Friday, May 29, 2009

Today's picture/Susy's chair

Doesn't Susy's chair call out to you? We spent Memorial Day Sunday on this deck listening to birds, eating great food, and enjoying the company of wonderful friends.

Quote du jour from October Road

Life isn't then. Life isn't when. Life is this. Here. Now.

From the television series October Road
episode: Dancing Days Are Here Again

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Today's poem - Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety -

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light -
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

From: Why I Wake Early

Another Mary Oliver poem here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Home Sweet Homicide by Craig Rice

27. Home Sweet Homicide
by Craig Rice
mystery, 1944
paperback, 209 pages
finished, 5/5/09

Home Sweet Homicide is described as Rice's 'happy book' and it is indeed; well, as happy as a murder mystery can be. The joy comes from the three children - Dinah who is 14, April who is 12, and Archie who is 10. (I love lists of children and their ages in books, leftover from my childhood longing for brothers and sisters.) Their mother is a widow in her thirties who spends most of her time writing mysteries to support the family. Just at the moment April says, 'I wish Mother would solve a real life murder. She'd get a lot of publicity, and then she wouldn't have to write so many books' - shots ring out in the neighborhood. They are going to alert their mother, but after realizing she is deep into her book and mustn't be disturbed, they decide to embark on the 'preliminary investigation' themselves. After all says April confidently, 'I've read all Mother's books and I know just what to do.' They decide not to involve the police yet because one of their mother's fictional detective never does. They think they might find an important clue to give to their mother so she will get all that publicity.

Isn't this a delightful beginning to a book? And it just goes on and on. They are snappy talkers using all the slang of those times. They are full of wit and wisecracks. Of course the police must get involved, and the children light upon the lieutenant as the perfect man for their mother.

There are lots of characters and stories, but the real pleasure of Home Sweet Homicide is the adventures of the children. Because their mother works so hard and so much, they practically raise themselves. They can pretty much go about their business without any interference or guidance from her. The reader gets a terrific glimpse into the lives of young people in those days; their social lives, the foods they eat, and as I noted, the way they talk. The mystery is a fine one but the book is really about the life and times of these three kids. A very fun, enjoyable book. It is published by the great Rue Morgue Press which is bringing back into print so many of the classic mysteries. There is an introduction by the press owners, Tom and Enid Schantz, in which they tell us a lot about Craig Rice, and set us straight that this book doesn't reflect the author's life just because she had three children and was an author of mysteries.

I wrote a book report on another selection from Rue Morgue Press here ; and a review of a Craig Rice story here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Return of the snakes!

For more about snakes on the blog, please type 'snakes' into the search box. You'll discover I am really quite fond of these little garter snakes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Arlington Road, October Road, and now Revolutionary Road - what is it about all these 'roadshows' that capture my imagination and my high praise. Well, the first is full of suspense and the knowledge that not all is as it seems. October Road is a short-lived television series, a blog post on which I am currently working, and then we come to Revolutionary Road.

On Wednesday evenings at 5:30, Tom is the volunteer projectionist at our little town theatre for the 2-for-1 show. Two years ago, I wrote about many movies we saw there (you may find the reviews on the sidebar under the letter topic Movies at the theatre), and then last year I didn't write at all. I don't know why. Well, maybe I do. The films weren't, in general, very cheerful and light. Some were troubling like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, not an easy movie to watch. And then there is In Bruges, one of life's guilty pleasures. I say that because the language and violence are appallingly vulgar, and yet, and yet, there was great humor and as we all walked out we didn't know if we should be embarrassed to have laughed so much and so often at such a film. There was a particularly fascinating look at the immigrant experience in The Visitor. And The Band's Visit was a sweet, quiet little movie.

Anyhow, I intend this year to write about the movies I see, and I begin the season with Revolutionary Road. When I awoke this morning, my first thought was that Revolutionary Road could almost have been a silent film. Not that there wasn't plenty of talking (and shouting) but that what I recall are the scenes - the visual scenes, the wordless scenes. All those men in their suits and hats sitting in the train, walking together, all identical except for their faces.

