Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Sally/August 30

Sally: a brief journey; an excursion or trip.

When I was a girl, we'd hop in the car on a Sunday and go visit people, and I've been thinking that I'd like to offer this as a weekly or occasional blog entry. At first I thought I would call it Sunday Visits but I realized that Sundays are pretty full with Aisling's Sunday Stroll. By the time I walk, and photograph, and post, I've already spent a fair bit of time on the online journal, and if I add in a Sunday Supper, well, you see, I just didn't want another Sunday blog activity.

And then the word, sally, popped into my mind. I looked it up to be sure it meant what I thought, and I was happy to see it did. I love the way the two words flow together, Saturday Sally. And sally is such a cheerful sound, a cheerful word. You don't hear it much anymore as a child's name but I find it delightful. Sally. It sounds like sunshine.

On these Saturday Sallies, I am going to post a link to words I've read or photos I've seen that I found wise or funny or interesting or moving. I'm going to limit myself to three each time I post a Saturday Sally.

A while ago I wrote a book report on Reeve Lindbergh's new book. Here is Marcia's wonderful review of the book, and I hope between the two of them you are prompted to go out and find a copy for yourselves.

I find magic in Colleen's photographs. Check out this one at a local eatery. She shows the greatest beauty in things we may overlook in our daily lives.

I was very smitten with these pictures of Niagara Falls. To me they expressed the out of kilter feeling the writer had going back to a childhood haunt. It's something we all feel when we visit a scene from our growing up years.

And sometimes it happens in dreams. My dreams always, always take place in my childhood home or town, even with people who are in my life since then. For example, yesterday I was going through some of my mother's old photo albums, and came across wedding photos of the parents of an associate of Tom's. He's going to give them to her, and we both know she will be thrilled. Well, last night I had a dream where I offered the pictures to an aunt of this woman, whom I had known growing up, and we were in my high school gym. I was walking along the floor calling her name. Because her nickname was "Mickey," I was singing merrily, "Hey, Mickey, you're so fine; you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey."

Well, go ahead, analyze that!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Today's poem - Mother, Summer, I by Philip Larkin

Mother, Summer, I
by Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

My mother, who hates thunderstorms,
Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there;
But when August weather breaks
And rains begin, and brittle frost
Sharpens the bird-abandoned air,
Her worried summer look is lost.

And I her son, though summer-born
And summer-loving, none the less
Am easier when the leaves are gone;
Too often summer days appear
Emblems of perfect happiness
I can't confront: I must await
A time less bold, less rich, less clear:
An autumn more appropriate.

I post this poem today in honor of my mother's birthday. She, too, hated thunderstorms, and I had to sit on the couch with my feet off the floor when one was brewing.

And like the author, I'm "easier when the leaves are gone." I'm more comfortable when the weather isn't so boisterous.

Friday Finds/August 29

Here is the list for this week's Friday Finds.

1. From Heidi: Beatrix Potter: A Journal

2. From Jenclair: A great post on the Dalziel & Pascoe series by Reginald Hill - a series I have been meaning to start for a long, long time.

3. And a book I just bought, hot off the presses, Donald Hall's Unpacking the Boxes: A Memoir of a Life in Poetry.

We're planning on seeing him next month at Plymouth State University.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Book Report/Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile
by Agatha Christie
unabridged audio read by David Suchet
mystery, 1937
finished, 8/23/08

My love for Agatha Christie grows exponentially with each new book I read. And herein lies the best, best thing about book challenges. Without Joy's Anything Agatha Challenge, I'd still know the work of Christie only through the Miss Marple television programs, which starred the late Joan Hickson. Now, a whole new world has opened up, and I could spend a year reading just Agatha Christie books, and feel happy.

Death on the Nile is a Hercule Poirot mystery. Mr. Poirot takes a little trip down the famous river, and wouldn't you know it, there's a murder. Before the murder occurs, we meet several of his fellow passengers, not knowing just which one will end up dead. There are several solutions to the mystery which Hercule Poirot offers toward the end of the book. He shows us that any number of things may have happened, but didn't. This was a terrific device because in this manner he tied up several loose ends the reader wonders about.

Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers were masters at characterization, and the psychology behind their characters. The 'why' is important. Very modern for all those years ago.

This audio of Death on the Nile was very special because it was read by David Suchet, the man who portrays Hercule Poirot in the excellent television productions. His reading was amazing because he went so smoothly between Poirot's accent, the straight narration, and all the other characters.

Mary Dell in the Daily Mirror of November 11, 1937 said, "Agatha Christie is just grand. Usually if you get a good plot there is something wrong with the writing or the characters. But with her – you have everything that makes a first-class book."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

August 26, 1985

This is a very special day for us. Twenty-three years ago today, our beloved son arrived from South Korea! He doesn't look too different all these years later!

First corn!

Lit Flicks Challenge

I am going to join a challenge which combines two things I love - books and movies. Here are the rules for the Lit Flicks Challenge:

1. Challenge runs from September 1, 2008 to February 28, 2009.
2. Read 5 books that have been made into movies.
3. Then watch at least 2 of the movie adaptations of the works you read.
4. Your list may change at any time and may include overlaps with other challenges.

