Thursday, June 30, 2022

a refreshing interchange

 A young woman came in the library the other day - she was maybe, junior high age. She asked my help in finding some books she wanted. One of them was in graphic novel form, and there was no one else around, so I asked her if she really liked graphic novels; I said I thought they were - honestly, I forget the word. But they don't appeal to me. She said she did like them, and thought because she's grown up with them, and I hadn't, that was maybe why. A refreshing girl! Then she said graphic novels were like "the candy of literature", and regular novels were the meat. Ah! I was relieved to hear that she understood the superiority of a full novel but could still enjoy other things. I would never disparage anything a child was longing to read - you don't want to discourage anybody, so normally I keep my thoughts to myself, but there was that something about her which led me to comment. She knew what she liked, and why.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

La casa aperta

 I picked up a copy of Bringing Tuscany Home, by Frances Mayes; I don't know if I've read it before - I may have - but it feels new. She's talking about how having the openness of summer life in Cortona influenced the way she lived in her San Francisco home: 

 " A wasp zooms through my study window... A bird flies in one window of my study and out the other. A bee zooms in, drinks from the faucet, and flies out. During lavender season, yellow, orange, blue and white butterflies drift through the bedroom and light on my black shirt drying on a chair. 

 La casa aperta - the open house -  rain blows in the open windows, a visiting cat peers in the living room door...  People come and go as naturally as the butterflies that drift by the mirrors. ..

.Our Cardinali neighbors bring pickled eggplant, dried mushrooms, fruit cordials, and grappa. Chiara comes home...and surprises us with a pensiero, a thoughtful little gift of a shell necklace and straw shopping bag. Beppe brings eggs, still with tiny feathers stuck to them. Lucio leaves yellow squash on the steps, Giusi arrives with cenci, Giorgio brings wild boar. Malva, a fellow Californian drops off apricot jam and home-baked bread."

                                                  -  Frances Mayes

And then I picked up Still Cove Journal, by Gladys Taber, which I just began yesterday:

"In our town, when the geese go over, neighbors call up or drop in. I am used to having friends come in the door and dash for the binoculars without stopping to speak to me. For two days a loon perched on a last sliver of ice (the month of April in Cape Cod)flexing his wing muscles and preening, obviously getting ready for courtship. Neighbors came just to see him."

                                                   - Gladys Taber

La casa aperta, in New England as well as in Italy. It's heartwarming.

healing like a fresh stream

 The other day, after barely overcoming a migraine, I cast around for a book to dive into and there was Island Magic by Elizabeth Goudge. Her first novel, it was better than I expected it to be. 

"they taught us everything there - geometry and algebra and literature and history and -

Soeur Monique interrupted with another snort. They may have taught you but they did not educate you, she said. The function of the educator, she declaimed, is to discover in each individual child the gifts implanted in her by Almighty God and to develop and dedicate them to His service.

Then it doesn't matter if one isn't clever? she [Jacqueline] asked. 

Matter? No, of course not. Why should it? God needs you as He made you and not as He didn't make you. His purposes require us all to be differently gifted. An appalling thing it would be if we were all clever, there'd be no one left with the intelligence to boil an egg or look up a train in a time table.

All this was entirely new to Jacqueline and its healing ran like a fresh stream to all the parched sore places inside her."

                                                      - from Island Magic, by Elizabeth Goudge

Monday, June 20, 2022

"St. Francis was not a lover of nature"

 I'm enjoying this book by Chesterton, about Saint Francis.

"St. Francis was not a lover of nature....The phrase implies accepting the material universe as a vague environment, a sort of sentimental pantheism. In the romantic period of literature, in the age of Byron and Scott, it was easy enough to imagine that a hermit in the ruins of a chapel (preferably by moonlight) might find peace and a mild pleasure in the harmony of solemn forests and silent stars, while he pondered over some scroll or illuminated volume, about the liturgical nature of which the author was a little vague. In short, the hermit might love nature as a background. Now for St. Francis nothing was ever in the background. We might say that his mind had no background, except perhaps that divine darkness out of which the divine love had called up every coloured creature one by one. 

