Monday, September 22, 2014


Autumnal Equinox, 2014! To welcome my favourite season, some words from a set of writers
I look on as absolute masters of their craft. They are (in no particular order) American, English, Scottish, Welsh & Northern Irish (because Britons are... better together but can also be appreciated apart - see!).

“But then fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
― Stephen King, "Salem's Lot"

“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”
~ Ray Bradbury

“And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days...”

~ Dylan Thomas, Collected Poems

“Unless a tree has borne blossoms in spring, you will vainly look for fruit on it in autumn.”
~Sir Walter Scott

Lo! I am come to autumn,
When all the leaves are gold;
Grey hairs and golden leaves cry out
The year and I are old.

In youth I sought the prince of men,
Captain in cosmic wars,
Our Titan, even the weeds would show
Defiant, to the stars.

But now a great thing in the street
Seems any human nod,
Where shift in strange democracy
The million masks of God.

In youth I sought the golden flower
Hidden in wood or wold,
But I am come to autumn,
When all the leaves are gold.

~ G.K. Chesterton "Gold Leaves"

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
for a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots
where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
we trekked and picked until the cans were full,
until the tinkling bottom had been covered
with green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
with thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
the fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
that all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

~Seamus Heaney "Blackberry Picking"

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
~ George Eliot [Letter to Miss Eliot, Oct. 1, 1841]

“Autumns reward western Kansas for the evils that the remaining seasons impose: winter's rough Colorado winds and hip-high, sheep-slaughtering snows; the slushes and the strange land fogs of spring; and summer, when even crows seek the puny shade, and the tawny infinitude of wheatstalks bristle, blaze. At last, after September, another weather arrives, an Indian summer that occasionally endures until Christmas.”
~ Truman Capote, "In Cold Blood"

“It was one of those sumptuous days when the world is full of autumn muskiness and tangy, crisp perfection: vivid blue sky, deep green fields, leaves in a thousand luminous hues. It is a truly astounding sight when every tree in a landscape becomes individual, when each winding back highway and plump hillside is suddenly and infinitely splashed with every sharp shade that nature can bestow - flaming scarlet, lustrous gold, throbbing vermilion, fiery orange.”
~ Bill Bryson, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away"

“The summer ended. Day by day, and taking its time, the summer ended. The noises in the street began to change, diminish, voices became fewer, the music sparse. Daily, blocks and blocks of children were spirited away. Grownups retreated from the streets, into the houses. Adolescents moved from the sidewalk to the stoop to the hallway to the stairs, and rooftops were abandoned. Such trees as there were allowed their leaves to fall - they fell unnoticed - seeming to promise, not without bitterness, to endure another year. At night, from a distance, the parks and playgrounds seemed inhabited by fireflies, and the night came sooner, inched in closer, fell with a greater weight. The sound of the alarm clock conquered the sound of the tambourine, the houses put on their winter faces. The houses stared down a bitter landscape, seeming, not without bitterness, to have resolved to endure another year.”
~ James Baldwin

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Climate March

Worldwide Climate March today....

I think that's Al Gore in the crowd. Don't march Al - RUN!!!! (2016).

Saturday, September 20, 2014


This is merely an idea, perhaps welcome, perhaps not, for the next few Saturday posts: a communal writing effort/game. I remember years ago taking part in a couple of such endeavours - for fun. One of these was a comedic effort, on an old AOL forum, the other, on an astrology forum, and more in the story-telling mode I'm suggesting here. Passing readers, known and unknown, might feel a creative urge, and add their words and ideas, regularly or as a "one-off" single contribution. There need not be many participants, two or three would work or even just one to begin, others might step in later, step out again, or continue. Contributions could be a few lines, or a few paragraphs, or even simply an idea for others to follow up.

What brought all this to mind was my coming across a "Preface" written by my husband in 2003. I'm still impressed by it, and would love to give it more life. I'd had an idea for a story or short novel husband and I might write together. We had discussed it while he was with me in England; when he returned to the USA for a while he had thought about the story some more, and wrote what follows as a possible preface to set the scene.

