New Clothes and Old Clothes

“New Clothes and Old Clothes” from “The New Book of Days” by Eleanor Farjeon, captures the way I feel about old clothes. There are some pieces of clothing I really love and can’t part with. I may or may not wear them, but keep them for their colors, the feel of the fabric, or some memory attached to an event or time. It may be something I wore over and over again – the threads so bare, the collar so frayed.  The intangibility of the passing of that time is what matters most to me.

Eleanor says, “In May, older clothes are kinder to you then new ones.”

I rather like New Clothes,

They make me feel so fine,

Yet, I am not quite Me,

The clothes are not quite mine.

I really love Old Clothes,

They make me feel so free,

I know that they are mine,

For I feel just like Me.

 

Henrietta Lacks

When the pandemic began to effect my life, seriously I was reading “Living” by Annie Dillard, an excellent writer, but the story got to be so dreary, I picked up Willa Cather’s book “The Professor’s House.” I knew I could count on Willa to give me some sense of redemption – not in the self-centered way, but rather in the universal sense. Now I’m reading a book my daughter recommended to me a few years ago. It’s called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot. I didn’t know it, (and maybe I still don’t know much) but Henrietta Lacks was the person whose cells, called the HeLa cells, revolutionized the advancement of medical research, especially for cancer. Everyone is supposed to have heard of these, but few knew how scientists got their hands on them, or at least it wasn’t published readily, so Rebecca thought it time to reveal the story of the person from whom they borrowed these cells. She dug into family history, and Henrietta Lack’s daughter, Deborah became a source for the story. Rebecca quotes Deborah, in the first chapter:

I always have thought it was strange, if our mother cells done so much for medicine, how come her family can’t afford to see a doctor? Don’t make no sense. People got rich off my mother without us even knowing about them takin her cells, now we don’t get a dime. I used to get so mad about that to where it made me sick and I had to take pills. But I don’t got it in me no more to fight. I just want to know who my mother was.

 

Dream the impossible dream.

A friend of mine, interested in reading Don Quijote de la Mancha, wondered if anyone wanted to join her in the quest. Being a good friend, I said “Yes!”  In the vein of a true masochist I delved into the pages of this very old book, and reintroduced myself to the genius of Miguel de Cervantes – to his complex use of the Spanish language and natural wit to recreate the dreamy character, Don Quijote de la Mancha.

I remember the story fairly well.  DQ, off on a mission to reconstruct his life as a knight in shining armor, is in reality the opposite from what he conjures in his mind – a middle aged decrepit old man who has gone mad reading too much literature: stories like “El Mio Cid” and “Amadís de Gaula,” depicting heroes of the Spanish Medieval Age.  Don Quijote emulates everything about these characters, and aims to be like them.

In chapter two, Don Quijote, departs from his humble abode to travel under the heat and dryness of the day.  Cervantes satirically wrote: (my own translation)  “The sun ardently beat down forcefully, enough to melt the brains of anyone, if they had them at all.”   In his travels, DQ comes upon a castle, and of course he arrives wondering why he is not received with regal pomp, and circumstance.  In search of a place to rest his head he’s greeted by the keeper using words reminiscent of the piqued sarcasm of Cervantes, and paints a picture of life that is far from luxurious:  “the beds of your honor will always be hard rocks and your hours of sleep, forever wakeful.”  It’s a warning of the worst to come, for the knight-errant who just began his journey, carries only visions of grandeur in his head.

DQ continues his journey in Chapter 3, riding his skinny horse named Rocinante, on the look out for his fairly unkempt princess, Dulcinea. Soon he meets his fat and faithful side kick, his ‘escudero’ Sancho Panza.  Sancho is a faithful companion. Traveling with Quijote throughout the story, Sancho tries to convince his lord of Reality, but the hopeless Don Quijote insists on dreaming the impossible dream.

My friend and I soon concurred that perhaps we wouldn’t read the WHOLE book, in one fell swoop, for we have much else to do, but we’ll honor Cervantes in creating this great masterpiece, and plan to return to the story, in some shape and form, for to abandon Don Quijote is to abandon the truth he sought.  So like Sancho Panza, we will in spirit accompany Don Quijote through his journey, to pursue the impossible dream, for it’s the journey of all of us, and aren’t we all together, in this quest?

 

March

March

Before it goes out like a lamb, it’s time to talk about the month of March.  Looking back in history we’ll remember this month, in 2020, as the time when the Coronavirus grew exponentially in the U.S.A.  Not that we weren’t forewarned, by the explosion taking place in Europe, preceded by China, and Iran, etc., etc.. in previous weeks. Covid-19’s here to stay for a long time; forty five days until we see a peak, eighteen months before life goes back to normal, if it ever does.  In the long haul a positive outcome to this situation can be found within ourselves; find ways to beat it psychologically, remain optimistic, and use it to be more creative and productive in our personal lives.  Take up painting, the piano, reading novels, writing as much as we can.  How can we reach out, and help others, and bring them into our lives?  What special talents do we have that we can share?  There are certainly people living in a more precarious habitat, in which I’m living.  Selfishly I hope I don’t catch the virus, or be a carrier and less selfishly, pass it on to someone else.  So, where do we go from here? The answer seems to be nowhere, nothing versus something, and now being never.  What is true is we are all vulnerable.  No-one is exempt.

Back to March.  What do we know about this third month of the calendar year, which during Roman Times was the first, and not the third of the year?  A month named after the god of war, called Mars. Special days in particular yearn to be celebrated.  Such as St. Patrick’s day, on the 17th, especially by the Irish, but even if you haven’t an ounce of Irish in your blood, you’re always welcome to partake in Irish generosity.

On the 15th of March, back in Roman Times, an old woman warned Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March.”  Against his wife’s best wishes Caesar ignored the oracle and ventured out into the Roman forum only to be assassinated, and find moments before he fell to his death that his best friend had betrayed him; thus the famous quote “Et tu Brutus?”  The circumstance is a reminder to follow the wisdom of Shakespeare spoken in one of his plays “Love all, trust a few, and do wrong to no-one.”  And, in the wake of the Corona19, to listen to the oracle; Stay home, protect yourselves, and others.

Since I am a curious person, who seeks novelty in all things possible to brush away the the sins of idleness, and boredom, I have a trivia fact for March.  Does anyone know what September, October, November and December stand for?  I found this out the other day through a post by the Farmer’s Almanac.  The meaning of the prefixes of these months in latin follow suit with March being the first month of the year, for Sept means seven, Octo, eight, Nove, nine, and Dece, ten.  So whatever happened to January and February?  There is an answer, but at this moment, I can only say; “I do not know it.”  Just like there are answers surrounding the mysteries of the Coronavirus, but for now uncertainty reigns, and only time will tell.

Yesterday

The sound of droplets falling to the ground was heard.

I saw them collecting on the window pane.

like a tear collecting in the corner of a single eye,

Sliding down

like a stream of broken dreams, dissipating, slipping away.

Outside, orange crocuses popped out of the ground

making merry on a spring-like day.

In other places, people died alone, in pain, before their time.

A sad day was yesterday.

By Tiffany Creek