Monday Morning Musings:
“Reading develops cognitive skills. It trains our minds to think critically and to question what you are told. This is why dictators censor or ban books. It’s why it was illegal to teach slaves to read. It’s why girls in developing countries have acid thrown in their faces when they walk to school.”—Karin Slaughter
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
–George Orwell, 1984
Now is the time of despite–
when the wind’s cold breath strikes your face
and the sun’s bright smile warms your back,
when sprays of white and pink reach up to the bluest sky
as tender greens poke from ground
covered with moon-frost’s lace veil.
Now is the time of hope
rising against despair,
like those little shoots, determined
to be seen, to be heard
as the robins and mockingbirds
trust true love will come from their songs.
And maybe it will.
The paired geese are life-mated.
So, too, the bald eagles,
vultures, and the crows in squabbling,
affectionate families, flying exclamation
points from morning sun-warmed trees,
where songbirds warble and mourning doves coo.
We’re all connected,
bird, bees, wolves,
trees and seas,
some may try to convince you
it isn’t so. But I know that ignorance
is not strength, that 2 +2 does not
Perhaps spring is a siren call,
and we’re destined to dash against rocks,
yet still, despite, perhaps, because—
the river flows on unconcerned
by the weighty truth it carries.
And I? I want never not to be awed by blue,
or to stop feeling wonder at the palette of colors
in the sky.
What could, what might be. If only.
Right now–the daffodils are dancing in the breeze,
and I watch the sun rise. Again.
We had several rainy, windy days this week. The one day we were going to go out, we cancelled because of the bad weather. I made more lentil soup and bread.
Nevertheless, spring is bursting into beautiful bloom all around me. The GOP here continues to push ignorance, hate, and harm. They continue to push legislation that will harm women’s health and cause women to die; they continue to work against LGBTQ+ people because they need to create “others” to hate when people of color and Jews are not enough, and they continue to ban books because it’s easier to control an ignorant population. I’m sure you’ve heard that Michelangelo’s David is pornography. [Rolling my eyes.) The former president visited Waco, Texas, as a shrine and is once again fomenting insurrection. Then there’s climate change, the deadly tornados, and on and on.
What a f**k-upped world we’re living in.
Merril’s Movie and TV:
We finished Your Honor, the drama starring Bryan Cranston. I thought it was a good ending. Season 2 is supposed to be the final season. I won’t say more in case others are still watching it. We finished Vienna Blood. Despite the name, this is not a gory series, but rather a mystery set in Vienna between 1906 and 1908. The actors are British and German. It employs a familiar idea of a civilian paired with a police officer who solve crimes together. In this case, the civilian is a neurologist who is a follower of Freud and his “talking cure.” I liked the friendship that develops between the two men, Max and Oskar, both who are unlucky in love. I also like how the series shows Vienna it this time, the beautiful buildings, the culture and cafés, but also the casual, everyday anti-Semitism.
We watched the movie, After Love. Here’s the trailer. It’s a quiet, powerful movie, the debut feature film of English-Pakistani filmmaker Aleem Khan. It won several awards in the UK. All the acting is excellent, but Joanna Scanlan’s performance anchors the film, and she is outstanding. It’s a sad movie, but even as it reveals the secret or hidden lives that so many have, it also shows how we can connect. Beautifully filmed, edited, and scored, the white Dover cliffs serve as a metaphor.
April is Poetry Month. I’m taking part in Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge again, and I will check out the daily NaPoWriMo prompts as well, though I don’t know if I’ll write and/or post to them.
My friend Pat thought my post was a bit “thin” last week. Is this better?😉
Not ’thin’ at all, Merril! (But then I didn’t think your last post was thin, either. You have a bold friend!) I’ve been in regular contact with my legislators here in Iowa where banning books is top of mind this week. With your permission, I’m going to share these two quotes.
Thank you so much, Carol. Thank you for reading and again and commenting, and for your work in trying to prevent censorship.
The quotes are not my own words, so of course, feel free to share them. I believe the Karin Slaughter quotation came from an address she made concerning libraries several year ago.
