Symphony of Sorrowful Songs

Symphony No. 3 (Górecki)

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Words taken from a message etched by an eighteen year old girl on the walls of a Gestapo Jail, music composed by Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Góreck.

Song of the Candle

“Song of the Candle” written by Stan Rogers

I’m posting another song from Stan Rogers which is one of my favorites. I was taken with this comment which was added to the video.

“An excellent song writer and performer. Am currently dealing with PTSD from combat and was about to end it all until I heard Mary Ellen Carter in my Pandora account. I can honestly say the man saved my life” ~ Comment from Thomas Morrow on YouTube

Rise Again

Mary Ellen Carter

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Rough Waters

We lost Stan Rogers in a fire aboard Air Canada Flight 797 on Jun 2, 1983. That was a sad day for me, he was a master song writer and performer and I was and am a huge fan of his music. I’m focusing on his song The Mary Ellen Carter because in what I perceive as a dark time in our history. After the election I found myself just ranting in my blogs rather than focusing on what is beautiful and wonderful in life. This song is about “rising again” when faced with adversity. Music is curative, listen to the song and read this story:

On February 12, 1983 the ship Marine Electric was carrying a load of coal from Norfolk, Virginia to a power station in Somerset, Massachusetts. The worst storm in forty years blew up that night and the ship sank at about four o’clock in the morning on the 13th. The ship’s chief mate, 59-year-old Robert M. “Bob” Cusick, was trapped under the deckhouse as the ship went down. His snorkeling experience helped him avoid panic and swim to the surface, but he had to spend the night alone, up to his neck in water, clinging to a partially deflated lifeboat, and in water barely above freezing and air much colder. Huge waves washed over him, and each time he was not sure that he would ever reach the surface again to breathe. Battling hypothermia, he became tempted to allow himself to fall unconscious and let go of the lifeboat. Just then he remembered the words to the song “The Mary Ellen Carter”.

He started to sing it and soon was alternately shouting out “Rise again, rise again” and holding his breath as the waves washed over him. At seven o’clock that morning a Coast Guard helicopter spotted him and pulled him to safety.Only two men of the other thirty-three that had been aboard survived the wreck. After his ordeal, Cusick wrote a letter to Stan Rogers telling him what had happened and how the song helped save his life. In response, Cusick was invited to attend what turned out to be the second-to-last concert Rogers ever performed. Cusick told his story in the documentary about Rogers, One Warm Line. ~ Source Wikipedia

She went down last October in a pouring, driving rain
The skipper, he’d been drinking, and the Mate, he felt no pain
Too close to Three Mile Rock and she was dealt her mortal blow,
And the Mary Ellen Carter settled low
There were just us five aboard her when she finally was awash
We’d worked like hell to save her, all heedless of the cost
And the groan she gave as she went down, it caused us to proclaim
That the Mary Ellen Carter would rise again

Well, the owners wrote her off; not a nickel would they spend
“She gave twenty years of service, boys, then met her sorry end
But insurance paid the loss to us, so let her rest below.”
Then they laughed at us and said we had to go
But we talked of her all winter, some days around the clock
She’s worth a quarter million, afloat and at the dock
And with every jar that hit the bar, we swore we would remain
And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again

Rise again, rise again,
That her name not be lost to the knowledge of men
All those who loved her best and were with her till the end
Will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again!

All spring, now, we’ve been with her on a barge lent by a friend
Three dives a day in hard-hat suit and twice I’ve had the bends
Thank God it’s only sixty feet and the currents here are slow
Or I’d never have the strength to go below
But we’ve patched her rents, stopped her vents, dogged hatch and
porthole down
Put cables to her fore and aft and girded her around
Tomorrow noon we hit the air and then take up the strain
And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again

Rise again, rise again,
That her name not be lost to the knowledge of men
All those who loved her best and were with her till the end
Will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again!

For we couldn’t leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale
She’d saved our lives so many times, living through the gale
And the laughing, drunken rats who left her to a sorry grave
They won’t be laughing in another day
And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And, like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again

Rise again, rise again,
Though your heart it be broken or life about to end
No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend,
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again!

Rise again, rise again,
Though your heart it be broken or life about to end
No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend,
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again! ~ Stan Rogers

 

Too Cold to Walk

Spring hasn’t sprung yet

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I’ve been taking the same morning walk with friends for over a decade. We have walked in sun, rain and snow. However we have an agreement that the ambient temperature needs to exceed 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

This morning the temperature was  11.8 degees, but it is SPRING ALREADY and every rule needs an exception. This is what I want to see when I walk out of the door.

Crocus by John Poltrack on 500px.com
Purple Crocus

 

 

The Season of Phantasmal Peace

Then all the nations of birds lifted together
the huge net of the shadows of this earth

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I heard a poem this morning on NPR this morning and was struck with its imagery. I feel inspired to find a “battalion of startlings” or other flocks of birds as a photographic subject.

Serenity Now
China 1985

 

The Season of Phantasmal Peace ~ Derek Wolcott

Then all the nations of birds lifted together
the huge net of the shadows of this earth
in multitudinous dialects, twittering tongues,
stitching and crossing it. They lifted up
the shadows of long pines down trackless slopes,
the shadows of glass-faced towers down evening streets,
the shadow of a frail plant on a city sill—
the net rising soundless as night, the birds’ cries soundless, until
there was no longer dusk, or season, decline, or weather,
only this passage of phantasmal light
that not the narrowest shadow dared to sever.
And men could not see, looking up, what the wild geese drew,
what the ospreys trailed behind them in silvery ropes
that flashed in the icy sunlight; they could not hear
battalions of starlings waging peaceful cries,
bearing the net higher, covering this world
like the vines of an orchard, or a mother drawing
the trembling gauze over the trembling eyes
of a child fluttering to sleep;
It was the light
that you will see at evening on the side of a hill
in yellow October, and no one hearing knew
what change had brought into the raven’s cawing,
the killdeer’s screech, the ember-circling chough
such an immense, soundless, and high concern
for the fields and cities where the birds belong,
except it was their seasonal passing, Love,
made seasonless, or, from the high privilege of their birth,
something brighter than pity for the wingless ones
below them who shared dark holes in windows and in houses,
and higher they lifted the net with soundless voices
above all change, betrayals of falling suns,
and this season lasted one moment, like the pause
between dusk and darkness, between fury and peace,
but, for such as our earth is now, it lasted long.

Paris (the cat not the city)

A life with cats

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“I can’t conceive of a life without cats” ~ Edward Gorey

I have a long history with cats. They have been part of our life for decades.  They are strange creatures, affectionate but aloof. One moment purring and the next drawing blood. Cats relax me, help me “take a breath” and give me a smile. Currently we are down to a single female cat, “Paris”. Here are a few photos.

Cube-mate by John Poltrack on 500px.com
A computer, two monitors and a cat. Paris kept me company during the last years of my working career when I was working at home.
I
I’m always watching you.
Paris by John Poltrack on 500px.com
Cat Eyes

 

Paris by John Poltrack on 500px.com
She has drawn blood with those claws.
Nap Time by John Poltrack on 500px.com
Warming up on the UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply).

 

 

Paris by John Poltrack on 500px.com
When I get up our of the seat it is immediately filled