Saturday, August 30, 2008

Doris Lessing and Staying on the Chair

Dear Doris Lessing,

I've been listening to your interview on the Nobel site. Fascinating I think.

Doris Lessing Documentary it's called, I believe. I like all the parts, but my favorite is there at the end, round about minute 7:53.

"What you don't know about is old age, you see." That's how you start the segment. Oh, my yes. That is so true. "Being old, believe me, is hard work," you conclude. But I want to talk to you about that statement in the middle regarding falling off a chair. Your statement was like a painting. Maybe this one. Of course the model in the chair isn't old enough. But still. Staying aboard a chair in the world of art is challenging. I think, though, you were speaking of dying. Passing on and crashing down off a chair or anywhere really, because you are done here.

Purple Robe and Anemones, or more correctly, Robe violette et Anemones, by Matisse is interesting. Not much chair there. She looks a bit like she is hovering, back there behind the anemones. She is relaxed there. But, I agree with you, the project of staying seated becomes more and more disconcerting and demanding of a great deal of concentration as we age.

The anemone, I read, is, "a short-lived flower (from Greek anemos, wind), it is a symbol in antiquity of the transitory. It is the flower of Adonis, whom Venus transformed into a reddish-purple anemone. In Christian symbolism, anemones (as well as roses and marguerites) signify the blood shed by the saints."

Shshshshshhs. "The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." (Isaiah 40)

So, Doris, is that what you are talking about? Just trying to stay on the chair becomes, after we lose the blush, after we fade the lush, after the wither, after we start gasping just getting up, a matter of life and death.

That, I think is what the young find hard to imagine.

In April of 1998, Lydia Delectorskaya fell off her chair. She was 87 and sitting in Paris. It is said that she single-handedly kept Matisse on his chair for the last ten years of his life that slipped to the rug in 1954. She was a far cry, that Thursday in '98, from the young woman we see in this purple robe, sniffing anemones. But we are all a far cry from what we were, aren't we Doris?

What shall we cry, after all, when all flesh is as grass? I guess we cry, "Could you help me stay in the chair, just one more day?" Then we shift on the cushions.

Best, always,


Saturday, August 23, 2008

God Forgive Me! Simon and Garfunkel 101

Voices Of Old People - Simon & Garfunkel

Dear Barack Obama,

This little clip is not the whole of the "Voices of Old People" segment on the Simon and Garfunkel Bookends album. And, it ends, "God forgive me." I think the actual album quote continues, (my memory isn't as good as it used to be) "An old person without money, is pathetic." And oh, yes, how true that is.

But honey, anyone, young or old, without money, without the hope of money, without the power for generating money, is pathetic. That is the plight, that is the fear, that is the demon of the poor.

Let me repeat a little story from one of my favorite Nobel Peace Prize winners, Muhammad Yunus. (Quoted from USA Today on May 21, 2008)

The way he tells the story, every time a new head of the World Bank is named, he calls Yunus. When James Wolfensohn became World Bank president, he welcomed Yunus to lunch and began to quiz him about his recently announced goal for reducing — and ultimately eliminating — poverty.

"I understand you intend to lift 100 million people out of poverty," Wolfensohn said.

"That's right," Yunus told him.

"Don't you think that's a little overly ambitious?" asked Wolfensohn.

"No," said Yunus. "We've looked at the numbers and we think we can do it. But," Yunus went on, "if you think it's too ambitious, what do you think is a better number?"

When Wolfensohn didn't answer, Yunus offered a number.

"10 million?"

Wolfensohn shook his head. Too low.

"20 million?" Yunus offered.

From Wolfensohn's reaction it was clear that number was still too low.

"How about 50 million?" Yunus asked.

Wolfensohn seemed pleased by that number.

"That sounds about right, " he said.

"OK," Yunus told him, "you do 50 million and I'll do 100 million."

And that's how you win the Nobel Peace Prize: by making peace with the powers-that-be, the keepers of the status quo, rather than by declaring war on them.

Next week, Barack, as you accept the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, and as you talk about change, talk about this. Talk about changing the capitalist system that so empowers the already rich, the fat businesses, the oil monopolies, the "haves", and so disempowers the poor, the poor, the poor, the "have nots". Tell us that the United States will join with the World Bank and Muhammad Yunus, and say: "We'll work on our 36 million." They are ours. We'll take care of them." I don't want to hear about what we can't do Barack, because, we are spending so much on war. I want to hear how we can end poverty for our 36 million.

Anything less, is pathetic.


PS If you are at a loss for ideas on how to do this, call Muhammad Yunus.

PPS Biden? My husband is pleased.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bethel Community Club--An Open Letter to Non-Members

Note: Welcome to Guest Writer, CADH8! She knows of my continuing interest in the doings of people of central Tennessee and has graciously sent this open letter to non-members. The open roads running south along Leiper's Creek epitomize charm. But it's the people who live there that make this community a wonderful place to live or visit. They are gracious, friendly, and never lacking in kind hospitality.

