Thursday, December 31, 2020
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Monday, December 21, 2020
I was looking at my 2020 Susan Branch calendar and saw that the last piece of verse she noted on the December page is the last verse of this poem. It is quite fitting for our very strange and sad year. Ah, Longfellow. Always and forever one of my favorites. He puts his whole soul into his work. And I've just ordered a brand new biography of him! So excited.
This was first published in 1838. His first wife had died just a few years earlier after a miscarriage.
Here is an 1840 portrait of him done by Cephas Thompson.
A Psalm of LifeBy Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
I am currently watching a New Zealand show on Acorn TV called Nothing Trivial, and I just saw a quote from George Bernard Shaw that I had never heard before.
"A happy family is but an earlier heaven."
Isn't that just the best!
Here's a picture of the man.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Gotta focus on the music
Focus on the heart of things
Focus on the peace that music brings
Musicians have been very creative in getting their music out there. This "quarantune" was an early example. You can see it is as homemade as it gets.The singer, the guitar, the recording device.
There were three evenings in the past few months when music did "carry me merrily and gently down the stream".
The first one was early on, in March. Chris Smither was on what is called a Parlor Room Home Session. He is a longtime time favorite of Tom and I, and it was a delight to see him in his own home. He told stories and sang his wonderful songs. I was transfixed. The music was just what I needed when everything had changed so much in such a short time. You may watch it here. Just to let you know, it takes a few minutes before he appears.
The second one was Keith Urban, live streaming on Amazon Music. An hour in which I thought of nothing. I just basked in the music. There are several videos on YouTube from the show. Here is one where Keith sings with Pink.
The third was a live stream of Farm Aid. You may find most (all?) of the performances here. I hope that address works, but if not, just go to YouTube and type in Farm Aid 2020. This is where I first heard Lukas Nelson, and I've since bought an album, and follow him on Instagram where he often posts videos. Lately he's been doing something called Soundcheck Songs where his band Promise of the Real explores "songs and artists, some well-known, some more obscure, that have influenced us as a band in one way or another." These are also on YouTube on his page. Farm Aid introduced me to other artists I'd not heard before like Black Pumas, whose album I've also bought. You may see a Tiny Desk Concert of them here.
And speaking of Tiny Desk Concerts, they are a wonderful music source to visit, if you haven't already. The main page is here.
Music gives solace to my soul and is as necessary as air, never more than in this strange and sad year.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Yesterday the birthday pals, Tom and Hazel celebrated their special day. And indeed, this one was particularly special, numerically speaking! Hazel turned 7 and Tom 70 which means he is, for this year TEN times older than she is!!
And turning seven is in itself a special day. There is quite a quite a wonderful article here, if you are interested. It isn't necessarily exactly seven. Kids develop differently. But it is right around seven that is a real milestone in one's life.
If you watch the Up series, you'll remember that the first episode began with these words:
Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.
I've looked it up and they have been variously attributed to Aristotle, Francis Xavier, and the Roman Catholic Jesuits.
"Six or seven or eight" is in Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. I'll quote the whole song because it is so moving.
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
There's a lovely version done by James Taylor here.
So, it is a big deal to be turning seven!
I thought I'd put up pictures of Tom and Hazel over these seven years. Most of them on or near their birthday.
The first one, the very first time Tom held her, one day after she came home from the hospital - February 9, 2014. If you don't know her story, you made read it here.
December 5, 2014
December 6, 2015
December 5, 2016
Friday, December 4, 2020
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Last fall I wrote about my two cactus plants.
This September we decided to transplant my mother's cactus. It just didn't look like a healthy plant to me anymore. The transplant didn't help, so I threw it out. I looked it up and saw that the lifespan is 20-30 years. I gave it to my mother in 1972, so it has already beat the odds.
The "anything but fuchsia" is still going strong, and here it is today.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Monday, November 16, 2020
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Do you know this wonderful television series? I've watched it at least twice all the way through and recently bought it on DVD and am watching again. The late, much missed Richard Griffiths plays a policeman who wants to retire and just be a chef at his restaurant Pie in the Sky. He is a man who really knows and loves good food, and bemoans the fact that his accountant wife played by one of my favorites, Maggie Steed is happy with prawn chips and take-out pizza. Anyhow, a lovely series that cheers my soul each evening. If you have Acorn TV you may watch it there.
The quote du jour was spoken by the Griffiths character, Henry Crabbe.
"I rarely plan more than a day ahead and even that usually ends in disappointment."
A lot of wisdom in those words, methinks.
Saturday, November 14, 2020
I have always used glass pans for baking bread, cakes, supper recipes, desserts. My mother always had Pyrex pans, and I continue to use them.
Three nights ago, I was roasting a 7x11 pan of potatoes and onions. It was covered in tin foil and the temp was 400º, just like always. It was a relatively new pan, but I'd used it a few times since buying it. We were in the living room watching Autumnwatch on BritBox when we heard a crash, a kind of explosion in the kitchen. And this is what we discovered.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
The book I chose for the girls told the tale of a grandmother describing to her grandchildren what Christmas was like when she was young, a passing of memories that took us back in time. I've always loved stories of life in the "olden days," hearing the jingling livery of a horse-drawn carriage, the sound of long skirts sweeping the floor, a teacup settling into a saucer in Emma's garden ... it's the closest thing to time travel I know.
I'm like that, too. I've always loved stories from the past. And Christmases in older times seem so special to me.
