September 30, 2012

There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a cup of tea.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am so blessed.  Not only do I have a family that I love dearly but I have wonderful friends.  Yesterday good friends of ours came to town, and while the guys went golfing, my friend Sandy and I took in a beautiful exhibit of paintings and tapestries on loan from the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, Italy.  There were over 45 works by Renaissance masters, including a Titian, a Botticelli and a Tintoretto.  While it would be hard to choose a favorite, I love the look of love between Mary and Jesus in this beautiful Botticelli.


After the exhibit we sat by the lake on a beautiful September afternoon and watched the sailboats go by, catching up on news about the comings and goings of our families, and planning future get-togethers.  Then home we went, where we played in the kitchen and had marvelous fun preparing dinner.  I'll try to get the recipes posted tomorrow--we had Boston lettuce salad with roasted sliced pears and spicy honey glazed walnuts; bleu cheese/cranberry/pistachio stuffed chicken breasts; tomato/bleu cheese pasta; fresh Italian rosemary bread; and for dessert, plum cake cockaigne from Irma Rombauer's classic Joy of Cooking.

The best part of the day, though, was sitting around my dinner table, candles lit, wine poured, my lovely dishes from my beloved Aunt Stella adorning the table, and talking for hours with our good friends.  Our friendship goes back over twenty years and spans eight children, two moves, four weddings, and six dogs.  Celebrations, heartbreaks, disappointments and medical scares--we've weathered them all together.  It was a lovely night.  Robert Frost understood--there is always time to talk.

A Time to Talk

Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, 'What is it?'
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
plum cake
Plum cake cockaigne!



May you have a lovely Sunday, filled with good food, good friends, and a time to talk with your loved ones!

September 29, 2012

There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a cup of tea
Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's early Saturday morning (and I do mean early) and I am heading off to my running class.  Hah!  I bet you thought I'd chickened out and wasn't doing it, since I haven't mentioned it again in any of my posts!  Truth is...there isn't too much to say about putting on (admittedly cool) running shoes and hitting the pavement.  I haven't discovered the poetry of running yet.  Stay tuned, maybe it will happen at some point!  But right now it's Saturday morning and I would rather be sleeping in. I have guests coming today, and a long to-do list but somehow I'll get it all done (or not) after my class.  At least my house is still pretty clean (see last Saturday's post!) 

Don't you just love this nice cup of tea print?!  It's so fun, and the background lists all things British...clotted cream, marmite, the Queen, fish and chips, red phone boxes, etc.  I just may have to order one for myself.  I love things that make me smile! I also found this fun little tea ditty yesterday and thought you might enjoy it as well.  No title or author was listed, but I love the phrases...there is magic in its fragrance, there is solace in its taste.  So true!  I hope your world becomes a lovely thing as you take time to brew a cup of tea and enjoy your day.

The Quintessentially Fine Art Print available on Bestybenn.co.uk

When the world is all at odds
And the mind is all at sea
Then cease the useless tedium
And brew a cup of tea.
There is magic in its fragrance,
There is solace in its taste;
And the laden moments vanish
Somehow into space.
The world becomes a lovely thing!
There’s beauty as you’ll see;
All because you briefly stopped
To brew a cup of tea.

September 28, 2012

In this fair world of God's...

I got up early this morning, and when I looked out the window the stars seemed extra brilliant in the sky.  Today is going to be as lovely as yesterday, with the promise of beautiful weather all weekend.  What's not to love about going into the weekend with good weather and time to spend with friends and family?  My plans include a visit to the Uffizi Gallery tapestries on special exhibit here in town (I guess that means that next week we'll talk about Florence, Italy!), dinner with good friends, shoe shopping with my daughter and enjoying a family meal on Sunday with my son and daughter-in-law.  I can't wait for the fun to begin!  In the meantime, here is a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning that caught my eye.  Elizabeth is one of the Victorian poets, and I find the end of this poem a little dreary, but I think the first lines are spot on...I think we are too ready with complaint in this fair world of God's....  Let's take today and enjoy it to its fullest!

