My Muse

Brad, who blogs at “writing to freedom” is celebrating his 60th birthday today and wondered if any of his followers would be interested in sharing stories of their MUSE on his birthday. Happy birthday, Brad and I’m happy to share some of my thoughts. https://writingtofreedom.com/2021/05/26/celebrating-our-muses/

In these Covid times, still under lockdown here in Ontario, Canada, my wife and I can usually be found in our sacred spaces, her intent on solving the Wordscapes puzzle on her iPad and me, arms folded at the back of my head, feet on the coffee table, staring into space wondering what life would be like if I had married Michelle Pfeiffer. I had talked my wife into going to the cinema to see ‘ Batman Returns’ with me. She had agreed but only if I went to see ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry, They Get Even’ with her. Driving home after watching Batman, I confessed to my wife that I had fallen truly, madly deeply in love with Michelle Pfeiffer. She just purred and rubbed my arm…….and no, Michelle Pfeiffer is not my muse.

In my late teens I played football(soccer) for the Taverners. We tried to improve our skills every Sunday morning at Hackney Marshes. Once a year we hired a single engine, sixteen seater plane and flew over the Channel to Belgium to play in a tournament. We visited the night clubs till 3:00 a.m. and then tried our best the next morning to give a decent account of ourselves at the tournament. One such night, after visiting a night club, I had a vivid dream of Fred Astaire dancing his way around the hotel. I loved watching the early Fred Astaire movies with Ginger Rogers. They were so light heart hearted and I found Fred Astaire a wonderful dancer, so debonair, with that sardonic smile and charm. At breakfast the next morning my fellow team mates asked what kind of dance I was attempting around the hotel lobby. “Was that ballet you were performing, as you jumped up and down from the coffee tables”…….and no Fred Astaire is not my muse.

I was brought up on the television comedies of the Goon Show and Monty Pythons Flying Circus. A favorite movie of mine is the ‘Life of Brian’, particularly the ending scene where Brian is hanging from the cross singing “Look on the bright side of life”. I still remember the song fondly from the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London and watch it often on YouTube……..and no Eric Idle is not my muse.

Be like I, hold your head up high Till you find a bluebird of happiness You will find greater peace of mind Knowing there’s a bluebird of happiness And when he sings to you Though you’re deep in blue You will see a ray of light creep through And so remember this, life is no abyss Somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness. Composed by Sandor Harmati, words by Edward Heyman.

Yes, my muse is The Bluebird of Happiness. There is a song ‘Bluebird of Happiness’ composed in 1934, partial lyrics above, that inspires me. There are many versions but my favorite is the duet by Jo Stafford and Gordon Macrae. I never blog when I am gloomy or sad but only when the Bluebird of Happiness flies into my vision and beckons me forward. In these Covid times I have not seen this little Bluebird as often. Recently I have seen him fluttering at the window, trying to come in, but prevented by a layer of protective glass. Reading all your blogs over the last few months have lifted my spirits and the The Bluebird of Happiness has finally flown onto my shoulder, lifting my spirit and so here I am blogging.

Oh Yes. I have 11 other muses. My children and grandchildren. With a shout out to my daughter-in-law who took the photo. I am third from the left, last row.

Spring Cleaning

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Late Spring is my favorite time of year. As the snow recedes, the street once again bursts with life. Mothers pushing new born babies in strollers, children riding their bikes, neighbors standing on door steps nodding to all those passing by and young bulbs peaking above the flower beds adding color to the vibrant scene.

“Hi, Len. See you’ve survived another Winter”.

” Yes, I have, Joe. I see you looking as fit as ever”.

It’s so nice to be outside talking to neighbors once again.

Time to clear the Autumn leaves from the flower beds, wash the accumulated winter slush from the garage, sweep the porch and deck, carry St. Francis holding a deer from the garage and place him in the garden and hustle the mice and chipmunks from the inside of the bar-b-que.

” After you’ve finished cleaning the bar-b-que, do you think you can start on the windows. It would be so nice to be able to see out of them again without looking at the dirt and smudges”.

“Yes, dear. What ever you say”.

I reach into the basement storage room and extract the patio table and chairs. I carry the pagoda and Buddha statues to place on the rocks at the edge of the garden. I empty and clean the water feature of Winters residue and rescue the pump from the bucket of water it has resided in since the Fall to place it on its anointed spot. I plug it in and keep my fingers crossed till the water starts flowing along its appointed route.

