“The whole country about them abounded in beautiful walks. The high downs which invited them from almost every window of the cottage to seek the exquisite enjoyment of air on their summits, were a happy alternative when the dirt of the valleys beneath shut up their superior beauties…”

 reflection

My inner Austen emerged today from its deeply buried cavern. One submerged by the rocks of diligence, lo! these twenty years past. Yet, I am already “off-topic.” All this to say, I took a walk. A walk alongside a somewhat meandering path. Near this very path, there is a black-top, a two-lane road, which parallels the woodland. It is here, with the windshield before my eyes, my view is often filtered. I am one step removed from the visceral experience nature offers generously.

Today was a different day. I accepted the gift of a walk.

ranculus

I set out doggedly, à pied, and with a broad swath of time before me. A visit to a friend where she is in the midst of joyfully creating her new life – a new one, at another end of the path. Along my way to her, this is what I found: sounds of birds – a flicker; a frog  croaking somewhere – unseen –  from a muddy pond;  creek water running over rocks furiously, and then, gently. This is what I viewed: a virescent canopy towering above me, its permutations burgeoning upward, the sun breaking through all this to illuminate ranunculus ficaria in all her abundant joy, and others with their dogs and those tails meteoric metronomes tracking only the sounds of their smells.

creek

This interlude, this remarkably simple choice gave me “the exquisite enjoyment of air.” Now, to re-read Miss Austen.

 

Dedicated the Friends of Sligo Creek, and of course, to my friend.


Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Project Gutenberg, 25 May 2008. Web. 4 June 2017. goo.gl/HrARBx.

Cleveland OH

01/04/2017

The thing about being a teacher-librarian is that your students are always in your thoughts. Regardless of where you are. Regardless of the calendar. Whether it reads “closed for Spring vacation” or not, there they are. Front and slightly off-center.

A brief drive to Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to “get away” proves no exception to my pronouncement. At the sight of artists’ hastily scribbled lyrics, notes, and even report cards, the only two words that popped into my head – visually I will add – are “primary documents.” Of course, the next hyperlinking thought went directly to my students – those lovable Bulldogs at St. Albans SchoolN.Young2.primary.jpg in Washington, D.C.

This is for you, my Bulldogs, young and even younger! Rock on.

Quiet visits

25/03/2017

garage3Some visits are quiet ones. The day is routine. Walking in any weather. Walking along the streets of a small town or the wide alleyways behind historic homes where even the garage curtains speak of a gentility. Big plates of pasta balanced on the laps of the three sisters, sitting on chairs and sofas. We are tucked in snugly on this chilly night. Mystery hour. It is about relationships. It is a slow story. One that takes time and nuance. So too, with my sisters and me. It is about relationship. Slowly moving through decades, through years of upheaval and years of the steady, almost imperceptible changes in each of us. It is a quiet visit. It is a visit that is full.

I return home, here, with sunny skies and warm breezes. Shy windflowers at my garden gate wave their greetings, faces filled with light. I am filled with thoughts of family as my key unlocks all that is before me.windflowers3.jpg

Sharp intervals

17/03/2017

wire3

Sharp Intervals 

Assaulted by tone

The guise of caring Read the rest of this entry »

A Reminder

31/12/2016

onionA Reminder

The onion gives tears.
Crying for only the joy
you bring me each day.
While tartness of the cherries
seduces me as you smile.
Tina Hudak   ©2016

This is my attempt writing a Tanka poem which I dedicate to my students at St. Alban’s School in Washington, D.C. They inspire me. They are my onions and my cherries. I expect & hope for them to supass me in 2017. cherry

A blessed winter

21/12/2016

2017newyear

EVENSONG

Not in the gutteral fragments

of the broken words,

But in the singing of the birds,

in the whispering of the leaves

Where life speaks, and the

soul find rest.

Tina Hudak 1995©
Watercolor by Sam Graul 1996©

Fleas

05/11/2016

Moments when exhaustion meets human nature puts me back in touch with my animal nature. And so it begins. Each evening, after a ten-hour work day at school, I curl up on the sofa with cat in lap to groom him. Running my fingers through his fur, up and down his back, stopping to feel bumps on his head, I am a  ruthless mama searching for fleas to kill. This is a generous season for insects. Fall brings dry, hot weather when it should be damp and cool. Eggs hatch. Gnats fly. Fleas are carried in on the back of my wild feline.

Now, confined until the first freeze, we both have lost our ways. We strain against confinement, routine; we mourn the loss of the unexpected. There is no balance, for neither feels the joy of feral surge. We are tethered to room after room after room.

Damn this weather. Damn these fleas.  

cat

Nuclear war

30/10/2016

cam01126

During the 1960s, I grow up under the constant threat of nuclear war. As an elementary student, I practice “duck and cover” regularly in my hometown of Bethlehem, PA. A booming steel town where everyone is certain we would be a first target; in the 1970s this fear haunts my dreams; the 1980s, the fear of nuclear war surfaces again. Non-profit organizations rally our generation to action resulting in strong advocacy for peace by women of my generation*. I play my small part through art – “duck and cover” long gone as real response. Now, it is back. In today’s Washington Post Op-Ed section appears a piece – “Why is Trump suddenly talking about World War III?“.

A coincidence. There is this, dear reader. I participate in a wonderful online writing group – Juncture – with Philadelphia writer Beth Kephart. She sends out a “new” writing prompt – not about war, not about childhood – but this is my response.