The scenes in the sunny perfect kitchen

Scenes in the sterile living room with its uncomfortable looking, but oh-so-modern furniture.

The house on the rise in the neighborhood so alone in the midst of other houses. The green, green wood. A dance between two people, married but not to each other, which became silent as the scene progresses - just two people soundlessly going through the physical motions - and that phrase is key: these people in this time in this film are going through the motions of living.

When people talk, very little is really said - the conversations are stilted and stiff. Tom's first impression was that their verbal expressions 'seemed almost cliché.' All the characters, that is, except one. The real estate agent's son, who has had many electric shock treatments to calm his strong emotions is quite like the fool in dramas; the person who sees all and speaks the truth. He is the person who makes more 'normal' people afraid. He is played by Michael Shannon who does an unbelievably good job.

It seems almost melodramatic to say these people are trapped. They have a nice home, a family, and he has a good job; maybe not wildly exciting or stimulating but still it allows him to live a very nice lifestyle. They are not homeless or ill. But yet, we all know that comparisons with those less well off never work when we are feeling badly about ourselves or our lives. They are stuck in the roles society has proclaimed for them.

I was struck by how very alone they are. There is a mention of the man's late father, but only in the context of his job. There are no other relatives. There are two young children, but as Roger Ebert says in his fantastic review (please do read it if you have a chance), 'Their children are like a car you never think about when you're not driving somewhere.' We barely see them in this household. And there are no dogs. It is a lifeless existence. Thoreau's words jump into the viewer's mind: 'Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.' I hear the words to Eleanor Rigby, 'ah, look at all the lonely people.' There's a scene in the morning when the woman looks at her street, and it felt like a post-nuclear accident had occurred. No one is around. The isolation is extreme and felt throughout the movie. Tom was particularly struck by a scene where a man turns off his hearing aid while his wife drones on; the ultimate distancing of oneself from another. They have one set of friends, but they seem like friends of convenience, just because they are near neighbors.

Revolutionary Road stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet who play Frank and April Wheeler, a couple who live in suburban Connecticut in the 1950s. They are brilliant. They are so good I forgot they were big stars. They were those people. I was completely caught up in their story. It would be easy for us fifty years on to look at this couple with critical eyes. But who is to say it is really that different today?

At one point, Frank speaks of 'hopeless emptiness.' The Michael Shannon character John replies, 'Hopeless emptiness. Now you’ve said it. Plenty of people are onto the emptiness, but it takes real guts to see the hopelessness.' We can possibly live with the first, if the second is not there. We all need hope, and if it is gone, what is there?

I don't have enough words of praise for Revolutionary Road. It captures these young people at a juncture in their lives and shows us what happens when one path is taken over another. They are real. The movie is authentic. I ask no more from a film.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday - Graduation

Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies on Saturday!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An evening scene in May

Teaser Tuesdays/America's Queen

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
America's Queen
The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
by Sarah Bradford
page 163 (paperback edition)

Snow fell on Washington in large, soft flakes as Jackie, shimmering in her white satin Cassini gown, the glitter of borrowed Tiffany's emeralds and diamonds on her ears and at her throat, stepped out of the N Street house bound for the Inaugural Concert and Gala on the night of January 20, 1961. The events of the next two days would project her on to the world stage as the wife of the thirty-fifth President of the United States, an international celebrity at the age of thirty-one.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Banana Cake

No, I don't have bananas growing out in the yard right next to the rhubarb. But I did have three overly ripe bananas on the counter. Tom is the fresh banana eater in the family, and I found a note next to them saying, 'sorry I meant to eat them. maybe you could make muffins or a cake.' Do you suppose that's why he didn't eat them - because he wanted a cake? :<) Well, I went looking through my cake recipes this morning and found this one from an old online recipe list from six years ago. I've never made it, but will certainly do so again, and often. This is a simple and delicious cake. Our daughter, Margaret, and her boyfriend were over for a spaghetti supper, and we all loved it.

