Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, December 17, 2018


Openers:  Joe Trilling had a funny way of making a living. It was a good living, but of course he didn't make anything like the bundle he could have made in the city.  On the other hand he lived in the mountains a h  alf mile away from a picturesque village in clean air and piney-birchy woods along with lots of mountain laurel and he was his own boss.  There wasn't much competition for what he did:  he had his wife and kids around all the time and more orders than could fill.  He was one of the night people and after the family had gone to be he could work quietly and uninterruptedly.  He was happy as a clam.
     -- Theodore Sturgeon, "Occam's Scalpel"  (If, July-August 1971)

A Peach of a Teach:  Virginia Partain has been teaching high school English for more than twenty years, so when the California fire destroyed her her home as well as most of the town of Paradise she had her priorities straight.  She saved her cats and her students' college essays. 

"There's a part of us that we're always the teacher and they had to get their essays done to get into college," she explained.  Partain may have lost just about everything in the blaze but her dedication to her students remained strong.  The mere fact that their college essays survived has given hope to many of her students.  "I know that I go to school tomorrow, and I teach the kids and I bring them hope, that it's gonna be okay, that we'll make it through this," she said.

Kudos to Virginia Partain and all teachers who make their students a priority.

So Long, Farewell, auf Wiedersehen, Adieu:  Some of the people we lost this week;

  • Bob Bryan, 87, the co-creator (with Marshall Dodge, died 1982) of Bert and I, the folksy down-home Maine characters popular in the 50s and 60s. Among their records was 1961's The Return of Bert and I:  How the Bluebird II Plugged the Hole in the Machias Maru, Thus Saving the coast of Maine and Other Stories.  I wonder if not for Bryan and Dodge would we have had Garrison Keillor's stories from Lake Wobegone?
  • Jessica Starr, 35, meteorologist at Detroit's WJBK television, by suicide.  Two months ago Starr had LASIX vision correction surgery and last month began complaining of dimming vision.  It is not known whether this had anything to do with her suicide.  Starr, married with two children, was well-liked by her colleagues and viewers.
  • Joe Osborn, 81, bass guitar player and session musician, four-time winner of the Academy of Country Music's Bass Player of the Year Award.  You may not know his name but you have heard his music on such records as Ricky Nelson's "Travelin' Man," Johnny rivers' "Memphis," The Mamas & the Papas "California Dreamin'," The Associations' "Windy," Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park," The 5th Dimension's "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," Simon & Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy in New York" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," The Carpenters' "For All We Know," The Grass Roots' "Midnight Confessions," and America's "Ventura Highway."
  • Nancy Wilson, 81, multiple Grammy winner and musical force of nature.
  • Mary Louise Watson, 99, civil and voting rights activist who was instrumental in desegregating the Nashville public school system.  "Segregation never helped nobody.  I hope what we did back then has made a lot of difference.  I am glad we made the effort anyway.  while we've come a long way since 1957, there is still a lot of work to do."  Amen.
  • Sondra Locke, 74, forever linked as Clint Eastwood's one-time girlfriend (1975-1989).  She was much more than that.  her powerful performance in 1968's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (her debut film) still stays with me.

Florida Man:  No further explanation necessary.

Eye of the Beholder:  Someday when I'm back up in Massachusetts I going to make a trip to the Museum of Bad Art in Somerville.  Not today, though.  The gallery is closed for renovations.  So until that day when I can admire all those pieces of bad art in person, I have to make do with this online sampling;

Some neat -- and terrible -- stuff here.

Poems of the Day:


(Sung at the opening of the Haverhill Library,November 11, 1875)

                                        "Let there be light!" God spake of old,
                                         And over chaos dark and cold,
                                         And through the dead and formless frame
                                        Of nature, life and order came.

                                        Faint was the light at first was shone
                                        On giant fern and mastadon,
                                        On half-formed plant and beast of prey,
                                        On man as rude and wild as they.

                                        Age after age, like waves, o'erran           
                                        The earth, uplifting brute and man;
                                        And mind, at length, in symbols dark
                                        Its meanings traced in stone and bark.

                                        On leaf of palm, on sedge-wrought roll;
                                        On plastic clay and leathern scroll,
                                        Man wrote his thought; and ages passed,
                                        And to!  the Press was found at last!

                                        Then dead souls woke; the thoughts of men
                                        Whose bones were dust revived again;
                                        The cloister's silence found a tongue'
                                        Old prophets spake, old poets sung.

                                        And here, to-day, the dead look down,
                                        The kings of mind again we crown;
                                        We hear the voices lost so long,
                                        The sage's word, the sybil's song.

                                        Here Greeks and Romans find themselves
                                        Alive along these crowded shelves;
                                        And Shakespeare treads again his stage,
                                        And Chaucer paints anew his age.

                                        As if some Pantheon's marbles broke
                                        Their stony trance, and lived and spoke,
                                        Life thrills along the alcoved hall,
                                        The lords of thought await our call!

                                        -- John Greenleaf Whittier

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