Monday, February 29, 2016

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, February 28, 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 ~

The Long Fall (audiobook) - Walter Mosley

This is the first novel in my latest murder mystery series.

I am endeavoring to make my reading list more diverse, and all those people who say we should be color blind never consciously took stock of just how few authors of color are A). published & B). promoted to the masses, compared to the number of white authors and tried to put together a healthy reading list of the former.

If you search hard enough you will actually start to find the names of novelists of color, but getting your hands on them is not always easy once you find them.

So, what did I think of Walter Mosley once I found him? The plot was interesting and our protagonist, Leonid McGill, was slightly reminiscent of such hard boiled PIs as Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, and Mike Hammer, but more introspective. I like him in spite of his faults.

Mosley's prose is a bit more lyric than that of his noir predecessors and the narrator, Mirron Willis, does an excellent job. I've had to enjoy a book in spite of the narrator many times, this was definitely not one of them.

I am glad I found Mr. Mosley, and hope to read a lot more of his work. He has definitely been added to my regulars list.

Blood Oath: The President's Vampire (audiobook) - Christopher Farnsworth

I found this series by accident and had to try it even though I don't usually care for horror or monster stories.

The writing isn't bad, but I guess I expected more humor. A lot of history and backstory was packed in to a short space, presented in flashbacks (lots of them), and making it easy to lose track of the current plot from time to time.

But I think my real problem with it is that it's actually a political thriller rather than a murder mystery, and I'm not overly fond of political thrillers - even ones with morose and melancholy vampires.

You guessed it. I plan to continue on with the series.

The President's Vampire - (audiobook) - Christopher Farnsworth

This, the second book in the series, continues the fight against monsters (human and otherwise) who want to take over/end the world, by the reluctant & pouty vampire. Politics, of course, wreaks havoc with battle to protect humankind (just as in real life).

I am reminded of The X-Files as I read these books. Our heroes, intrepid and unappreciated outsiders, take on monsters from fairy tale and urban legend. Of course the general public can't know the horrors they face and politics leaves them hamstrung at the worst moments, but they prevail - mostly.

Red, White, and Blood - (audiobook) - Christopher Farnsworth

I can see this series as the newest action movie franchise.

Some might want Michael Bey, but I'm rooting for Joss Whedon.

Unlike some series, each book could stand alone but make more sense together as the basic plot continues from one to the next. As the plot continues the picture is getting uglier for our 'heroes.'

Onward . . .

The Maltese Falcon (audiobook) - Dashiell Hammett

I read the book twice and have seen the movie four times and still couldn't figure out where the statue went.

Can we say mcguffin? {WARNING, SPOILER AT LINK}

This was an interesting dramatization, but I preferred both the novel and the movie (with Bogie, of course).



~ EBOOKS ~

What Color is My World? (ebook) - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The value of this little book is not in the creative writing, but in the valuable overlooked history.

It introduces young people to many scientists, inventors, and people who have made an impact on our world - all African-American and most overlooked by history books.

Its subject matter should be celebrated much more widely.



~ REINCARNATED TREES ~

Breakdown - Jonathan Kellerman

Probably the book I look forward to most each year is the new Alex Delaware novel. Then I read it too fast, and it's over - way too soon.

I am never disappointed.

This time add to the usual mix a sensitive and tragically realistic portrayal of how mental illness is handled in our society.

Now I have to wait another whole year!


Saturday, February 27, 2016

It's A Garden Party - Lows & Highs




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.

At this point the Oxalis is doing its best to smother the front garden and succeeding spectacularly.

It is so discouraging. I think it has beaten me.

It's not that it looks bad; it doesn't. In fact, it looks quite festive. But it smothers everything else, then dies, covering the garden in a yellow brown shroud.


On a much sweeter note, we have harvested the year's Orange crop - all nine of them!


This picture only shows eight because one didn't make it to the photo shoot. (we ate it.) They are so sweet and juicy - not as gloriously delicious as those from the miracle tree across the street, but better than store bought by a mile.


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.

from: Gary Soto: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 1995.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Narrow Fellow In the Grass

- Emily Dickinson
 
A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him—did you not
His notice sudden is,
The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen,
And then it closes at your feet,
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,  
A floor too cool for corn,
But when a boy and barefoot,
I more than once at noon
Have passed, I thought, a whip lash,
Unbraiding in the sun,
When stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled and was gone.

