Here and There

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Jayber Crow

I received this book for my birthday and began it immediately. I had to put it aside to read a book club book and then got back into it slowly, reading a few pages when I could. But a couple weeks ago, after reading some especially good pages it gave me that itch that good books do. I had to read it, I thought about what I had read when I wasn't reading it and imagined what I might read when I got the chance to read it again!

And so, I read the last half quickly, lapping it up. It is a wonderful book. I would love to discuss it, deconstruct it a bit, but for this blog I will just say a few things I loved about it.

1) Jayber Crow is the best male protagonist I've read in a long time. He is good and loves good, but has his imperfections and flaws. He has a modesty that makes him quite loveable. Always sees himself on the edge, loving his community and his home so much, observing constantly, battling his own shortcomings constantly.

2) I love good nature writing...words about woods, rivers, country. There is good nature writing in this book. Not boring.

3) I love the spiritual aspect. It is not religious, as much as holistic. I like that.

Here's a quote I like:

"The river and the garden have been the foundations of my economy here. Of the two I have liked the river best. It is wonderful to have the duty of being on the river the first and last thing every day. I have loved it even in the rain. Sometimes I have loved it most in the rain.

No matter how much it may be used by towing companies and water companies and commercial fishermen and trappers and the like, the river doesn't belong to the workaday world. And no matter how much it is used by pleasure boaters and water-skiers and the like, it doesn't belong to the vacation world either. It is never concerned, if you can see what I mean. Nothing keeps to its own way more than the river does. Another thing: No matter how corrupt and trashy is necessarily must be at times in this modern world, the river is never apart from beauty. Partly, I suppose, this is becuase it always keeps to its way.

Sometimes, living right beside it, I forget it. Going about my various tasks, I don't think about it. And then it seems just to flow back into my mind. I stop and look at it. I think of its parallel, never-meeting banks, which yet never part. I think of it lying there in its long hollow, at the foot of all the landscape, a single opening from its springs in the mountains all the way to its mouth. It is a beautiful thought, one of the most beautiful of all thoughts. I think it not in my brain only but in my heart and in all the lengths of my bones."

--Wendell Berry

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dancing Queen

On Saturday, we went to a wedding reception and there was dancing. Everytime I find myself at a wedding reception with dancing, a reception at which there are many dear Church Without Walls folk, because I feel so friendly with and at home with them, I tend to do the same thing. I watch first. I smile and am pleased to see the kids dancing, the excellent dancers dancing. I love to watch people dancing. Always smiling, turning, smiling, dipping side to side, smiling. It is really a heartwarming thing. Then, someone will pull me by the hand and I will find myself up there, with all the other dancing fools, dancing queens, tiny dancers. It is such fun. I dance for a couple songs and then I like to get back to my seat to watch and listen and if a slow song comes on, Gid will take me out for a spin.

Some favorite and least favorite reception tunes:
Hate it: Heard it Through the Grapevine
Love it: Dancing Queen
Hate it: Funky Town
Love it: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Hate it: Superfreak
Love it: Best of My Love
Hate it: Hot Stuff
Love it: Got to Be Real

Friday, November 24, 2006

French Macaroons at Bouchon

These are some macaroons that we enjoyed on our weekend away. French macaroons are one of my very favorite cookies and I think this Christmas, I will try to make some.

I have taken down all of the fall decorations at home today. I think a blank week is in order before Christmas decorations. A holiday palate cleanser week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Glass Beach

This weekend, Gid and I went to Napa, and then way, way up to Fort Bragg to visit Glass Beach. Supposedly a site for dumping, until people realized they shouldn't just dump all their garbage into the ocean over a bluff, now it is simply sea glass heaven.

Some people would climb down the bluff and immediately start grabbing handfuls of pebbles and sea glass, dirt, old wires, sand flies...whatever they could hold, dumping their loot in a Rite Aid bag. Other people took longer than us finding the perfect pieces of glass. It was amazing and Gid and I made a good haul!

This is us just getting started!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Another Flower Dictionary Entry

Also called the wind flower. At first I hated these. I thought they were creepy with their bumble bee center and bright, somewhat garish colors. Then, Doug gave me some little teeny bulbs for my birthday and I planted them near the driveway at the red house. When they started cropping up with their sweet little chervil foliage, I liked them. When they were closed, ready to bloom color folded tightly, flat like a sealed envelope, I liked them. When they opened so cheerfully, I didn't find them annoying. I thought they were vivid, not garish. And they kept opening, growing, tight shut, opening in the lovely cool mornings of Spring. They were charming--those little sprigs of leaf are so dainty next to those simple petals. And they do wave all about on their stems, bobbing and jiving in the wind like a windflower should.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Making Cinnamon Swirl Bread...

