Tess F’s Most Excellent Film Scenes and Ones to Watch a Hundred Times and Catch all the Metaphor and Splendorousness

The genius of Wes Anderson. . .nobody tops this kind of sophisticated craziness if you ask me.  Layers and layers to watch and learn from. . .

be on the lookout for  rhinestone bluefin and one-eyed research turtles!  🙂

The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions

The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Setting Aside the Sad Politics: Some Art for a Sunday

So in reading my facebook feed this morning, I came across a teaching colleague’s post expressing that he’d more or less had his fill of reading about this sideshow that has been going on in politics.  That we need to start finding something else to talk about, to just get back to the business of lifting ourselves  out of this mess and muck and outright insanity.  So I guess I am posting this short blog with a bit of art that speaks volumes about what gives us hope over despair.

Peace.

“Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much?
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,) You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books, You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self. ”  —Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself

Henry Tanner, "The Annunciation"

“As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,The rising of the women means the rising of the race.No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;Hearts starve as well as bodies; bread and roses, bread and roses.”  —James Oppenheim

Henry Tanner, "The Banjo Lesson"

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,”

Then. Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful

I am

And be ashamed–
I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes

Jane Gilday performs “Don’t that Beat Everything”

Bob Dylan performing at St. Lawrence Universit...

Image via Wikipedia

Oh the time will come up

When the winds will stop

And the breeze will cease to be breathin’

Like the stillness in the wind

’Fore the hurricane begins

The hour when the ship comes in

Oh the seas will split

And the ship will hit

And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking

Then the tide will sound

And the wind will pound

And the morning will be breaking

Oh the fishes will laugh

As they swim out of the path

And the seagulls they’ll be smiling

And the rocks on the sand Will proudly stand

The hour that the ship comes in

And the words that are used

For to get the ship confused

Will not be understood as they’re spoken

For the chains of the sea

Will have busted in the night

And will be buried at the bottom of the ocean

A song will lift As the mainsail shifts

And the boat drifts on to the shoreline

And the sun will respect

Every face on the deck

The hour that the ship comes in

Bob Dylan

From “When the Ship Comes In”

Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music

(borrowed as fair use for educational purposes)

Marc Chagall, Paris Opera Ceiling

I choose to be a figure in that light, half-blotted by darkness,

something moving across that space, the color of stone greeting the moon,

yet more than stone: a woman.

I choose to walk here.

And to draw this circle. —Adrienne Rich, from “Twenty-One Love Poems” 1974-76

this arlo guthrie video is so beautiful. ..the embedding doesn’t work, but if you click through, you won’t be sorry.  so inspiring.  thanks, woody and arlo.  🙂

Losing my Religion: On Finding the Divine on the Road to Learning

Yesterday in my creative writing class, I gave an assignment that asked students to write the wordGod” at the top of the page and freewrite on it.  No rules.  No boundaries.  Just an exploration of that word.

And when I ask something so big of them, I think it only fair that I ask myself to do it too.

(In the past I learned  the importance of participating in those  free-writing assignments from my department chair who cheerfully passes along a good many lesson plans and classroom strategies. And for this most insightful advice, I am truly grateful.)

As a result, I found this inclusive student/teacher exercise to be a most gratifying experience for a couple of reasons.

Number one first and foremost, freewriting is  fun-time  and I find  that if I model some kind of industrious task-oriented behavior during this period, then I’m more or less contradicting myself by setting a hypocritical example.  🙂

And that’s no way to get on with the business of sharing the joy of learning.

But lately, I have been a lot pre-occupied with thoughts that just take me to a place that I ought not go.

William Blake, from the notebooks

So I’ve been shirking my responsibilities a little as mentor.

And in this transgression from my duties as well forgetting that no matter what transpires between the two of us, the bottom line is that the student is internalizing this from experience, which, up to now, has always been the best teacher:

“Do as I do, not as I say.”

And when I think of my own learning experiences, that is how it always worked anyway.  I mean, I loved being taught.  Loved my teachers, all of them, even the ones still struggling with themselves to be patient and such, because they taught me other things I needed to know as well.  Things like being organized with numbers and keeping to a schedule.  I mean, these are respectable behaviors that must be tended to as well.