Cheerfulness Taught By Reason

I THINK we are too ready with complaint
In this fair world of God's. Had we no hope
Indeed beyond the zenith and the slope
Of yon gray blank of sky, we might grow faint
To muse upon eternity's constraint
Round our aspirant souls; but since the scope
Must widen early, is it well to droop,
For a few days consumed in loss and taint ?
O pusillanimous Heart, be comforted
And, like a cheerful traveller, take the road
Singing beside the hedge. What if the bread
Be bitter in thine inn, and thou unshod
To meet the flints ? At least it may be said
' Because the way is short, I thank thee, God. ' 

Night falls on the canals in Venice

September 27, 2012



I thank all who have loved me in their hearts

Isn't that a lovely title for today's poem?   It makes me smile to read it, and if you really want the full effect of the beautiful words, try reading it out loud.  Today is one of those swiftly passing but long treasured-blue sky, crisp air, bright sunshine and vivid leaves-autumn at its finest days.  It's the kind of day when it is easy to feel thankful for the love of family and friends.  I hope your day is full of sunshine, both outside and in your soul.  Here's another of my son's beautiful pictures from Venice to start the day off on a perfect note.

St. Mark's Cathedral, Venice, Italy
Sonnet 41
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I thank all who have loved me in their hearts,
With thanks and love from mine. Deep thanks to all
Who paused a little near the prison-wall
To hear my music in its louder parts
Ere they went onward, each one to the mart's
Or temple's occupation, beyond call.
But thou, who, in my voice's sink and fall
When the sob took it, thy divinest Art's
Own instrument didst drop down at thy foot
To hearken what I said between my tears, . . .
Instruct me how to thank thee! Oh, to shoot
My soul's full meaning into future years,
That they should lend it utterance, and salute
Love that endures, from Life that disappears!


I wish I was in this gondola!


September 26, 2012

 

It wasn't a mistake, exactly, to ask for a flu shot at my check-up yesterday, but I seriously didn't think that I might end up feeling punk today!  I've never had a reaction to the flu shot before, so I was surprised to wake up feeling like I have....the flu.  I am home, curled up on the sofa with not even enough energy to read a book.  That, my friends, is a sad state of affairs!  So I'm turning to some warm and vibrant pictures to make me feel better, and where better to turn than romantic Italy?

I was reading an interesting book last week about  Elizabeth Barrett and her love story with Robert Browning.  After they married, they made Italy their home and I thought this week you might enjoy some of their passionate poetry.  Photos are courtesy of my son, Matthew, taken during his June trip to Italy and England. I love how vivid the colors are! You don't mind my sharing them, do you, Matt?  Here are a couple of verses from Barrett's Italy and the World.  I hope you enjoy them.


XXII.
Beautiful Italy! golden amber
Warm with the kisses of lover and traitor!
Thou who hast drawn us on to remember,
Draw us to hope now: let us be greater
By this new future than that old story.
XXIII.
Till truer glory replaces all glory,
As the torch grows blind at the dawn of day;
And the nations, rising up, their sorry
And foolish sins shall put away,
As children their toys when the teacher enters.

 

September 25, 2012


If you have read any of my previous posts, you are probably starting to figure out that sports and I have never been on a first name basis.  As a girl I used to declaim quite adamantly that you would never catch me dating an athlete.  So what did I do?  I married an athlete, a really good athlete, and then had kids who are really good athletes.  As a result sports (football, baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, track and dance) have all been a really big part of my life for the past 30 years. 

My nightly routine involves writing a rough draft of my blog post, figuring out what I want to say, and what pictures and poems will work well with my message.  I had a lovely blog all ready for today, but after last night's heartbreak in Seattle, I felt I needed to change direction and acknowledge the pain that all of Wisconsin is feeling.  I did put a nice fall picture at the bottom of my post in case looking at the football picture is just too depressing. 




Defeated

Sophie Jewett
 
When the last fight is lost, the last sword broken;   
The last call sounded, the last order spoken;   
When from the field where braver hearts lie sleeping,
Faint, and athirst, and blinded, I come creeping,
With not one waving shred of palm to bring you,
With not one splendid battle-song to sing you,
O Love, in my dishonor and defeat,
Your measureless compassion will be sweet.
 