Several of nature’s people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality.
But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.


from: The Poems of Emily Dickinson. Copyright 1998.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Quote of the Day



If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

                                                                                   -       Marcus Tullius Cicero


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Face the Animal

- Jean Follain

It’s not always easy
to face the animal
even if it looks at you
without fear or hate
it does so fixedly
and seems to disdain
the subtle secret it carries
it seems better to feel
the obviousness of the world
that noisily day and night
drills and damages
the silence of the soul.

from: A book of Luminous Things. Copyright 1996.
 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Honey

- Robert Morgan 

Only calmness will reassure
the bees to let you rob their hoard.
Any sweat of fear provokes them.
Approach with confidence, and from
the side, not shading their entrance.
And hush smoke gently from the spout
of the pot of rags, for sparks will
anger them. If you go near bees
every day they will know you.
And never jerk or turn so quick
you excite them. If weeds are trimmed
around the hive, they have access
and feel free. When they taste your smoke
they fill themselves with honey and
are laden and lazy as you
lift the lid to let in daylight.
No bee full of sweetness wants to
sting. Resist greed. With its top off
you touch the fat gold frames, each cell
a hex perfect as a snowflake,
a sealed relic of sun and time
and roots of many acres fixed
in crystal-tight arrays, in rows
and lattices of sweeter latin
from scattered prose of meadows, woods.



from: A Book of Luminous Things. Copyright 1996.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

It's A Garden Party - Meep! Meep!




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 been trying to get caught up with the garden work . . . but I don't think that is going to happen any time soon.

I gave the Bananas two years, but even with our long growing season there isn't enough time before the frost to get any fruit, so I took them out this week.

It turns out that the beautiful flowering grass I planted to help shade the west side of the house is invasive in California, so it had to go too.

The new puppy shredded my new irrigation on the fruit trees in the back yard so I pulled it up and am making plans for its replacement (made out of PVC to make it puppy proof).

He likes to chew on my trees too, so we put in posts around the beds and will be installing chicken wire to protect them (and the irrigation). We wrapped the most vulnerable with old wire fencing that we had, until we can get the chicken wire.

We lost three fruit trees last year because the irrigation in the rental house next door malfunctioned, drowning them, and it took forever to get someone to fix it. Several years ago I lost all the plants in my mailbox bed because of their irrigation, and it nearly drowned our Nave orange tree when it was smaller. One of the trees we lost was our Santa Rosa Plum, our first and favorite. Lowes had some so we picked up another and planted it out back with the Lemon, Pluot, and two Apple trees.

I still need to build another bed for fruit trees so that I can replace the rest of the trees we lost, but put them out back where they will be safe from the neighbor's irrigation.


Last year at the local Farmer's Market there was a couple who made these wonderful whirligigs. I had enough to purchase this Road Runner and hoped to get Wile E. Coyote this year, but they weren't there this year. Oh well.




This is the little Angel who watches over me the entire time I am in the front garden.

Remember Joon-bug, refered to affectionately as "Joon-bug Von Weenie Cat" by my husband?

She talks to me whenever I look her way, imparting her priceless garden wisdom.






"Mom! 
The dog's looking at me again!"







The Naming Of Cats
- T.S. Elliot
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

from: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Copyright 1968.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Mystic

- D. H. Lawrence

They call all experience of the senses mystic, when the
       experience is considered.
So an apple becomes mystic when I taste in it
the summer and the snows, the wild welter of earth
and the insistence of the sun.

All of which things I can surely taste in a good apple.
Though some apples taste preponderantly of water, wet and sour
and some of too much sun, brackish sweet
like lagoon-water, that has been too much sunned.

If I say I taste these things in an apple, I am called mystic, which
       means a liar.
The only way to eat an apple is to hog it down like a pig
and taste nothing
that is real.

But if I eat an apple, I like to eat it with all my senses awake.
Hogging it down like a pig I call the feeding of corpses.


from: D. H. Lawrence: Complete Poems. Copyright 1994.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Parkinson’s Disease

