Sunday, February 28, 2021

March Approaches, and I'm Fine with a Goodbye to February

 It is overcast with more rain expected this afternoon.  And warm!  What a difference from last week.  There is a cat in my lap, resting and purring peacefully, and not trying to interfere with my keyboard (for a change).    

 Mail:  Mail has been even slower than usual lately and unpredictable.  Some of the problem, of course was the deep freeze that closed streets and highways, but ever since DeJoy took over the USPS, things have not been the same.  

Incoming

 
Annie's letter posted Jan. 19, arrived on Feb. 22.  
Even considering the days without delivery into account,
 that is a long delay for a letter posted in the U.S. 

Postcard from Carrie 

Outgoing

Here is an example of unpredictable:
 I wrote back to Annie immediately (mailed Feb. 24)
 and the letter within a week!  
She said it must have had a tailwind behind it.


And a postcard to Carrie--that I obviously failed to scan before putting it in the mail.  I could have sworn I scanned it, but can't find it anywhere.  Did I "file" it wrong?  Am I simply confused?  Short-term memory gone?

Books/Reading:
  I recently finished The Music of Bees and loved it.  I have a cousin who is a beekeeper and my garden is planned with bees and butterflies in mind, so the information about bees was educational and fascinating, but the characters were wonderful and the story was uplifting.  We all need a feel-good book once in a while.  

Another book I've enjoyed is The Accidental Savant, a sensitive coming of age story that involves synesthesia and the Blues.  
Here is where I eat breakfast and lunch with my book or Kindle.  A book of some sort is a constant companion. :)   

When I was a kid, my father was strict about not reading at the table, but when he was out of town, Mother wasn't too concerned.  There are benefits to sitting down to a family meal that I appreciate, but if I am alone, there is always a book.
 
I don't know when the photo was taken,
but I love it!


How are things with you?  My weeks are pretty much the same, except for that unusual week of snow and ice.  We are back in the 70's now, but I know many are still dealing with winter storms.  

Good books?  Interesting projects?  

Saturday, February 20, 2021

February Freeze

We are almost finished with the February Freeze! 

Here in North Louisiana, many have been without water for days.  Our friends Ricky and Teresa have been collecting snow to use to flush toilets. I wonder how long Texas will continue to be in crisis mode.  It is difficult to imagine how awful this week in Texas has been or how long it will take to recover.



Those of us in the South are unaccustomed to temps as low as 1 degree, actually even getting in the teens is rare, but at least our electric grid was mostly fine--nothing like the catastrophe in Texas.

A spark of joy for me has been the birds.  They were fighting over the feeders, so I was throwing out seed on the snow and watching the invasion of birds bobbing and tracking all over the garden.  All the usual suspects are present:  cardinals, sparrows, finches, thrush, chickadees, robins, doves.  

A special delight for me has been the red winged blackbirds.  We have only rare visits from the redwings over the years, and now there is no way to even count them; they cover the snow and the tree limbs.  They aren't bullies like the doves, but they do fuss on the feeders. So solemn in their appearance, especially in contrast to the snow, but when they fly, that flash of red and yellow on the wings makes me smile. 

The cats and I have been watching out the windows at the birds, looking out and enjoying the melee-- like one of those cat apps that people have on their phones or tablets to entertain bored felines.  Belle, Fee's office cat, is also present.  Since he's not going to the office, he had to bring her home and Belle is forced to visit her inferior fellows.  Edgrrr ignores her, but she and Stinker got into frequent hissing matches the first day or two when she went around investigating her new surroundings and grabbing window space.

At present, the yard is covered with snow which is covered with a slick of ice, and I can't get out to the feeders to refill them without risking a broken limb. I'll get to it this afternoon as things melt a bit, but early this morning we were having a new (for me) phenomenon:  freezing fog.  

Having to boil water before using it might be annoying if we weren't all so grateful to have water to boil.  Family and friends don't all have that privilege.  

It has been beautiful, dangerous, and in many places tragic.   

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Valentines, Mardi Gras, Winter Weather

 I've mentioned Stephan Curry many times on this blog, because his photographs bring the wide world to me.  I love this quote he uses on his photo essay about home:

 The home should be the treasure chest of living.
– Le Corbusier


Mail (postcards to the grands)



letter from Suzie :) 
 

The letter was included with the book she send me.  She'd told me about The Lost Garden in one of our long phone conversations.  

We both love gardens and the time period of WWII.  I haven't started it yet, but I'm enjoying looking at the lovely cover.