Thanks, Merril. We’re fighting an uphill battle here in Iowa where the GOP holds a super majority in the legislature, and the Governor gets anything she wants. It’s horrifying.
I’m sorry, Carol. I’ve been hearing scary things about Iowa recently. Thank you for fighting against those forces trying to bring down democracy and equality.
I hear you and I can relate to the discouragement regarding banned books and women’s rights. Yet each day offers me a choice and I choose to make my actions matter.
I really enjoyed your piece.
Great opening line, “Now is the time of despite–”
and “I want never not to be awed by blue,
or to stop feeling wonder at the palette of colors
in the sky.” Me neither.
Keep shining your light.
Ali–thank you so much for reading and leaving me such a beautiful comment. I appreciate it so much. 💙
This was such a beautiful and heartfelt ode to spring and all of its beauty. And boy do we need it now with all the horrors going on.
Do these people even hear themselves speak? David is porn? Are they out of their minds? (Sorry, rhetorical question.) Your country needs help. I don’t know what it will take.
After Love is definitely on my radar!
I have two more episodes of “Women at War”
Your friend Pat is rather bold, I agree with Carol 😉
Thank you so much, Dale.
I truly appreciate all the positive comments I’m getting.
My country does need help.
I still have to check out Women at War. 🙂
Pat is a dear sister-friend. She was concerned last week that I didn’t mention anything about movies or shows. 💙
You are most welcome.
And this is truly a wonderful poem. I loved it.
And you do!
And I didn’t say anything but I figured it was a quiet time re: movies and shows 😉
Thank you again!
Merril such glorious pics and your verse so beautifully wise and uplifting. ❤️
I am drooling at the sight of your bread. 😊
Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Punam! ❤️
You are so welcome. 😊
Love your spring musings, Merril. They’re so hopeful.
Your photos are wonderful.
On top of everything you’ve mentioned, I am shocked by what is happening in Israel.
Is democracy in jeopardy there as well?
The GOP must have a combined IQ of 10, while they sit by and watch the US decline. trump needs to not be on earth. The longer he lingers, the more various trumps and desantis’ will flourish.
Another 7 dead from a school shooting today.
People have been trying to put clothes on David for a long time. Crazy, but art in its many forms terrifies a lot of people.
“Your Honor” was pretty good.
Have you been watching “Perry Mason”?
I loved “Poker Face”.
Happy Tuesday! (Just trying to get ahead!)
Thank you, Resa.
Yes, I think democracy is being threatened everywhere, including Israel. Of course, trump supported the right-wing there.
And yes, he needs to be arrested.
I wrote this before news of the most recent school shooting. Another tragedy, and nothing will be done because the GOP loves guns.
Yes, art in all its forms has always been subjected to censorship. This instance is simply particularly stupid.
I don’t have Hulu to watch Perry Mason, though I do like Matthew Rhys and loved him in The Americans. I haven’t watched Poker Face yet either. 🙂
Thank you, Merril!
It’s a crazy world right now.
Big IF – IF trump is brought to justice, democracy has a chance.
I think it’s moved beyond him. That would definitely send a signal, but there are so many bad actors out there.
I’ve just read the horror of another school shooting and the crazy book banning. Knowing most world events (weather and politics) are out of my control, I too choose to always be “awed by blue,
or [never] to stop feeling wonder at the palette of colors
in the sky.” But I do vote!
In honor of Poetry Month coming up–on Saturday I supported a poetry showcase in my city, which included fabulous works by students of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.
Merril, thanks for cooking up a lovely post today and for continuing to make lentil soup, bake bread, and create more poetry.
Thank you, Marian, for reading and commenting–and for voting and supporting the arts.
And for your kind and thoughtful words. 💙
And today another school shooting…
Too many depressing news items to comprehend.
And yet, spring. And your delicious photos. (K)
Thank you, Kerfe.
Yes, I wrote this before the most recent school shootings . . .