Banana Cake
2/3 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup milk
3 ripe bananas

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
Cream butter and sugar.
Add the eggs and vanilla.
Mash bananas and add.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
Add to the butter mix alternately with the milk.
Bake for about 45 minutes.

8 ounce package of softened cream cheese, beat together with 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
The little dots in the frosting are because I use Sugar in the Raw.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Strawberry - Rhubarb Crunch

Today's rhubarb recipe is a variation of my favorite fruit dessert - blueberry crunch. I'll call it:

Strawberry - Rhubarb Crunch

Melt 1/2 cup butter.

In a casserole dish greased with cooking spray, place 2 cups chopped rhubarb and 2 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen.

In a separate bowl mix 3/4 cup rolled oats, 3/4 cup flour, and 1 cup sugar. Add melted butter and stir well. Spoon over fruit, and bake at 350º F. for about 30 minutes until crunchy, and fruit bubbling. Great alone or with whipped cream or ice cream. A perfect dessert for a May evening.

Quote du jour/Thomas Jefferson

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.

Thomas Jefferson

Don't these words apply to this springtime of the year? Oh my gosh, my head hits the pillow and begins to spin with all the things I want to do. Every good day I'm outside. Tom took a personal day today, and we both worked straight through till 4 pm. He moved some firewood up to our house from the land where our daughter and her boyfriend plan to build; and replaced the water pump on the tractor. We edged, we dug up and transplanted daylilies, we put cocoa mulch on daylilies and phlox. I picked rhubarb and made another dessert (recipe coming soon). Now it's time to start supper which will be mandoline potatoes with onions, peppers, and our own chives. And then we'll sit down for cocktails!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More on Wallander

Yesterday afternoon when I was making the rhubarb squares (excellent for breakfast, by the way), I turned on the radio, and was surprised and delighted to hear a December 2007 interview with Henning Mankell, the author of the Wallander series. It was on a CBC program called The Choice. If you are interested, you may listen here. It was fantastic.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sour Cream Rhubarb Squares

I picked the first rhubarb today! I froze two cups, and used the rest for:

Sour Cream Rhubarb Squares

Preheat oven to 350º F.
Grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Beat together:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
1 egg
1 teapoon vanilla extract

In a separate bowl, mix:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add flour mix to butter mix, alternately with 1 cup sour cream.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb.
Pour into pan and bake 45-50 minutes.
Cut into squares.

There was a topping in the recipe which I chose not to use this time:

Mix together until crumbly:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon melted and cooled butter

This recipe comes from a book which my friend Les gave me. It is scrumptious!

Shopping and cooking on the wild side/Watercress and Potato Soup

Yesterday I found freshly picked wild leeks and watercress at the co-op I visit over in the next state. This is so delicious I could eat it all myself before Tom gets home.

Watercress and Potato Soup

Peel and chop 4-5 cups potatoes. Cook in about 5 cups water until soft.

Chop an onion and sauté in 1 Tablespoon olive oil/butter mix.
Add a chopped bunch of watercress and chopped bunch of wild leeks and cook a little longer.
Add onion mix to potatoes, and put through the food mill.

Say Hey (I Love You)

If you stop by today while I'm outside in the sunshiny garden, here's a little treat!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wallander on TV

If you missed last evening's episode on PBS Masterpiece Mystery, there are two others coming on Sundays in May. I've not read the Wallander books by Swedish writer, Henning Mankell but will certainly search them out after watching the television adaptation. Kurt Wallander is a policeman in Sweden. We first meet him in a field of startlingly yellow oilseed rape:

a plant of the cabbage family with bright yellow, heavily scented flowers, esp. a variety ( oilseed rape) grown for its oil-rich seed and as stockfeed.

