Sunday, June 30, 2019

New England summer rain

After high humidity, today was to be looked forward to. Thunderstorms were predicted for late morning, but it was so sunny when we set off for church (mid-morning) that I couldn't believe it.

Well, mid-afternoon the gray clouds appeared and we did have a mild storm while I was making dinner. But the rest of the afternoon was an alteration of sparkling sun, streaming downpours and sun while raining, over and over. The rain would end and the sun shine so brilliantly that you'd be sure it was all done, and then rain again while the sun was bright and the breeze blew so briskly - it can only be described as delightful.

This picture is from right after the rain, but it was just as sparkling as this while it rained - the whole business was entirely charming! Of course I looked for a rainbow, but it was only the very faintest of things, something I almost imagined, except it really was there, palely trying to appear.

And now the air is dry!   For the time being - for this is New England in summer.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

more from The Enchanted Hour

Megan Cox Gurdon tells a story of a man in 1865 named Saturnino Martinez who published a newspaper expressly for cigar factory workers; it was an educational and informational paper, but most were illiterate, so Senor Martinez arranged for public readers who would read to them while they worked, and the workers even chipped in to pay him. Eventually the Spanish government outlawed this (Cuba was a colony), afraid of the spread of "dangerous" ideas.

Some years later, Cuban immigrants in Florida in the 1870s, hired somebody to read to them while they rolled the cigars. In the mornings, it was from a newspaper brought by boat from Havana, and from noon till three he read from a novel; The Count of Monte Cristo being a favorite. Their inability to read wasn't going to keep them in ignorance.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

sacked out

I've posted before about cats on flip-flops. If they're going to lay on the floor and there are flip flops in sight, they will lay on them.

Our dear girl on a very warm day - too warm for people in their fur coats.

reading aloud through history

This blog is getting to be very boring with no pictures and me just talking all the time, BUT

Chapter 2 of The Enchanted Hour talks about the history of storytelling and reading aloud:

"To read at all was to read aloud... In his book, A History of Reading, Alberto Manguel points out that Aramaic and Hebrew, the 'primordial' languages of the Bible, draw no distinction between reading and speaking. The same word stands for both."  (emphasis mine)

"Plutarch writes of the way that Alexander the Great perplexed his soldiers, around 330 BC, by reading without utterance a letter he had received from his mother. The men's confusion hints at the rarity of the spectacle."

Amazing stuff.

Dolly in the front window

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

2nd century witness

"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food, and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven."

                                              -  a Christian named Mathetes from the 2nd century, in a letter.

                                  Taken from the book Building the Benedict Option, by Leah Libresco

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

stuff and nonsense

I'm so bad at taking pictures lately - I just don't think of it!  But yesterday when we sat down to dinner I realized it was an all-white one: cauliflower, roasted potatoes (well, with some red skins on them) and chicken tenders (some green: parsley, and capers). Not only that, but I made a coconut milk ice cream for dessert; it was Midsummer Day so I fussed a little. I suppose a photograph would have been boring in its monotones, so I guess no one is missing anything.

Every day at work I end up seeing a rabbit outside, grazing in the lawn. We saw two today at different times - one was a baby. Doesn't everyone love seeing bunny rabbits?

Today I finished reading a book entitled Stories from the Old Squire's Farm by C. A. Stephens. I heard of it on a podcast, as something especially good for boy's to read. I knew we had it at work, so I picked it up. It was very enjoyable, and so believable, it was obviously based on truth. On a farm in Maine during the Civil War, an older couple has to raise several of their grandchildren because the sons of these good people were killed in the war. So, these cousins grew up together in the late eighteen hundreds and had to do so many things the hard way. Each chapter a story by itself - for any child willing to read it, a real eye-opener to see how resourceful and observant young people had to be back then  -  fascinating.

the place where I bought my hanging plant

Monday, June 24, 2019

more Phyllis McGinley

Phyllis McGinley wrote on many subjects, including commentary on some religious figures. This poem is about St. Bridget of Ireland.

