Sunday, January 31, 2016

BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.




A note about BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.:

These are not, in any way, meant to be comprehensive reviews. They are intended to acknowledge that I have read the book, and give my honest core impressions.

If a real review is what you wish, there are many wonderful book blogs available, and I have provided some tools to find them under the tab marked "Useful Stuff."






~ AUDIOBOOKS ~

X - Sue Grafton

Since I had to wait my turn at the library I didn't get this one read before the end of the year. But as always, it was worth the wait.

Kinsey is still doing well - and relying on stereotypes can cost dearly.







~ EBOOKS ~

Taken (ebook) - Robert Crais

This is actually the fourth book in the series, but I was unable to get hold of it until now. It was, as expected, worth the wait.

I think it's Elvis Cole's smart ass sense of humor and always on the ready sarcasm that I am drawn to. I wish I could get away with that type of thing. (Because you know I'm thinking it.)





~ REINCARNATED TREES ~

Speaking In Bones - Kathy Reichs

I finally caught up with the series. Now I have to wait another year for the next one.

The investigation in this one was sad and aggravating by turns. But Ms Reichs' writing keeps me barreling on.

Also ... Change is afoot.

Wherever You Go, There You Are - Jon Kabat-Zinn

This is the first of three books I read for this year's New Year's Resolution Reading Challenge, and it's review can be found at the top of {this page}.




The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living ... - Chris Guillebeau

This is the second of three books I read for this year's New Year's Resolution Reading Challenge, and it's review can be found at the top of {this page}.



The Life Changing magic of Tidying Up - Marie Kondo

This is the third of three books I read for this year's New Year's Resolution Reading Challenge, and it's review can be found at the top of {this page}.







Saturday, January 30, 2016

It's A Garden Party - Friends: Fair weather & Fowl




This feature, originally known as Saturday Farmer's Market, was created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and then hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.



The program that I use to edit my photos has stopped working again.

That seems to happen periodically, and I put up with it because when it works, it works really well.

That being said, here are a couple of pictures of some friends that have chosen to spend the winter here with us.

They seem quite happy in spite of the frost and continual rain.

 



Frost at Midnight
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet’s cry
Came loud--and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
’Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

                  But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man’s only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor’s face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger’s face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

    Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the interspers├ęd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent ’mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

    Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Ice

 - Gail Mazur
 
In the warming house, children lace their skates,   
bending, choked, over their thick jackets.

A Franklin stove keeps the place so cozy
it’s hard to imagine why anyone would leave,

clumping across the frozen beach to the river.   
December’s always the same at Ware’s Cove,

the first sheer ice, black, then white
and deep until the city sends trucks of men

with wooden barriers to put up the boys’   
hockey rink. An hour of skating after school,

of trying wobbly figure-8’s, an hour
of distances moved backwards without falling,

then—twilight, the warming house steamy   
with girls pulling on boots, their chafed legs

aching. Outside, the hockey players keep   
playing, slamming the round black puck

until it’s dark, until supper. At night,
a shy girl comes to the cove with her father.

Although there isn’t music, they glide
arm in arm onto the blurred surface together,

braced like dancers. She thinks she’ll never
be so happy, for who else will find her graceful,

find her perfect, skate with her
in circles outside the emptied rink forever?


from: Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 2005.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

January

 - William Carlos Williams

Again I reply to the triple winds
running chromatic fifths of derision
outside my window:
Play louder.
You will not succeed. I am
bound more to my sentences
the more you batter at me
to follow you.
And the wind,
as before, fingers perfectly
its derisive music.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reading for Wellbeing . . .



Poets & Writers Magazine {has a post} with some interesting and useful links, including the link to an online course entitled Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing.

The course is free, it is slated to begin February 1, and I plan to attend. Maybe I'll see you there?

Quote of the Day



If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.

                                                          -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Rain

 - Kazim Ali


With thick strokes of ink the sky fills with rain.
Pretending to run for cover but secretly praying for more rain.

Over the echo of the water, I hear a voice saying my name.
No one in the city moves under the quick sightless rain.

The pages of my notebook soak, then curl. I’ve written:
“Yogis opened their mouths for hours to drink the rain.”

The sky is a bowl of dark water, rinsing your face.
The window trembles; liquid glass could shatter into rain.

I am a dark bowl, waiting to be filled.
If I open my mouth now, I could drown in the rain.

I hurry home as though someone is there waiting for me.
The night collapses into your skin. I am the rain.


from: The Far Mosque. Copyright 2005.
 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Haiku


The lamp once out
Cool stars enter
The window frame.

