Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Quote du jour - Chris Packham

"We've lost 40 million birds from the UK countryside since 1970. We've lost them for all sorts of reasons - the intensification of agriculture; development, of course; over-fishing; climate change. All human related factors."

Chris Packham on
Springwatch 2019

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Six in Six - 2019

I just read this on Cath's blog, and thought it might be fun to do.

The idea comes from a new-to-me blog called The Book Jotter. Her post about this year's Six in Six is here. She notes that a book can feature in more than one category.

1. Six authors who are new to me.

Jenni Keer. I loved her book The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker. To use one of my favorites adjectives, it was charming. It was warm-hearted, with nice people, and a wonderful intergenerational friendship.

Debbie Tung. Another literary soul-mate. I just "met" her last year, but since I read her first book in November 2018, and her second in February of this year I thought I'd include her in this category. Her two non-fiction graphic books are Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, and Book Love. I so enjoyed them both.

Christopher Huang. I read his most interesting book, A Gentlemen's Murder. These quotes were on the Amazon page, and really, they say it all. My kind of book. I really liked it.

"Huang's impressive debut will delight fans of golden age detective fiction." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

"Dorothy Sayers is alive and well and writing under the name of Christopher Huang." ―Rhys Bowen, New York Times-bestselling author of The Tuscan Child 

"A must read for fans of Anthony Horowitz, Charles Todd, and Anne Perry." ―Daryl Maxwell, Los Angeles Public Library 

Kathi Daley's The Inn at Holiday Bay: Letters in the Library, book 2 in the Holiday Bay series. I liked this very much. There's a nice write-up about the book here. I have the first in the series, and plan to read it soon.

E.C.R. Lorac - I've read Murder by Matchlight and Fire in the Thatch so far, and want more! You may read more about the author here.

Last, but definitely not least is H.Y. Hanna. I've read the prequel and five books in her Oxford Tea Room mysteries series. I can't seem to stop. As soon as I finish one, I begin the next. The books are set in my favorite place in the world, the one place I do hope to visit, Oxford England. I fell in love with this city watching Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis, and now to read about it is simply heaven. The author went to Oxford, and knows the city well. She is very prolific, and you may read more of what she has written here. I have also bought a book in another of her series, The English Cottage Garden mysteries, and will read it when I've read the next four of the Tea Room books!

2. Six authors I have read before. All beloved old friends.

Harry Kemelman - I've now read all the Rabbi Small books for the second time, and find myself wanting to spend time with him again.

Rosamunde Pilcher - I re-read Flowers in the Rain, and then thought I'd try The Shell Seekers again. Probably needless to say to Pilcher fans, I loved them both. I didn't want either book to end. I did begin September, but it didn't hold my interest so I dropped it for now.

Agnes Sligh Turnbull. I've read her Little Christmas many times, and it always touches me deeply. I need to read more of her work.

Anne Tyler. This is to be my year of Anne Tyler. I've so enjoyed her work over the years. The books I've read so far this year are on the sidebar.

John Grisham. I've never read a book by him that I didn't enjoy! This year's was Calico Joe, but hope to read more. My  blogging friend in PEI said that Grisham is "very reliable", and that is exactly how I feel.

D.E. Stevenson. I've read so many over the years, but have many more to read. This year I read Spring Magic, and so enjoyed it.

3. Six authors I read last year - but not so far this year.

Ragnar Jonasson. I really do like his Dark Iceland series.

Frances Garrood. I loved her Ruth Robinson's Year of Miracles, and want to read more of this author's work.

Radha Vatsal. I really liked A Front Page Affair, book 1 in the Kitty Weeks series. An historical mystery set in 1915 New York City about a young journalist. So far there is just one more book, but I hope there will be more.

Rachel Joyce. I so loved The Music Shop. A perfect book. I would like to read more of her work.

Anthony Horowitz. I loved The Word is Murder last year, and want to read the next one called The Sentence is Murder. I also loved Magpie Murders.

George Bellairs. Wonderful writer. I read four last year. More here about him.

4. Six books from the past that led me back there.

A favorite category for me since I do love older books.

If Morning Ever Comes by Anne Tyler. This was published in 1964, her first book. It gave such a feeling of the time. I was 16 that year, and it was so much quieter than now. Less news, fewer weather reports, no screens except television with the two stations I could get.

The two Lorac books, Murder by Matchlight and Fire in the Thatch.

Everybody Always Tells by E.R. Punshon.

Spring Magic by D.E. Stevenson. I love books set during WW II that actually take place then.

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. It is quite amazing to me how different 1987 was from now. And parts of the book are set further back.

