Tuesday, July 31, 2012


"I really don't believe in magic."
~ J.K. Rowling (born July 31, 1965)

Well. How about aliens?

By Divine Ms. Moon

Monday, July 30, 2012

What I Know

"If you ever looked at me once with what I know is in you,
I would be your slave."
~ Emily Bronte (Born July 30, 1818)

By Divine Ms. Moon

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On The Taking of Flowers

By Divine Ms. Moon

“Gracie comes home from the hospital after visiting a sick friend. 

(George) 'Where did you get the flowers?' 

(Gracie) 'I went to visit Mable.' 

(George) 'Yeah, so?' 

(Gracie) 'WELL, you told me to take her flowers!'”

             ~ George Burns and Gracie Allen (born July 26, 1906)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beautiful Question

"Always the beautiful answer
who asks the more beautiful question."
~ Edward Estlin Cummings (e.e. cummings)

Yiruma, "Love Me"

Art Gallery ~ Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas (born July 19, 1834)
Landscape with Cows in Foreground

Most people probably remember Edgar Degas best for being one of the founders of the Impressionist art movement and for his colorful paintings and dynamic sculptures of dancers. Several years ago, I attended an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that was dedicated to Degas's works on paper, including his pastels. Among these works are many, many vibrant landscapes. Here, Degas gives us what appears to be a late summer or autumn landscape with cows. The spinal ridges of the cows are echoed in the lines of the landscape. No one can say that Degas didn't have a sense of humor. 

And after all, who doesn't love a good cow painting?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Save the Last Dance

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane
by those who could not hear the music." 
~ Friedrich Nietszche

Frank Sinatra, "The Way You Look Tonight"
with help from Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
from the movie, "Swing Time"

"After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. 
She just did it backwards and in high heels." 
~ Ann Richards

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Planet of Flowers

By Divine Ms. Moon

"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us."
~ Iris Murdoch (born July 15, 1919)

Fragments ~ Revising Art History

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
(born July 15, 1606)
Bathsheba at her Bath

(from Wikipedia)

Iconic Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born July 15, 1606. Rembrandt is known mostly for his detailed drawings and his use of light in portraiture. In this painting, for example, notice the fine detail of light and shadow on the attendant's neck and face.

This painting depicts a Biblical scene -- Bathsheba at her bath, as she is being spied upon by David. According to the Bible, David saw Bathsheba, sent for her (hence the letter), seduced her, and married her. This is a simple story, except that Bathsheba was already married and that David also decided to marry her -- but only after he had impregnated her -- by having her husband killed. 

You have to wonder why Rembrandt painted Bathsheba as looking so pensive -- even sad? -- upon receiving David's letter. Did she foresee what was to come? Art historians note Rembrandt's obvious sensitivity to what they call Bathsheba's "moral dilemma." Almost as if Bathsheba had a choice. Some consider this to be Rembrandt's best painting of a nude. Others speculate that Bathsheba was not painted from a single model because the parts don't quite match up, and they criticize many things about her form, including the twist in her left arm; but most notably, from my perspective, they point out that her left breast is deformed, possibly from breast cancer or other disease. 

As a breast cancer survivor myself, albeit non-deforming, and with family members who were forced to have mastectomies, I wonder whether David would have been so smitten with the real Bathsheba had her breast been equally deformed. And then I have to wonder what Rembrandt was saying by this. The art historians don't speculate much about that.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You will, I will

By Divine Ms. Moon

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,
without your going, that cuts noon light
like a blue flower, without your passing
later through fog and stones,
without the torch you lift in your hand
that others may not see as golden,
that perhaps no one believed blossomed
the glowing origin of the rose,
without, in the end, your being, your coming
suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,
blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:
and it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be. 

~ Pablo Neruda (born July 12, 1904)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Planning Miracles

By Divine Ms. Moon

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” 

~ Elwin Brooks (E.B.) White (born July 11, 1899)

Ordinary Miracles

Sarah McLachlan, "Ordinary Miracle"
from the movie, "Charlotte's Web"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Keeping the Stars

The Aquila Rift area of the Milky Way Galaxy
in the area of the bright star Altair and the Summer Triangle

(Altair, Vega, and Deneb)
Astronomy Picture of the Day, June 29, 2012
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, University of Arizona

"Sometimes history takes things into
its own hands."
~ Thurgood Marshall

Tracy Byrd, "Keeper of the Stars"

Dream, Dream, Dream

By Divine Ms. Moon

"If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less,
but to dream more, to dream all the time."
~ Marcel Proust (born July 10, 1871)

Fragments ~ Lady Jane Grey

On July 10, 1553, Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII’s youngest sister Mary, assumed the throne of England during a succession battle following the death of Henry’s son Edward VI. 

