Monday, September 30, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Quote of the Day


When you aid a teacher, you improve the education of your children. 

It is a wonder that teachers work as well as they do. I never look at a group of them without using, mentally, the expression, ‘The noble army of martyrs’! 

- Maria Mitchell, Astronomer.

BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.


Ash Wednesday (audiobook) - Ethan Hawke

I wanted to like this novel. Really, I did.

I have failed to complete only a tiny number of books in my life. (In fact, I can actually only think of one, and that's a whole other story.) This one, however, is now destined to keep the first one company.

Mr. Hawke has a broad vocabulary and he uses it prodigiously, even when it is very much out of place in the mouths of his characters - tedious, irritating, whining, unlikeable characters.

But who knows, you might like it. 


My Dear Watson (audiobook) - Margaret Park Bridges  

An enjoyable, well done, reimagining of the Sherlock Holmes legend.

I read any new permutation of the Sherlock Holmes legend I come across.

This was definitely an above par attempt.




4th of July (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro 

Alright. Fine.

Strong, likeable women who support and care about one another are a rare commodity, and one to be encouraged.

The Fifth Horseman (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro 

Do  you ever read a book and find yourself wanting to give the characters advice?

Do they ever listen?

Sherlock Holmes: A Double Barreled Detective Story - Mark Twain  

Even Mark Twain took on the great detective.

As always, our Mr. Clemens brings his own perspective to bear . . .







The Sixth Target (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro  

There seem to be a lot of threads left hanging in this one.

Setting up plots for future novels, no doubt.

Grrr.

7th Heaven (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro 

                                         "Rest in peas."

The Poetry Home Repair Manual - Ted Kooser  

"I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that it's a matter not of old forms and not of new forms, but that a man writes, not thinking at all of what form to choose, writes because it comes pouring out from his soul."

Practical, down to earth advice with good examples and a sense of humor.




The Baker Street Letters - Michael Robertson  

Sadly, the only part of Sherlock Holmes that enters into this novel is his address . . .

221B Baker Street.
The Eighth Confession (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro  

If you read or watch any series long enough you know there's a point at which you question the wisdom of even being in the vicinity of the protagonists.

. . .  Let alone in their circle of friends.

. . .  And then of course, you keep going.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Don't Let the End of Banned Books Week Put a Stop to Your Exploration of New Thoughts and Ideas . . .



Saturday Farmer's Market - Still Holding On



Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.


UPDATE from Last Week:       

One of my volunteer sunflowers is only about three and a half feet high, but it has has six blooms of various sizes.

When the time comes to harvest them I will cut the heads off and leave them in the garden for the birds. After all, they planted them so they should enjoy the harvest.

My camera is adequate for the basics, but not very good for documenting my garden. Most of my pictures aren't very good but I keep trying.

 
UPDATE #2:  

Over the next few weeks my big project, besides cleaning up and readying for winter, will be to plant more daffodil bulbs. (I know, I said that last week.)  I still haven't started. But soon.

UPDATE #3:  

The pomegranates are huge and growing redder daily. Their shape is changing as the time draws closer for harvest. My reading says November but at the rate they are changing it may be much sooner.

The oranges and kumquats are coming along beautifully as well.


These haiku written by Matsuo Basho so many years ago remind me of the maple leaves lying all around my garden right now.

harvest moon
northland weather
uncertain skies

full autumn moon
to my gate comes rising
crested tide

Stone Mountain
whiter than the stones
autumn wind

borrowing sleep
from the scarecrow's sleeves
midnight frost

along this road
going with no one
autumn evening

autumn deepens
the man next door
how is he doing?

autumn night
striking and making it crumble
our small talk

The winds of fall
are blowing, yet how green
the chestnut burr

drinking morning tea
the monk is peaceful
the chrysanthemum blooms

On this road
where nobody else travels
autumn nightfall


Also of possible interest: 1 poem - 31 translations! (and one commentary)




My birthday roses are in the ground and doing well. The white one is in bloom again and the yellow one has set buds.

I have mulch directly around my new plants but most of the bed is bare or nurturing weeds, so the soaker hose is buried in some places and exposed in others. This gives the garden an overall scruffy and unkempt look - you know, informal.

But I like it. 


 

I've planted a second gardenia in front of one of the low fences separating the herbs from the rest of the bed. 

Eventually I hope to have a small sitting area surrounded by herbs and flowers. But I think it's still a few years from realization.

