Wednesday, August 31, 2016

There's always time for football, I mean soccer, I mean football, or Hull City, eat your heart out

Atlanta is an alphabet soup kind of town. We are home to NFL*, MLB**, MiLB,*** NBA****, WNBA***** and MLL******teams, not to mention PGA******* and LPGA******** events. Twice we have been home to NHL********* teams as well, but the Flames left us to go to Calgary and the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and changed their name to the Jets. Not enough ice here, I suppose.

*National Football League
**Major League Baseball
***Minor League Baseball
****National Basketball Association
*****Women's National Basketball Association
******Major League Lacrosse
*******Professional Golfers Association
********Ladies Professional Golf Association
*********National Hockey League

But now, in addition to all of those, we will become in 2017 a MLS********* town as well.

**********Major League Soccer

Yes, it's true! The team is called Atlanta United -- do I hear echoes of Manchester? -- and here is its emblem:
I left the pièce de résistance until last -- a three minute and 22 seconds fly-through of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, currently under construction, which the Atlanta United Football Club (soccer) will share with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League.

Monday, August 22, 2016

One solitary life

This post has been one hundred ten years in the making. It's about my Dad, who was born in 1906 and died in 1967. When I say "Dad" please do not make the mistake of thinking that I am referring to my biological father, about whom I know very little, only his name, his place and year of birth, and his place and year of death. Other than those few facts, my biological father has always been a non-entity to me, what our old blogging friend Putz used to call "an ignoble enigma."

No, this post is about the man who married my mother when I was five and raised me from then on. He was my Dad. Sometimes I loved him, sometimes I hated him, sometimes I feared him, but at long last I have come to respect him as a man who tried to do the best he could in spite of his many flaws. The reason is simple: I have a few of those too.

I apologize (British: apologise) in advance for the orientation of a couple of the photographs. I have worked diligently to get them to cooperate but to no avail, alas. If you are reading this post on a smart phone or an iPad you should be able to manage the problem simply by rotating the device, but if you are reading this post on a desktop computer it might prove a bit more difficult unless you stand on your head.

I'm not sure, but I think this may be Dad as an infant in Tomah, Wisconsin, in 1906. This picture was made available by my cousin Barbara Brague Bradley who lives in Arizona, so it might be her father (my uncle Art) instead, but it looks so much like another photo I used to have (but have misplaced) of my Dad in his christening gown that I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Dad was always the blondest of the Bragues.

Dad was the youngest of five boys. There was also a baby sister, but she died in infancy. Here are all the brothers after the family had moved from Tomah to La Crosse, Wisconsin, on the Mississippi River. If you start at the top left and go clockwise, the brothers are arranged in order by age: Art (the oldest), John, Leo, Dan, and my dad, who went by his middle name, Ray, but was sometimes called Ted. Because my uncle Art is wearing his Army uniform and served in France, this photo must have been made around 1917 or 1918. My dad would have been 11 or 12 at the time. Dad's real name was Clifford R. Brague but when he was young he signed his name Ray C. Brague, inverting his first and middle names, and most people knew him as Ray. I never heard him called Ray. By the time he came into my life he was always called Ted.

I forgot to tell you that I don't know how to crop photos either. If you look closely, you can see my cousin Barbara's fingertips, out of focus, at the upper right.

In the next photo, made a couple of years later, the brothers are joined by their parents (my paternal grandparents), Edith Lillian (Johnson) Brague (1877 - 1938) and Elmer Ellsworth Brague (1866 - 1949). They are still at the house in La Crosse, but Art was no longer in the Army and Leo had enlisted in the Navy.

Around 1921 the Brague family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they remained for many years. My grandparents and all of my uncles are buried there. Most of the grandchildren, though, have scattered to the four winds.

Here is my Dad at around thirty years of age with his parents in Cedar Rapids. By this time Art had four children of his eventual six (Dick, Shirley, Peggy, Isabel, Sandra, and Barbara), and John had three daughters (Trudy, Elaine, and Daveen). Leo married but never had children. Dan, father of two small children (Donald and Evelyn), died of a brain tumor in 1936 and my grandmother died in 1938. My dad enlisted in the Navy when America entered World War II and left Iowa behind forever.