It’s May 11, 2021 and here in Ontario, Canada the weather is forecast to be at least 17-20 degrees centigrade for the next two weeks. Oh happy days indeed. March winds and April showers bring May flowers……..as Emily Dickinson so aptly described ……. I’m pouring myself a beer…….cheers.

May-Flower
Pink, small, and punctual,
Aromatic, low,
Covert in April,
Candid in May,

Dear to the moss,
Known by the knoll,
Next to the robin
In every human soul.

Bold little beauty,
Bedecked with thee,
Nature forswears
Antiquity.

Emily Dickinson

A Winters Soliloquay

Macbeth-William Shakespeare
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Another freezing, cloudy Winters day, minus 15 c with wind-chill.. The tenth of February, so what else can I expect, definitely not sunshine and warmth. Roll on Spring. It’s going to be the first day of lent this time next week, Ash Wednesday. Still under lockdown, no church, no ashes, still unrepentant for cursing this governments Covid vaccine policies, no absolution from lock down, no family celebration for Kathy’s 70th birthday. Another day with equal weight, as every day since April last year.

What shall I do today. Play Sudoku, Woodoku or Wordscapes on the iPad or start another Preston and Child’s, Gideon Crew, mindless adventure novel, or maybe try to force something from this sterile brain and attempt to blog. Am I just marking time till 2:45 p.m. when Tottenham play Everton in the F.A. cup. Another method of self inflicted pain; Tottenham losing three games out of their last four in boring, uninspiring, unimaginative football. Wow! Winter and Covid lethargy, mixed together, form a lethal cocktail of self pity.

I should probably watch another Jordan Peterson YouTube video tonight, try to gather some inspiration. The podcast I watched last night, Jordan Peterson interviewing Matt Ridley author of ‘ The Origins of Virtue’, The Rational Optimist’ and ‘How Innovation Works’ did wonders lifting me out of my ” strutting and fretting upon life’s stage”. They agreed extolling optimism was the best policy going forward instead of reverting to a negative world view. The world is getting better, contrary to the opinions of main street news and social media. I should go on Amazon and review Dobsonian telescopes 6-8″. I really liked the Orion 8945 XT8 Classic. I need to look at the stars and put this whole world in perspective.

A Winters Introspection

“The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame.
He might get burned, but he’s in the game.
And once he’s in, he can’t go back, he’ll
Beat his wings ’til he burns them black…
No, The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame. . .
The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real,
‘Cause Flame and Moth got a sweetheart deal.
And nothing fuels a good flirtation,
Like Need and Anger and Desperation…
No, The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real. . . ”
― Aimee Mann
Humans consume
Never satisfied
With a gnawing hunger
Never satiated
Like a moth to a flame
Drawn in
By unending credit
Living on borrowed time
Till the day of reckoning

Where's the balance?
Between want and need
Icarus between the sun and sea
Neither soar too high
Or swoop too low
I need food and shelter
And perhaps a treat
From time to time
If there's surplus

Avarice, gluttony, greed
Three of seven deadly sins
According to belief
Unheeded or forgotten
Replaced by instant gratification
Fast food and perhaps
A little extra credit
To light our way
To the altar of consumption.

_________________________________________






A Winter’s Petition

“Forgive me my nonsense as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they talk sense.”
― Robert Frost

O God, Creator, First Cause, Alpha and Omega, I humbly ask you to grant my petition and in return I promise to never again swear at all those inept and crazy drivers who refuse to slow down, and spray my car with slush in the middle of a snow storm.

Can you please, bestow on me the power to hibernate during the Winter months.

If you will allow me to be more specific.

Please grant me the consolation of drifting into a Winter slumber on November 2 to awaken on Easter Sunday. You will have to allow me a degree of selfishness here. My birthday is November 1 and so I would like to celebrate with my family before going into a deep sleep. I realize that I will be missing your Son’s birthday, but will make up for this by celebrating his resurrection at Easter……..and if the truth be told, wasn’t that the whole point of your Son’s existence, to die and rise again to bring us New Life.

God, you are my inspiration. I’ve had another thought while reciting this. Can you please allow all family members gathered at my birthday party to fall into the same Winter slumber and awaken together at Easter. A bit like the tale of Sleeping Beauty without the spindle, the kiss, and the hundred years.

O Creator of the heavens and earth, I know I’m trying your patience but if you will allow me one more petition.

Can you please extend our lives, by the amount of time lost in Winter hibernation. I don’t wish to be presumptuous but I calculate this as around a 40% longer life. (I’ll be happy with one hundred and fifteen years.)Though I know of course that I cannot hold you to this, as your son recited in his parable ” therefore keep watch as you do not know the day or the hour”.

