Thursday, May 31, 2007

Poetry Thursday: A Little Tennyson

I did not find any time to write a poem this week, though I loved the "totally optional writing prompt" suggested by Poetry Thursday for the week. The prompt was simply the word "rivers." Maybe over the weekend, I will find a few moments to scribble some lines about rivers. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this tiny snippet, just the first stanza really, of a long lovely poem by Tennyson called "Maud." And above, there is a photo of my Maude, joining me in the garden (well, actually leaving me cheerfully behind as she races to the pond.)

"COME into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, Night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the roses blown."

~ Alfred Tennyson, Lord Tennyson. 1809 – 1892

The scents that "waft abroad" in my own garden right now are those of lilac, and iris, and the thorny, invasive Russian and Autumn Olives that abound on this property. These non-native species thrive here, except where we have pulled them up by the root. Despite all those negative attributes, the tiny white and yellow blooms are delicate and pretty, and the scent, strong and sweet, is a fragrant invitation to linger outdoors.

photo 1 by Aisling, May 29, 2007 , Maude in the field
photo 2 by Haiku, May 30, 2007, Heuchera (coral bells) dripping over the garden trail
poem from A Selection of Poetry in the public domain

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Remembering Mariah...

This sweet girl was my kitty companion for 17 years. Today is her unofficial birthdate. (I never knew the exact date. ) She died last year on the fourth of July, but I often expect to see her in her favorite perches as I round the corners in my home. I suspect I always will.

"I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through. " ~ Jules Verne

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Our neighbor (the one who lets us wander at will) has kindly plowed this corner of our property. Limerick plans to grow grapes on this sunny slope, and I plan to grow blueberries along it's eastern side. In between, the boys will mound dirt into little hills for pumpkins and watermelon. The soil here is very poor; the top soil was stripped away and sold before we lived here. Despite that, I believe that this little plot of dirt is rich with possibility.

"We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

photo by Aisling, May 29, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

All the words that I write...

If you are not a fan of poetry, then ignore me on Thursdays! I'm going to try to participate in Poetry Thursday for a while. I did not decide to do this early enough to use their writing prompt for this week, but will try to do so some of the time. My first Poetry Thursday post will be a short poem by William Butler Yeats. I love how this poem suggests that we write not only to be heard, but also to offer comfort.

"ALL the words that I utter,
And all the words that I write,
Must spread out their wings untiring,
And never rest in their flight,
Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,
And sing to you in the night,
Beyond where the waters are moving,
Storm-darken'd or starry bright. "

William Butler Yeats.
1865 - 1935

Photo by Haiku, May 12, 2007, Apple Blossoms
Poem copied from A Selection of Poetry (in the public domain)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday...

These are photos of Aquilegia (columbine) that "planted themselves" in my garden.

Photo by Haiku, 5/22/07

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dreaming by the window....

My friend Nan asked to see more of Maude on my blog. I have a fantastic picture of her on top of a hill, with a blue sky above her, but can I find it? Nope. Not yet anyway. In the meantime, I snapped this one of her on Thursday. She was dreaming by the window until I called her name. Despite the old saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, at the advanced age of 12, Maude has learned a new one: country line-dancing in my new front garden. Maybe that is what she was dreaming about, when I woke her to take this photo!

photo of Maude dreaming by the window by Aisling, May 17, 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Closet Make-Over (Or Misadventures in Decorating)

Yes, I have one of those closets. You know the kind. As someone approaches, you shout, "No, don't open that...." You are interrupted in your warning, as boxes and papers and assorted mismatched items fall upon the head of the unsuspecting victim who, seeing the rest of your fairly tidy house, thought it would be safe to open any door. This was our homeschooling closet for eight years. Though we have not been homeschooling during this past school year, I had yet to return the closet to its original purpose of linen storage.