Autumn at Devil's Lake, Wisconsin

September 24, 2012

I love learning about my relatives and finding out new stories about our collective past.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that a poet and ardent Quaker abolitionist that I have admired all my life, John Greenleaf Whittier, and I are some sort of cousins!  Turns out we are connected through Elizabeth Greenleaf, wife of Giles Badger, my maternal great (times 8) grandmother, who were both original settlers in Newburyport, MA, in the 1630s.  I remember studying some of his poems in a college lit class, so you can imagine my delight when I discovered the family connection!  Last year when my husband and I were vacationing in New Hampshire, we came across the Whittier Covered Bridge, which is a New Hampshire historic property currently under renovation. Built in 1870, the Whittier Bridge is named in honor of poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who spent summers in Ossipee in the late 1800s.  Here is one of his fall poems, appropriate as he is usually listed as one of the Fireside Poets (along with my perennial favorite, Longfellow).

whittierbridgeossipeenh.jpg
Whittier Covered Bridge, Lisa Greenleaf Design Studio


For An Autumn festival

The Persian's flowery gifts, the shrine
Of fruitful Ceres, charm no more;
The woven wreaths of oak and pine
Are dust along the Isthmian shore.

But beauty hath its homage still,
And nature holds us still in debt;
And woman's grace and household skill,
And manhood's toil, are honored yet.

And we, to-day, amidst our flowers
And fruits, have come to own again
The blessings of the summer hours,
The early and the latter rain;

To see our Father's hand once more
Reverse for us the plenteous horn
Of autumn, filled and running o'er
With fruit, and flower, and golden corn!

Once more the liberal year laughs out
O'er richer stores than gems or gold;
Once more with harvest-song and shout
Is Nature's bloodless triumph told.

Our common mother rests and sings,
Like Ruth, among her garnered sheaves;
Her lap is full of goodly things,
Her brow is bright with autumn leaves.

Oh, favors every year made new!
Oh, gifts with rain and sunshine sent
The bounty overruns our due,
The fulness shames our discontent.

We shut our eyes, the flowers bloom on;
We murmur, but the corn-ears fill,
We choose the shadow, but the sun
That casts it shines behind us still.

God gives us with our rugged soil
The power to make it Eden-fair,
And richer fruits to crown our toil
Than summer-wedded islands bear.

Who murmurs at his lot to-day?
Who scorns his native fruit and bloom?
Or sighs for dainties far away,
Beside the bounteous board of home?

Thank Heaven, instead, that Freedom's arm
Can change a rocky soil to gold,--
That brave and generous lives can warm
A clime with northern ices cold.

And let these altars, wreathed with flowers
And piled with fruits, awake again
Thanksgivings for the golden hours,
The early and the latter rain!


Whittier Bridge, Ossipee, New Hampshire, September 2012


September 23, 2012

Good morning!  It's Sunday, and time for a really great cup of coffee and a good book.  My house is clean (see yesterday's post!) and I've earned the right to play a little today.  I have some cross stitch designs and a quilt runner that are calling my name and a stack of books on my desk that I haven't had time to start yet...hmm, what to do first?!  Because of this summer's drought, leaves are turning color faster than usual, and also starting to drop earlier than normal.  I hope we have time to enjoy the fall colors before the trees all become bare ruined choirs!  The rest of Will's poem is a tad depressing (who needs reminders of our own mortality--looking in the mirror in the morning is enough of a shock!) but I love the imagery at the beginning of his poem.  I hope you do too.

That Time of Year

William Shakespeare
 
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals all up in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long. 

Have a restful Sunday!

September 22, 2012

...Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything...

It's Saturday morning, and I should be sleeping in, snuggled under my comforter.  It's overcast, cold and rainy out....a perfect morning to relax and take it easy.  And yet...I was raised to clean house on Saturday mornings.  My mother would put on an LP (remember those?!) of the Boston Pops, and the cleaning would commence, music to scrub and dust by provided courtesy of Arthur Fiedler.  Every time I hear the Sabre Dance by Khachaturian I want to grab a broom and start sweeping!  There is something so satisfying about a clean house--your spirits lift and it is easier to relax and enjoy your surroundings.  I think the physical activity is part of the magic--whisking through the house on a mission to restore order gets your heart pumping and it's hard to dwell on sad or negative thoughts while you are physically pushing yourself.  And the reward at the end?  Your home becomes your sanctuary, the place where you can retreat from the world and all its worries and sadness and find respite from the storms of life.    Dorothy was right...'there's no place like home.

Home

by Edgar Guest

It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ’preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.

Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ‘em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumbmarks on the door.

Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’ when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.

Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ’come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes’ t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.
Happy weekend!

