Monday, April 12, 2021

Winter Grace by Patricia Fargnoli


If you have seen the snow
under the lamppost
piled up like a white beaver hat on the picnic table
or somewhere slowly falling
into the brook
to be swallowed by water,
then you have seen beauty
and know it for its transience.
And if you have gone out in the snow
for only the pleasure
of walking barely protected
from the galaxies,
the flakes settling on your parka
like the dust from just-born stars,
the cold waking you
as if from long sleeping,
then you can understand
how, more often than not,
truth is found in silence,
how the natural world comes to you
if you go out to meet it,
its icy ditches filled with dead weeds,
its vacant birdhouses, and dens
full of the sleeping.
But this is the slowed down season
held fast by darkness
and if no one comes to keep you company
then keep watch over your own solitude.
In that stillness, you will learn
with your whole body
the significance of cold
and the night,
which is otherwise always eluding you.
“Winter Grace” by Patricia Fargnoli from Hallowed. © Tupelo Press, 2017. Reprinted with permission. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Dog Has Run Off Again by Mary Oliver


and I should start shouting his name
and clapping my hands,
but it has been raining all night
and the narrow creek has risen
is a tawny turbulence is rushing along
over the mossy stones
is surging forward
with a sweet loopy music
and therefore I don’t want to entangle it
with my own voice
calling summoning
my little dog to hurry back
look the sunlight and the shadows are chasing each other
listen how the wind swirls and leaps and dives up and down
who am I to summon his hard and happy body
his four white feet that love to wheel and pedal
through the dark leaves
to come back to walk by my side, obedient.

- - - by Mary Oliver




Saturday, April 10, 2021

Once in a while, we all succumb
to the merely personal.
Those glass shards and snipped metal
That glitter and disappear and glitter again
in the edged night light
Of memory’s anxious sky.
—Charles Wright

Friday, April 9, 2021

Visitor by Brenda Shaughnessy



I am dreaming of a house just like this one

but larger and opener to the trees, nighter

than day and higher than noon, and you,

visiting, knocking to get in, hoping for icy

milk or hot tea or whatever it is you like.

For each night is a long drink in a short glass.

A drink of blacksound water, such a rush

and fall of lonesome no form can contain it.

And if it isn’t night yet, though I seem to

recall that it is, then it is not for everyone.

Did you receive my invitation? It is not

for everyone. Please come to my house

lit by leaf light. It’s like a book with bright

pages filled with flocks and glens and groves

and overlooked by Pan, that seductive satyr

in whom the fish is also cooked. A book that

took too long to read but minutes to unread—

that is—to forget. Strange are the pages

thus. Nothing but the hope of company.

I made too much pie in expectation. I was

hoping to sit with you in a tree house in a

nightgown in a real way. Did you receive

my invitation? Written in haste, before

leaf blinked out, before the idea fully formed.

An idea like a storm cloud that does not spill

or arrive but moves silently in a direction.

Like a dark book in a long life with a vague

hope in a wood house with an open door.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

You Rode a Loop

by Rosa Alcalá


You rode your bike from your house on the corner to the dead end of the street, and turned it around at the factory, back to the corner again. This was the loop your mother let you ride, not along the avenue with its cavalcade of trucks, or up the block where Drac the Dropout waited to plunge his pointy incisors into virginal necks. You can’t remember exactly your age, but you probably had a bike with a banana seat, and wore cutoff jeans and sweat socks to the knees. You are trying to be precise but everything is a carbon-like surface that scrolls by with pinpricks emitting memory’s wavy threads. One is blindingly bright and lasts only seconds: You are riding your bike and the shadowy blots behind the factory windows’ steel grates emit sounds that reach and wrap around you like a type of gravity that pulls down the face. You can’t see them but what they say is what men say all day long, to women who are trying to get somewhere. It’s not something you hadn’t heard before. But until then, you only had your ass grabbed by boys your own age—boys you knew, who you could name—in a daily playground game in which teachers looked away. In another pin prick, you loop back to your house, where your mother is standing on the corner talking to neighbors. You tell her what the men said, and ask, does this mean I’m beautiful? What did she say? Try remembering: You are standing on the corner with your mother. You are standing on the corner. This pinprick emits no light; it is dark, it is her silence. Someday you will have a daughter and the dead end will become a cul de sac and all the factories will be shut down or at the edges of town, and the men behind screens will be monitored, blocked. And when things seem safe, and everything is green and historic and homey, you will let her walk from school to park, where you’ll wait for her, thanks to a flexible schedule, on the corner. And when she walks daydreaming along the way and takes too long to reach you, the words they said will hang from the tree you wait under.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Guest by Patricia Fargnoli


