GNL number 91

a report of doings at meeting #91, Sunday, January 11, 2015
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


Janus am I; oldest of potentates!
Forward I look, and backward, and below
I count as God of avenues and gates
the years that through my portals come and go.
I block the roads and drift the fields with snow,
I chase the wild fowl from the frozen fen;
My frosts congeal the rivers in their flow,
My fires light up the hearths, and hearts of men.
~~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from The Poet’s Calendar

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.
~~~H.G. Wells


Ann opened this conversation on Janus: Looking Backward and Forward/Adapting; discoverd she came equpped with a bountiful supply of not only quotes, but lyrics to several well-loved songs whose themes recalled beauties of days goneby, yet looked ahead to the dawn of the new. Needless to say, since she is the undisputed queen of the 6-wordy, she also brought a basket of them. Please see AFTERWORDS for all these.

Sue brought the results of her by-now anticipated monthly research, emphasizing Janus as implying gates and transitions. She too had many good quotes on the topic, and for these as well as the research, see AW. Sue also noted, looking back and ahead herself, that she had spent a lot of her time this last year managing complex business matters for her difficult brother, and looked forward to the freedom completing these will bring.

Our hostess Cynthia said 2014 had been a momentous year, with the arrival of Mollie dog* in their lives, and the big trip to Colorado (with Ron wanting to stay!), and then the sale of Camp Blenheim. She and Ron are looking forward to more travel in 2015, not just the Rockies but other places of natural beauty, and thinking on where they want to be in their later years. Cyn also had made a couple discoveries, for which see AW.

Nancy was looking back then ahead too, at her big move which has truly been a yearlong process—the idea, decision, deal, move, settling, surprises, problems (all aided by many people, including many here). And in that process, there has been much adapting; like having to rediscover her creative problem-solving, and change a habit she fell into for nonstop “moving”. More on this, and hopes for 2015, along with some quotes, in AW.

Gail spoke about a major event in her life this last year, the several-month process culminating in the conservation easement of 80 acres of her 160 (the other 80 with the house earmarked for Virginia). Much talk followed about the details and blessings of the program preserving this land from development, with input especially from Louise, who had bought Adair’s property with its own Schoharie County trust easement.

Also considering events of moment in 2014, Louise spoke of her daughter Ayana’s decision with mom’s input to not put money into pension funds that go right to Wall Street, but instead look into real estate. Which when A did, led her first to a bad risk out west and then a more promising site back in this region. And L added a note on her own positive “worrying”, as prayer for bad things to turn better, for individuals as well as the world.

We agreed to direct our offering this time to UNICEF’s special effort for relief of Syrian refugees in Jordan, which is supplying clothing vouchers during this unusually bitter winter there.

*footnote: Mollie was with us the whole meeting, hanging on our every word, especially if said in her direction, and was clearly trying her pointy-eared best to get Ann to play catch with her.


The birds are molting; If only man could molt also — his mind once a year its errors, his heart once a year its useless passions.
~~~James Allen

…..I prefer to see myself as the Janus, the two-faced god who is half Pollyanna and half Cassandra, warning of the future and perhaps living too much in the past—a combination of both.
~~~Ray Bradbury


Sunday, February 8, 2015 (1030), at Nancy’s house on Parkway Drive, Cobleskill. The topic will be LIGHT (Bliss, Nirvana…..or maybe even something related to Sunshine, for heavensake?)


from Ann:

Some songs:


See the dew on the sunflower
And the rose that is fading
Roses wither away
Like the sunflower
I yearn to turn my face to the dawn
I am waiting for the day


Turn your face to the moonlight
Let your memory lead you
Open up, enter in
If you find there
The meaning of what happiness is
Then a new life will begin


All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember
A time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale, cold smell of morning
The streetlamp dies in the cold air
Another night is over
Another day is dawning


I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn’t give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
Sunlight through the trees in summer
Endless masquerading
Like a flower as the dawn is breaking
The memory is fading

Touch me

It’s so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You’ll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun

~~~Andrew Lloyd Webber / T.S. Elliott

Send In the Clowns

Isn’t it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air.
Send in the clowns.

Isn’t it bliss?
Don’t you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can’t move.
Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns.

Just when I’d stopped
Opening doors,
Finally knowing
The one that I wanted was yours,
Making my entrance again
With my usual flair,
Sure of my lines,
No one is there.

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you’d want what I want –
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don’t bother, they’re here.

Isn’t it rich?
Isn’t it queer?
Losing my timing this late
In my career?
And where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns.
Well, maybe next year.

~~~Stephen Sondheim

It Was a Very Good Year

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We’d hide from the lights on the village green
When I was seventeen

When I was twenty one, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls who lived up the stair
With all that perfumed hair and it came undone
When I was twenty one

Then I was thirty five it was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means, we’d ride in limousines
Their chauffeurs would drive
When I was thirty five

But now the days grow short, I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year
It was a mess of good years

~~~Ervin Drake

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

How do I say goodbye to what we had
The good times that made us laugh
Outweigh the bad

I thought we’d get to see forever
But forever’s gone away
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

I don’t know where this road is going to lead
All I know is where we’ve been
And what we’ve been through

