Posts Tagged ‘DCS’

Breakfast With Superboy

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

BreakfastSuperboy

Here is a portrait painted many birthdays ago. But my son still requests the same birthday breakfast—pancakes (for which he stopped by this morning)—and he still shows up in an old Superman T-shirt once in a while. (“Dreams are the touchstones of our character.” Thoreau.) Well, he’s faster in thought than a speeding bullet, more powerful in his will to travel than a locomotive, and, metaphorically at least, can occasionally leap tall buildings with a single bound. Happy Birthday, Super-son!

CakeTRexDevin

Maid of Orléans

Friday, January 6th, 2012

No one really knows precisely when Joan of Arc was born. But January 6, 1412 is traditionally recognized as the date, making today the 500th anniversary of her birth, the quincentennial celebration of her mysterious, heroic, and too-short life.

DomremyHouse

The outlines of the story are generally recognized: A pious girl from a rural family, in response to visions and voices she explained as those of saints and angels, approached the Dauphin, the future Charles VII, during the Hundred Years’ War, and convinced him to allow her to aid France.

Given a suit of armor and a banner with fleur-de-lis, she led newly-inspired French troops (who had formerly declined to follow the feckless and irresolute Charles into battle) to expel the English and Burgundians from her then-small country. Her successes in battle, and in eventually arranging for the coronation of the Dauphin in Reims, greatly encouraged the French, but alarmed the Burgundians and infuriated the English, who, when they finally had Joan in custody, burned her at the stake as heretic and witch and raked her ashes into the Seine to prevent the collection of relics—an indication of awareness that they had murdered an innocent. She was nineteen. Detailed records of her trial, painstakingly kept by the court, reveal to us Joan’s simplicity and humility, in contrast to the narrow-minded and vengeful scheming of her assorted judges.

These same records were made use of to acquit her posthumously later under Charles’ rule—for him it was politically expedient to have been crowned with the aid of a courageous maiden instead of a condemned witch. During the acquittal process the testimony of numerous witnesses reveals the original trial’s illegal and corrupt maneuverings.

How was an untrained teenage country girl able to lead dispirited soldiers in the wake of a string of defeats (notably Agincourt in 1415) to win a series of battles and break through enemy lines to see her king crowned? What was the nature of Joan’s voices? To this day much of her story remains unknown and a subject of speculation for historians, psychotherapists, artists, novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers. Statues of Joan are to be found all over the world, including here in Washington, DC, a gift from the Ladies of France in Exile in New York in 1922 and the only equestrian statue of a woman in the city. (There are actually only a handful of equestrian statues of women to be found anywhere, and probably more of Joan of Arc than any other.) As of 1920, Joan became—after five hundred years (the Catholic church moving with its customary excruciating slowness)—Saint Joan.

The image of Jeanne d’Arc has been co-opted, ironically, by the French extreme right, who more properly ought to take as their symbol a 15th-century right-winger: the manipulative and self-absorbed Duke of Burgundy, who turned Joan over to the English to maintain his power; the misogynist cleric Pierre Cauchon, who was fixated on Joan’s wearing of male attire; or the avaricious English themselves, whose desire for the French throne had been humiliatingly waylaid by an upstart female. The ultra-conservative Front National is no place for unconventional Joan, who defied societal expectations, suffered in battle and in prison, and died for her efforts.

The sketch is from a visit to the house in Domrémy thought to have belonged to Joan’s family.

Today is also the Feast of the Epiphany, the day on which, according to tradition, three wise men from the East carried gifts to the infant Jesus. For another take on this event, please see The Three Wise Women.

The Feast of the Epiphany is also the birthday of Carl Sandburg (1878-1967). For a comic and a poem, please see Poetic Journey of the Magi.

CakeStarsNathan

St. Nicholas’ Eve

Monday, December 5th, 2011

D&EShoesStNick

This is what my children will find when they awaken in the morning. I remember when their shoes were so tiny that it was difficult for St. Nicholas to tuck in the little gold-wrapped surprises.

CakeSnowmanDavid

CakeSprinklesGideon

 

Rainy Day Joys (Right Side)

Friday, September 16th, 2011

DeepCreekWeekR

Rainy Day Joys (Left Side)

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

What a pleasure to have a mostly-rainy week whose only rhythms are three daily meals and walking the dog. (And many hands make light work.) Early walks, followed by a little recorder, or sketching, or a game of cards, or curling up with a book. With a pot of split pea soup simmering on the stove.

DeepCreekWeekL

CakeSprinklesAnne

CakeChocCurls2Eli

Mothers Day

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

MothersDay

Ahhh…the lilting voices of her children thumb-wrestling bring a tear to a mother’s eye. Happy Mothers Day.

Fatty Tuesday

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

MardiGras2

For another Mardi Gras illustration, please see Two-Part Tuesday.

CakeYellowRoses2Willard



Sense Of Something Coming

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

DReadingWired

Here is a sketch, from a few years ago, of my son at leisure. He is now leading a busy life teaching, writing, and painting, and is gifted for all three, yet restlessly wondering what lies around the next corner. For his birthday today I post this poem. Happy Birthday, dear Devin, and take heart.

I am like a flag in the center of open space.
I sense ahead the wind which is coming, and must live
it through.
while the things of the world still do not move:
the doors still close softly, and the chimneys are full
of silence,
the windows do not rattle yet, and the dust still lies down.

I already know the storm, and I am troubled as the sea.
I leap out, and fall back,
and throw myself out, and am absolutely alone
in the great storm.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

CakeTRexDevin


Season of Waiting

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

SeasonOfWaiting

Many happy cookies, and the flowers on a queen

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

D&E-Reading

Today is the birthday of writer Shirley Jackson (1916-1965), born in San Francisco, California, but transplanted to the East Coast where she attended university and eventually settled with her husband in Vermont, raising a large family but all the while continuing, somehow, between PTA meetings and making hamburger casseroles, to write.

Many readers have probably been introduced to Jackson through her short story, “The Lottery,” once a classic of the high school English syllabus, which when it was published in the New Yorker in 1948 evoked overwhelming response exceeding that of any previously published New Yorker story.

Jackson came to my attention, however, through the books my parents owned: her collections of dark, evocative, seemingly plotless short stories that are typical to this day of New Yorker fiction (probably a contemporary literary parallel of Abstract Expressionism that nevertheless persists into the 21st century); and her similarly eerie, compelling novels. As a child, I was fascinated yet rather baffled by Jackson’s fiction.

What I really liked, however, were her memoirs of her children, Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons, which I read and re-read, the pages yellowing and held together with Scotch tape. Her unsentimental, low-key, definitely politically incorrect descriptions of ordinary daily life with her four bright, imaginative children, her hovering-on-the-fringes professor husband, and their cats and dogs, in their book-stuffed rural Vermont farmhouse, made me laugh again and again. When I grew up I read the books to my husband and offspring, and now they read them to one another. Into our common family vocabulary have effortlessly crept quotes from the various children (see title above).

This winter, when you and your family are all abed with the flu, read aloud the chapter, “The Night We All Had Grippe.” Laughter is healing. Happy birthday, Shirley Jackson, many happy cookies, and thank you ever so for the years of healing episodes.