January 2, 2015
I love this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It really suits my feelings at the end of a year. I miss those family members gone, and as I go through the rituals of Christmas and the new year, I think of them, little memories tickle in, mostly sweet, some regrets. And, I appreciate the sentiment of “anniversaries of the heart.” Here then, the poem. And, a ritual my mother and I shared for more years than I can remember.
The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;—
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;—a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.
My mother was a hard-working person, who tried to make everyone’s dreams come true at Christmas. She cooked enough on Christmas to practically keep all of us full until the New Year. An early riser, she would get up before everyone and savor those early morning moments with her first cup of coffee and the crossword puzzle from the morning paper. Other than that, she rarely took time off for herself, but the week between Christmas and New Years was hers. She’d set up the card table and begin a jigsaw puzzle. Anyone and everyone could take part. If someone dropped in, she would engage them in the puzzle. Time floats away as you concentrate on working a puzzle and she chose them to be challenging. Then on New Year’s day, the puzzle finished, we took down the tree and put the ornaments away. I kept that ritual going in my home after she died but then, somewhere, I stopped working puzzles. And this year, for the first time, I missed putting my ornaments away yesterday.
A couple of days after Christmas, I got into my stuffed full quilting closet and there, the “anniversaries of the heart”, lay hidden. Memories came pouring out. Lacey doilies she had crocheted. Patches she had made for a bedspread. Her handwriting on wisps of paper pinned to fabric describing its future use. Her button collection.
I kept scraps from clothing she wore or made for my daughters. The closet had so many unfinished dreams, I’ve yet to finish the job.
With most of the material and stuff I’d put into the closet gone, it is looking much neater on this side. My sewing machine is giving me trouble and out of the closet. I gotta find something better.
On this side of the closet, those nicely closed drawers were so stuffed full, the bottoms were warped and the drawers couldn’t close.
My office is practically unnavigable for the stuff I unloaded from that closet. Yes, it was full of unfinished projects, but marvelous memories it contained have inspired me anew to finish them. Thanks Mom. Thanks Henry.
November 26, 2014
Thanksgiving day, we will be missing several family members. Some years are like that. But, Doug, my son building my house in Oregon, though within driving range, and a famous cookie baker, is missing and we will sorely miss him. So, this old Edgar Guest poem seemed a proper tribute. He will join folks at the grange and help them cook. Another of his talents.
THE COOKIE JAR by Edgar Guest
You can rig up a house with all manner of things,
The prayer rugs of sultans and princes and kings;
You can hang on its wall the old tapestries rare
Which some dead Egyptian once treasured with care;
But though costly and gorgeous its furnishings are,
It must have, to be homelike, an old cookie jar.
There are just a few things that a home must possess,
Besides all your money and all your success—
A few good old books which some loved one has read,
Some trinkets of those whose sweet spirits have fled,
And then in the pantry, not shoved back too far
For the hungry to get to, that old cookie jar.
Let the house be a mansion, I care not at all!
Let the finest of pictures be hung on each wall,
Let the carpets be made of the richest velour,
And the chairs only those which great wealth
I’d still want to keep for the joy of my flock
That homey, old fashioned, well-filled cookie crock.
Like the love of the Mother it shines through our years;
It has soothed all our hurts and dried away tears;
It has paid us for toiling; in sorrow or joy,
It has always shown kindness to each girl and boy;
And I’m sorry for people, whoever they are,
Who live in a house where there’s no cookie jar.
Cedric is the chief pie baker and he, along with daughter Virginia, who prepares a pear tart every year, and grandsons Owen and Theo, who supply lots of noise and fun, are in Australia. We will miss you so much.
Daughter-in-law Laurie has stepped into the gap, and is preparing the pies.
Kristanne and Austin and Mason, will also be absent. It feels downright cruel to be missing so many at this family time of year. When it comes to the clatter round the table, the dogs and yak and fun; the card games and a bit of wine. we’ll try, but without Kristanne, and Austin and Mason to banter, we feel a loss for those missing three.
This poem FAMILY, by Suzanne Comer Bell describes it perfectly.
