Saturday, March 31, 2018

Quote du jour/Oscar Wilde

I wasn't wild, if you'll excuse the pun, with the quote by Oscar Wilde on the March entry of my Irish Writers Calendar,

so I shall share another quote from him in these last minutes of March.

The Soul is born old, but it grows young;   
that is the comedy of life.   
The Body is born young and grows old;   
that is life's tragedy.   

Oscar Wilde (1856-1900)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

At Seventy - month one

I began this book on my 70th birthday, February 25. May Sarton's journal begins on her 70th birthday, May 3, 1982. I thought it would be fun to read the thoughts of someone exactly my age as I go through this year. I was going to try to read the corresponding entry every day but decided instead I would read the month she was in while I am in it.

Her life as she begins her first year of her seventies is quite different from mine. She is unmarried, lives alone, has no children, and is a renowned author. Yet she is a woman, she loves to garden, she is a reader, and we are the same age.

She doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about the age she is, just as I don't, but sometimes it pops up in her writing.
What is it like to be seventy? If someone else had lived so long and could remember things sixty years ago with great clarity, she would seem very old to me. But I do not feel old at all, not as much a survivor as a person still on her way. I suppose real old age begins when one looks backward rather than forward, but I look forward with joy to the years ahead and especially to the surprises that any day may bring.
Isn't this just wonderful? If I'd read this at 20, I would think, "that's just how I want to feel when I'm old!" And I do. I think the "old" word still startles me a bit. I'll be reading along in a book when someone is referred to as "old" or "elderly" and I am amazed the person is my age or even younger. It is all so relative, isn't it? When I turned 50, my son Michael gave me a mug that said, "older than dirt." I'm hoping to give it back to him on his 50th in 2035!

The month before her birthday, May Sarton did poetry readings, and a talk about old age, in which she said:
"This is the best time of my life. I love being old. ... Because I am more myself than I have ever been. There is less conflict. I am happier, more balanced, and (I heard myself say rather aggressively) more powerful." I felt it was rather an odd word, "powerful," but I think it is true. It might have been more accurate to say "I am better able to use my powers." I am surer of what my life is all about, have less self-doubt to conquer ...
I feel much the same way though that good feeling has come from the arrival of these grandchildren. I was never a woman who worked outside the house. Luckily we could get along on one salary, and I didn't have to. But I've never been ambitious or had other things I wanted to do. My whole mantra of living is that it isn't what you do, but who you are. It wasn't easy sometimes. I know that some people thought I wasn't quite enough because I didn't have a career. Though I knew that my "career" was taking care of my children. I wasn't bored or despairing of the time I spent with them. And now, there are these little ones who bring a very different kind of joy to my life. My kids didn't think I was a goddess, but I sure feel like it sometimes when their kids come running out of a house to greet me, calling, "Nana, Nana." Or when Hazel crawled into bed with me one early morning she came in the house and I had just woken up, and said, "I love you, Nana." I remember saying when I wrote about watching A Child's Christmas in Wales after two of the three kids had been born that "This might be the last great gift of a lifetime - the grandchild (or great-grandchild) who hangs on your every word." And I said that I now understand the tender look on the grandfather's face when he sees his grandson sleeping. "The love, the amazing, amazing love for a grandchild is in his eyes."

After a busy month, involving much gardening, May says,
This garden is really too demanding for me at this stage in my life, but I know I shall never be able to restrict myself there. It has to be accepted that gardening is a madness, a folly that does not go away with age. Quite the contrary.
Yes, that is me alright. I wrote a few years ago about cutting back on the vegetable garden, and one year growing no veg at all, and then going back to a new garden in a new place. I think about it all winter, what I want to grow and where I want to put all those daylilies that must be divided. And there again the grandchildren come into my thoughts. I want them to see that their grandparents are still growing things, just as their younger parents are. I want them to know that being older doesn't mean you stop, though you might slow some, and might sit down while they are playing. But you, my dear readers, might enjoy seeing Tom and I run, yes, run around the house playing various roles that Hazel assigns us, or playing games with Campbell and Indy. Yes, we are tired when they go home, but not ever are we those grandparents who say that the best thing about having grandchildren is that they go home. How we absolutely hate that saying. I could see them every day and still feel a little sad when they go out the door!