This post is getting a bit long so I have decided to split it into two parts. Perhaps I will have solved the upside-down photo problem by the time Part Two is published. Hope springs eternal in the human breast. For now, you don't have to stand on your head (unless you really want to, of course).

Thank God for small favors.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Tale of Two Billys

If there is anything people are less interested in than poetry, it's probably poetry about poetry. (The alliteration in the previous sentence is -- wait for it -- palpable.) Nevertheless, this post contains five poems about poetry by two poets, both named Billy, who were born four days apart 75 years ago. One is famous and one is not famous at all except in a very small circle of bloggers. At the end of the post their identities will be revealed.

1. The Trouble with Poetry

The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night --
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky --

the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.

But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.

And along with that, the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.

And what an unmerry band of thieves we are,
cut-purses, common shoplifters,
I thought to myself
as a cold wave swirled around my feet
and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea,
which is an image I stole directly
from Lawrence Ferlinghetti --

to be perfectly honest for a moment --

the bicycling poet of San Francisco
whose little amusement park of a book
I carried in a side pocket of my uniform
up and down the treacherous halls of high school.

2. Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

3. The Thing About His Poetry Is

The thing about his poetry is
it just lies there, flat as the proverbial
pancake, it doesn’t lift off the page
like a rocket bound for some distant
world, it doesn’t make your brain want to
soar into the blue. The herons are

never flying in his poetry and no stars
are ever mentioned; he wouldn’t recognize
a constellation if one hit him square
in the face. Your heart with rapture
never fills, there are no fields of
daffodils with which it can dance, in fact

dancing itself is pretty much
frowned upon in his economy,
it’s all business with him, cut and dried.
If his poetry were the financial section
of the newspaper there would always be
a bear market without the slightest hint

of hope, and in spite of all this
the public can’t get enough of him,
his books are all best sellers and
he’s making money hand over fist
even though the thing about his poetry is
it just lies there, flat as the proverbial


4. Poem, Untitled

The page is blank, like my life.
All sorts of subjects flit through my mind
On the way to somewhere else
But not one settles down, makes itself
Comfortable, takes root, or starts to grow
Upward toward the light that arches
High above, beckoning all things to
Itself, not a single one.

The page is empty, like my brain.
I want to write a poem
But nothing comes to mind,
Only a formless maelstrom,
Swirling like one of the
Hundred million galaxies
Out there in the cosmos,
Moving toward the light.

..................................5. The Writer

....................With words alone, he paints
....................from the palette of his mind,
.........................hues and tints
....................until he sees the exact shade
....................he wants.

....................With words alone, she chips away
....................rough edges of meaning,
..............................the solid rock
....................until the long-sought shape

....................With words alone, she pins and drapes
....................original ideas
....................over the naked manikin page,
.........................tucking in a bit of material,
....................snipping off
....................a dangling thread
....................dropping thoughts easily as hemlines.

....................With words alone, he composes
....................irresistible music,
.........................seducing the ear,
.........................searching for a particular chord,
....................the one right sound his words must make
....................for echoes linger.

(1) Billy Collins*, from The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems, Random House, 2007.
(2) Billy Collins*, from The Apple that Astonished Paris, University of Arkansas Press, 1996.
(3) Billy Ray Barnwell**, from Chapter 33 of Billy Ray Barnwell Here blog.
(4) Billy Ray Barnwell**, from Chapter 33 of Billy Ray Barnwell Here blog.
(5) Billy Ray Barnwell**, from Chapter 33 of Billy Ray Barnwell Here blog.

*William James Collins, born March 22, 1941, poet laureate of the United States, 2001-2003.

**nom de plume of blogger Robert Henry Brague, born March 18, 1941. These three poems were not written in the style of Billy Collins. At the time I composed them, several years ago, I had never read anything by him.

