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!

June 25, 2014

One could do worse...

"A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness." 
 Robert Frost 

That very well may be the beginning of a poem, but a good poem becomes a part of your soul and spirit, words that can uplift and inspire you, bring you joy or gently remind that you are part of the universe and not alone.  Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets, perhaps because he loved the sound of the human voice and once claimed that "all poetry is a reproduction of the tones of actual speech."  I often think of him when I am in Door County, as he loved nature so much, and his poem Birches was on my mind when I took these pictures on my last camping trip.

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice storms do. Often you must have seen them  
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells 
Shattering and avalanching on the snow crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.  
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter of fact about the ice storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them, 30 
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was 
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs  
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May not fate willfully misunderstand me  
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk  
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

and before afternoon she'll shake her braids...

You know how some people have green thumbs, while others can't seem to grow air plants?  How some people can whip up a gourmet dinner with their eyes closed, while others can't cook boxed macaroni and cheese?  How some people can paint a masterpiece, while others (like me) can't draw a circle and get the two ends to meet properly?  Well, all I can say is that when it comes to styling hair, I didn't inherit the right genes.  I, sadly, am the girl who had to have her mother fix her hair all the way through high school.  When I tried to do it myself, odd things happened...

 like this...(eew)

or this (double eew---what a scowl!  I obviously didn't like the flipped up ends look...)

So you can imagine my unease when I realized my beautiful baby girl had hair that was long, and thick, and curly, and beautiful and....difficult.  
I will never confess how long it took me to twist and tuck and spray and pin her hair for this picture...

The two of us have had more hair conversations than you could ever imagine...curls, braids, french twists, "natural" (natural usually translated into looking good for two hours followed by two days of intense combing to get all the tangles out), and in her teens flat irons, relaxers, you name it...we tried it.  Home concoctions (like the horrifying night when we discovered the "African tawny gold" had turned her hair a weird ashen color, in stripes), beauty parlor nightmares with burnt hair and scalp from overzealous stylists, and lots and lots of how-to books on cute french braids.  And in case you didn't know, cute french braids are very hard to master on thick unruly hair!  

So when my daughter was preparing for her recent study abroad trip to Europe, our conversations naturally turned to how she was going to cope with her hair during three weeks with no easy access to hair dryers and flat irons.  Her ingenious solution?  Braided hair extensions!  So she went from this:

to this:

and then at the end of her trip when the braids were driving her crazy, she went "au natural" for a night...

followed by a trip to a Brazilian beauty salon in London the following morning for a Brazilian "blow-out":

So hopefully you can understand my delight when I found this poem while she was traveling...it made me smile, remembering all the times she patiently sat at my feet while I struggled with comb and brush and blow dryer and flat iron and products and ribbons and bows and hair clips and...

I'm braiding my daughter's hair,
crossing over one strand and one strand.
Leaf-shadows play on the closed blind,
rippling, rippling.
Nothing keeps in the continuum
of light and wind outside the window.
I hold wildness in my hand.
We continue, one strand and one strand,
the undulating curls and coils
falling along her neck, her shoulders.
I drop one hair, then another.
Though I'm not much good at this,
she is patient. Her head in my hands,
she leans in, tugs away, as do I,
crafting what we can of the morning.
I'd like to believe I've saved her
from chaos, but more likely,
she humors me, and before afternoon
she'll shake her braids,
let all that hair unravel.

June 24, 2014

Never stew your sister...

Title illustration from Under the Window, Kate Greenaway
May I just say I have two awesome sisters?  The kind that help pick me up when I'm down, laugh with me at all of life's absurdities (and lately, I've had a lot of those to deal with!) and know exactly what will make my heart beat a little faster when they choose a gift. When my mother visited last week, she came bearing two special gifts from my sisters to celebrate my becoming a grandmother--how sweet and thoughtful.  So thank you to two wonderful sisters who know me oh so well.  I can't wait to read them with Lily!

Mouseton Abbey

Can't you see my having a tea party with Miss Lily and reading this book out loud to her?!  All sorts of mouse adventures await us...and would you believe the butler is named after my favorite English cheese.  Wensleydale to the rescue!

The Little Big Book for Grandmothers

And I can't wait to start using this charming book--it is filled with fairy tales, nursery rhymes, song, stories, words of wisdom, activities, and recipes.  And did I mention 19 poems by some of my favorite poets!?  It even has illustrations from Kate Greenaway, whose artwork I absolutely adored when I was a young girl.

So in honor of my two special sisters, here's a silly little rhyme by Lewis Carroll.  I simply couldn't stand the syrupy poems about sisters so I chose one with a bit of a twist instead.  Because I also had two brothers...

"Sister, sister, go to bed! 

Go and rest your weary head." 

Thus the prudent brother said. 

"Do you want a battered hide, 
Or scratches to your face applied?" 
Thus his sister calm replied. 

"Sister, do not raise my wrath. 
I'd make you into mutton broth 
As easily as kill a moth." 

The sister raised her beaming eye 
And looked on him indignantly 
And sternly answered, "Only try!" 

Off to the cook he quickly ran. 
"Dear Cook, please lend a frying-pan 
To me as quickly as you can." 

"And wherefore should I lend it you?" 
"The reason, Cook, is plain to view. 
I wish to make an Irish stew." 

"What meat is in that stew to go?" 
"My sister'll be the contents!" 
"You'll lend the pan to me, Cook?" 

Moral: Never stew your sister.

My two little sisters and one of my brothers...circa 1968