I heard on a daytime talk show last week that paint could be tinted, in the absence of professional pigments, with unsweetened powdered drink mix. Ah-ha! I thought, I can finally paint my hall closet a lovely outrageous color that will make me smile each time I open the door (I've wanted to do that for ages!) So, on my next trip to town I bought eight or ten packets of drink mix to add to some pale pink paint that had been sitting in my basement for years (It was mixed wrong for another customer and the hardware store manager gave it to me, thinking that, with my two young daughters, three cans of pink paint might one day come in handy.)

Into the top of a can of baby pink paint, I emptied many packets of orange and red colored powder, then began to mix. I was hoping to see the paint turn from pale pink to deep, glowing apricot. A strange chemical reaction occurred, and the paint began to thicken and texturize mysteriously. Hmmm, I thought, this is not what they said would happen on daytime TV.

Back to the drawing board... well, to the stack of paint cans in the basement. I found a nice yellow paint, left over from painting the kitchen back-splash five years ago. (Are you beginning to suspect that my basement - with all of these old cans of paint - looks something like the aforementioned closet? *grin*) I grabbed another of those cans of baby pink paint and headed back to my laboratory, er, kitchen. I added some of the pink paint to the yellow and then, in a boldly creative move, poured in a whole lot of red food coloring for good measure and stirred. The result was pale peach, rather than the hoped-for glowing apricot, but pretty enough for my linen closet. I painted the closet late on Friday night, after my boys went to sleep. Then, I spent the early part of Saturday folding and stacking linens in my pretty "new" closet.

photos May 18 & 19, 2007, by Aisling 1) the closet of doom 2) powdered drink mix in pale pink paint 3) the "new" pale peach closet filled with quilts, afghans and other linens.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Found Object...


And after.

A nearby village has a once-a-year tradition wherein its citizens place unwanted items at curbside. "Dumpster diving" or gleaning is encouraged to keep items out of the landfill. After several days, garbage trucks haul away anything that has not been picked up. I have seen the piles of forlorn furniture and oddities at the curbside each year, but have rarely seen anyone grabbing anything, nor have I ever stopped for anything myself.

There is a first time for everything. I am short several chairs in my house. My bedroom writing table does not have one. We borrow one from the kitchen table for the computer desk. We use the old piano bench at the dinner table if we have one extra guest for dinner. So... a fairly decent looking wooden chair with a dingy seat cover had a certain appeal! I went around the block twice and my sons had to talk me in to stopping. Quickly, looking furtively over my shoulder for witnesses to my perfectly acceptable gleaning, I tucked the chair into the back of my standard issue Soccer-Mom mini-van and drove off.

I recovered the seat with some fabric that was given to me years ago (and which Haiku has used in several crafts over the years: a tote bag, a book cover, a stuffed kitty) and within hours of leaving town, I had a new chair at my computer desk. Dumpster diving confessions, anyone?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Miss Maudie...

Today is our German Wirehair Pointer's twelfth birthday. When Maude is running across the back hill - ears flying, jowls flapping - there is no hint of her age. When she runs, she is a puppy again: chasing anything that hops, flies or scurries. Though she is a purebred, she doesn't "put on airs." She is plain-folk: mutt-like in her simplicity and humble need for a good scratching behind the ear, or maybe if she's lucky, on her mud-splattered belly. She is sweet, silly and naughty with equal verve. We are, by turns, amused, amazed, or exasperated by her antics. Through it all, we love her.

Happy Birthday, Naughty Maudie!

photo by Haiku, April 12, 2005... Maude in a sleepy, mellow mood

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Evening in the garden...

As I sat on the slate trail in the garden this evening, I felt myself being blinked at. Someone was watching me. Looking around I found the little fellow in these photographs a few inches from my leg, dusty and holding very still, and blinking tiny black eyes. Just to be absurd, let's call him Picasso the Painted Turtle (naming the visitors to our yard is a tradition with me and my children.) Haiku carried him down to the edge of the pond where he can wash the dust from his shell.

