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Archive for May, 2011

Fog

I was late for church. The early morning fog made driving slow and the beauty of it had me stopping along the way, taking pictures. That is the steeple rising in the mist, heavenly  arising out of the fog with the flag standing at attention the day before Memorial Day, the trees like honor guards.

The morning was atmospheric; heavy in anticipation of the rain that would come a few hours later. Peaceful and still, in its own way.

Our front lawn was lush and green and the pink of the tree peonies seemed more vivid in the fog.

The smaller tree off to the left is Kezzie’s tree, the Donald Wyman crabapple that was flush with blossoms earlier this month.

The arbor was like a picture frame, centering the lawn beyond like a watercolor. 

Not even the deer attempted the deer crossing along the road.

By the time we started out for home, a few hours later, it was raining “cats and dogs”, keeping us indoors until later in the afternoon, when droplets played on the hosta leaves.

I don’t mind a little fog now and then, though I would prefer not to have to drive in it.

Monday dawned bright and sunny, then hot and humid. It happens fast here in the Midwest; the temperature changes quickly and often dramatically. We went from the 50’s and torrential downpours one day, to 90 degrees and humid the next. The sun was so welcome on Monday, for we had not seen it in quite awhile, it seemed, and it seemed a perfect way to begin the summer season soon to be upon us.

How about you? How was your weekend?

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Field of Poppies by Julius Rolshoven

home.earthlink.net/~alrnevada/post149/id26.html

Here in the United States, we honor all who sacrificed their lives or returned home injured from war and dedicate a day, Memorial Day, each May, to honor them. There are parades and ceremonies at cemeteries and parks, national tributes and prayers in houses of worship.

The poem, In Flanders Field, was written by Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian First Brigade Artillery in December, 1915 in Flanders Fields. Information on the poem can be found by clicking on the link above.

May you have a safe and peaceful Memorial Day as we remember all the men and women who have made the greatest of sacrifices.

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Chasing spring

     Spring comes ever-so-slowly up north: even more so this year. Their winter was hard, as it was for most of the country. For all the years I have been up there, to pick up Katy from college, visit her and Tom when they started their life together, and now Kezzie, it is always rewarding to travel up to Minnesota in May and to catch the pieces of springtime that have already started to fade here.

The trees still had that newly minted greenness to them and the peepers and bullfrogs, now quiet here on the cutoff, were in full chorus as we walked along a wooded path and small patch of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day brought turtles out to sun on logs and fallen branches.

Back at Katy and Tom’s, with the grill warming up, we took some time to enjoy the lilacs just coming into full bloom . . .

. . . and I was reminded again how fast a year goes,

and how quickly a baby grows.

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William Worcester Churchill - Leisure

I checked out the book more than three weeks ago from the library, thinking I would get a head start on the train to and from Chicago as I served jury duty. Busier times were anticipated closer to our book discussion date. My intentions were good. So filled was mind of all things judicial, however, that I barely cracked the book’s spine on the Metra. Then, we suddenly had some free time that we grabbed like a tiger by the tail and we headed up north. Though Olive Kitteredge came with me, so did that beautiful book on the Brontes, and, well, yesterday had me furiously finishing Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout for our evening discussion.

It is amazing how much reading can be done in between everything else that a day has in store. I felt like a schoolgirl cramming for final exams.

I spent most of my reading time propped on our livingroom couch; the light from the large picture window hugging my back, a cup of tea perched on the coffee table. I don’t always read here. The family room couch, an easy chair in the den, a coffee shop with a latte as fortification, or curled up under the covers late at night is where I’m usually found turning a book’s pages. It is when I need quiet without distractions that I commandeer the living room couch, however. It is a quiet room, away from distraction, and where I get my most ardent reading done.

I finished Olive Kitteridge in due course and we had a lively discussion about it. Have you read it? It is an interesting book, told in a series of short stories, with some wonderful prose. The consensus seemed be “what was this about?”, why was it a Pulitzer prize-winning book, and what’s all the fuss about?  Like most books we don’t necessarily like or understand,  it prompted a good deal of questions and discussion and that, my dear friend, is what a worthwhile book usually does.

Have you read anything worth discussing of late?

Where do you like to read?

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Brussels sprouts?

As Dorothy said, clicking her ruby slippers, there is no place like home.

We pulled into the drive and were greeted by a riot of color after our long drive on Monday. A warm welcome home.

I immediately grabbed my camera and starting clicking the tree peonies in full bloom. Forgive me for my days upon days of posting flowers; it’s just that I’ve waited so long for the colors of spring and now I just want to share them with you.