Dear God, I know I’ve tried your patience today and I am but one of 7.8 billion souls storming the heavens for favors. Ask of me what you wish in return and I will gladly carry out your command. I will now enter into a period of contemplation while I await your word.

Thank you Lord for entering into my soul and telling me what I have to do.

I’ve decided to scrap this petition and just move to Florida.

O God, Creator, First Cause, Alpha and Omega, I humbly ask you to grant my petition and grant me a Green Card for permanent residence in the U.S.A.

A Winter’s Tale

It was bleak mid-winter and Jack Frost had completed his rounds enclosing the tiny village in snow and ice. At the northern end of the village Toby pressed his nose against the window, of his grandfather’s tiny house, happy the blizzard was passing. With all the excitement and pent up energy of a ten year old he turned to his grandfather,

” The snow has finally stopped, can I go out and play”

“Don’t forget your snow shoes, dress warm and stay close to the house” his grandfather replied as he continued turning the page of the book he was reading.

After dressing appropriately for the snowy conditions, Toby charged out the front door, throwing himself head first into the deepest snow bank. He arose, shook himself clear of snow, and exhaled slowly after breathing in the magical air of his village. Bathing in the warm rays of the sun beaming from a cloudless blue sky, he closed his eyes, raised both arms to his side and floated backward into the snow. He lazily moved both his arms and legs sideways in a synchronized motion making a perfect snow angel.

He was working on his seventh snow angel when a tiny black object, appeared in his vision, appearing larger and larger as it flew towards him. He watched curiously as the object took shape and a large black raven landed on a rock close to him. The raven shimmered and grew, changing shape, until a wizard appeared before him. Jumping quickly to his feet Toby retreated a few steps and stared silently at the wizard.

“ Hello young man” said the wizard “ having fun I see, and why not on such a beautiful day”.

“ Are you lost” said Toby “ can I help you”.

“ As a matter of fact you can” replied the wizard “I’m looking for an apprentice. Mine recently died due to a miscast spell. Very sloppy work on his part I must say.”

“Well, good luck in finding your apprentice”, said Toby “ I have to go in now, my grandfathers expecting me. Nice to have met you”.

Toby not letting the wizard out of his sight, started walking rapidly backwards towards his grandfathers house.

“ Not so fast young man. I do believe I have found my apprentice. Yes, you will do very well“ proclaimed the wizard as he began to reassume the raven’s shape growing larger and larger, till he was hovering over Toby.

Toby raised his hand towards the seven snow angels, he had created such a short while ago, muttering, ” surgam defendere “, in a low voice. The snow angels took shape, rising from the ground, battering the raven with snow, till he was completely enclosed in an icy tomb. Toby ran for the cottage and entering safely made his way to the window. He was just in time to see the raven break free from his icy tomb, ascend to the sky and slowly disappear from view.

Toby’s grandfather closed his book, yawned, turned to Toby and asked if he had fun outside.

“Yes I did” said Toby ” If your not too busy, perhaps we can work on some more defensive spell for the rest of the day”.

New Beginnings

I’m a big fan of the American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). She lived in relative solitude and wrote 1,800 poems, which were discovered and published after her death. I often wonder how she would have reacted to todays social media. Would she have changed her style of poetry and catered to adoring crowds and thousands of online followers. Would her observations of life be tarnished by the constant negativity of social media. I would like to think she would view our modern day taste for chasing celebrity status and followers with wry wit and observation and stay well above the frenzied crowd.

We are all searching to find our own voice, our true self. “Leading a life of quiet desperation” as Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) observed in his book ‘Walden’? Concerned with material possessions, continually searching for status, comparing ourselves to others? On this 1st day of January, 2021, I am spending the day in reflection and discernment trying to reevaluate my values and plans for the coming year. I am one of 7.8 billion souls trying to find a way to survive and thrive on this planet. This is one of 70 million new posts blogged daily on WordPress. All of us throwing words out into the nether sphere waiting to be read.

John Milton (1608-1674), most famous for writing ‘Paradise Lost’, asked the question ” Does God exact day labor, light denied?” He was going blind at the time and yet continued to write. He never blamed God for his trials, which was a common practice in those days, but accepted whatever came his way and got on with life the best he knew how. So today, January 1, 2021, I am starting this blog and will be doing the best I know how. However, I do not have a poetic soul and will stick mainly with prose. Happy New Year to one and all.

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