I've chosen:

Howards End by E.M. Forster
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway

Go here to find out more or join!

Cookie Tuesday - Vanilla Cookies

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.

I don't make cookies often enough. I did when the kids were little, I did before the kids arrived, but not now. Why, I wondered, and then I stopped wondering and just decided to make Tuesday my cookie day. And I have a little cookie pic on the sidebar. Take it if you'd like, and join me on Cookie Tuesday.

I'll start with the first kind I ever made for my children. They are quick, easy, and tasty. If you are in the mood for light, and not too sweet, these fit the bill.

Vanilla Cookies

1/2 cup soft butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour

Beat together first four ingredients, and then stir in flour.
Bake on greased cookie sheet, in preheated 350º F. oven for 10-15 minutes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Stroll/August 24

This Sunday I decided to put on my boots and stroll into the north pasture to visit the farm animals.

First I went into the barn to shut off the electricity to the fence. This is the charger.

The chickens are happy in the cool, shady barn on this warm summer day.

Looking up I saw a hawk and the daytime moon.

Esther and Bracelet spotted me first, and began to hustle over. The goats do hustle. They don't know what a leisurely stroll is.

Daisy came along next, eating her way over to me.

And then the dear sheep, all in a row. We got four of them in 2000, and sadly we remember only two names - Marley and Hendrix. :<) The other two have a wonderful story behind them. When Tom's sister turned fifty, her husband, remembering that she had always wanted sheep, drove her up here to a local farm and had her pick out two lambs. Since they live in town, her husband had spoken with us first to see if the sheep could live here. He gives us some money every year for hay, and she visits when she can. Hers are called Mocha and Mascara.

There goes Tom off to Home Depot or Lowe's, our homes away from home these days!
This is why Tom has to mow every fall with the tractor. The animals don't eat everything and tiny trees grow up very quickly...
...and turn into these.

Sustenance along the way.

Looking back at the house from the northern property line.

I sat down on a rock and just let the peace flow over me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Time Out

Please relax with your favorite music and beverage while I work on my new blog list. I've tried before without success, but I like the new format so well that I'm trying again. I may not get it all done today, with over a hundred on my list, but you'll see them show up gradually, alphabetically. The original list will stay up until the new one is complete. When I finish, I'm going to have them listed by newest postings. Stay tuned...

Addendum: 8:30 pm - done. I decided not to put them in order of newest postings. Mrs. Monk needed the alphabetical order. :<) If I have accidentally put you in the wrong geographical locale, please, please let me know. I was getting a little bleary-eyed near the end.

Friday Finds/August 22

Just two finds this week, but they both sound great.

1. From Heather: Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion.

2. From Robin: Nick of Time by Ted Bell.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

August 24

Do you know about Run for the Fallen?

If you go to the above page, you may click on "the soldiers" under links on the right side which will lead you to a page where you can type in the name of a soldier whom you may have known. Though I do not run anymore, I do plan to walk a mile on Sunday in honor of all of the fallen, and especially for the young man I wrote about in March.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Stroll/August 17

Today is a Sunday Stroll in the palette of yellow. Around here, yellow is the first color of spring and the last color of summer. I don't have crocus or snowdrops; the first flower is the daffodil, which comes in early May. Then later in the season, when most of the flower gardens have gone by, the wildflowers come into their glory and they are mostly yellow. Some names we knew, but others we just learned today as we carried the wildflower books around with us.

lance leaved goldenrod

Canada or meadow goldenrod


What I call "fall dandelions" - real name Dwarf dandelion, part of the aster family

Hop clover

These are growing between the stone steps. Children call the yellow wood sorrel, "sour tops" and eat the leaves, which are indeed very tasty!
Oops, not a yellow flower. :<) The curious garter snake came out of the same crack in the steps to see what I was doing.
Common evening primrose - not the ones in flowerbeds, but those that thrive on the roadsides. I've not been able to grow the garden variety because of our cool temperatures, but it is a delight to know they are here in another form.

black-eyed Susan

Please do go visit The Quiet Country House to find out who else is strolling this Sunday, and join the fun yourself if you have the time.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Book Report/Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia
by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
nonfiction, 2003
finished, 8/16/08
3rd reading in the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge, Eh?

Long before there were blogs, there were lists or groups online which connected people of similar interests. Several years ago I met a woman from Nova Scotia on one of these lists, and we formed a friendship. This is the same woman who recommended the Pierre Berton book I read for the first Canadian Book Challenge. Five years ago she sent me this book, and today I read it for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge. It is a travel book, a tourist sort of book with information that this fact-geek absolutely loved: Halifax is the world's second-largest natural ice-free harbour; in 1917 a Belgian ship collided with a French vessel which carried explosives, and over 1900 people were killed - the largest man-made detonation in history until nuclear weapons were invented; in the wetlands of Kejimkujik National Park, 95% of the entire species population of Blanding's turtles lives.