Sadly the point was often lost on me as I always picked up on some other kind of unhappiness in that exchange and it usually made me run from any kind of discomfort that might reinforce it in myself.  So the lesson got lost on me a lot.

I always knew they meant well though.  And I loved them just the same.

I don’t think there is any such thing as a bad teacher.  Just some in need of a bit more love and support themselves it would seem.  I mean, if you look past that sometimes inscrutable and unforgiving face, you can and will see a softer one.  It’s there if you’re willing to look.  The little girl at three years old, her hands having just been slapped for putting them in the light socket.

She knew that Mommy meant well in doing it, meant to save her from the ultimate separation between parent and child.  If anything ever happened to elicit such a misalignment of the stars, then Mommy would fight like a tiger to stop that.  Even if it meant seeing the tears of disappointment on on the face of someone so close, so innocent and vulnerable.  Those words we all wish to avoid at any given time in our tenure as parents.  “Mommy, why?”

Alas, there was a second lesson in that interaction, one that Mommy in her infinite longing to understand, might never have anticipated and that was “If you explore too much, then you will get punished.”

And so it begins, the cycle of learning and punishment.

Followed by rebelliousness and breaking away.

Which in turn leads to more of the same.

And where on earth could we have gone so terribly wrong as to keep that inefficient system alive for so long?

After all, we came into this world, every single one of us, with two very basic means of understanding and those were

A. To love and be loved.

And B: To learn and share what we have learned.

And so I offer up for you this other kind of scenario to ponder, one in which the child’s learning experience leads her to a pile of excrement in the back yard, the one wherein the dandelion is sprouting up so proudly beside it, and in her excitement to share, she just leans down and kneels to it.  A supplicant in awe of the innerworkings of this earth.  That for every pile of shit, there is a rebirth that follows and flowers after it.

It is the way of the world after all.  Birth, Death, Rebirth.

And without all three of these elements, there simply is no way to understand the divine.

So now I sit here before the laptop and freewrite and let the words fall where they may.  No beginning or end to speak of, just being.

Poetry for the Math-ez . . .Computers, Science Majors, Amazing Gracie and the Big Bang Theory Too!

(title to be read in the voice of daffy duck)

Recently in the English 101 Class I cUrrently teech, I came across one of my favorite challenges so far this year.  You see it’s poetry week there and I have decided to write this blog in the interest of education as the process will serve 2 purposes:

one as a place to store material for teaching poetry to computer techs in the class

(peephole who by virtue of an oppressive no child left behind except for poets education. .  .have been so sadly and desperately deprived of the critical thinking beauty in poems!)

2.   second as a place to show my students what a bad first drafter I can be)

aND writing these thingis on the spur of the moment.  AS such, I will reZIst any and all urges to write another draft before I push that there publish button to the right of my screen.  So here it is.

FIRST I think I will share this sweet little gem from youtube, that is sure to please the nerd person in your life. ..so don’t worry

here I have gotcha covered on Valentine’s Day!

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmZaIhzMmCA]

and here is a math word that has been used by poet friends, but to me, it’s a bit confusing.  Something to do with numbers and counting stuff, which I never could master at:

fibonacci

edit: I am adding this one from another student, the girl who recommended my class to him:

this one is solid and tight and cosmic, kids so SO DO NOT SKIP IT!

Now that you have seen the appetizer, here is a salad:

more inane babbling from me about how amazing those both were and then

the big bang guy love:

and some of this action perhaps:

a dinner poem from this awesome computer creative writing for techies website:

http://www.dennydavis.net/poemfiles/cppoem.htm

from Denny Davis, the blog’s author:

If Dr. Seuss were a Technical Writer

Here’s an easy game to play. Here’s an easy thing to say.

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, And the bus is interrupted as a very last resort. And the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort, Then the socket packet pocket has an error to report!

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash, And the double­clicking icon puts your window in the trash, And your data is corrupted ’cause the index doesn’t hash. Then your situation’s hopeless and your system’s gonna crash!

You can’t say this? What a shame, sir! We’ll find you another game, sir!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house Says the network is connected to the button on the mouse, But your packets want to tunnel on another protocol, That’s repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall, And your screen is all distorted by the side affects of Gauss, So your icons in the windows are as wavy as a souse, Then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang, ‘Cause as sure as I’m a poet, the sucker’s gonna hang!