5. Six series of books read or started.

Samuel Craddock series by Terry Shames. I have almost read all the books. Love the Texas setting and the main character.

Inspector de Silva series by Harriet Steele. Love these books and read them as fast as they come out.

Holiday Bay series by Kathi Daley.

Robert Macdonald series by E.C.R. Lorac.

Rabbi Small series by Harry Kemelman.

Oxford Tea Room series by H.Y. Hanna

6. Six Favourite Places to Read.

Bed - I read only Kindle books there.

Kitchen chair by woodstove

Living room chair

Kitchen table while I eat breakfast


Terrace, where I recently put a chair in the shade, in one of my favorite spots.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Springtime at Windy Poplars - a photographic tour

This is what one of the flower gardens looked like on the day spring began, March 20.

Two days later

March 24

March 28

March 29 - plotting out the new vegetable garden, in the snow!

April 3 - sheep shearing day

April 6 - evening light

April 9 - evening light again

April 13 - signs of growth

April 20 - chickens on the lawn and crossing the road

Also April 20 - daffs we planted last fall are up!

April 22 - amazing evening sky - second picture only seconds after first one, and third seconds after that.

May 5 - forsythia. I learned it should really be pronounced with a long "I" because it is named after William Forsyth, a Scottish botanist.

May 6 - Ice Follies narcissus was a blog header picture

May 16 - viburnum up the road

May 17 - double rainbow, and our old daffs on the side lawn

May 24 - a bouquet of my plum blossoms, and lily-of-the-valley coming

May 26 - newly tilled up vegetable garden

Field violets -  were here when we came

 Thalia daffs

Bleeding heart

The patio gardens

June 7 - lilacs

June 11 - the white barn lilacs. Tom's mother gave him this for Father's Day decades ago.

Crabapple. At the top left of the picture you may see a mowing line. We are leaving half the lawn un-mowed this year. Lots of pretty wildflowers are appearing.

June 17 - Iris we transplanted into patio garden in the fall

Baptisia Australis - wild indigo

 Aquilegia, also transplanted in the fall

June 18 - on the hill out back. The wild garden, never weeded with a Lucy path through the middle. Ferns, iris, lupine.

That beautiful evening light - was a blog header. This was the last picture I took of the gardens of springtime. What a spring it was. Everything bloomed abundantly and lasted a long time. It was cool and wet, with some hot, sunny days.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

"It started out with a kiss"

You probably know the song, Mr Brightside by The Killers. Really one of the truly great songs in music, I think! This year the band was at Glastonbury and how I wish I had been there, too. Here is a video of the performance.

You may remember Cameron Diaz rocking out to it in the film, The Holiday.

And here is a wonderful, amazing video of a man in Ireland, drunk as a skunk, giving tribute to a late friend at the wake in a pub.

The lyrics:

"Mr Brightside"

I'm coming out of my cage
And I've been doing just fine
Gotta gotta be down
Because I want it all
It started out with a kiss
How did it end up like this?
It was only a kiss, it was only a kiss
Now I'm falling asleep
And she's calling a cab
While he's having a smoke
And she's taking a drag
Now they're going to bed
And my stomach is sick
And it's all in my head
But she's touching his chest
Now, he takes off her dress
Now, let me go

And I just can't look - it's killing me
And taking control
Jealousy, turning saints into the sea
Turning through sick lullabies [acoustic version of the song says: "Swimming through sick lullabies"]
Choking on your alibis
But it's just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
‘Cause I'm Mr Brightside

I'm coming out of my cage
And I've been doing just fine
Gotta gotta be down
Because I want it all
It started out with a kiss
How did it end up like this?
It was only a kiss, it was only a kiss
Now I'm falling asleep
And she's calling a cab
While he's having a smoke
And she's taking a drag
Now they're going to bed
And my stomach is sick
And it's all in my head
But she's touching his chest
Now, he takes off her dress
Now, let me go

'Cause I just can't look - it's killing me
And taking control
Jealousy, turning saints into the sea
Turning through sick lullabies [acoustic version of the song says: "Swimming through sick lullabies"]
Choking on your alibis
But it's just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
‘Cause I'm Mr Brightside

I never...
I never...
I never...
I never...