Seven year old Sijo took the photo of the turtle in Haiku's hand. It is a bit blurry, but gives you a good idea of the size of this tiny turtle.

photos 1) by Haiku, baby painted turtle crawling up from the creek bank into the butterfly garden 2) by Sijo, turtle in Haiku's hand
Tuesday at Home...

During this school year, Tuesdays have been the day most likely to find me at home with no outside commitments. So, Tuesday is cleaning day, laundry and ironing day, and my one real chance for "down time" all rolled into one. I manage that by cleaning in 45 minute sessions, then giving myself a break with the computer, a novel, or a walk in the garden for 10 or 15 minutes before tackling the next cleaning task. Now that I am substituting for the paraprofessionals at our local school system, my Tuesdays at Home sometimes turn into Tuesday on the Run and the house looks a little worse for the wear until the weekend (if i have time to clean) or the following Tuesday.

This morning I brought order to a chaotic kitchen, sprinkled essential oil infused baking soda on the living room carpeting and vacuum-cleaned it, and washed a few windows and floors. I took time on one of my breaks to pick some flowers for the kitchen table. I put a lot of clutter away and did a few loads of laundry. In a few minutes, Tanka and I will eat lunch and then I will pull out the week's ironing. Before that though, I think I will squeeze in a few minutes of reading The Samurai's Garden. I'm very good to my cleaning lady, aren't I? Flowers, lots of breaks, and some reading time built right into the work day! *grin*

photos by Aisling, May 8, 2007: 1) Black Parrot Tulip 2) tidy kitchen and dining room, Tiggy at the window

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Walk in the Birch Woods...
Good friends of ours have a campground set up on their "Back 40" complete with playground equipment for the children, a kitchen tent, and scenic trails through the woods. This weekend, Limerick and the boys camped there. Haiku and I had several other commitments, so we came and went. This afternoon, we stopped in long enough to take a walk in the birch woods. Tanka walked with us, but Sijo stayed at camp to try out the hammock.

There wasn't much blooming today in the woods. I didn't find a secret bower overflowing with trillium as I had hoped, but there were the tiniest wild violets I'd ever seen, strawberries blooming in the footpaths, and leaves unfurling in tender shades of green, red and gold. We stepped over mossy rocks and around fallen logs peppered with woodpecker holes. I hope I can carry the quiet of that walk with me through the upcoming week, which looks as if it will be as busy as the last.

photos (except #3) by Aisling 1) Sunlight through the birch leaves; 2) tiny woodland violets 3) Maple leaves unfurling (by Haiku) 4) birchlog with woodpecker holes

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Echo and Narcissus...

"Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen
Within thy aery shell
By slow Meander's margent green.
And in the violet-embroidered vale,
Where the love-lorn nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well;
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
That likes thy Narcissus are?
Oh, if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,
Tell me but where,
Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere,
So may'st thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all heaven's harmonies."

This lovely poetry is from Milton's Lady's Song in Comus. We have named the elegant lady spider in Haiku's photograph (above, look closely!) Echo, for she has fallen in love with the Narcissus in our garden. This spider is most likely the descendant of Angelique, who lived many years ago in this same garden within the sweet pink cup of an Angelique tulip. She is a fascinating spider called Misumena vatia, or more commonly, the Goldenrod Spider. She has the ability to change her coloring slightly to match her host flower, wherein she sits in wait for a nectar gathering insect. She is probably the only species of spider that Haiku would approach for a close-up.

photographs by Haiku, May 4, 2007 1) Misumena vatia (goldenrod spider) on Poet's Narcissus 2) Color-changing Day Dream Tulips in yellow phase (nothing to do with the story, just so pretty!)

Friday, May 04, 2007

It's all a blur...
Last weekend, Haiku and I were cornered in the grocery store by a local woman who is very active in our community. I should have known something was afoot, by the gleam in her eye. "You are in so much trouble," she said, narrowing her eyes... scrutinizing my size, shape and appearance.

I laughed (yes, nervously) and asked what was going on. "What size are you?" she asked peering around me to size up the back side of me as well. I answered. She got very animated and asked if I was attending the mother daughter banquet at the Catholic church.

