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Garden Surprises

We didn’t grow butternut squash this year. I was delighted  when our neighbor offered us a butternut from her garden.  She thought she planted cucumbers, and was horrified and deeply disappointed when they turned out to be squash. Our neighbor is German-Russian, and the German-Russians here are mad for raw cucumbers in the summer.  The squash were truly a tragedy for her.   We certainly enjoyed the squash at Thanksgiving.

A Lutheran pastor friend of mine  operates a market garden with his family.  They planted what they thought was a very long row of onions, but what turned out to be leeks.  Lots of leeks. They were not familiar with leeks, and live in the only area of ND where there were sufficient rains this summer to insure a vigorous leek crop.  They were at a loss to know what to do with them. He asked me too late to take any off his hands.  They didn’t sell.  I love leeks, and was sad.

We haven’t had too many garden surprises or any other surprises for a while.  I hope I plant spinach this summer and don’t get gourds.  I hope I am surprised by mild weather and sufficient rain.

 

When have you been surprised?

 

 

How to choose…Post Script

I received permission from Robert Bly’s wife Ruth to post the poems I had chosen for my book club, the ones Renee suggested we not post because of not having permission.  But with permission, she suggested I share them now.  So…here they are:

Or Robert’s The Dark Autumn Nights…?

Imagination is the door to the raven’s house, so we are

Already blessed! The one nail that fell from the shoe

Lit the way for Newton to get home from the Fair.

Last night I heard a thousand holy women

And a thousand holy men apologize at midnight

Because there was too much triumph in their voices.

Those lovers, skinny and badly dressed, hated

By parents, did the work; all through the Middle Ages,

It was the lovers who kept the door open to heaven.

Walking home, we become distracted whenever

We pass apple orchards. We are still eating fruit

Left on the ground the night Adam was born.

St. John of the Cross heard an Arab love poem

Through the bars and began his poem. In Nevada it was

Always the falling horse that discovered the mine.

Robert, you know well how much substance can be

Wasted by lovers, but I say, Blessings on those

Who go home through the dark autumn nights.

 

I love the tiny book, Four Ramages, with illustrations & graphics by Barbara LaRue King.

Grief lies close to the roots of laughter.

Both love the cabin open to the traveller,

the ocean apple wrapped in its own leaves.

How can I be close to you if I am not sad?

There is a gladness in the not-caring

of the bear’s cabin; and in the gravity

that makes the stone laugh down the mountain.

The animal pads where no one walks.

Meanwhile, I found my Yeats collection and further inspired by Barbara in Rivertown, I also found “Now We Are Six” by A A Milne…and decided to do “Down by the Sally Gardens” and “He Bids His Beloved Be At Peace” by Yeats; “Wheezles and Sneezles” by Milne. But I still love Bly’s poems…

 

PS…I just changed my mind again, well, added one (I hope), “King John Was Not A Good Man” by Milne because it is about Christmas.

Enough of my favorites, please share more of yours.

Books: Theory Number 1

Today’s post comes from NorthShorer (Clyde).

I lifted the following from my second novel:

He took out the two novels, Jon Hassler’s Simon’s Night and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, which he brought to occupy the many hours he would pass in the chair. “Hulger, maybe truth about old age is best told in fiction.”

Hulger held his pout; his tail still said J’accuse.

Clair had read both books, Simon’s Night a few times. He brought them for their shared theme of old people who have drifted out of the central river current into the slack water. Dropping both books onto the rock, he opened his journal to write. “Fiction comes in four categories:

1) Stories of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things to face extraordinary challenges, which seems to be the grist of most current movies.

2) Extraordinary people facing ordinary challenges.

3) Ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges, which Hitchcock preferred.

4) Ordinary people facing ordinary challenges, which I prefer, but which is not in fashion in popular fiction.”

Assuming this is proper grist for your thoughts, which type(s) do you read most often?

How to choose?

Our Library book club has a “sort-a” December tradition of reading aloud a favorite poem or two. In the past I have read a Lady Gregory, plus several by Louis Jenkins, Mary Oliver and Yeats. This year I am at a loss, having covered many favorites.

So far, these are the books I have pulled off the shelf…

Galway Kinnell’s Body Rags, Mortal Acts Mortal Words, Selected Poems

 Lawrence Durrell’s Selected Poems

Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems

Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

 Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Robert Bly

Robert Bly’s Four Ramages

Olav Hauge’s Trusting Your Life to Water and Eternity translated by Robert Bly

Tomas Tranströmer’s 20 Poems translated by Robert Bly

Robert Bly’s My Sentence Was A Thousand Years of Joy

 A Julius Berg Baumann poem from his Fra Vidderne translated by Josh Preston

I can’t find my book of collected Yeats poems. Or the ever-so-old copy of D.H. Lawrence poems. But perhaps I have enough to sort through – though I’m afraid we might be limited to only one or two.