In the long July evenings,
the French woman
who came to stay every summer
for two weeks at my aunt’s inn
would row my brother and me
out to the middle of the mile-wide lake
so that the three of us
would be surrounded by the wild
extravagance of reds that had transformed
both lake and sky into fire.
It was the summer after our mother died.
I remember the dipping sound of the oars
and the sweet music of our voices as she led us
in the songs she had taught us to love.
“Blue Moon.” “Deep Purple.”
We sang as she rowed, not ever wondering
where she came from or why she was alone,
happy that she was willing to row us
out into all that beauty.
“The Guest” by Patricia Fargnoli, from Winter. © Hobblebush Books, 2013. Reprinted with permission.  

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Shopping in Paris from home


Just because we're unable to visit Paris right now does not mean I'm not dreaming about it.


About all the things I love about Paris  -  -   - 


     the cafes and bistros, 

          the gardens and parks,

               the covered passages,

                    the bouquinistes,

                          the tree lined streets,

                              the flea markets, 

                                   the shopping . . . 


While doing a little on-line window shopping and not finding any clothes that I couldn't live without, I stumbled across a Parisian jewelry designer that I'm particularly fond of.  


Delphine Pariente's philosophy about her work is perfectly reflected in her jewelry, which is not out of this world expensive, but is, I think, very feminine and romantic.


 nouvel amour

by Delphine Pariente

"nouvel amour is a brand that I wanted accessible and luxurious, sensitive and sincere, oriented to a quality and an impeccable service.

We manufacture all our jewelry on demand, in our workshop in Paris, with our machines, our pliers and our primers. I pursue thanks to you, the dream to make of my hands, to see sheep in the clouds, to draw on notebooks and tablecloths and hear each day, this little song between you and me.

IT WAS TO SAY, WE ARE HAPPY.

My story is the story of a memory at the top of a cherry blossom, the most beautiful encounter of my life, an infinite bridge between us and the sky.

Each of my jewels tells this personal story. I hope you too are sensitive to the beauty of a rainbow."


She's recently made her jewelry available on-line, and you can find it here.

She lists several French phrases and quotes you're able to choose from to have engraved on the piece you decide you'd like to fly home to you.

If, like me, you do not speak French, I've taken the liberty of having Google translate a few of the phrases she offers - if you DO, however, speak French, and don't agree with Google's translations; well, that's not on me 😋. 

Treat yourself to a little Paris window shopping or, as the French say, "faire du lèche-vitrines" (literally, "licking the windows of the shops") by checking out Delphine's website.

You may find a piece, or two, along with a French phrase that you especially love and can't live without.  OR . . . choose words of your own that have special significance to you.




There are necklaces of many lengths, and medalions (with or without chains) in many sizes and shapes in different finishes, engraved in an italic script, or lower case block letters - all lovely.



There are pretty chains



There are rings



There are bracelets



And there are earrings



Bon Shopping!










 




“A Morning Offering” – Benedictus (To Bless The Space Between Us in the U.S.)


I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more. 

       John O’Donohue ~

Monday, April 5, 2021

Shopping for a new dress




When the seasons start changing, I start wanting a new frock.

I remember my mom and I shopping for a new Easter outfit every year so maybe that's the reason.

That little Easter outfit always included the whole nine yards.

New dress, shoes, hat, and new bag.










I'm thinking this is how my love of hats started. That was always my favorite part of the shopping spree.

And I do still love to shop.

And I do love pretty clothes.

So.

In the mood to shop, but far from feeling comfortable going into real brick and mortar shops, I thought I'd try one of my favorite go to on-line shops; Anthropologie.

Well, what a bust that turned out to be.

Ugh.

The experience led me to make the following post at Facebook:

"Dress designers have made it really easy for me to save money lately. Dresses with deep tiered ruffles and puffy sleeves is not a good look for grown-ups."

Seems I am not in the minority with how women are feeling about this year's "look," being referred to as the "Little House on the Prairie" look.