Edward, whose mother was Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, had named Lady Jane as his successor in his death-bed will, thus by-passing his older, “illegitimate” half-sisters, Mary, the Catholic daughter of Henry’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and Elizabeth, daughter of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.

Lady Jane Grey
The Streatham Portrait
From Wikipedia

Jane was a reluctant queen whose succession had been promoted mostly by her mother, Lady Frances Brandon, her father, Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. An initial scheme that involved marrying Jane to Edward fell through. But in any event, Edward was not expected to live, meaning that the door to the throne would eventually reopen for Jane. Henry’s widow, Catherine Parr, reputedly brokered a match between Jane and Northumberland’s son, Guildford Dudley. At first, the Greys were not sold on this marriage because it meant that the throne could pass to Northumberland. They eventually gave in when Northumberland, the newly denominated Lord Protector, convinced them that the had Edward’s support for the match. It was, of course, Northumberland's influence that led to the deathbed will naming Jane as heir.

When Edward died, Mary immediately set out to gather support among Catholic loyalists. Northumberland immediately set out to intercept Mary. While he was gone, the Privy Council switched allegiances. Thus, Jane’s reign lasted only 9 days, until Mary entered London. Northumberland was executed shortly thereafter.  Jane and her husband were both convicted of treason – Jane’s alleged disloyal actions having been to sign her name on various documents as “Quene.” They were originally sentenced to death, but the pious and oddly sentimental Mary decided to spare her young cousin’s life.

In the meantime, Mary’s proposed marriage to the heir to the throne of Spain (later Philip II) caused a Protestant uprising in England called Wyatt’s Rebellion. Jane’s father and uncles – apparently having learned nothing from Northumberland’s demise -- joined the rebellion, and Mary was compelled to carry out the sentences against Jane and Dudley in order to remove Jane as a threat to her job security.

When Lady Jane Grey and her husband were executed on February 12, 1554, Jane was approximately 17 years old.  Jane’s father was also executed, exactly one week later, for his role in the rebellion.  Jane’s mother, however, was spared. Lady Frances subsequently married her horse master and lived the remainder of her life at Court with her surviving daughters, Lady Catherine Grey and Lady Mary Grey.

Given Mary's extraordinary forbearance toward these two cousins, it is hard to see exactly how executing Jane Grey constituted removal of the threat posed by the sisters Grey.  The soft-hearted Mary eventually would show even greater forbearance when it came to her half-sister Elizabeth, who was an even greater threat.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, did not show similar forbearance for her cousin, Mary Stuart (Mary, Queen of Scots), granddaughter of Henry’s other sister, Margaret. In that way, Elizabeth was much more like her father and perhaps even her mother.

And on such seemingly small details as sentiment of the heart, or lack thereof, history often turns.

The information for this post was found at Wikipedia.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Moonlight

From Pixdaus (posted by baloch1)

'Tis moonlight, summer moonlight,
All soft and still and fair;
The solemn hour of midnight
Breathes sweet thoughts everywhere,

But most where trees are sending
Their breezy boughs on high,
Or stooping low are lending
A shelter from the sky.

And there in those wild bowers
A lovely form is laid;
Green grass and dew-steeped flowers
Wave gently round her head.

~ Emily Bronte

Saturday, July 7, 2012

When You Give Me Love

Katie Melua
"No Fear of Heights"

"Walking together with a friend in the dark
is better than walking alone in the light."
~ Helen Keller

Scattering Heaven

By Divine Ms. Moon

"By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity."
~ Robert A. Heinlein (born June 7, 1907)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Once Upon a Dream

Growing up, I loved all the classic Disney cartoons, including the fairy tale movies. I even had all the comic books, which I cherished until they inevitably disintegrated into paper dust. When I visited Disney World with my daughter some years ago, I collected a lot of the figurines. My daughter owns the entire movie collection as it existed when she was growing up ... on videotape. 

One of my favorites was "Sleeping Beauty." It does, of course, suffer from all the anti-feminist flaws of a fairy tale that depends on the impossibly beautiful heroine being saved by a "prince charming." My daughter -- a thoroughly modern woman -- would be the first to agree with that. The other day, I saw the new Disney/Pixar movie, "Brave," which doesn't depend on romance at all -- in fact, it is rather anti-romance. My daughter, who has a serious boyfriend, nevertheless cheered when I told her about it. I brought that girl up right.