Somewhat shockingly I must admit that Susan Branch's memories are of "olden days". Shockingly because those were my childhood days as well as hers. She was nine and I was eight in 1956. I tried to find a picture of me that Christmas but apparently my mother didn't take pictures of every Christmas and occasion in our lives. This fact in itself sets 1956 apart from 2020. Do you know I have over 70,000 pictures (and videos) in my iPhotos on the computer?! Granted they could use some culling - a dozen shots of one daylily for example - but still. I managed to come up with one of me in 1956. Wish I could see what that book is. It almost looks like a booklet of some kind.
It feels like just about every single thing is different. You don't see many large families anymore. It surprises Margaret when I tell her that I was the odd duck as a kid, being an only child. I can think of just one other in my class. Hazel knows several like herself. Susan writes:
... everything we had was made in America. Milkmen left glass bottles of milk on our porch, gas cost 30¢ a gallon and was pumped by an attendant. There were individual jukeboxes on lunch counters - for a nickel Elvis, Doris Day, Little Richard, or Buddy Holly would serenade you over your banana split. At school we practiced cursive on huge blackboards that covered the walls, and lined up to get our polio vaccines. Girls wore dresses for everything, to school, for roller skating, hopscotch, and cartwheels, too - and every boy on our street had a six-shooter and a coonskin cap. Drive-in movies were wonderful, under the stars, the whole family went to see Lady and the Tramp, us in our jammies. We had rotary telephones and a party line, and the new thing in the living room called television.
This was a middle-class white American family, like so many others in those days.
My dad got a job with General Telephone, so they moved from Long Beach to the San Fernando Valley. That's where I grew up, along with my seven brothers and sisters in a pink-stucco four-bedroom house my parents bought for $16,000 with help from the GI Bill. ... We didn't have a lot of money but just enough, apparently, because we had the basics, warm beds, clean jammies, friends, shoes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and parents who loved us. I always thought we were rich because I felt so happy. ... There wer 53 children living in the twelve houses on our dead-end street, and more coming all the time. ... Bikes made us totally mobile from about six-years-old. Parents didn't worry as long as we told them where we were going and were home for dinner.
Olden days, indeed.
But the thing that still lives, that still rings as true as then is the love in the family. I would hope younger people than I am will read this to see that though some external things change, love in a family is timeless.
"Are we rich" I asked my mom. "Not rich in money," she said, "but rich in love. We have each other. That's what counts." It was a highly satisfactory answer. It sounded exactly like "Yes."
This is Susan Branch's family in 1956.
Monday, November 9, 2020
Monday, November 2, 2020
Yesterday we met Campbell and Indy halfway between our towns, and brought them up here for the day. Margaret did not tell Hazel they were coming. After we let her know they were here, she told Hazel there was a surprise up at Pop and Nana's. The boys hid, she came in and closed her eyes, and then this happened!
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
One of the many, many glorious things about living so close to our daughter and her family is that we are often included in their get-togethers.
Because there is no trick or treating this year, Margaret decided to have a Hallowe'en party. The people who came are all those that they see regularly, and/or children Hazel knows from school. And it was an outdoor party so everyone felt comfortable. And thankfully, there are no cases in our town.
Matt and Margaret and Hazel decorated their house, yard, and made a little "haunted trail" coming up the road to our house. She gave us goodie bags to hand out that she had packed for the kids at the end of the trail. Luckily it was a perfect, sunny, warm day and evening. The families arrived in the late afternoon and walked up here around 6:15 when it was dark. I'm still smiling thinking about it.
And now for the pictures.
At the house
Monday, October 19, 2020
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Yes, you read that title right. First snow of the season overnight into the morning, after raining all day yesterday. A friend's birthday is tomorrow and his wife says that 9 out of 10 times the first snow comes on his birthday so this is normal for us. The only concern was the lilacs and honeysuckles were bent down by the heavy snow. Tom and I went out for 1 1/2 hours getting the snow off. Most of them came back just fine, but there is one broken branch, and a couple others seem weak, but we'll see when the spring comes. The problem was that there were still leaves and they were weighed down. Very unusual to have foliage and snow at the same time. But everything else is strange this year so I shouldn't be surprised!
I took these pictures in the morning.
I put bird seed on the road so the ground feeders could eat. We had bluejays and juncos and some kind of sparrows all day, and then in the evening this crew showed up.
Friday, October 16, 2020
The photo isn't anything to write home about, but it sure gives the idea of what I saw out the window the other day. I managed to count 21 turkeys, and they stayed for over an hour! This happened in the summer, too, with mothers and their babies.
I've heard that Theodore Roosevelt wanted to make the wild turkey our national bird. I am so fond of them. The wing colors are beautiful, they are pleasant company, other birds and our hens are not afraid of them. Sometimes they go right into the pasture and graze with everyone else. Just the best.
I read this online:
- Native only to North and Central America, the wild turkey was discovered by Europeans in Mexico in the early 1500s.
- By the 1930s, the wild turkey population was at less than 30,000 birds; a victim of market hunting, subsistence hunting and widespread habitat destruction.
- Over the next 50 years, state wildlife agencies funded by hunters’ dollars and working with the National Wild Turkey Federation, captured more than 200,000 wild turkeys and released them in quality wild turkey habitat.
- Today there are more than 7 million wild turkeys roaming the woodlands and river-bottoms across the country.
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Almost exactly a year ago, I posted that we were not going to feed the birds that fall and winter. But as the weather cooled down this month, I felt myself longing for birds. It was very quiet last winter. There has been no sighting of the r-word, so we are going to begin again! It is a bit expensive as I noted last year, but those birdies give so much pleasure. We've changed the spot to the clothesline. The feeders used to be strung out the kitchen door (across the road) in the lilac and honeysuckle trees, but this will be an easier place to reach when the snow is deep. In just a few days, we've had chickadees, bluejays, a woodpecker, and juncos. It is lovely to hear them through the open bedroom window in the morning.