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RT’s Finest Posts, 2013 (Part 1)

December 24, 2013 Leave a comment

File:Make-do Dolls For Christmas- Wartime Recycling, 1943 D17282.jpg

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Tis the season, and RT has a lot to choose from this year; in fact, he’s overwhelmed by his output in the first half of the year. Count ’em, baby, count ’em: 138 posts in January and February 2013 alone! With such an abundance to choose from, RT has thought it wise to offer a selection from the year’s first two months by itself, then move farther into the year in his next post. He’s got a range of material, and hopes everyone enjoys his choices!   RT

January

1) Scottish Gaelic, Manx, and the Crawling of Crabs. Ned Maddrell’s take on the importance of speaking Manx, along with other reasons to respect (and learn) a minority language.

2) Look at Me (a poem). An intense encounter of the romantic kind.

3) Dr. Michel Royon: Uncovering the Beauty of Nature. Two simply amazing photographs of seashells; Royon’s work takes the genre to a new level.

4) More Than a Pretty Face. Beauty can take us by surprise.

5) A Finch’s Mandible and the Intimate Life. Further speculations on the origins of language and its connections with place. (Or, What Did He Say?)

February

1) Denis Diderot and the Book that Changed the World. Think intellectuals are wasting their time, engaging in belly-button staring and whatnot? Here’s one who rocked the world to its foundations.

2) Louise Duttenhofer–Cut Paper Artist. A wonderful artist, pretty much unknown in America–and an article translated from German with many an assist from Google Translate. Wow!

3) Szechenyi Thermal Bath. A slice of life with a healthy dash of humor.

4) Beyond the Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys. More humor, an excellent book review, and a resource for finding great small-press books.

5) Letterform–Three Characteristics. Three ways of looking at an alphabetic letter.

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And how could RT end this post without a stocking stuffer?

1) The Vogels: Collecting Art as if Your Life Depending on it. A New York City couple who, on a distinctly limited income, became patrons of avant-garde art.

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Image: Make-Do Dolls for Christmas–1943. Author: Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer. WikiCmns. Public Domain.

Read on Red: The Pleasures and Perils of Pinterest

November 13, 2013 4 comments

File:Courtesan and a little girl agead a new-year decoration.jpg

Surely, in a parallel universe somewhere, RT is a top-drawer nature photographer who takes breaks to shoot amazing architecture in the big cities and work on creative book design projects. The eye is neighbor to the heart, at least in men.

These reflections are by way of saying that RT has been spending a lot of time on Pinterest, the photo-sharing web site that has attracted users all over the globe. (And for the record, this post was inspired by a pin of a red-on-red portrait that reminded RT of the sheer gorgeousness art is capable of.) Be that as it may, RT suspects he has been spending too much time on Pinterest. Gilgamesh and A Daughter’s Song and Dance both are patiently awaiting their latest round of corrections; Mechanical Turk and other crowdsourcing sites are ripe for further work and exploration; and, hey, what about taking a break and getting out in the beautiful, if brisk, autumn air? And, come to think of it, RT has gotten locked out of his Yahoo account because of some mix-up over his password. So why the tomfoolery with beautiful pictures?

RT is pretty sure that one of the reasons for Pinterest’s success is the lack of beauty in everyday life, or at least for most of us. Walking past a large box store the other day, one that had gravel strewn in front of its nondescript exterior in lieu of a lawn, RT was forcefully reminded of how ugly public life has become. Convenient, serviceable, yes. But beautiful? Almost never.

In a world starved for beauty, Pinterest is an oasis devoted to pleasing the eye. No cruddy compromises here, just the best photographs by talented photographers, famous or not. Not to mention great historical photographs. And if you are a WP blogger, the site is a treasure trove of ideas for new posts. Plus you can pin images from your blog (something that RT needs to catch up on). So what’s the problem?

