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Happy Birthday To Me / Hippo Bird Day Two Ewes

 

happy-birthday-1-728

There will be scampi on a plate with breakfast for my birthday.

     Quarts of wild strawberries will float in flagons of cold Rhinish wine. Blueberries will be hidden by thick cream, and golden honey shall trickle from plates of buttered toast. Braces of quail and brown roasted turkey will be surrounded by steaming heaps of new potatoes and tender ears of corn. Joints of beef and lightly curried lamb will stand between bottles of red Anjou wine and jugs of red Italian fire.

     A smoking, suckling pig will have bowls of dry, yellow squash at its feet and stacks of cheeses at its head. Pastry and pies and a foot high chocolate cake will stand among jars of brandied fruit. A cask of aged port will remain, to do justice at the end.

     Then I shall settle back to patiently await my dinner.

[Image] https://image.slidesharecdn.com/brthdy-1225815250925041-9/95/happy-birthday-1-728.jpg?cb=1225786507

A Birthday Present For Kafka – Party On!

kafka_mimi
(sweet baby Kafka)
03 July is Kafka’s birthday and –  I forgot.
I could say (without any honesty) that I am distracted by COVID-19 and all the changes (some of them fundamental) which are happening around me. {I had my own two week self-isolation to deal with}. BUT Kafka not only lived through the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, he contracted the disease. And he survived, even though he already had the tuberculosis that would eventually kill him six years later.

But, this morning, a Twitter respondent from across the Atlantic reminded me. I have already thanked her. So, I will repost my Kafka Birthday blog.

First, is the letter I have written to him (as yet, unanswered).
Second, is the diary entry I gave him for his birthday, from my novel, Kafka In The Castle.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Present / Your Future

Still in this World

A Life Away

Dear F:

You would find it perverse to be wished a “Happy” birthday, but your response would be gracious. Such is the reality you understand, and how you deal with it. I have found that your reality is actually real.

Although it will give you no pleasure – well, ‘little’ pleasure – you are correct in all your observations.

Governments become the tools of the bureaucracies which run them. It doesn’t matter what type of Government, from the monarchy under which you lived, to the right wing horror of fascists that called themselves socialists, to the inept socialism pretending to be ‘for the people’. All three governments held their sway over the city where you spent your life. All three oppressed the people they ruled. All three looked after themselves first.

Writers are either writers or they aren’t. The urge to write encircles one like a snake around its prey. Feed it and it won’t quite squeeze you to death. You can not ignore it – even at your peril. It is with you every hour of every day, ever inquisitive and (sadly) always looking for something better.

Love is a see-saw of extremes. Every high guarantees a low. Every low reaches for a high. Every high reaches for a high. When these hills and valleys are eventually levelled, they are still desired.

Sex is highly over rated. The thing of it is, even rated fairly ’tis a consummation devoutly to be had. Yes – I know – you appreciate Shakespeare. On a par with Goethe, even if you can’t bring yourself to say the words.

People are just one damned thing after another. Of course, so many people have brought you blessings, you throw up you hands to ward off the snake. And sometimes – some few times – it loosens its grip.

There is no castle with walls thick enough to hide against the perils of being human. Which is why you never tried.

Except the grave, of course.

Except the grave.

Yours,

D

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

03 July 1918
 
The anniversary of my birth.
 
In celebration of the day, I did not make it my last.

An Elephant Tale At Christmas For Jesus

 

creche2b1

The Elephant was not oblivious to the

Christmas season, and wanted to pay his

respects. He travelled to the special clearing

where a cloud waited for him.

“It’s your Son’s birthday and I want to congratulate him.”

“Thank you.” The cloud descended further.

“It is a grand time.”

 

“I’d like to …” the elephant hesitated.

 

“Yes.”

 

“You sent your son for us to see, so we

would believe.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Well, I want to …”

 

“Spit it out,” said God. “You’re fired up.”

 

“I want to see you.” The elephant spoke

quickly. “I don’t have to see you, you know

that.  I believed even before you talked to

me. But I want to see you; it would mean so

much. I wasn’t around for the Baby, but

cows and sheep and things got to see Him. I

can’t explain, but …”

 

“Go home,” said the cloud.

 

“You’re not angry with me?” said the

elephant.

 

“No.” The cloud started moving away. “It’s

an honest request.”

 

“Thank you for coming to see me,” said the

elephant.

 

“Sing some carols.” The voice was distant. “I

like them.”

 

The elephant turned and started through

the woods. He ignored the tasty leaves

within easy reach, and the rich grass near

the brook. He wanted to get home as quickly

as possible, so he could join the singing at

the Mission he knew was happening later in

the evening.

