Transforming the Quotidian

More often than not, a child’s first exposure to poetry is through nursery rhymes and Mother Goose. As we observe the final Sunday of National Poetry Month 2024, I wanted to recognize the role of nursery rhymes in providing a literary foundation for readers and poets everywhere.

Nursery rhymes are a rudimentary form of poetry. In general, children love the repetitious quality of simple verses. Twinkle, twinkle little starOne, Two, Buckle My ShoePat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake, Baker’s Man. The rhythms delight. The rhymes become fixed in memory. When there are numbers involved, the little ones learn basic counting.

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Sincerest Forms of Flattery

As we come to the tenth day of National Poetry Month 2024, I’m turning my attention to one specific poet, John Keats (1795-1821). Many literary scholars count Keats among the all-time great poets.

One poem written by Keats (a sonnet from 1818) goes by the clunky title When I have Fears That I May Cease To Be. Given Keats was still in his twenties when he died, the sonnet provides a curious window into his spirit. In my view, the poem deserves multiple readings and invites contemplative thought. (See the link above to read the poem for yourself.)

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Negative Thoughts

During this day, National Poetry Month Day 4. it’s fitting to celebrate the beautiful life of TLS, my deceased sister-in-law, who was born on this day. She died during the #FluFiasco of 2019-20.

Besides my brother (who is two years older than me), I’ve known TLS longer than anyone living today on this planet. We were lifelong friends. I’ve posted about her before (here and here, among other posts). Additionally, I compiled a small book of tributes to honor her memory. Another website (my brother’s) highlights aspects of her life and art.

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To Be Something – More

Book recommendations are one of my major weaknesses. Especially when someone I admire suggests a particular book, I have little-to-no resistance. Given the number of books on my bookshelves (many still unread), it seems I’m dealing with an obsession a costly one!

If I were blessed with unlimited resources, I envision “my” library looking something like the image above from Prague … maybe I’d add a comfy chair or two since the straight-backed chairs on the right don’t look terribly cozy! Give me a cushy chair and footstool (plus a cup of coffee or cinnamon tea) and except for refills, I might not venture out for days (or weeks). Continue reading “To Be Something – More”

RPG (1908-1975), Never Forgotten

People who have any kind of connection to St. Louis, MO will probably be familiar with Marlin Perkins, the renowned American zoologist who died in 1986. His television show, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, ran for more than two decades and originally aired in 1963. The man’s love for animals began much earlier.

A recent Facebook comment (noted by my dear cousin) brought to mind another of our relatives, because of his association with the animal-loving zookeeper Perkins. Richard Phillip Grossenheider (whom ancestry.com informs me is my first cousin twice removed) was assistant curator of birds at the St. Louis Zoo from 1930-1937 and an internationally known wildlife artist as well. Continue reading “RPG (1908-1975), Never Forgotten”

My “Lucky” Day

The Washington Post ran a story the other day about the expected surge in Las Vegas tourism traffic this week because couples have chosen to marry on the upcoming “lucky” day (12/31/23). The next time there’ll be a similar date with the repeating 123 numbers will be in 100 years! I’m reminded of an old Lawrence Welk/The Count meme … a one and a two and a three.

For Las Vegas – always eager to cash in on a unique (and possibly lucky) event – they’ve installed a small pop-up marriage license bureau inside the airport to accommodate arriving couples in their quest for the perfect wedding venue. In this city that’s billed as the “wedding capital of the world,” Las Vegas makes it happen for newlyweds, especially since the average wedding now comes with a hefty $30K price tag. Continue reading “My “Lucky” Day”

Fifty-Four Years Along

This world was quite different in 1969. Average cost of a new home was $15,550 and average income was $8,550. Minimum wage was $1.30 an hour. The price of gold averaged $41.10 per troy ounce. We had no such thing as Internet, nor one cell phone.

It was at the end of that relatively chaotic year (Hong Kong Flu pandemic, Moon landings, the first artificial heart transplant, the Manson family murders, Woodstock, Hurricane Camille, a military draft being reinstated for the first time since World War II, and much more) that December introduced the most life-altering difference for two young kids – my Beloved and myself. We declared our wedding vows to each other before God and an assembled group of family and friends.

Imagine what those times were like! Richard Nixon was sworn in as our 37th US President. An oil spill off the coast of California inspired a Wisconsin politician to organize the first Earth Day which was launched the following year. The Concorde (based in France) conducted its first test flight. President Eisenhower died. The Vietnam War was raging.

Were we crazy? Plighting our troth in such dire, mixed-up times?! Continue reading “Fifty-Four Years Along”

The Artist in Real Life

Two birthdays have gone by since my sister-in-law Terri graduated to her heavenly home. Today marks the second anniversary of her passing. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, missing her dear and delightful companionship.

Even in her absence, her presence surrounds us. Framed paintings lovingly created by Terri grace the walls of our home. Other decorative touches are visible everywhere: a pair of ornate candelabra, a table centerpiece of dried heather, crocheted tea-cozies for glassware, brightly-colored placemats and lace-edged gingham napkins. She found joy in beautifying our lives in the same way she enhanced the lives of everyone she loved.

The Lifetime Works of a Beautiful Young Girl  (click on image above to view the video)

In the two years since Terri’s home-going, my brother Eric worked on a unique project. He compiled her art works (as much as possible) into one PowerPoint presentation. This was a challenging task because Terri was so generous in sharing her art with … well, just about everyone! For many months, individuals contacted Eric to provide him with copies of paintings Terri had given each person. There were so many, some long forgotten.

Once he’d compiled digital images of Terri’s art, a natural timeline took form. (The image above is one part of the collection.) Given his artistic approach, my brother added specific background music to provide a professional touch. The finished production (more than 300 images) may be viewed by clicking the image above or being re-directed here. The video runs slightly over 30 minutes but I highly recommend it as time well spent.

Terri’s life was a huge canvas where she expressed her artistic vision 24/7. The sonnet I’ve included below expresses my own reflections about Terri’s sudden death. I think it also expresses emotions which are universally felt after a loved one dies.

Before her death, Terri and I often discussed getting some of her art and writing posted to the worldwide web. She launched a blog (two posts, I think) but after that, it languished. More recently, my brother took a look at what she’d begun and decided he’d continue where she left off. He’s learned a great deal about the process, so now he posts most days, offering daily devotions which feature some of his as well as some of Terri’s artwork. Please check it out here and I think you’ll find his commentaries thoughtful and incisive.

We remember Terri today and celebrate our privilege of having known and been loved by her.

Fifty-two Card Pickup

The rush of Christmas activities has been somewhat more fragmented this year due to my sister-in-law’s sudden passing. In fact, it wasn’t until my Beloved and I were halfway through “our day” that both of us realized, “Hey, today’s our 52nd anniversary!”

Through the years since our wedding in 1969, we’ve observed some with splashy celebrations while others have been quite subdued. When you have an anniversary during the holidays, you learn to adjust. Many other events take precedence. Continue reading “Fifty-two Card Pickup”

It Is Well With My Soul

Eleven days ago, my lifelong friend and sister-in-law entered into her eternal rest. She was so dear to so many … family, friends, colleagues and numerous students who sat under her excellent tutelage and received personalized instruction. Her sudden departure from this world stunned and pressed us to contemplate our own mortality.

Terri and I first met in junior high school and through the years, we forged a bond built on our love of family, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a firm dedication in creating things based in truth, goodness and beauty. Throughout our lives, she was the artist who also knew and loved literature, while I aspired to be the writer (and lover) of literature who envied her ability to draw and create images without the necessity for words.

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