He has been called by a local farmer because there is a young girl roaming this huge field. Wallander shows his badge, calling out that he is a policeman and just wants to talk to her. In the blink of an eye, she pours gasoline over her head and sets herself on fire. He is devastated, and cries on the scene. What a beginning. The color, the shock of her action, and a policeman crying. I knew I was in for something unusual and excellent in television viewing. The 90 minute program didn't let up. Prominent men are murdered (and scalped) so Wallander must work on these cases as well as trying to find out who the poor young girl was.

Wallander is played by the great Kenneth Branagh, and I don't think he's ever been better. The show's presenter, Alan Cumming, introduces Wallander by saying 'he makes Morse look like Mary Poppins.' This is a complex, quiet man. We know there is a lot to learn about him. In this first episode, we meet his daughter and his father. His family relationships are quietly contrasted with those in the story. There are some deeply troubled young people, and disturbing situations. Not for the kids.

You may read more, watch a preview, and even see the whole show on the PBS Masterpiece Mystery site. This is television at its best - excellent mystery, fine acting, and no ads. There is another review here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quote(s) du jour for Mother's Day

Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing.
Toni Morrison, Beloved

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs ... since the payment is pure love.
Mildred B. Vermont

Even now, if I have news, or something happens to me - good or bad, I just never feel like it's actually happened until I tell all of you.
Nora Walker, the mother on Brothers & Sisters talking to her adult children.

A mother is as happy as her saddest child.
Pat B.

Well, isn't that always the way! No sooner do you get your children nicely pigeonholed than they turn around and surprise you.
Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups

... her mother, whose face she saw sometimes at night, in her dreams, as if she had never gone away, and who was still there, as we often think of the dead, in the background like a cloud of love, against which weather we conduct our lives.
Alexander McCall Smith, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate

A friend comes with all these strings - when you're a mother you just love somebody.
The Molly Ringwald character in the movie, For Keeps explaining why she wants her mother to be her mother, not her friend.

Take off your coat, honey, or you'll melt like a thermometer.
The mother speaking to her daughter in the movie, Home for the Holidays

You may find another post on Mother's Day quotes here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

George & Sam by Charlotte Moore

26. George & Sam
Two Boys, One Family, and Autism
by Charlotte Moore
nonfiction, 2004
paperback, 289 pages
finished, 5/3/09

George & Sam may be read as a parenting manual. My 'gurus' were Penelope Leach, Benjamin Spock, and Louise Bates Ames and Frances L. Ilg. I would now add Charlotte Moore to the list if I had little ones today. I garnered so much wisdom as I read this book. Though society may look upon her as a mother of two autistic children, I soon learned that she is a mother, period. She would never call herself a heroine, but she is, as all mothers (and fathers) are. As the aforementioned writers do, Moore suggests that we trust ourselves as parents. We know our children best, and no book can be a complete guide to raising them. A case in point: the Ames and Ilg books (Your Three-Year Old, Your Six-Year Old, etc.) were right on the money for one of my children, and barely applied at all to my other one. As Moore writes:

like most aspects of child care, it makes sense to adapt the rules to what suits you and your family.

The main thing is to get in tune with yourself, with what you can and can't tolerate.

The author's youngest child does not have autism, and one of the great facets of this book is how she manages to balance the needs of each boy. We all do this every day if we have more than one child, but imagine having two boys with autism, and one who doesn't. It isn't quite the same as having one child who is athletic and another who is artistic. To complicate matters, George and Sam are very different from one another; so much so that in his younger days, she did not think Sam was autistic.The autism affects every single minute of Moore's life. She is very open about things that may have gone unmentioned before. As parents, we fully expect diapers that fill up at inconvenient times, and 'accidents' as our children learn to make the transition away from diapers. But Charlotte Moore must deal with the fact of playing with feces, and using odd places for the toilet. And honestly, as I read, I felt like it was all in a day's work for her. She is the best, best kind of woman - one who just 'gets on' with things, that wonderful British expression. She doesn't moan and say, poor me, look what I must deal with. She acknowledges the bad and praises the good. She accepts because she must, the fact of daredevil behavior such as climbing onto the roof. Autists have a high pain threshold, and she notes pulling food right out of a hot pan and licking the pan.

