OURSELVES

 

Anne Wingate, Ph.D.

October 2012

 

 

 

1

 

In 2004 the grande dame of our neighborhood died. She revered learning. She owned a greatcoat of heavy material, just the ticket for winters in Utah, with BOOKS CAT MUSIC GLOBE and CHESS depicted on the front, back, and sides.

 

Her family gave it to me in recognition of my novels. Our benefactress was quite tall, and I am short, so it was altered by a tailor. It is a keepsake my audiences ought to see.

  

 

 

 

Owl

 

  

 

As long as we’re at it, you might as well see me in a cape closed by a pewter pin showing the thistle of Scotland. My cane has an Oriental dragon’s head for a handle; in the mouth is a cat’s eye marble. Along the dark wood of the shaft is a pattern of bright red scales and waves.

 

Writers attending conventions are allowed, even expected, to be eccentric in dress and deportment.

 

I bought the dragon cane at CONduit in a year when dragons were its theme. The cape and the thistle pin are gifts from my husband. He likes my hair long. Its color matches his beard.

 

In 2012 a mestizo grandfather of much ingenuity gave T a tall hickory staff with Odinesque carvings done by someone else.

 

The wide-brimmed hat adds panache.

 

Odin also wore one. Wikipedia links him to “war, battle, victory, death, wisdom, magic, poetry, and prophecy.”

 

This ensemble was haphazardly acquired. T rarely wears his gold Mensa ring—but, without Mensa, we would never have met.

 

We are both of Clan Campbell. The black grandfather who gave us the scarf a few Christmases ago did not know that.

 

 

 

 

Owl

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

          ●       ●       ●

 

Thomas Russell Wingate    

October 2012 

 

 

 

                   2

 

As Anne implies, we don’t normally dress that way. But why have a hickory stick if you can’t teach to its tune? What good does it do indoors, like a stuffed deer head? (Don’t anyone send me a stuffed deer head.)

 

I have noticed over the years that authors like to be photographed in front of crowded bookshelves. Make do, if you would, please, with our garage door.

 

                   3

 

The clans of Scotland cherish distinctive tartans, badges, and mottoes.

 

This has become complicated. Certainly outsiders are easily confused.

 

Deceptions have been detected or surmised.¹

 

                   4

 

The badge of Clan Campbell shows a boar’s head inside a buckled belt with a motto.

 

I deem the badge unsightly, but who can (openly) change Scottish tradition?

 

The motto I praise to the skies. It fits an historian perfectly.

 

          NE OBLIVISCARIS.

 

          Do Not Forget.

 

                   5

 

Clan Campbell’s most eminent member is Robert Burns.

 

A century after renown ignited, John Stuart Blackie summed it all up: “When Scotland forgets Burns, history will forget Scotland.”

 

No wordsmith has been more globalized.²

 

                   6

 

My mother’s family claimed kinship to Burns.

 

His biographers disagree as to how many bairns he sired—and on which side of whose blankets.

 

Whatever the case may be, he deserves to have his portrait³ near my desk.

 

 

 

          NOTES

 

 

1 See Bits of English III Note 2 on website.

2 See Bits of Translation 14 on website. See also Wikipedia.

3 The close-up by Alexander Nasmyth (1787).

   Nasmyth did another one, showing Burns outside

   his cottage in Alloway. There were never any other

   portraits of Burns. Statues, paintings, banknote

   engravings, etc., derive from Nasmyth.   

 

 

 

 

 


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