Thoughts on Beauty, Pigeons, and Persian Cats

I was thinking about Beauty the other daythat’s Beauty with a capital Bwhen that Byron piece popped into my head:

She walks in beauty, like the night
               Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
        Meet in her aspect and her eyes

Actually, those exact words didn’t pop into my head. It was more like,

She walks in beauty like the… um… night
   Something, something… yada, yada…
How’s that go again?

So I Googled it and got the exact wording (see above, top).

Word on the street is that Lord Byron penned these words after seeing his cousin in her mourning dress. Even if black was her color, we can assume the dress wasn’t the reason for his rapture. (Though with Byron, anything goes.)

Third stanza:

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, 
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 
But tell of days in goodness spent, 
A mind at peace with all below, 
A heart whose love is innocent!

There was a woman I knew from my younger days, way back when, who I think illustrates Byron’s point to some extent. She went to our church.

Usually children never take much notice of older people unless they impact our lives in some way. Such as a neighbor lady who bakes cookies, or a friend’s mother who will back the cost of the ice cream man.

Children are selfish beasts that way.

Be that as it may, this particular woman I noticed. My mother was talking to her and as I stood to the side waiting — I never participated in any conversation willingly — I was struck by her brightly colored dress. Church ladies in those days typically chose subdued prints, such as a demure pastel floral. But this woman was wearing magenta.

Magenta!

Secondly, and more importantly, I noticed how happy the woman appeared. Most of the women of my acquaintance, the best you could hope for was that they were mildly pleasant. More often they were… shall we say, a little on edge. So much so that an empty juice glass set next to the sink, rather than in the sink, could send them off the deep end.

Yet this woman was smiling and cheerful and looked for all the world as though life was a wondrous thing to be savored and enjoyed. She was positively radiant.

Later I asked my mother who she was and was shocked to learn she had attended our church for several years. This was news to me. How was it I never noticed her before? Or her radiance?

“Oh, she didn’t use to be this way,” my mother replied.

I asked her what changed.

“Her husband died.”

And so you see? Lord Byron was right. Grief is a beautiful thing.

Continuing on our theme of Beauty, I met a pair of pigeons the other day.

They were enjoying a quiet respite in the grocery store parking lot, where someone had very thoughtfully dropped a milkshake and half-eaten container of french fries. The couple was partaking of the bounty.

As I passed, the male regarded me in that peculiar pigeon way they have, where they study your face very carefully and store the knowledge, as it may come in handy later.

He was a pretty boy and so I told him. I said, “Aren’t you a pretty boy.” Not as a question, you see, but as a declaration. For indeed, he was pretty. The top of his head was a shimmery purple and his breast had specks of green and black, with just a dash of gray. Truly, he was a pigeon among pigeons.

He showed no sign of false modesty after hearing my compliment. Birds never do. They don’t look down at their feathers as though to say, “Oh, these old things?” They simply accept your words as a matter of course.

Then I noticed his companion and frankly, I was shocked. With her scruffy grayish-brown feathers and dull aspect, she looked the bird equivalent of a woman in an oversized t-shirt and sweatpants.

And not a flattering oversized t-shirt and sweatpants, neither.

You would think that such a noble bird as he was, she would make more of an effort, wouldn’t you? But no, not her. She squatted in the midst of milkshake froth, a limp french fry dangling from her mouth.

Pigeon

Honestly. I was embarrassed for her.

And yet — and yet, people — it did nothing to diminish his admiration of her in any way. And that is the main thing.

For Love is a Beautiful thing. And blind. Terribly blind.

So if you’ve been paying attention, Beauty is both Sad and Lovely.

Yet there is another aspect to Beauty I think we must discuss, for it is something I learned from a Persian cat. And anything you learn from a Persian cat is something worth discussing.

Missy, for that was her name, the name of the Persian cat, was a gloriously beautiful, white cat.

All cats know they are beautiful, especially Persians. Even when they are not beautiful, cats know they are beautiful. This is a scientific fact.

Missy shared her home with a Cockapoo named Bubbles.

Yes, you read that right: Bubbles.

Bubbles was an embarrassment to the entire canine community. I knew it, Missy knew it, Bubbles knew it.

Bubbles was afraid of everything. The sound of the furnace kicking on sent her cowering to the corner. A sheet of paper flying off a table made her jump. The dog was a walking bundle of nerves.

So it probably didn’t help matters that Missy’s favorite form of entertainment was to sit on one side of a doorway and wait patiently, oh-so-patiently, until Bubbles entered the room. And then, floomph! Missy sprang out and Bubbles yelped, taking off in three different directions all at once, usually urinating in the process.

Meanwhile, Missy ambled away as though nothing happened, returning to her cushioned throne, where she would groom herself.

Persian cat

For Beauty is Cruel.

Beauty is Sad and Lovely and Cruel.

And thus ends my treatise on Beauty for today.

Are You Keeping Score?

The woman with the most elegant home,

Wins an all-paid vacation to the city of Rome.

And the mother who births the smartest babies,

Gets a brand-new, red, convertible Mercedes.

