Amber and Jeremiah's Peacock Wedding

We attended the loveliest wedding this weekend with the loveliest colors and theme.  Our friends Amber and Jeremiah are the sweetest couple and have been together for ages.  Congrats to them and many wishes for a long and happy life...and extra kudos on the wedding style!  




Today's word is ekphrasis.

Or shall I begin by saying:
Speaking of William Carlos Williams...

An ekphrasis is when a writer interprets visual art as a literary work.

This post is a lesson in Analysis 101. My three favorite toga boys were into ekphrasis.  Here's a little William Carlos Williams for you; it's one of my favorite poems of all time, and one of my favorite works of art, and one of my favorite myths.

The story of old Icarus and Daedalus goes like this:

Daedalus was Icarus's daddo.  We'll call him Papa D.  Papa D was one of these super smart extra talented types you call when you need anything done crafty.  He built a big old disco for the god of wine's wifey, for example...it would have taken some serious skills to please the queen of the original club kids (by the way, I came of age in the mid-90s and I thought club kids were amazing...my interest in them was piqued when I was with my folks at Wal-Mart late one night and there were maybe three young people in costume [I believe one was a skeleton but we are talking twenty years ago here] and one of my parents commented something about "It's the Club Kids." My dad was working for Barraza a lot those days, one of the formative Tulsa scene guys, and these were his younger days...I can bet he would have come into contact with them at SRO or perhaps IKON, both places I was too young to reasonably hope to get into and certainly not with my dad running security there...but I digress...).  

So Papa D was such a rock star at building and making things that he was a popular guy.  Meanwhile, the King of Minos married a lady with a penchant for bestiality (don't be so shocked...the ancient Greeks were freaky like James Brown), and as a result of her animal love she'd borne a son only a mother could love, the Minotaur.  In fact, crafty Papa D had even created for her a special wooden cow contraption to climb into so the bull would want to get with her, but that's another story.  But what do you do with your wife's bastard man-bull-beast child?  Build a labyrinth.  And who you gonna call to build it?  The Bob Vila of Athens (or Crete, depending on whose version you hear), Papa D.

So Daedo created this rocking labyrinth to keep the ugly stepchild in and all these other cool gadgets and whatsits and naturally started to get a little self-absorbed.  Everything was going great until his nephew came along and one-upped him a few too many times, inventing both the saw and the compass.  Suddenly, everyone was hot for the new kid in town, and this Papa D could not abide, so he did what any nurturing uncle would do to resolve their differences...he shoved him from the heights of the Acropolis.  Fortunately, they were on Athena's turf (Athens), and she, a woman who was super into gadgetry and gizmo-ery, turned the nephew into what we now know as the partridge.  Needless to say, she was super pissed at Papa D.  She banished him, and to make matters worse, the labyrinth came back to bite him in the arse.  The king of Minos imprisoned him and his son on Crete so he couldn't tell anyone about the king's Dirty Little Secret.

Papa D, being a smart man, made some wax wings for him and for his son, Icarus.  He warned Icarus that if he flew high, the sun would melt his wings, but for poor Icarus, this was just entirely too tempting.  Like his daddy, he got bit by the narcissism bug, and high on himself, flew so close to the sun that his wax wings melted and soon he was just flapping his little arms, until at last he fell down and became shark bait or fish food or whatever.

The lesson of the myth is, "Don't get too big for your breeches," as my mom would say, and if you look at Williams' interpretation of Bruegel, their common footnote seems to be, "When you do and those little old wings melt, people got other stuff to do than worry about your little legs kicking around in the sea." So remember, people, only fly your wax wings on overcast days.  And wear a life preserver.  Without further ado:

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring
a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry
of the year was
awake tingling
the edge of the sea
with itself
sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax
off the coast
there was
a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning


Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel (authorship is actually now debatable but whatever)



One thing I am grateful for every day is that we have so many lovely talented people all around us, and that both of us see the arts, the humanities, as a lens through which we see ourselves and the human experience.

What is art?  In our home, it is anything that tells a story of who we are, "we" in the humanist sense.  We surround ourselves with it; we bathe in it.  Music, literature, theater, visual art, even fashion and television and film, good, bad or indifferent...there are so many ways to look inside the human soul.  It is a priceless and yet simple gift to give our children from birth.

I wrote this promise to Arthur late last night, and I thank you for letting me share it with you.

My beautiful boy,

A thousand days have passed since I first felt the constant-every-other-second worry for you; still, each night I sneak on my toes over the protesting wood and creaky door to see you splayed-limbed and dreaming of ice cream or bubbles or dogs or trains and jet planes, to assure myself with the sound of your sweet little kid snore.

Your still light (but not for long), limp bedtime body wrapped around me in exhausted defeat at the end of your nightly mutiny is the closest I'll ever come back to the flutters and kicks that once left me breathless or to the sweetness of you at my breast, to those surreal and glowing moments, but I've always understood (resignedly at times) that you are a man already inside your heart (like Michaelangelo said, it is the task of the sculptor to discover it--only you are the sculptor of your self), and your mind and body will grow into it.  This is as it should be, and our hearts and spirits are ageless, my darling.

I tell them all I never read but I go on to your father about Icarus and the Anyone in the Pretty How Town and later in the delicious muted humming of our 1:45 AM home when you and he are on other planes, I slip into some Atwood and William Carlos Williams and savor the sweet delicate rhythms and the iambs and trochees and apostrophe of their brothers and sisters, and listening to these words float through the night, I make promises to the air that I will share them all with you, the way we share the piano and the paint and the spring earth and grass.

Words and love are my cocoon, and when our clothes are second-hand and our food comes in plain yellow boxes and my time is sold for a mortgage, words and love are one, true, perfect thing...they are a gift I can give you.