I’m going to try desperately to hang onto this life from today’s post: “I want never not to be awed by blue.” It’s getting increasingly difficult, however. After yet another school shooting with assault rifles today and he who shall not be named completely out of control channeling Mein Kampf, I am getting increasingly frightened.
Thank you, Liz.
I’m glad I was able to throw you a sort of life line.
I wrote this before the most recent school shooting . . . and the Congress person for that district whose Christmas card was a posed family photo with guns, and who then offered “thoughts and prayers.”
Things are getting frightening.
You’re welcome, Merril. I didn’t know about the Christmas card. So, he and his family chose to celebrate the birth of Christ, who was love incarnate, with weapons whose only purpose is killing other living beings? That goes beyond hypocritical. I’m at the point where every time a politician offers “thoughts and prayers” after more children are shot and killed I scream at the television.
Yes, I agree, Liz.
From Heather Cox Richardson:
“In the wake of the shooting, Representative Andrew Ogles (R-TN), who represents Nashville thanks to redistricting by the Republican legislature that cut up a Democratic district, said he was “utterly heartbroken” by the shooting and offered “thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost.”
In 2021, Ogles, his wife, and two of his three children held guns as they posed for a Christmas card with a caption that read: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference—they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
There’s probably a citation in her post.
Just when I thought the photo couldn’t get any worse, the caption did. And to think, back in the ’70s, my dad was criticized for displaying a No Handguns sticker on our kitchen door.
Yes, you are right about the caption.
And wow–about your dad.
I hate to say it, but I’m glad he didn’t live long enough to see what this country has become.
My dad would have lost it at Trump. My mom hated Trump, but she was more blasé, saying she’d seen a lot in her time.
My mother was very upset about Trump, but she didn’t live to see the worst of what he’s done.
Beautifully described and photographed celebration of spring, with the “siren call” warning. We liked Vienna Blood. Your posts would never be uninteresting, no matter how slender
Thank you so much, Derrick. 💙
Thanks for you post, Merril. The cynicism of power-drunk government is in strong contrast to the purity and honesty of nature as depicted in the many photos you shared. We are in frightening times, and beauty has never been more important to uphold and celebrate.
Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment, Steve.
You’re most welcome, Merril.
The weight of the world is in your musings. No need to add a haibun to it.
Should really be Wacko, Texas.
No, added pressure didn’t appeal to me. 🙂
We went to Waco once when I was a child. I’m not sure why. I think one of the men who worked for my parents came from there? All I remember is a dusty, little town. We might have had lunch there. I wish I could ask my mom.
It’s the kind of place I imagine people avoid if they can now.
I imagine so. I’m sure it’s much different now. There’s probably a Walmart . . .
That should improve the tone of the place no end.
Your photos are so gorgeous … have I told you that? And your words–as always–are magical.
Of course, I heard all about David being pornographic and how one school board member (Tallahassee Classical school, doncha know) suggested how pictures of David could be age-appropriately stratified (eye roll). The Republicans are indeed taking pages from 1984, claiming that censorship is freedom.
I can’t keep up with the BS happening in Florida but fortunately, our League of Women Voters has been on top of it. They got me writing emails, an effort that has been cathartic for me. Although I know I won’t sway any Florida Republicans, I’ve had responses from Florida Democrats who share my concerns. At least there’s that.
I do wish there was another season of Vienna Blood. We became quite attached to Max and Oskar. Greg is ready for us to watch Mad Men. He watched all the seasons after he retired and I was still working. He wanted me to watch it with him but at the time I wasn’t interested. Plus he gave me such detailed summaries over dinner that I felt I had watched it … lol. But it’s been a couple of years and we’re kind of desperate for a series 😉
Thank you so much for your kind words, Marie!
And thank you for your action with the League of Women Voters. I need to do more of that. Though you won’t sway the extremists, you may sway some on the fence, or convince people to vote.
We became quite fond of Max and Oskar, too. I wonder what the novels are like. I never watched Mad Men. I think when it was on, we didn’t have the station, but it’s funny that I was thinking about it recently. I know what you mean about a series. 🙂