Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Day the Rebel Died

On this day, in 1955, movie star James Dean died at age 24 in a car crash on a California highway.
Dean was driving his Porsche 550 Spyder, nicknamed "Little Bastard," headed to a car race in Salinas, California, with his mechanic Rolf Wuetherich, when they were involved in a head-on collision with a car driven by a 23-year-old college student named Donald Turnaspeed. Dean was taken to Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:59 p.m. Wuetherich, who was thrown from the car, survived the accident and Turnaspeed escaped with minor injuries. No charges were ever filed against him..............................(See here).

There's a movie whose title is today's date, in 1955.
Synopsis: When Jimmy's idol, James Dean, dies on September 30, 1955, the small-town Arkansas college undergraduate goes berserk. He and his friends hold a vigil which turns, eventually, into into another tragedy.

The film, aired on television as 24 Hours of the Rebel, delves into the hero-worship aura that surrounded James Dean following his tragic death.

The film was written and directed by James Bridges (February 3, 1936 — June 6, 1993) born in Paris, Arkansas. James Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was born in Marion, Indiana.
Astrological note: Writer/director and his subject were born 5 days and 5 years apart. Both had Sun in Aquarius, but Uranus, modern ruler of Aquarius was in Aries for James Dean and Taurus for James Bridges - Taurus would be a calming and firming influence I guess. Dean's Mars in showy Leo contrasts sharply with Bridges' Mars in gentle Pisces and conjunct limiting Saturn.

This partial track by singer/songwriter "Poe" somehow eerily relates....

As does this, tongue-in-cheek, featuring your friendly neighbourhood blogger offering advice, one Sun Aquarian to another.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Music Monday ~ 2014, Still Contemplating the Eve of.....

I must first give a tip of my hat to Avedon's Sideshow for reminding me, at the weekend, of an old song from the 1960s, causing a rumage among my archived posts. I found what I was looking for, it is repeated below. The song is still highly relevant in 2014, a few names and places, more recently in the news, could easily replace the originals.

My post from August 2010

The Eve of Destruction, Billboard No 1 hit in 1965, was played by Tim Rice the other day in his current BBC Radio series. The shows feature musicians from, or songs about, some of the 50 states of the USA, state by state. Oklahoma was up - so I listened on the i-player. Oklahoma-born Barry McGuire's version of the hit song was on the playlist.

The song was always a favourite of mine, way back when, in the 60s, the big guns at BBC censored it from their airwaves as being unsuitable for the delicate ears of their listeners. Barry McGuire sang the song and sang it very well.

Real credit for Eve of Destruction ought properly go to its writer, P.F. Sloan, a prolific songwriter for many famous names of the 60s. On his website Mr Sloan tells how he came to write the song.

The song "Eve of Destruction" was written in the early morning hours between midnight and dawn in mid-1964......... I was 19 years old. The most outstanding experience I had in writing this song was hearing an inner voice inside of myself for only the second time. It seemed to have information no one else could've had. For example, I was writing down this line in pencil "think of all the hate there is in Red Russia." This inner voice said "No, no it's Red China!" I began to argue and wrestle with that until near exhaustion. I thought Red Russia was the most outstanding enemy to freedom in the world, but this inner voice said the Soviet Union will fall before the end of the century and Red China will endure in crimes against humanity well into the new century! This inner voice that is inside of each and every one of us but is drowned out by the roar of our minds! The song contained a number of issues that were unbearable for me at the time. I wrote it as a prayer to God for an answer.

The lines:
"Think of all the hate there is in Red China then take a look around to Selma Alabama.
And marches alone cannot bring integration when human respect is disintegrating"
are about racial un-harmony issues.

"Hate your next door neighbor and don't forget to say grace",
simple hypocrisy but it made me feel angry.

"You're old enough to kill but not for voting"
was about the injustice of using youth in the army to defend the country but they had no say in its policies. More hypocrisy!

"You don't believe in war so what's that gun you're toting!"