September 21, 2012

Welcome, autumn!  After one of the hottest summers on record, I am more than happy to pull out my sweaters and my lightweight afghans and settle in by the fire for a nice cup of hot apple cider.  Growing up, we had an amazingly prolific apple tree in our backyard, and fall meant two things---back to school, and time to make applesauce!  Mother toiled night and day, cooking the apples until mushy and then straining them through an old-fashioned colander and into freezer bags.  We feasted on homemade applesauce all winter, and all of us in the family are still partial to Mother's applesauce over anything you can buy in the grocery store.  Remember the funny line in Forrest Gump about shrimp?  "Shrimp is the fruit of the sea.  You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it.  There's, um, shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried....That's, that's about it."  Well, our 'shrimp' was apples....apple pie, apple tarts, apple dumplings, apple cake, apple bars, applesauce, apple cider.  And sometimes we could really identify with Robert Frost and his weariness after a day of apple picking..."For I have had too much of apple picking."

Apples at Robert Frost's farm, Derry, New Hampshire, 2011


After Apple-picking

by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound 25
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Apple tree on Frost's farm, September 2011

What favorite apple recipes do you enjoy?

September 20, 2012



Welcome, Thursday!  The week is flying by, and fall is flying in.  It's sweater weather at its finest, cool mornings and gentle afternoons.  Blue skies and colorful leaves shouting a gleeful hallelujah to the heavens before settling down for a winter's nap.  Truly, what's not to love about autumn's vivid hues?  Emily Dickinson must have felt the same way in the poem below. 



Swift River, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
 
The name -- of it -- is "Autumn" --
The name -- of it -- is "Autumn" --
The hue -- of it -- is Blood --
An Artery -- upon the Hill --
A Vein -- along the Road --

Great Globules -- in the Alleys --
And Oh, the Shower of Stain --
When Winds -- upset the Basin --
And spill the Scarlet Rain --

It sprinkles Bonnets -- far below --
It gathers ruddy Pools --
Then -- eddies like a Rose -- away --
Upon Vermilion Wheels --



Autumn in Door County, Wisconsin


I hope you have a day filled with love and beautiful colors!


September 19, 2012




Caitlin and her harp
 Do you ever have those moments when something hits you smack in the face and you think...whoa, when did THAT happen?!  Moments like when, in spite of having experienced and enjoyed every moment of my son's engagement and wedding, the first time he came to Sunday dinner after the wedding I looked down and saw his left hand with his wedding ring, and it hit me...where had my little boy gone?  Another such moment happened this Monday when my son was going back to college after our emergency trip to Pittsburgh, and we loaded my daughter's harp into the SUV for him to deliver to her apartment.  I've helped her pack, unpack, design and decorate her dorm rooms and apartments many times over the past four years, but this is the first time her harp has left our home.  And once again, it hit me....this was it.  The harp probably wouldn't come back to our house, it would move with her after graduation to wherever her life leads her.  Another part of childhood...gone.  I love the amazing young adults my children have become, but oh, how I miss the childhood laughter.  I think perhaps Longfellow was feeling some of the same emotions when he penned one of my all-time favorite poems:

The Children's Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditi,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!


Have a great day!

September 18, 2012


Sometimes things happen in life that cannot be explained.  If I hadn't been present, I wonder if I would believe my own story.  We received a call last Thursday that my husband's brother was gravely ill, and the doctors had suggested the family come at once.  We set out with heavy hearts for the long drive to Pittsburgh.  But sometimes, despite the odds, despite conventional medical wisdom--something happens that can only be described as a miracle.  My brother-in-law was surrounded by prayers, powerful prayers, and those prayers and the love of his family brought him back to us.  The doctors couldn't explain it.  The nurses couldn't explain it.  After being unresponsive, he opened his eyes...and his first words were to his wife..."I love you."  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Before we arrived at the hospital, his heart had stopped several times and machines were breathing for him.  When we left the hospital, he was talking back to the referees on the televised Steelers' football game.  Welcome back, Aaron.

Miracles 

by Walt Whitman

WHY! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the
water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love--or sleep in the bed at night with
any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon, 10
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds--or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down--or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best--
mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savans--or to the soiree--or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old
woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial, 20
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring--yet each distinct, and in its place.

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the
same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass--the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women,
and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.