I suppose a case could be made that by juxtaposing three of my poems with two by Mr. Collins I have reached new heights in insolence, impudence, and arrogance, not to mention downright chutzpah.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fine, thanks, and you?

Lots of words today but no pictures.

My back went out (translation: into muscular spasms) about a week ago and recovery has been slow (translation: virtually non-existent). For the first time in our married life except for the times when I happened to be away on business trips I slept in a different bed from Mrs. RWP last night. It finally dawned on us that the mattress in one of our other bedrooms is firmer than the one in our room. Getting out of bed or even just turning over has been excruciating. For the record, changing beds didn't seem to help. Our chiropractor, who used to say "Ice is nice" for lower back pain, has changed his tune and is now telling us that recent studies recommend using cold for crisis pain and heat for chronic pain. Accordingly, not knowing whether mine is chronic or crisis and not knowing exactly what to do, I have been alternating between 15-20 minutes of ice pack and 15-20 minutes of heating pad. Some days it helps and some days it doesn't. Maybe I'm just making things worse.

It has now been about four months since the surgery on Mrs. RWP's left eye and two months since the surgery on her right eye. Her vision continues to fluctuate, probably because the eyes are at different stages of healing. The surgeon said this would happen, but Mrs. RWP finds it a bit disconcerting. Ever since April 15th I have been putting various kinds of drops into first one, then both, of her eyes. These have included Prednisolone 1% ophthalmic solution (a steroid), Vigamox, Oasis Tears Plus (non-prescription), and strangest of all, serum teardrops made from her own blood. Three times now we have made the trek into Atlanta so that the nice people can extract seven or eight vials of of her blood at a time and centrifuge the bejeebers out of it in order to separate the red blood cells from the serum. After a couple of hours they then give the clear stuff back to us in ten or eleven little bottles. The surgeon said using this stuff will help Mrs. RWP's eyes recover faster because it contains her very own antibodies. Each time we go, the bill is $200.00 and it is not covered by Medicare Part D since the drops do not contain any pharmaceuticals.

Today my grandson Matthew leaves Kenya for home after an eleven-week stay. His dad tells me it will involve about 18 hours of flying and 30 hours of travel overall. He will be home for one week and then depart again for his second year at university. He is one busy fellow. I may have mentioned this before -- I can't remember -- but I find it interesting that our three visitors to Kenya this summer -- Matthew, Noah, and Nicholas -- have had completely different itineraries. One flew from Atlanta to New York to Dubai to Nairobi. One flew from Atlanta to Amsterdam to Nairobi. And one flew from Atlanta to London to Johannesburg to Nairobi. And boy, are their arms tired.

Yesterday, as we were sitting in the wing chairs in the sitting area of our bedroom and talking on speakerphone to a friend from church, suddenly a mama deer and a little spotted fawn came into our back yard and stopped not ten feet from our bedroom window. After a few seconds of "freeze time" during which we exclaimed our "oohs" and "ahs" and pondered getting a camera, they turned and left the same way they came. We live in the middle of a large housing development and I have never seen deer in our subdivision before, let alone at our window. It was a moment to remember.

This post is all discombobulated, but it cannot be helped.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lijf goes on, dai after dai

Last evening, in the space of half an hour or so, the thunder roared and the lightning flashed and the rain poured down and poured down and poured down some more until my rain gauge contained 2.5 inches of the stuff. That is what we used to call in Florida "a light shower."

Maybe it was all that thunder and lightning and pouring rain, I don't know, but this morning I woke up thinking about the Bible that John Wycliffe translated into English from the Latin Vulgate in 1382.

I know. I'm weird.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you the first three chapters of Genesis from the Wycliffe Bible. It takes a little getting used to, but it is plainly recognizable as English, once you figure out that a u might be a v, a y in the middle of a word might be either a short i or a long i, and a y at the beginning of a word might even be a g. There might be an extra e at the end of some words. Hence, heuene and erthe becomes heaven and earth in today's English.

