Thursday, February 20, 2014

Winter Lemon

Here is a new painting by one of my favorite painters, Jonathan Koch: Winter Lemon.

Background music: "Birthday" by The Beatles.

You say it's your birthday.
It's my birthday, too, yeah.

It is my birthday, and I am glad to have been born. The ice is melting into winter lemonade all around me. I hear the polar vortex is returning, but it don't worry me, it don't worry me...(another song, from Nashville, sung by Barbara Harris.) You may say that I ain't free, but I would guess that I probably am, in some deep, important ways.

I've been pondering some deep, important things while 1) re-reading short stories by Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore (wise, compassionate, hilarious, sad) and 2) continuing to read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin tells us that Lincoln went to the theatre a lot, finding it a marvelous stress release during the Civil War. Of course, that last visit to the theatre was fatal, but in the meantime he found joy! This makes me feel OK about my love of movies!

And in the amazing story "Free Radicals," by Alice Munro, she gives us a character who loves to read and to re-read, especially the classics. (I re-read, too, and re-watch movies, to see what I learn this time around. The Bruce Willis character utters something about re-interpretation of movies in Twelve Monkeys, I might add, having just re-watched and re-interpreted that. I have a happier take on the ending now.)  Back to Munro:

She would pick one up [a classic], thinking that she would just read that special bit--and find herself unable to stop until the whole thing was redigested. She read modern fiction too. Always fiction. She hated to hear the word "escape" used about fiction. She might have argued, not just playfully, that it was real life that was the escape. But this was too important to argue about.

I understand this and connect to it. In "real life," so many people wear masks and costumes, don't they? They imitate conventions, they celebrate "re-inventing yourself," etc. In fiction, people are what they are and quietly or dramatically deal with their problems, and authors create a context in which we learn more about the "why" and the "how" of their lives and struggles. Fiction broadens and deepens my compassion for the people around me in real life, while the behaviors of people in real life don't reveal much of their real life to me. A paradox. An irony.

I was recently reminded that Elbert Hubbard was the one who said the lemon/lemonade thing, in an obituary for an actor. Others used and varied it afterward. Hubbard was born in Bloomington, Illinois, and raised in Hudson, up the road, the town of my rural address growing up. One of my college professors descended from Hubbard, and I handled some of his Roycroft books during my stint in a used book store. I do love the random...and connecting the random dots into a constellation. Maybe I'll call it Lemon Tree.

New background music: "Lemon Tree" by Peter, Paul, and Mary


Maureen said...

Oh, Jonathan Koch: love his exquisite work.

SarahJane said...

Happy birthday Kathleen! I love the movies, too.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Sarah!

seana graham said...

Happy birthday, Kathleen! My sister's is tomorrow and I just rushed out and mailed her card today.

I am not much of a rereader or rewatcher at all, except for a few obsessive television shows. I don't know why, it's certainly not because I remember everything.

And in a random coincidence especially for you, I happen to be revising a novel and came across the part that mentions Bloomington, Illinois just yesterday. It is in the book only because it geographically makes sense for them to be there in order to get them where I want them to go. I have been to Illinois a lot, but never to Bloomington, so obviously I don't go into a lot of detail here...

Dale said...

Happy birthday, Kathleen! I'm glad you were born too.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, dears!

Well, now, Seana...I'm thinking you might need to visit, for final research and revision!! Stay with us!

Collagemama said...

Glad it was a good birthday. Thanks for leading me to a rereading of Sandburg's "City of Big Shoulders" through the random connections of blogging and facebook.

Kathleen said...

I understand completely.