Thursday, May 13, 2021

New Orleans for Mother's Day

Amelia, Bryce Eleanor, and I went to New Orleans for a Mother's Day girls' trip.  Oh, my!  My feet are still tired, but what a wonderful experience.  We got there around 8 on Friday, tired after the long drive, but we were up and going Saturday morning.  We met Suzie at Commander's Palace for brunch.  

Amelia, Bryce Eleanor, Suzie, Me

Amelia had everything planned, and I'm so grateful for her efforts to make  such a fabulous Mother's Day!  The only thing that would have been better--if Erin had been able to join us.

Although you didn't have to wear a mask outside, every shop and restaurant had strict mask rules, and if someone had a mask pulled under their nose, they were reminded promptly.  New Orleans has been through too much to take the precautions lightly.


from Hannah

(I made a postcard and sent it to Hannah, but I guess I didn't scan it.)

to Max

to Mila

Lots of reading over the last month or so, but recent favorites include Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir and One, Two, Three by Laurie Frankel.  Lots of mysteries, too.  Most are reviewed on my book blog.  

Right now, I'm reading Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century.  Yes, the movie was great, but it was mainly a tale of Fern's grief.  The book is excellent, startling, and disturbing-- retirement often means living in a van or RV and traveling from job to minimum wage job with no security at all.  The writing and research are exceptional.  Finding out more about Linda May, Bob Wells, and Swankie is almost like reading fiction, but Jessica Bruder has done her homework on the places that hire Workampers and the conditions of the working environments.  Not all of the van dwellers are there of necessity, but most are, the 2008 recession having increased the numbers exponentially.

The book was first published in 2017, and I have to wonder if Bruder will already be researching how the pandemic is effecting and enlarging the nomad life style.

What are you reading or watching ?  What projects are keeping you interested?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Miscellaneous Thoughts and Activities

 "When we let ourselves respond to poetry, to music, to pictures, we are clearing out a space where new stories can root, in effect we are clearing a space for new stories about ourselves." --Jeanette Winterson  (via Stories that Take Root by Terri Windling)

The idea immediately resonated with me.  We absorb all kinds of art (poetry, music, painting and sculpture)  into our lives, don't we?  Without even realizing it at the time, we incorporate information visually or aurally and it becomes part of our mental landscape.  Poems and songs from our childhoods reverberate in many ways throughout our lives, and we keep adding to these influences with new experiences.  

Isn't Amelia's new shower curtain lovely?  I adore it.  Unable to find it among Henri Rousseau's tiger/jungle paintings, it is, nevertheless, based on Rousseau's style.  


Which reminded me of Paul Simon's "Under African Skies" and Rouseau's desert painting "The Sleeping Gypsy."  Paul Simon is one of the best contemporary poets, although it is hard to separate his lyrics from his music.  A couple of verses from "Under African Skies":  

Joseph's face was black as night
The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked his days
Under African skies
This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

Amelia also has two of these possum pillows, and I fell in love with them.  We have an occasional visit from a possum,  a welcome visitor who dines on slugs and snails.  In the woods, possums help keep the tick population down.  

A funny possum poem that made me smile:  The Possum Circus.

Books/Reading:  check A Garden Carried in the Pocket for all my bookish stuff.

Garden:   This is where I'm spending most of my days now.  Suffering through all the pollen (that is both a positive/negative side effect of spring) with itchy eyes and sneezing.  This narrow bed by the fence has been a bugger to prepare.  The fence was covered with two kinds of jasmine, monkey grass, and a ground cover, which meant layer after layer of roots to dig up.  Finally, I smoothed it out and covered it with pine straw.  Next--some ferns and partial shade plants for the area.  

See my lovely yellow shovels--Fee broke one of my old short shovels and bought me these to replace it.  I like shorter shovels for most jobs, often in confined spaces, and now I have bright-yellow-shiny-brand new-short shovels!

I'm going to be pleased to have this area finished and cleaned up.    Everything has been getting a makeover this spring for various reasons--freeze damage, overcrowding, unsuitable plants for location, and so on.  I alternate between areas that need re-working.  

Weed pulling goes on, but the strong vinegar solution I ordered last year is also helpful.  I didn't think it would kill the poison ivy I found in a corner, but with a heavy dose and sunny days it did!  The strong vinegar mixture is organic and much easier than trying to pull every weed in every nook and cranny around the yard, between sidewalk cracks, etc.  

Had my left eye glaucoma laser surgery yesterday, and since I didn't come home and immediately get busy in the garden this time, it was so much easier!  With an audiobook ready to listen to and staying away from sun and pollen, this one was a breeze.  This morning, the rain is keeping me inside, so I'll catch up on neglected household chores.

Mail:  not much recently, but I had fun with the robot on this one.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

National Poetry Month, Spring, Family

Iliana reminded me that this is National Poetry Month.  Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets, and one of my favorite poems is Valentine for Ernest Mann, but I recently read this lovely poem by Nye on Brain Pickings :

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

The above poem seems so appropriate given all that has gone on this year.

Incoming Mail

This wonderful fabric postcard from Freezeframe Annie!


