Friday, November 29, 2013

Today's poem by Mary Oliver

If you have accumulated any years you know what it is like to say, ‘why didn’t I do that ages ago?’ When we found our house, it was perfect in every way except that there was an old dirt road just feet away from the house, and it went up two-tenths of a mile to an old abandoned farmhouse/ski lodge. We owned both sides of the road but we did not own the property at the top. And because this road was a ‘town road’ people could drive right by our house and head on up the hill. There weren’t cars very often, but it was honestly a bit more nerve-wracking that way. We never knew when a car would come. For many years it was always a worry in terms of our dogs. Even when we bought the land up above, there were still occasional cars until word got around that the upper land was no longer available to all and sundry who were out for a drive. Yet still there was the UPS truck, and people making wrong turns, and the oil man, and our friends who would drive up. And if Sadie (or the dogs who are now gone) was out, it was troublesome.

A few years ago, we suddenly came up with the brilliant idea to fence in the area off the kitchen, which meant we could open the kitchen door, let the dogs out, and not have to worry. A whole world of calm opened up to me. Sadie has no leash, and indeed not even a collar. She heads out from the picket-fenced yard into the big north pasture which is surrounded by an electric fence. 

So, this particular poem from Mary Oliver means a lot to me. The drawing accompanied the poem.

If You Are Holding
This Book

You may not agree, you may not care, but
if you are holding this book you should know
that of all the sights I love in this world -
and there are plenty - very near the top of
the list is this one: dogs without leashes.

Mary Oliver - Dog Songs 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Quote du jour/Rumi

Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.
Rumi (1207-1273)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today's poem by Clyde Watson


November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

Clyde Watson

Friday, November 22, 2013

It was 50 years ago today

My diary

My mother's diary

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today's poem by Edgar Guest

Good Books

Good books are friendly things to own.
If you are busy they will wait.
They will not call you on the phone
Or wake you if the hour is late.
They stand together row by row,
Upon the low shelf or the high.
But if you're lonesome this you know:
You have a friend or two nearby.

The fellowship of books is real.
They're never noisy when you're still.
They won't disturb you at your meal.
They'll comfort you when you are ill.
The lonesome hours they'll always share.
When slighted they will not complain. 
And though for them you've ceased to care
Your constant friends they'll still remain.

Good books your faults will never see
Or tell about them round the town.
If you would have their company
You merely have to take them down.
They'll help you pass the time away,
They'll counsel give if that you need.
He has true friends for night and day
Who has a few good books to read.

Edgar Guest (1881-1959)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Long-Awaited Reads Month - January 2014

You may have noticed the picture for Long-Awaited Reads Month on the sidebar for a little while now. This is what it is all about:

... the rules are very simple and the event is meant to be completely relaxed. Here’s what you have to do:
 Read books you’ve been excited to read for a long time but never seem to get to in January. You can do this exclusively for the whole month (my approach), you can do it for just one week, or you can simply try to get to one or two of these books in January. Your level of commitment is entirely up to you!
 At the beginning of January, Iris and I will post something signalling the official start of Long-Awaited Reads month. If you’re taking part, you can come back to these posts and leave us a link to a LAR-related review; you’ll then be entered in a giveaway for a book you’ve always wanted to read that is up to $15/€11/£10 on BookDepository (open worldwide).
 If you want to talk about the event on Twitter, the hashtag is #LARMonth.
 Have fun!
Simple, right?

You may find out more here, and here.
I love the idea of this. I have so many books on my shelves that I pass every day and think 'I can't wait to read you.' Yet I do wait, and wait, and wait. I've just walked around and chosen these six books which I really want to read. Most likely I will read just one, but hey, that's fine with me!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Today's poem by Mary Oliver


The snow
began slowly, 
a soft and easy

of flakes, then clouds of flakes
in the baskets of the wind
and the branches
of the trees -

oh, so pretty.
We walked
through the growing stillness,
as the flakes

prickled the path,
then covered it,
then deepened
as in curds and drifts,

as the wind grew stronger,
shaping its work
less delicately,
taking greater steps

over the hills
and through the trees
until, finally,
we were cold,

and far from home.
We turned
and followed our long shadows back
to the house,

stamped our feet,
went inside, and shut the door.
Through the window
we could see

how far away it was to the gates of April.
Let the fire now
put on its red hat
and sing to us.