I'll close this first month of being seventy with some words May wrote at the end of her month.
I sometimes feel old these days when I am suddenly made aware of the little time ahead. It came to me with a sharp pang when I found myself saying, as I have done every spring for years, Houseman's
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room
About the woodland I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
But I have at most ten or fifteen springs! Is that possible? Almost a lifetime gone. On the other side though, what I do have is seventy springs in my head, and they flow back with all their riches now.
I'm really enjoying this book, and it is good for me to travel along with May during this year.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Blueberry and Orange Soda Bread

Finally, I'm putting up a Weekend Cooking post! Because my daughter Margaret and I share a love of The Great British Bake Off, I bought her a cookbook by one of the winners. I first heard about it on Jama's page here. Please go right over and read her wonderful blog entry.

The other day I was down at Margaret's house, and I read a few of the stories to Hazel, and decided I had to borrow the book so I could make some of the delicious sounding recipes. The first one comes from a story called

You may click on the four pictures to read the story, a delightful take on The Little Red Hen tale, which always seemed a bit mean-spirited and moralistic to me.

And here is the recipe.

You'll see the amounts are in English measures, so I found a website to translate for me. 

Preheat the oven to 350 f.

Almost 1 3/4 cup flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
A little less than 1/4 cup sugar
I used 2 Tablespoons melted butter rather than olive oil
3/4 cup blueberries. Mine were frozen and worked just fine
grated zest of 2 oranges. I used organic Cara Cara
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk

Click on the photo that says 'method' above to see how to proceed. I followed her recipe exactly. And we were wowed! It was all we could do to eat 1/4 each and save the rest for breakfast tomorrow. Out of this world delicious!

I'm going to order my own copy from Book Depository because there are many recipes I want to make, and I like to write in my recipe books about when I first made a dish, what I thought, and any changes I made. I hope you give this recipe a try. I've never tasted such a delicious quick bread.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Quote du jour/Monty Don

My dear English friend Carole sent me the address of an interview with Monty Don. You may find it here. I found it so interesting. He is very open and honest about the joys and the difficulties in his life. I jotted these words down.

One of my theories about gardening well is that you've got to give yourself to it. You've really got to pay attention and that doesn't have to be too intense - you've just got to be there. That great motto in life is to pay attention, be there. If you're planting something, do it with all your energy and mind. If you want to do anything, you've really got to do it properly.
Monty Don

Friday, March 16, 2018

A kind act

As you may know, we feed the deer in the wintertime. Here is Hazel helping Pop put down their food the other day.

They eat the deer feed on the road, and also enjoy the sunflower seeds we put out for the birds.

We live on a town road and are lucky because the town crew plow during the winter. Our plowman, Brett lifts up the plow when he gets to the feeding area so he won't plow it to the side and bury the grain in the snow bank. Such a kind thing to do as he goes about his busy day.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Quote du jour/Monty Don

I read this on wikipedia.

In May 2016, Monty Don revealed that years of gardening had left him with "dodgy knees", from which he was "almost constantly in pain". But he dismissed any suggestion of replacement joints, saying: "Listen, when you get to 60, you ache. Just take it."

Well, I, too have dodgy knees. One much worse than the other. When I was 15, my friend's mother was driving us to a local baseball game when we skidded on wet road and went off into a ditch. They were both uninjured, but I had a broken femur. In those days, 1963, the treatment was traction. I was in it for several weeks, and in the hospital for 3 months. Unheard of today. Since then, one leg has been shorter than the other, and I've always had a limp. It has naturally gotten worse as I've gotten older. At this point, one shoulder is lower than the other, and I use a cane when walking long distances, and a knee brace most days. But, just like Monty, I shall have no operations or replacements. I accept my pain without (much) complaint.

And by the way, I am more than excited that Britbox is offering the 2018 season of Gardeners' World. I watched the first episode and it was just lovely.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Quote du jour/Ben Fogle

From the television show Walks With My Dog, which I watch on Acorn.

I'm a self-confessed, crazy, barking Labraphile.
Ben Fogle

Yup, me too. After many dogs since 1973, I have found the love of my dog life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Quote du jour/Monty Don

This is a golden time for those of us in the United States who love British television. We have Netflix, Acorn, Britbox all bringing us everything from drama to mystery to garden shows. I've just finished the last episode of the first season of Big Dreams, Small Spaces on Netflix. It has been a lovely viewing experience particularly during some dreary weather in these waning days of winter. I've gotten new ideas, and I'm so excited to get going on them! This quote comes from the very end of the show. Of course, I've now ordered two books by Monty Don.

You don't ever finish a garden. Gardens are a not a place, they're a journey.
Monty Don

Friday, March 2, 2018

Quote du jour/May Sarton

From At Seventy, writing of the poet Archibald MacLeish who had died at almost 90,

Two years ago I had a little word from him, saying, "Come soon. Time is running out." Why didn't I go then?