It's fascinating to behold and to consider how much the language has changed in six hundred years. It is still recognizable, but often barely, such as lyuynge is living and halewide is hallowed (the word "sanctified" was used instead in the King James Version of 1611). I enjoyed that the Lord God formede man of the sliym of erthe in Chapter 2 instead of the more familiar dust of the ground, but dust does appear in Chapter 3.

Some words are gone completely now -- clepide (called) and feller (more subtle) are examples -- and some take a little extra work to figure out, like conseyuyngis (conceivings) and hosebonde (husband) and myddis (midst).

Have some fun. Come in out of the rain. Try reading Wycliffe for yourself:

1 In the bigynnyng God made of nouyt heuene and erthe.
2 Forsothe the erthe was idel and voide, and derknessis weren on the face of depthe; and the Spiryt of the Lord was borun on the watris.
3 And God seide, Liyt be maad, and liyt was maad.
4 And God seiy the liyt, that it was good, and he departide the liyt fro derknessis; and he clepide the liyt,
5 dai, and the derknessis, nyyt. And the euentid and morwetid was maad, o daie.
6 And God seide, The firmament be maad in the myddis of watris, and departe watris fro watris.
7 And God made the firmament, and departide the watris that weren vndur the firmament fro these watris that weren on the firmament; and it was don so.
8 And God clepide the firmament, heuene. And the euentid and morwetid was maad, the secounde dai.
9 Forsothe God seide, The watris, that ben vndur heuene, be gaderid in to o place, and a drie place appere; and it was doon so.
10 And God clepide the drie place, erthe; and he clepide the gadryngis togidere of watris, the sees. And God seiy that it was good;
11 and seide, The erthe brynge forth greene eerbe and makynge seed, and appil tre makynge fruyt bi his kynde, whos seed be in it silf on erthe; and it was doon so.
12 And the erthe brouyte forth greene erbe and makynge seed bi his kynde, and a tre makynge fruyt, and ech hauynge seed by his kynde. And God seiy that it was good.
13 And the euentid and morwetid was maad, the thridde dai.
14 Forsothe God seide, Liytis be maad in the firmament of heuene, and departe tho the dai and niyt; and be tho in to signes, and tymes, and daies, and yeeris;
15 and shyne tho in the firmament of heuene, and liytne tho the erthe; and it was doon so.
16 And God made twei grete liytis, the gretter liyt that it schulde be bifore to the dai, and the lesse liyt that it schulde be bifore to the niyt;
17 and God made sterris; and settide tho in the firmament of heuene, that tho schulden schyne on erthe,
18 and that tho schulden be bifore to the dai and nyyt, and schulden departe liyt and derknesse. And God seiy that it was good.
19 And the euentid and the morwetid was maad, the fourthe dai.
20 Also God seide, The watris brynge forth a `crepynge beeste of lyuynge soule, and a brid fleynge aboue erthe vndur the firmament of heuene.
21 And God made of nouyt grete whallis, and ech lyuynge soule and mouable, whiche the watris han brouyt forth in to her kyndis; and God made of nouyt ech volatile bi his kynde. And God seiy that it was good;
22 and blesside hem, and seide, Wexe ye, and be ye multiplied, and fille ye the watris of the see, and briddis be multiplied on erthe.
23 And the euentid and the morwetid was maad, the fyuethe dai.
24 And God seide, The erthe brynge forth a lyuynge soul in his kynde, werk beestis, and `crepynge beestis, and vnresonable beestis of erthe, bi her kyndis; and it was don so.
25 And God made vnresonable beestis of erthe bi her kyndes, and werk beestis, `and ech crepynge beeste of erthe in his kynde. And God seiy that it was good; and seide,
26 Make we man to oure ymage and liknesse, and be he souereyn to the fischis of the see, and to the volatilis of heuene, and to vnresonable beestis of erthe, and to ech creature, and to ech `crepynge beest, which is moued in erthe.
27 And God made of nouyt a man to his ymage and liknesse; God made of nouyt a man, to the ymage of God; God made of nouyt hem, male and female.
28 And God blesside hem, and seide, Encreesse ye, and be ye multiplied, and fille ye the erthe, and make ye it suget, and be ye lordis to fischis of the see, and to volatilis of heuene, and to alle lyuynge beestis that ben moued on erthe.
29 And God seide, Lo! Y haue youe to you ech eerbe berynge seed on erthe, and alle trees that han in hem silf the seed of her kynde, that tho be in to mete to you;
30 and to alle lyuynge beestis of erthe, and to ech brid of heuene, and to alle thingis that ben moued in erthe, and in whiche is a lyuynge soule, that tho haue to ete; and it was doon so.
31 And God seiy alle thingis whiche he made, and tho weren ful goode. And the euentid and morwetid was maad, the sixte day.