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Today's picture/Evening mist

8:37 pm

We don't get much mist at Windy Poplars Farm. We're on a windy hill, and the only water is a stream out past the telephone pole. I love mist and fog, and was so happy to see this tonight.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Four Seasons with Susan Hill and Gladys Taber - Gladys' spring

Gladys has a nice thing to say about March the month when spring begins in our part of the world.
As I write, sleet, mixed with snow and rain, beats against the window. But when I open the door and look out, I smell the clean, sweet air, and I hear the brook running down the hill, and I feel spring in my heart. March is a special gift from nature to restore and nourish the land, and without it roses would never bloom so beautifully in June. 
We've had a cloudy, rainy, cool spring with a few days of warmth and bright sunshine. Most people have complained, but for me it was the perfect weather for the flowers. Yes, things have been slow in coming, but the daffodils lasted over a month. I've never seen so many blooms on the crabapple and they didn't fade for ages. Every single tree and flower has looked spectacular. I hope to do a picture posting of all the beauty.

In the 1970s, Southbury Connecticut has changed from Gladys' earlier writings from the 1930s and 40s and 50s. It made me sad to read
Southbury is no longer a quiet country village as it was, and those of us who watch the death of a rural area feel heartbreak. The deep woods crash, marshes are flooded, sweet-running trout streams polluted. Factories encroach. Chain stores plan to move in. A turnpike slices the wild-flower meadows.
Sometimes I think progress is man's greatest enemy. But I am thankful my own woods and swamps and streams are still safe, and nobody at the moment can drain my pond and build a development there. It belongs to the wildlife and the children.
I suppose all of us who grow older in a place we've lived in a long time see changes, and think about the future of our own land. I feel very lucky because our children love this place, and indeed Margaret and her family live on acres that used to be part of it. I can't imagine them ever tearing down the house or subdividing the land. It is part of them, it is "home" to them and to their children.

It warms my heart that one of Gladys' grandchildren writes often in the Friends of Gladys Taber publication about Stillmeadow. It really seems much the same as when she lived there. She would be so very pleased.

And Southbury itself still looks very lovely in some of the pictures shown on the web page, though I'm sure much bigger and busier.

Gladys has a many page diversion from nature and spring to talk about the census. It is quite shocking to read!
The folder said, "Why Your Family?'
Well, it seems I was chosen as one of 17,000 out of 63 million to be investigated by the Census Bureau. It's strictly confidential, I was assured, for the census bureau is airtight against snoopers
... As a writer, I have been interviewed for years by reporters, radio MCs, and various clubwomen, and I have never objected, feeling that I have no secret life. ... But suddenly I began to wonder, and I did not want to fill out all those pages [30 or 40 of them!] about my way of living. We live in a climate of fear nowadays, second only to Communist countries. Newsmen go to jail rather than divulge the source of their special information. Houses are wired, telephones tapped, and the FBI has files on millions of names, innocent or not. The Watergate incident came to my mind. ... 
Then we got to page one. Now the information wanted by the bureau is about clothing and linens, auto expenses and repairs, trips and vacations, utilities, fuels, household help, repairs to appliances, TVs, etc., home repairs and improvements, insurance, and a few other items. 
This is really personal stuff! I was shocked that the Bureau could request (well, it really wasn't a request, was it?) to know all this. It got me wondering if they still do this. I know there is news now about a government "request" to know if a household includes anyone who is not a citizen of this country. But do they also go in for all the minutiae of lives?

Poor Gladys. 74 years old and being asked all these things!
An hour and a half later I needed an ice pack on my head. Unfortunately, I did not know how old my toaster was, when I had last bought sheets and pillowcases, how old my car was (this never came out right since I bought the last one of a model the week before the new ones appeared). I had no records of when I bought my TV set (but it was black-and-white, which she wrote down). I remembered that my electric range was a little over a year old (just old enough so the warranty had run out when the timer blew).
Trips and vacations drew a blank, as I never take them. I confessed that I have only one typewriter, non-electric. And no humidifiers. I forgot my one old electric fan. I had not bought any new clothes or rented any. And I did not know how much I had spent on food. No hospital expenses. I said I needed a new sofa because the springs were sagging in mine but I did not remember when I bought it or when it was re-covered. ...
Books are evidently of no interest to the Census Bureau, and I must have several hundred at least, overflowing the bookshelves and stacked in piles in closets. Never mind. I had not bought a new coat this year. Or new shoes.
The census woman was to come back twice more, and in the meantime Gladys was supposed to fill out more pages.
I began to wonder how much 17,000 of these elegant portfolios, complete with pad and pencil and glassy pockets, must cost our rich government and how much this investigation cost and how far that money would go for food for the poverty areas.
And then she ends with some rather chilling words.
I do know in this age we are not expected to have or want any privacy, but I wonder if it isn't time for a change before we all become statistics fed into a computer?
I find this whole project more and more disturbing. At what point can a citizen of our great country have any privacy? Are we by any chance tending toward an era when the government will regulate our whole lives? I wonder if I were to say, "I do not wish to be in the census, thank you. Try my neighbor down the road" - would I make the FBI files?
I am too docile ever to know.
Gladys then goes on to write of her cats, past and present, and the wild ones who live in the barn. This part was hard for me to read as our Raya died in March. She made her first appearance on the blog here. And there are more pictures under the "Cats and Dogs" label on the sidebar under "Letter Topics". We had her for 18 years. She had been a big cat but in the last years she lost so much weight and by the end was only about 5 pounds. She was the most loving and interesting and difficult of all our cats. She was the greeter when anyone came to visit. She loved people. And she loved the grandchildren from the very beginning. Here she is with 7-month-old Hazel.

