Solar Solace

FullSizeRender 2 late September sunset in the Ozarks

“Some days are diamonds… some days are rocks.”  -Tom Petty

There’s no two ways around it– some days are just harder than others.  This past week has been absolutely abysmal.  I’m getting to the point where I can’t even watch the damn news– I’m consciously tuning it out like the numerous neglectful mothers I’ve witnessed ignoring their crying children in public.  I just don’t want to hear it anymore.

I’m tired of reading headlines about mass shootings and natural disasters and neo-nazis.  I’m tired of feeding my misanthropy with stories of how awful and cruel human beings can be to one another.  And I’m tired of hearing that yet another one of my heroes has died.  Social media and celebrity “news” culture has never been my thing, but it’s been impossible to ignore the in memoriam tributes over the last year or so, as it seems that damn near all of my childhood heroes are dying off.  I guess it’s just a part of growing older… I dunno.

Which is why I want to share a little beauty with everyone today.  We had a marvelous sunset here in Northwest Arkansas a few nights back– it carried a painterly quality with the colors of a Maxfield Parrish palette, so I snapped a few pics with my phone for posterity’s sake.  I’m thankful now that I did, as I’ve returned to those photos numerous times in the last few days for a fleeting moment of solace, and I’m hoping I can provide someone somewhere else the same.

IMG_5776closeup of said sunset

 

Babysitting Gig

Babysitting Gig“And He Was…”

Found myself thrown into an impromptu babysitting gig for a friend.  Seems her chain of emergency back-up babysitters all came up empty, and I was her last resort.  Needless to say, I’m a sucker for sacrifice, and since she’s one of the few people I’d do anything for, I said, “sure– what the hell.”

Her children were delightful.  The baby boy is the most cherubic child I’ve ever seen, and he was an absolute hoot.  Give that kid a napkin or a paper towel and he’s dancing around the room as if he’s doing a ribbon-twirling gymnastics floor exercise.  The little girl is also a sweetheart, despite the fact that she threatened to pour root beer over my head.  (I would’ve let her, honestly… I have no shame anymore.)  She was playing an iPad game at one point, and when the obligatory in-game purchase opportunity appeared, she shouted, “I DON’T WANT YOUR GARBAGE!”  Good girl.  I did feel for “Fabio,” the virtual chef in her culinary game, though… he was trying so hard to teach her how to make an omelette, in his over-the-top stereotypical Italian accent (“Mama Mia!”) when she dismissively said, “Fabio’s a failure.”  Damn, girl… that’s cold.  I immediately thought of one of my favorite moments from Wes Anderson’s first film, Bottle Rocket, in which Anthony (Luke Wilson) visits his grade-school-aged little sister shortly after his release from a “nervous hospital.”  After the visit, Anthony tells his friend Dignan (Owen Wilson) that his little sister thinks he’s a failure.  Dignan replies:

“What?!?  She said you’re a failure?!?   What has she ever accomplished with her life that’s so great, man?”

Brilliant.

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So anyway, in a moment of respite (shortly after the baby boy went down for his nap) I snapped the above photograph on my phone– an homage to both Julie Blackmon and The Talking Heads, I guess.

Treading Softly

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He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

-W.B. Yeats

37 Years is a Long Time

ecardhorse

Saw this on someecards.com and thought, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”  I just “celebrated” my 36th birthday, and I couldn’t help but recognize the sad truth in the humorous caption to this card.  Boy, they really don’t pull any punches over at someecards.

In case you don’t pay attention to the ponies, this past weekend American Pharoah became the first Thoroughbred since 1978 to win the prestigious triple crown (consisting of three races:  the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes).  Horse racing fans have been waiting since a year before I was even born to see this happen again.

The Huffington Post recently ran a short and clever commentary about the historic event and the gut-wrenchingly wonderful current cover photo for Sports Illustrated.  The brief article is titled “Sports Illustrated’s American Pharoah Cover Photo Epitomizes Everything Wrong With Modern Society“and you can read the bit here.  I have included the cover below.

siReally, folks?  I mean, REALLY?!?  Sheesh…

Dancing With the Daffodils

daffodils1

daffodils and a dilapidated fire hydrant

Well, as is evidenced from the multitude of daffodils in bloom and the stirring in the loins of the twitterpated birds and squirrels in my back yard, Spring has officially sprung.

We had some vicious thunderstorms roll through the Ozarks tonight replete with lightning, hail, and even tornadoes.  As soon as I knew it was coming, I managed to run outside long enough to cut the freshly bloomed daffodils from my yard before their inevitable destruction at the unmerciful hands of Mother Nature.  My living room now resembles the parlor of a funeral home.

Staring at all of these damned daffodils reminds me of William Wordsworth’s most famous poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” (aka “the daffodil poem”), and I now feel obligated to put on my proverbial professor’s cap and give everyone a quick poetry lesson.  Accompanying this post are two photographs I took with a point-and-shoot camera a few years back, so please pardon the image quality.  They’re pictures of the daffodils which were once planted around my library.

[putting on professor’s cap]

Wordsworth believed that poetry should be “recollected in tranquility,” meaning that a poet shouldn’t compose a poem until enough time has passed (ideally several years) for the poet to recall the inspiration for the poem with a clean emotional slate.  Personally, I think this artistic philosophy is absolute bullshit because it runs contrary to what I believe to be the nature of art.  As far as I’m concerned, art is not only at its best when it elicits emotion, but also when it’s created with emotion.  Passion is essential to the creation of art, and passion isn’t something that can be “recollected in tranquility.”  But then again, he was William Wordsworth, and I’m not, so I’m in no position to argue with his creative process.

Below you will find Wordsworth’s poem.  It’s a little old fashioned, but it has one of the greatest last stanzas of all time, so I hope you enjoy it.

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          I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

          I wander'd lonely as a cloud
          That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
          When all at once I saw a crowd,
          A host, of golden daffodils;
          Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
          Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

          Continuous as the stars that shine
          And twinkle on the milky way,
          They stretched in never-ending line
          Along the margin of a bay:                                  
          Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
          Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

          The waves beside them danced; but they
          Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
          A poet could not but be gay,
          In such a jocund company:
          I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
          What wealth the show to me had brought:

          For oft, when on my couch I lie
          In vacant or in pensive mood,                               
          They flash upon that inward eye
          Which is the bliss of solitude;
          And then my heart with pleasure fills,
          And dances with the daffodils.

                         -William Wordsworth

The View From Up Here

Fayetteville sunset (pano)

The next time you find yourself inexorably wallowing in your own self-pity, knock it the fuck off for a moment and take a breather to look around, because there’s beauty to be found in even the most unlikely of places.  And no, I don’t mean sunsets–sunsets are by their very nature inherently beautiful, and anyone who can’t find beauty in a good sunset is either blind or completely void of a soul.*  Rather, I mean that I got to see this particular sunset today at the library where I work because I took a moment to step out for some fresh air at just the right time.  Fayetteville is regularly blessed with amazing sunsets, but had I not been in a place where I didn’t want to be (both emotionally and physically) then I would have completely missed out on this one.

Here’s a closer look:

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(Unprocessed snapshots taken from my iPhone — click on photos for full size)

One of our regular special needs patrons at the library was also outside enjoying the vista, and he turned to me and smiled and said, “God’s work.”  I smiled back and nodded my head–couldn’t really argue with him there, I reckoned.

*so yes, if you’re wondering, even Ray Charles could have found beauty in a sunset because that cat was FULL of soul