 

He trotted along the trail, snapping a branch
here and there in his haste, when he noted
the stillness, the hush which had overtaken
the forest. He slowed down and then
stopped in his tracks.
He turned his head, his small eyes squinting
into the brush. There was movement
coming toward him, and when the trees
parted, he went to his knees with a gasp.
Tears rolled from his eyes, and the golden
trunk touched his own, and gently

wiped them away.
(Image) 3.bp. blogspot.com/-Cu2l0Z3a5RY/UNX-AVe2xcI/AAAAAAAABfo/xse8jdvJsLo/s1600/creche%2B1.png

Are These Three Cruise Ships Birthday Bound?

september-19-md

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.
 
I didn’t see all three cruise ships coming in, only the last one. But, even so, why not assume that they have arrived for me on my birthday? And if it puts me in the company of Jesus and Mary, I’m more than happy to have them along. And if “All the bells on earth shall ring” and “All the Angels in Heaven shall sing”, well, I’m happy to ring & sing along with them.
 
An additional jog to this nautical (though not celestial) theme is that today is also International Talk Like A Pirate Day (which attempts to usurp the wonder of my birth). And, I bet if we search long enough, we’ll find that no pirate no where ever said “Arrr, Matey!” Still, one takes what one can get, so “Arrr, Happy Anniversary of my birth to me.”
Oh – and, yes – 19 September is indeed classed under the perfect Virgo sign.
 
Google informs me (*personally*, of course) of the high points and low points of the day (103 days left in the year)(English forces under Edward the Black Prince defeat French at Battle of Poitiers and capture the French King during the Hundred Years War)(first commercial laundry established, in Oakland, California)( Gustav Mahler’s 7th Symphony premieres in Prague).
 
I am also informed of those famous folk lucky (and, I assume, more than happy – if not ecstatic) enough to be born on the same day as I am. So far (for some reason) I am not gathered into their ranks, but Time is a fickle master and I’m not holding my breath.
 
So, later today, I will go to the harbour and cruise along beside the Cruise ships. I doubt I’ll be invited aboard, or even offered to quaff some champagne.
 
Some things, even on your birthday, you just have to do yourself.

The World Celebrates (And Rightfully So) The Birthday Of Franz Kafka

kafkafranz_02a
Yes, 03 July is Kafka’s birthday.
Imagine all the celebrations running rampant in the world.
No doubt a hearty rendition of “Hip hip hooray” and the occasional exuberant “Huzzah!”, echo through each major city and every quiet hamlet.
I have written him a letter (as yet, unanswered).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Present / Your Future

Still in this World

A Life Away

Dear F:

You would find it perverse to be wished a “Happy” birthday, but your response would be gracious. Such is the reality you understand, and how you deal with it. I have found that your reality is actually real.

Although it will give you no pleasure – well, ‘little’ pleasure – you are correct in all your observations.

Governments become the tools of the bureaucracies which run them. It doesn’t matter what type of Government, from the monarchy under which you lived, to the right wing horror of fascists that called themselves socialists, to the inept socialism pretending to be ‘for the people’. All three governments held their sway over the city where you spent your life. All three oppressed the people they ruled. All three looked after themselves first.

Writers are either writers or they aren’t. The urge to write encircles one like a snake around its prey. Feed it and it won’t quite squeeze you to death. You can not ignore it – even at your peril. It is with you every hour of every day, ever inquisitive and (sadly) always looking for something better.

Love is a see-saw of extremes. Every high guarantees a low. Every low reaches for a high. Every high reaches for a high. When these hills and valleys are eventually levelled, they are still desired.

Sex is highly over rated. The thing of it is, even rated fairly ’tis a consummation devoutly to be had. Yes – I know – you appreciate Shakespeare. On a par with Goethe, even if you can’t bring yourself to say the words.

People are just one damned thing after another. Of course, so many people have brought you blessings, you throw up you hands to ward off the snake. And sometimes – some few times – it loosens its grip.

There is no castle with walls thick enough to hide against the perils of being human. Which is why you never tried.

Except the grave, of course.

Except the grave.

Yours,

D

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

And, in my novel about him, Kafka In The Castle, I gave him this diary entry.

03 July 1918
 
The anniversary of my birth.

In celebration of the day, I did not make it my last.

A Beaver Tale For Canada On Dominion Day

canada2b52bcents2b1948

We know that Canada Day is really Dominion Day.

But – that said – there is still no better symbol for Canada than the industrious beaver. But even hard-working beavers hard-working beavers need their time at play. This is what I saw.

I was walking along the river and heard the strangest noise.

It was one of those noises which, when I found out what It was, sounded exactly as it should. A beaver was chewing at a branch on the bank of the river.

First there were small rolling noises, as the branch went through its hands.

Then the ‘gnaw gnaw gnaw’.

And then the turning noise and the cycles were repeated.

This went on fifteen minutes or so, until the beaver and I both heard noises in the river.We both saw another beaver approaching.