Thanks for your letter CADH8!

To all non-club members:

cc: Bethel Community Club members

Dear folks,

I am writing this letter to extend an invitation of membership to our club, the Bethel Community Club. We meet on the first Monday of every month, right here in historic Bethel, TN.

Bethel is a small corner of the world, just south of Leiper's Fork, although please don't think we are a simple extension of that burgh. (Make such an association in the presence of Garfield, or worse, his wife Doris, and you will receive a scolding the likes of which you have never experienced.) No, we are a place in our own right. Newly posted signs mark both edges of this unincorporated town, thanks to Reece, who had some connections that helped to provide this distinction.

Settled in the early 19th century, or perhaps before, there has only been electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing in many local homes for perhaps the past 50 years. Many a club member knows what it means to kill his own food and then chop the wood to cook it with while his wife hauls the water to cook it in. But we are moving into the 20th century, although we understand that everyone else has now moved on into the 21st. No matter, we won’t let ourselves be rushed.

We are a right vibrant club, although the average age of members is probably around 70. It is not required that you live in Bethel to be a member, but it is suggested, for where else would you rather live after all? The only membership requirements are that you pay your dues and do your part, which means helping with the annual Fish fry and Homecoming events.

Inflation reaches all areas, sadly, and dues have doubled in the past year! We had to raise our fee from $5 per family per year to a full $10. And on top of that, even members must pay to rent the building now...a steep $25 per day. However, it is $50 for non-members, so you can see the benefits of joining.

Founded in the 80s, (that’s 1980’s) many of the original members still direct this group and attend every function. Many former members are not members of this world any longer, for if they were, we know they would still be present club meetings and bringing covered dishes to the functions. As stated above, the main functions of the club are holding an annual fish fry and an annual homecoming. Club members cook lots of pies and other food items in preparation. There is often something raffled off (although some in the community refuse to participate as such activities smack of gambling) for the sake of building club coffers. At homecoming there is a train ride and horse shoe competition. All proceeds go to the club that in turn tries to help the community as needs arise.

You could not ask for a better group of people than our members. And you don’t have to do much for them to win their hearts forever--just be a willing worker with a love for this place. Do this and you will have all of Bethel at your side if ever you find yourself in need. Why just this month we are giving a benefit for a local couple who have hit hard times. We will spend the day selling BBQ plates, pies, glasses of tea, and chances on a shotgun, and auctioning off all sorts of items in the hopes of making their lives a bit easier. Everyone will do their part. I am making 2 pies, myself. What will you do?

Well, time for me to close, ya’ll. We hope to see you soon down at the club.

Your friend and neighbor,


P.S. Come on down Leipers Creek Road. Watch for Nett's Country Store and Deli on the right. Turn in there and bear left. You'll see the club straight on.

Or, you can take the scenic route and go down the Natchez Trace Parkway and get off on Hwy. 7 in Fly (where you might want to look out for such famous people as Nicole Kidman or Keith Urban when they aren't off to Australia), then come up Leipers Creek that way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

DeGeorge Garden 2008

Dear Mother,

I'm sorry that you didn't get to see my garden this summer, so I'm posting a garden visit here.

(Note on the video sound track: I really do know that those yellow flowers are Black Eyed Susans.)

Plus I wanted to show you some pictures of our freshly sanded and painted rod iron railing on the back deck. My husband did an amazing job, don't you think. First he used a metal grinding kind of wheel on it. Then some kind of sanding cloth. Next Rustoleum Reformer. Then, finally, a black gloss Rustoleum enamel paint. I had feared that our only hope was an expensive replacement, but this turned out quite nicely. Now he is working on the support problems for the deck itself.
Perhaps next summer it will be time to give the deck itself a new face. Any ideas?

Plus, I'm adding a photo of three of my favorite things. Smile.



Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dear Readers

I must apologize for my absence. I have been busy and not writing too much, although, I hope to be writing to Doris Lessing and Langston Hughes real soon. Plus, I may have another note for Zora Neale Hurston, too. Oh, more good news! I hope to have a ghost writer do a piece for you all soon. I might write a postscript because it is such an exciting subject. I won't say that it has anything to do with Netts Country Store and Deli, but it does!!!! Then there is a letter that simply must be written to Mary Lee Bendolph that relates to the quilts of Gee's Bend. Oh, and I have so much to tell Barack in prep for the convention.

So, you see that the postal pack of the carrier from Loudon, TN will be filled during the late summer. But for now, I thought I would post a link to the results of my busyness, just to let you know I haven't wasted all of this hot summer on horseback.

The ACSI Europe web site

This is the first draft of a web site I have been working on for ACSI Europe. It was a little tricky since it is a redundant site serving 8 language groups. And I, unfortunately, only know one of them. I was working on issues of navigation and encoding. Oh dear, you just cannot know. The nav choice was an exciting one for me though. The flash file is driven by an XML file, making it very versatile. You code warriors will understand my thrill. Oh, and yes, let me know if you find any broken links.

Write soon!