                                       - Natsume Soseki


Saturday, January 23, 2016

It's A Garden Party - Issues . . . and Oranges




This feature, originally known as Saturday Farmer's Market, was created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and then hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.




I have these two beautiful Agave that have been thriving for over three years.

Just before the rainy season set in they started developing black patches on the lower leaves.

It is progressing and I'm afraid I may be losing them.

I still have no idea what the issue is.










As you can see, they are looking quite bad.







This is another Agave I have by the side of the house.

The folks at the nursery didn't know its name.

But it seems to be doing well.

(So far!)





Oranges!
We have about a dozen on the tree this year.
They're not ripe yet, but soon.


Oranges
- Gary Soto

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted -
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickle in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickle from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all
About.

Outside,
A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Waxwings

- Robert Francis

Four Tao philosophers as cedar waxwings
chat on a February berry bush
in sun, and I am one.

Such merriment and such sobriety--
the small wild fruit on the tall stalk--
was this not always my true style?

Above an elegance of snow, beneath
a silk-blue sky a brotherhood of four
birds. Can you mistake us?

To sun, to feast, and to converse
and all together--for this I have abandoned
all my other lives.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Quote of the Day


We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.
- Albert Schweitzer


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Sleepless Night

- Philip Levine

April, and the last of the plum blossoms
scatters on the black grass
before dawn. The sycamore, the lime,
the struck pine inhale
the first pale hints of sky.
                                           An iron day,

I think, yet it will come
dazzling, the light
rise from the belly of leaves and pour
burning from the cups
of poppies.

                   The mockingbird squawks
from his perch, fidgets,
and settles back. The snail, awake
for good, trembles from his shell
and sets sail for China. My hand dances
in the memory of a million vanished stars.

A man has every place to lay his head.


from: New Selected Poems. Copyright 1991.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Morning

 - Wallace Stevens

      I

Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings
Seem things in some procession of the dead,
Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound,
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet
Over the seas, to silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulchre.


       II

Why should she give her bounty to the dead?
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch.
These are the measures destined for her soul.


       III

Jove in the clouds had his inhuman birth.
No mother suckled him, no sweet land gave
Large-mannered motions to his mythy mind.
He moved among us, as a muttering king,
Magnificent, would move among his hinds,
Until our blood, commingling, virginal,
With heaven, brought such requital to desire
The very hinds discerned it, in a star.
Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be
The blood of paradise? And shall the earth
Seem all of paradise that we shall know?
The sky will be much friendlier then than now,
A part of labor and a part of pain,
And next in glory to enduring love,
Not this dividing and indifferent blue.


       IV

She says, “I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?”
There is not any haunt of prophecy,
Nor any old chimera of the grave,
Neither the golden underground, nor isle
Melodious, where spirits gat them home,
Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm
Remote on heaven’s hill, that has endured
As April’s green endures; or will endure
Like her remembrance of awakened birds,
Or her desire for June and evening, tipped
By the consummation of the swallow’s wings.


       V

She says, “But in contentment I still feel
The need of some imperishable bliss.”
Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,
Alone, shall come fulfilment to our dreams
And our desires. Although she strews the leaves
Of sure obliteration on our paths,
The path sick sorrow took, the many paths
Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love
Whispered a little out of tenderness,
She makes the willow shiver in the sun
For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze
Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.
She causes boys to pile new plums and pears
On disregarded plate. The maidens taste
And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.


       VI

Is there no change of death in paradise?
Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs
Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
With rivers like our own that seek for seas
They never find, the same receding shores
That never touch with inarticulate pang?
Why set the pear upon those river-banks
Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?
Alas, that they should wear our colors there,
The silken weavings of our afternoons,
And pick the strings of our insipid lutes!
Death is the mother of beauty, mystical,
Within whose burning bosom we devise
Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.


       VII

Supple and turbulent, a ring of men
Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn
Their boisterous devotion to the sun,
Not as a god, but as a god might be,
Naked among them, like a savage source.
Their chant shall be a chant of paradise,
Out of their blood, returning to the sky;
And in their chant shall enter, voice by voice,
The windy lake wherein their lord delights,
The trees, like serafin, and echoing hills,
That choir among themselves long afterward.
They shall know well the heavenly fellowship
Of men that perish and of summer morn.
And whence they came and whither they shall go
The dew upon their feet shall manifest.


       VIII

She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.



Source: The Collected Poems. Copyright 1954. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

It's A Garden Party - Shh! My Roses Don't Know It's Winter.




This feature, originally known as Saturday Farmer's Market, was created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and then hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.


The bushes look a bit rag-tag.


But they haven't really slowed down, much.


