Monday, February 24, 2020

I'd say spring was coming, but it's almost March

Saturday I emailed the fellow who portrayed George Washington and asked him to convey our birthday wishes to the General; he said he would, gladly. Amazing.

I definitely have spring fever right now. It's sixty degrees outside and sunny - I think the cats also have it. Everyone wants to be near an open window.

Where I live, February is generally the coldest month. Not this year. It's been mostly in the forties, and we've had no appreciable snow since December. So, on a day like this I can really feel that I'm ready for spring to begin.

Except that I don't trust March. And wouldn't you know, I came across a poem in my Phyllis McGinley book on that very subject.

Song for a Personal Prejudice

January's bearable
In spite of bad report.
Though February's terrible,
It's short.
With snows in proper season,
Each burdens down the larch.
But March is full of treason,
And I hate March.

Hold your hats and duck, boys, March is nearly due,
The sleet is on the windowpane, the slush is on the shoe.
The pneumococcus carols a loud, triumphant song,
And not a holiday's in sight the whole month long.

On many a wedding present
In June my ducats fly.
The temperature's unpleasant 
In July.
As August airs grow olden,
Hay fever's what I've got.
But any time seems golden
Compared to you-know-what.

Pick your shovels up, lads, you'll never know reprieve,
For March is on the threshold with a blizzard up its sleeve,
With a pussy-willow fable that is feeble in its facts,
And a brand-new estimation of your extra income tax.

October leaves I rake with
An ardor far from faint,
And April wetting take with-
Out complaint.
Serene, in weather lawful,
I shiver or I parch.
But March is merely awful.
I can't stand March.

Away, that month despicable, those days of dread and doubt,
When the gale blows down the chimney and the oil is running out.
(Besides, I own a private cause to call the time accurst -
I'll have another birthday when its March the twenty-first).

Monday, February 17, 2020

another Presidents' Day

Well, it's another Presidents' Day.  The fellow who came to the library as George Washington wrote a book, and I've got it - it is a fictional account of the battles of Dorchester Heights and Harlem Heights, both little enough known that he felt he should tell the story. And he used the actual words of the well-known figures in the story whenever possible.

"Thursday the 7th, being set apart by the honorable the[sic] legislature of this province, as a day of fasting and prayer, 'to implore the Lord, and giver of all victory, to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness, and that it would please him to bless the Continental Arms, with his divine favor and protection. All officers, and soldiers, are strictly enjoined to pay all due reverence, and attention on that day, to the sacred duties due to the Lord of hosts, for his mercies already received, and for those blessings, which our holiness and uprightness of life can alone encourage us to hope through his mercy to obtain."

                                                      -  George Washington,  March 1775

Saturday, February 15, 2020

clever minds

I am still reading through my book of poems by Phyllis McGinley. And I'm still amazed at her seemingly limitless ability to make rhymes on every subject - not just rhymes, of course, but intelligent, clever, witty and other things.

Incident in the Afternoon

I heard two ladies at a play - 
A comedy considered witty -
It was a Wednesday matinee
And they had come from Garden City.
Their frocks were rather arts-and-crafts,
And they had lunched, I learned, at Schrafft's.

Although we did not speak or bow
Or comment even on the weather,
More intimate I know them now
Than if we'd gone to school together.
(As you must presently divine,
their seats were rather near to mine.)

Before the curtain rose I heard
What each had told her spouse that morning.
I learned the history, word for word,
Of why three cooks had given warning.
Also that neither cared a straw
For domineering sons-in-law.

I heard a bridge hand, play by play.
I heard how all's not gold that glitters.
I heard a moral resume
Of half a dozen baby-sitters.
I learned beyond the slightest question
Shrimps are a trial to digestion.

The lights went down. The stage was set.
Still, in the dusk that fans the senses,
Those ladies I had never met
Poured out their swollen confidences.
The dialogue was smart. It stirred them
To conversation. And I heard them.

Above each stylish epigram
Wherewith the hero mocked his rival,
They proved how nicely curried lamb
Might justify a roast's revival,
That some best-selling author's recent
Book was lively. But indecent.

I heard a list of maladies
Their all too solid flesh was heir to.
I heard that one, in her deep freeze,
Could store a steer, but did not care to.
A neighbor's delicate condition
I heard of, all through intermission.

They laid their lives, like open tomes,
Upon my lap and turned the pages.
I heard their taste in hats and homes,
their politics, but not their ages.
So much I heard of strange and true
Almost it reconciled me to
One fact, unseemly to recall:
I did not hear the play at all.