When the copy of your floppy’s getting sloppy on the disk, And the microcode instructions cause unnecessary RISC. Then you have to flash your memory and you’ll want to RAM your ROM. Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your mom!


The Tao of error haiku

(Johne Cook) (Error messages as they might appear if Bill Gates were Japanese)

A file that big? It might be very useful. But now it is gone.You seek a Web site. It cannot be located. Countless more exist.Chaos reigns within. Reflect, repent, and reboot. Order shall return.Yesterday it worked Today it is not working Windows is like that.First snow, then silence. This thousand dollar screen dies So beautifully.With searching comes loss. The presence of absence. “June Sales.doc” not found.The Tao that is seen Is not the true Tao Until you bring fresh toner.Windows NT crashed.I am The Blue Screen of Death.No one hears your screams.Stay the patient course.Of little worth is your ire.The network is down.

A crash reduces

Your expensive computer

To a simple stone.

*************

Three things are certain:

Death, taxes, and lost data.

Guess which has occurred.

You step in the stream But the water has moved on. Page not found.Out of memory. We wish to hold the whole sky, But we never will.Having been erased, The document you are seeking Must now be retyped.Serious error. All shortcuts have disappeared. Screen. Mind. Both are blank.Seeing my great fault Through darkening blue windows I begin again.Printer not ready Could be a fatal error. Have a pen handy?Errors have occurred We won’t tell you where or why. Lazy programmers.Login incorrect. Only perfect spellers may enter this system.This site have been moved We’d tell you where, but then we’d have to delete you.To have no errors Would be life without meaning No struggle, no joy.There is a chasm of carbon and silicon the software can’t bridge.

Cheap Spell-Checker

Eye halve a spelling chequer

and then I believe it is time to say goodnight, gracie (with a blooper too which will drive the first draft point right on home. .. and a wish from me to have an extra fabulousness day in the morning too.  xoxo:

oh and by the way, i tooootally covered my plagiriasm bases already by saying this is only to be used for education and entertainment purposes.  No poets were harmed by getting paid in the process.  🙂

Thank you for your help, Deidre B.!  🙂

Subterranean Homesick Blues, Norwegian Wood and Bubblegum Soul: On Dylan, Dope and the Breakup of the Beatles

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Image via Wikipedia

Ah get born, keep warm

Short pants, romance, learn to dance

Get dressed, get blessed

Try to be a success

Please her, please him, buy gifts

Don’t steal, don’t lift

Twenty years of schoolin’

And they put you on the day shift

Look out kid

They keep it all hid

Better jump down a manhole

Light yourself a candle

Don’t wear sandals

Try to avoid the scandals

Don’t wanna be a bum

You better chew gum

The pump don’t work

‘Cause the vandals took the handles.

Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

Aug, 1964  Hotel DelMonico, New York City:

After much anticipation and excitement, Dylan  meets the Beatles for the first time. . .his jealousy over their “bubble gum” success almost palpable. . .

As the story goes, the unwashed phenomenon offers the fab four their first marijuana cigarette and bam, music is changed forever.

At least that is what they say anyway.  It was the drugs that did it.

Fine.  I will grant you that one in theory.  No doubt the sloshing and slowdown of brain function had an impact. . .there’s zero denying that.  Love minus zero denying the altered state and how it changes things. And if you want to go to that altar and worship the gods of creativity, you can use drugs to do it. . .

Or you can just let the awkardly emo chips fall where they may.

There is a price to pay for imbibing. . .no denying that either. And speaking strictly for me, I would have to admit that my own delicate physiological state can’t absorb the shock of it so I choose to abstain. . . not out of any kind of moral high ground choice. . .it’s just simply a result of cause, effect and lesson learned.  I simply cannot handle the crash that follows a high.  It feeds these suicidal tendencies, ones that I already have a hard enough time with, minus any other kind of input from unprescribed chemistry. But there is also a price to pay for sobriety, especially when it comes to friends and fitting in, having something significant to offer in a situation wherein many of the participants are saying things you really can’t relate to. . .