"The pounding of the drums the pride and disgrace"
were written in relationship to the powerful Kennedy assassination.

Without a time of birth Moon's exact degree can't be established, but it would have been between 5 and 19 degrees of Aquarius and quite probably forming a harmonious trine aspect to Aquarius's ruler, Uranus in Gemini. Both Aquarius and Uranus connect to social conscience, radicalism, rebellion and futuristic thinking. I'd guess that the Moon's position had a lot - in fact everything - to do with the subject matter of P.F. Sloan's hit song. Lyrics are shown at end of this post. Mr Sloan's natal chart also reveals Sun and Mercury in Virgo (ruled by Mercury the writer's planet); Jupiter and Neptune tightly conjoined in Libra (sign ruled by Venus planet of the arts), indicating expansive creativity, imagination, and perhaps a feel for philosophy (Jupiter in Libra).

P.F. Sloan's 2006 album Sailover contains the song with re-worked lyrics, according to this THIS USA Today article, which also mentions that Sloan spent most of the past three decades battling mental and physical illnesses. Barry McGuire, now a Born Again Christian, has also recorded some up-to-date lyrics, not sure whether these are different from those on Sailover. See them at THIS website.

We were not, as it turned out, on "the eve of destruction" in 1965, and we're not now. Even so, it's very useful to have these lyrics repeated, "again, and again, and again, my friend"...because if we don't get our act together quick-sharp, we could well find ourselves on that dreaded brink, unexpectedly.

Sticking with P.F. Sloan's original lyrics and the Billboard No 1 hit version by Barry McGuire:

Further information available on both the songwriter and the song at Wikipedia.
The song's original lyrics, in full, can be read at THIS WEBSITE.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Continuing last Saturday's experiment in communal writing. Mike and myself were last week's only storytellers. There's lots of room at the storytellers' table for more friends, old and new, to join in. All are welcome, for a single contribution or several.

It'll be necessary for any newcomer, reading or contributing, to read through the Preface and comments in last Saturday's post, HERE.

So... I'll begin: continuing the story from where mike left it last week. Any further contributions, my own included, will appear in today's comment section.

"The ship you see in the distance, Milady, is a prison ship, filled with prisoners taken in a long and brutal battle in the mountains, three days ago. The vessel is bound for The New World. I have information indicating that your brother is on board."

Magi's tone became less confident.

"Our only means of a rendezvous with him will be to board the vessel ourselves. Releasing him will not be easy, but is possible. The World fabric will become unresponsive for a time in this location, it is unfortunate indeed that celestial patterns on this night are not as helpful as I'd hoped. Later, after dawn, things will change. Are you willing to risk boarding the vessel with me?"

Her voice faltered as she responded.

"It would...er... not be my choice, Magi. It is of necessity, however. If you accompany me, yes I will board the ship."

She crushed the small patch of fabric still in her damp palm. A reassuringly familiar scent of pine and honey enveloped the two shadowy figures now starting to walk towards the vessel, anchored some way off a dark, misty coastline and illuminated, but dimly, by the flare of a lighted torch at the ship's bow.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ REMEDIOS VARO

Remedios Varo - at first I thought it to be the name of a male, but it's not. Remedios Varo's name given at birth was María de los Remedios Alicia Rodriga Varo y Uranga. In Spain names do take on a more epic quality than in most other countries of the world. Anyway, Remedios Varo, as she became known, was born on 16 December 1908 at 10:45 pm in Anglès, Spain. Her father was a hydraulic engineer, he taught her to draw in a style which had later clear influence on her artwork. Varo used imagery related to her father's profession. Complex pieces of imaginary machinery can be seen in her paintings, which draw also from her studies of alchemy theories and processes. Her figures are thought to be autobiographical. Science, dreams, witchcraft, mysticism and humor thread through her psychological or spiritual subject matter.