I swear this woman was every bit as brilliantly clever as Jane Austen, in her way. And that's saying something (although just my opinion).

And speaking of Jane, the ladies' group at church gave a Jane Austen tea and luncheon today, with a speaker. And it was very enjoyable. The attention to detail was surprising; over eighty attended, and it must have been a lot of work.

First of all, we were given pre-printed name tags - not to wear, but to put in for a raffle if we wanted. There were four or five choices. There were tea party-ish hats there and a mirror, if you wanted to be hatted during the program. Each table was set for eight and everyone had a favor at their seat. Inside was a teabag and a Ghirardelli square of chocolate; the little gold box was closed with a little cameo pin!

Not fine jewelry, but still -
Each table had two or three little papers elegantly printed with quotations from famous people - quotes about love:

I took these photos at home. I can't believe I forgot my camera! The decorations were so pretty.

Each table was labeled with the names of couples from Jane Austen novels: ours were John and Isabella Knightley. They called us up to get our food by table. There was cream of mushroom soup or one with beans and kale - that was good. And if you asked, a gluten-free one with carrots and ginger. Three croissant sandwiches: tuna, chicken or tomato and mozzarella.  Salad greens with several toppings and ranch or Italian dressing. And the desserts - I wondered if they'd come from a bakery, they looked so perfect. But everything was homemade.

In between the meal and dessert a young woman gave a talk about Jane Austen's vision of what real romance in a novel should look like  in comparison with overly emotional, melodramatic depictions which were popular in her day. Lastly, they had the raffle. Everyone was delighted with the whole affair.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

about waiting

"Waiting is not a punishment; waiting is part of the magic of becoming who we are."

                                               -  Joy Clarkson

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

a good neighbor

Don't know how I stumbled on this, but it's the cutest durn thing imaginable.

This English fellow has made a little set-up around his yard for the mice which live there, like a real live Brambly Hedge, and he photographs them!

Monday, February 10, 2020

"a thing which takes place now"

"All through our life Christ is calling us. He called us first in baptism, but afterwards also; whether we obey his voice or not, he graciously calls us still. If we fall from our baptism, he calls us to repent; if we are striving to fulfill our calling, he calls us on from grace to grace, and from holiness to holiness, while life is given us. Abraham was called from his home, Peter from his nets, Matthew from his office, Elisha from his farm, Nathanael from his retreat; we are all in course of calling, on and on, from one thing to another, having no resting place, but mounting towards our eternal rest, and obeying one command only to have another put upon us. He calls us again and again - and again and again, and more and more, to sanctify and glorify us.

It were well if we understood this; but we are slow to master the great truth, that Christ is, as it were, walking among us, and by his hand, or eye, or voice, bidding us follow him. We do not understand that his call is a thing which takes place now."

                                                     -   St. John Henry Newman,   from Magnificat. February 2020

Sunday, February 9, 2020

he came, we saw, he conquered

Well. George Washington was here.

This fellow was Really good. He had an authentic uniform, portraying Washington as a general. He spoke exclusively about the Revolutionary War, the battles, dropping names we learned in our history classes. He was not a spellbinding speaker, but as he told us later when we helped him pack up, neither was his subject, so he figures he's a good fit for playing George Washington.

The prepared portrayal was about an hour with a Q & A for another half hour. And that's when you find out if they know their stuff. He knew. And he stayed in character. One lady just didn't get that and asked him about the Civil War. He looked puzzled, and then thought she must be meaning the English Civil War - he even mentioned something about Roundheads. She didn't get it.

After the Q&A he took questions as himself.

He wanted a photo with the original three of us who couldn't get in to see him last October.

Everyone was very impressed.

this photo by my brother

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Friday, February 7, 2020

a little change in the plan

Well, I haven't been here in a week! I sometimes get involved in things and don't think of this space.

You're wondering how the baking is coming along. Well, I was thinking about how to set things up and we had to conclude that since eighty people have signed up - wow! -  and they'll be sitting in chairs, in rows, this is not conducive to eating anything. There will be crumbs left on the floor. And there's no place for so many to mill around comfortably afterward and have a snack. We decided that we won't serve any refreshments.

I don't mind, honestly, or feel that I've wasted my time; I'm sure there will be a bake sale of some sort at church before the beginning of Lent, and I can also bring some to work next week. And since we've been eating sweets every day since mid-December, what's a few more? 

Well, I think I'm kidding about that.