If we get to see tomorrow
I hope it’s worth all the wait
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

And I’ll take with me the memories
To be my sunshine after the rain
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

And I’ll take with me the memory
To be my sunshine after the rain
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

~~~Perren, Freddie / Perren, Christine Yarian

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed,
Some forever, not for better,
Some have gone and some remain,
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life, I’ve loved them all.

from the Beatles In My Life

Some Quotes:

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. ~~~Charles Dickens

No seed ever sees the flower. ~~~Zen teaching

The art of living….is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive. ~~~Alan Watts

Janus is the portal god
who looks ahead and back,
He is the god of time and change
who keeps the years on track.
Those years pass faster than before
and I grow still more grey,
at least, I muse, my hair’s still there.
That’s more than some can say.
Warm the snifter in my hands
before the fireside.
Raise a toast to absent friends,
and to years gone by.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment.
~~~Gautama Buddha

Pain makes you stronger, tears make you braver, and heartbreak makes you wiser. So thank the past for a better future. ~~~Unknown

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. ~~~Alan Kay

Some 6-wordies:

  • Looking back can comfort or chill.

  • In limbo, looking fore and aft.

  • Shade your eyes to look forward.

  • Yesterday is tomorrow, mostly with variations.

  • Testament to the past—many wrinkles.

  • It is over, move on…how?

And a word-string:

  • past, present, future…tense? perspective? belief?

  • standard operating procedure? activity? disease? cure?

  • democracy? shopping list? dental visit? haircut? poetry? children? seasons?

and one more thing from Ann, bridging last month’s topic and today’s,

a sign for all times:

Don’t Tread on


from Sue:

“In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions,[1] and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.

“Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.”


  • “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” ~ Lyndon B. Johnson

  • “Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” ~ Victor Kiam

  • “All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” ~ Havelock Ellis

  • “I always knew looking back on my tears would bring me laughter, but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry.” ~Cat Stevens

  • “I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.” ~Charlotte Bronte

  • “Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.” ~ Bikram Choudhury

  • “Both in thought and in feeling, even though time be real, to realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom.” ~Bertrand Russell

  • “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

from Cyn:

During the big clean-out, at the bottom of a stack of stuff, appeared the copied entries so far, of Anna’s travel journal, and it is now being readied for the rest of the job; and then we can present it to her at a nice lunch date!

Also we were wondering about the saying, going to “hell in a handbasket”, and Cynthia’s research/instinct tells her it must have followed from that other phrase ” heaven in a wheelbarrow”!

from Nancy:

Some of that problem-solving I mentioned above: Efforts vs. the cold, like hanging the windows with fake curtains (old flannel sheets) on fake curtain rods with clothespins and duct tape, and cooking soup everyday for eating, heating and sweetening the air, and using the garage as not only an invigorating gym to ride stationary bike in, but a fine freezer for soup.

And in answer to the question What do I expect to be adapting to this new year—–

  • More house realities no doubt, including the need for more permanent fixes.

  • (And maybe going SOUTH for part of the winter?)

  • And since more space is suggesting not only more maintenance, but more STUFF, need to vow against that and keep reducing and simplifying.

  • And especially, beyond this maintaining of home and health, the need for some sus-taining too—-more than just surviving, more like fulfilling some needs of your soul. And some of mine would be: planting more green things, doing more writing, and more music, more photographs and other ways of finding beauty, and somehow spreading helpful news, somehow helping in this world. Be with others more. Try new things, keep learning.

and a couple quotes:

  • The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. ~~~Albert Einstein

  • “Do you want to change?”
    “It’s the only evidence of life.”
    ~~~Evelyn Waugh, in Brideshead Revisited

and an excerpt from a note re: #90 on SIGNS, from our friend in Herkimer County,
Donna Veeder:

This was a good one. Made me think. I thought of another T-shirt sign for that organization, Syracuse Cultural Workers:


I learned to be a sign painter at Hume-Fogg Technical High School in Nashville. We had to take brush lettering and also do lettering by pen: calligraphy. I have used it a lot over my lifetime. It is now a lost art, like learning to draw the human figure before you could call yourself an artist. It is true that old women in groups are anti-war. I have not met with any that were not anti-war, to a person. I tell my brother that and he just cannot understand. I used to tell Bub, too, my older brother and he could not understand it either. But old women know the signs and understand that war does not solve problems; it just changes the ones we have to deal with, often making them worse. Such as watching the young who are damaged with no legs or lost arms or burned faces trying to re-learn how to live. We are all Cassandra who told her brother the king, “Do not let those Greeks inside the gate with that big horse!” He thought she was nuts. And he and Troy died because of it. It occurred to me the other night that what the world needs to do at this point is to learn how to be friends. Nations becoming real friends. We are friends now only if the other nation can do something for us, pay us back. We would, if real friends, be able to listen to one another, be with one another, think of one another as actual human beings. You cannot easily blow up a friend. You can blow up a “thing” as people in the services are taught to think of some others as ‘the enemy.’ It would be really hard to blow up a friend, even for a good cause.

And an editor’s note:

We talked more about recipes this time, and were reminded that we have wanted for years to do a Skippy cook book, so how about we all bring a recipe or two next time toward that very thing?


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