Inside a house they reassemble—
food an operation on the table,
dogs sealed against the back steps
waiting for the blessed day’s remains,
and a world of neighbors knows
to leave their gifts and wishes at the door—
then they eat and eat, clear, clean the table,
move to the kitchen and rumble family tales
til the ancestors sound, drown the silver clatter—
no bounds here to joyful noise because it’s family—
then disappear, each wandering off
to a silent, private nest, where
inside the cocoon of sleep will grow
the shapes and skills of being in this family.
One by one they’ll wake to a new world,
take ball, gun, racquet, cards—some
instrument of fun to play with another—
and the skills of this family bloom, reborn
in their memory, in the movement of hands, voices, feet,
the presence of children coming of age or an aunt
who carries the same genes of natural talent,
some newly awakening, some reawakening,
recognizing themselves in the mirror
of each other’s faces. Then they’ll line their shoes
by the door, warm up the leftovers—
do it all over again.
© Suzanne Comer Bell.
While I complain about being bereft of family, I know how very lucky we are and we will be giving thanks and counting our blessings for our cups runneth over.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE.
November 16, 2014
My mother and her sisters, my aunts, always left little quotes at the bottom of their letters and cards. It was always fun to read them. And, my mother was full of homey homilies like, No rest for the wicked, or Itchy palm? You’re going to get some money; Cold feet, warm heart; Itchy nose? You are going to meet a stranger; Always eat a little sour with your sweet; Waste not want not.
Her sayings came so automatic, kind of a mixture of advice, superstition, moral admonitions. Who knows where they came from> It was just a part of her personality. I miss her so much.
I chose the title because I’m so busy, super busy, I feel like the fox chasing his tail.
I’ll be absent these pages, off and on while I take a trip into the Bay Area working on a fundraiser for the archive. And, another trip to Oregon for a walk through on the house my son is building for me that will be wheelchair assessable. Then it is time to get ready for Thanksgiving that I’m hosting at my house. So…
My Feet they haul me Round the House,
They Hoist me up the Stairs;
I only have to Steer them, and
They take me Everywheres!
This little ditty is by Gelett Burgess and I can think of a half-dozen verses to add to it to describe my life right now, but I’ll let it go at that. Maybe some of you can add some verses if you are so inclined. This one is in the public domain and does not require permission.
March 24, 2014
It is spring, seemingly everlasting at this point. My own yard has a forsythia, not nearly as beautiful as this one I snapped in Sonora. In fact, the blossoms I have are puny this year, from lilacs to fruit trees. It doesn’t bode well for the fruit. But, I found a delightful old poem about spring that I really enjoyed. Hope you do too. It was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Jim and I leave early this morning for his eye appointment in Livermore. Ciao
Hark, I hear a robin calling!
List, the wind is from the south!
And the orchard-bloom is falling
Sweet as kisses on the mouth.
In the dreamy vale of beeches
Fair and faint is woven mist,
And the river’s orient reaches
Are the palest amethyst.
Every limpid brook is singing
Of the lure of April days;
Every piney glen is ringing
With the maddest roundelays.
Come and let us seek together
Springtime lore of daffodils,
Giving to the golden weather
Greeting on the sun-warm hills.
Ours shall be the moonrise stealing
Through the birches ivory-white;
Ours shall be the mystic healing
Of the velvet-footed night.
Ours shall be the gypsy winding
Of the path with violets blue,
Ours at last the wizard finding
Of the land where dreams come true.
This poem is in the public domain.
December 16, 2013
In October, my friend Monica Rose emailed she had a poem accepted by http://www.yourdaily poem. I subscribed and now I get a poem in my mailbox every day. Most are copyrighted and not for republishing. I like copying those I find exceptional into a document file to read over for my own pleasure. Sometimes one will be in the public domain like this one by D.H. Lawrence:
And your shoes, and draw up at my hearth
Where never woman sat.
I have made the fire up bright;
Let us leave the rest in the dark
And sit by firelight.
The wine is warm in the hearth;
The flickers come and go.
I will warm your feet with kisses
Until they glow.
November 20, 2013
I have more paperwork, unfinished from yesterday. It is always more complicated than we think.
