October 30, 2014

Cape Cod, October 2013
I must confess, right now I'm missing the hustle and bustle of having young ones in the house (don't worry, I'm sure that yearning will be long gone by Saturday morning!).  My children all loved the fun of dressing up on Halloween, and intense discussions of costume ideas started long before the pumpkins were fat and ready for carving.  One of these days I'll have the time to scan and convert all my old photos into digital so that I have more photos to share, but I did unearth a few memorable costumes from the past:

Ahoy, maties...pirates and dragons were my first attempt at costume design---not bad for a novice!  I blush now to admit, but the little dragon's face is green from mint toothpaste.  Seemed like an inspired idea at the time...

Ah yes, Batman.  This is the Batman who INSISTED on a gold belt to complete the costume.  So I did what any mother who has LOST HER MIND would do, and drove twenty miles back to the school where I taught band and borrowed a marching band uniform belt before we went trick or treating.  Because you wouldn't want to let Batman down, right?  Fortunately the cute pumpkin was pretty laid back.

And then there was the "easy" witch costume from Family Fun magazine.  The one that took hours to make and ended up with glow-in-the-dark ORANGE paint exploding from its tube in the family room and covering furniture, carpet, windows, walls and even the ceiling fan with globs of orange fluorescent paint.  But it was worth all the aggravation in the end...she made a cute witch, didn't she?  And besides, it gave us an instant eerie orange night light in the family room for years!

One final picture...a real "blast from the past".  All the way back to 1972 and my sibs, decked out in their Halloween finery and ready to take on the streets in search of the biggest candy bar!


As the pumpkins said, isn't Halloween fun?

October 28, 2014

Oh my goodness, I am soooo loving my new role!  I was looking forward to being a grandmother, but until you actually hold a sweet little baby in your arms you don't really understand how precious and wonderful your new position is---I don't have to make the hard choices, I'm not responsible for child rearing decisions...I just get to have fun!  And fun was in abundance last Sunday when my husband and I got to hang out with our darling Lily all day--here are a few peeks at what we did:

We played games:

We faithfully followed the feeding schedule:

Grandpa introduced Lily to the Steeler Nation;

which I balanced with my love of reading (got to keep things even!)

And while Lily was napping, I indulged in all things "Grandma"....

 Finally mastered the dreaded double pointed needles...

 and finished my first baby hat!

Lily seemed to like it!

And I baked an apple pie to surprise my son and daughter in law after their long day--first time I made "home-made" pie crust in over twenty years!  

What a perfect day!

We Love You

We loved you from the very start,
You stole our breath, embraced our heart.
Our life together has just begun,
You’re part of us our little one.
From the day we first knew,
Our mind was filled with thoughts of you.
We’d daydream of the things we’d share,
Like bedtime stories and teddy bears.
Like first steps & skinned knees,
Like nursery rhymes and ABC’s.
We thought of things you’d want to know,
Like how birds fly & flowers grow.
We thought of lessons we’d need to share,
Like standing tall & playing fair.
Each nap time we lay you down to sleep,
We gently kiss your head & cheek.
We count your little fingers & toes,
We memorize your eyes & nose.
We linger at your nursery door,
Awed each day we love you more.
Through misty eyes, we dim the light,
We whisper “We Love You” every night.
We loved you from the very start,
You stole our breath, embraced our heart.
As grandparents and grandchild our journey’s begun,
Our heart’s yours forever little one.

October 23, 2014

In the deep fall...

Autumn in Maine
Good morning--how did it get to be Thursday already?  It's homecoming week at the University I work for, and it has been a stressful, hectic week.  I must admit that I'm looking forward to the weekend.  But in between sleeping too little and worrying too much about my unfinished tasks at work I can't help but enjoy the beautiful weather this week.  Poet Mary Oliver must have enjoyed the seasonal changes as well when she penned her lovely poem Song of Autumn.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Autumn in New Hampshire
Song for Autumn
by Mary Oliver

In the deep fall
    don't you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
    the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
    freshets of wind? And don't you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
    warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
    inside their bodies? 

Autumn in Wisconsin
And don't you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
    the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
    vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
    its blue shadows.

Autumn in Indiana

And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
    the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

Autumn in Wisconsin

October 22, 2014

and a thought for kith and kin...

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.