And the woman who chants, “I’m so busy” the most,

Gains the respect of all, on account of her boast.

So for goodness sake, I hope you’re keeping score,

Cause if there ain’t no prizes, then what’s it all for?

Stressed

Why Are You So Quiet?

“Why are you so quiet?”
A coworker asked the other day.
“Talking is easy, just try it!
Do you really have nothing to say?”

“I’m sorry my silence offends you,”
I carefully replied,
“But you see, I’ve work to do,
And my mind is occupied.”

“Here, here,” my nemesis cried,
“That’s no reason for restraint.
Look at Betsy, Susan, Clyde,
They greet me without complaint.”

“Is this only a matter of greeting?
Why, I said hello just last week.”
(Sadly, for some it bears repeating.
I forget this, hence her critique.)

She continued our conversation,
Claimed it the most we talked since we met.
“It’s liable to cause a sensation,”
She said, “I’ll surely win the office bet.”

I did not like the sound of that,
Though I knew it was just a tease.
I tried again: “No time to chat,
I’ll return to my desk, if you please.”

Did she listen? Of course not, they never do,
These garrulous acquaintances we soon regret.
She spoke of shopping, shoes, the weather,
Or maybe it was her health, I forget.

The fact is, I’m with her still,
If it weren’t so tragic, I might laugh.
But as I’ll die here, I’ll write my will,
At last, it’s quiet, my epitaph.

Welcome to My Existential Crisis, Episode 4

In which our Reporter self gets her revenge against our Writer and Editor selves.

Don’t remember what happened when we last left our alter egos? Don’t worry, it’s not important. But if you insist, here’s Part 3. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

Writer: (walks into room, followed by Editor) I’m telling you, I think we hurt her feelings. We need to apologize.

Editor: And I keep telling you, she’s a grown woman. I’m sure she’s long gotten over it by now. Besides, it’s not like we did anything too terrible.

chair with ropeWriter: No, of course not. We only bound her and gagged her and stole her cake.

Editor: Well, sure. If you put it like that.

Writer: It’s so weird having her gone this long. Usually it’s only a day or two, like when she’s researching a lead or tracking down facts for me. We must have really pissed her off.

Editor: Pshaw. She’s fine. Don’t worry about it.

Writer: I can’t help it. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat… I’m becoming a nervous wreck.

Editor: You should do what I do. Suppress your emotions and pretend everything is fine.

Writer: Really? You think so? Continue reading “Welcome to My Existential Crisis, Episode 4”

The Joy of Editing. Wait… What?

My quest for poetry has led me to some interesting resources. One of them being a podcast from The New Yorker, where real, live poets read the works of other poets. Calligraphy pen writing on lined paperLive!

Care for a listen? Click here.

It’s a nice thing to have on while cooking dinner, let me tell you. Sort of like having a couple of good friends over to chat about life and beauty and love, while you chop peppers and onions.

The other day Billy Collins was over, and he mentioned something William Matthews said. I was so blown away by it, I backed it up three times so I could hear it again.

Then I wrote it down, because I’m sure Billy was getting tired of repeating it: Continue reading “The Joy of Editing. Wait… What?”

A Poetry Lover is Born

The Family Book of Best Loved Poems. Tattered and stained, yellowed pages, glorious old book smell. Wow, the memories it contains…

On Monday, I sent out a request for poetry suggestions. As of now I have 2 journals, 22 poets, and a number of online resources to explore.

You don’t leave a girl hanging, do you? Consider this my personal thank-you, as well as my pledge to do you proud.

One comment (left by Claudette from To Search and to Find) mentioned her father with two childrenfondness for silly, humorous stuff, reminding me of my dad’s favorite poems.

Dad had a fondness for silly rhymes too, and he would recite them often.

For one, he had a bit of help from Longfellow: Continue reading “A Poetry Lover is Born”

Can’t Believe I’m Asking, but…

Do you have any poetry suggestions for me?

Reason being, I came across this cool article about fostering your creativity. It included this graphic, based on Ray Bradbury’s diet for feeding his subconscious:

4ways4

What’s good enough for Ray Bradbury is more than good enough for me, but my bookshelf is suffering a severe famine in the poetry department. (I live in great fear of the bad stuff.)

Who are your favorite poets?

A Man and His Wagon

Perhaps you know of the poem by William Carlos Williams:

so much depends

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens

Charming, yes?

However with all due respect to William Carlos Williams, I think the sight of a grown man with a little red wagon may be more charming. Look upon this my friends:

Continue reading “A Man and His Wagon”

Ode to My Cell Phone … With Apologies to Keats

cellphoneI spied you in the phone store,

 Cradled in your cubby, attached by a cord,

Your screen was dark, waiting for more

Than a passing glance or a mumbled word.

For a part time clerk, seeking a sale,

Shows the popular model, the better known brand,

I checked your features, my skin grew pale,

I held you aloft, I took you in hand,

Cool to my touch, you were eager to please,

Never have I selected a phone with such ease.

Continue reading “Ode to My Cell Phone … With Apologies to Keats”