Educated in Spain, in Madrid and Barcelona, rumored to have taken classes together with Salvado Dalí. She married painter Gerardo Lizarraga, then, apparently without benefit of divorce married, or (it's not clear) conducted a lengthy affair with, French poet Benjamin Péret. During the Spanish Civil War they fled to France. Settled in Paris. She soon gravitated towards the city's arty bohemian surrealist groups. Varo and English surrealist artist, Leonora Carrington became friends at this time, a friendship that survived for the rest of Varo's life.

As World War II began Varo relocated yet again, this time to Mexico City. Most of her her artwork was created in Mexico, where she was also able to pick up her friendship with Leonora Carrington, who had also fled to Mexico.

In order to cover living expenses, Varo took a variety of jobs: furniture painting, costume design, toy-making, commercial illustration for a company selling pharmaceuticals, and scientific drawings for Venezuala's Ministry of Public Health. Her marriage/association with Péret ended on his return to France. Her third husband-to-be, Austrian businessman Walter Gruen then entered the scene. Wed in 1952, she no longer needed to rely on odd jobs for her livelihood. Her true creative potential now emerged.

Varo's longtime interest in mysticism, alchemy, magic and, oddly, science co-exist in her paintings. Many, or most, of these are explained as being an exploration of the female psyche. It was only around the time she died suddenly, of a heart attack, in 1963 when her career was thriving, that women were beginning to assert their independence after centuries of treatment as second-class citizens. Many of her paintings need to be viewed with this in mind.

A few examples of her work, some with explanation taken from Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth-Century Women,by Estella Lauter. The book has an error in Varo's year of birth, by the way. She, as many women will, knocked a few years from her age for public consumption. It was not until her death that her true birth year was discovered.

Please click on the images for clearer and/or bigger versions:

 La Revelación (1955)

 Embroidering the Earth's Mantle

Re the painting titled Embroidering Earth's Mantle, explanation from Janet A. Kaplan's biography of Varo,
"Unexpected Journeys" ~
In the central panel of the autobiographical triptych, Embroidering Earth’s Mantle [...], Varo offered a closer look at the life of a convent student.... here captive in a tower, (they) work as in a medieval scriptorium, embroidering the mantle of the world according to the dictates of a “Great Master.” This hooded figure reads from the catechism of instructions while stirring a broth boiling in the same alchemical vessel from which the girls draw their embroidery thread. Each girl works alone, embroidering images onto a continuous fabric that spills out from table-height battlements around the facets of the tower. Together they create a landscape with houses, ponds, streams, boats, animals, and humans, all nestled within the folds of the fabric. Theirs is the traditional work of the convent, where needlework was deemed a skill appropriate for cultured young women.

Characteristically, Varo treated such tradition with irony. Among the girls working diligently, each at her own table, guarded by a comical veiled figure who lurks in the background playing a flute, Varo’s rebellious heroine has “embroidered a trick in which one can see her together with her lover” [...], their rendezvous subtly visible in a rendering hidden upside-down within the folds that flow from her table. In a masterful variant on the myth of creation, she has used this most genteel of domestic handicrafts to create her own hoped-for escape. Unlike Rapunzel and the Lady of Shalott, Varo’s young heroine imprisoned in the tower is not merely a metaphor for confinement, but also an agent of her own liberation. [...]

 Energia Cosmica

 Papilla Estelar (1958)

Papilla Estelar = either Stellar Porridge or Celestial Pablum, or similar.
(Page 90 of Estella Lauter's book linked above)
"[This painting creates] an image of female nurturing...The protagonist is seated at a table inside an octagonal enclosure in the sky. She is grinding the food from the stars and feeding it to the moon in its cage. She is at once powerful and impotent. Because the moon is waning, it seems likely that she is saving it from death...A closer look at her setting reveals the source of her ambivalence; although there are steps leading from her enclosure, she could not take them unless she could walk on clouds... [She] is as caged as the moon..."
Often seen as an autobiographical artist, Varo uses these women as her stand-ins exploring the occult, the Kabala, and alchemy.

