Monet Refuses the Operation
Doctor, you say that there are no halos
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
~ Lisel Mueller ~
(Sixty Years of American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets)
Monday, July 20, 2009
Wheee....I sold another painting which means two things: I have money to travel and I am inspired to keep painting. So off I went to Aaron's super sale on canvases. They are now sitting staring at me in my studio as I write. Writing this blog is a way of procrastinating the inevitable first brush mark on the empty white space. So then may I should think of texturing the canvas before the paint. Virgin canvas is always intimidating and I don't think I am alone in this feeling. I've heard other painters express the same. Sometimes it is as easy as just throwing some charcoal marks on it or putting a wash of some hue all over it. Today I sorta have in mind what I want to do but then I may procrastinate some more with cleaning off my desk, folding laundry. Hmmm....
Sunday, July 12, 2009
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing. Our community is celebrating that great achievement for the next couple of weeks. Last night my husband and I along with many aerospace folk gathered at the University of Houston/Clear Lake to hear former flight director, Glenn Lunney, speak and to view the documentary, In the Shadow of the Moon. It was an emotional evening for many of us as we viewed John Kennedy's wonderful speech that set in motion our visit to the moon followed by recent interviews of the astronauts that made the trip. It was interesting to hear them speak of their experiences now in reflection 40 years later. At the time they were involved, they were too busy with the technical decisions and mechanics to spend much time in reflection but now several of them related what a spiritual experience it was for them. Ed Mitchell went on to go on a spiritual journey to find the actual remains of Noah's ark. Mike Collins talked of his epiphany spiritual experience. I do recommend the film as it is out on DVD.
Many of these astronauts were our neighbors, most lived on our street or around the corner. I became overcome with sadness and teary watching the prologue of the terrible fire that claimed Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. I recall when we got the news. We were on our way to downtown Houston's medical center to visit a friend who had just had a baby when the news came over the radio. We were shocked and what should have been a joyous visit had quite a pall over it. It drove home how incredibly dangerous the mission was and how brave were the men who chose the journey. Roger and his family were our neighbors in the next block and by the time we got back to our neighborhood the media was camped in his front yard. Our children were so young they have no memory of this but I will remind them to watch the movie as the whole program was a major part of our lives.
When Apollo 13 got in trouble, my husband was called in to help with the guidance system that he had designed to help them get back down in the lunar landing module. It was a close call and very scary.
I remember when the first man orbited the moon before anyone actually landed. It was Christmas Eve and friends including astronaut Al Worden, his wife, Pam and their girls. We had the TV on and gathered to hold our breath as the astronaut finally came around from the back side of the moon and we all gave a huge sigh of relief when he reported in.
At the first lunar landing, Mike Collins as commander stayed in the capsule while Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder to plant the US flag on the moon. Buzz and my husband are still in touch as both are still active in space development. Buzz is 80 now and my husband, Ken, 78 and it is remarkable that they both still have the enthusiasm and excitement about their work that they had more than 40 years ago. Neil Armstrong keeps a very low profile and always has so was not part of the interviews.
Looking back I am amazed at how ordinary we thought our lives were at the time and now realize how extraordinary it was and is to be part of that era in our country's development. I am grateful that there was that opportunity for very young men, some in their twenties, others in their thirties when it began, to courageously step into the unknown, not just as astronauts but as engineers, technicians trying something that had never been done before. Awesome!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
It wouldn't be the 4th of July without watermelon and a parade. But that was just the beginning. We spent the 4th in Charlotte at my son's house surrounded by family and it was just the best ever. Daughter-in-law's cousins came along with her mom and after a big barbecue dinner of grilled chicken, hot dogs, corn on the cob with baked beans, cantalope, watermelon and brownies, we all loaded on to the boat at dark and headed up the lake to some coves for some great fireworks. Dock after dock up and down the coves set off a wonderful display that went on for about two hours. Under a full moon and with a cool breeze and good music, it was just awesome.
The kids crashed after a busy day starting off with riding their bikes in a community parade. Our son set us up at the finish in the shade with chairs and we got to see it all....fire engines, beauty queens, horses, antigue and miniature cars and floats. A great slice of America which makes me very proud.