She disabuses us of the 'Rain Man' idea that autists have brilliance in certain areas. In writing about George's memory in the early days of childhood, Moore tells us:

This prodigious memory is fairly common in autists. Of course at the time we interpreted it as yet another manifestation of his amazing intelligence. George still has a retentive memory, though he's less interested in using it. He still learns new songs quickly, and knows the dialogue of his videos by heart. It's the closest either of my sons gets to the "savant" skills possessed by a small minority of autists. Savant skills feature disproportionately in the public consciousness. This isn't surprising, because it is fascinating to come across someone who can do calendar calculation in the blink of an eye, or someone who just has to glance at a complicated architectural structure in order to reproduce it on paper with accuracy and panache. But it should be reiterated that most autists have no such skills.

And even if they do, their talents may be of limited value. With autism, one skill doesn't lead on to another in the way one might assume. The boy who can tell you the day of the week for any date you care to fire at him doesn't necessarily have ability in any other mathematical area. I knew a child who at five could reproduce sections of road maps; this hasn't led to any wider interest in cartography or town planning. It was just a knack. George's early love of language didn't encourage him to learn to read or write.

... autistic children, whose skills resemble an archipelago of islands scattered across a sea of confusion. Most of the islands aren't even within hailing distance of one another. Just sometimes, autistic skills come together and cohere to excellent effect.

As a reader might expect, Charlotte Moore writes honestly about the day-to-day and long-term repercussions of having two children with such a syndrome, but you may be surprised to come to a chapter called 'Compensations.' Yes, there are good things about one's children being autistic. She begins by saying,

Have I made life in an autistic family sound like hell? That hasn't been my intention. There are moments of extreme stress, but isn't that the case in most families? Our tensions, our flash points, are different from those of your average family, but who's to say they're more intolerable?

Our family life has its own rhythms, its own compensations. Every day, the boys make me feel bored and irritated; equally, every day they provide me with delight, amusement, and joy.

You may know that the writer Nick Hornby's son is autistic. He concludes his prologue to George & Sam by saying,

To what extent are we really prepared to accomodate our children? Are we properly equipped to love them the way they are? If our lives do not turn out the way we had hoped, what is the best way of living them? Do six After Eights constitute a decent breakfast? Charlotte Moore knows, but I'm not telling. You'll have to read this wonderful book to find out.

If I still gave books a grade, there wouldn't be enough pluses to put after the A for George & Sam. It is an excellent book. I loved every minute I spent in the company of this family. I hope she writes more as the boys get older. I want to continue their life's journey along with them.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Evening Light

A Friday evening's promise of a beautiful Saturday.

Today's poem - Trout Lilies by Mary Oliver

Trout Lilies
by Mary Oliver

It happened I couldn't find in all my books
more than a picture and a few words concerning
the trout lily,

so I shut my eyes,
And let the darkness come in
and roll me back.
The old creek

began to sing in my ears
as it rolled along, like the hair of spring,
and the young girl I used to be
heard it also,

as she came swinging into the woods,
truant from everything as usual
except the clear globe of the day, and its
beautiful details.

Then she stopped,
where the first trout lilies of the year
had sprung from the ground
with their spotted bodies
and their six-antlered bright faces,
and their many red tongues.

