October 22, 2014

Life itself can't give you Joy
Unless you really will it.
Life just gives you time and space--
It's up to you to fill it.

It was my son's birthday yesterday.  He is notoriously social media shy so I always have to promise to not single him out in a post, but he wasn't averse to a home cooked meal last night!  So I thought I'd share a little about his birthday dinner requests.  I wasn't surprised by any of them...all comfort foods my family has loved for years--meatloaf swirls (meatloaf filled with dressing cubes, onions, peppers and cheese and rolled like a jelly roll), "company" mashed potatoes (with cream cheese and sour cream substituting for the milk), broccoli/cheese casserole, homemade coleslaw and iced tea.  Oh yum!  And so worth it, even if it was an hour of putzing in the kitchen after work.

And where, you might ask, did these delicious recipes come from?  None other than my beloved church and community cookbooks--my go-to source for all things delicious for special family meals. Are they low fat, carb conscious and healthy?  Probably not.  But they deliver on taste time after time and sometimes...you just need to live a little dangerously.  I even used regular sour cream and cream cheese...birthdays are no time for low fat versions!

The two books I used last night bring back such lovely memories from the past--one is from the church where my children grew up, and flipping through the pages calls to mind the lovely women who taught Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, sang in the choir and prepared countless cakes for funerals and church gatherings.

Here's a poem nestled in between the recipes for broccoli cheese bread and herb bread:

Take a little dash of water cold,
and a little leaven of prayer,
A little bit of sunshine gold
Dissolved in the morning air.
Add to your meal some merriment,
And a thought for kith and kin,
And then, as your prize ingredient,
Add plenty of work thrown in.
But spice it with the essence of love,
And a little whiff of play,
Let a wise old Book a glance above
Complete a happy day.

Dessert recipes are particularly delicious, and since it is a church cookbook it's not surprising to find recipes for Bible Cake (I c. Judges 5:25, 2 c. Jeremiah 6:20...) and since South Dakota was settled by Scandinavians lots and lots of coffee cake and kringle recipes pepper the pages!

The second book was the Castlewood (SD) community cookbook, issued in commemoration of South Dakota's centennial year of 1989.  I remember that year fondly--my dad and my two oldest sons, who were 4 and 5 at the time, got to travel part of the way across the state in a covered wagon built by a family friend.  What an adventure!  (and oops, maybe I've just shared my son's picture??!)

And what a cookbook--filled not only with wonderful recipes and amazing desserts (out of the world bars, good and easy bars, gold brick bars, rhubarb bars, dream bars...) but also with all sorts of suggestions for how to cook and preserve garden bounty. Pioneer ancestors left their stamp with offerings like kloothus pop, rur-ruma, pudderaine and ponhaws.  And you can't overlook regional favorites like beef liver, baked pheasant, fried rabbit, roast prairie chicken and blizzard spaghetti...ah yes, South Dakota memories!

The meal was topped off by a homemade pumpkin pie, courtesy of his sweet girlfriend.  It was a true labor of love, because when I say "homemade" I mean from scratch...pie crust AND pie filling!  And it was so good...a delicious way to finish a celebratory meal and say I love you at the same time. And love you we do, my wonderful son!

Happy Wednesday~~let's have a wonderful day!

October 21, 2014

And I do love each scene to view...

Good morning!  Today I'm sharing a few pictures from our recent trip to a nearby state park.  Each year we honor our family fall picnic tradition  by packing books, our family kite, and games along with fried chicken, potato salad and pumpkin bars in the car and heading out in search of fall colors and an afternoon hike. 

Today's I'm sharing a few appropriate stanzas from John Clare's Autumn. If you would like to read the entire poem, you can find it here.  Friendly advice...the poem is LONG and the ending is dreary, so I chose a few of the more cheerful lines to accompany my pictures.  Thanks so much for stopping by and have a lovely day!