September 13, 2012

Due to a family emergency, I will not be writing any new posts for the next few days.  My family would appreciate prayers for my brother-in-law, Aaron, and his family.  Thank you. 



September 12, 2012


Bar Harbor, Maine
 I am still missing my fall vacation and wishing I was off on an adventure with my husband!  We had so much fun when we visited Maine three years ago....we stayed in a lovely cabin overlooking a quiet lake where we could canoe and kayak, we explored Mt. Desert Island and Bar Harbor, and flew our family kite on Sand Beach.  I had wanted to go further north, all the way to Prince Edward Island and the home of my fictional 'kindred spirit' Anne of Green Gables, but we decided to save that trip for another day.  I loved being by the ocean and experiencing its many moods.  Here's a poem about the sea from Lucy Maude Montgomery, writer of the Anne series that I so enjoyed as a girl.  I hope you have a lovely day today!

The Sea Spirit   
I smile o'er the wrinkled blue­
Lo! the sea is fair,
Smooth as the flow of a maiden's hair;
And the welkin's light shines through
Into mid-sea caverns of beryl hue,
And the little waves laugh and the mermaids sing,
And the sea is a beautiful, sinuous thing!

I scowl in sullen guise­
The sea grows dark and dun,
The swift clouds hide the sun
But not the bale-light in my eyes,
And the frightened wind as it flies
Ruffles the billows with stormy wing,
And the sea is a terrible, treacherous thing!

When moonlight glimmers dim
I pass in the path of the mist,
Like a pale spirit by spirits kissed.
At dawn I chant my own weird hymn,
And I dabble my hair in the sunset's rim,
And I call to the dwellers along the shore
With a voice of gramarye evermore.

And if one for love of me
Gives to my call an ear,
I will woo him and hold him dear,
And teach him the way of the sea,
And my glamor shall ever over him be;
Though he wander afar in the cities of men
He will come at last to my arms again. 

View of the ocean from top of Cadillac Mountain


What are your favorite vacation spots?  I'd love to hear about your adventures! 

September 11, 2012

A few years ago I had the incredible privilege of accompanying my son, Matthew, to Washington, D.C., where he was the Wisconsin representative for the national Poetry Out Loud competition.  The poem below was one of the poems we heard recited while at the event, and its powerful images have stayed with me.  Alabanza is Spanish for Praise.  Last year my husband, mother and I were visiting Newburyport, MA, when we came upon this lovely memorial to all the 9/11 victims at Bartlett Mall (park).
Alabanza:  In Praise of Local 100
By Martin Espada
for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local l00, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

 
Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head   
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,   
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,   
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.   
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle   
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.   
Alabanza. Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap   
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane   
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,   
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.   
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked   
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish   
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,   
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.   
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen   
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:   
Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana,   
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.   
Alabanza.
Praise the kitchen in the morning,   
where the gas burned blue on every stove   
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,   
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs   
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.   
Alabanza. Praise the busboy’s music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.   

Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher   
who worked that morning because another dishwasher   
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime   
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family   
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.   
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.   

After the thunder wilder than thunder,   
after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,   
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,   
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,   
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
like a cook’s soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us   
about the bristles of God’s beard because God has no face,   
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations   
across the night sky of this city and cities to come.   
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.   

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul   
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,   
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:   
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:   
I will teach you. Music is all we have.
Reprinted with the permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

September 10, 2012

  
Autumn
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven's o'er-hanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves! 

And here we are--we have circled back to another Monday!  I hope you had a refreshing weekend and have things to look forward to during the work week.  I love the fall--I have been a 'sweater weather' girl all my life.  I love the cool, crisp days and being able to have the windows open to fall breezes.  I love watching the leaves turn colors and hot apple cider.  Yesterday I hung my fall wreath, and set out my fall decor, including lovely new table linens from my last trip to Door County.  These are my last pictures from Maine...tomorrow we will head to Massachusetts and some new pictures and poets!


What's your favorite season?  I'd love to hear from you!
Enjoy your day!

September 9, 2012


Sunset near Acadia National Park, Maine



Hello, Sunday!  I enjoyed Saturday, visiting my son and daughter at college, seeing their new apartments and taking them out to dinner.  It's always so good to spend time with them and I love seeing how they are thriving in their academic environment and having fun with their friends. Continuing on my 'travel' theme for the week, here is another lovely poem by Longfellow that I hope you enjoy.