With Mardi Gras a victim of the pandemic this year, I've enjoyed looking at the "house floats" that have been a cheerful adjustment to the lack of parades.  

I would have loved visiting Suzie this year to take a tour of the decorated houses.  I'm not a fan of the crowds or the parades, but a tour of the houses would be right up my alley.
 



------

Belgian dad begins photo shopping pics to send his girlfriend when she checks on baby.  He must have been chuckling as he created these images.




Good Heavens, winter is finally arriving in our area and next week is going to be challenge.

Happy Valentine's Day to all.



Saturday, February 06, 2021

 Good things:

* second vaccination.  Another good experience with the entire staff at Oschner's vaccination site.  (There were several days of exhaustion and naps following the shot, but nothing else.)

* garden prep progresses.  I dug up five shrubs (took all day and frequent breaks).  

* Fee replanted shrubs along the side of the house (took about five minutes).

* Fee built a movable elevated bed for lettuces, etc.   It is on wheels :)  Love it!


* I've had fun with sketching.  A larger book sits on the desk; the small second one fits in my pocket.

looked up antique toys on line and copied some


Outgoing Mail 


postcard on Feb. 4 to our Postie
for National Thank a Mail Carrier Day



------
I've always done a lousy job of folding fitted sheets and gave being too concerned a long time ago.  I try and fail, then  put the lumpy result away.  

Today, I tried a new way and the results were much better!  A little counterintuitive, but successful.  Maybe not perfect, but certainly better than my usual method, and I think next week, things may go even better as I get the hang of it.   Here's a link to The Art of Doing Stuff's How to Fold a Fitted Sheet.   

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

MishMash of Stuff

 Emily McDowell's Empathy Cards break the mold and offer new ways to show concern. I love them.



Books/Reading
In 2019, I read The Lost Words, a beautiful book by Robert McFarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris.  This year, I want to read the lost spells, which looks to be just as beautiful.  And I also would like to read MacFarlane's Underland: A Deep Time Journey.

illustration by Jackie Morris

RED FOX

I am Red Fox — how do you see me?

A bloom of rust
     at your vision’s edge,
The shadow that slips
     through a hole in the hedge,
My two green eyes
     in your headlights’ rush,
A scatter of feathers,
     the tip of a brush.

--Robert MacFarlane

------

This penguin photo from award winning photographer Tobias Baumgaertner.  John Ruskin was definitely on to something when he said:  "...one can't be angry when one looks at a Penguin."
https://mymodernmet.com/widow-penguin-photo-tobias-baumgaertner/


Mail


I'm almost caught up on my correspondence!




How are things in your corner of the world?  

Friday, January 22, 2021

Days Like This

 "My mama told me there'll be days like this" The other day, my husband in a grumpy mood while watching the news said, "I hate people."  So I had to laugh at Sean Usher's timely "letter of note" today.  

Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell, 1861

It’s Friday. It’s January. It’s Day 62,297 of lockdown. My brain is a fog. There is no theme for today’s newsletter, unless, of course, you count “letters” as a theme, which would make sense. Today I’m feeling very much like Charles Darwin on 1 Oct 1861, hence this appalling introductory puddle of words. Please forgive me.

Enjoy, subscribedonate (or don’t, that’s fine!), and have as nice a weekend as is possible x


I am very poorly today & very stupid & hate everybody & everything. One lives only to make blunders. I am going to write a little Book for Murray on orchids & today I hate them worse than everything so farewell & in a sweet frame of mind, I am

Ever yours

Charles Darwin | Letter to Charles Lyell, 1 Oct 1861 | More Letters of Charles Darwin

-------

 There are, however, days like Jan. 20, 2021 and people like Amanda Gorman who leave me hopeful.

There'll be days when something gives life an unexpected buoyancy that balances  the  annoyances of everyday life.  And there'll be days when we feel like Darwin did in 1861, but maybe we will also have a little trace of the humor of his letter. 


 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Saturday

I've been reading Letters from Tove and enjoying it immensely.  

"Tove Jansson was born and died in Helsinki, Finland. As a Finnish citizen whose mother tongue was Swedish, she was part of the Swedish-speaking Finns minority. Thus, all her books were originally written in Swedish.


Although known first and foremost as an author, Tove Jansson considered her careers as author and painter to be of equal importance.

Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated her first Moomin book, The Moomins and the Great Flood (1945), during World War II. She said later that the war had depressed her, and she had wanted to write something naive and innocent. Besides the Moomin novels and short stories, Tove Jansson also wrote and illustrated four original and highly popular picture books.