It’s not hip to open that can of worms, I know. And I await the backlash to come. But whatever.  (I still say that 40 minutes of meditation does a kickass job at calming the nerves and relieving social anxiety, without the accompanying slowdown of actual awareness followed by a significant chemistry crash and paranoia.  And people forget to mention it. ..especially in a culture dominated by a consumer mindset, one that says if you are lacking something, especially charisma, creativity, self-confidence, there’s an app for that.)

Again, you get screwed up for turning it down too. . .you spend a lot of artist time alone for being such a square that way. . .  That’s life, I guess.

So anyway, back to the Beatles vs. Bob and August 1964.

And a question for you to ponder. Just suspend your belief system for  a minute with me here, and then let go of everything you know about music and drugs. Then consider this  question and proposal if you will:

What happens when strong emotional input follows intellectual stimulation, mixed with a bit of jealous venom from the guy who could/would smash the competition in a single strum?

And there is just no denying it. Something happened that day. ..something that had a massive impact on the fab four plus one.  So here we go again. ..which one had the most impact that day? The weed or the seed?  Maybe a bit of both; you decide.

No doubt it had to hurt the first time the boys heard  Bob’s unabashedly sneering parody of Norwegian Wood. . .

Enough for them to have wanted to break free of that kind of scrutiny, looking for the cracks in the floor, lettin the shortcomings slip into them. . .

And what ARE you really saying with your art when all you do is sit in a room and pencil dream about some girl who’s got you by the short and curly:

Bob Dylan holds a cue card in the music video ...

Image via Wikipedia

And then enter Yoko, who was undeservingly designated as breakup scapegoat for a lot of years. . .I guess if you forget about Bob, you might want to grab a club and go after that, but think about it.  That moment when Dylan saunters out of the room after having been introduced to the newest Lennon/McCartney collaboration.

Think of it again.  Hard.  Imagine half of that creative team walking away that much more determined in his resolve to writing “Silly Love Songs,” and the other just feeling crushed and stuck to the bottom of Bob’s bootheel.

And now to drive it home and see if I can get there without anybody getting hurt by this rant. ..(with apologies to Doors fans as well as anybody who has to deal with the insanity of the prison industrial complex, one that punishes us all for just trying to escape this ratrace and make some art.  Love to you all. xoxo)

This is your brain on drugs:

English: Mug shot of Jim Morrison.

Image via Wikipedia

This is your brain on Bob.

Any questions?  😉

Our Art is All Made of Stars: On Finding a Twin Spirit on the Tumblr

Today right off the bat, as I opened the dashboard on my tumblr account, smack!  this image hits me right between the eyes.  Seriously!  Like pow right in the kisser and then some!

Really engaging you know. . .understated. ..movie star glamour, movie star glamour ..and beautiful and minimalist yet oddly sort of disturbingly like a few of the works from my own portfolio. ..online portfolio, also mind you. ..except you know minimalist!

Minimalist and kickass!

(which if I had a lick of sense I would learn to do myself instead of so many feathers and flourishes all the time. ..alas poor Yorick I knew he used too much mascara.)

English: Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet.

Image via Wikipedia

But back to my initial rant.  About the work that wasn’t mine. . .

I know! Yipes, right?  My ideas are still mine and nobody else can borrow.

Just look adoringly and you know longingly. . .with much respect and appreciation for the genius that isn’t me.

Bimbo Breads Logo

Image via Wikipedia

me thinking I had been so original with that star man stuff. . .first using a small school of fish to represent he form of an intangible man, young girl embracing it as if. ..well  you know, aria and chrysanthemums everywhere. ..

--Tess Farnham "Ophelia and the School of Fish," 9x12 collage

Tess Farnham, mixed media, 9x12

So of course the minimalist version of either of those would just be this:

English: A catwalk for the gutter.

Image via Wikipedia

A piece that is called ironically enough, “Catwalk for the Gutter.”

So anyway, sadness sets in when I see this  Tumblr collage image that depicts, sigh,  a bombshell from the fifties (silky locks, slinky evening gown.) .locked in an embrace with a silhouette of stars, I think to myself:

Hey!  Wait a minute!  I save stars!  I mean books and books of stars in my life here!

Nebulas, and galaxies and Chevy Novas!

And damn, I wanted that woman embracing a silouhette of star-like stuff to just be mine.

But then I remembered something. . .kind of in the back of my head. . .

"The moonlit knight" Genesis, Massey...