As for the difficult part - well, she was unstoppable. She stretched on and under every single chair. If she wanted my attention for some reason, she would just go over and begin stretching. She chewed on every plant. But, my goodness I miss her.

I used to tell her that she had to live until 2019 so I could say that Tom and I had had 50 years of cats, and she did. Tom doesn't want another cat, and I understand his reasons though I do ache for the presence of a kitty. But what I really ache for is my Raya. Gladys Taber would certainly understand.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Most highly recommended podcast!

Do any of you know about Bear Brook, a podcast done by a man named Jason Moon from New Hampshire Public Radio? I added up the minutes, and I think it is about 6 hours long, and I spent my Sunday afternoon and early evening listening to it. I made bread, did dishes and laundry, and made supper during that time, but often I found myself just sitting, riveted by what I was hearing.

This true story is like none other I've ever heard. There are twists and turns, and the unexpected happens often.

The story begins with some boys in the 1980s coming across a metal barrel in the woods near their homes. They don't really look inside, but some months later a hunter does look in and finds the remains of two people.

Moon has done the most remarkable job. He is clear. He explains well who people are in the story. If there is someone mentioned in an earlier episode he reminds us just who that person is. All of this is very helpful because there are a lot of people mentioned.

I expect most people will listen to it an episode at a time, but it just happened to work out that I could "binge-listen" taking time out only to eat supper.

Here is the site. This is not just a NH story. It covers several different places in the country. I so hope you will listen. It is truly amazing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June bug

How do June bugs know when it is June?? They showed up here, out on the porch, on June the first.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Fun and kinda great thing I saw on Instagram

I came upon this a while ago, and I thought I'd share it. A younger friend who was a fan of the song was going through a terrible divorce, and the list is the opposite of what her husband did.

And here is the video.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Quote du jour/Charles Dudley Warner

Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations.
It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.
Charles Dudley Warner

Aren't these words familiar to all home gardeners? We dream (and "hoe") in the spring. Even if the garden does "not turn out well", by then we are already dreaming of next year's garden.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats, and sung by The Waterboys

I was listening to an old album by The Waterboys, and was so taken with the last song. It is The Stolen Child by Yeats put to music by one of the members, Mike Scott, and narrated by Tomás McKeown. It is so very beautiful.

I found it on youtube in a video illustrated with pictures of old Ireland. You may watch and listen here. Addendum: I just saw that you can't watch it on the blog, but must click the watch it on youtube button. Sorry for the extra step.

The faerys [sic] are luring a child to go away with them. They present their home as a beautiful place "where flapping herons wake the drowsy water rats." This is a place of dancing and joy "while the world is full of troubles and anxious in its sleep." And that last line of each verse is a killer - "for the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."  The last verse tells of the good the child will be giving up to avoid the inevitable sadness in real life.

Oh, Yeats! A wonderful poem, and I do love the musical version and narration.

The Stolen Child

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A 23-year-old's impressions of Notre Dame in 1971

I kept all the letters and postcards I wrote to my mother when Tom and I traveled in 1971. Today I looked through them to see if I might have said anything about visiting Notre Dame, and I found a postcard!

I searched to see if the three windows were saved in the fire, and they were! You may read more here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Photos of Notre Dame

There are some excellent photographs of Notre Dame at The Guardian. And here I am in 1971.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Happy birthday to Gladys!

Gladys Taber was born on April 12, 1899. She is such a part of my Letters from a Hill Farm, and if you go to the Gladys Taber label under "letter topics" (on the sidebar on the R - scroll down past "places I love to visit"), you'll find a lot about her. But not many photos. I've just recently joined Pinterest, and I've found a few I hadn't seen. I wish there were more. She was well-known in her day, and beloved then and now.

In front of that fireplace she writes about so often.

Gladys with her family on a Christmas Eve.

My grammies used to look much like this. You may see them here.

Such a kind face.

This is the earliest photo I've come across.