I still have to move a small tree and plant a few more floribundas.  . . .  then there's  . . .  and  . . .  and  . . .





I tucked some violas and violets in the front corner by the sidewalk. They should fill in throughout the fall, and if we have a mild winter they will keep right on growing.

I've had a few years where they flourished all winter and didn't fade until the heat of summer finally did them in.




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Which Banned Books Have You Read?


Banned Books to Read! Yay! (listed by year)

Want to read to your kids? Here are some banned Picture Books; banned Chapter Books; and banned Young Adult Books.



Visit:
The

for information on which books have been challenged and/or banned.

(as well as how you can add your voice to the chorus against censorship, or the steps to take if you find yourself up against a challenge)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Poem from a Powerful Advocate for the Right to Read . . .


Manifesto
- Ellen Hopkins

To you zealots and bigots and false
patriots who live in fear of discourse.
You screamers and banners and burners
who would force books
off shelves in your brand name
of greater good.

You say you're afraid for children,
innocents ripe for corruption

by perversion or sorcery on the page.
But sticks and stones do break
bones, and ignorance is no armor.
You do not speak for me,
and will not deny my kids magic
in favor of miracles.

You say you're afraid for America,
the red, white, and blue corroded
by terrorists, socialists, the sexually
confused. But we are a vast quilt
of patchwork cultures and multi-gendered
identities. You cannot speak for those
whose ancestors braved
different seas.

You say you're afraid for God,
the living word eroded by Muhammed
and Darwin and Magdalene.
But the omnipotent sculptor of heaven
and earth designed intelligence.
Surely you dare not speak
for the father, who opens
his arms to all.

A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.


My Vote for Most Ironically Challenged Book EVER -


Fahrenheit 451!




Hey! Look! Facebook!

Let's see what's being challenged so far, this year.
(link for more information: HERE)
Fallen Angels Walter Dean Myers * A Child Called It Dave Pelzer * Persepolis Marjane Satrapi * Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism Norani Othman, ed. * Intensely Alice Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's That Time Again - Celebrate the Right to Read!



Sources to help artists protect their rights: public access, free expression, fair use . . . HERE.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Check out the frequently challenged books section to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.
For more information or to find out how you can get involved, go to ala.org.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday Farmer's Market - Terraforming (Winter Projects)


Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

UPDATE from Last Week:   

It has been a rough week so I haven't accomplished much. I'm attempting to get the herb side of the yard under control, but it's going to take a while. Hopefully I'll have an update with pictures next week.

I got another 'big bag o daffodils' to plant this year. I planted one last year and this spring was glorious. One more should be enough to fill in all the places that still need sunshine come next spring.

UPDATE #2:  

I'm really feeling the Fall. This is my low time of the year, and I always seem to struggle most as leaves are falling and the days grow short. Granted, it's much better here in CA than it was in PA, with much more sun and much less rain - not nearly as grey - but I still feel it in my bones.


Behind a Wall
- Amy Lowell

I own a solace shut within my heart,
A garden full of many a quaint delight
And warm with drowsy, poppied sunshine; bright,
Flaming with lilies out of whose cups dart
Shining things
With powdered wings.
Here terrace sinks to terrace, arbors close
The ends of dreaming paths; a wanton wind
Jostles the half-ripe pears, and then, unkind,
Tumbles a-slumber in a pillar rose,
With content
Grown indolent.

By night my garden is o'erhung with gems
Fixed in an onyx setting. Fireflies
Flicker their lanterns in my dazzled eyes.
In serried rows I guess the straight, stiff stems
Of hollyhocks
Against the rocks.

So far and still it is that, listening,
I hear the flowers talking in the dawn;
And where a sunken basin cuts the lawn,
Cinctured with iris, pale and glistening,
The sudden swish
Of a waking fish.

from: A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass. Copyright 2010.


Winter Projects . . .


By now, I think it's obvious to even the most casual observer that, though I'm far from being an expert, I love gardening.

Occasionally, while complimenting my latest efforts, my neighbors let slip that they just can't wait to see the finished garden.


How silly! A finished garden!



But even California has a winter, and it is coming on fast. Yes, there is planning and plotting, seed starting and propagation, but it is just not the same. On the plus side, I don't have to worry about the trimmer, the lawn mower, weeds, & bugs. But I so miss playing in the dirt.


Well . . . (You knew this was coming, right?)