This morning I woke up early and thought "I want to make something that has yeast in it." I can make pizza dough with yeast, and I have made bread once or twice, but I don't feel super confident about it. With a little extra time this morning, I thought I'd give it a try.

So I pulled out a little book called Baking for Gift Giving, which I recieved for Christmas when we spent the holiday in Colorado. First Christmas after grandma died, we needed space from how different it would feel I guess. I know we opened all our presents before we left, but mom must have picked this little book up at a shop in one of those little stores with these kinds of books, potpourri, candles and know, those highly scented stores. She gave it to me there on Christmas Day.

It had the only recipe that allowed for the kinds of milks I had on hand. Which happened today to be evaporated and 1%.

I set to work and came upon the instruction to scald the milks. Now, I've scalded milk before, but for some reason I couldn't remember if there was some sort of important detail I was forgetting. Is it supposed to smell "scalded"? Am I supposed to do it over high heat, or low heat or medium heat? Little bubbles, big bubbles? I think in most recipes nowadays, the word scalded is left out and the cook is directed to "heat the milk until small bubbles form around the edges" which is technically scalding...

Anyway, quickly I ran to get The Joy of Cooking, thinking there would be a simple definition so I could feel confident and move on. There was, a simple little definition that allowed me to proceed. After I kneaded and put the dough in the bowl, covered it with a seasonally appropriate dishtowel (brown, with turkeys), I read The Joy of Cooking recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread. It was a variation of the basic white bread recipe. In this recipe was a lovely little quote:

White Bread
Wrote Louis Untermeyer:
"Why has our poetry eschewed
The rapture and response of food?
What hymns are sung, what praises said
To home-made miracles of bread?"

Even more constructive than versification, perhaps, are the recipes which follow: home-baked bread, in our view, can best be celebrated by repetition.

I loved this. This represented my whole goal for the day, making something I want to get better at. Using repetition to improve, and then to simply satisfy.

My favorite part of making bread is putting that dishtowel over it. I like choosing the lucky dishtowel, clean and smooth-- just having that bowl with a dishtowel over it means bread getting ready.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sometimes, When the Light

sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.

--lisel mueller

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blog memory jog..

I read a great blog called I'm Mad and I Eat. It is fun and a little eccentric. The writer is clever and likes local food. This is an excerpt from today's post at

"So: Fig chutney. This is not a recipe (you know me better than that), this is just my notes.
Wash and cut figs into sixths.

Cut up some onion into little, but still identifiable, chunks.
All right. Spoon a little honey into a saucepan. I used more than a little, because to me, figs taste like honey in a shell.
Add a nice splash of wine to the honey (rosé happened to be on hand), and toss in the figs and onions. Warm it all up on low heat.
Now, start tinkering with flavors. I threw in fennel seeds, mustard seeds and black onion seeds. A little salt. A little more salt. A crack of black pepper.
More Spanish sherry vinegar than I would have thought.
Taste, tinker. Taste, tinker.Simmer, simmer, simmer.
An hour or so later, if it's to your liking (and the whole house smells divine), turn off the flame and let it cool."

This "recipe" reminded me so strongly of something I did as a young person. I was old enough to use the stove, so that seems pretty old to play pretend, but maybe kids just don't play pretend long enough anymore... We had a little playhouse in the back of our house, I played there most afternoons when I was small, scrubbing doll clothes, having company, puttering around my yard in front. The whole thing. It was world to many pretend games.

As I got older, I didn't play there anymore but I still wanted to play house, pretend like I was housekeeping, humming and simmering things. I would gather leaves, flower buds, pussywillows, seed pods, grass-whatever was pickable, putting it into my apron. (Because I always thought a little Mrs. Tiggy-winkle like me would carry things I was gathering in my apron.) Then I would put them all in a little pot in the kitchen. Just a small little saucepan with a little water and I would simmer the mixture, stirring it occasionally, pretending all the while that I was concocting some delightful herbal brew that I would serve my guest for tea, or stirring up some remedy for my ailing child.

Not that this recipe for fig chutney is so off the wall, but the approach sounds much like my leaf stews. Which didn't even smell aromatic, but rank, bitter and very green.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Let's take this party OUTSIDE.