RT wouldn’t say that Pinterest offers eye-candy (though some of that is to be found on the site). What worries RT is that Pinterest has very little to do with the day-to-day or ordinary; there is always something special about the subject. One of the ways that art contributes to our life, and perhaps the main way it helps us, is by finding beauty in the ordinary, or even in the apparently ugly. Graffiti,  the faded and peeling side of an old house, a familiar skyline made arresting by being captured from an unusual angle–all these things help us see the intrinsic beauty of the world. And if the artwork is spontaneous, a discovery made on the spot, then so much the better. We can all hope to experience something similar in our routine.

Pinterest of course contains such visual material, but in RT’s experience, not enough of it. Maybe each member should be required to submit a certain number of images that he or she has made. It might help reintroduce each of us to ourselves. (And maybe RT should be pinning more images that meet his standards.)

We search for meaning in the ordinary; perhaps we should be searching for beauty, too. Dare we rediscover the poetry of the world our eyes and minds shut out?

(& what about that latest round of corrections?)

RT

Print: Courtesan and Little Girl; Hiroshige. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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RT’s Post # 1002 & Thank You!

September 29, 2013 5 comments

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RT has double-checked: his post After Sappho is the Rag Tree’s official post #1000, according to WordPress.

RT is amazed he’s gotten this far with the blog; he remembers his first few tentative postings, all without images, and the many wonderful things and superb people he has encountered since those days. He is developing further thoughts on what to do with this blog, most prominently, moving onto WordPress.Org. Money is still tight, however, and he is biding his time.

By way of thank you to his loyal readers, RT lists some of them below. These folks have stuck with him through the blogging ups and downs he has negotiated over the past three years:

1) Margo Roby, Wordgathering. The one and only (so far) Queen of the Dragons of Grammar.

2) Aubrey. A gifted writer enamored of all things Victorian (& then some).

3) X-ties. More is going on in New Zealand than you think…

4) Leanne Cole Photography. …and the graphics from Down Under are impressive, too.

5) N. Filbert (a.k.a. “The Whole Hurley Burley.”) Notebooks, videos, thoughts worth finding, and more.

6) SIMONHLILLY. Poetry, The World Tree, and beauty, generally.

7) Calmgrove. Books: serious fun!

8) Jeffrey Harbin. Great photos from Texas!!

9) The Glyptodon. Tiny porpoises and other miracles.

9) Esther. poems, images, lovely ladies from France…

10) Cindy Knoke. Book reviews!!!

11) thehumansarah. Photos, some of them even funny!!!

12) Elephant. Old-fashioned picture book pictures, just like we used to read!

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Thank you all for your loyal interest!!!

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Photo: Bouquet of flowers; Author: Paolo Neo. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Dalecarlian Horse–A Status Update

September 17, 2013 Leave a comment

File:Dalahäst i avesta.jpg

Sometimes being a writer leads to perplexities. In RT’s case, he has several projects going at once: 1) Gilgamesh; 2) A Daughter’s Song and Dance (his mother’s childhood memoirs); 3) The Rag Tree; 4) and sundry other occasional preoccupations, at least one of which might end up being very important. Now, the logical approach to all this would be to choose one item, concentrate on finishing it, and then proceed down the list until all of the work has been done. But RT is coming to the realization that he doesn’t work like this.

RT’s modus operandi appears to be working on one of the projects (usually Gilgamesh, but sometimes one of the others) for extended periods of time, at the end of which he picks another of the projects and works on it for a while. The Rag Tree is a special case, exercising its siren call every time RT logs onto the Net–and posting regularly is the blogger’s cardinal virtue.

And then there are the gremlins that like to show up–a new biography of Van Gogh, an incomplete or prospective “quick” translation lying around, and those all-too-familiar but regular and required real-world encounters, like paying the rent.

RT’s conclusion about the unscheduled mess? He likes it. He doesn’t know how or if he can resolve his lack of a fixed agenda, but he feels that it’s wise at least to be honest about his preferences. As far as his departure from Standard Operating Practice, he will say, in our work life, don’t we have a right to pursue more than one obsession at a time? RT knows that this is hardly an efficient approach to doing things, but what is the ROI for love? Or death?