 Creation of the Birds
Page 84-5 of Lauter's book "...protagonist has assumed the form of an owl in order to paint birds who will come to life and take flight for the first time... She dips the brush, attached to her own violin (in the place of her heart), into paint from an alchemical alembic where the substance from the stars is stored. With her other hand, she holds a triangular magnifying glass to intensify the light from the moon... The woman/owl gives wings to her visions of the birds."
[Page 91] "... [This] is her image of what will be required if human creators wish to make a world in which all the species of life can survive. Her choice of the owl, always a figure of wisdom, is clarified by the information that the pre-Hellenic, Cretan Athena was a patron of the arts and a goddess of renewal ..."

 Three Destinies

 Analogy of Winter

El otro reloj'  -The Other Timepiece (1957)

Sympathy (Sympatía), [Originally titled, The Madness of the Cat – La Rabia del gato], 1955

The "Sympathy" painting is mentioned in a very good biographical essay on Varo at a blog called Femspective. See HERE. The author offers one mundane explanation of this painting; I see another explanation, related to astrology. Does anyone else see the same?

 Premonicion (1953)

Varo doesn't appear to have as much interest in astrology as in the occult generally. There is one painting of "Taurus", but it's not as special as the rest of her work. There is oblique reference to astrology here and there among her paintings, if one looks for it, but I've found no evidence that she was "into it" to any extent.

 The World
Earth Air, Water, Fire - see?


Remedios Varo's natal chart with data from astro.com where it is given an AA (very reliable) rating. Exact place of birth, Anglès, Spain, wasn't available on my software's atlas but it offered Zuera as nearest available. This puts placement of all planets the same as astro.com's' there are just three minutes of difference in the ascending degree.

I see her astro-signature, as it relates to her art style and choice of subject matter, reflected by Venus/Mars in Scorpio in harmonious trine to Neptune in Cancer. Venus, planet of the arts is being energised by Mars, which accounts for Varo's energetic support artistically for her gender and the need for equality of the sexes. Neptune's link to imagination, dreams and fantasy feeds into her way of illustrating her points in such a creative manner.

There's a nice chain of sextiles linking Neptune at 16 Cancer to Jupiter (her Sun's ruler) at 14 Virgo, to Mars/Venus at 14/22 Scorpio to Uranus at 15 Capricorn. I like to find such chains, they indicate a kind of smoothness in the way a person is using their energies in co-ordination, to successfully manifest their talents...depending on which planets are involved, of course.

There are also 3 oppositions in Varo's chart: Sun/Mercury opposite Pluto/North Node; Moon opposite Saturn; Uranus opposite Neptune. Her Sun and Moon, major components of her personality, are each opposed by a planet relating to intensity or rigidity/limitation. Maybe these two oppositions acted as drivers and brakes in her nature? The third opposition, Uranus-Neptune forms to link each end of the sextile chain already mentioned. It's a Cancer-Capricorn cardinal opposition framing the sextile-chain. One could say, whimsically, that in so framing, it seems to exclude Saturn and Pluto from the major mix, leaving a calmer, sweeter, more integrated configuration to hold sway.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Killing for Fun in Oklahoma & For Other Reasons Elsewhere

Sometimes, a lot of the time, I absolutely hate this state, its dreadful senator, James (global warming is a hoax) Inhofe, its backward politics, its ultra-religious leanings. I love the land itself, I love to "watch the hawks making lazy circles in the sky". I'll also watch pigeons, a less dramatic species, but still co-inhabitants of this planet. They can be pests, in certain circumstances and so can humans. Pigeons have, historically, been of great use carrying messages in war time. These birds do not deserve to be used for live target practice for the amusement of humans who seem not to have progressed far from primitive European ancestors.

Watch the short video at the link! SEE HERE

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is facing criticism from animal rights groups over a fundraiser he held earlier this month in which live pigeons were thrown into the air for participants to shoot out of the sky.

Illinois-based Showing Animals Respect and Kindness released video on Tuesday that shows dozens of pigeons being killed by shotgun wielding participants, including Inhofe.