We saw Marie Antoinette last night. I have been wanting to see it ever since I saw a trailer for it ages ago. In the trailer, 80's music was playing, and Marie Antoinette was riding home from a party in a coach at dawn, putting her hand out the window to feel the air. I was kind of fascinated by that image. The whole idea.

So, even though I knew that every 12-16 year old was as well, I've been truly excited to see this movie. So we did. On opening night.

And I have to say- I sure liked it. It was crazy-decadent, fanciful, amusing. It was really breathtaking to watch all the colors and clothes and food. The whole idea of these teenage queens and duchesses and comtesses, with the money and power to indulge any whim is shocking and sad and satisfying all at the same time.

One of my favorite scenes was after Marie's birthday party. She and her friends are tramping about in the gardens at Versailles. They are laughing and tumbling down and they plop down at the edge of the beautiful reflecting pool and they watch the sun rise. When they are walking through the grass in that grey light, I knew that smell of the wet grass and the muffled sounds of birds waking and all their laughter and loud voices before morning. I felt a little tinge of sad later, thinking about parties like that or staying up that late...

One important detail about that scene. And one of my favorite things about a party that is hard to achieve in Berkeley. Maybe when we have some lawn and a heat lamp for the not-so-balmy nights. Party outside. More specifically, party moves outside. Night smells and the way that things reach up and out at a party, laughter, gazes, smoke. It is lovely to be outside and be in good company, quietly settling together, it makes departure more natural. Everyone is thinking their own thoughts, looking up at the sky, contemplating the evening. Then it can be over. An indoor party doesn't have that flow. Everybody talks, talks, talks, then maybe it gets silent for a second and then people leave. Lights on, lights off. Outside, people sit, lie on the grass, it's dark- but softly.

It's nice. I was glad for that scene in Marie Antoinette because I remembered that feeling and I realized that since having sleepovers in a tent at Brooke's house in 6th grade, I've loved the wee hours spent outdoors with friends.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fun with Stephanie!

Last night was Stephanie's birthday party. In the picture of Gid and I, you must know we were posing as for a junior high yearbook picture. (Thus, Gid's faux enthusiasm, which looks real and is why I love it.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

First Rainy Day

Today I was walking around in the library, choosing some books, and it was quiet except for a dull roar of an airplane outside. But on this rainy afternoon, it sounded like the clouds moving.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I like this picture. It makes me happy.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My Birthday

Today is my 26th birthday. It was also the first day of school in the Piglet classroom. We had a good first day and that is important. Most important is that today is my birthday. So, I have been thinking about my year ahead and my year behind and wondering about it all.
Do I have any goals for this year of life? I do.
*take a pottery class.
*obtain my "Master Teacher" permit
*memorize Psalm 91
*go to Glass Beach
*complete Martha's year of cakes (even if we have to make a cake outside of its assigned month)
*learn to play at least 3 songs well enough on the guitar that I can sing along while I do it.
-"I had a rooster" -"Inch by Inch" -"Freight Train"

That's a good start to my list. I will continue to work on it because: "the unexamined life is not worth living" -plato and "we shall not cease from exploration" -t.s. eliot will still remind me.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Autumn Light, pictured.

To further my exploration of this subject.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

from My Antonia

"All those fall afternoons were the same, but I never got used to them. As far as we could see, the miles of copper-red grass were drenched in sunlight that was stronger and fiercer than at any other time of day. The blond cornfields were red gold, the haystacks turned rosy and threw long shadows. The whole prairie was like the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed. That hour always had the exultation of victory, of triumphant ending, like a hero's death--heroes who died young and gloriously. It was a sudden transfiguration, a lifting-up of day."

Same idea, much more lovely. Thanks Willa.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Last Dog Days

Summer is almost over. So almost over. So today I'm catching up on things, and trying to leave things at home in a somewhat presentable state when I go off to work soon. Kind of like tying up the loose strings, writing the last letters, throwing away empty shampoo bottles; the people who may sift through my things when I am gone won't think I am a sloppy pig. Yes, the end of summer is kind of like dying. "A small death" I would write if it didn't have another meaning. And the end of summer is nothing like the other meaning.