She seems so tall, my mother, as I look up at her sideways. Her profile, shoulder-length hair, dark and thick, falls in gentle waves. The white shirtwaist dress worn with a large leather belt around her slim waist. She is beautiful, my mother. She is worried. I can tell this easily, as our neighbor barges in through our front door. I see her face change – softened to furrowed brow, relaxed to taut jawline, ruby red lips at the edge of a smile to one that is frowning.

I pull at her hand, the one where her arm rests against her side while the other holds her waist tightly. She turns her head slowly, tilted so she can meet my questions. It is only then I see the fear. Her eyes are filled up with fear. I know this is bad. I know not to ask, but I will. I need to know what news walked in so boldly without a second thought to us. Yes, right through that door – the one that is always open, always welcoming.  She speaks softly – not to me, not to anyone but herself. Perhaps she needs hearing this said aloud. Her voice needing to carry the weight of the words. “Kennedy is sending ships toward Cuba. This is World War III.”

Truth told. I do not believe in coincidence.


* This calligraphy exhibit, organized by Phyllis Goodnow in 1984, travelled to many sites including the U.S. House of Representatives, Cannon Office Bldg. in the Rotunda, Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. Hood College in Frederick, Md. and more.
Applebaum, Anne. “Why Is Trump Suddenly Talking About World War III?” The Washington Post [Washington, D.C.] 30 Oct. 2016, Metropolitan Washington ed., sec. A: A21. The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

Hudaksm

5 September 2016, Labor Day, U.S.

Milý dedo,

There is a muchness in my life, and you are the  invisible force in its creation. Will language be a barrier? My tongue is ready to imitate the “chs” and rolling “r”s, but I am so sorry to disappoint you, drahá dedo, but my few Slovak words have slipped away from my childhood, along with you.

For your son, my father – Joseph, thank you. Resemblance between father and son was obvious. There are few black and white photographs of you; ones that my tety proudly display in their slightly tarnished silver frames. There you sit in your stiff, formal suit looking stern and slightly possessive of your wife, my baba. Yes, dedo, my father had that look, your face, your lines, although his evoked protectiveness, rather than possessive. Perhaps you were that way too? Protective of your fifteen children and wife. Yes. I will think of you in this light. For you are my beloved father’s father.

Joseph, your son, too, had a strong Catholic faith. This devotion was not only to be found in the pews of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, but sitting at the kitchen table, sharing the five o’clock dinner, only after we all were seated; after the blessing, hands folded.  This, every day of his long life. Reliably loving. This must be what you carried with you from Demite to Bethlehem.  In your bones and blood. This faith. This steadfastness. How else could you, #800111040064, have boarded that massive immigrant ship with other Hungarian-Slovaks, and Finns, Swedes, Germans, Russians, all strangers going to this place unknown, speaking a language that pains the ear – no diacritical markings to soften a hard alphabet?  This devotion that could not be shaken. You gifted my father, and then, me, with these qualities. Again, ďakujem, for these gifts have saved my life.

When you fell from that forty-foot steel-mill platform in 1936, your devotion to family did not die along with you. How could you know, even then, that it would be your third-born son, Joseph, never to finished high-school, who would take up your mantle? How could you know that he would put aside his mathematical brilliance, forgo offers of college, and go to labor where you died? Working the “shift.” How could you know that he would be the son who stayed home on the South Side to care for his bereft mother and the remaining thirteen siblings? How could you know that he would never carry a bitterness for lost opportunities while his oldest and youngest brothers were college-bound, the star athletes at Catholic universities? He remained on 6th Street; never wavering, walking up and down the steep incline, metal lunch pail in hand.  Countless Good Fridays of potatoes and buttermilk.*  Atonement. My father was dutiful, môj dedko. Always.

I imagine you. Like this. Steadfast. Reserved. Dutiful. Filled with a love for your God, your new country, and above all, your family. I would have loved to hold your calloused hand, to feel the tickle of your moustache, to see the softness in those eyes that saw such hardship. I imagine this. That my father was like you. I imagine that  you would have loved me, too, moj dedo.

Vaše vnučka,  Tina Hudak

 

text-deco

* “Good Friday was a day of complete fast and abstinence during which the priest removed the purple veils from all the statues in order to reveal the crucified Christ and all His martyrs. On this day Slovaks generally ate only baked,skinned potatoes and sour milk” (Stolarik 79).

 


Works cited:

“Falls To Death Bethlehem, George Hudak, 57, Fell 40 Feet to His Death from a Platform at the Bethlehem Steel Company’s Plant.” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader [Wilkes-Barre, PA] 30 July 1936, Evening News sec.: 9. Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News. Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. Web. 3 Sept. 2016. Need to sign-up for access to electronic edition.

Stolarik, M. Mark.  Growing Up on the South Side: Three Generations of Slovaks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 18080-1976.  Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1985. Print.

July4Art.part three

11/08/2016

I am reluctant to do this. Share. Having dragged out my low artistic energy into August, I admit, right here – right now – that it is a “failure.” Did I create something? Yes. Can one call it art? Yes. Did it fulfill me? No. Absolutely not. No way. And here, dear reader, lies the most valuable experience (from which I have yet to dissect, analyze, and learn).  This failure is a teaching moment for my Self.

I know and feel this: I cannot go back. Back to former techniques and past imagery.

Daylilysmall

 

evening sketch –  sitting outside

 

I know and feel this, too: I must go forward. Forward with simplicity. Forward with eyes open.


 

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