If she spoke to them, I don't remember what she said,
and if they kindly answered, it's a gift that can't be broken
by giving it away.
All I know is, there was a light that lingered, for hours,
under her eyelids - that made a difference
when she went back to a difficult house, at the end of the day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today's poem - The Trees by Philip Larkin

The Trees
by Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

You may read another by Philip Larkin here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Progress Report

Tom hands out progress reports for his students a few times during the term, and I thought the name was fitting for this post. For it is indeed a progress report on how I'm doing after four months, one third of a year not buying and not borrowing books. Even as I write it, I can hardly believe it. Has it been easy? No, it has not. It seems like every single day I read about some book I want to read. It is almost a physical feeling because it is so strong. I want to call up my local independent bookstore and order The Kitchen Congregation by Nora Seeton (thanks to Dulce Domum), The Blue Rose by Antony Eglin (thanks to Margaret Powling), and most of all I want The Sweetness At The Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (first heard of from dovegrey reader, but many times since). And these are only three. I keep lists. I pore over the Persephone catalogues. I yearn for books.

But am I glad I set this personal challenge for myself? A strong and resounding, yes! I've had more fun than you could imagine. As I near the end of a book, I begin to get excited, thinking what shall I read next? I absolutely love the time spent after I've finished a book. I walk into the study, then the living room, then the bedroom looking at all the treasures to be had through reading. I've loved reading books which I've owned for years.

What I haven't enjoyed is looking at some books, really too many books, and realizing I do not want to read them. Oh, to have that money back. I could have painted my kitchen or bought flooring for my bathroom. This is not a good feeling at all.

Which leads me to what I've learned. Borrow, borrow, borrow if possible. Then, if I read a book and simply cannot live without it, then buy it. The books I cannot borrow, mostly British books, I will buy one at a time. And when I buy a book, I want to read it as soon as possible. No more putting it on my shelf for years and years.

I plan to come back with another progress report when I've gone eight months, two thirds of the year; and then once more at the end of 2009. This endeavor has been one of the most interesting I've ever embarked upon. I have learned immeasurably about myself, and it has extended into other parts of my life. I have simplified my gardening life, not buying many seeds whose plants I can buy readily at the local farmers' markets. I'm not buying music unless I am positive I must have it. Even my food shopping has been influenced - I buy less and I think about whether I really need a particular item. I am quite amazed by the ripples a little decision about not buying books has made in my entire life. I look forward with interest to how I feel in August and December.

Just a few books that are waiting for me

Teaser Tuesdays/Home Sweet Homicide

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From page 53 of Home Sweet Homicide by Craig Rice:

Policemen all around the place. And three people - who couldn't possibly have known each other - trying to break in.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Pie Song

Reading about Alison's birthday pie, got me singing The Pie Song from Waitress. I love the movie and the song.

Here are the lyrics so you may sing along.
The Pie Song
co-written by writer/director/co-star Adrienne Shelley and Andrew Hollander

When the world is gray and bleak
Baby don't you cry
I will give you every bit of love that's in my heart
I will bake it up into a simple little pie

Baby don't you cry gonna make a pie
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Baby don’t be blue
Gonna make for you
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Gonna be a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with strawberry love
Baby don’t you cry
Gonna make a pie
And hold you forever in the middle of the heart

Baby here's the sun
Baby here's the sky
Baby I’m your light and I’m your shelter
Baby you are mine
I could freeze the time
Keep you in my kitchen with me forever

Gonna be a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with strawberry love
Baby don’t you cry
Gonna make a pie
And hold you forever in the middle of the heart

Gonna bake a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with butterscotch love
Gonna bake a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with banana cream love

Baby don’t you cry
Gonna bake a pie
And hold you forever
And hold you forever
And hold you forever in the middle of my heart

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Third and Fourth Raised Beds

The next two raised beds are done! They house members of the allium family. One has 56 King Richard leek plants; the other 70 Super Star onion plants and another 20 leek plants.

Today's picture/Sadie in the sun

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day Musings

This is the book of my childhood. It was published in 1955. I loved it beyond measure because it was about families and neighborhoods. I've always been a domestic girl, caring most about my home and family. Amazing how we can see the roots of our adult selves in our child selves.

Each day of the year has a page long entry, and the book follows all the families on What-a-Jolly Street throughout the year. From January 2:

The name of the street was really Trufflescootems Boulevard. Nobody called it that, though, because the street wasn't long. It was very short, and twenty-two children lived on it. Twenty-two, imagine that!

