Rainbow Flower & Pot

Rainbow Flower and Pot

Finley has decided, quite rightly, that what she wants to paint, draw, or colour, is much more important than any of the page prompts in the drawing book I got her. That said, this could easily be a comic book cover – or the cover photo of my next book.

“I want to see the world again through the eyes of a little child” – Picasso. The gift of so doing is precious.

Me and My Bride!

Me and My Bride!

A friend wrote to me today and sent her greetings to ‘you and your bride’. Well, that delightful phrase set me thinking. Clare (my bride!) and I have known each other for 61 years and we have been married for 56 of them, 57 this Christmas. I often wonder how this wonderful woman has put up with me during all those years.

Mrs. Thomas Thomas, my good friend from the little village in Wales where my parents had their house, once told me about a friend of hers. That friend had been married for 35 years and had never had a quarrel or a fight with her husband. ‘There she goes,’ she told me one morning. ‘Never a fight with her husband. Bloody boring marriage, if you ask me.’

The point, I suppose, is that yes, there can be disagreements within a marriage, and doubts, and uncertainties, and questions about major decisions, and no, we don’t agree on everything? How could we? And one of the best parts about marriage, well, ours anyway, is agreeing to differ, and then making up again, as quickly as possible, after any disagreements.

Whatever, it is hard to argue against 61 years of togetherness and happiness. The secret formula? Clare’s – to learn my languages with me, to help me with my work, to lift me up when I am down. Mine – to love cooking for her, spoiling her, bringing her flowers, and trying to support her as she has supported me.

We have often led separate lives – Clare as a tennis player, a national gymnastics judge, a dedicated show secretary of the local kennel club, a show dog owner, groomer, and handler. Me – as a rugby player and coach, a researcher who has travelled frequently and visited important libraries in my field, a poet and short story writer who has taken and led workshops and writing groups.

We have also worked together at all levels. Each of my four graduate courses (MA, Toronto, 1967) demanded a paper every two weeks. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – paper #1. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday -paper #2. Saturday – rugby with U of T Blues or Toronto Irish. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – paper #3. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – paper #4.

I would sit in the kitchen and write the papers in longhand. Clare would sit at the other side of the table and type each page as I finished it. She did the editing too, when and where necessary. She also developed her computing skills faster than I did. Result: web pages, art work, design, photography, and several of my book covers. Our keys to success include team work, mutual assistance, deep caring and sharing, but separate paths, when and if we needed to take them.

So, there you have it. A swiftly-penned picture of me and my bride, or, as I call her, my better two-thirds. My life would have been very, very different without her. And don’t forget: behind every lucky man, there stands a wonderful woman.

Outreach

Outreach

It’s so easy to cast the tiniest
pebble into the tranquil pond.

Sit and watch the ripples spreading,
flowing outwards, touching unknown
shores with a smidgen of warmth,
a lapping of love.

Reaching out, from the center
to the periphery, not knowing
where the outreach is going,
but knowing that the effort is
never in vain if it helps someone’s
suffering, reduces their loneliness,
brings light to their lives,
and relieves their pain.

Bread cast upon the waters,
returned in great store,
three, five, seven, ten times
more than what you cast.

Your spider-web lines
thrown inwards and outwards
in a gesture of faith, hope,
and a charity chest of tenderness
to lighten a burden, to remove
the dark from another’s heart.

It’s so easy to select a pebble,
but who will throw that first stone?

Click here to hear Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Outreach

A Moment

A Moment

“A moment in your life,” she said,
“a moment that changed you forever.”

A bad boy,
banned from representing the school,
condemned to acting as a servant
to the chosen few,
those who were good enough to go.

They gathered early in the refectory.
I served them tea.
But first I salted the tea pot with Epsom Salts,
or something similar.
The tea pot frothed and foamed , then settled.

Later, the house master called me.
“Can you dance? he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Show me,” he said. He handed me a chair
and put a record on his gramophone.
I danced, six legs, to his satisfaction.

“Put on your Sunday suit,” he said.
“Be on your best behavior.
It appears we have suffered a bout
of gastro-enteritis.”

That’s where I met her.
Age seventeen. At a school dance.
The one. My one. The only one.
Sixty years later, we’re still together.
Writing this, I see us as we were back then.
My chest goes tight.
My eyes overflow with tears.

Click on this link for Rogers reading.
A Moment.


Christmas Day

Christmas Day

Wishing all my followers a wonderful Christmas and let us hope that the New Year brings us some relief from Covid-19 and all the ensuing vicissitudes. Sunny here in Island View and coldish, but not too bad. A tiny sprinkling of snow, so we qualify for a White Christmas – una blanca navidad.