Capt. Tony Woodruff of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's law enforcement division says live pigeon shoots, while not common, are legal in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma deserves better, but a majority its people are too brainwashed or wilfully ignorant to do anything but re-elect their horrendously inept senators and governor. Fallin and Inhofe will be voted back in. Nothing will change.

In other news : an excellent piece this week from one of my early US heroes, Dennis Kucinich:
The Real Reason We Are Bombing Syria

He ends his piece thus:
In foreign policy, the administration has failed. Congress has failed. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have passed the national checkbook to their patrons in the war contracting business. And passed the bill to future generations.

The American people, who in 2008 searched for something redemptive after years of George W. Bush's war, realize in 2014 that hope and change was but a clever slogan. It was used to gain power and to keep it through promoting fear, war, the growth of the National Security state, and an autumnal bonfire of countless billions of tax dollars which fall like leaves from money trees on the banks of the Potomac.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In a Minor Key - the semi-sextile

In astrology there's seldom universal agreement about anything. The good news: it means the old doctrine is still a work in progress, nowhere near yet being chiseled in stone. The bad news: we can never be absolutely, 100%, sure of anything.

The semi-sextile, considered a minor aspect, is also a minor point of disagreement. Semi-sextile is a tight aspect of 30 degrees (not more than 1 or 2 degrees from that) between planets, which entails a link between neighbouring zodiac signs, which are usually quite different in nature, always different in element and quality. Some sources have the semi-sextile labelled as a minor "hard" aspect, others see it as being slightly helpful but less so than its cousin and big brother, sextile (60*) and trine (120*).

Numerous articles and explanations of the semi-sextile's potential in a natal chart are available on the net and in astrology text books. Personal experience: I have Sun in Aquarius exactly semi-sextile Jupiter in Pisces (6 degrees of each), also Saturn semi-sextile Uranus, at 12 and 13 degrees of Aries and Taurus respectively. Aquarius and Pisces, via Sun and Jupiter, get along rather well for me, I find. My natal Sun's modern ruler, Uranus, in semi-sextile to natal Sun's traditional ruler, Saturn perhaps assists, at times, in attempting to understand both sides of any old/new, trad/mod, change/status quo questions.

Brief extracts from a few astrologers' observations on the semi-sextile:

The Owl in the Moon blog begins a nice piece on semi-sextiles like this:
Many astrology students reasonably suggest that as the two planets are in signs with nothing in common, it makes sense that they do not 'get along'. However, their position as neighbours is a vital relationship. Also keep in mind that planets are neutral to each other, and all points need to be considered to discover how they will work together.

From Donna Cunningham at Skywriter:
Have you read or been taught much about the semi-sextile? I’m guessing that you haven’t—in most astrology writings, it tends to get shrugged off as a minor aspect after a half-hearted sentence or two of description. It’s a 30° aspect, plus or minus 2-3°. For instance, a planet in Aries may form a semi-sextile to a planet at approximately the same degree of either of the two adjacent signs, Pisces or Taurus.

The table below shows the pair of possible semi-sextiles for all 12 signs. Briefly, the aspect involves planets in neighboring signs. But are they good neighbors or bad? That is to say, are they harmonious or at odds, do they support each other or bicker, and do they bolster each other’s efforts or sabotage them?

My answer is: all of the above…depending on the signs and planets involved. There aren’t really any good or bad aspects, you know — just evolved and unevolved ways of using the two planets in the combination. The ultimate effect depends on the choices you make about how to use them at any given moment...............

From AdZe MiXXe's Angle on Aspects:
....A semi-sextile is somewhat comparable to the pearl within an oyster. The oyster itself is illusive and then once you have it you still have to dig to get the benefit. Semi-sextiles are receptive and internalizing. They often indicate latent abilities and require preparation. Planets in semi-sextile aspect help to clarify each other. Semi-sextiles help link the perimeter to the center. Energy and resources are attracted. Semi-sextiles require both worldly assets and spiritual goods. Often they can indicate the power of divination and subliminal influence. Higher consciousness is required to make effective use of this energy. Semi-sextiles resonate with Neptune, Mutable, Water and Pisces energy.