Jansson's Moomin books have been translated into 33 languages"

Jansson was a prolific correspondent, and the letters are arranged chronologically and by correspondent providing an interesting look at her life from the time she was 16 and at art school in Helsinki, through her time studying art in Paris, and later wandering through Europe.  The next segment is to a friend who moved to America and covers much about the war years in Finland.  Initially, I thought this would be a slow read, you know, read a letter or two and put the book down.  It has not turned out that way, I've found it hard to put down.  

History, fashion, art, friends, family, and war experiences become real in these fascinating letters.

--------

From Letters of Note newsletter, an apt solution for turbulent times.  I agree that it is difficult to maintain anger when looking at a penguin.

When I begin to think at all, I get into such states of disgust and fury at the way the mob is going on that I choke; and have to go to the British Museum and look at Penguins till I get cool. I find Penguins at present the only comfort in life. One feels everything in the world so sympathetically ridiculous, one can't be angry when one looks at a Penguin.

John Ruskin | Letter to C. E. Norton, 4 Nov 1860 | The Correspondence of John Ruskin and Charles Eliot Norton



As soon as I finished disassembling cardboard boxes for recycling, I needed one.  Typical.

A flea market find from many years ago.  It usually sits on a shelf in the spare bedroom, but it came out for Christmas this year--I'm leaving it for now. 

I haven't done any weaving in several years,
 but this paperweight still pleases me.
There is a homeliness about it that I like,
and it's useful, too.


How is the week going for you?

Tell me something good, hopeful, joyful...
something that makes you smile and distracts 
you from personal, national, or world problems.

Up to my little room to write answer a few letters. :)


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Mid-January Thoughts

 I took these pics early one morning a week ago, hoping they would be indicative of better times.  The painterly look of the clouds still thrills me, but then...well, you know last week didn't go well at all.  



Some sort of apathy has overtaken my life, and I haven't been keeping up with either blog.  After Christmas, I was reading for hours each day-- and other than scheduled reviews on my book blog, not posting any reviews until this week.  It is strange how quickly a habit can be abandoned.  

Several letters have been sitting upstairs in my attic room waiting for me to answer them.  Given how much pleasure receiving letters and writing letters gives me, this reluctance is weird. While visiting other blogs, I've been impressed with the quality of work and energy.  My energy?  Nil, at the moment.  

Of course, we all had high hopes for 2021.  Unfortunately, political turmoil and increased Covid cases have shattered that dream.  

On the positive note, my husband and I were able to get our first vaccination.  It was a good experience, smooth and well-planned.  Oschner's Women's and Children's Health Center in Shreveport was providing the vaccine to those of us in the (ahem) appropriate age bracket.  We made appointments and were impressed with how well-thought out the process was.  The staff were so warm and friendly, the process quick and efficient.  The shot itself didn't hurt at all, later there was some soreness in the arm, but really not enough to even take an ibuprofen.  

Did I immediately feel better about Covid having had the first dose of the vaccine?  In a way, but this pandemic is far from over and our area has been hard hit.  Many people have taken few precautions and the spread in Caddo and Bossier parishes has been frightening.  I feel more confident in one way, but the fact that so many people still don't believe in the seriousness of this disease and can be spreading it to others remains a genuine concern.  

Below, mail sent the first week in January.  Nothing since then and January is almost half gone!  I really need to get busy. 





I have had some fun keeping myself occupied with sketching.  I don't have the instinct or the gift for drawing that my granddaughter has, but I've never let that stop me.  Having watched her practice and improve since she was about five years old, it finally hit me that I might be able to improve a little, too.  Old dog, new tricks, so to speak.  I got me a little sketchbook and have thoroughly enjoyed myself.


Hoping for better days ahead 





Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Some cheerfulness

Steven Heard's metal sculptures.  Mr. Heard taught himself to weld during lockdown and now makes bright and funny characters out of scrap to help cheer up his town.

find article and more pics here

There have been Christmas cards and Christmas letters that cheer me up, sometimes from the beauty of the card and always from the beauty of the letters.  I love seeing pics of kids and comparing them to earlier years.  

Speaking of mail:   Bryce Eleanor finally received her card with the gift card in tact!  It took a week to travel a few miles, but thanks to our dedicated and overwhelmed Postal Carriers, it did arrive.  :)


This delightful postcard from my friend Zoe!  I love these four princesses!

 



The buttonhooks are on the tree.