This is all by way of preamble to saying that the last week or so RT has been working on his mom’s memoirs, and he is particularly pleased with the section on the 1939 NYC World’s Fair, with its Dalecarlian Horse (not as large as the one in the photo above) and its many other sights and experiences. He has reached page 150 and thinks that the completed book will probably be around 250 pages. Life is full of surprises and unexpected beauty–and quandries.   RT

Photo: Dalecarlian Horse; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Out of the Blue: Five Blogs

August 9, 2013 2 comments

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RT sat down at the computer table today and realized it has been some time since he cruised the net looking for new blogs and web sites. So he spent thirty or so minutes doing just that, first giving himself a list of topics to search on. The links below will guide readers to something a little different (for RT, anyway). Enjoy the discoveries!

1.  Writer Adept. (topic: flash fiction). RT has never attempted flash fiction before; here is a fine guest-post by FF writer Alissa Leonard relating her experiences with the form and linking to two pieces of her flash fiction, one written with a 500-word limit, the other with a 55-word limit (whoa!).

2. Six Sisters’ Stuff. (topic: dessert). OK, RT, what with his sweet tooth and all, has been known to post on desserts. On the other hand, this dessert looks pretty yummy…

3. Fencing Net. Well, RT has never shown too much interest in the big sports, but since middle-school he’s harbored a secret desire to learn how to fence. Anyway, this site looks like a good place to beginning learning something about this poetic past-time. En Garde!

4. Leftbrainwrite. (topic: grammar). The Dragons of Grammar haven’t been totally derelict these last few weeks–here’s their contribution, offering a professional editor’s take on how to use grammar.

5. Belgian Pearls. (topic: pearls). From a literal point of view, no pearls here, just some reflections from a life lived large.

RT’s Related Posts: Poetic Tweets.

PhotographChristmas lighting in Weinstadt-Endersbach (night photo), Germany; night photograph. Author: Wildfeuer. WikiCmns; CC 1.0 Generic.

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Extra! Extra! The Rag Tree Undergoing Construction!

File:Augustus Edwin Mulready A London Newsboy 1893.jpg

Yes, dear readers, The Rag Tree is indeed undergoing renovations. Here is a list of the improvements currently in hand:

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1) RT’s page, tours, tours will include descriptions of each post.

2) RT has converted the page formerly devoted to his poetry collection, Amassunu, to a page on RT’s sister blog, Ampersand Press and its publications.

3) RT’s page The Line, will soon have more complete information on this fundamental unit of poetry.

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and there will be more changes aimed at making The Rag Tree as user friendly and informative as possible.

RT

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Illustration: A London Newsboy (1893); Augustus Edwin Mulready. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

I don’t know which FONT to use!

some very useful information…RT

(reposted from hannahchungdesign)

I don’t know which FONT to use!.

Awards! Awards! Awake! Awake!

April 1, 2013 2 comments

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Give me enough medals and I’ll win you any war.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Awards, or public recognition of any kind, have always been a problematic enterprise. Surely outstanding performance and heroic behavior deserve recognition, but the standards used to determine such things can be lax. And no matter how strict the criteria, there is the matter of what to tell people who didn’t win the award.

Be that as it may, recognition is vital to any enterprise that does not reward its participants with a regular paycheck. RT is inclined to think that honor is the primary human need, eclipsing even food–after all, just why are we eating, and what will we do when we have left the feast?

Nowhere could this be truer than in the realm of poetry blogs, written as they tend to be from a need to share the heart’s passions. The desire for recognition is keen, and RT believes that the main purpose of the various WP awards is to comfort and encourage such folk as they begin to share their work with a broad audience. After all, and in the not-too-distant past, RT was himself a novice blogger, thrilled by the first handful of hits on his site. Honor is one thing; self-image is something else.

All of this is by way of introduction to the fact that at an unacceptably distant time in the past (a couple of months?) RT received an award nomination himself: the Liebster Award. Many requirements attach to this award, but for the sake of time and sanity, RT is boiling them down to just two, thanking my nominator and naming 11 blogs worthy of the award.

So, to begin again, let me thank Aubrey for nominating me; she is a wonderful writer with a keen eye and intellect. Now, here are the 11 blogs:

1) Book Peeps. Very fine book reviews.

