March 27, 2017
by Maya Spector
It’s time to break out —
Time to punch our way out of
the dark winter prison.
Lilacs are doing it
in sudden explosions of soft purple,
And the jasmine vines, and ranunculus, too.
There is no jailer powerful enough
to hold Spring contained.
Let that be a lesson.
Stop holding back the blossoming!
Quit shutting eyes and gritting teeth,
curling fingers into fists, hunching shoulders.
Lose your determination to remain unchanged.
All the forces of nature
want you to open,
Their gentle nudge carries behind it
the force of a flash flood.
Why make a cell your home
when the door is unlocked
and the garden is waiting for you?
Here in Seattle, it’s too soon for lilacs. But with our lat spring, we await the blossoming of the cherry and plum trees. Any day now!
March 25, 2017
You can listen to actress Noma Dumezeni read Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” poem on the BBC at this link.
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth
I wandered 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.
March 16, 2017
Back in the 1970s when I was working in Minneapolis, I found this Marimekko fabric panel at a fabric warehouse. I bought it and saved it in my fabric stash, until about a decade later when I had it hand-quilted and made into a baby quilt for my daughter. I still love the graphic style of the classic Winnie-the-Pooh images. I suppose you could call it a vintage quilt, and for me it is a cherished keepsake.
The Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle is currently hosting an exhibit of Marimekko fabrics and designs. A friend and I went yesterday, and we found the colorful pieces quite uplifting on a gray, rainy Seattle day. I only wish the exhibit were larger, as it left me wanting to see more work from this captivating design house.
Marimekko is a Finnish design company, and its team of designers create not only fabric prints, but also simple and fashionable clothes and home products. I could easily see myself wearing some of the loose, blousey, simple dresses over black leggings. If you are interested in finding out more about Marimekko, its website includes a blog, and a series of posts entitled “Every Print Has a Story,” that give some background into the designers and their work.
Here are some photos from the “Marimekko, With Love” exhibit at the Nordic Heritage Museum:
March 10, 2017
March 9, 2017
“A single crocus blossom ought to be enough to convince our heart that springtime, no matter how predictable, is somehow a gift, gratuitous, gratis, a grace.”
— David Steindl-Rast
“Beside the porch step
the crocus prepares an exaltation
of purple, but for the moment
holds its tongue. . . .”
— Jane Kenyon, from “Mud Season”
March 2, 2017
“In a virtual world becoming even more paperless, the sound of pencil on paper is a vanishing sensual delight.”
— William Least Heat-Moon, Writing Blue Highways: The Story of How a Book Happened
One of the things about being old is that we have lived through the extinction and obsolescence of so many things. I took a few moments to jot down some of those things that I grew up with that are no longer part of my landscape:
- the ticking of clocks
- winding watches
- the smell of mimeographed paper (and purple ink)
- rotary phones
- card catalogues in libraries
- film cameras
- the slam and ding of typewriter carriages
- the dying dot when we turn our television off
And here are a few more that are on the endangered list:
- tying shoelaces
- legible signatures
- cursive writing
- balancing checkbooks
- writing checks
- public telephone booths
- button boxes, needles and thread, mending
- hand-written letters
- clothes lines, clothes pins, and line-dried laundry
I’m happy with many of the advances in technology and medicine, but I am not always pleased when a well-working technology is upgraded against my wishes. The incremental improvements are often not things I need nor want, and I have to spend time figuring out how to accomplish favorite tasks with new keystrokes and procedures — and they are almost never intuitive to me. I can empathize with Calvin Trillin when he wrote that the most dreaded word in the English language for him is “upgrade.”
One of the big challenges for my future will be keeping up with the accelerated pace of technological changes. I worry about the proportionate increases in screen time everyone is experiencing, especially young children. I still get such joy from physical work and playing with my hands — cooking, writing, painting, housecleaning, holding books I’m reading . . . The passive pleasures delivered through screens seem shallow and less soulful.
David Sax, in Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter, writes optimistically about a return to things analog. He says, “Surrounded by digital, we now crave experiences that are more tactile and human-centric. We want to interact with goods and services with all our senses, and many are willing to pay a premium to do so, even if it is more cumbersome and costly than its digital equivalent.” And, “. . . if you want vibe, warmth, soulfulness, things like that, you will always be drawn back to analog.”
Yes, we can build an artful, well-lived life through our conscious choices. But we are often bucking the tide. Sax quotes Nicholas Carr in The Glass Cage: “We assume that anyone who rejects a new tool in favor of an older one is guilty of nostalgia, of making choices sentimentally rather than rationally. . . . But the real sentimental fallacy is the assumption that the new thing is always better suited for our purposes and intentions than the old thing. That’s the view of a child, naive and pliable. What makes one tool superior to another has nothing to do with how new it is. What matters is how it enlarges us or diminishes us, how it shapes our experience of nature and culture and one another.”