"Umm, no, I'm not Catholic," I reminded her.

"We're having a fashion show..." she said, pausing for dramatic emphasis, "Vintage Wedding Gowns!" She asked if I would model a couple of wedding dresses, and attend the banquet along with my daughter, Haiku. I said that I would consider her request. Haiku, being very interested in fashion, was adamant that I participate.

So, Monday afternoon found me half-naked with my arms raised above my head, trapped inside a lovely, antique wedding dress, while a woman I don't know all that well pulled the dress off of me, inch by delicate inch. The other dress was just as snug and seemed to take even longer to peel off my not-so-delicately sweating body. Ugh, I thought, this is going to be a disaster when the fashion show is in progress and time is of the essence. My fashion-show ambassador (the woman from the grocery store) assured me that all would be well the night of the show. "See you on Thursday!" she told me with a smile.

So, Thursday, I made a little run to the store for some girly things (new undergarments and hose, since apparently everyone backstage at the show would see them) and a pair of low-heeled dressy white "skimmers." These things, plus a little makeup (which I hardly wear and don't buy often) boosted my confidence slightly. The hair cut I had already had planned to have (prior to agreeing to do something so totally outside of my comfort zone) tweaked my confidence a bit further.

In the evening, Haiku and I walked through the gardens of the Catholic Church and entered the fellowship hall. The meal was lovely (even a vegetarian could fare well on the pot-luck buffet of each lady's best salad or side dish) and soon it was time for the show to begin. My ambassador is more than a fashion-show recruiter, she is a miracle worker with needle and thread, straight pin and french-wire ribbon. Dresses that gapped on a model's back were tied together romantically with shimmery white ribbon. Headpieces were tacked on with straight pins and a spirit of improvisation which our miracle-worker had learned through her involvement with local drama productions. She had let out a seam in each of the dresses I was wearing, which was hidden with a strip of ivory muslin and a few inconspicuous pins.
These tiny blurry photos are all I have to show you so far, but perhaps the miracle worker will have photos to email to me. The lighting wasn't the best for photography and Haiku didn't have the best seat in the house for snapping photos. The event turned out to be really fun, and all of the other "brides" were stunning... whether their dresses really fit or just looked as if they did.
photos by Haiku, May 3, 2007

Prayers for little Mei-Ling...

One of the blogs I read faithfully is Patty's Morning Ramble. Patty and her husband are experiencing the great joy of becoming grandparents for the first time. Little Mei-Ling was born with some health issues that are keeping her in the hospital for a while. If you will, please add your prayers and good thoughts for baby Mei-Ling's continued improvement, and for strength and patience for the loving family waiting for Mei-Ling to come home.
If you have a blog, it would be wonderful if you could post a prayer request for Mei-Ling also.
photo courtesy of Patty Lockwood, used with permission.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Song Moon...

This seems to be my year to miss every opportunity to see the full moon! Nevertheless, I went back to my favorite source for old moon names to find out whose light was seeping in around the bamboo shades last night. It was the Song Moon, whose softness cast a glow of light throughout the night.

The transition from April into May finds the occupants of the Quiet Country House unusually busy. I have been working at two different school libraries, doing my best imitation of a Soccer Mom, and pampering myself just a bit. Tonight I will be modelling two vintage wedding gowns in a bridal fashion show. More about that tomorrow (maybe even photos...?)

Out in the garden, the bees are as busy as my family has been of late. Things are blooming, the bees are busy gathering and pollinating, and tender seedlings are pushing through the soil as if eager to see what all the buzz is about. I know exactly what it's all about, and I know of what the Song Moon is singing: It is spring. It is beauty, and energy, and vitality, bursting forth in fragrant, colorful, commotion. It is life renewing itself. And maybe, as I have been today, the Earth is pampering herself just a bit!

photos by Aisling, 1) the setting sun over the lake, 2) narcissus