The beaver-at-gnaw quickly went in her direction (though I can only guess which sex was which). They swam toward each other, then rubbed faces. The approaching beaver made small bawling noises like a young calf. They rubbed bodies and sniffed each other. They then swam in different directions.

This performance – the swimming away, the languid circling, the approaches – went on for twenty minutes. A couple of times the ‘gnawing’ beaver clambered over the over beaver’s back, but this lasted just a few seconds. The beaver that had first approached rubbed noses once again, then made the bawling sounds one more time.

I never appreciated how large beavers are until one of them came up on the bank. The water was clear enough to see their feet and tail move underwater (I wonder if the portion out of the water might have the 1/10 proportion of an iceberg). The sun was setting and they became difficult to see.

However they decided to part anyway. One began to go down river toward the harbour and one headed to the other shore.

Perhaps they had just had a date. Perhaps they had just arranged for a date. Whatever the case, I had the distinct impression they were more than friends.

[Image] https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AuCz15l2mk0/VtYoT60BuQI/AAAAAAAAPKg/Zcu976hYp7Q/s1600/Canada%2B5%2BCents%2B1948.jpg

The Elephant Welcomes The Baby Jesus

b81c513a9ca06fc7b93f4325bcad11b7
The Elephant was not oblivious to the Christmas season, and wanted to pay his respects. He travelled to the special clearing where a cloud waited for him.

“It’s your Son’s birthday, I want to congratulate him.”

“Thank you.” The cloud descended further. “It is a grand time.”

“I’d like to …” the elephant hesitated.

“Yes.”

“You sent your son for us to see, so we would believe.”

“Yes.”

“Well, I want to …”

“Spit it out,” said God. “You’re fired up.”

“I want to see you.” The elephant spoke quickly. “I don’t have to see you, you know that.  I believed even before you talked to me. But I want to see you; it would mean so much. I wasn’t around for the Baby, but cows and sheep and things got to see Him. I can’t explain, but …”

“Go home,” said the cloud.

“You’re not angry with me?” said the elephant.

“No.” The cloud started moving away. “It’s an honest request.”

“Thank you for coming to see me,” said the elephant.

“Sing some carols.” The voice was distant. “I like them.”

The elephant turned and started through the woods. He ignored the tasty leaves within easy reach and the rich grass near the brook. He wanted to get home as quickly as possible so he could join the singing at the Mission he knew was happening later in the evening.

He trotted along the trail, snapping a branch here and there in his haste, when he noted the stillness, the hush which had overtaken the forest. He slowed down and then stopped in his tracks. He turned his head, his small eyes squinting into the brush.
There was movement coming toward him, and when the trees parted, he went to his knees with a gasp. Tears rolled from his eyes, and the golden trunk touched his own, and gently wiped them away.

For The Anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s Birth

leonard-cohen-frazer-harrison-staff-getty

Happily, I managed to see Leonard Cohen twice (at the beginning, and near the end) of his last extended tour. Once was in the intimate venue of a few hundred folk in a small theatre. The other was in a civic stadium holding thousands. He was exquisite in both.

In my novel, Fame’s Victim, my famous protagonist, ST (famous for his discoveries of Space/Time)  and Leonard Cohen, dine out in Montréal after attending the funeral of yet someone else famous, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

The following is part of their day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From Fame’s Victim:

At the table ST begins to pull out a chair which will put his back to the street, but Cohen clicks his tongue and moves the chair until it is nearly beside the other.

“We’ll sit together. We’ll twin their delight.”

“If they approach . . . “

Cohen winks. “You won’t have to sing a note.”

ST settles beside the poet and gives himself up to the street scene. Regardless of the chill in the air most of this early afternoon crowd have made little concession to the time of year. The women especially seem as fashionably and attractively attired as any he has seen in any public place.

“The ladies are alluring.” ST smiles.

“Antidote to the black of funeral garb.”

ST notes the usual ‘double take’ of those pedestrians who happen to look their way. Barely is eye contact made however before it is quickly removed. Couples immediately chat together, but there is not one finger pointed in their direction.

“What would you like to drink?”

ST looks away from the street and smiles as an unexpected thought takes him.

“Champagne. Will they have something decent here?”

“They will offer a selection.”

With a half-raised arm and the gesture of a finger, the waitress is summoned. Upon hearing the request she lists a half dozen champagnes. ST chooses one he knows will be as crisp as the day.

“Any food?”

“Dear God – yes.” ST smiles at the waitress then glances at the other man. “Any suggestions?”

“They stuff a chicken breast here with portebello mushrooms, feta and wild rice.” He touches his lips. “With a Greek salad it is a meal to embrace.”

“That sounds fine.” ST looks back to the waitress. “But bring the champagne now.”