My favorite Rilke poem?

I live my life in growing orbits

which move out over the things of the world

Perhaps I can never achieve the last,

but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,

and I have been circling for a thousand years

and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm,

or a great song.

 

Or Robert Bly’s The Dark Autumn Nights…?

 

I love the tiny Bly book, Four Ramages, with illustrations & graphics by Barbara LaRue King.

 

Okay, my decision has been made…I’m going for all three Bly poems!

(plus the other 3 Ramages)

 

Who (or what) are your favorite poets (or poems)?

Whispering

Today’s post comes from Ben.

The final project in the English class I’m taking, “Critical Reading and writing 1” is to create a research paper on a topic of our choosing. We’ve written three other papers based on material we’ve read in class. The entire class to this point was mostly learning how to properly use commas, quote marks, how to attribute a quote, how to add citations to a paper, all that stuff you need to get a college level research paper done right.

I felt like I had a pretty good handle on things going in. What I’ve learned is just because I can do it doesn’t mean I know the rules and knowing the rules is harder!  English is hard! I only whined about that once or twice to the teacher. She’s been great. I knew her before the class and knew I would like her as a teacher so that’s all been good.

For my research paper, I choose to write about whispering. This came up because our daughter speaks really loud. I mean it makes my ears ring sometimes.

But it’s not that simple. I talked with an ENT doctor from Mayo. I spoke with a professional opera singer and I interviewed a speech pathologist.  The fact we can speak at all is pretty amazing! There’s a lot going on in making a “voice”. But loudness has to do with how much air you’re moving (and that comes from your “Pelvic Floor”) and it has to do with intonation and resonance and it all gives your voice a tone or pitch.

AND THEN, the speech pathologist said he didn’t think our daughter spoke that loud. Huh! So now ‘Loud’ is relative. Loud compared to what? I looked up that the average speaker is about 60dBA’s. A quiet room is about 40dBA. A lawn mower is about 85-90dBA. (And those are all rather subjective too). And using an iPhone app, she does speak about 60dBA. But the rest of us in the house don’t talk that loud. So I guess she’s only loud “in comparison”. And it’s loud when you’re in a quiet restaurant and the lunch rush is over.

I’ve learned a lot and it’s been interesting. It’s just not that simple. And I guess really, I just need to be grateful she can communicate at all.

Got anything to say about your voice?

I Shouldn’t Say This, But . . .

Today’s post is from Steve Grooms.

They say confession is good for the soul. But, then, “they” say a lot of things that aren’t true.

I’m more inclined to think that a little confession can be a little good for the soul. I have stuff in my past that I could admit to, but wild horses couldn’t drag that out of me. I also have tiny things I can confess without getting me thrown in jail or embarrassed.

The StarTribune recently ran a column that invited people to make small confessions. Many did. I can’t find it now, but they were of this sort: “I don’t care how many times the name is changed officially, it will always be Camp Snoopy for me.”

Some readers made their small confessions and then said they felt better about themselves. If making many such confessions could make me feel better, I’ve got enough questionable stuff to confess that I should be able to make myself love myself.

But in the spirit of confessing to small but wrong ideas, I’ll get things started with a confession that will probably provoke outrage with some Baboons. I like the best hydroponic tomatoes better than “real” homegrown tomatoes.

I used to assume homegrown tomatoes were incomparably better than the things we can buy in stores. Then I got a bunch of “real” tomatoes grown by a friend in Port Huron. They did not—to me—test much better than the best hydroponic supermarket things, and they kept far better. My “real” tomatoes went soft and foul on me within days of being picked. Meanwhile the hydroponics in my fridge tested great almost two weeks after I bought them. I’ve had this experience before. So, with some guilt, I admit to preferring those store-bought hydroponics that have such an awful reputation.

I’ve got more, but perhaps that will do. What about you?

Do you have anything to confess?

 

 

A Pretty Pickle

Today’s post comes from Linda.

When I’m having lunch with someone, I often hear myself asking “Do you want your pickle?”

It bothers me to see a pickle languishing on the plate. I estimate 80% of diners leave the pickle to be thrown away. What a waste.
I appreciate a good pickle. Or even a mediocre pickle.

What do you appreciate that others don’t?