Where twenty-two children live and play and yell and shout and ride their tricycles and wagons and bikes and play with their dogs and cats and rabbits and turtles and monkeys and parrots - well, you just can't call a street like that Trufflescootems Boulevard, can you?

So nobody did. When they came to that block, they always smiled and said, "My what a jolly street!" And pretty soon that was the name of it - "What-a-Jolly Street."

The kindly looking woman on the cover is Mrs. Apricot. I remember thinking this was a delightful name. Living in nineteen-fifties New England, I had never seen a real apricot.

At the end of What-a-Jolly Street lived old Mrs. Apricot. Yes, that was really her name - Mrs. Apricot, and she looked like one, too, soft and rosy and plump.

She is the woman who teaches the girls how to knit. The girls help her cut squares for a quilt and help her bake cookies. The book is full of stories Mrs. Apricot tells to all the neighborhood children. One entry might be about her early life out west where there was real fire danger when it didn't rain in the summer. From her, I learned what tumbleweed was and that Abraham Lincoln was 'the man who loved books.'

This is a book where families are primary. The parents feature prominently, and the children learn from them as they set the table or eat supper together. It sounds all too good to be true in these times where 'problem' books are everywhere, but as I wrote another time, this really was the life we all lived. Let's see, on my section of the street there were fourteen kids I can think of right off the bat. We really did eat supper with our families, and most of our playtime was in the neighborhood. I didn't venture too far away until I was older (and even now am only a few miles from my childhood home).

The book has a map showing the houses and where everyone lives. I was so taken with it. You may see that it wasn't enough for me to have the little code on the bottom - I had to fill in the names of who lived where.

Here is an early attempt at cursive, telling me I was reading this in the third grade, a year after the book came out.

The May Day entry.

I'm quite sure I made a basket one year, and put it on my own parent's door, but honestly I could be remembering the book instead of real life. :<) May Day to all of us in our little town meant the May Ball. It was put on by the Lions Club, and everyone went. The place was swarming with pre-teen children. We all wore fancy clothes, and in fact I spoke of my dress, as my 'May Ball dress.' We did dances like the Bunny Hop and the Hokey Pokey, and had the most wonderful time. There was always a queen, and one year that honor went to my friend Anne, the same Anne as in the April Love post. Sometimes at school we would dance a Maypole which I loved.

On this May Day, we are heading down to Michael's college for a 'Battle of the Bands' in which he and his band are featured. Not quite the stuff of What-a-Jolly Street and childhood memories, but still family-centered, and looked forward to with love.

Addendum: I just read in my local paper that the May Ball is still going strong after 60 years!

Public Service Announcement

I wanted to pass along some information regarding my cat, just in case even one person is in a similar situation. Our Soot will be 16 this year. He was always a chubby cat, until the past couple or three years when he began losing weight. Because this has happened before when our cats got older, we didn't think a lot about it. Still, I began to worry when he became really skinny and bony. At his annual vet appointment, nothing unusual struck the vet's notice. He thought he was doing well for his age, and he really was in many ways. Still active, running up the stairs several times a day, and interested in the life around him.

However, he wanted to eat all the time. He would eat ravenously for a minute, and then stop, leaving the rest of the food. This happened five or six times a day. I thought maybe he had worms and was going to have him tested.

And then, Tom's co-worker mentioned that her older cat was on medication for a thyroid condition. As she listed the symptoms, Tom was amazed: skinny, hungry all the time, rushing around (we called Sooty 'Charlie Hustle'), while seemingly okay otherwise. The next day I called her vet. Sooty went in and had blood work done, and the results showed that he did indeed have this same ailment. He has been on medication twice a day for almost a month and is so much better. He wants to eat only a couple times a day. He can relax. He's not always running around seeming anxious. He's his old happy self again. One of life's little miracles.