I subscribe to a poem a day. If you like poetry, it is a nice way to start the day. Some, like the one below, are in the public domain. Others not. Poetry soothes the soul. For me, anyway. You decide. The link:
HOW BEAUTIFUL IS THE NIGHT
How beautiful is night!
A dewy freshness fills the silent air;
No mist obscures, nor cloud, nor speck, nor stain,
Breaks the serene of heaven;
In full-orb’d glory, yonder moon divine
Rolls through the dark blue depths.
Beneath her steady ray
The desert-circle spreads
Like the round ocean, girdled with the sky.
How beautiful is night!
By Robert Southey
April 5, 2012
April has been designated National Poetry Month. Don’t know why. I know I love poetry and I’m still mired in tax paperwork so this poem will have to do:
Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he’s fed.
Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.
Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.
Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.
Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.
Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.
Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.
Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won’t be done
Till he has no dough.
When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He’s good and sore.
Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he’s laid…
Put these words
Upon his tomb,
‘Taxes drove me
to my doom…’
When he’s gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.
I don’t know the author of this fun poem but it made me chuckle. I may be frustrated with the process, but unlike Pierpont Morgan, I don’t believe we can run a country without taxes. I love my National and State Parks, my bridges, my roads, airports, trains and universities. I love my clean water, clean air, museums, vast wilderness, clean beaches and…I could go on and on. I once had a friend retired from the IRS. I used to tease him that he must have a hard time making friends. “Not in America,” he said. For all the complaining I do about current political shenanigans, this is yet a great country. The yet implies it may be getting worse, worse than taxes. Amen.
November 30, 2011
…his tail and brake lights, a complete walk around the motor home and toad. One thing I appreciate about Jim is his safety and his safety record. He always does a complete inspection before hitting the road and maintains the vehicles in tip-top condition. He will not return to Murphys for two years.
Together we wander through
The wooded ways.
Old beauties are green and new
Seen through your gaze. By Anne Campbell
You are never alone with a poet in your pocket.
November 27, 2011
Too slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love time is Eternity. (By Anonymous)
I’m feeling poetic this morning.
Hope you enjoy this beautiful piece as much as I did.
February 23, 2011
Fittingly, the locals near Chiriaco Summit. Ca. have a war museum dedicated to the exploits of General George S. Patton. It was their aim to put Patton on the record in the area where he trained desert troops to go up against the Desert Fox, German General Erwin Rommel. Its all privately funded and includes other war materials, as well; a Viet Nam Memorial Wall with those who died from the western states; some artifacts from Korea, and other branches of service, gathered by, and honoring locals.
Outside is a “garden” of tanks, about ten of them, located in the desert sands near where they once gave our troops the experience needed to fight in desert conditions. The museum has a film about Patton that contains remembrances of people who served under him, clips from news reels and speeches he gave.
Patton was a relatively unknown general when he was tapped to take over the desert training detail in an area of 18,000 miles of desert. Afterward, he took his troops to Africa and not only defeated the Desert Fox, but he plunged headlong into major battles of his own strategy in Sicily, England, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. It is said that he saved more American Soldier’s lives than any other American General. There are many books and colorful anecdotes about Patton, for he was a colorful and forceful general, not always popular but fearfully respected.
Besides the usual artifacts of war, this museum has more personal pieces that drew my eye and interest. I remember having to save copper, and rags and tin, but bones? And paper?
War posters hung in every Post Office, but this one was hung where soldiers would see it, not the folks back home.
Individuals who lost a son or daughter submitted letters, medals, art and poetry to the museum.
And during training, boredom in the desert gave soldiers a chance for artistic expression by carving shell casings.
Patton and Eisenhower, both made the German people parade through the prisons and view the bodies of the tortured souls who died in them. Patton wrote a letter to his son explaining the reasoning for that and told him the local officials denied responsibility or knowledge of the death camps in this one town. The next morning after the tour and denial, the Burgermeister and his wife committed suicide.
This is the only museum I’ve seen in America that has scrapbooks on the Holocaust although there are 24 memorials or museums throughout the U.S. that tell the story in various ways; they have study centers and elementary education about hate and tolerance and man’s inhumanity to man.
While not as professionally done as a national museum with the money and access to materials, this museum is well worth the stop.