AMGD: The full phrase attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola, the author of Ejercicios espirituales / Spiritual Exercises and the Founder of the Jesuits, is Ad maiorem Dei gloriam inque hominum salutem or “for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humanity.” 

So, to continue with the Latin: Pax Amorque /Peace and Love. My friends: whatever your customs and beliefs, make this Christmas a good one and let us all wish for a Happy New Year.

Anniversary Poem

Anniversary Poem

“Hoy cumple amor en mis ardientes venas
veinte y dos años, Lisi, y no parece
que pasa día por el.”

Francisco de Quevedo

“For twenty-two years my captive heart has burned.”
Christ, what crap that is. The only heart burn
I have known came from your cooking: African
Nut Pie, as detailed in the cookbook I bought you
for Christmas on our first wedding anniversary,

remember? And do you remember the ride to Kincardine
on the train? A dozen coaches left Toronto and one
by one they were shunted away until only you and I and an
elderly man ploughed through the snowstorm in the one
remaining carriage. Deeper and deeper piled the snow.

You looked through the window and started to weep:
“What have I done?” you cried in shock and grief. Outside:
Ontario lake-effect snow. Headlights from two waiting
cars lit up the station. We drove to the homes of people
you didn’t know, third generation cousins of mine.

You’re the only bride I know who was carried to church
in the arms of the total stranger giving her away
in place of the father she never knew. The snow lay six
foot deep (eighteen inches fell on your wedding day
alone) and you, with a white wedding dress and black boots

up to your knees. Cousin Walter carried you to the altar:
how they laughed as they chanted that old song to us.
Later, when they tapped the glasses and fell silent
at the meal, I didn’t know what to do. And you, my love,
standing up, kissing me, married after six days in Canada.

Comment: 55 years ago today. Where have they all gone? How quickly they slipped away. So many memories. So much happiness.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Anniversary Poem

55 Years Married

Poppies by Clare

55 Years Married

White Flame
in praise of my beloved

White flame, her hair, emerging from shadows,
lighting her path downhill toward water’s edge.
Wind-driven waves splash lake-side where she
will wander. I watch her footsteps, not now
as firm as once they were. Burgeoning age

grips hip and joint. Toes and heels no longer
lift in the same old way. Component parts
break down, arteries clog, arthritis worms,
painful, into fingers, wrists, and knees. I
recall nursery rhymes: “Jack be nimble, Jack

be quick,” but she isn’t anymore and
neither of us could jump over candles.
Candlelight, inner light, outer light, her
hair, so pure, so white, her voice clear as a
bell, soft yet luminous, as she picks her
way on a perilous path through wayward

woods, not stumbling yet, nor lumbering,
and still she lives, as I still live, in hopes
to see each other, until earth stops our eyes
and we can see, sense, touch, hear no more …

Comment: Yes, we got married 55 years ago today. This poem, written for Clare, appears on page 120 of The Nature of Art and the Art of Nature in the section entitled The Nature of Human Nature. I have written several very personal poems about Clare and our relationship and they can be found in Secret Gardens the chapbook I published in 1991 on the occasion of our 25th wedding anniversary. Several poems from that collection also appear in Stars at Elbow and Foot. Selected Poems, 1979-2009. (Cyberwit, 2021). The painting that decorates this page is also by Clare. She is a talented multi-media designer and several of my book covers were designed by her. This is one of her rare paintings. We have three of them on the wall, and they are all exceptional.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
White Flame

LoVe

LoVe

I love to be cryptic. Nothing better than a series of hidden messages concealed, or partly concealed, within a pair of paintings. And what have we here? Well, can you work it out for yourselves? Or do you need an explanation?

Okay: an explanation it is. First, the title of this blog post and of the painting on the left. LoVe. LV = Roman numerals for 55 / fifty-five. LoVe = love it. More, much more: I also love my beloved and, on Friday, 24 December, this year, we will have been married for 55 years, all of them spent in Canada, where we got married, all that time ago.

Perspective: so important, even in a painting that lacks perspective. So, let’s put it into perspective: that’s the year before Canada’s Centenary. And yes, we visited Expo in Montreal in 1967. Or, if you are a sports fan, that’s the Christmas before the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup (1967) for the last time. And we were living in Toronto. And I was studying at U of T. Wow and double wow: nobody in Canada, under the age of 54, was alive last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the big one. And still the Maple Leafs, like our marriage, endure. We are the everlasting drum-beating bunnies, going on and on, for ever and ever.

Now look deeper. See what else you can see. I will assist you no further, except to add the initials – and title – of the right hand painting. AMGD. Work that one out, if you want to and if you can. And remember: presents for special anniversaries like ours come from the heart – not from a gift shop. So that is my anniversary present for my beloved. What a pity: she never reads my blog.