Looking at a Hard Frost

Summer fades to Autumn’s leaves gay
Pulled from branches by chill wind’s play
Gusts push and pull leaves heaven tossed
Are pulled to ground by icy frost

Jagged pieces fall from trees high
Swirl in breezes through a blue sky
Painted in patterns ice embossed
Are pulled to ground by icy frost

In brilliant colors trees once clad
With branches naked, brown and sad
Cold days and nights green clothes are lost
Are pulled to ground by icy frost

Warmth gives way to a creeping chill
With northern winds that bear ill will
Oak, elm and pear leaves pay the cost
Are pulled to ground by icy frost

The walnut trees started losing their leaves in August. They started dropping their walnuts in September. All the other trees were hanging onto their leaves. The leaf pickup schedule was announced and yet most of the trees still had most of the leaves. This is becoming the norm. The neighborhood has a high proportion of oak trees and a fair number of Bradford pear trees that don’t drop their leaves until well into November. It isn’t unusual for families to rake leaves on Thanksgiving weekend since the last leaf pick up is scheduled for the Monday after the holiday. The forecast is for a hard frost this weekend and we all have our fingers crossed (for frost and not snow!) and our rakes ready.

The above poem is a kyrielle. This form consists of 4 stanzas of 4 lines with a syllable count of 8 per line and a rhyme scheme of: a/a/b/B, c/c/b/B, d/d/b/B, e/e/b/B where the line designated by a capital B is a repeated refrain.

Looking Dumpy

The kiln was fired and I got back a couple of my orbs. I have a problem. I create the orbs and then have a mental picture of what they should look like when completed. When the finished piece matches my vision I’m overjoyed. When I get back something that exceeds my expectations I’m thrilled. When the finished product fails to align with what I anticipated, well, I’m dejected. Such was the result when I found these two pieces on my shelf.

The first one is Canisttrolithus sp., a coccolith from the Eastern Equatorial Atlantic Ocean. It is a very small (considering that all the others are about 80 microns across) at only about 18 microns across. I had glazed it in Oribe which should be a nice seafoam green with a slight rose blush in areas of thicker glaze. I put a dot of Phil’s Celadon in the center of each cup that should have made the center a darker, more earthy green.

As you can see in the photo, the glaze is pretty much nonexistent. It is shiny but looks as if there is nothing but raw clay. Even the glaze in the interior of the cups is barely darker. When I mentioned to the kiln tech that the Oribe didn’t turn out, she informed me that someone had “thinned” the glaze and she had taken about a gallon of excess water out of the bucket. The glaze looks dumpy like a dingy white t-shirt. On the bright side everyone who didn’t have that preconceived picture in their heads thought it was very good. Maybe it is dumpy but maybe it isn’t. I’m obviously not a good judge.

The second one I got out was supposed to be a Nazar Boncuk (Nazar Boncuğu). Which is an ancient talisman throughout the Middle East and Asia. It is supposed to protect from ‘the evil eye’ by absorbing the bad luck. Sadly my version didn’t turn out nearly as bright or stunning as I had hoped.

The interior of each eye was supposed to be Megan’s Blue. This too had been thinned in the extreme. There was no trace of blue visible. Blue is everyone’s favorite color so there were 3 others who were sorely disappointed in their outcome. One person had done a solid dip on a vase. It looked raw. She was inquiring about trying a re-glaze and firing but decided against it since the possibility of the piece cracking was quite real. Sparky thinks it looks okay. I was going to offer it for sale but now it is slated to become a paper weight on Sparky’s desk….

Looking at Pomegranates

Praying with pomegranate pips
Counting them out in sets of ten
I pray and raise it to my lips
Try to atone for bitter sin
I cry, a tear from my eye slips

My edible rosary feeds
Remorse and sorrowful myst’ry
The eucharistic red blood bleeds
As from the crucifixion tree
Ask forgiveness in fifty seeds

Pomegranates. Growing up my father would bring one home and it was a real treat. He’d score the skin and then peel off a section. We’d each get a chunk to pluck the red gems from the white partitions. I would eat them one at a time savoring the tartness. If you put more than a couple in your mouth, the pucker power of the pomegranate was activated! It was almost too much to handle and my eyes would water and my cheeks would ache with the sour after taste.

I went to the Rosary Society meeting last night. Part of the meeting is praying the rosary. This is a devotion specific to Catholicism. One of the props for this prayer is rosary beads. If you’ve never seen any, they can be either very plain like a knotted piece of twine to extravagant made with gold and precious gems. Mine was found at a garage sale in a free box nearly 40 years ago. The beads and spaces correspond to the various prayers and let you keep track with your eyes closed. The beads on my rosary are shaped just like pomegranate seeds – each one the exact size and having the smooth faceted sides.

This poem is a Quintella. It is a Spanish form consisting of 5 line stanzas (a minimum of one) with 8 syllables per line. The rhyme scheme is flexible with 2 rhymes per stanza and no more than 2 consecutive rhyming lines. That allows choices such as: AABBA or maybe ABABB, or even ABABA or if you want AABAA as long as you are consistent with each successive stanza.

Looking Spooky

It happens every year. Halloween. This year Halloween (October 31st) fell on a Sunday. Now there was a nearly audible from space gnashing of teeth over when to have the annual Trick-or-Treat night. When it falls in the middle of the week there is arguing over whether to have the kids go on a Friday at the end of the week or to pre-emptively have them extort candy on the Saturday before. This year was no less contentious. The neighborhood association had a meeting and though it didn’t come to blows, there were some very loud voices and a lot of table pounding and finger pointing.

First there is always the faction that feels that Halloween is satanic and should be banned. Then there is a more moderate group (and slightly larger) that advocated letting the kids have some fun – but not infringing on Sundays (unless the trick-or-treat is held at the church). Another group felt that since Sunday is October 31 it should be held on Sunday (or whatever day the 31st falls on). They are the die-hard traditionalists. Then there were the pragmatic group that suggested that the Saturday before was a better day – avoiding the Sunday conflict with the other groups, being more convenient for working parents, and gives everyone time to buy candy and make costumes. Then there was my group. We are the “I don’t care, just make sure all kids are accompanied by their parents” contingent.

Well, the city decided to make Sunday the official Halloween night for trick-or-treat. Our neighborhood decided to do it on Saturday. Not only that but the event was no longer a door to door affair but a “Trunk-or-Treat”. Those who wanted to participate had to register a parking spot. They were to decorate their car trunk with the appropriate Halloween paraphernalia and set out a bucket with candy. This was supposed to be a no contact kind of night (you know because of COVID). But the parents sat in the front seats and sipped coffee while the kids ran around in a sugar rush. We didn’t participate. It was a real shocker for the hoards of parents who drove their kids to our neighborhood (from the trailer park) in hopes of filling a second pillowcase with sweets on Sunday. No one had candy and all the porch lights were off!