But there's also something innocent in the old Disney adaptations that is so different from what children encounter growing up today. While "Brave" is beautifully drawn and wonderfully animated, I find that I do not like the modern, more three-dimensional animations as much as the old classics. The newer films are so busy, some of the characters are so menacing, and the action moves so quickly that I wonder whether little children are not sometimes actually frightened by those films. 

While thinking of something else altogether tonight, I came across this video, which is clipped from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," and I was immediately struck by the contrast. I was comforted to find that I was not merely being sentimental: the old film is still as I remembered it, simply beautiful in its beautiful simplicity. Once upon a Dream.

"Once Upon a Dream"
from Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty"

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Art Gallery ~ Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe
"Two Calla Lillies on Pink" (1928)

Shall We Dance?

Joel and Luke
"Shall We Dance"

Fragments ~ Elisabeth of Austria

Elisabeth of Austria
As Queen of France
by Georges van der Straeten

Born on July 5, 1554, Princess Elisabeth of Austria was the second daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain. Elisabeth and her older sister Anna, along with their younger brother, Mathias, lived a relatively cloistered life on the grounds of her parents’ palace in Vienna. As was customary in those times, both Anna and Elisabeth were destined for the royal marriage market – Anna to Spain, and Elisabeth to France. In 1570, at the age of 16, Elisabeth was married to the French king, Charles IX.

The beautiful and pious Elisabeth loved her new husband dearly, and they maintained a genuinely affectionate relationship, but Charles' heart was already engaged to his long-standing mistress. Soon after her marriage, evidently shocked by the dissolute court life she had found in Paris, Elisabeth more-or-less retired from public view, no doubt encouraged by her devious mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici, who wanted her kept out of royal politics. Elisabeth occupied herself with needlework, reading, and doing good works. A devout Catholic herself, she was nevertheless horrified when she discovered that Charles had conducted a bloody purge of French Protestants. 

Soon thereafter, Elisabeth gave birth to a daughter, called Marie Elisabeth of Valois. Unfortunately, after Marie Elisabeth was born, Charles, who had never been healthy, suddenly died. Elisabeth, who had no doubt lived a lifetime by then, was only 20 years old. She genuinely mourned her husband’s death, but was literally cast out of his chambers by Catherine, who had other plans. Those plans included taking charge of Marie Elisabeth and marrying Elisabeth, newly dubbed the “White Queen,” to Charles’ brother, now King Henry III. But Elisabeth firmly rejected this proposal -- which was probably easier to get away for her than with than it might have been for others because she was the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor.  In fact, in addition to escaping an apparently unwelcome second marriage, Elisabeth also received a large widow’s dowry consisting of extensive properties in France.

When Marie Elisabeth was only 3 years old, Elisabeth left Paris for the last time, never to see her daughter again. Marie Elisabeth died in 1578 at the age of 6. Elisabeth’s sister Anna died in 1580, after which Elisabeth received another marriage proposal from Anna’s widower, King Philip of Spain. But Elisabeth once again refused, saying firmly, “The Queens of France never remarried.”

Elisabeth of Austria
in retirement
by Jakob de Monte

The remainder of Elisabeth’s life was devoted to church-related work, financed largely by her huge widow’s dowry. When she died in 1592, her mother was reported to have said, “The best of us is dead.”

The information for this post and the portraits of Elisabeth, by artists Georges van der Straeten and Jakob de Monte, were found at Wikipedia.

Women in Literature ~ Rosalind

Bryce Dallas Howard
as Rosalind, "As You Like It"
(Kenneth Branagh, 2006)

“She is too subtle for thee; and her smoothness,
Her very silence and her patience
Speak to the people, and they pity her.
Thou art a fool: she robs thee of thy name;
And thou wilt show more bright and seem more virtuous
When she is gone. Then open not thy lips:
Firm and irrevocable is my doom
Which I have pass'd upon her; she is banished.”

             ~ William Shakespeare, "As You Like It" (I, iii)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Seeing Beauty

By Divine Ms. Moon

"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty
never grows old."
~ Franz Kafka (born July 3, 1883)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Today's Fortune ~ Simple Kindness

By Divine Ms. Moon

Your simple kindness today
will be rewarded multiple times ....

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Simply You

The Moon
Astronomy Picture of the Day, February 16, 2006

"If you can't explain it simply,
you don't understand it well enough."
~ Albert Einstein

Secret Garden, "Simply You"