The Giveaway

Saint Bridget was
A problem child.
Although a lass
Demure and mild,
And one who strove 
To please her dad,
Saint Bridget drove
The family mad.
For here's the fault in Bridget lay:
She would give everything away.

To any soul
Whose luck was out
She'd give her bowl
Of stirabout;
She'd give her shawl,
Divide her purse
With one or all.
And what was worse,
When she ran out of things to give
She'd borrow from a relative.

Her father's gold,
Her grandsire's dinner,
She'd hand to cold
And hungry sinner;
Give wine, give meat,
No matter whose;
Take from her feet
The very shoes,
And when her shoes had gone to others,
Fetch forth her sister's and her mother's.

She could not quit,
She had to share;
Gave bit by bit
The silverware,
The barnyard geese,
The parlor rug,
Her little niece -
'S christening mug,
Even her bed to those in want,
And then the mattress of her aunt.

An easy touch
For poor and lowly,
She gave so much
And grew so holy
That when she died
Of years and fame,
The countryside
Put on her name,
And still the isles of Erin fidget
With generous girls named Bride or Bridget.

Well, one must love her.
In thinking of her
There's no denial
She must have been
A sort of trial
To her kin.
The moral, too, seems rather quaint.
Who had the patience of a saint,
From evidence presented here?
Saint Bridget? Or her near and dear?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

when there is a will

One of the books I'm reading is The Enchanted Hour, by Meghan Cox Gurdon; the subtitle - The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction. She reviewed children's books for the Wall Street Journal for many years, read aloud to her own children, has done gobs of research and is expert on the subject.

On page 19 she tells that British poet Roger McGough's mother was so resourceful in finding things to read at bedtime during WWII when books were scarce, but she made sure he had some kind of bedtime "story" every night. He says: "By the light of a burning factory or a crashed Messerschmitt she would read anything that came to hand: sauce bottle labels, the sides or cornflake packets. All tucked up warm and cozy, my favorite story was a tin of Ovaltine. How well I remember her voice even now: Sprinkle two or three heaped teaspoons of..."

I am flabbergasted and amazed at this woman.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

a poem about toothbrushes

I received my used copy of Phyllis McGinley's poems. The woman wrote on every subject, and with such cleverness!

My Six Toothbrushes

 Against the pure, reflective tiles,
Northeast a little of the shower,
Gaudy as crocuses they flower.

The colors vary; but the styles
Are recommended and didactic
(Some Fuller and some Prophylactic).

I cannot, it is strange, recall
When impulse sent me forth to buy
These gauds, or where or even why.

But here they dangle on my wall,
Symbols of vanity and hope.
I watch them shimmer while I soap

And am astonished, more or less,
Discovering how has lived in me
Such rage against mortality

That I this morning should possess
Six, six! and all set dense as thistles
With tough, imperishable bristles.

Polychromatic, they confront
My startled, half-abluted eyes.
Do these, I think, epitomize

The frivolous trophies of my Hunt?
Is my one Creed. my guidestar polar,
In corpore sano*, sana molar,

Which has no care for kind or witty
Or learned ways or actual grace?
Disturbing. Well, in any case,

At least they do look rather pretty
Hanging redundantly in files
Against the cool, reflective tiles.

* apparently means "a healthy mind in a healthy body"

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

night sounds

Dolly is now happily listening to a Dave Brubeck recording; I thought she deserved it. Sweetie has been listening to the ball game in another room. (ahem)

A downside to sleeping with the windows open - there aren't many - is that you might hear something unpleasant. Last summer I'd sometimes hear chittery-chattery noises, and would imagine some unfortunate squirrel or rabbit being caught by a predator. I always felt bad.

I heard it again a couple of weeks ago and thought I'd try and find it on youtube. Well! Turns out it's just a raccoon noise, and nothing so horrible as I'd been imagining. What a relief!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Dolly hears The Who

I was playing "The Kids are Alright" - I made sure it wasn't loud - I'm not sure she cared for it.