But there is a certain kind of light I noticed last night, locking up at Finn Hall and walking into the house. Lingering and golden. Long shadows, and that veiling light and the leaves already smelling dry and aging. All mean summer is over. That is not to say hotter days are not to come. They'll come. And that is not to say that there is not one more long weekend coming and popsicles will still taste good. But there is a crunch to it. Apples and pumpkins and leaves all over the sidewalk and a sooner chill in the evening. All of that is close. So I'm cleaning house, getting ready.

Oh, but they use this feeling to trick you at the mall you know. The beautiful sweaters, and you're in the mood. But you won't be able to wear it till after Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The real Little Gidding

My blog name is taken from a poem by TS Eliot. I would like to show you the last part of that poem, it being the first part of the poem I ever saw. Sent to me by my inspirational penpal cr!

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables The Sequel
I Love Lucy Season 5 Disc One
Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 5 Disc 2
Strangers With Candy Season 2 Disc 3
We're Not Married

Coffee and Peanut Butter and Jelly Toast

New Haircut

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Princess Peer

There is a look that every Disney princess has at one point during their movies. From Cinderella to Mulan. I am especially imagining Belle, looking at the Beast, as if just realizing who he is.

In the animation, the eyes squint, and there is a little circle drawn in the inside corner of each eye, near the nose. It is a distinct look and Disney Princesses do it.

They do it when they are curious about a life they have only dreamt of before, as in Ariel's peer at Eric's ship. Or when they are faced with the Beast and because they are wholly good and moral as all women are supposed to be, imagine "there's something sweet and almost kind" there.

And I admit, I have done the Princess Peer in the mirror at various moments throughout my young life. I imagined looking this way was mature, adult, wise. But it's a little stupid.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Single Pea

This morning at Berkeley Bowl, the lines were crazy and people were kind of pushing around, you know how it can be. A woman in line behind me said "These carts should have horns or something." I thought that was ridiculous. If everyone were kind and patient, it wouldn't feel so oppressive there. But she wanted to further the pushiness, and make it dangerous!

Then I noticed, in between the registers ahead of me, a single pea. Just sitting on the ground. Probably, some kid was allowed to eat peas out of the pod before paying for them...and this pea found itself on the ground. I kept waiting for the elephants around me to stomp on it. But it just sat there. Carts and feet all came near it, over it, all around it; but it just sat. I know that pea is smooshed now, even if people at Berkeley Bowl were terribly careful all the time, it would still get smooshed. But I liked looking at that pea.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

In honor of our anniversary, I recall this poem...

My Love

It falleth like a stick.
It lieth like air.
It is wonderment and bewilderment,
to test true.

It is no thing, but of two,
equal: as the mind turns to it,
it doubleth,
as one alone.

Where it is, there is
everywhere, separate,
yet few--as dew
to night is.

-Robert Creeley

Friday, August 04, 2006

This morning I went to the Flower Mart earlier than I had ever been before. We got there at 4am. Technically, it opens at 2am on MWF, but I couldn't imagine going at 2am. I think one has to ease into that. But, after what I saw this morning, I will definitely be coming this early every time. It was outrageous how many more flowers, better flowers, stranger flowers there were! Garden roses, dahlias in every shape and color. Summer flowers at their best, everywhere. Crazy looking protea in bright yellow, pink and green. Kind of like little pinatas or something. I wish that I could wander, but alas, I had to get what I needed and go. Next time, I will wander. My hands smell like newspaper and twine. Because one of the dominant smells when working with flowers is newspaper. It is somehow more fragrant than the blooms.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Poetry of Yore

I found a black binder full of poetry I wrote in college. It's kind of interesting-a lot of the poems sound alike. I was exploring zeugmas (or syllepsis, specifically). "Ancient sheets of unmade paper"

I also seemed to be obsessed with alliteration: "Cactus Crosses" "Swallow sweet"

A couple are still good.

Rings Around Rings

I saw it.
He didn't notice.
My eyes followed the radar:
rings around rings around rings.

They stretched to the edge of the pool,
still circling, even as they disappeared.