Image via Wikipedia

Sledgehammer video.  Peter Gabriel.  Circa something the eighties. . .

Guy made of stars. . .remember that, sort of this big hulking dude all made of stars.

at any rate, whatever you do, do not let yourself be tempted to google images using these keywords “Sledgehammer star man.”  All you get is a screen full of porn!

And then you know there’s Moby.  As in the opposite of minimalist concrete art. ..and this song, which is pretty great too.  So I guess, it wasn’t my idea anyway. . . not anybody’s really.  Just part of the fabric of you and me all woven together like a sweater. . .made of yeah, you guessed it:

And Now for Something Completely Strange! Poetry in Motion Clips. . .Tom Waits’ Smuggler’s Waltz and Ginsberg Can Dance!

Poetry in Motion   --Ron Mann, 1982

Anytime I want to light a funny fire under my creative writing students, I just bring this video to class.  It has everything:

comedy,

(this is long, I know, but insanely worth it for the last line and the story. ..and you won’t forget it. ..EVER)

drama,

tragedy. . .

Seriously, I love this clip. . .even if it is kind of the pinnacle of silliness.  Ginsberg is amazing!

and Micheal Ondaatje, the author of “The English Patient

. . .like a. . .desert romance. . .only ten degrees hotter. ..

and this is just complete insanity, but worth the ride. Enjoy ! :

(OK, that’s all I have for today.  If you are a girl, I HIGHLY recommend a second viewing of Ondaatje, just for the fantasy factor!)

Ten Best Lines from Comedy Films: “These go to Eleven.”

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!   People who don’t like socialism be advised and enter at your own risk.  There are a lot of Marxist ideas in here and I don’t want anybody getting injured from laughing at how crazy it is to live in America without them!

OK seriously, this is just a random assortment of lines and segments from films that I like so please don’t throw shoes if you’re disappointed with the writer for not spending more time on research, reason, or numbers.

Besides the only person who gets permanently hurt when someone throws shoes is George Bush, and sadly he can’t leave the country just now because he is wanted in sixteen states for torture.

( And by states, I mean mental states. Mine. And by torture, I mean the the horse’s mouth: . . .”And so during these holiday seasons, we thank our blessings.”)

But take my word for it; you don’t want to go there. Not even on a sunny day.

Please also note that the quote from “Best in Show” is at the top of this list because I liked the irony of having a slutty waitress from”Best in Show” in first place.

To begin, I thought I would start with  this one I found as I was editing, post-publication, just because squinting to remember that scene from Fargo will be a good exercise for when you have to try and figure out why I chose these quotes:

“For what? For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tchya know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well, I just don’t understand it.” —Marge Gunderson

10. (this one is a series of lines. ..I just didn’t know where to stop cutting and pasting.)

From Stepbrothers (Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly):

Dale Doback: You yelled “rape” at the top of your lungs.

Brennan Huff: Mom, I honestly thought I was gonna be raped for a second. He had the craziest look in his eyes. And at one point he said, “Lets get it on.”

Doback: That was about the fighting. I am so not a raper!

Brennan Huff: Look, I didn’t touch your drum set, okay?

Dale Doback: I witnessed with my eyes your testicles touching my drum set.

I am not sure what Brennan says back, but you can bet it has nothing to do with helping you figure out how George Bush ever slithered into this conversation!

9. From “A Day at the Races” (with Groucho Marx):

Random Stranger:  Are you a man or a mouse?

Groucho: Put a piece of cheese on the floor and you’ll find out.

8.  From “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail” (with John Cleese):

I blow my nose achoo, English peegdog.  Your muhzzair was a hamstair and your fahzzair smelled of eldairberries.

Castle Stalker - 03

Image by leguan001 via Flickr

7. From Groucho Marx:

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

(not sure what film that’s from, or if it is even from a film. . .but still it’s a good one. If you didn’t get it the first time, just close your eyes and think of what happens to a banana on the windowsill all summer.  Did you see how the banana grew some wings and then went sailing to the moon?  If you did, then you have a MUCh better imagination than I do.  Close but no Tiparillo.  Try again and don’t go all the way to outer space this time.  )

7. From “A Night at the Opera“:

Groucho: “Get outta here before I get arrested.”
Chico: “Nah I’d like to stay and see that.”

