December 16, 2018
Garrison Keillor returns to Crooner’s with singer Christine DiGiallonardo & pianist Richard Dworsky. Shows at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
New York, NY
December 2, 2018
A mini Prairie Home reunion featuring Garrison Keillor, Rob Fisher, Fred Newman, and Heather Masse and Christine DiGiallonardo.
November 3, 2018
Garrison Keillor performs with duet partner Lynne Peterson and longtime collaborator & pianist Richard Dworsky.
5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
A live performance at the Brady Theater
Long Beach, CA
A live performance at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center
There’s a certain Slant of light 
by Emily Dickinson
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons —
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes —
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us —
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are —
None may teach it — Any —
‘Tis the Seal Despair —
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air —
When it comes, the Landscape listens —
Shadows — hold their breath —
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death —
“There’s a certain Slant of light ” by Emily Dickinson. Public domain.
It was on this day in 1947 that President Harry S. Truman dedicated Everglades National Park in Florida. He said: “Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky, no mighty glaciers or rushing streams wearing away the uplifted land. Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the receiver of it. To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant and animal life that distinguishes this place from all others in our country.”
Everglades National Park was largely the brainchild of a man named Ernest Coe. He had gone to Yale and had a successful 40-year career as a landscape architect in New England before moving to Miami at the age of 60. When Coe moved to Florida, in the 1920s, it was growing fast. Huge areas of wetlands were being drained for development, and local birds were being killed and made into ladies’ hats. Coe organized to try and protect the Everglades, arguing that it was an important ecosystem full of plants and animals that didn’t exist anywhere else. But he ran up against resistance from people who thought that only majestic places like mountains or canyons should be preserved as national parks — not a large wetland, especially one with both alligators and crocodiles in it. Although the park now covers more than 1.5 million acres, at the time it was dedicated Florida only agreed to preserve 454,000 acres. By 1947, Coe was so frustrated by the end result that he gave up all involvement with Everglades preservation, and he thought his campaign had been a failure.
Naturalist Archie Carr wrote: “Visitors still arrive expecting to see a dim, mysterious swamp-forest full of reptiles, exotic birds, and eerie noises, a sort of Hollywood jungle set in which boa constrictors or bands of apes would not come as a total surprise. This probably accounts for the let-down look park rangers see in the faces of some newcomers as they gaze out over the saw grass plain for the first time.”
It’s the birthday of novelist Sylvia Townsend Warner (books by this author), born in Harrow, in suburban London (1893). Her father was a well-loved teacher at the prestigious Harrow School, and when Warner was 19, she began a love affair with one of her father’s colleagues, a 41-year-old music teacher named Percy Buck. Buck was married, with five children. They were lovers for 17 years, but once Warner began publishing more seriously, she sensed that Buck was not enthusiastic about her career and she ended their affair.
Not long after, she fell in love with Valentine Ackland, an attractive and charismatic poet. Ackland was six feet tall, and she wore pants and ties and cut her hair short. She drank too much, and she had affairs with other women, but she and Warner remained together until Ackland’s death almost 40 years later. Warner wrote about Ackland in a letter to a friend: “Here I am, grey as a badger, wrinkled as a walnut, and never a beauty at my best; but here I sit, and yonder sits the other one, who had all the cards in her hand — except one. That I was better at loving and being loved.”
Warner’s first novel was Lolly Willowes (1926). It’s the story of Laura Willowes, whose nickname is Lolly. Lolly descends into lonely spinsterhood, caring for her father in the countryside where she grew up; when he dies, she lives without much purpose in her brother’s household in London, where her brother’s wife does everything better than she can. She takes care of various nephews and nieces and is incredibly bored. Finally, she can’t stand it anymore, and she escapes her family and the city and moves to a tiny town, Great Mop, where she is finally happy. Then one of her nephews shows up, a young man named Titus. She is so frustrated by the constant presence of family duty that she bargains away her soul to the Devil in an attempt to become free, and she becomes a witch.
Lolly Willowes had a subversive message — it was published before women even had the right to vote in England. But it was a surprise best-seller, and it was even chosen as the first selection for the American Book-of-the-Month Club.
Her other books include Mr. Fortune’s Maggot (1927), Summer Will Show (1936), The Corner That Held Them (1948), and A Spirit Rises (1962).
Today is St. Nicholas Day, which is celebrated in Germany and other European countries, as well as many American cities with German roots. On the evening of December 5th, children polish their shoes, then put the shoes outside the house in front of the door. During the night, St. Nicholas fills the shoes with small presents like sweets, oranges, and nuts. And this morning, December 6th, children rush outside to see what Nicholas has left them.
The Washington Monument was finally completed on this date in 1884. Begun in 1848, construction was halted in 1856 due to financial constraints and concerns about the nation’s stability. For 20 years, the monument stood in its unfinished state, until the Army Corps of Engineers took up the project in 1876. Mark Twain described the unfinished monument, saying it had “the aspect of a factory chimney with the top broken off […] you can see cow-sheds about its base, and the contented sheep nibbling pebbles in the desert solitudes that surround it, and the tired pigs dozing in the holy calm of its protecting shadow.”
The monument is made of white marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss [nice]. At just over 555 feet, it was the tallest building in the world at that time, a position it held for five years until the Eiffel Tower surpassed it in 1889. It’s still the world’s tallest structure built completely of stone, and it’s also the world’s tallest true obelisk. If you look closely, you can see a slight color change about 150 feet up, around the time that construction stopped.