Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Friday, February 09, 2007

Reader, I did not marry him--


Old Point Loma
Lighthouse







The Backyard Zoo
(praying mantis)










Jewel
(a "Mississippi Garden Spider" in its stabili-mentum?)















Gryphon & Dog Statue






These are a few of the pictures that one of my cousins has sent me this year. Frank Morris provides me with lots of lovely, warm Charleston shots, as he lives part of the time in Charleston and part of the time in Jacksonville. It sounds like a darn good idea to me.

When I was little, I was quite sure that I would marry Frank when I grew up. We used to run away from his red-haired sister Nancy, who pinched the most powerful and potent pinches ever pinched in the history of childhood. We'd grab some boiled peanuts or figs off the tree and run away from our grandmother's lovely Queen Anne house in Collins, Georgia, down to the railroad tracks where the puff briars bloom. And there we would ramble and hop along the tracks, watching for the next train with its endless Southern Serves the South boxcars and keeping an eye out for Nancy and her pernicious pinches.

She and I were really alike, though, skinny with long fat braids and the mandatory cat-eye glasses and a mania for reading. I had an intense scissors phobia (you knew writers were weird, even when they were children), and so my hair grew and grew until it tickled below my knees. Yes, I had to put on Mother's blue-and-green corduroy bathrobe and take down the rippling Rapunzel hair, all to play Mary in the nativity pageant. You guessed that, too, no doubt.

Before 6th grade, they finally chopped off my hair and gave me a permanent: I looked the fool.

Be afraid of scissors.
***

20 comments:

  1. My wife couldn't bear it any longer and got scissors to mine last night, what a coincidence!

    I like the pictures both photographic and literary Marly.

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  2. Nice pictures. That's a lot of hair.

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  3. Thanks MArly for your sweet words. I reposted it with a picture, hope you dont mind.

    It was such a good day that I stumbled into the palace.

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  4. Glad some of my visitors are both keeping their locks tidy and feeling pleased. I just went to such a jolly diner party that my side hurts from all the laughing.

    It is 12:12: must be the witching hour. And so, good night!

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  5. I've never visited your site but enjoyed this hugely ...
    I know what you mean re writers as children...I think it's because they're unconsciously observing, collecting images, memories, collating stuff...possibly a little more than the average child.
    AND I also know re Rapunzel hair...friends laugh and say Im always described by my hair...I constantly threaten to cut it but never go through with it..

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  6. That should've been a "dinner party" rather than a "diner party"; there are no shiny metal diners in the Village of Cooperstown. Perhaps it was a party of diners...

    I visited Jan, above, and she is highly entertaining on the subjects of her own childhood (that itchy little fairy in red taffeta!), children, and U. K. schools.

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  7. Ah, the Hair Issue.

    I have wild curly hair. Lots of it. And, when I was little, I got those awful "bowl-haircuts," or slept with my hair in enormous orange-juice-can sized rollers, or had it pulled tight -- all in an effort to keep it straightened.

    In short, I was brought up feeling I had "bad hair" -- hair that must be disciplined and controlled. I deeply envied my friends their stick-straight blonde hair, and wished I had sleek, smooth, uncurly locks.

    One of my joys as an adult is to have grown it out, to have the kind of cut that allows it to curl, and to be true to the Wild Hair in me.

    :-)

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  8. Hair. How could Lori Witzel be anything but curly?

    I'm afraid that I was called Bush Baby at one point in my life, thanks to those masses of hair. I was blonde as a child but slowly darkened, as my children are doing.

    My hair has changed (again) in the past few years. Two of my children have the kind of hair that I did once--and are constantly told, as I was, that their hair is the thickest, coarsest the hairdresser has ever cut. My eldest suddenly became curly-haired at puberty; my middle child has always been curly. My youngest has the pin-straight blond hair you envied.

    But now my hair has gone through another of its intermittent transformations and is silkier, clingier, curlier. Probably the next stage will be up-ended gray stuff!

    We are all changing, changing, changing.

    Sometimes I hardly recognize my face in the mirror.

    ***

    Portrait of My Father as a Young Man


    In the eyes dream. The brow as if it could feel
    something far off. Around the lips a great
    freshness--seductive though there is no smile.
    Under the rows of ornamental braid
    on the slim Imperial officer's uniform:
    the saber's basket-hilt. Both hands stay
    folded upon it going nowhere calm
    and now almost invisible as if they
    were the first to grasp the distance and dissolve.
    And all the rest so curtained with itself
    so cloudy that I cannot understand
    this figure as it fades into the background--.

    Oh quickly disappearing photograph
    In my more slowly disappearing hand.

    --Rilke
    The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell

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  9. Your posts are always just delicious. But I worry, having no sense of geogrpahy and seeing reports of snow and snow and snow in NY that you and the Palace are being slowly sucked into the domain of the Snow Queen...can you see out your windows? can you walk outside? (I mean, 110 inches of snow somewhere in NY state..)
    Here it is rain and rain and rain, welcome rain. And the first hyacinths in bloom, salmon/coral/rose ones.