A Summer Day By The Sea

The sun is set; and in his latest beams
Yon little cloud of ashen gray and gold,
Slowly upon the amber air unrolled,
The falling mantle of the Prophet seems.
From the dim headlands many a light-house gleams,
The street-lamps of the ocean; and behold,
O'erhead the banners of the night unfold;
The day hath passed into the land of dreams.
O summer day beside the joyous sea!
O summer day so wonderful and white,
So full of gladness and so full of pain!
Forever and forever shalt thou be
To some the gravestone of a dead delight,
To some the landmark of a new domain. 


Bass Harbor Head Light, Maine




 What are some of your favorite vacation memories?  I'd love to hear about them!

September 8, 2012


Happy Saturday!  This weekend should have been the start of our annual fall vacation.  But since I moved to a new job in June, my vacation time disappeared and I have to build up my vacation days again...hence, no vacation this September!  So I thought I would spend this week reflecting on some special vacation moments from the last few years...better than nothing, right?!  The picture above was taken in Maine...doesn't it just make you want to sail away on a grand adventure?  Did you know that one of my all-time favorite poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was born in Portland, Maine?  Here is a lovely poem to start your weekend on a cheerful note:
A Day Of Sunshine
O gift of God! O perfect day:
Whereon shall no man work, but play;
Whereon it is enough for me,
Not to be doing, but to be!

Through every fibre of my brain,
Through every nerve, through every vein,
I feel the electric thrill, the touch
Of life, that seems almost too much.

I hear the wind among the trees
Playing celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument.

And over me unrolls on high
The splendid scenery of the sky,
Where though a sapphire sea the sun
Sails like a golden galleon,

Towards yonder cloud-land in the West,
Towards yonder Islands of the Blest,
Whose steep sierra far uplifts
Its craggy summits white with drifts.

Blow, winds! and waft through all the rooms
The snow-flakes of the cherry-blooms!
Blow, winds! and bend within my reach
The fiery blossoms of the peach!

O Life and Love! O happy throng
Of thoughts, whose only speech is song!
O heart of man! canst thou not be
Blithe as the air is, and as free?


The "Bubbles" at Jordan Pond, Maine



September 7, 2012


Rainbow after Uncle Lowell's party
Picture courtesy of Ron Bales

And here it is once again--Friday!  I hope you have plans for the weekend that include fun, family and some time for you to put up your feet and relax.  I have dinner plans with friends tonight, a trip to see my son and daughter at college tomorrow, and I'm reserving Sunday for buying fabric for the quilting class I start next week.  I'm looking forward to all of it!  Last weekend, when we were in Indiana for my uncle's birthday celebration we couldn't help but notice the dry, dry fields.  The Midwest drought has taken a terrible toll on farmers this summer, and when remnants of Hurricane Isaac blew in with a rainstorm during the party, none of us were upset to see the rain!  Afterwards...a beautiful double rainbow.  I think it was God's way of saying happy birthday to a good man.

Obviously rain showers are welcome all over the world, not just in our rain hungry Midwest.  Tu Fu (713-770 AD), a leading poet of the T'ung Dynasty, greeted the rain almost two thousand years ago much the same way we do now.

Clear After Rain
Tu Fu
(translation by Kenneth Rexroth)

Autumn, cloud blades on the horizon.
The west wind blows from ten thousand miles.
Dawn, in the clear morning air,
Farmers busy after long rain.
The desert trees shed their few green leaves.
The mountain pears are tiny but ripe.
A Tartar flute plays by the city gate.
A single wild goose climbs in to the void.


Enjoy the day---what do you have planned for your weekend?


September 6, 2012

I am looking forward to this evening--a friend and I are going to our favorite French market,  run by two friends who share a love of all things French.  You can read more about the market at http://www.facebook.com/#!/Confectionique.  I am hoping to find a couple of surprises for my daughter's apartment, since her apartment decor this year is leaning towards French shabby chic.  We've become quite the international family lately...my brother is planning an anniversary trip to Paris next month, my son studied in England and Italy in June, and my nephew just arrived in Sardinia, Italy for a year of study-abroad!  Here's a French poem to add a little international flavor to your day!



Painting by Claude Monet, Giverny France

Poème
Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage,
Ou comme cestuy-là qui conquit la toison,
Et puis est retourné, plein d'usage et raison,
Vivre entre ses parents le reste de son âge !