1 Therfor heuenes and erthe ben maad perfit, and al the ournement of tho.
2 And God fillide in the seuenthe dai his werk which he made; and he restide in the seuenthe dai fro al his werk which he hadde maad;
3 and he blesside the seuenthe dai, and halewide it; for in that dai God ceesside of al his werk which he made of nouyt, that he schulde make.
4 These ben the generaciouns of heuene and of erthe, in the day wherynne the Lord God made heuene and erthe,
5 and ech litil tre of erthe bifore that it sprong out in erthe; and he made ech erbe of the feeld bifore that it buriownede. For the Lord God had not reyned on erthe, and no man was that wrouyte erthe;
6 but a welle stiede out of the erthe, and moistide al the hiyere part of erthe.
7 Therfor the Lord God formede man of the sliym of erthe, and brethide in to his face the brething of lijf; and man was maad in to a lyuynge soule.
8 Forsothe the Lord God plauntide at the bigynnyng paradis of likyng, wherynne he settide man whom he hadde formed.
9 And the Lord God brouyte forth of the erthe ech tre fair in siyt, and swete to ete; also he brouyte forth the tre of lijf in the middis of paradis, and the tre of kunnyng of good and of yuel.
10 And a ryuer yede out fro the place of likyng to moyste paradis, which ryuer is departid fro thennus in to foure heedis.
11 The name of the o ryuer is Fyson, thilke it is that cumpassith al the lond of Euilath, where gold cometh forth,
12 and the gold of that lond is the beste, and there is foundun delium, that is, a tree of spicerie, and the stoon onychyn;
13 and the name to the secounde ryuer is Gyon, thilke it is that cumpassith al the loond of Ethiopie;
14 forsothe the name of the thridde ryuer is Tigris, thilke goith ayens Assiriens; sotheli the fourthe ryuer is thilke Eufrates.
15 Therfor the Lord God took man, and settide hym in paradis of likyng, that he schulde worche and kepe it.
16 And God comaundide to hym and seide, Ete thou of ech tre of paradis;
17 forsothe ete thou not of the tre of kunnyng of good and of yuel; for in what euere dai thou schalt ete therof, thou schalt die bi deeth.
18 And the Lord God seide, It is not good that a man be aloone, make we to hym an help lijk to hym silf.
19 Therfor whanne alle lyuynge beestis of erthe, and alle the volatils of heuene weren formed of erthe, the Lord God brouyte tho to Adam, that he schulde se what he schulde clepe tho; for al thing that Adam clepide of lyuynge soule, thilke is the name therof.
20 And Adam clepide bi her names alle lyuynge thingis, and alle volatils, and alle vnresonable beestis of erthe. Forsothe to Adam was not foundun an helpere lijk hym.
21 Therfore the Lord God sente sleep in to Adam, and whanne he slepte, God took oon of hise ribbis, and fillide fleisch for it.
22 And the Lord God bildide the rib which he hadde take fro Adam in to a womman, and brouyte hir to Adam.
23 And Adam seide, This is now a boon of my boonys, and fleisch of my fleisch; this schal be clepid virago, `for she is takun of man.
24 Wherfor a man schal forsake fadir and modir, and schal cleue to his wijf, and thei schulen be tweyne in o fleisch.
25 Forsothe euer eithir was nakid, that is, Adam and his wijf, and thei weren not aschamed.

