Archive for February, 2007

Ash Wednesday

It is Ash Wednesday, and I’ve missed 8am Mass, since the thick fog first delayed, then closed the kids’ school and, one again, altered my schedule. Of course, they will be thrilled to have another day off–when they finally roll out of bed and find out. I’ll kill their celebration with news that we’ll be going to 6 pm Mass, since they missed their school services!

Ash Wednesday and Fog… Both bring images of somber grey, of muted tones; and remind me of two of my favorite poems!

Carl Sandburg (1919) FOG
THE fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

T.S Eliot (1930) Ash Wednesday
(This is the first section; I recommend the entire work, which is too long to reprint here).(Section I)
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not thinkBecause I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there isnothing again
Because I know that time is always timeAnd place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one placeI rejoice that things are as they are andI renounce the blessèd faceAnd renounce the voiceBecause I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoiceAnd pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us
Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Posted by Mike P on 2/27/2007 4:39:48 PM
I think I see something of Eliot’s theory of the objective correlative in this piece of his poem. What is real and what can be symbolized by real things. He draws comfort, ironically, from the fact that he cannot change.

Posted by Michelle pm 2/27/2007 7:58 PM
Good observation..not unlike a lot of Catholics draw comfort from the fact that the church does not change.

The Best Policy

I just heard on the radio that 94% of Americans say that they are Honest most of the time.Some of them are lying.When I have some time, I plan to look up this survey source and find out more.


David McCullough’s 1776 tells the back-story about the American fight for independence, revealing the actions of pivitol characters who are lucky to get mere mention in our history textbooks–like Nathaniel Greene, son of a mill owner who taught himself military tactics merely by reading. “It was a day and age that saw no reason why one could not learn whatever was required — learn virtually anything — by the close study of books,” McCullough writes.

Of course I’ve much to say about the role of typography in our nation’s naissance, but that is for another time. I started this entry because the other night, when wind chills were measured at -10, I stopped for gas. I got out of the car wearing a pair of thick-corduroys, leather hiking boots, a Columbia double-layer, wind-and-water-proof ski jacket, isotoner gloves with Thinsulate, and Thinsulate ear-muffs. In the time it took to fill my tank, the force and temperature of the wind had my body shivering and teeth chattering. I immediately recalled the Revolutionary soldiers…who wouldn’t?

McCullough’s book reminds us of the terrible winter at Valley Forge, commonly taught in our school books , when the harsh weather killed or drove away thousands of the soldiers, reducing the numbers to about 3,000 men, who were all in rags. “Many had no shoes. They were hungry, even starving,” he says. “But they, like their commander would not give up.” The author goes beyond the textbook truncation, and discusse soldiers marching for miles (nine miles at the Battle of Trenton) with only rags wrapped around their bloodied and frozen feet–how did they do it when I can’t stand outdoors for five minutes in layers of clothes without feeling chilled to the bone?

Paper Pills

I love that term…the title of a chapter/story in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, OHIO, about Dr. Reefy who joys his thoughts on small pieces of paper, then wads them up into tight balls and deposits them in his coat pocket.

Here’s some paper pills to cure me of the headache brewed by too much coffee, too much running around, and too many papers to grade at once. If nothing else, this roundup serves as a respite from this grading quagmire that I can’t seem to crawl from…

* NoPed with iPods: Just read that somone in New York is introducing legislation to ban the use of iPods while crossing the street. With new technology comes new laws to control it…This will be something to watch nation worldwide. It took some pretty nasty accidents–deaths even–before all the public outcry over cellphones in the driver’s seat…

* Astronaughty: Gosh, if I hear another person question NASA’s psychological testing/screening process because astronaut Lisa Nowak donned a wig and trenchcoat and attempted to murder her “love rival” … Is it really so tough to believe that even the seemingly sanist people among us do loopy, or shall I use stellar/celestial language and say LUNE-Y things when it comes to love/sex? Don’t get me wrong–the info we have on the diaper-clad Nowak’s 900-mile trek with a sledgehammer, garden hose and bbgun, tells us that there is something just not right upstairs. I am not surprised that the psych screening didn’t catch it–it may not have been evident until she felt that some other lioness was creeping a little too closely to someone she claimed as her man.

* The artist once again known as Prince Super Bowl halftime show was ok–I admit to being a bit –just a bit– of a Prince fan back in his heyday (and mine). I own a couple of albums, and did see Purple Rain in the theater. The half-time show was good, yet a bit eerie: This guy has changed very little. His face looks the same, and he wears the same style clothes (with the addition of the do-rag that makes him look ready for washday). A couple of things come to mind.
A) The football-fan audience is singling along to Purple Rain. Um. Didn’t really fit the audience, and I am referring to the ticket-buying crowd in the stands…not the kids they bussed in to scream like it was 1999 around the stage. I really can’t see 50-year-old men swaying along to When Dove Cry, or jumping up and down for Oh, Baby I’m a Star…And we couldn’t see htem because it was dark.
B) It has been about 25 years since Prince was played at every dance club. Is this what this guy has to show for 25 years? I think I’ve actually done accomplished more, but I am sure I made less money. Who has more dignity? I’m not sure, since that do-rag bandadna headband is in the picture.

* Empty Desk: You’ve all heard that adage…An empty desk=empty mind. How about a Cluttered Desk? Do you wonder why I am asking?

* School Delays and Cancellations: I recall writing a diatribe distributed via e-mail to friends about what school delays and closings erroneously teach our youth–that it is ok to stay home if the roads are a bit slippery, or if it is cold. Weather rarely shuts down the working world, so this school closing trend is a bad lesson for kids…I see the manifestations of these lessons in my college students, who don’t want to come to class when high schools are canceled.

We should be teaching our kids to dress warmly, to prepare for anything mother nature lobs our way, to drive cautiously and to leave early. Instead our current school systems, fearing litigation I am sure, surrender–“Aw, just stay home where it is safe and warm.” –Of course there are days when this is necessary-I LOVE a snow day here and there to break up the routine. HOWEVER, Kids don’t stay home safe and warm. Either the parents have to lug them somewhere so that they can go to work, they stay home unsupervised, a parent calls off work, or even takes the kid to the office.

Oh, there are other alternatives, as I witnessed this week..It was too bloody cold for kids to be in school, but they were at Kohls…lots of teens were making good use of their time away from academics. Some of them weren’t wearing coats! And at the library–Don’t get excited at the thought of kids flocking to the library when school is closed; they were all at the computers Im-ing, and playing video games, and surfing the Internet. If they weren’t at a terminal, they were on a waiting list. You can get to the library, but you can’t get to school? Hmmmm.

* The Veterans’ Glass City Skyway is a site/sight you must check out. I spied it from my mother-in-law’s 9th-floor hospital room. As soon as it warms up a bit, I will take a drive out to Jamie Farr Park and get a better look. It is a classy addition to the skyline. My dad would have really enjoyed watching this go up. He got to see the very beginnnings of it before he died.

* On February. We’ve had a warm winter, certainly nothing to complain about. I wondered if this would change my feelings about February…which I term “the cruelest of months.” It hasn’t. I still dislike this month and I have already sunk into the Feb doldrums. It may be the shortest month, but it drags on and on and there seems no end in sight.

Pitchers and Catchers report to spring training this week. Lent begins on the 21st, which begins the long countdown to spring. Doesn’t matter. There is no hope in February. I’ll probably die in February. Wait, if I die happy, it will be any other other month…if I die unhappy, it will be in February UGH…how many more days?