“Are we to toast?” Cohen watches the waitress walk away as he speaks. “Or are we to mourn?”

“I less and less mourn the dead.” ST also watches the waitress leave. “They are lost to us but they are not lost to time.”

“Then we acknowledge?”

“Yes.” ST turns to the street. “The only time I met the Prime Minister – mere months ago – he desired we have champagne. It is a memory to share.”

“Memory – the ghost at every table.”

The noontime crowd has run its course and, just as with the café clientele, the number of people on the street become fewer. However word-of-mouth has spread and everyone makes a pass of the café. Other than being the object of glances and smiles, the two men are not interrupted. Pedestrian traffic does slow however when the bottle of champagne arrives.

“They want a show.” Cohen runs a finger over the cold bottle.

“There’s a proper way.” The waitress is winding a white napkin around the bottle.

“In tandem, don’t you think?” The poet glances at ST.

“That will make the news of the world.” ST indicates the number of cameras and video recorders among the crowd.

“It should be the news of the world.”

The waitress is not certain of his intent, but when Cohen stands beside her with a generous smile she hands him the bottle. He lets the napkin fall to the table and holds the champagne – label out – toward the street. ST gets to his feet amid the click-click-click of cameras and begins to remove the wire basket.

“You can not share my déjà vu but, trust me, Time is doubling over with laughter.”

ST begins to twist the cork, his other hand around the bottle’s neck even though Cohen holds the base. When he feels the cork start to give, he puts both thumbs against it and shoves. As it explodes into the Montreal sky the waitress holds the two glasses and, amid the welling applause from the street, ST pours the champagne.

“We begin to set the clocks at normal.” The poet takes both glasses and the flustered waitress flees.

“By drinking champagne at noon?” ST reaches for the offered glass.

“By showing we no longer need to mourn.” Cohen’s smile contains wry triumph. “Time is pulling out of the station and now we need to jump on board.”

“With a sip of champagne?” ST brings his glass to his lips.

Cohen gives a slight bow to the street. “The most effective slight-of-hand is the trick that’s seen by all.”

 

A Birthday Day A Century Apart Via Kafka And Me

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When I wrote my novel, Kafka In The Castle, filling in all of Kafka’s missing diary entries, I discovered something  interesting a few months into it. The day/month/year I was writing about, mirrored the day/month/year in which I was actually doing the writing.

For example, if the third of July was a Friday in my year, it was also Friday, 03 July in 1917. It was quite an exciting surprise, and made (I think) for more immediate writing.

Alas, my own birthday of 19 September was already filled in by Kafka, and I had nothing to do.

The following is Kafka’s actual entry for 19 September, 1917.

Following it, is the entry I gave him for  his own birthday, 03 July 1917.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

19 (September 1917)

Instead of telegram: “Very welcome station Michelob is excellent Franz Ottla” I wrote a farewell letter, and once again strongly oppressed agonies.

 

Farewell letter however, is ambiguous, as my opinion.

 

It is the age of the wound, more than its depth and proliferation, which constitutes its painfulness.

 

To be torn up again and again in the same wound canal, the countless wound operated again treated.

 

The fragile moody void essence – a telegram swaying, a letter directs it, animated it, the silence after the letter makes it dull.

 

The game of the cat with the goats. The goats are similar: Polish Jews, Uncle Siegfried, Ernst Weiß, Irma

 

Various but similar strict inaccessibility of the creator Hermann (who has now gone away without a supper and salutation, the question is whether he will come tomorrow), of Fraulein, the Marenka.

 

Basically, they are oppressed on the other side, as in front of the animals in the stable, when they are asked for something and they follow astonishingly.

 

The case is only more difficult here, because they seem so often accessible and quite understandable.

 

It is always inconceivable to me that almost anyone who can write is able to objectify the pain in pain.

 

For example, in misfortune, perhaps with the burning misfortune, and to tell someone in writing: I am unhappy.

 

Yes, I can go beyond it, and in various pranks, depending on the gift, which seems to have nothing to do with the misfortune, simply or antithetically, or with whole orchestras of associations.

 

And it is not a lie at all, and does not nurture the pain; it is simply a graceful excess of the forces at a moment when the pain has visibly exhausted all my powers to the ground of my being, which he scrapes. What is the surplus?

 

Letter to Max. Liar, vain, comedic.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From: Kafka In The Castle

03 July 1917

The date of my birth. Thirty-four years ago in a month I now dread because of the heat. I’m not much for stock-taking (thus certainly not much my father’s son.) What has been done can’t be changed, so thoughts about it are wasted effort. Lessons to be learned – that’s all. But the dreaded “future” – this is the battlefield. I’m convinced the bulk of my life is over, and any work to be done should not be delayed. Perhaps this is why I abandon things, so anxious am I to get on to the new.

In celebration of today, I did not make it my last.

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