and soon the sandbar grew and grew. He declared this land a separate country called the District of Michigan. Squatters and ne’er-do-wells moved in, much to the displeasure of the elites. Legal battles lasted up until 1908.

ChicagoAmericanFurnitureMart210-p1939

Our tour through the Driehaus Museum not only introduced us to the colorful Cap’n Streeter and his wife Ma, but took us around much of this district that in the 19th century was desolate and now is home to a thriving commercial and residential area. We saw significant buildings, some huge like the American Furniture Mart that I never noticed before. We also learned of some hidden gems that are open to the public and make wonderful quite spots to view the lake or skyline. Sorry, I’m not printing those addresses.

We were so lucky in terms of the rain on Saturday. It poured before and after our tour, but nothing during it. Also we lucked into street parking in a very popular shopping area.

Yesterday my brothers and their families that are in the area came for a Fathers’ Day barbecue, which was fun.

I started and gave up on the book Southern Lady Code. It was too snarky for me. The author seemed to need a Copernican Revelation. I expected some warm-hearted jabs at Southern culture like Jeanne Robertson is so good at, but the author seemed embarrassed of her Southern past and clueless about how her demands of her husband and family were quite selfish. She just seemed clueless and after a few chapters, I figured enough is enough. There are plenty of good books on my reading list.

For today’s book club, we read and discussed Antigone. It’s a solid play that illustrates Aristotle’s principles of tragedy well, but despite its strengths, I wasn’t as enthralled as some. The state and family life have changed so much that I didn’t think it was relevant. Others loved it and said it’s one of their favorites of all time. Different strokes.

I watched a very challenging, very long (3 hours 25 minutes) Russian film called Andrei Rublev. If you’re up for a challenge, go for it. I’d say the story’s more confusing than The Human Condition, another marathon film, but there’s some beautiful parts and it did make me think differently about filmmaking. I’ll be watching shorter, more fluffy films for the next couple of weeks.

 

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d say it was a quiet week with some interesting discoveries. I discovered a masterful filmmaker from Russia, Andrei Tarkovsky, who’s Ivan’s Childhood was challenging, but forceful and well worth watching if you’re up for some intensity. I’m also discovering Eudora Welty’s writing by reading The Age of Innocence. It’s the first novel I’ve read by her. I’m also using Creative Bug via my library to gain craft skills. So far I’ve viewed short videos on sewing, cleaning sewing machines, and embroidery. Creative Bug’s quality is top notch.

A few weeks ago I attended a class on photography for eCommerce. I used the light box at my town’s library to take some higher quality photos of a few things I’d like to sell. Lighting makes a huge difference. I’ve seen more views, but we’ll see if I make more from the better photos. It can’t hurt.

I sent out a query about my play to a local theater. My fingers are crossed that they ask to see the whole play.

My colleague’s funeral was Tuesday and it was a beautiful ceremony. The family had a lot of support from friends and family as the church was full and many had to stand in the back and along the sides. I pray that the support continues as the family’s grief will no doubt be long lasting. I was impressed by the eulogy the oldest daughter, who’s about 22 gave. While she did break down a few times, she gave an eloquent speech at a time when she’s coping with tragedy.

I learned a lot about D-Day due to the 75th Anniversary of this event. I knew a little about it, but my knowledge was greatly deepened to see the speeches and interviews that honored the brave.

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve got a cloud of sadness hanging over me since I learned on Friday that one of my colleagues committed suicide. She was a kind, positive person who loved her family. She was married with 3 children. She always wanted to do a good job and to learn more. She was 7 years younger than me and her youngest just graduated high school. Of course, no one’s life is rosy and people are complex so we rarely know the whole story. She was such a pleasant person to work with and will be greatly missed.

It’s hard to make sense of this all. She took her life by standing in front of an oncoming train, which is an unusual means for a woman. Men tend to use such final means whereas women usually use pills or medications in other forms. Tonight is the wake and tomorrow the funeral. She’s very much on my mind and I think all who knew her wish they knew she was in trouble. We just don’t know what people are dealing with.


On another note, I finished watching Flambards. Boy, was that a great series, that you can get on DVD (from your library system – one library in your group should have it if yours doesn’t). The characters seem real and are well developed. I wish someone would produce an updated series. I learned that there’s a fourth book in this series. Book 4 covers what happens after this series ended. I’m curious to see what happened.

My family celebrated my brother’s birthday and it was fun to see them all.