Quand reverrai-je, hélas, de mon petit village
Fumer la cheminée, et en quelle saison
Reverrai-je le clos de ma pauvre maison,
Qui m'est une province, et beaucoup davantage ?

Plus me plaît le séjour qu'ont bâti mes aïeux,
Que des palais Romains le front audacieux,
Plus que le marbre dur me plaît l'ardoise fine :

Joachim du Bellay, Les Regrets, sonnet XXXI, 1558

Translation
Happy he who like Ulysses has returned successful from his travels,
Or like he who sought the Golden Fleece,
Then returned, wise to the world, to
Live amongst his family to the end of his age!

When shall I see again, alas, of my dear village,
Its chimney smoke, and in which season,
Will I see again that little, modest, plot of earth
That is a province to me, and far more than I draw here.

I’m drawn far more to my forefathers home,
Than to a Roman palace fine and proud,
More than hard marble I prefer fine slate.


No matter what language is used, the thought remains the same, doesn't it?  There's no place like home!

September 5, 2012

See this picture of me?  1966, in Indiana visiting my relatives (that's my cousin Brenda in the background)...doing what I did best back then.  Playing the violin, which required some arm movement, a little finger action and occasionally a little swaying to the beat.  You really didn't have to break a sweat to play the violin (unless the day was really humid, which sometimes happened in Indiana in August, hence the fan in the window).

And see this picture of me?  This is me, circa 1959, with my Aunt Mary Emily, doing what I have always been the best at....reading!  It also requires some physical movement...you have to lift the book from the shelf (okay, this particular book probably didn't cause me to break a sweat!), lift your arm to turn the pages, and of course you have to move your eyeballs....are you catching a theme here?  Yup, I'm the girl my mother would shoo outside with the admonition "at least take your book outside to read!"  I'm the girl with the 1001 lame reasons to please be excused from gym class.  I did manage a rather nifty floor exercise in junior high set to Simon and Garfunkel's To Emily, Wherever I May Find Her (I think I chose the music because I thought the title was deep), but let me tell you, after that it was all down hill.  Exercise and I....we're not really on speaking terms. 

Fast forward to today.  Tonight, to be accurate.  In some insane moment I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a 12 week running class.  What was I thinking?!  I guess I was thinking it's time, way past time, to exercise more than my music and reading muscles...it's time to say hello to stronger muscles, a better attitude, and a healthier body.  I'll keep you posted because let me tell you....this is so far out of my comfort zone I'm in the next zip code area!  Maybe I was inspired by Walt Whitman's The Runner....

The Runner

On a flat road runs the well-train'd runner,
He is lean and sinewy with muscular legs,
He is thinly clothed, he leans forward as he runs,
With lightly closed fists and arms partially rais'd.

Or maybe I just really, really like my new running shoes....

Keep tuned for the adventures of the poetry-loving runner!

September 4, 2012


Good morning!  I hope you had a good time over the Labor Day holiday, with time to re-connect with family and also time to re-connect with yourself.  Life can get so busy we can lose sight of what’s really important.  Family is SO important to me, and I’ve been blessed with a really great one.  My husband and I spent the weekend in Indiana, celebrating my uncle’s 85th birthday with my mother, my brother and his family, and a host of cousins.  I cherish my memories of Indiana and my wonderful childhood adventures there.  Here’s a poem by Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley that reminds me of my own ‘fairy paradise’ when I was young:

A Child-World


  The Child-World--long and long since lost to view--
A Fairy Paradise!--
How always fair it was and fresh and new--
How every affluent hour heaped heart and eyes
With treasures of surprise!

Enchantments tangible: The under-brink
Of dawns that launched the sight
Up seas of gold: The dewdrop on the pink,
With all the green earth in it and blue height
Of heavens infinite:

The liquid, dripping songs of orchard-birds--
The wee bass of the bees,--
With lucent deeps of silence afterwards;
The gay, clandestine whisperings of the breeze
And glad leaves of the trees.

O Child-World: After this world--just as when
I found you first sufficed
My soulmost need--if I found you again,
With all my childish dream so realised,
I should not be surprised.


Uncle Lowell and me 




What special memories do you have of your childhood?  Take time today to reach out to a relative that was special to you then and let them know how much you love them!