The rough basis of the tale was to centre upon a piece of "magical" fabric. It would travel through the centuries, be recognised by a series of its owners and their connections to others, during various lifetimes...beginning in the middle ages. Original thought was for the tale to start in Britain, then span several centuries, and locations, with focus on just two or three, ending around say, World War 2 or later, maybe even way into the future.

We had brief outlines in mind of where the tale might go, but were never happy enough with them. There could well be other ways to use this preface too. It's not essential to remain within the old ideas. The tale is open ended now, open as to a beginning too, apart from blending with what is set out in the preface below, begging for input.

Here it is:


A crescent moon and a single candle spread yellow light across a small room. An ancient woman works at a loom. She works slowly with great purpose, grand design. Her fingers pull the yarn tight, knot it here, counting the cross threads, another knot there. The woman pauses, wipes the corners of her eyes. A candle and a crescent moon are little help to her near blindness. She weaves and counts by touch. She creates to the image in her mind, an image formed of seasons of watching the stars, the changing patterns of her skies.

Over years she has collected life about her. Over these years she collected the sound of the squirrel in the fresh air from the forest, the scent of the wildflowers on their spread down the side of the hill and honeybees on the breeze from the valley, the touch of the rich earth and the polished stones on the path from the hills, the taste of the spring water and wild herb. All these pieces of life she knows. All these things are in the knots and the curious weave of the strip of fabric she is creating. And something else. She pauses and smiles at the crescent moon that is now only a glow in her dimming eyes. She smiles at the stars she can no longer see but knows in her heart are there. She is following their instructions. She and the stars are creative partners in this soft band of fabric.

The flax was gathered on a late summer day. It was years ago. The linen yarn was spun slowly on evenings after the children were bathed and sleeping. The skeins of yarn were dyed in iron cauldrons of color from the wild berries from the hills and from curious red-brown earth left when a fiery stone fell from the heavens. The woman ground these colors in stone cups, blending each with care. The wild bushes and sapling trees at the edge of the small forest held the drying loops of yarn. The sun contributed subtle changes to the colors here and there.

Now after years of preparation, the last thread, the last weave, the last knot was in place. It is a lovely band of textured fabric, a unique scarf fit for royalty. The labor of her life was complete. Complete that is, except for the delivery. The creation is not for her. It never has been. She has known for a long time where the small scarf will go. She has known the color of the container, the place in the stars, the position of the sun. Exactly. And it is tomorrow.

The sun now glows above the trees at the edge of the great lawn in the front of the estate. A pale green and gold trimmed carriage waits at steps. The driver sits atop, holding the reins of a patient horse. Last night’s sleep is still in his eyes. A footman stands ready at the top step of the front landing. Behind him the carriage door stands open.

A small figure emerges from the trimmed shrubbery, approaches the carriage quietly and places something on the seat just inside the open door. Then as quickly, the figure is gone.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Paul Goble and T. C. Cannon

Two artist/illustrators both born on 27 September, different years, different ethnicities, different continents but, coincidentally, both painted Native American subjects. Brief biographical details are taken from Wikipedia. I decided it'd be interesting to compare their natal charts, as well as examples of their artworks.

Paul Goble was born in Haslemere, England on
27 September 1933. He studied at the Central School of Art in London, worked as a furniture designer, industrial consultant, and art instructor. He published his first children’s book in 1969, entitled Red Hawk's Account of Custer's Last Battle.

In 1977, he moved to the Black Hills in South Dakota and was adopted by Chief Edgar Red Cloud. Goble was greatly influenced by Plains Indian culture and his subsequent children’s books reflect this. "I feel that I have seen and learned many wonderful things from Indian people which most people would never have the opportunity to experience. I simply wanted to express and to share these things which I love so much."

In 1979, Goble received the Caldecott Medal award, presented each year for the most distinguished children's picture book. It was awarded for his 1978 book The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. Most of his books, retellings of ancient stories, are told from the perspectives of different tribes among the Native Nations. They represent Goble’s effort to make Native American traditions understandable to children of all heritages.

Goble and his wife, Janet Goble, live in Rapid City, South Dakota.

