May 19, 2013

Random Thoughts & Quotes

He gave us this eternal Spring
Which here enamels everything.
  --Andrew Marvell
Oh May, like Mae West when you're good…you're very good. And today is magical, another pluperfectly minted day fresh off the factory line. I'm in my hammock now, avoiding the “laying versus lying” confusion. Just “in” it. And watching a gold sun still pleasantly high in the sky at 5:45pm.  Bask now I do in this especial moment, gazing at the dewey wax of plants plump with rain. Oh the shimmer-play of light through the back patio pine! How I underestimate this magic spot on the hammock, this rich topography of sun before me while I rest in dappled shade. In the mid-distance I see the fountain and the St. Francis statue, in the foreground the richly landscaped vicinity.

Oh May, fickle May! I've learned by hard experience not to count on any pre-Memorial Day days, but if summer starts June 1st then summer is but three weeks long. For then comes the bittersweet equinox, the Midsummer Night madness, the days shortening. (Oh I must find that wonderful Donald Hall book, Seasons at Eagle Pond. Don't know that I've ever owned a book with content more true to it's form: those handsome thick pages with perfectly chosen font and margin. How that book lingers in memory, particularly the ice stored all summer underground and the madness of an English Midsummer's Night's Eve.)

LATER: Oh the perils of the printed book. Amid two thousand volumes I didn't want to spend the lit-hour hunting. But I did find Hall's Unpack the Boxes which shall have to do for now. There's definitely a point at which one can have too many books for finding purposes, unless you are meticulous in your cataloging.

And so now for my State of the Sun address: the state of the sun is strong. It's 6pm and still very warm and bright proving, against recent evidence of chill, that we are actually in May and not late March. On days like these who needs a beach? I have a private backyard glade. 

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So I ill-spent yesterday evening reading a book harshly critical of the English medieval Church. The superstition depicted is a bit surreal (even allowing for the atheist author's obvious prejudices) and hard to read but it's no wonder the early Protestants reacted so viscerally. The Reformers, or Revolutionists, seemed to throw the baby out with the bathwater by jettisoning the sacraments. Making the sign of the Cross was surprisingly controversial with the controversialists; they certainly were allergic to any action that even could be undertaken without thought, which is also why they didn't like formal, rote prayers. The early Reformers were so allergic to “superstition” that they ended up with the logical endpoint: double predestinationism. If you hate man's attempts to manipulate God, which is a definition of superstition, then you will easily go to the extreme of denying any cooperation of man. Thus men are saved or damned and there's nothing they can do about.

I do have a bit more sympathy for the Reformation leaders after reading this though. What's interesting is how it seems the tables have turned: Catholics seem less superstitious than many evangelicals in as far as expecting health and wealth in this life as a reward for faith.

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Ran into a hale and hearty former co-worker in the weight-room today. I'd worked with him something like 15 years ago. He looks boyish even at 51, despite three children and four grandchildren. His kids are all growed up, which is amazing. It seems like only yesterday they were knee-high and stole my cowboy boots one time I stayed overnight there. His house and ten acres in Newark still remind me of the agrarian dream, although admittedly I've always been semi-smashed there and alcohol provides rose-tinted glasses. “Good times,” he said.

He's worked three years now from 8pm-4am. Sleeps from 5am-9am, a grand total of four a night. Don't know how he does it.  Drinks Maker's Mark and takes a sleeping pill before going to bed. Knocks him flat he says. I said that I heard you don't get as good sleep on a sleeping pill and he sloughed that off and given his energy on the elliptical trainer it did feel like here was living proof of the falseness of the claim.

Seeing his kids get older drives home the passage of time in a way visible and tangible. Seeing these kids change so radically, from infants to teens to adults, is a way of measuring time that doesn't compute with adults (my wife to me looks pretty much the same to me as she did when we got married.)

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Aristotle said 2000 years ago: “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” That dude was wise. None of this, “I'm going to do whatever I want to do for work” nor the other extreme of trying to fit what the market tries to enforce. 

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No white nor red was ever seen
So amorous as this lovely green,
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress' name:
Little, alas! They know or heed
How far these beauties hers exceed!  -
Andrew Marvell
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Thus shut out from their neighbours by mountains, the Greeks were naturally attracted to the sea, and became a maritime people. Hence they possessed the love of freedom and the spirit of adventure, which have always characterised, more or less the inhabitants of maritime districts. - A Smaller History of Greece
Ruffled by want of a cigar, I made a special trip to Kroger's for one. It feels earned and I'd been pining for one ever since catching a whiff of Dad's cigar last weekend.

Tried my three all-time favorite beers on brother Doug but he didn't like them - too hoppy - which I can understand. Those sorts of beers can be an acquired taste I suppose. Sometimes I'm convinced of the universality of the palate when, of course, everyone has different tastes. There's a beer slogan that goes, “Life's too short to drink cheap beer” but I think it should read: “Life's too short to drink beer you don't really, really like.” It's worth trying different beers but obviously not worth giving up favorites. 

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[This paragraph may be safely skipped if squeamish]:  Sperm, for all its potential potency is simultaneously utterly useless in the wrong context, i.e. outside the body of a woman. It shows the complete dependency on two people to produce the new and in that is a metaphor for our interdependence.  It reminds me a bit of the relationship between God and man: without God, man can do nothing. And without man's cooperation, God does not force him to fructify.

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