 Postcards to :
Amelia & Chris 
Thanking them for a lovely Easter lunch and visit

To Erin
Who spent Easter with Max and Mila
camping by a frozen lake in Colorado

To Max

To Mila

To Bryce Eleanor
Lunch with Amelia, Chris, and Bryce Eleanor

Easter Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day with lots of good food and great company.  Everyone fully vaccinated, so no masks or social distancing.  First time in a year!  

What's going on with you?  How is your Spring developing?  

Monday, March 29, 2021

This, That, and the Other

Between gardening and glaucoma surgery (laser in office, yea for modern medicine!), I've not been keeping up with quite a few things.  My eye was red, uncomfortable, tender, and scratchy for about four days, but so much better now.  The other eye will go under the laser in another week or so.  

The pollen in the air at this time of year covers everything and has not done either eye any favors.  Around here almost everyone is dealing with the effects--tissues  in pockets, sneezes in elbows, yada, yada.  Spring brings the usual allergies along with the flowers.

Another letter from Carol Ann, the day after I sent a response to her last letter.

postcard from Cate
followed quickly by her letter
Notice that the P.O. didn't cancel her stamp!
Because of its location, it could have received the
dreaded Strike Through, but a kindly worker left it alone.

to Mary Marcotte
Mary of Fleur de Lis Quilts has written a book.
More on that later.

I finished this piece a couple of months ago and glued it to the barrette.

It works great!

So, yeah, another one.

bad photo, but this barrette works as well as the first.

During the February snow, I threw bird seed into the snow when getting to the feeders was awkward.  Now--sunflower seedlings everywhere.  I've pulled a bunch, but I'll let some continue to grow.


Edgrr loves the lemon grass--which we bought for him 
(and yes, because I like it, too)


Friday, March 19, 2021

Spring Is Here--I'm Pretty Sure This Time

 I'd already been making changes in the garden, digging up shrubs and moving them and reimagining what else should stay or be moved.  Then Fee built the wonderful raised bed on wheels for lettuce, kale, spinach, onions.  Even as I clipped them for daily salads, they keep getting ahead of me.  I love baby spinach in my salads!

Next, he built some "stairs" to go along the back fence for pots.  This is something I'm not sure about because of the pots being raised in such a sunny location (they are fine now, but during 100 degree weather?), but we'll see.    

The garden is always a work in progress, but this year the digging and re-arranging has kept me busy working and thinking.  I'll sit and try to rest, then see something that has to be done right then or jot down another idea on my garden to-do list.  I always find it hard to imagine the garden this early, but this year it is even harder.  Each year I'm so impatient--seems to take so long for everything (except weeds) to grow.

There is such a long way to go in the garden, but hopefully things will work out.  The asters, gaillardia, yarrow, and tickseed were not damaged by the freeze and the cosmos have reseeded again and are just sprouting up.  I'm not at all sure about the lantana, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I'm also curious about whether my butterfly weed will come back, but I've plenty of seed.  The picture below from May of last year gives me hope.

June 2020
June 2020

Sitting in my pajamas with my morning coffee before the sun is up, I'm watching the birds on the feeders and planning.  The February freeze brought more birds to the feeders than ever before and tossing the seed onto the snow kept them coming.  My favorites are the goldfinches, partly because I haven't had them in such numbers before.  


Recent incoming

Bryce is only thirteen, but I'm always amazed at her art.


postcard to Cate

postcard to Dean
Love the way Christine Richards of Postmark 1206 
used collage on this postcard.

Gardening, reading, writing letters.  Household chores?  Not so much.

What have you been up to?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

And So It Goes

February was a slow month for mail until the end, but March is looking up.  Still haven't received Cate's letter that she mailed Feb. 19, but I'm becoming accustomed to the uncertainty and randomness of mail these days.  



found where I'd stashed the scan of Carrie's postcard

postcard to Suzie

Books/Reading:  I have probably six books in progress.  The new Phillip Lopate The Golden Age of the American Essay, which I read a little at a time, and the rest are fiction.  I usually start several books and stick to the one or two that most catch my interest, finishing them before catching up on the others.  Some of them will remain unfinished if they don't really engage me after a period of time.

Two that I've recently enjoyed:
All the Murmuring Bones is Gothic and Irish Folklore mix.  Actually, after reviewing it for my other blog, I realized that it is a fairytale with a dark edge, complimented by the Gothic elements and the folklore.
Published in 1938, Address Unknown is a short story consisting of nineteen letters between business partners--Max, a Jew, in San Francisco and Martin, a gentile, who has returned to Germany.  The letters alter significantly as the situation in Germany alters under Hitler.  The letters begin in 1933.  If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can get it here.  The newest publication is coming out in June.  When I was finished, and it is a short story so it didn't take long, I sat stunned.
I started this post a week ago, and since then, I've had several more letters that I'll include in my next post.

I'm tired right now from working on fountains, pulling out vines and an invasive ground cover, emptying pots to clean before using again, adding to compost pile, etc.  It is always difficult to judge a garden at this time of year, but after the damage from the winter storm, I'm trying to see what plants will survive and what will need to be replaced.  

Time for a fresh cup of tea and a book.  And maybe a heating pad for my back.  :)