For many years my husband had a 55 gallon fresh water aquarium. He favored Oscars and a friend had given him the biggest silver dollar we'd ever seen. But eventually, his interests moved in another direction, and were left with a large tank that took up quite a bit of precious real estate in our small house.

What to do? Give it away? Sell it? Use it for something else?


Aha! Use it for something else!



 

An idea was born!

Why not turn it into a terrarium? At 55 gallons, it makes for jumping in with both feet, but it's still smaller than a typical city lot (even after you subtract for the house and garage). I figure I could cultivate and tend it over the winter and maybe it would help with the winter blues.

(Unfortunately, I didn't think to take pictures at the beginning of the project.)

 

I cleaned and prepared and researched, until I had a plan. I've been putting together the bones of the plan and collecting materials I think I will need. I already started with the planting, and that's where I hit on my first snag.

My inspiration was beautiful pictures I'd seen of Thai rain forests and ruins around Buddhist temples. I found the perfect Buddha head at Ross. Gravel, dirt, charcoal, small plants and ground cover came together well. But in all my reading I had never come across he word quarantine - or the necessity thereof.

My ground covers started dying and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Then came the bigger plants. Gnats, spider mites, slugs and snails: all were flourishing in my terrarium.

I tried all the natural, 'unchemical' remedies first, but to no avail. So I finally bit the bullet and bought poison, one for the slugs and snails, and one for the rest - the nuclear option. Here I am using poisons in my house that I would never use in my garden.

After the poison the soil ended up covered with a white hairlike growth all over it. (Again, no picture. Sorry.) I had to remove most of the soil and replace it.


The poison and slug & snail bait did nothing to curb the slug and snail population, and they went on munching happily through my few remaining plants, until . . . Dun . . . Dun . . . Dun . . .

My husband read (on the internet, of course) to put a chunk of dry ice inside and seal it off. It kills the pests and is good for the plants. (It's also ridiculously cheap as well.) Guess what. It worked! Everything is gone.

Now my biggest challenge is finding plants that will flourish in a closed (high humidity) terrarium.

 

In the meantime, I have one Schefflera, three small English Ivies, one intrepid Peace Lily, and some tiny Areca Palms. (A 40 foot tree is a good terrarium choice, right?)

So, this winter I have plans to build a suspension bridge, bring in some livestock (pigs & chickens), some people to tend the animals, and of course a rainforest needs many more plants. This is only a beginning.

I've had some unexpected drawbacks, and have a great deal to learn. In the terrarium it's as if I am a new gardener starting from scratch. But it's been fun so far.

One of the unexpected things I learned was that my terrarium, with its self contained ecosystem, has a dew cycle. When I get up in the morning, the glass is so wet you can barely see through it. I turn on the lights and as the time passes, it dries out and the water disappears, just like outside in the garden.











This little guy is 'Benicio del Gatto.' Benny for short. He loves sleeping on top of the terrarium because the light keeps him warm and he can watch the birds at the feeders just outside the window.


New Skills Alert!

I've often wondered which of my posts folks found most appealing, and I think I finally figured out how to check.

Unsurprisingly, most of the top posts are poetry.

Poet Laureate Josephine Jacobsen's The Animals topped the poetry list, followed by In a Country by Larry Levis, A Book of Music by Jack Spicer, and finally, the Poetry Project offering for 2012, A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allen Poe.

A quote, "Q", and a couple of pictures, Pic#1 & Pic#2, also made the cut.

Very surprisingly, two birthday posts for my Daughter, 2011 & 2013, made the list. She's so happy to know that you all care.

But the all time top post, by a wide margin, was one I posted in May of 2012. It was a powerful painting featuring the Viet Nam War Memorial. Accompanying it is a profound poem that speaks volumes about war, any war: Facing It by Yusef Komunyakaa.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Quote of the Day


To assume is to suppose something is true in the absence of proof. Maintaining one's commitment to these assumptions can require exhausting effort, and a ruthless disregard for the human consequences of forcing your assumptions on everyone else, so that you can continue to see them as true.


Everybody Needs Someone . . .



Just a Thought . . .



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quote of the Day

So the universe is not quite as you thought it was.
You’d better rearrange your beliefs, then. Because you certainly can’t rearrange the universe.

- Isaac Asimov

Striking



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quote of the Day


Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.

If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. 

- Karl Popper, The Paradox of Tolerance.