1 But and the serpent was feller than alle lyuynge beestis of erthe, whiche the Lord God hadde maad. Which serpent seide to the womman, Why comaundide God to you, that ye schulden not ete of ech tre of paradis?
2 To whom the womman answerde, We eten of the fruyt of trees that ben in paradis;
3 sothely God commaundide to vs, that we schulden not eate of the fruyt of the tre, which is in the myddis of paradijs, and that we schulden not touche it, lest perauenture we dien.
4 Forsothe the serpent seide to the womman, ye schulen not die bi deeth;
5 for whi God woot that in what euere dai ye schulen ete therof, youre iyen schulen be opened, and ye schulen be as Goddis, knowynge good and yuel.
6 Therfore the womman seiy that the tre was good, and swete to ete, and fair to the iyen, and delitable in bi holdyng; and sche took of the fruyt therof, and eet, and yaf to hir hosebande, and he eet.
7 And the iyen of bothe weren openid; and whanne thei knowen that thei weren nakid, thei sewden the leeues of a fige tre, and maden brechis to hem silf.
8 And whanne thei herden the vois of the Lord God goynge in paradijs at the wynd after myddai, Adam and his wijf hidden hem fro the face of the Lord God in the middis of the tre of paradijs.
9 And the Lord God clepide Adam, and seide to hym, Where art thou?
10 And Adam seide, Y herde thi vois in paradijs, and Y drede, for Y was nakid, and Y hidde me.
11 To whom the Lord seide, Who forsothe schewide to thee that thou were nakid, no but for thou hast ete of the tre of which Y comaundide to thee that thou schuldist not ete?
12 And Adam seide, The womman which thou yauest felowe to me, yaf me of the tre, and Y eet.
13 And the Lord seide to the womman, Whi didist thou this thing? Which answerde, The serpent disseyued me, and Y eet.
14 And the Lord God seide to the serpent, For thou didist this, thou schalt be cursid among alle lyuynge thingis and vnresonable beestis of erthe; thou schalt go on thi brest, and thou schalt ete erthe in alle daies of thi liif;
15 Y schal sette enemytees bitwixe thee and the womman, and bitwixe thi seed and hir seed; sche schal breke thin heed, and thou schalt sette aspies to hir heele.
16 Also God seide to the womman, Y schal multiplie thi wretchidnessis and thi conseyuyngis; in sorewe thou schalt bere thi children; and thou schalt be vndur power of the hosebonde, and he schal be lord of thee.
17 Sothely God seyde to Adam, For thou herdist the voys of thi wijf, and hast ete of the tree, of which Y comaundide to thee that thou schuldist not ete, the erthe schal be cursid in thi werk; in traueylis thou schalt ete therof in alle daies of thi lijf;
18 it schal brynge forth thornes and breris to thee, and thou schalt ete eerbis of the erthe;
19 in swoot of thi cheer thou schalt ete thi breed, til thou turne ayen in to the erthe of which thou art takun; for thou art dust, and thou schalt turne ayen in to dust.
20 And Adam clepide the name of his wijf Eue, for sche was the moder of alle men lyuynge. And the Lord God made cootis of skynnys to Adam and Eue his wijf, and clothide hem; and seide, Lo!
22 Adam is maad as oon of vs, and knowith good and yuel; now therfore se ye, lest perauenture he putte his hond, and take of the tre of lijf, and ete, and lyue with outen ende.
23 And the Lord God sente hym out of paradijs of likyng, that he schulde worche the erthe, of which he was takun.
24 And God castide out Adam, and settide bifore paradis of lykyng cherubyn, and a swerd of flawme and turnynge aboute to kepe the weie of the tre of lijf.

Test from phone

Now is the time for all good men to blah blah blah Well, what do you know! I did it! From my phone! For the first time! Live and learn,...