2) A Leaf in Springtime. Panang; Finland. Exotic and socially minded; happy.

3) Belle Typo. Typography and printing enthusiasts, dive in!

4) Shrinksarentcheap. Surreal and therapeutic poetry, sharp and from a woman’s perspective.

5) Cindi Knoke. Interesting life story; beautiful images and words.

6) Hortus Closus. This blog lies a bit off the beaten path; for one thing, be prepared to read her poems in French, for another, be prepared for a certain attraction to women. Tasteful and heartfelt.

7) pdlyon’s weblog. Irish to the core, meaning tea, soda bread, beauty, and Buddha.

8) Becky Van Deusen Pinups. Retro and refreshing material from a practicing model.

9) Types of Typography. A great resource for type and images.

10) Tiaras and Trianon. Who could resist a blog with a name like this?

11) the poem epoch. Poetry, interviews, a touch of humor.

PhotoSilver tetradrachm issued in the name of Alexander III of Macedonia (Alexander the Great). Arados, 242/241 BC (posthumous issue). British Museum, London, UK. WikiCmns. Public Domain.

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See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2012 annual report.

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The Rag Tree’s Dozen Best Posts, 2012

December 11, 2012 3 comments

File:Roses - Vincent van Gogh.JPG

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As the end of the year approaches, it’s time for RT to look back at the crop of Rag Tree posts for 2012. As was the case in 2011, RT is sure that several of his better pieces will not make WordPress’s pick of the blog’s most popular posts, so here are a dozen or so that RT thinks can stand a second reading:

1) Hangul, Literacy and Culture: What an Alphabet Can Do For You. January. The forces of history can work in subtle ways. Whoever would have thought that the relatively small kingdom of Korea would produce the world’s easiest-to-learn alphabet? It did, and a social revolution ensued.

2) The Ivory House. February. Histories written in ancient times are few and far between, and the history contained in The Book of Kings sheds light on the emergence of the first Biblical texts, the very roots of western civilization.

3) Mexico’s Lincoln. February. Benito Juarez, by common consent Mexico’s greatest President, advanced the cause of nationalism, democracy, and native peoples in Mexico (and around the world).

4) The New Scottish Parliament Buildings. March. Just too cool for words. A modernist masterpiece and a wonderful addition to Edinburgh’s distinguished architecture.

5) Support Your Local Poets. March. The Chinese have long considered poetry to be one of the healing arts, and RT thinks that the poetic impulse is basic to our humanity. Local poets, those purveyors of healing and culture, deserve our wholehearted support!

6) The Independent Scholar’s Handbook. March. Writing a history of the Persian Empire in the cafe around the corner? Working on a study of Wordsworth at the local library? This book will support you in your endeavors. Come in from the cold!

7) “Talking Leaves”–The Cherokee Alphabet. May. Indian culture is rich with invention and story, a point that Sequoia’s diligent effort to create an alphabet for his people underlines.

8) Stephane Mallarme: “Apparition.” July. Oh, those French poets, perfectly willing to break the rules to create something new and beautiful! Here is RT’s version of a poem by one of their finest.

9) Elsewhere in Outer Space, New Earth. August. RT steers people’s eyes away from the amazing photo-stream coming back from Curiosity, the latest of the Mars Rovers, to consider an even bigger prize: locating an earth-like planet!

10) QuikScript: An English Alphabet for Everyone. September. The Roman alphabet was designed to write Latin, a language significantly different from English. Here, in RT’s opinion, is the finest proposal for an alphabet designed for English.

11) Wheeling, WV and the Dream of an American Fifth Coast. October. Could a renovated canal system help revive inland American ports? Read on!

12) Shawnee: Martinsburg, RT, and the 4th Person. November. Some posts are just a gift. Here is one about RT’s roots, grammar, and the Shawnee origins of West Virginia.

13) Mediterranean Vacation: Lost Landscapes. November. So, what was a Mediterranean vacation like 6 million years ago?

14) The Golden Thread. December.  RT looks forward to his offerings in the New Year and the way he will tie them together.

Painting: Roses. Vincent Van Gogh. WikiCmns. Public Domain.