This is a gorgeously photographed book which makes the reader want to go visit or move to Nova Scotia. It was named "New Scotland" by Scottish settlers because it reminded them of their homeland. I loved the book, and thoroughly enjoyed my literary stay there. I hope someday to visit the province, and my friend who gave me the book.

Quote du jour/Gladys Taber

Summer is already walking the path to yesterday.
Gladys Taber, The Best of Stillmeadow


Everyone knows about meditating: a quiet room, preferably with nice, polished hardwood floors with a gorgeous, clean oriental rug; soothing music or no sound at all except maybe the birds; guided by a soft, peaceful voice or the soothing words written by any number of people who favor the calm, centered life and will teach us how to live such. I do this. I know this. It does soothe and focus.

But my favorite meditation isn't the usual. It is just about completely opposite from the above description. It doesn't require quiet or an orderly room or restful music. In fact it most often accompanies buzzing around the kitchen on a Saturday morning.

I'm sure you will never, ever guess so I'll tell you. I listen to Car Talk with Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the "Tappet brothers", Click and Clack. First off I must say that I care little about how a car works. Under the hood doesn't interest me. I can't change a tire, and I have never pumped my own gas. I love my Beetle, but I don't know what makes it go. So how can I so love a program which is devoted to car problems? I don't listen to the car troubles which people call in with, or the solutions which the brothers offer. I just listen to the voices. I cannot begin to explain it, but these fellows make me laugh with their laughter, their lame jokes, their back-and-forth banter. They are loud, they laugh loud and often, and they soothe my soul, and calm my busy mind better than any yoga relaxation I've ever done. Maybe the laughter is key. In fact, there is something called Laughter Yoga now.

Whatever it is, if I am near a radio at ten o'clock on a Saturday morning, I spend that hour listening to Car Talk feeling calm and happy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Julia Child

If asked to make a list of my personal heroines, one of those at the very top would be Julia Child who was born on this date in 1912. I just loved her, starting way back in her early days on public television. I loved her energy; I loved the way she didn't fret if something went wrong; I loved her laugh and her joie de vivre.

I was lucky, oh so lucky, to see her a few years ago, and I felt in the presence of greatness. Though quite elderly, her humor and strength of character were undiminished. Of course the latest is that she was a spy during the Second World War! Now, really, would we expect any less of this woman?!

I would dearly love to visit her kitchen at the Smithsonian. This site is a wonder! You can learn about her life, see her utensils, hear her voice. In these times when people eat out or eat on the run, her message and her example are more important than ever. Some of my favorite quotes which I've read over the years:

Having a good time is the most neglected aspect of good health.

It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about - enjoying things.

Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.

Life itself is the proper binge.

Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet.

The following photos are from my copy of Appetite For Life: The Biography of Julia Child by Noël Riley Fitch. I think it is my favorite of all the Julia pictures I've ever seen. It shows her mischievousness, her love of life, and her love for her husband. Isn't it just great?!

Today's poems - How It Is; and The Revisionist Dream by Maxine Kumin

Two poems about the loss of her great friend, the poet Anne Sexton, who killed herself in 1974. The first is from Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief, 1982; the second from Still To Mow, 2007.

How It Is

Shall I say how it is in your clothes?
A month after your death I wear your blue jacket.
The dog at the center of my life recognizes
you've come to visit, he's ecstatic.
In the left pocket, a hole.
In the right, a parking ticket
delivered up last August on Bay State Road.
In my heart, a scatter like milkweed,
a flinging from the pods of the soul.
My skin presses your old outline.
It is hot and dry inside.

I think of the last day of your life,
old friend, how I would unwind it, paste
it together in a different collage,
back from the death car idling in the garage,
back up the stairs, your praying hands unlaced,
reassembling the bits of bread and tuna fish
into a ceremony of sandwich,
running the home movie backward to a space
we could be easy in, a kitchen place
with vodka and ice, our words like living meat.

Dear friend, you have excited crowds
with your example. They swell
like wine bags, straining at your seams.
I will be years gathering up our words,
fishing out letters, snapshots, stains,
leaning my ribs against this durable cloth
to put on the dumb blue blazer of your death.

The Revisionist Dream

Well, she didn't kill herself that afternoon.
It was a mild day in October, we sat outside
over sandwiches. She said she had begun

to practice yoga, take piano lessons,
rewrite her drama rife with lust and pride
and so she didn't kill herself that afternoon,

hugged me, went home, cranked the garage doors open,
scuffed through the garish leaves, orange and red,
that brought on grief. She said she had begun

to translate Akhmatova, her handsome Russian
piano teacher rendering the word-for-word
so she didn't kill herself that afternoon.

She cooked for him, made quiche and coq au vin.
He stood the Czerny method on its head
while her fingers flew. She said she had begun

accelerandos, Julia Child, and some
expand-a-lung deep breaths to do in bed
so she didn't kill herself that afternoon.
We ate our sandwiches. The dream blew up at dawn.