John Clare
(from the Village Minstrel, 1821)

The summer-flower has run to seed,
And yellow is the woodland bough;
And every leaf of bush and weed
Is tipt with autumn’s pencil now

And I do love the varied hue,
And I do love the browning plain;
And I do love each scene to view,
That’s mark’d with beauties of her reign.

The woodbine-trees red berries bear,
That clustering hang upon the bower;
While, fondly lingering here and there,
Peeps out a dwindling sickly flower.

While, on a bank of faded grass,
Some artless maid the prize receives;
And kisses to the sun-tann’d lass,
As well as nuts, the shepherd gives.

My husband and I were high up in an observation tower when I realized we could see our shadows on the leaves far below...

Beneath a yellow fading tree,
As red suns light thee, Autumn-morn,
In wildest rapture let me see
The sweets that most thy charms adorn.

O while my eye the landscape views,
What countless beauties are display’d;
What varied tints of nameless hues, 
Shades endless melting into shade.

Autumn is such a lovely way to slip from summer into winter, don't you think?

October 20, 2014

O hushed October morning mild

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables

View from my backyard...

Good morning, and hello, hello, hello!  Oh how good it feels to be at my computer, forehead crinkled in contemplation and glasses slipping down my scrunched up nose while I try to think of a clever opening to this post.  Clever opening...clever opening...

Nope.  It's not happening--I so hoped that during my time away I would somehow become a clever or witty or amazing writer and that words and sentences and paragraphs would fly from my muse-inspired brain.  I wanted to return to all of you with deeper and wiser and profound thoughts to share with you, but right now all I can think of is hello.  I guess my desire was to be more like Anne Shirley, but in the end I can only be me and trust that being me is good enough.

"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't exactly want to make people KNOW more... though I know that IS the noblest ambition... but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me... to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born.” 

I never dreamt when I took a "short break" from this blog that I would be gone for three months, but life has a funny way of interrupting with real time events that can't be postponed while I hunt for the just-right poem or the perfect photograph.  But I've remained a blog writer in my head, if not on paper (monitor?), as I was always thinking "oh I need to write about this" or "I need to take a picture of that" even if I wasn't writing it immediately.

"True friends are always together in spirit.” 
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables

I have been touched by how many of you have asked when Poetry and a Cup of Tea will return, and I am excited to be able to share with you all the comings and goings of the last few months.  So much has happened I hardly know where to begin so please bear with me as I catch up on the past while looking forward to the months ahead.

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” 
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne's House of Dreams

I may have city views, but my street is spectacular in autumn!

I took a break in order to prepare for my daughter's wedding, as I discovered that working full time, running a home, maintaining a garden and helping craft diy wedding decor was quickly overwhelming me.  But I did find time to read and have some lovely new poems to share with you in the days ahead.  

“I couldn't live where there were no trees--something vital in me would starve.” 

As I worked in the garden yesterday, a murder of crows flew by, cawing out to each other and reminded me of this poem, October, by Robert Frost.  I have always loved his lines "retard the sun with gentle mist; enchant the land with amethyst".  May all of us find a small bit of enchantment as we start our week.

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost---
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

July 3, 2014

I believe in pink

What's not to love about the color pink (or Audrey Hepburn, for that matter?)  My "pink" garden is giving me so much joy this summer!

Simplicity hedge roses that never quite became a hedge, but are lovely just the same...

You love the roses - so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet: and it would be
Like sleeping and yet waking, all at once.
(Roses, by George Eliot)

Pretty phlox, a newcomer this year!  Here is one of Cicely Mary Barker's Fairy Poems about this lovely old-fashioned flower:

August in the garden!
Now the cheerful phlox
Makes one think of country girls
Fresh in summer frocks.
There you see magenta,
Here a lovely white
Mauve and pink and cherry-red
Such a pleasant sight!
Smiling little fairy
Climbing up the stem
Tell us which is prettiest?
She says "All of them!"

My magnificent coneflowers, growing more robust every season!