Words and love are my cocoon; you and Daddo are my light.  Together, we are a prism.

Your Maman


All the pretty colors...

I woke up this morning to see that some little gnomes had left me a present in the front window.  They must have been inspired by this Filth Wizardry post.  Check out that family's blog...aren't they super?  Our window isn't quite as fabulous as theirs, but it sure does brighten up our living room!  I think Johnny Cash is even smiling a little for once.  Look carefully...

You may have noticed the papel picado hanging in our living room and wondered why it's there.  Need I remind you that we take bubble baths in the swimming pool and practice indoor glamping?  Maybe we've been to a few too many Flaming Lips concerts.



Where everybody knows your name...

When I was 21 years old, my sweetheart of nearly a year borrowed his daddy's car so he could take me out to the ballet for our first Valentine's Day in something other than our old clunker.  I wore the same dress I wore as a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding, a simple, empire-waisted, very long, elegant deep navy gown, and he wore a tie.  He took me someplace nice but not extravagant to eat before we headed for a drink at the hotel nearest the Performing Arts Center and finally to see Carmina Burana; this was my first visit to St. Michael's Alley.  It emitted a lovely, dark public house vibe, and was perfect for the occasion.  I remember ordering a salad with hot bacon dressing on Justin's recommendation. This was about thirteen years ago; I was about forty years late for the grand opening.

Some of the best, simplest, loveliest moments of my life took place at St. Michael's Alley, now a "vanished" Tulsa icon.  When I have more time, I will post more photos on its rich history, but for now, a few photos to tease you with:

If you have any special St. Michael's Memories, please comment me!  Thank you!


Ephemeral life

Dear blogger friends,

I am awake at 5:00 AM because my sweet Grandpa John is in the hospital on a feeding tube because he has forgotten how to eat, and I can't sleep thinking about how much his wife, my Grandma Ruth, must be hurting; their marriage weathered so many storms over the decades they were together...they lost a child, a son, together, and they even almost lost each other for a while, but they love each other so much that they bought themselves a little trailer out on the lake and lived there for many years away from the world and in the company of each other.  Grandpa began suffering dementia a few years back, a disease which has already taken people my Grandma love, but now to see her watching her husband fade breaks my heart...

In the hospital, I sang him "King of the Road" and afterwards he tried to hug me.  When I kissed him, he kissed me back.  I said, "Grandpa John" and I swear a moment of recognition crossed his face.

Grandpa John was always sort of a detached man, a little hard, quiet, keeping his feelings to himself...I never understood that when he would talk about bagging up kittens and throwing them in the river, he was just absolutely screwing with me. Contradictorily, over the last few years, one of his most kindred spirits has been a furry little lady named Miss Kitty.  My grandpa has always been the hardest-working and stubbornest man I know; he once accidentally severed his middle finger and refused to go to the hospital until he had dinner.  He buried it in the backyard and ate supper with grandma before heading to the hospital.  In my adulthood, I have come to understand that "hard" doesn't mean the opposite of "soft," and my Grandpa has always been both.

I keep remembering a time when I was incredibly short, my legs swinging from the stools in their kitchen, working on this 500-piece puzzle from Grandma's pantry, and Grandpa coming in every now and then to help me with a piece or two, teaching me what sarcasm was but adoring me at the same time.

I know I don't have to tell you all how heartbreaking this is, but what I really can't let go of is how much my Grandma loves him...she loves him the way I love Justin...the true, deep friendship and understanding that you would do anything for this person.  I held my husband's hand so tightly the way from the hospital, realizing that fourteen years suddenly didn't seem very long, considering what he told me in the beginning of our relationship, that it was so hard for him to commit to marriage because it meant admitting that one day, one of us would have to say good-bye...either through divorce or as one of our lights faded.

I am going to remember how much my Grandma loves my Grandpa and think of their devotion to each other as I go through the days ahead.  This is my meditation, that one day, we will all have to say goodbye to those we love, maybe even watch them slowly fade away as in my Grandpa's case; I will try my best to love my people with everything I have, every moment I can.  I will try to bring this love into all of my life, even extending to those outside of my family and my tribe, even those who don't always seem deserving of love.  Everyone deserves love.

I don't have any pictures of my gramps to post on the fly, but I do have a few from the last couple of days with my own family and my little nephew.  I hope these little men grow up to find a love as special and true as any there is, because life is a shooting star.



Eric Carle post for Noah

My little blue-eyed extra awesome nephew Noah Michael John loves Eric Carle, so this post is for him.

Part of the whole going to school to teach English includes lesson building...each book is taught as the foundation of a unit, hopefully an interdisciplinary one.  As an undergrad, I found this part of my education intolerably dull.  As a mom, I am really darned glad they made me do it.

So today, I am going to post about a few books we've been reading recently and include some extras for your child's experience with them, whether you are doing the whole home-ed thing or just like us enjoy doing a little extra with the books you read.

The Internet makes being a mom so much easier! 

From Head to Toe

Classroom ideas
Fun art project from one mama's blog (although this clearly won't work with smunchkins, Roo likes watching us draw so much that we actually do the art and let him "help")
Learning colors printable worksheet PDF from the Eric Carle page
Brown Bear connect-the-dots pdf

These are the EC books we are reading so far this summer (at least until we pay our library fines!), but here's an idea for The Very Lonely Firely: make some adorable firefly lanterns with instructions from The Long Thread.  Thank heaven for bloggin' mamas!

And if you can read Japanese, you can spend some of your kids' college fund on awesome merch from this Japanese web site.

I meant to post more links, but my own little hungry caterpillar just woke up from his nap.  Have fun, people!  Peace and love.