The stateroom scene. Groucho says, "Is it...

Image via Wikipedia

6. From “Better Off Dead” (with John Cusack):

[Lane (Cusack) waves to two tree trimmers from the cargo hold of a garbage truck]

Tree Trimmer: [to fellow tree trimmer] Now that’s a real shame when folks be throwin’ away a perfectly good white boy like that.

5. From “Better Off Dead” (with John Cusack):

Lane Myer: [indicating to Mrs. Smith’s accident] Gee, I’m really sorry your mom blew up, Ricky, guess she won’t be able to eat any spicy foods for awhile

The contract scene between Chico and Groucho

Image via Wikipedia

4. From “Raising Arizona” with Holly Hunter (Ed) and Nicholas Cage (H.I.):

H.I.: Wake up, Son. [aims gun at the clerk]

H.I.: I’ll be taking these Huggies and whatever cash ya got.

Ed McDonnough: [sees H.I. from the car] That son’ bitch. That son of a bitch! You son of a bitch!

H.I.: Better hurry it up, I’m in dutch with the wife.

Raising Arizona

Raising Arizona

Raising Arizona (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

3.  From “Fargo” ( ):

Marge Gunderson: Say, Lou, didya hear the one about the guy who couldn’t afford personalized plates, so he went and changed his name to J3L2404?

Lou: Yah, that’s a good one.

2.  From “A Night at the Opera”(Groucho Marx):

This one has a Christmas theme!

Groucho Marx: Well, I don’t know, you must have been out on a tail last night. But anyhow, we’re all set now, are we? Now just you put your name right down there, then the deal is legal.
Chico Marx: I forgot to tell you, I can’t write.
Groucho Marx: Well that’s all right, there’s no ink in the pen anyhow. But listen, it’s a contract isn’t it? We’ve got a contract, no matter how small it is.
Chico Marx: Oh sure. You bet. Hey wait, wait. What does this say here, this thing here?
Groucho Marx: Oh that? Oh that’s the usual clause, that’s in every contract. That just says, it says, ‘If any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.’
Chico Marx: Well, I don’t know.
Groucho Marx: It’s all right, that’s in every contract. That’s what they call a sanity clause.
Chico Marx: You can’t fool me, there ain’t no sanity clause.

1. (with Catherine O’Hara)

Malcolm: I’ve banged a lot of waitresses in my day, but you, you, you were the best.

Cookie Fleck: You don’t forget the best.

–Best in Show

English: Groucho Marx & Eve Arden in At the Ci...

Image via Wikipedia

Warmest Wishes on a Rainy Autumn Day

As I sit and shiver in bare feet first thing this morning, I can hear the sparrows flitting under the eaves against the rain. Cars go by on the street, accompanied by the sound of streams and splashes after them. It is still wet and cold here in Missouri on this November day and all I can do is think of things I should be doing to stay warm. Things like tea and quilts and soup and steam. . .

It helps if you have a friend with magical powers as well:

Peter Paul Rubens-Old Woman with a Basket of Coal

As I look at this photo of Rubens’ chiaroscuro, I am reminded of what staying warm once meant to generations that came before, stories my mother told about going down to the railroad tracks before breakfast to gather coal for the stove on mornings like this.  I imagine my great-grandparents as immigrants, in their dark wool coats and scarves, their mittened hands grasping  at the dark and shining stones fallen alongside the shining steel and gravel.  I imagine how good it would have felt to be back inside, the scent of sugar being stirred into black coffee in the kitchen as they gathered at the table to give thanks.

Jozef Israels, Peasant Family at Table. Oil on canvas, 1882. Approximately 28" x 41". Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Here is to staying warm, to friends and family gathered around a table, saying thanks. Thanks for one more day of sustenance and shelter.

Dearest Readers (please post your links to images here as well if you wish),

*So what memories of warmth, thanks, and family do you carry in your heart? Have you explored this or a similar topic in your work? What about light and dark? Chiaroscuro?

Do you knit or crochet to stay warm? Maybe it’s cooking, quilting, or sewing that does it. Maybe it’s something as simple as chopping wood for a gorgeous roaring fire. How do you keep the tradition and history alive? What stories and keepsakes of warmth are you making for them now?

--Tess Farnham "Alice," original collage on paper