T.C. Cannon
 "Self portrait with Star of David"
Tommy Wayne Cannon, born on September 27, 1946 in Lawton, Oklahoma. died, too soon, on May 8, 1978. He was an important Native American artist of the 20th century. An enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe and of Caddo, French, and Choctaw descent, he was popularly known as T.C. Cannon. Hegrew up in Zodaltone and Gracemont, Oklahoma and was raised in the Kiowa culture of his father, Walter Cannon, and Caddo traditions of his mother, Minnie Ahdunko Cannon. His Kiowa name, Pai-doung-a-day, means "One Who Stands in the Sun." He was exposed to the art of the Kiowa Five, a group of Native American painters who achieved international reputations in the fine art world and who helped developed the Southern Plains-style of painting. Stephen Mopope of the Kiowa Five and Lee Tsatoke, Sr. were particularly influential on the young artist.

T.C. Cannon joined the Institute of American Indian Arts of Santa Fe in 1964, where he studied under Fritz Scholder. After graduation from IAIA, he enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute but left after two months and enlisted in the army. As paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, Cannon was sent to Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. During the Tet Offensive, he earned two Bronze Star Medals. He was also inducted into the Black Leggings Society, the traditional Kiowa warriors' society.

Cannon's untimely death at the age of 31 in a 1978 car accident catapulted him to cult status among Indian artists of the time. His sophisticated use of color and style coupled with unflinching political content gave voice to a new generation of socially aware modern Native American artists and writers.
(See HERE)

 A Remembered Muse

 Osage with Van Gogh


 Mural at a cultural center in Seattle:  Epochs of the Plains History. Mother Earth, Father Son and the Children Themselves.

 Self portrait

Brief notes on their natal charts:

Paul Goble, born in Haslemere, England on 27 September 1933. No time of birth known - set for 12 noon.

I like that his natal Sun is exactly conjunct Jupiter. Jupiter represents, among other things, long distance travel, and Paul Goble emigrated from England to the USA, became immersed in the lore of its native peoples, writing and illustrating their stories. Venus (the arts) in Scorpio forms a sextile aspect to creative Neptune in Virgo. His natal Moon would be in Capricorn whatever his time of birth, and quite likely in trine to Neptune, a nice Earthy link between work/business and creativity. Saturn in Aquarius in harmonious trine to his Libra Sun/Jupiter/Mercury reflects the work/business connection of his re-location.

T.C. Cannon born on September 27, 1946 in Lawton, Oklahoma, no time of birth known - set for 12 noon.

Sun conjunct creative Neptune in Libra linked by sextile to Saturn in Leo - the link between creativity and work/business. His Moon would be either in early Scorpio or late Libra. Venus and Mars in Scorpio are adding passion and determination anyway. It's not easy to guess on which side of the Libra/Scorpio cusp his Moon was placed.

Cannon's chart is more compressed than Goble's, more focused, more Scorpio-heavy. I'd guess he was a more intense character altogether than Goble - his art style does seem to reflect that too.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sardonic Smiles

To be sane, he held, was either to be sedated by melancholy or activated by hysteria, two responses which were 'always and equally warranted for those of sound insight'. All others were irrational, merely symptoms of imaginations left idle, of memories out of work. And above these mundane responses, the only elevation allowable, the only valid transcendence, was a sardonic one: a bliss that annihilated the universe with jeers of dark joy, a mindful ecstasy. Anything else in the way of 'mysticism' was a sign of deviation or distraction, and a heresy to the obvious. (“The Medusa”)”
― Thomas Ligotti
Providing balance for a seemingly ever-growing motivation and self-help industry, one company came up, around a decade ago, with a book titled "The Art of Demotivation". There were some related products: lithographs, mugs, etc. The following illustrations, with their own captions, are from that company's website Despair Inc - there are other, similar, pictures there, in "demotivational" vein. I picked the 12 below because they whispered to me "zodiac sign keywords" (not Sun signs!) These come from an archived 2007 post by the way, they're good for a shake-out and re-airing in 2014, when a sardonic grin is probably the best we can hope to raise - and better than nothing - bearing in mind current news items.

So.....tongue firmly in cheek, of course!