Mary Oliver
from Why I Wake Early, 2004

Sunday, November 10, 2013

September Reading

55. In The Woods - book 1 in Dublin Murder Squad series
by Tana French
mystery, 2007
Kindle book
finished 9/24/13

I had been advised by old friends who know my reading preferences that this series was probably not for me, and from the little I had read about it, I agreed. So why did I read this? I was wooed by hearing the author on the Diane Rehm show. You may listen to it hereI did alright with this one, but could read only a little of the second in the series, The Likeness without getting thoroughly creeped out. I had been reading on the Kindle and, as you may know, the Kindle is for bedtime reading only for ease of holding 'the book.' I think I'm going to try the paperback and read it downstairs during the daytime. I do want to continue on with these characters, and think I can do it as long as it isn't just before sleep. I was actually dreaming the story on the nights I read it. Impressionable me. :<)

In The Woods features one of my favorite crime novel devices - a case from the past intersecting with a current crime. And this book has a particularly interesting slant in that the detective was actually involved in the earlier one. Three children went into the woods one day twenty years ago and only one, the detective Rob Ryan came out. Weaving memory and facts and personalities in and out of the story, Tana French has written an excellent book. There are twists and turns aplenty, and I was riveted all the way through. Just that Blair-witchy cover is enough to scare one.

54. Someone: A Novel
by Alice McDermott
fiction, 2013
Kindle book
finished 9/22/13

I’ve read that some think this book rather slow and that nothing really happens. Well, that is just my cup of tea. I like the mundane, the quiet, the regular. I found it supremely moving, and I cared so much about Marie, the main character. The book is so beautifully written. If you’d like to know more details, and read a wonderful review you may visit here.

53. Charlie Chan Carries On - book 5 in the Charlie Chan series
by Earl Derr Biggers
mystery, 1930
Kindle book
finished 9/14/13

It is fascinating how many older books take place, at least partially, on board ship. That was the way to travel. If you wanted to go to other places you had to suffer the mal de mer. I had it once on a whale watching field trip and I spent that time in the bathroom throwing up. I’ve never felt so sick. It is an indescribable feeling. In this book Charlie takes a sea voyage to find a criminal. I am so enamored of these mysteries. When I finished, I saw that the 6th book The Keeper of the Keys wasn't available for the Kindle so I ILLed it from the library but didn't get a chance to finish. I just checked Kindle again, and it was there, so I bought it. 

52. Old City Hall - book 1 in the Old City Hall series
by Robert Rotenberg
mystery, 2009
Kindle book
finished 9/8/13

I wrote about this previously. If you'd like to read the book report, you may click on the title.

51. Calamity Town
by Ellery Queen
mystery, 1942
Kindle book
finished 9/2/13

I read this in advance of going to see a live performance of the story. Playwright Joseph Goodrich adapted the book and it was presented in a world premier in the very town in which Ellery Queen set the story, Claremont, New Hampshire. We saw it in a lovely old theatre, at an afternoon performance. We heard of it through a publication which has been mentioned here before, Old-Time Detection. The man who puts it together, Arthur Vidro, both directed and acted in the play which made a lovely experience even more special. Here is the blurb:
The first Ellery Queen novel set in the fictional town of Wrightsville, NH, has now been adapted for the stage by Joseph Goodrich. Set in the early 1940's, the story concerns life in a small New England town and how a crime affects one of the town's leading families. It is a sober drama containing a terrible crime, with one thumb always on the pulse of the town's wavering humanity. Produced by the Off Broad Street Players with full permission of the Ellery Queen estates. Directed by Arthur Vidro. 

I’ve read only a few Ellery Queen books, but each one was erudite and layered. There’s always a lot going on. The story isn’t pleasant to read in that there is a lot of cruelty heaped on people by their former friends. There was a little bit of the feeling of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery; not as vivid or blatant, but nasty nonetheless.

Today's poem by Winifred Welles

Dogs and Weather

I'd like a different dog
For every kind of weather -
A narrow greyhound for a fog,
A wolfhound strange and white,
With a tail like a silver feather
To run with in the night,
When snow is still, and winter stars are bright.

In the fall I'd like to see
In answer to my whistle,
A golden spaniel look at me.
But best of all for rain
A terrier, hairy as a thistle,
To trot with fine disdain
Beside me down the soaked, sweet-smelling lane.

Winifred Welles (1893-1939)

The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Selected and Introduced by Caroline Kennedy, 2001

Note: I'm publishing this again because when I first posted it, I couldn't use my regular blog font. The comments are gone because I had to delete the first version. I did read them, and I thank you for them.