I cut them back in late fall, like you are supposed to.


And they seem to have taken it as a challenge.


Perhaps John Greenleaf Whittier would have liked to sit a while in my garden.
Winter Roses

My garden roses long ago
Have perished from the leaf-strewn walks;
Their pale, fair sisters smile no more
Upon the sweet-brier stalks.

Gone with the flower-time of my life,
Spring's violets, summer's blooming pride,
And Nature's winter and my own
Stand, flowerless, side by side.

So might I yesterday have sung;
To-day, in bleak December's noon,
Come sweetest fragrance, shapes, and hues,
The rosy wealth of June!

Bless the young bands that culled the gift,
And bless the hearts that prompted it;
If undeserved it comes, at least
It seems not all unfit.

Of old my Quaker ancestors
Had gifts of forty stripes save one;
To-day as many roses crown
The gray head of their son.

And with them, to my fancy's eye,
The fresh-faced givers smiling come,
And nine and thirty happy girls
Make glad a lonely room.

They bring the atmosphere of youth;
The light and warmth of long ago
Are in my heart, and on my cheek
The airs of morning blow.

O buds of girlhood, yet unblown,
And fairer than the gift ye chose,
For you may years like leaves unfold
The heart of Sharon's rose

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Does Anyone Knit, Crochet, or Sew?



If you are one of those gifted crafters who produces more than s/he can use, there are charities that can really benefit from your skills.

Here is a link that will take you to a page listing 10 worthwhile charities that could use your donations.

{LINK}

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Quote of the Day


If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
- Haruki Murakami

Monday, January 11, 2016

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Living

- Denise Levertov

The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

It's A Garden Party! - This Little Piggy Went To . . .




This feature, originally known as Saturday Farmer's Market, was created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and then hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.


All I have left of my Plum tree is dead wood and happy Mushrooms.

We have had nothing but cold weather and rain all week. 
(I won't complain; we need it)
 How is the weather where you are?


The Rain
 - Robert Creeley
All night the sound had   
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,   
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,   
even the hardness,   
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,   
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,   
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,   
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.
from: Selected Poems. Copyright 1991. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Moss-Gathering

 - Theodore Roethke

To loosen with all ten fingers held wide and limber
And lift up a patch, dark-green, the kind for lining cemetery baskets,
Thick and cushiony, like an old-fashioned doormat,
The crumbling small hollow sticks on the underside mixed with roots,
And wintergreen berries and leaves still stuck to the top, --
That was moss-gathering.
But something always went out of me when I dug loose those carpets
Of green, or plunged to my elbows in the spongy yellowish moss of the marshes:
And afterwards I always felt mean, jogging back over the logging road,
As if I had broken the natural order of things in that swampland;
Disturbed some rhythm, old and of vast importance,
By pulling off flesh from the living planet;
As if I had committed, against the whole scheme of life, a desecration.

from: Collected Poems.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

In Praise of Self-Deprecation

- Wislawa Szymborska

The buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.
Scruples are alien to the black panther.
Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.
The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations.
The self-critical jackal does not exist.
The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly
live as they live and are glad of it.
The killer whale's heart weighs one hundred kilos
but in other respects it is light.
There is nothing more animal-like
than a clear conscience
on the third planet of the Sun.

from: Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems, Copyright 1981.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Quote of the Day



Anxiety’s like a rocking chair.
It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.

                                                                                                                        - Jodi Picoult

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Progress of the Soul

 - Thomas McGrath

Where once I loved my flesh,

That social fellow,
Now I want security of bone
And cherish the silence of my skeleton.


Where once I walked the world
Hunting the devil,
Now I find the darkness and the void
Within my side.


First to be good, then to be happy I
Worked and prayed.
Before the midnight, like the foul fiend,
I killed my dear friend.


Hope unto hope, dream beyond monstrous dream
I sought the world.
Now, at the black pitch and midnight of despair,
I find it was always here.

 
from: The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems. Copyright 1972.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Kids Who Die

- Langston Hughes

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

It's A Garden Party! - Snow in California!




This feature, originally known as Saturday Farmer's Market, was created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and then hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

Beautiful, isn't it? The bane of my existence, Oxalis, is actually quite lovely in the beginning. But it grows wild and smothers everything in sight that is the least bit weaker. Then it gets gangly and ugly, and finally it dies back covering everything. It is almost impossible to stop.


Here it is trying its darnedest to smother a Lavender plant.


But on the bright side, the Snow Drops are blooming beautifully.


Snowdrops
- Louise Gluck

Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn't expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring--

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.


Friday, January 1, 2016