Tea, Book & Flowers . . .



Monday, September 16, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Look What I Just Found!

                                                           . . . at:


I'm not an avid Science Fiction reader, but I do read some, and I'm ashamed to say that I've not read anything by these wonderfully talented women.

Here are the top ten. Please check out the rest of the list

1 ‘The Fate of the Poseidonia’, Clare Winger Harris (1927, short story) online here
2 ‘The Conquest of Gola,’ Leslie F Stone (1931, short story) available in
3 ‘Water Pirate’, Leigh Brackett (1941, short story) available in
4 ‘Space Episode’, Leslie Perri (1941, short story) available in
5 ‘No Woman Born’, CL Moore (1944, novelette) available in
6 ‘That Only a Mother’, Judith Merril (1948, short story) available in
7 ‘Contagion’, Katherine Maclean (1950, novelette) available in
8 ‘Brightness Falls from the Air’, Margaret St Clair [as Idris Seabright] (1951, short story) available in
9 ‘All Cats are Gray’, Andre Norton (1953, short story) available in
10 ‘The Last Day’, Helen Clarkson (1958, short story) available in


Climb Into a Good Book and Get Comfortable . . .



Photo Source à Martine Crasez.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Farmer's Market - Growing Sunshine


Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.



UPDATE from Last Week:  

Look! I grew some sunshine in my garden. The first volunteer sunflower is in full bloom and the second has just begun to open. The third is much smaller and should be here next week.






 




UPDATE #2:  

The leaves on my small lilac bush have started to curl and have brown spots on them. The bush itself is healthy and next years buds are bright green, fat, and growing fast. I don't see any bugs, but I think it must be bugs of some kind. Any ideas?




Written at a Farm
- John Codrington Bampfylde
 
Around my porch and lowly casement spread;
The myrtle never-sear, and gadding vine,
With fragrant sweet-briar love to intertwine;
And in my garden's box-encircled bed,
 
The pansy pied, and musk-rose white and red,
The pink and tulip, and honeyed woodbine,
Fling odors round; the flaunting eglantine
Decks my trim fence, 'neath which, by silence led,

The wren hath wisely placed her mossy cell;
And far from noise, in courtly land so rife,
Nestles her young to rest, and warbles well.
 
Here in this safe retreat and peaceful glen
I pass my sober moments, far from men;
Nor wishing death too soon, nor asking life.


It has been a wonderful week in the garden. I have always grown herbs and vegetables with a few flowers, but lately I have been concentrating on things that attract bees, butterflies, & the like here at crazy acres, and it has paid off.

As I sit here, I'm surrounded by birds singing and playing in the birdbath, hummingbirds chasing and feeding, bees and butterflies enjoying the flowers, and little moths, white ones and pale orange ones as well. Then there are the lizards, praying mantis, garden spiders, squirrels (am I the only one who doesn't hate these cuties?), and the occasional passing cat.


It doesn't matter that the work is never done, or that it doesn't look even remotely like the gardens on TV. My garden is a place with beauty and wonder if I remember look for it.

And that's what I love when you share your gardens.

No matter how small, I see wonder and love. Thank you.


Friday, September 13, 2013

This is What Entitlement Looks Like From the Other Side.


When I hear about a young black teenager walking home from the store, and the man who assumed he was a criminal before knowing anything about him, I can relate. You may not be able to.

Maybe you’ve never been followed around in a department store by a security guard for no reason. I have.

Maybe you’ve never had a convenient store clerk scream at you to leave, assuming that the blackberry on your hip is a gun that you plan to shoot him with. I have.


Maybe you’ve never smiled and greeted people you’ve passed on the street, only to have them avoid eye contact, clutch their belongings, and quickly walk away. I have.

Maybe you’ve never been pushed against a wall, held at gunpoint, and handcuffed by police (who are supposed to protect you) because you “look like a suspect we were looking for.” I have (and I looked nothing like that suspect).

All of these incidents are minor and none of them significantly threatened my life.

Most, if not all, of my black friends have been through similar situations. And countless others have endured much, much worse.

If you’ve never experienced this sort of thing, you may not understand why this case resonates so deeply with us.

But when I hear his story, I hear my story.

And my father’s story.

And my son’s story.
- Tripp Lee,

Exhale, Ladies. It's Okay to Breathe.


                                        And say hello to  . . .   Hilda.
 Created by Duane Bryers and rediscovered by Les Toil.