My post started a bit of a discussion about women dressing for other women, or what men like women to wear, etc. I was a little surprised by this since it never occurred to me that I should, or might, want someone's opinion on the clothes I buy.

I know for a fact that Donald Barley has never gone shopping with me and I can only imagine the look of horror on his face if I asked him to. It would probably be fairly close to the look of horror he might have if I showed up wearing one of those Little House on the Prairie dresses.  Don's not one for prissy little ruffles, and even if he were he's never try to tell me how to dress.

When I go shopping for a new dress, I try it on, look in the mirror and either like it or not. I never give one thought as to anyone else. I buy it or I don't based on how I feel about it.

I do miss shopping with my mom, but I don't recall modeling anything for her to get her approval once I reached the age where I was buying my own clothes.

Do women really care what someone else thinks of what they're wearing?? How have I lived 72 years without knowing this??




Anyway.




Since I didn't find a dress I liked I continued "window shopping" and stumbled across a Parisian jewelry designer I fell in love with.

More about that tomorrow!








Yes


It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could you know. That's why we wake
and look out--no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.


- - - William Stafford


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter 1962



Ocean City, MD






Missing my mom and dad this Easter



Having a Coke with You by Frank O'Hara


Having a coke with you

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
                                                                                                              I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together for the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
                               it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it


Saturday, April 3, 2021

My Old Aunts Play Canasta in a Snow Storm by Marjorie Saiser

 Today's poem reminds me of Saturday nights at my mom's.  

I first played Canasta with my mom and dad with good friends sitting around our kitchen table in Cambridge.

Over the years, it evolved into Donald and I playing with my mom on Saturday nights at her place in Blowing Rock.

There were always drinks and snacks.

And laughter.

Lots of laughter.


I ride along in the backseat; the aunt who can drive

picks up each sister at her door, keeps the Pontiac

chugging in each driveway while one or the other

slips into her overshoes and steps out,

closing her door with a click, the wind


lifting the fringe of her white cotton scarf

as she comes down the sidewalk, still pulling on her

new polyester Christmas-stocking mittens.

We have no business to be out in such a storm,

she says, no business at all.


The wind takes her voice and swirls it

like snow across the windshield.

We’re on to the next house, the next aunt,

the heater blowing to beat the band.


At the last house, we play canasta,

the deuces wild even as they were in childhood,

the wind blowing through the empty apple trees,

through the shadows of bumper crops. The cards


line up under my aunts’ finger bones; eights and nines and aces

straggle and fall into place like well-behaved children.

My aunts shuffle and meld; they laugh like banshees,

as they did in that other kitchen in the 30’s that

day Margaret draped a dishtowel over her face

to answer the door. We put her up to it, they say,

laughing; we pushed her. The man—whoever he was—

drove off in a huff while they laughed ’til they hiccupped,


laughing still—I’m one of the girls laughing him down the sidewalk

and into his car, we’re rascals sure as farmyard dogs,

we’re wild card-players; the snow thickens,

the coffee boils and perks, the wind is a red trey

because, as one or the other says,


We are getting up there in the years; we’ll

have to quit sometime. But today,

today,

deal, sister, deal.


 

“My Old Aunts Played Canasta in a Snowstorm” by Marjorie Saiser from Lost in Seward County. © University of Nebraska Press, 2001. 



Friday, April 2, 2021

Good Friday

After a few days of gorgeous weather which "forced" poor Donald outside for a ride on his Harley, we had a little bit of snow.

Today it's back to sunshine, which will melt this little bit of snow, but it's only early April, so I think it might be a safe bet that we'll see a little more before long.




When Easter rolls around we almost always have ham.

The question is whether we have potato salad or a cheesy potato casserole.

This year we decided on potato salad.


Next decision under discussion was whether we have Easter dinner on Easter, or move it up to Good Friday.

This year it's going to be on Good Friday.


I've started pulling out a few things for the table, and when I turned my back, darn if the Easter Bunny didn't pop in the back door and drop off some chocolate bunnies!

Yay!

Dark Chocolate for Don.

Milk Chocolate for me.



Back to dinner preps and table setting . . . 


Annabelle has no idea what the fuss is all about . . . 




Happy Good Friday!







The Layers by Stanley Kunitz

 

I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being abides,

from which I struggle not to stray.

When I look behind, as I am compelled to look before

I can gather strength to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way, bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn, exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road precious to me.

