Archive for April, 2012

Ella & the World


Folks: by way of whetting the appetite for A Daughter’s Song and Dance, here is an excerpt from the story. Nobody can sing like Ella…Enjoy!  RT

Ella & the World.

A Daughter’s Song and Dance: Growing Up Adopted Before the War and After

April 30, 2012 9 comments

A true confession on RT’s part: he has been laboring under the happy impression that various of his readers are wondering whatever happened to his writing projects. Well, there is good news–his  mother’s memoirs, now titled A Daughter’s Song and Dance, has been making tremendous progress, and RT will be issuing the first of the book’s three parts as an e-book next month.

What a story it is! Born in 1929, Mom was adopted within a few weeks of birth and spent her childhood in Los Angeles and New York City, with stops at Lake Tahoe and Banff along the way. America was a different place before World War II, and this installment, which follows her pre-teen years, brings home to readers the difficulties (and wonders) of life before TV, commercial air flights, and the Interstate Highway System. The book is populated with remarkable people–among them, her French Governess (who taught her how to eat ice cream pie), her Aunt Daisy (who indirectly arranged for a day watching the filming of Pride of the Yankees), and, above all, Mama, (the woman who adopted her, and a feminist among the aristocracy).

Both Mom and I are pleased with the way this story has emerged from an original word-processed manuscript Mom put together in the early 1990s. We’re excited about publishing electronically. And we love the idea of reaching out to other adoptees with her extraordinary story. Stay tuned for further developments!    RT


P.S. For more background, check out Mom’s blog, Mood Indigo.

Poster: Moore Theater; 1910; WikiCmns; Public Domain


angels dancing

In that other world

my children are


and their mother met me

when I was 7 & carried her


home for her. þþ

what wou*ld

that feel like? Like waking up &

seeing the sun pouring down

its lumens of light, painting

the world w/ the memories of the first moment I

saw your

body naked &you laughed at

th*esoftcottonsheets and ðe shadow on our bed

of ðe

imposible thing waving

between my legs “it looks like a leaf!” you said

and icalld u urania, Queen of Heaven.

Copyright: The Rag Tree, 2012.

image: Five Angels Dancing; Giovanni di Paolo (1403-1482); WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Swirling Dreams

folks: flying with angels, feet on the earth….Source of Inspiration’s meditation… RT


Swirling Dreams.

Why Write?

April 22, 2012 31 comments


This is the fact: you could be long dead before people appreciate your writing. It’s happened plenty to writers of the first rank: jealousy, stupidity, war–in other words, plain old politics–obscured their talent and contributions. So, if fame and fortune are hard to find, just why are you writing?

From personal experience, RT can tell you that this is not a popular question at cocktail parties. Even less popular is quoting the Elements of Style: Writing is an act of faith. To help you (and me) answer this little demon of a question, here are some answers:

1) I have to write. To confirm the truth of this motivation, go to a new or small poetry reading. Chances are you’re not going to meet successful people there. Folks are doing OK; they’re getting by; they’re dealing with their issues–but nobody owns a BMW.

2) I’m in love with writing. You can’t get more corn pone than this, but at least it saves you from discussing the eviction notice you recently received. Getting your words out there feels great.

3) My writing is important. This one will really steam your interlocutor. But think about it: are you telling me that Shakespeare, Du Fu, Charlotte Bronte, Leo Tolstoy didn’t know that what they were doing mattered? Of course, no one in our generation has the right to exist on their artistic level, but you can always hope.

4) Because I’m a romantic. So what if people think you’re a wastrel sipping absinthe every night? Notoriety gets attention.

5) Because what I do matters. This is the dirty little secret that the contemporary world prefers to ignore. We are responsible. We have an obligation to make the world a better place. We must not cheat the gifts we have been given.

Writers are entitled to a full life like everyone else: community, acknowledgement, pleasure are as important to us as to anyone. But we keep one eye on the far horizon of history.    RT


Art: Mental Reactions; A.E. Meyer; WikiCmns; Public Domain.


It’s Friday Afternoon!


It’s Friday Afternoon! Hope everyone has a great weekend!   RT


Photo: Clouds over the Atlantic Ocean; WikiCmns; CC3.0 Unported; Photographer: Tiago Fioreze


The Syro-Phonecian Woman

April 18, 2012 5 comments


The “Syrophonecian Woman” in the Gospel of Mark has perplexed me for some time. As an episode in Mark’s gospel (the first of the four canonical gospels to be written), and one that portrays a woman outwitting Jesus, I’m inclined to think the episode is genuine.

Then we come to the fierceness of Jesus’s rejection of the woman, who is pleading for the life of her child: “It isn’t right to take the children’s food and give it to the dogs.”

If Jesus is fleeing from Herod’s spies, he would be under a great deal of stress, and this might account for his harsh rebuke–which compares the local population to dogs, in contrast to the Children of God. If so, it reveals a streak of contempt in Jesus that is visible (to my eye) no where else in the Gospels. Would Jesus really risk his safety by insulting in such humiliating terms the population sheltering him?

Then there is Tyre’s odd status. Home to a pantheon of gods, including a goddess who received the sacrifice of children, the city nonetheless lay within Asher’s tribal allotment. Saving “the lost sheep of Israel” (as Jesus mentions in Matthew’s account of the story) may have been a second reason for Jesus’s journey into Phonecian territory. In short, Jesus may not have viewed the woman as a straightforward pagan.

In fact, her description as Syro-Phonecian may refer mainly to her language, Greek. Sophisticated merchants that they were, the Phonecians would have been likelier than the people of Galilee to have a good command of this international language. That would be doubly true if the woman were rich, as the presence of little dogs in her household may indicate.

If that is the case, then we have strong evidence for a bilingual Jesus.

Finally, a word about reconstruction. My version of this story is broadly reconstructed: much has been added to bring the story to a state I think eliminates the problems I’ve mentioned. All reconstruction is tentative, meant to help advance the understanding of a story. What is at stake here is not only the details and accuracy of the account, but also a search for consistency in voice and event.

The Syro-Phonecian Woman

(original text in roman type; RT’s additions in italic & enclosed in brackets)

      [When he had sent his disciples on the road,] Jesus traveled to the area around Tyre. [Because of the price that Antipas had set on his head,] he wished to enter each house anonymously, [and he was travelling as a local fisherman; despite these precautions,] word of his arrival spread. So when he entered a house one day, a woman [followed him in] and, kneeling down, said, “A demon has entered my daughter; please have mercy and cure her!”

      [Now Jesus was furious, afraid that she had revealed his identity; but at least] the woman was a gentile of Syro-Phonecian descent [and was speaking Greek. He said, “I am not a doctor—I can’t cure her.” The woman replied, “Please! She hasn’t eaten for days. The demon makes her play with her food, and now she is so weak she can’t get up from her mat.”

      “What have you done to make her eat?” After a moment, the woman replied, “I have scolded her several times, and once she was playing with her food in such a disgusting way I grabbed it out of her mouth and threw it to the little dogs.”]

      Shocked, he replied, “It isn’t right to pull bread out of a child’s mouth and give it to dogs.” She snapped in response, “Even dogs under the table eat food that children refuse!”

      [Jesus laughed and said], “[I am no expert, but] in return for such spirit, you may go home; the demon has fled from your daughter.” And when the woman got home, she found her daughter lying on her mat, and the demon fled.

      [But Jesus had to leave Tyre after that, and on the advice of his friends, he travelled north to Sidon.] [Mk 7:26b–30]

Copyright: The Rag Tree, 2012.


Painting: Queen Anne of Hungary, 1520; painter unknown; WikiCmns; Public Domain.