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  10. I've just fed five teenagers who are making Romeo & Juliet puppets and laughing without stint. As long as nobody falls into the fireplace, all will be fine.

    No, we are all right in regard to snow, though places near us are bad. This is unusual; being hard by a lake and in a "snow pocket," we can usually bemoan with the best of the bemoaners.

    My in-laws are probably burning out the motor in the old snow blower, but we are just getting some every day (of course, it is very unlucky to say such things!) I did see some big, marvelous "feathers" today.

    My children are disgusted that they haven't gotten a snow day in the past week. It has been very bitter, particularly on windy days. Nevertheless, my youngest and my husband are out c-a-m-p-i-n-g. And tomorrow they will be working the sledding races at the Winter Festival. Me, I'll stay by the fire, as soon as the teenagers get out of the way.

    Salmon, coral, rose? Alas, you and Catherine Morland will have to love the hyacinths without me. However, my Christmas amaryllis finally bloomed!

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  11. Well, I came back from a weekend in DC to quite the party here at the palace! I found something for you while in DC, so please send again, via email, your address,
    Party on, Miss Marly!

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  12. thanks pot boy! I have read your message that I reposted so many times.

    Thanks for extending such warmth and friendship to an internet wanderer. I think we really clicked.

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  13. I love the Rilke poem.

    My hair has always been straight as a stick and yet thick, and unruly if left to dry on it's own. My granddaughter has unfortunately inherited it. I was hoping she would inherit her mothers beautiful natural curly ringlets, but alas, she takes after me. It is time for me to get a haircut/color as well. If I were to leave it to it's own devices it would be completely white.

    I like the idea of you playing Mary with long flowing hair as well. I would love to see a picture of that.

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  14. Susanna,

    Living in the kitchen, I have taste--in food, in art, in people. And like what is vivid and persistently itself. Or herself, in your case.

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  15. b.q.,

    No doubt there is a moldie old Brownie pic--somewhere!

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  16. Ha, hair - we are so preoccupied with it. I inspect mine every morning for the white ones that stand out from the rest. Not grey but silver, I think - the touch of Midas's poor relative in the night, perhaps.

    I wanted long hair when I was young but everyone thought I looked better with it short - I would have envied your long hair...and told you that you have every reason to be frightened of the scissor-man (says Little-Suck-A Thumb).

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  17. Like little Conrad, I sucked my thumb. I was wiser than he and stayed well away from scissors and men in red pants.


    The door flew open, in he ran,

    The great, long, red-legged scissorman.

    Oh! children, see! the tailor's come

    And caught our little Suck-a-Thumb.

    * * *
    Gray hair is a crown of glory;
    it is gained in a righteous life
    Proverbs 16:31

    Of course, that sounds like a consolation of Polonius!

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  18. Magnificent Photos! YogaLove

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  19. 4 June 2007

    After the storm, my mind cleared.

    And a high wind arose and blew the tropics north.

    running quartz crystals through a blender.

    sand through your engines.

    bubbles in your bays.

    estuaries reaching out toward forbidden seas…

    sand through your eyes.

    5 June 2007

    Calm as baby’s breath

    as peaceful as the storm’s eye

    Clouds spread and drawn with rough strokes of stratospheric winds

    a warm and windy tropical day.

    7 June 2007

    Black water at dusk.

    Lighting on the horizon.

    Warm winds coming in across the darkening waters.

    A flash of white wings as an egret takes flight.

    And Thunder like God clearing his throat.

    8 June 2007

    Morning star in the still of the clear, dark waters.

    a sky as clear eyed as a young girl.

    bruised and tattered storm remnants limp off in the gathering light.

    9 June 2007

    Tickled her fancy.

    giggling all the day long.

    pretty good for a Saturday.

    Clouds on the lake floating aimlessly by.

    She smiled big–grinned really.

    12 JUne 2007

    A silver sky

    ripe for the mirror.

    you can not see yourself in this mirror

    you can only see others

    moreover, you can only see what others choose to expose.

    Their houses, their boats, their sea-doos.

    Birds skimming low over the water could

    like as not

    see them selves if they were to look down

    as they skim low over the water

    but they never do.

    Rather they allow their reflections to chase them

    quick and sharp over the still, glistening waters

    while the bird’s mind remains ever fixed on

    food, or other birds, or escaping those damn noisy humans.

    A dense forest impenetrable as a gaze.

    13 JUne 2007

    Like angry bee’s eyes

    the metal screen seen through the bamboo blinds.

    A million insects dot the lake spreading micro ripples

    14 June 2007

    Of Fly Catchers and hidden lakes.

    Of sleeping lizards and morning dew.

    It is of birdsong and misty dawns

    and fleeced clouds floating in a still pool.

    The waters ripple awake in the gathering morn.

    The first water birds head out for the far shore.






    20 June 2007


    A garden of elephant ears.

    A lake of light.

    A furrowed sky.

    Warm air, tinged with the coolness of a passing shower.

    A swath of short green swords with serrated edges.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.