In my darkest night, when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice directed me:

“Live in the layers, not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations is already written.

I am not done with my changes.



Thursday, April 1, 2021

April - National Poetry Month

 For the past few years, I've celebrated National Poetry Month by posting a piece of poetry every day, during the month of April.


I'm going to continue the tradition this year.





You might see an old favorite here, or you may find a new poem/poet that stirs a little something.

Whichever it is, I hope you enjoy the pieces I choose.

If you have a poem you love that you'd care to share, I hope you'll do that in the comments.  


“Inside this pencil
crouch words that have never been written
never been spoken
never been taught'
- W.S. Merwin

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins


I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

            

                             BY BILLY COLLINS



Thursday, March 25, 2021

"I'm So Proud of You"

 

Today as I scrolled through my emails as I do every morning while drinking my coffee I came across that one email that put a smile on my face and made my heart feel full.


From an old and very dear friend.


It was a sweet and funny email full of "remember that time . . ." ,   "remember when we . . ." .


And ended with "I am SO proud of you."


Apparently, the email was prompted by nothing more than wanting to reach out, share some sweet memories, some " I cannot believe we did that! " memories because we have, over the years, shared some fairly crazy/maybe not too smart adventures.  


Just a little virtual hug.


And very much appreciated.


It reminded me that I always want to be, hope to be, a friend who remembers to say "I'm so proud of you."  Who finds it easy to give compliments.


To be the person my mom and dad taught me to be.


They were always quick to let me know they were proud of me.  


It makes me enormously sad that I know people who grew up with parents who did not, for whatever reason, say those words.  Who weren't great in the nurturing department .


Maybe that's why some people don't reach out to tell others they're proud of them.  They just don't know how.


I miss my mom and dad, but I am grateful that they were who they were and raised me to be who I am.


And today I'm grateful to an old friend who took the time to reach out and let me know that I am valued.


And now I'm going to pass it along by giving Donald a big hug and saying "I'm so proud of you."


Because I am.  I hope I've remembered to tell him so over all these long, (mostly  😊 ) lovely years we've shared.









Saturday, March 20, 2021

That Sunday Project continues



So.

Paris books are now where they should be.  It makes me happy having them in the bedroom.  The bedroom is my favorite place to read, so it makes sense, to me, to have favorite books close by.

Books on writing are boxed up and ready to go . . . somewhere.

A box of books is ready to go to town to be divided among several local Little Free Libraries, including one which is a boy scout project - I love that!

A few books may go the our booth in the antique mall.



Next step in The Sunday Project is sorting through an overflowing box of books in the sunroom.

This box was, initially, my To Be Read pile. 

 It's morphed beyond reasonable.  

My plan is to sort, start over with my To Be Read pile, decide what stays, and what goes.  

Where they go will be a be a whole nother matter to consider.  But I just feel like it's time to give some of these books a new home.

I'm being a lot more careful with bringing so many into the house these days.

And, this will surprise some people, but I actually prefer some novels now be on my Kindle.  It's become my preferred way to read.  (Now, now - don't judge).


I have a weakness for big beautiful (and small beautiful!) coffee table books full of irresistible photography; I will continue collecting those, along with fun pop-up books.  

And I will continue keeping and collecting books by a few favorite authors.

There are many books here that I will never part with.

But some have served their purpose and it's time for them to go.

I won't know which they are until I see them.  This is a Sunday Project which will likely take years to complete.





Because we have these shelves in the sunroom . . .







Then this little section in the living room.




Then this shelf in the stairwell.



Eventually we'll get to the downstairs . . .

Stay tuned!












 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Sunday Project, Part Two


Thankfully, I was able to get the Paris books shelved Sunday evening, so we were able to sleep in our bed.  

Good thing!

Don Barley would have been a little confused, I think, about why I was asking him to find the air mattress.

And man, I really needed a comfy mattress after moving all those books.



As I suspected.  The books did not all fit into the small floor shelf




so several ended up in the little built-in.






The project is far from over.


The books from the bedroom are now piled on the dining table in the sunroom.


They'll get sorted.  Some placed on the vertical shelves, and some probably put in a box to take to the library or give away.



And then comes the really hard part.


Sorting a lot more books, starting here, to see what stays and what goes.




It's time for a serious book purge.

I'll keep you posted.