These tree peonies were a surprise the first spring we were here, planted by the previous owners. I had read about them and seen pictures, but, truly, had no idea of the beauty and joy they are to behold in the spring garden. If they grow in your area and you have room for one, or two, or more, I highly recommend you slip one in.

The seed pods of the maples are fluttering downward, spinning like the propellers of helicopters, and landing in the most interesting of places, like in the petals of this bloom.

Mother Nature is strong in her desire to thrive, isn’t she?

Alas, the rain and winds have left these beauties sagging and brooding, as peonies are known to do after a rain. Their cousins, the more familiar bush peonies, are close by, waiting their turn on center stage. Their tight buds are full of nectar – and ants; the dance of nature as their activity opens the blooms. I still shake my head in wonderment at how a convincing lad talked Penny and Teddy into eating all the peony blossoms off a neighbor’s bush one year, assuring us they were brussels sprouts!

You may have to click on the picture to see Adam Ant, busy gathering syrup from this brussels sprout!

It will be some days yet before this bud opens. Until then, I’ll settle underneath this blossom and enjoy the fitfully awakening spring as it tries to settle in on us.

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Cool shades

 Some people are just born with “it”.

The cool factor.

Like Amelia Earhart,

Grace Kelly,

Snoopy (seen here hugging Woodstock),

Audrey Helpburn,

the iconic Jackie “O”,

and this cutie pie, who has “it” with her cool shades on!

Lookin’ good, Kezzie

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I went looking for an audio book to pass the time on our long drive up north, but, found Ann Dinsdale’s The Brontes at Haworth instead. A weekend away with our up north family and a side trip to the Yorkshire Moors and home of one of English literature’s most enduring writers all at the same time. What more could a girl ask for on such short notice? (Well, some Kezzie time, of course, but, that’s for another post).

This well-appointed book is chock full of Simon Warner’s photographs of the Haworth Parsonage, where Charlotte, Emily, and Anne lived and wrote Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfield Hall, and the general environs of Haworth. There are also within the book photos of the rooms the Brontes lived and worked in, personal items, diaries, and artwork done by the sisters and their only brother, Branwell. A feast for the eyes.

The text; ah, the text is rich in history of the Bronte family, the sadness that plagued them in the illnesses and deaths of their mother, Maria, and of the siblings at early ages. This is not a tome on the Brontes, but, an overview of their lives and legacies. Not quite a coffee table book, more a biography, it is only 160 pages, which include a wonderful chronology of the family and works, and chapters on Bronte biographers and history of the Haworth Parsonage.

I am still devouring The Brontes at Haworth. I get caught in the pictures and go back for another look, sometimes with magnifying glass in hand, the better to see what is on the old desk or bookshelves, and suddenly an hour has passed in my bookish wandering. There is a chapter on Mrs. Gaskell, the noted friend and biographer of Charlotte Bronte that I need to read. I’ve become fascinated by Elizabeth Gaskell ever since the airing of Cranford on PBS. Gaskell is the author of Cranford, as well as North and South and a good many other literary pieces. She was a contemporary of Charles Dickens and her works often appeared in serialized form in his publishings.

It is so exciting to be able to continue to learn something new. I think I will keep The Brontes of Haworth until its due date, but, I promise to return it to the library then, so someone else can enjoy its beauty. Someone like you.

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Fringe

I wish I could find a shawl in just this color and with this alluring fringe. Wouldn’t it be lovely wrapped around a green sweater? Click for a more dramatic look.

Homeward bound in just a short while and hoping all is well in your neck of the woods.

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Scentimental thoughts

A fragrance filled the air as I rounded the corner of the deck the other day. I knew, immediately, that the lilies-of-the-valley had bloomed. They hold such an evocative scent that is at once for me old-fashioned and new as well, for they were the flowers Jennifer carried on the day she married Jason.

Happy Anniversary dear ones!

Katy and Tom, married just a few months before Jennifer and Jason, chose potted violets as their centerpieces. The effect was stunning and they were paired with cobalt blue drinking glasses. I thought that some wild violets in a vase would pair nicely with the lilies-of-the valley. I hope you agree.

As long as I’m casting family floral shadows, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Heather and Andrew, our niece and nephew, whose anniversary is in just a few days as well. We worked hard at the time getting Uncle Tom, who was sporting IV tubes and crutches at the time, to New York for their wedding. We have a great photo of him dancing, crutches and all. Now, they live nearby and delight us with their two young sons.

 

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. . . and a portrait of Tom and Penny on their 38th wedding anniversary!

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