April Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

29 Apr

BONNIE APRIL

1.Scotland.apr2018

“My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.”
Robert Burns
(My Heart’s in the Highlands)

Tartan Day is a U.S. observance celebrating Scotland on April 6 each year. It commemorates the Declaration of Arbroath signed on April 6 in 1320, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, from which the U.S. Declaration of Independence was modelled on … “It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom, for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself” (from the Declaration of Arbroath).

 

CECI N’EST PAS UN DRAPEAU

106.1973

Is Flag a painting or a flag, or both? Interested in the relationship between an artwork and its subject matter, prior to painting Flag Johns visited an exhibition of René Magritte’s work and saw a painting that directly addressed this question. It was the 1950s when Johns painted Flag, inspired by a dream in which he saw himself painting an American flag. In a time that cherished abstraction, Johns chose recognizable, commonplace subject matter. Flag is made up of dense drips and fleshy tactile brushstrokes, with pigment mixed with hot wax and strips of newspaper and fabric. In fact, Flag was a turning point for Johns. For in the paintings that followed his dramatic debut, he challenged every aspect of mid-century painting and established his reputation as an artist … From an interview in 1990: “In Savannah, Georgia, in a park, there is a statue of Sergeant William Jasper. Once I was walking through this park with my father, and he said that we were named for him. Whether or not that is in fact true or not, I don’t know. Sergeant Jasper lost his life raising the American flag over a fort.” … Jasper Johns created figurative works out of instantly recognizable symbols, and then rejected the idea that they had any defined meaning.

 

MY PET

3.Pet.westie.apr2018

Pet (noun) \ ˈpet \
a) a pampered and usually spoiled child
b) someone treated with unusual kindness or consideration

April 11 was National Pet Day to celebrate pets and encourage adoption. A pet is an animal kept primarily for a person’s company, protection, or entertainment. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, pet is found in 16th-century Scottish, northern English, and northern Irish dialects as a word for a “lamb.” By 1710 it was used for a “tame or domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship” and in 1720 it applied to “a spoiled or favored person.”  … The origin of pet might be a connection to petty, as in “little” and petty lamb becomes shortened to a pet lamb. Back to the 1300s, petty might have come from the French petit or from Celtic roots related to piece … The OED traces pet to the Scottish Gaelic peata, “a tame animal” and suggests that peata is related to Latin’s suescere, “to become used to” … So our takeaway is: A pet is an animal that’s gotten used to us.

 

SPRING RECIPE: AVOCADO EGG SALAD

4.Recipe.AvoEgg.apr2018

Finally it’s officially spring! Try this light Avocado Egg Salad that uses mashed avocado in place of mayo … Ingredients: 8 hard-boiled eggs, 1 avocado, ¼ cup chopped green onion (optional), 1 teaspoon mustard (yellow or Dijon), ¼ teaspoon paprika, salt and pepper … Chop the eggs and put them in a salad bowl, mash the avocado with a fork, then mix mashed avocado, mustard, onion, and paprika into eggs until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and black pepper and enjoy on crackers or in a sandwich.

 

DOG NEWS

5.ScottishDogs.apr2018

A West Highland White Terrier lives in my house. A very stubborn proud Scot he is. So let’s not tell him that there are other Scottish dog breeds. Of the 13 breeds that originate in Scotland, six of them are terriers: Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, Border Terrier, the aforementioned West Highland White Terrier, and the Scottish Terrier. The others are Golden Retriever, Border Collie, Rough Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, Bearded Collie, Scottish Deerhound, and Gordon Setter …. Sidebar: Westies are described as intelligent independent thinkers who have plenty of attitude for a dog their size. Tell me about it.

6.DogNews2.MozartMusic.apr2018.peterbudogonpiano

Mozart helps dogs handle stress and calm down. The Madrid Police Force has 22 detection dogs who find explosives and narcotics and participate in rescue missions. These dogs have demanding jobs that require intense focus and a high level of alertness, so they experience a lot of stress on the job. To lower their anxiety and stress levels, a specialized sound system to provide music therapy to the dogs was installed in their quarters. Research on dogs in shelters found that classical music caused dogs to sleep more and to vocalize less. Mozart is a particular favorite, found to play a comforting role on task performance and mood. Do you play classical music for your dog? (I admit that Barkley listens to Meat Loaf and Tom Petty. Maybe I ought to add a dash of calming Mozart.)

 

ENDNOTE: MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS

7.EndNote.Mary.apr2018

“To be kind to all, to like many and love a few,
to be needed and wanted by those we love,
is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.”
Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–1587) 

Mary Stuart reigned over Scotland from 1542 to 1567. She was six days old when her father, King James V, died and she acceded to the throne.

 

WE CAN HELP

8.WeCanHelp.dogfighting

This is Ray, one of the 51 dogs rescued out of Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation in 2007. How timely that April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month. Thanks to Senator Harris (D-CA) and Senator Collins (R-ME), the Help Extract Animals from Red Tape (HEART) Act was just introduced in the U.S. Senate, shining a light on the illegal world of dogfighting. Too many dogs rescued from fighting are held by the federal government for months, even years, while court cases drag on, stressing them out even more. The HEART Act will help these dogs get rehabilitated and rehomed faster and will make their owners responsible for the cost of their care, taking the burden off the local shelters who take these animals in and show them love for the first time. Contact your U.S. representative and senators in Washington, DC to urge them to support and cosponsor the HEART Act.

 

Soundtrack to this Issue

9.Soundtrack.PaulMcCartney+paulmartha.apr2018.b

The Beatles
Martha, My Dear

“When you find yourself in the thick of it, Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you, Silly girl” … Martha, My Dear, by the Beatles, might seem to be about a woman but was actually written for Paul McCartney’s dog. He wrote Martha, My Dear as a piano exercise, but then later included it on the White Album. The song was inspired by McCartney’s love for his Old English Sheepdog which he adopted in 1966. Although there was speculation that the song was about girlfriend Jane Asher, in 1977 he revealed that his dog Martha was the song’s true inspiration. “Whereas it would appear to anybody else to be a song to a girl called Martha, it’s actually a dog, and our relationship was platonic, believe me,” he said. Martha died in 1981 at the age of 15 at McCartney’s farm house in Mull of Kintyre, Scotland. 

C’mon, sing along, you know the words:

Martha, my dear
Though I spend my days in conversation, please
Remember me
Martha, my love
Don’t forget me
Martha, my dear 

Hold your head up, you silly girl
Look what you’ve done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Silly girl 

Take a good look around you
Take a good look you’re bound to see
That you and me were meant to be
With each other
Silly girl 

Hold your hand out, you silly girl
See what you’ve done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Silly girl 

Martha, my dear
You have always been my inspiration
Please, be good to me
Martha, my love
Don’t forget me
Martha, my dear.

 

Who rescued whom?

10.KEEP-YP+BarkleySo grateful for Barkley coming into my life.
Thanks to Westie Rescue of New England.

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l

12.KEEP-Buddha
“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Buddha)

 

Sources:
Declaration of Arbroath extract: National Records of Scotland
Flag pic: Flag (1955) by Jasper Johns
Dog on Piano pic: photo by Peter Bu/Flickr
We Can Help dog pic of Ray: Jacqueline Johnson
Martha, My Dear lyrics: John Lennon/John Winston Lennon/Paul McCartney/Paul James McCartney ©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

April 29, 2018
All Rights Reserved

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