 - Galway Kinnell
 
While spoon-feeding him with one hand   
she holds his hand with her other hand,   
or rather lets it rest on top of his,
which is permanently clenched shut.   
When he turns his head away, she reaches   
around and puts in the spoonful blind.   
He will not accept the next morsel
until he has completely chewed this one.   
His bright squint tells her he finds
the shrimp she has just put in delicious.
Next to the voice and touch of those we love,   
food may be our last pleasure on earth—
a man on death row takes his T-bone   
in small bites and swishes each sip
of the jug wine around in his mouth,   
tomorrow will be too late for them to jolt   
this supper out of him. She strokes
his head very slowly, as if to cheer up
each separate discomfited hair sticking up   
from its root in his stricken brain.
Standing behind him, she presses
her cheek to his, kisses his jowl,
and his eyes seem to stop seeing
and do nothing but emit light.
Could heaven be a time, after we are dead,   
of remembering the knowledge
flesh had from flesh? The flesh
of his face is hard, perhaps
from years spent facing down others
until they fell back, and harder
from years of being himself faced down
and falling back in his turn, and harder still   
from all the while frowning
and beaming and worrying and shouting   
and probably letting go in rages.   
His face softens into a kind
of quizzical wince, as if one
of the other animals were working at   
getting the knack of the human smile.   
When picking up a cookie he uses   
both thumbtips to grip it
and push it against an index finger   
to secure it so that he can lift it.
She takes him then to the bathroom,   
where she lowers his pants and removes
the wet diaper and holds the spout of the bottle
to his old penis until he pisses all he can,
then puts on the fresh diaper and pulls up his pants.   
When they come out, she is facing him,   
walking backwards in front of him   
and holding his hands, pulling him   
when he stops, reminding him to step   
when he forgets and starts to pitch forward.   
She is leading her old father into the future   
as far as they can go, and she is walking   
him back into her childhood, where she stood   
in bare feet on the toes of his shoes   
and they foxtrotted on this same rug.
I watch them closely: she could be teaching him   
the last steps that one day she may teach me.
At this moment, he glints and shines,
as if it will be only a small dislocation
for him to pass from this paradise into the next.


from: Imperfect Thirst. Copyright 1994.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Quote of the Day


Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.

- Astrid Alauda

Monday, February 15, 2016

Kilt Monday!

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


Saturday, February 13, 2016

It's A Garden Party - Still Green




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.


On the west side of our house is an old cast iron bath tub we tore out when we remodeled.

No. We don't bathe al fresco.

It isn't a pretty claw foot tub, but it has been incorporated into the landscape. I filled it with soil and planted it with Succulents.

Yes, it's badly in need of weeding - but
I am a lazy slug.

I have not been able to work in the garden for months now, and it shows. Since we haven't completed all the labor saving changes, it's looking bad all over right now.

Maybe one day . . .

The bottom picture is a small Agave that I hope to move into the garden next year.

The Echoing Green
- William Blake

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring.
The sky-lark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells’ cheerful sound. 
While our sports shall be seen
On the Ecchoing Green.

Old John, with white hair 
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk, 
They laugh at our play, 
And soon they all say.
‘Such, such were the joys. 
When we all girls & boys, 
In our youth-time were seen, 
On the Ecchoing Green.’

Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end: 
Round the laps of their mothers, 
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest;
And sport no more seen,
On the darkening Green. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Carmel Point

- Robinson Jeffers

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses-
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop
rockheads-
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.-As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.


from: The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, Three Volumes, Copyright 1995.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I Knew a Woman


I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)


How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)


Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)


Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)


from: The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. Copyright 1961.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quote of the Day


Anxiety is one little tree in your forest. 
Step back and look at the whole forest.

- Unknown

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dusk in Winter

- W. S. Merwin

The sun sets in the cold without friends
Without reproaches after all it has done for us
It goes down believing in nothing
When it has gone I hear the stream running after it
It has brought its flute it is a long way


from: The Lice, Copyright 1967.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

It's A Garden Party - Just Checking In




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.

Hi all!
I'm still here. How about you?


The Praying Mantis
 - Ogden Nash

From whence arrived the praying mantis?
From outer space, or lost Atlantis?
glimpse the grin, green metal mug
at masks the pseudo-saintly bug,
Orthopterous, also carnivorous,
And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Sonnet 97

 - William Shakespeare
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

How About A Little Winter Break?

Orchards In July
 - Zbigniew Machej

Waters from cold springs
and glittering minerals
tirelessly wander.
Patient, unceasing,
they overcome granite, layers
of hungry gravel, iridescent
precincts of clay. If they abandon
themselves to the black
roots it's only to go
up, as high as possible
through wells hidden
under the bark of fruit trees. Through
the green touched with gray, of leaves,
fallen petals of white
flowers with rosy edges,
apples heavy with sweet redness
and their bitterish seeds.
O, waters from cold
springs and glittering
minerals. You are awaited
by a cirrus with a fluid
sunny outline
and by an abyss of blue
which has been rinsed
in the just wind.  

from: A Book of Luminous Things, Copyright 1966.
 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Quote of the Day


People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.

                                                                                                    - Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Choices

 - Tess Gallagher
 
I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don’t cut that one.
I don’t cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,   
an unseen nest
where a mountain   
would be.
                                             

from: Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 2011.
 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kilt Monday!

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