In a word, we talk about a man who cannot see the wood for the trees. St, Francis was a man who did not want to see the wood for the trees. He wanted to see each tree as a separate and almost a sacred thing, being a child of God and therefore a brother or sister of man. But he did not want to stand against a piece of stage scenery used merely as a background..."

                                                                  -   Saint Francis of Assisi, by G.K. Chesterton

Friday, June 17, 2022

birds and berries

 Now we have grackle babies, and I like to see them. I like blackbirds, maybe because they aren't vain.

I also like blackberries.

from the supermarket

Someone returned a Mary Oliver book at the library and I took it home, but haven't got past the first poem.


                                                 When the blackberries hang
                                                  swollen in the woods, in the brambles
                                                  nobody owns, I spend

                                                  all day among the high
                                                  branches, reaching
                                                  my ripped arms, thinking

                                                  of nothing, cramming
                                                  the black honey of summer
                                                  into my mouth; all day my body

                                                  accepts what it is. In the dark
                                                  creeks that run by there is
                                                  this thick paw of my life darting among

                                                  the black bells, the leaves; there is
                                                  this happy tongue.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

a furrowed brow

 Dolly is old, and when she washes her face, the fur on her head gets a furrowed look, like she's concerned about something. 

Maybe it's knowing we have to wash her nose for her every day, because she can't seem to manage it. Our dearest girl.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

flora and fauna, and a new water pipe

 The workers got their permit, finally, and today they replaced our water pipe. They said they would take out the mountain laurel, and remove two heavy branches in the cherry. 

We have running water, but their equipment is scattered around the yard and there's a mound of dirt, too. But not in the driveway where it was when my brother came home for lunch - they moved it to the front lawn and the driveway is clear. The put back the mountain laurel! 

Meanwhile, we've had baby starlings and robins galore, and there's a rabbit dining right near the back yard vegetable garden, apparently finding enough to satisfy, while we know full well they can get inside the wire fence with no trouble. But (so far), they are content in the grass. 

Monday, June 6, 2022


We wondered about the reason for fewer cars at the supermarket. But it was crowded inside - funny. We tried to figure out why so many were shopping - it wasn't a holiday. Well, not here, at least! But maybe there are some anglophiles in town who were planning to celebrate this weekend in honor of the Queen. I bumped into this on youtube and enjoyed it. I didn't realize Her Majesty was deliberately wearing bright colors with hats to match, so she could be easily spotted in a group. Very practical, but if you watch the video, note the harlequin dress  - very unusual, but pretty! 

A mockingbird was singing madly in the parking lot, but he was far off and I couldn't spot him. I appreciate his hard work. There hasn't been one singing in our neighborhood yet, but now that we've got some fruit trees planted, maybe they will come around more often. They're not seed eaters, but like fruit (and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in winter). My brother has planted a white crabapple and a purple-leafed plum tree. Another cherry way in back, though ornamental like the one in the front yard. Some hollies - one or two - and a few box. I was mistaken before about the holly he planted a few weeks ago - they are box, but we have hollies now. I hope they all do well. My hanging plant is doing very well.

I sat on the front step this evening, trying to read a while, and some wind came up. Nearby was the cherry tree and the Japanese maple, my neighbor's maple past the forsythia hedge, and some tall trees across the street. I saw the neighbor's upper leaves blowing in the ripply way you can see in the summer, and then our Japanese maple moved. That was it. It didn't spread to the cherry close by, or go across the street. It was a strong breeze, but only where it was. Not where it wasn't. It made me wonder about the wind. Where it stops, where it starts. How "thin" it might be, or wide. I have no answers. 

I have taken two fabrics, put them together, and am quilting them.  I didn't put any layer in between, and I'm sure you're wondering why. For now we'll see how it comes along, but I'm enjoying the process.

The Easter season is over, with the celebration of Pentecost yesterday. 

"The wind blows where it wills and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes of whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the spirit."

                                                       -  John 3:8

Sunday, June 5, 2022

the city of God

 "[When] the spirit from on high is poured out on us. Then will the desert become an orchard and the orchard be regarded as a forest. Right will dwell in the desert and justice abide in the orchard. Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security. My people will live in peaceful country, in secure dwellings and quiet resting places."

                                                 -  Isaiah 12:15-18

This sounds ideal to me - don't know about you. :)