What is pink? a rose is pink
By a fountain's brink.
(from Color, by Christina Rossetti)

In fact, they are threatening to soon dwarf the birdbath!

This year's "splurge"--a pink knock-out rose that will hopefully survive the winter.

And cheerful pink and purple pansies add a splash of color to the deck planter.

WHEN I have a daughter I shall name her Petunia:
Petunia, Petunia I shall call her;
In the rooms of my house she shall dance, her small face
So bright that no sorrow 'll befall her.
From this dark pot of earth, from this sun-clouded hollow
Like a rainbow she'll spring and a blue sky shall follow,
Green trees shall blow in and gay fountains of water
Ripple the voice of earth's last, fairest daughter.
And I'll teach her the songs of Apollo.

(from Petunia, by Walter James Turner)

Have a pink-licious day today, and Happy Fourth of July tomorrow!

July 2, 2014

Knock knock...who's there?  Orange.  Orange who?  Orange-ya glad today's post is brought to you by the color orange?! (groan...)

What's not to love about orange?  A cold cup of orange juice in the morning, or a creamy dreamsicle for dessert.  Orange starbursts and candied orange slices in the candy aisle.  Orange crush soda on a hot summer afternoon.  Juicy oranges, tangerines and clementines just begging to be peeled and savored.

Linda Merchant, Bowl of Oranges 2011
And then there are the spectacular sunsets I've witnessed recently in Door County:

And all the happy colors in my garden this year that make me smile:

May you have an orange-licious day!!

July 1, 2014

It's a yellow sort of day...

They call me mellow yellow...

I'm just mad about saffron

A-saffron's mad about me
I'm-a just mad about saffron
She's just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow (Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow (Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

I'm just mad about fourteen
Fourteen's mad about me
I'm-a just mad about a-fourteen
A-she's just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow
They call me mellow yellow (Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

Electrical banana
Is gonna be a sudden craze
Electrical banana
Is bound to be the very next phase

They call it mellow yellow (Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow (Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

Yes, saffron, yeah
I'm just-a mad about her
I'm-a just-a mad about-a saffron
She's just mad about me

Oh, so yellow
Oh, so mellow

May your day be as bright and cheery as the colors in my garden!
Happy Tuesday!

June 30, 2014

Cheer up, cheer up!

Remember my beautiful Mother's Day gift, that I hung on my front porch?  Well evidently, I wasn't the only one who admired the basket!

Last year I battled with mama cardinal over the front porch nest, but this year mama robin beat her to it.  My mother was visiting when nest building started in earnest and we watched her home building efforts from my kitchen window, but neither of us really thought she would be successful.

When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin' along along
There'll be no more sobbin' when he starts throbbin' his old sweet song
Wake up wake up you sleepy head get up get up get out of bed
Cheer up cheer up the sun is red live love laugh and be happy

What if I've been blue now I'm walkin' through fields of flowers
Rain may glisten but I still listen for hours and hours
Well I'm just a kid again doing what I did again singin' a song
When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin' along along
What if I've been blue...

Cheer up cheer up the sun is red live love laugh and be happy

Then a couple of days ago I noticed the nest doing a whole lot of shaking and moving around.  I briefly wondered if eggs could actually be hatching, but promptly dismissed the idea as nonsensical.  

The Robin is the One
That interrupt the Morn
With hurried—few—express Reports
When March is scarcely on—

The Robin is the One
That overflow the Noon
With her cherubic quantity—
An April but begun—

The Robin is the One
That speechless from her Nest
Submit that Home—and Certainty
And Sanctity, are best 

Well, guess what I saw the next day!!
A Bird, came down the Walk - 
He did not know I saw -
He bit an Angle Worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw, 
And then, he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass -
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass -
He glanced with rapid eyes,
That hurried all abroad -
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head. -  
Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers, 
And rowed him softer Home -
Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,
Leap, plashless as they swim. they swim.
Happy Monday!