I read Roger Daltrey's memoir, "Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite" (the name, right?) but my co-worker, whose cd it is, can't quite reconcile my desire to read the book with my insistence that I'm not a Who fan, and never was.

Of course, I am familiar with all their hits from the past, but never bought an album. I think what got me curious about Roger Daltrey was an article years ago somewhere that said he was a fish and game warden someplace in England. Well!, I thought, now that's a very normal thing for a rock singer to want to do. So when I heard about his book I had an interest.

Another thing going for it is its brevity. Some of these rock memoirs are very long (Keith Richards, anyone? - but I'm not a Stones fan, either). I've never even read a Beatles biography and I always loved them.

So anyway, I read this one - it was interesting. He got to his point, didn't beat about the bush. I'm glad I read it, but I still don't want to see "Tommy", don't want to listen to "Quadrophenia". I don't think Dolly does, either. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

using up the wine

Lately, Dolly's been wanting to go into the lower cupboards; she went onto a shelf where a few bottles of wine are kept, which reminded me that they need to be used, so I opened one.

Yesterday I defrosted a couple of Cornish hens and found a nice recipe which called for wine - well, white wine, but I had red to use up and that's what I used. It was delicious! Now, for the rest of the bottle. Maybe I'll make this cake and stick it in the freezer.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

sharing in the joy

"Each saint in heaven rejoices over the glorification of the other... To use an example: See, we are standing together, and I have a rose in my hand. The rose is mine, and yet you no less than I rejoice in its beauty and its perfume. So shall it be in eternal life. My glory shall be your consolation and exultation, and yours shall be mine."

                                             -  St. Anthony of Padua from Magnificat, June, 2019

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

the annual weeds of June

I have talked about this before - in fact, I just looked it up in my blog archives and found it on another June twelfth! - how sweet the air is around here every June. I used to think it was fancy or exaggeration when poets exclaimed over sweet fragrances wafting along the breeze, but now I know I was mistaken.

The above is a clump of wild roses growing across our brook, along the bank. And I can smell the scent through my bedroom window. We did not plant it there, nor did the birds. You may read my previous post in the link above, or I can repeat the story now. We'd pruned several branches of the stuff from a bunch of it nearer the house, and then threw it over there, presumably to break down in the way of nature. But when it was time for all good roses to bloom, those cut branches bloomed! Without any root! And by now have established themselves over there, to look pretty and sweeten the June air.

Who can complain about such a weed? (And also - is there a lesson to be found in this? Because I'm sure there is one.)

Monday, June 10, 2019

the divine in the details

"The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life."

                                            -   William Morris

Saturday, June 8, 2019

"June in the Suburbs"

I heard a poem in a podcast but it doesn't seem to be anywhere online - nowhere. I took a chance and ordered a collection of the poet's work from another library, and bingo!

June in the Suburbs

Not with a whimper but a roar
Of birth and bloom this month commences.
The wren's a gossip at her door.
Roses explode along the fences.

By day the chattering mowers cope
With grass decreed a final winner.
Darkness delays. The skipping rope
Twirls in the driveway after dinner.

Through lupine-lighted borders now
For winter bones Dalmatians forage.
Costly, the spray on apple bough.
The canvas chair comes out of storage;

And rose-red golfers dream of par,
And class-bound children loathe their labors,
While pilgrims, touring gardens, are
Cold to petunias of their neighbors.

Now from damp loafers nightly spills
The sand. Brides lodge their list with Plummer.
And cooks devise on charcoal grills
The first burnt offerings of summer.

- by Phyllis McGinley

Friday, June 7, 2019

God bless Diane, the cat-mother

Two weeks had gone by since Diane came to tell me about Mr. Kibble's blindness, and I just never saw a time when she was home, I was free and it seemed good to go over there. So I finally just called her this past Monday.

She told me he'd declined since then; she's keeping him in the bathroom, she has to help him eat and drink, he is sometimes incontinent. She said he doesn't walk and she tries to move his legs so he doesn't lose the use of them.Every evening after supper she gets a latex-backed rug and lays it on the couch beside her and she keeps him on there for the evening. He gets lots of loving. We arranged that I should come over the following evening around seven - she would call me.