 ARIES - risk taking

 TAURUS - unchanging

 GEMINI - communicating

 CANCER ~ clinging

 LEO - leading

VIRGO - perfectionist

 LIBRA - making peace

 SCORPIO - powerful

 SAGITTARIUS - optimism

 CAPRICORN - money-making

 AQUARIUS - inquiring

 PISCES - dreaming

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mini Rant and More Thoughts on Scotland

Tomorrow the Scots will have their chance to vote on the issue of Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. I've already said my piece on this, post is HERE. Reading around during the past few days, though, I've been shocked at the naked racism contained in much online commentary. Some commenters seem to assume that it's alright to malign the English in general, as a race - one blatant example from many:
Comment under a piece at Smirking Chimp:
Giving the Sassenachs a Big Scare by Eric Margolis:

from "oldeyank"
Well deserved split.....Fuck the English!
Nasty, vicious, arrogant, pompous ass, condescending, buck-toothed chinless wonders. Serves them right! And, about bloody time.
Would it be acceptable to make comparable comment about African Americans, Native Americans, Jewish people? Of course not. Because it's about the English people it's seen to be okay?
No it's not okay! Do some Americans actually understand what racism is? This reveals that there remains a need to nurture racism in the hearts of certain factions in the USA. When they are pilloried for hating this group of people or that group of people, they turn on a set about whom they know practically nothing and shed their vile hatred upon them with impunity (or so they assume).

I have never seen such a load of arrant bullshit, written by Americans in comment threads, as I've seen on this topic. I did come across one very good observation late yesterday, it's part of a weekly post at Avedon's Sideshow
I hope the blogger, Ms Carol, an American resident in London, will not object to my copying it here.

OK, the reason Scots want independence from Westminster is that Westminster is being run by a load of right-wing scum that seems to take special pleasure from screwing Scotland. (Well, Maggie sure did.) Of course those people are also screwing most of the people in England, which is now a runaway train, thanks in large part to the way the Labour Party membership has allowed their own party to be run by people who may not be capital-C Conservatives but are certainly Tories. Which sounds a lot like American politics, of course, except that there doesn't seem to be much threat of, say, California declaring itself an independent nation and taking it's Democratic votes in the Electoral College with it. A lot of people are fretting that without Scotland, England will be stuck with Conservative governments forever, but that is true only to the extent that everyone is happy to let neoliberal policies keep marching on without an argument. The question, judging from the kinds of arguments some of my friends are having, is whether the answer is a new generation of Labour members banding together to take back their party on behalf of real people, or whether creating a new party is the more feasible path to that end. Again, sounding familiar. In both cases, of course, nothing is going to work unless people are prepared to fight the right-wing rhetoric, as well as the policies, with something more than fevered angst.

Rant over.

Whatever the majority in Scotland decide tomorrow they will have to abide by it. Speaking of majorities, would it not have been a fairer basis to the referendum if a minimum percentage had been made a requirement in the Yes/No result, before a complete break from the UK were possible? I dunno exactly what percentage, but certainly nothing as close as most predict the result is going to be.

I hope the Scots do not forget, as they cast their votes, that the new boss will be "same as the old boss" (as sung long ago by English rock band The Who). As another commenter, elsewhere (edcaryl) observed, "This is Scotland's version of Obama's old "CHANGE" slogan - and "YES WE CAN!" It means all things to all people... and nothing".

I doubt anyone voting tomorrow will be reading this blog. Anyway, an interesting piece I found, written by Ewan Morrison, an award-winning Scottish author and screenwriter, is a good read for general interest. The experiences described can be related to many politically-related issues and attitudes. Something to bear in mind as, in the USA, congressional elections in November approach, and a General election in 2016 is being gambled upon already.
Title: YES: Why I Joined Yes and Why I Changed to No

Last words go to two other commenters from around the net, the first whose screen name I've accidentally lost:

Whether or not Alex Salmond gets his place in history as the man that destroyed the UK, he will still get his place in history as the man who divided and destroyed Scotland, inciting hatred and spite across Scotland and UK. Would hate to be in Scotland when the results come through. Could be a dangerous place to be.
And from "barrybethel", appropriate to a blog where astrology is frequently a topic:
Perhaps it's cyclical also. Students of markets such as Elliott, Kondratiev, Gann etc. have long noted that there are tides in the affairs of men (oh, and the Bard too it seems).

Sometimes we are harmonious, productive and all for closer union - the next, it's all going to hell and divorce and war are on the cards.

Maybe it's just in the stars.

Maybe so!!