At The Inner Wheel Dawn Bodrogi has a slightly different way of putting it:
The semi-sextile is the nice, polite kid no one notices, until one day we start wondering who has been putting soap in the cat food and dropping Aunt Bessie’s jewelry down the toilet. Even then, his bigger, stroppier brothers, the quincunx and the square, get the blame, and all the while, while everyone’s back is turned, the semi-sextile grows up in the shadows and thinks up more clever and nefarious means to disrupt the flow. And he gets away with it. This is how Bond villains are created. The next thing you know, he’s threatening to take over the world (or at least, two planets in your chart).

As always, personal experience is key to knowing how it (or anything) works for you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Maze Runner

We saw The Maze Runner at the weekend. My idea - husband would probably not have chosen the film but, having seen it, declared it "okay" (his usual response after watching one of my favourite dystopian themed films, to which I've dragged him along).

I had no great expectations of this, yet another in the current glut of "YA" (Young Adult) novels adapted to film. Movie moguls must have found this genre to be a good way of nurturing a new generation audience , possibly spurred on by the success of TV's Twilight series (no relation).

I got to wondering what my generation had, comparable in novel or film form, during our "young adulthood". Was it Little Women, Treasure Island, Gulliver's Travels, Moonfleet and so on? I don't recall going to the movies to see film version of those though. I'd watch anything at all, whether I understood fully what was going on or not. I'd go to the cinema with anyone who'd take me. The first movie I remember seeing, with my parents, maybe at age 6 or 7, was Cover Girl, with Rita Hayworth. Later, when parents were busy with their business, Grandad Scott would take me to the movies once a week, sometimes twice. We'd see all kinds of black and white films, most of which I didn't understand but found always fascinating. That was during childhood, rather than young adulthood though. Once into teen years I saw every musical film available, loved them all! They were my young adult fare.

But I digress.

The Maze Runner, is adapted from James Dashner's book, the first of a trilogy which has since spawned a prequel. I'd read that this film reminded some reviewers of Lord of the Flies. I understand why. The story features a group of teenage males, who find themselves alone in a very strange environment. There are also whispers from Logan's Run and any number of recent YA offerings. I was even reminded too, at times, of The Great Escape.

The young guys are trapped within an area known as "The Glade", surrounded by high walls outside of which lies a perilous concrete maze. After sundown the maze is patrolled by nasty murderous entities called "Grievers". The walls into the maze slide open during daylight hours, enabling "runners" to exit and explore, trying to find a safe way out...but out to what?

Why they are there, how they can escape, argument as to whether they even wish to escape, form the basis of the tale.

YA movies centre on adventures involving teens "saving the world", or simply saving themselves, without aid from adults. There's minimal, if any, romance and certainly no heaving naked copulating bodies ten minutes into the film (a blessed relief!) No bad language, maybe a veiled message or two. Plots, which mainly travel well-trodden paths, can be cleverly multi-layered to appeal to adults, as allegory, in the best of YA offerings. I didn't find much to be allegorical in The Maze Runner. Messages? Maybe. I found the story to be considerably less layered, less thoughtful than The Giver for instance, far more comic-bookish. I haven't read anything by James Dashner, but it appears he appeals to his young target audience well enough and doesn't need to include any layering.

I haven't decided whether I'll be making an effort to see sequels, and don't feel any strong urge to read the books. I did enjoy the film. The acting is very good overall; maze scenes are excellent. The movie's closing scenes were, for me, off-key - a bit clumsy and clunky, not up to the quality of the rest of the film. The immediate impression I got, from those last scenes, was that lots of lies are being told. Maybe in the sequel films some allegorical content will grow from that, but I'll not be holding my breath.

An upcoming movie I'm most anxious to see, a real sci-fi story with space ship an' all, is Interstellar, due for release in the USA on 7 November.

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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