Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Bard's Birthday

We know what we are, but not what we may be.
~ Wm. Shakespeare

Today is William Shakespeare's birthday. The New York Post had an interesting article about how Shakespeare was almost lost to history. Alas and alack!

There is a fascinating theory that Shakespeare worked on the King James translation of the Holy Bible. Supporting clues are embedded within Psalm 46 of the King James Version (KJV).

Work on the KJV translation began in 1604. It was published in 1611, the year Shakespeare turned 47 years old. If he had been involved in the project, he would have been working on it at age 46.

Now comes the fun part.

If the reader counts 46 words in to the 46th psalm of the KJV, you'll find the word "shake." Then count 46 words back from the last word, and you'll see "spear." Pretty cool, huh? Could it be a secretly coded signature by one of history's greatest geniuses? Methinks, aye.

"In natures infinite book of secrecy, a little I can read."

Friday, April 22, 2016

America, Lost

 "Because the great choice in a nation of 320 million may come down to Crazy Man versus Criminal."

Peggy Noonan sums up the feelings of countless Americans in this column about experiencing "That Moment When 2016 Hits You." Read it and weep.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

So Close, So Far Away

Aunt Kathleen ~ c.1940
Her name was Kathleen, and she was beautiful. She was my aunt and my godmother. Today she died at the honorable age of 94.

Born in 1921, eighteen months after my mother, Kathleen was the second of five children. Of all the siblings, now only Mom remains.

Most of my memories of my aunt are from childhood. Soon after my birth, she married and proceeded to have five sons and two daughters, in that order. In my early years, she lived in the New York suburbs. Our families visited regularly, and I often spent a week at my aunt’s house during summer vacation. Looking back, I’m amazed she didn’t mind having another mouth to feed.

My memories are old but vivid. In my mind’s eye, I see identical tee shirts in several different sizes fluttering from her clothesline, turned inside out in case the sun faded the fabric. I recall a large plastic tablecloth spread on her garage floor, a tall step-up chair, and the hum of a barber’s clippers while each of my cousins sat in turn as she gave them buzz haircuts. I remember huge plastic pitchers of powdered milk, one plain and one chocolate, that my aunt vigorously mixed and placed in the refrigerator the night before “so the flavor sets,” she once explained to me.

I also remember being made to feel quite special on certain occasions. On my sixth birthday I received a gold birthstone ring from Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Bob. She would present me with a small gift as a reward for a good report card. These kind surprises occurred as her own family was growing so quickly. I marvel that she found the time.

When I was twelve years old, my aunt and her family moved from New York to Florida after my uncle took a job there. This was a seismic family event. Visits, by practical necessity, would become increasingly rare over the decades. My own relocation to California further restricted our physical contact. She telephoned me the day after Pete died, overcome with emotion. I remember being so glad to hear from her. But it’s well over twenty years since I last saw my aunt.

The first year after she moved to Florida, she and I exchanged letters. Aunt Kathleen’s letters, two or three pages long, were written in crisp, clear script on loose leaf paper (no doubt lifted from a three-ring school binder). I would devour her words, often reading paragraphs aloud to my curious mother, then quickly write back. Sure as sunrise, within two weeks, Aunt Kathleen’s answering letter would arrive.

My aunt never drove a car, and my uncle was often away from home for his job. Yet she raised and cared for seven children, kept a spotless house, walked to and from daily Mass--and wrote letters to her niece a thousand miles away. Remarkable.

I kept my aunt’s letters tied in a ribbon and tucked in a drawer in my childhood bedroom. Over many years and several moves, the letters have been lost. Today, remembering good days long gone, I dearly wish I could read them again.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Political Fatigue

It's tough to stomach the thought that our "Mad Max" political season will continue with increasing intensity throughout the conventions and all the way past November's election. I, for one, am exhausted and already sick of all the candidates. Sander's wagging finger, Clinton's carping voice, Cruz's smarmy pandering, Trump's obnoxious rants, Kasich's delusions of relevance--all wore thin, months ago. The idea of a four-year term for any of them makes me weary.

I've talked with many people of widely varying opinions on national issues, and everyone seems to agree on one thing--nobody now running is a promising candidate for president. The prevailing sentiment among everyday people seems to be that "we don't like any of them and we're screwed no matter who wins." This voter ennui is symptomatic of just how ill our nation has become.

How sad for the country that there's probably more truth than poetry to that thought.