Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Around the corner ...

Autumn, my favorite season, is around the corner. So says my calendar. Summer's haze, heat, and humidity fade slowly here in Georgia, but the seasons maintain their cycle. Moon after moon, in all its phases, and sun after sun dance with our little blue planet. Spheres of silver and gold strung on a chain of days bring brightness to our ways.

I look back now over the summer even as I look forward to the approaching holidays, and I see some lovely gems of memory worth mention. One gem is named 'Savannah,' that lovely harbor city on Georgia's coast. My husband and I visited it late in August for the second time, just before my birthday. (We learned a few days ago that a couple of our favorite spots, the Olde Pink House Restaurant and the Moon River Brewing Company, are considered haunted. Go figure.) The history in Savannah is palpable and I especially appreciate the creative influence that the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) infuses into the mix. Between forays in that city and a visit to Tybee Island, I was able to get some lovely photos and do a bit of Christmas shopping so I felt quite productive.

Productivity reigned when we returned home. I spent a few afternoons standing at the stove stirring pots of fruits for preserves and pie filling (cherry) and jam (spiced peach) so I have some of summer's special delights stored up for the windy winter to come. Yum.

It really isn't so bad standing over the stove if one has a good book to read. Or if you are joyously anticipating a homemade cherry pie! I do love cherries. In the winter I love to spread the cherry pie filling on pancakes or waffles. Double yum.

In amongst all that preserving and jamming I managed to rearrange my living room, sew up some lovely drapery panels, install the curtain rods and hang my handiwork.

Here are a few photos. Enjoy.

[Photos: (from top) Storefront on Savannah's riverfront, Savannah, GA; Barbara Butler McCoy, 2010; Boats moored for the night on Lazaretto Creek, east of Savannah, GA; Barbara Butler McCoy, 2010; homemade cherry pie, Barbara Butler McCoy, 2010; homemade spiced peach jam, Barbara Butler McCoy, 2010.]

Friday, September 17, 2010

Faraway Nearby: Updated

Often, in the midst of researching and studying material for one thing, I find a gem which casts a new light on a previous piece. Such is the case with my stated understanding of Ms. Georgia O'Keeffe's "Faraway Nearby."

About one-quarter of the way through my copy of Martin Buber's "I and Thou" I discovered something quite illuminating about the language of "primitive" peoples, "whose life is built up within a narrow circle of acts highly charged with presentness." These "primitives" use "words in the form of sentences" which "mostly indicate the wholeness of a relation."

The key words to consider in this are "presentness" and "wholeness of a relation." Consider that these words indicate that "primitives" were present in the environment, believing that they and their environment were interconnected. Be they inhabitants of mountainous regions, tidal plains, valleys, forests, wherever they were they were there. They knew the life of the land was their life as well. Further, I interpret this "presentness" to mean that they were mindful in whatever activities they undertook. They were focused. They would be overwhelmed, I think, by the current culture of cell phones, 3-G devices, and multi-tasking computers.

It occurs to me that to a great degree these notions of "presentness" and "wholeness of relation" are practices evident in the lives of artists. Ms. O'Keeffe is a case in point. Whether in the wild places of New Mexico, the urban landscape of New York, or her boundless vision of poppies and pelvises, Ms. O'Keeffe was mindful of her surroundings.

Ms. O'Keeffe mastered her language of color and brushstrokes upon canvas, vividly illustrating these concepts of "presentness" and "wholeness of relation." Her paintings speak to us of her understanding of herself as one with her environs.

Regarding words as language, Martin Buber informs us that while "We say 'far away'; the Zulu has for that a word which means, in our sentence form, 'There where someone cries out: 'O mother, I am lost.'"

Perhaps there in her 'wild places' Ms. O'Keeffe considered herself both lost and found?

[Bibliography: Buber, Martin. "I and Thou." Scribner Classics: New York, 1958, 2000 (p. 31)]

[Photo: Artwork in MARTA station, Decatur, GA; Barbara Butler McCoy, September 2010.]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Body of Works

Over breakfast this morning I ran across something in the NYT Sunday Style section that raised an eyebrow. In the Cultural Studies section, page eleven, Ms. Schuessler alluded to a statistic that only half of all American adults "report reading even one work of fiction, drama or poetry a year." Really? That prompted me to review my reading habits over this past year, which raised my other eyebrow. Though the list is not comprehensive and excludes the dramas and non-fiction I've been reading, the list tallies up to 22 works of fiction. This past weekend, at the Decatur Book Festival, I had the chance to spend nearly an hour listening to the author whose body of work comprises 41 percent of that list, Ms. Diana Gabaldon.

A dear friend of twenty-plus years, to whom I introduced Ms. Gabaldon's "Outlander" series nearly twenty years ago, came to town with her husband from North Carolina to attend Ms. Gabaldon's talk about "All Things Outlander." The weather was stunning, just gorgeous and we rode MARTA along with a crowd of high-spirited LSU fans (who outnumbered the UNC fans on our portion of the train). She and I were feeling a little bit giddy, too, I must admit, to the bemusement of our husbands. We waited in line, chatted about this and that, and were lucky enough to get good seats. Someone squealed when Ms. Gabaldon entered the sanctuary of Decatur Presbyterian Church and the lightheartedness of that greeting reigned throughout the author's appearance.

Ms. Gabaldon was a joy to watch - gracious, witty, erudite, polished, confident, engaging. My friend's husband, who'd slipped into the talk with my husband without our knowledge, described her as "very charming" and he has since begun reading her first novel, "Outlander."
I - we - had such a wonderful time Saturday afternoon. It is obvious that Ms. Gabaldon enjoys her work very much and gives it all the professional attention it deserves. It is also obvious that there is mutual admiration between her and her fans.

For myself I must borrow some lines from Will Shakespeare's Sonnet 136:
Among a number one is reckon'd none;
Then in the number let me pass untold,
Though in thy store's account I one must be.

[In case anyone is curious, my fiction list over the past year includes 7 works by Candice Proctor, 9 by Diana Gabaldon, 2 by Guy Gavriel Kay, and one each by Linda Buckley Archer, Earl Emerson, Boris Akunin, Kathy Reichs, and Mingmei Yip. ]

[[Photos: top - the author Diana Gabaldon speaking at Decatur Presbyterian Church, Sept. 4, 2010, by Barbara Butler McCoy; relief detail in the Five Points MARTA Station, 2010, Barbara Butler McCoy]]]