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I was at the opening of new works by one of our local oil painters at
the South End Fine Art Gallery and Expresso Shoppe. As always it’s a
guaranteed large crowd, mostly us artists and a few of our friends and
occasionally a patron or two. Regina, the gallery owner and latte
barista, always provides liberal winepours and enough hors d’oeuvres to
hold back rickets among the starving artists another week or so.

I was admiring a fine piece titled, tantalizingly enough, “Sailboat at
Sunset #56”, one of a series I’m guessing of at least 56 or more, when a
couple jostled me out of the way for a better view. I didn’t really
mind moving on, after all, there were plenty more similar offerings, but
the gentleman of the pair had caused me to spill my merlot onto the
sleeve of my last presentable Goodwill shirt, then gave me a cursory
‘scuse me,’ that sounded vaguely like ‘sue me’ before steering his
companion and her jangling earrings into the appropriate viewing angle. A
moment later they were discussing perspective and complimentary
colorations, the expressively bold brushstrokes of the sails, the
minimalist way the artist had captured the shimmer of the sea, and of
course, the price, anything BUT minimalist.

“I may not know art, ”my jostler said, sipping daintily on a white wine from his plastic
glass, “but I know what I like.” He was quite pleased at this knowledge,
no doubt gained with considerable effort. His companion wagged an
earlobe with a windchime banging to life, evidently in total agreement
with both of us on this aesthetic declaration.

I guess I was still miffed about the impromptu dye job on my best shirt, or maybe it’s just
a character flaw deeper than any fabric stain, but I smiled winningly
and said out of the cerulean blue, “I don’t know much about
biochemistry, but I sure know a good clone when I see one.” This caused
some raised eyebrows, a rolling of the eyes and the beginning of distant
alarm bells that would soon drown out the jangling jewelry. For good
measure I added, “I don’t know much about history either, but hey, I
love a good war. I know what I like.”

So okay, I cost Regina a commission and I should feel bad about that. Probably cost the artist a
sale and I should feel worse about that, but I don’t. I do happen to
know something about art, and I know what I don’t like. I guess it’s
okay to buy what you do; I just don’t think we should be proud of our
ignorance. Then again, what the hell do I know?

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Gettin' together to smile an' rejoice,
An' eatin' an' laughin' with folks of your choice;
An' kissin' the girls an' declarin' that they
Are growin' more beautiful day after day;
Chattin' an' braggin' a bit with the men,
Buildin' the old family circle again;
Livin' the wholesome an' old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother's a little bit grayer, that's all.
Father's a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an' to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin' our stories as women an' men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we're grateful an' glad to be there.
Home from the east land an' home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an' best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We've come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an' be frank,
Forgettin' position an' station an' rank.

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.

Edgar Albert Guest (1881 – 1959) was a British-born American poet who became known as the People's Poet. His family moved from England to Detroit, Michigan when he was ten years old and he lived there the rest of his life. He worked for the Detroit Free Press for 64 years. He published more than twenty volumes of poetry and was thought to have written over 12,000 poems. His poems often had an inspirational and optimistic view of everyday life. Of his poems he said, "I take simple everyday things that happen to me and I figure it happens to a lot of other people and I make simple rhymes out of them. "His popularity led NBC to produce a weekly 15-minute radio program, “Guest in Your Home,” which ran from 1931 to 1942.The Joplin Globe editorialized his passing by quoting Philip Coldren, the late editorial page editor who wrote that the key to Guest’s greatness was “that among the thousands of Guest poems, ‘there has not been a single one that has promoted wickedness or meanness or anything else but kindness and gentleness and peace and hope."

As a card carrying bleeding heart snowflake liberal, I watch with bemusement the hair-on-fire panic of my fellow commies who seem to be predicting the end of the world as they know it and the demise of all things progressive. The 3.5 trillion dollar Build it Better budget, surprise surprise, is a political football. My socialist pals are wringing their collective hands, cursing the two senators who are roadblocking the bill and all the Republicans who refuse to raise the debt ceiling, hoping the Dems will take the blame for the deficits of the past, oh, couple of decades.

I admit that I gnash my teeth and pound my fists but when I calm down I try to remember we sent Trump into exile down at Mar-a-Lago to hold court with his jesters and funders, plotting a return from that grave in 2024. I expect he’ll either be in federal prison by then or his hopes for another grand entry down the T. Tower escalator will be more than likely a grand jury, just one more prediction that crashes and burns. Meanwhile, back at the sausage factory, a package will be emerging from this Congress, one that may not have 3.5 trillion as a price tag but will more than likely legislate provisions for more health care, maybe even dental, possibly prescription drug cost reductions, child care, subsidized community college tuition, climate change provisos, rural internet, all this and more. What we down here on the South End call a liberal agenda, one coming to a theater near all of us.

So maybe it won’t be a total Green New Deal and maybe it won’t be single payer national health care and probably it won’t make everyone happy, but … geez, c’mon, we’re swerving to the left in an electric car. Who knows, we might even tax the rich and the corporations that don’t pay their fair share. Quit yer crying, I say, and stop expecting perfection. Progress isn’t a bad alternative.

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"I live near Seattle and for the first time since 1924, Seattle has an NHL franchise. Now hockey is the sport everyone here is talking about. The team is called the Seattle Kraken.If you’re like most hockey fans, you probably have many questions" Read more

"… is something I know nothing about. Nevertheless, I can’t count the number of times people come up to me on the street, at the unemployment office or in the women’s locker room at my gym and ask me about my column. Why just last week, there must have been almost two people who approached me..... Continue reading

Rachel Louise Carson (1907 - 1964) was an American scientist, writer, ecologist and conservationist. Her book, Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.


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