Death’s Lovely Banquet: Please RSVP ASAP.
August 4, 2008

O soul thou pleasest me, I thee,

Sailing these seas or on the hills, or waking in the night,

Thoughts, silent thoughts, of Time and Space and Death …

Passage to India

Walt Whitman

If we really do survive after this life, I’m already making plans; I hope to throw a dinner party on my arrival. Today, as I cleaned the rescue kennels and scrubbed the splashity green stuff (algae) out of the horses’ water buckets, (that smells like spearmint), my mind went over and over the guest list like a tongue-tip over a missing tooth. Let’s see.

God, of course, and Buddha, and the Dalai Lama, (pronounced doll-eye, not doll-ee), all incarnations. (How could you really pick and choose?) Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus, who’ll bring the fish, salt and wine between them, Ranier Maria Rilke, Jelaluddin Rumi and Rabindranath Tagore, who will give a pre-dinner poetry reading that will take our breath away. (Not that we’d need it any longer). 

Anne Frank, Princess Diana, (a vision in white), and Mother Teresa, perhaps even being the same person in three different incarnations. Hemingway and Emily Dickinson, (both at the same table), Sylvia Plath, too, (perhaps it might lift her spirits), and Anne Sexton (with a designated driver, of course).

All my dead friends. All my animals, too. The dogs will eat steak, medium-rare, without one cow being harmed. The cats will catch magical fish and clean whiskers and paws on catnip carpets. The horses will run and buck for carrots, alfalfa and ginger snaps, without a tangle in their long, flowing tails, and have all the sugar cubes they desire, balancing them on their noses first, showing off. 

Cherubs eating corn on the cob, with butter dripping off their elbows like real children, St. Nick, (the original), Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, and I know this is a guest list that will continue to come to me, even as I fall asleep. Abraham Lincoln, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Beatrix Potter, Winston Churchill. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and the amazing Houdini, who could entertain everyone after dinner. Edgar Cayce, who could answer all our burning questions when Houdini was through and the night had substantially darkened, to make for that extra thrill.

Donna Reed and James Dean, Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton playing through the cocktail hour, until Judy Garland takes over, belting it out from the smoking section. All the women in the finest gowns and the men in smart tuxedos. Flowers growing everywhere, and happy, shining faces.

Here’s To You, Mr. Hemingway.
July 22, 2008

“If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.”

Ernest Hemingway

 

The Hemingway House in Key West, Florida.

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

There are two famous birthdays I always remember: Antonio Vivaldi’s, and Ernest Hemingway’s.

If you’ve never listened to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, then your life is incomplete; but don’t fret. There’s still time. Vivaldi’s birthday is March 4th, and I remember it because I think of it as march forth, as in, march forth and conquer with exquisitely beautiful and brilliant music. Even the horses and donkey love Vivaldi, which I’m prone to blast from the porch as I muck manure in the corral. I swear Donkey even chews in synch with the violins; he’s a very cultured donkey.   

Hemingway’s birthday is even easier to remember because Ernest and I share the same birthday — July 21st. Yesterday, as I opened presents and ate cake, I toasted Mr. Hemingway as I always do, and vowed to read A Moveable Feast. I envisioned swinging in the huge rope hammock on the porch, nibbling slices of apple and cheese and reading the good parts aloud to the terriers.

 

(Photo by Marc Averette, courtesy of Wikipedia)

I can’t think of Hemingway without thinking of his band of polydactyl (six-toed) cats, happily petable and weaving between my legs. A few years back, I was lucky enough to visit the Hemingway house in Key West, which now houses the descendants of the cats he left behind. Lagging behind on the tour, I even laid down on his bed, (shhhhhhhh), when no one was left in his bedroom but me. 

 Key West – HEMINGWAY HOME & MUSEUM

There’s a beautiful piece of art on the bureau, a gift from his friend Pablo Picasso, and of course, as a writer, the other thing that stood out was his typewriter. It was easy to picture him sitting in front of it, pounding away. It’s said his favorite was the Royal portable typewriter, the Quiet Deluxe model.

 

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia) 

He even frequented Sloppy Joe’s, a famous restaurant/bar which I have to agree has excellent food and ambiance. Following his old haunts, you almost expect to see him nod hello as he passes on the streets, or find him sitting next to you at the bar, passing the salt and ketchup.

So many of our great minds succumb to depression, and worse, suicide, as did Ernest Hemingway on July 2nd, 1961, just weeks before his 62nd birthday. A memorial in Ketchum, Idaho is inscribed with his own words: 

“Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever.”

Ernest Hemingway – Idaho – 1939

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hemingway. You knew the secret writers have always known — through words there is immortality for mere mortals, minus the storms that plague us and free of the minds wired to create and destroy so exquisitely.

I bet you’d smile to see people reading your work on their Kindles. I wonder what computer you’d prefer — laptop or PC, Mac or Windows?