I found out that Writers’ Market 2019 is available on Hoopla, which my library provides. From it I’ve found a couple more theaters to submit my play to. I have to craft a compelling query letter. Fingers crossed.

I am back on the online learning bandwagon after a couple months of doing nothing. I’ve resumed a course on the graphics program Corel Draw, which we use at the library, and started a course on Instructional Design Essentials that my friend and former colleague Joe Pulichino does. It’s his second Lynda.com course.

 

Harrington’s Commonplaces

Some wise sayings from a teacher I once had at Act One:

“What gets us over our terror? …Love for someone else.”
(14 January 2019)

“There is no joy without commitment, but commitment implies renunciation of other things.” (15 January 2019)

“There’s no growth without tension.” (15 January 2019)

“One sign of growth is that you always have new problems.” (17 January 2019)

“At what point does your character become your fate?” (22 January 2019)

“The reactive person is not in control.” (22 January 2019)

“Some fights are worth losing.” (29 January 2019)

“The gods that we worship determine the values we hold.” (31 January 2019)

“A lie in the brain is getting a fact wrong; a lie in the soul is getting a life wrong.” (31 January 2019)

“A truly educated person is one who pauses.” (4 February 2019)

“You have to be willing to be wrong to be wrong
.” (4 February 2019)

“The mark of a grownup is flexibility.” (5 February 2019)

“The first sign of God’s will for us is the gifts He’s given us.” (5 February 2019)

“Safety isn’t part of the Christian dispensation. Martyrdom is.” (7 February 2019)

 
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Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d comment on the curious weather we had on Saturday. We got snow, considerable snow, Saturday afternoon and evening. It kept coming down and that night it was sticking. I guess we had over 3 inches–and it’s almost May. I wasn’t so put out since it didn’t make driving worse for me. I stayed in, turned on the fire and enjoyed Trading Spaces.

I’d mention that I attended a playwriters’ group at the Skokie Public Library. We gather to read out 10 pages of each others’ work. It’s good to hear a play read out loud and the group is very convivial and helpful.

I’d recommend the book How to Get Rich in Rising Asia, for its unique structure and point of view. Also, I think it really captures life in Southeast Asia.

1280px-Flickr_-_…trialsanderrors_-_Hokusai,_Under_the_great_wave_off_Kanagawa,_ca._1832

I’d tell you that Friday I returned to yoga at my library. I hadn’t been in months. I usually work at noon on Fridays and it’s just a bit tight to get from my library to work. I probably make more of the time issue than I need to. Another excuse is the winter weather. I felt great after going and realize I need to make this happen.

Then I went down to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the exhibit of Hokusai’s famous wave and other prime ukiyo-e (i.e. woodblock) prints. This exhibit focuses on how each print can differ though it’s made from the same block. Sometimes later printmakers added features; sometimes the coloring differed; sometimes sunlight faded a print. I was surprised that the great wave print was smaller than I imagined, but when you think about it the printing press equipment was probably a factor. Also these prints were made so that middle class people could afford them. Thus they’re probably the right size for a home.

I’d mention that I’m enjoying watching Flambards, one of my first favorite British TV imports. Set in as George V is taking the throne in 1910, Flambards focuses on a teenage orphan Christina who’s sent to live with her grouchy, tempestuous uncle and her sparring cousins. Trust me it’s a delight.

This week I want to market my play Dora McDonald: On Trial and start a new writing project.

The Great Good Thing

klavanAndrew Klavan’s memoir, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ is a great read. Klavan goes back to his youth growing up in the suburbs of Long Island with a mom who was atheist and a father who was culturally, but not religiously Jewish. He chronicles his rocky relationship with his father and his love of writing and reading stories. It’s easy to see that Klavan was a storyteller from his earliest days. What’s more it’s shown in the writing. The Great Good Thing is masterfully written. Now an accomplished novelist and screenwriter, Klavan knows how to make every word and every metaphor count. He’s a delight to read.

This memoir isn’t preachy or saccharine. Instead, Klavan shares how he slowly came to be baptizes after dealing with the demons and mistakes of his early life. He doesn’t portray himself as a saint. He isn’t proud of his rebellion at school. He doesn’t sugarcoat his struggles with depression or anger. He trenchantly describes how anti-semitism plagued him and for years was a barrier to Christianity for him.  Instead he gives us a smart, open look at one very intelligent guy’s slow turning to faith. While doing so he offers a road map to deeper understanding of theology and scripture.

Because Klavan’s writing so good, so intelligent, I’ve ordered one of his novels to read next. (By “next” I mean after I’ve finished the eight books I’ve already started.)