Well, Tuesday I was having my dinner and she called at 6:35. I didn't tell her I was eating - I just stopped and went over there.

He really wasn't as bad as I expected. I saw him in the bathroom in a little plush cat bed - she said he must have gone into it himself, so he does move around some on his own. She got the rug on the couch and we settled down. For a full half hour I petted him and talked to him like I'd always wanted to. He purred and seemed to listen to me. As for his condition, he tried to get up and move around a couple of times, and his movements were very jerky. It was clear that he'd had a similar spell to the one he had two years ago, only worse - or maybe because he's older, weaker. He was very happy for the affection! He's got a sore looking place on one corner of his mouth; Diane says he turns his head sideways to eat and I think that area gets irritated. She puts salve on it.

He is the dearest little fellow! As I always knew he was.

in better days

Thursday, June 6, 2019


To be a giant and keep quiet about it,
To stay in one's own place;
To stand for the constant presence of process
And always to seem the same.
To be steady as a rock and always trembling,
Having the hard appearance of death
With the soft, fluent nature of growth,
One's Being deceptively armored,
One's Becoming deceptively vulnerable;
To be so tough, and take the light so well,
Freely providing forbidden knowledge
Of so many things about heaven and earth 
For which we should otherwise have no word -
Poems or people are rarely so lovely,
And even when they have great qualities
They tend to tell you rather than exemplify
What they believe themselves to be about,
While from the moving silence of trees,
Whether in storm or calm, in leaf and naked,
Night or day, we draw conclusions of our own,
Sustaining and unnoticed as our breath,
And perilous also - though there has never been
A critical tree - about the nature of things.

-   Howard Nemerov

something positive about social media

With so little value in much of social media, the opportunity to see how it is in so many parts of the world is a positive. Yesterday a video appeared from a man who'd discovered a couple of lynx yelling at each other.  This kind of thing is fabulous, and you can hear this fellow saying so while he's filming. The cats paid no attention to him - they were concerned with their "discussion".  It was no doubt serious to them, but I have to laugh at the voices of these two who sound so much like aggravated humans. If it weren't for the internet, I'd never get to see this. Which is fine with me, as I'm happy to stick with mild little housecats.

Monday, June 3, 2019

what's been goin' on

I put a pot of water on to boil the other day and went to the basement quick to get some pantry items. I came upstairs in time to hear a pop and see a spark on the stove - I actually screamed, but was able to shut off the burner. There was no fire, thank God! The burner burned out near where it plugs into the stove - not very technical language, is it? I don't know what to call these pieces. But my brother instantly knew that Amazon would have the replacement coil. Why was I surprised at that? 

found this at a consignment shop - not sure yet what to do with it

Sweetie took a trip to the animal hospital last week. She threw up one morning and never ate again for the rest of the day - when I tried to give her water, she threw it up. We were nervous and took her for a ten o'clock p.m. appointment two towns over. Blood work, some Pepcid, something for inflammation and an antibiotic shot, and then she was able to eat a little before we left for home. Turns out she's got hyperthyroidism! And her liver numbers were sky high; an ultrasound was ordered a few days later. There are no lesions on her liver, and the levels went down quite a bit, but it isn't clear why they were so extremely high (ten times what they should be!). Not clear why she was sick all day, either. There's a cream we put on the inside of her ear twice every day - she's a little testy with that, but it's not too difficult - Dolly loves her ears rubbed, but not Sweetie. 8-O

A woman came into the library with a tote bag open along one side seam. She left it behind and said she didn't care much about it, but I thought it was kind of cute and could be fixed easily. I took it home, and it got buried beneath other things in the mending pile. But today was fixing day - I'll bring it to work and surprise her with it when she comes in - it's strong otherwise and still useful, not to mention the cute design it has.

my tablet looks like it's falling off an edge, but it's just distortion from the camera