I watched them and I waited.
He was surprised when
his glasses covered over suddenly
with a dozen blurry lenses.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sea Glass

Sea glass collected at Irish Beach, and a little teeny tiny sand dollar on the right.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Irish Beach

Just got back from Irish Beach, about 20 miles away from Mendocino. We stayed in a house with some pals and enjoyed tidepools and finding sea glass. The weather started out pretty windy and foggy, which was bracing and made me feel like I was somewhere in Scotland on the moors. Then each day it got sunnier and sunnier. We went to the beach everyday, saw the most amazing tidepools ever. I had never seen so many different kinds of seaweed. All different rusty reds, irridescent dark greens, bright greens pinks and browns. When the pools were getting deeper and deeper all that seaweed that flopped around on the rocks just stood up and spread out and gently waved. It was a beautiful place and each pool was like a complicated garden. We found quite a few pieces of sea glass, brown, white and just a couple green and blue. It was a nice rhythym of sleep, eating and exploring. With a lot of reading and chatting thrown in. Started A Thousand Acres. Almost done.
It isn't hard to come back to regular life, but I certainly do enjoy relaxation in a beautiful spot such as that.
Thinking about Psalm 62 (man as a tottering wall)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sweet Peas in raised beds, champagne and balmy temperatures. Is this heaven?

We went to Bernardus Lodge and Winery for a wedding this past weekend. It was so beautiful and romantic! Wonderful food and good cake (not just good wedding cake, but good cake!) tasty wines, yummy champagne. Dancing and chocolate. It was just delightful.
Now, we are home. There is a lot of work to do before we go away again on Saturday, but I made a stop to the library to get some reading for the long weekend. The Tent by Margaret Atwood, Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama, and A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley...which one first?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mustard Seed Staff Party

Teacher Myrna, me and Gid.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's in the water.

I was thinking yesterday and today about how common some themes are in art. There are somethings that are so full of meaning, they can be used as themes over and over and over again and they are still so rich and so mysterious people will keep writing about them and singing about them and painting them.

So I think, WATER. In Housekeeping, the book I recently read, water was a big theme. It was just there, always present in that story. It was the lake, it was the fog around them, it was a smell they always had in their noses. It was water. And in that theme, that the book was literally steeped in, some aspects of water stood out: continuous movement, hidden spaces under the surface, a lifeforce, but also a killer. In other works, other aspects stand out- As in The Shipping News, another recent read, water was powerful and unyielding. Ice and storms were not the same as the constant trickle and flow of water in Housekeeping. Different, but still water.

Other Big Themes:
(the) Land (Steinbeck!)
A color- I love that.
A Season

Interesting thing: God is not usually a whole theme, but, there is almost always a sub-theme involving a Biblical allusion or a spiritual struggle.

Monday, June 19, 2006

the potential of red, blue and yellow

One thing I love is how putting out these three colors in a pan in my classroom always creates really cool art.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Would you like to go here?

I certainly would. It is the last week of school. But it doesn't really feel like it because for me, school keeps going, and going, and going. But it's not bad. It will be fun. After the first week it will be fun. First week at school for a bunch of first-timers: parents and kids!, is tough. There will be tears.

But after that it will be fun. Maybe not as fun as the the Maldives would be. But fun.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

In little bits

I was thinking about how I see God in my neighborhood, how I see what he is doing here. It is a vague picture, kind of like the flash that kind of swirls of who I imagine God to be when I say his name in my mind on that edge of prayer.
I picture tissue paper flowers. All over. Brightly colored, some sticking out of trees, some lying in the middle of the street. Little crinkly standing up straight as though reaching to the sun. Many layers of petals, and they are in hidden spots sometimes. Sometimes in places I've stepped as I've walked on the sidewalk. Sometimes on the door of a place I asked God to bless. Sometimes they are just blowing by on the wind, a little bit of magenta and orange, some party colors God tossed out to Channing Way in the form of Peace, Grace, Hope.

I think of these tissue paper flowers forming a garland one day, all the impacts all the hellos, all the choices strung together- obvious, visible, forming a lovely web. The blessings, the faithfulness, the truth of His love.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Special on Aisle 3

I love listening to grocery store ads on the radio. They're not really on TV, and I actually rarely hear them on the radio because I don't listen often enough. But I love the way 99 cents a pound sounds. I mostly like the "cents a pound" phrase. When it is more than that, they say a dollar twenty nine. No cents, nothing. Not as fun sounding. I was at Berkeley Bowl testing out the prices per pound, saying them in my head. I would love the job of saying the prices for a grocery store each week. (Asparagus: On Special 1.89 a bunch. Juice Oranges: 1.49 a pound. Yellow Onions: 29 cents a pound.)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Space to Scatter

I am picturing something that you don't see everyday. I've seen it in Cinderella, and other movies I'm sure, but I've never really seen someone do it. I've only done it myself once or twice.

What I'm thinking of is someone scattering something- not sprinkling, we've all done that, but scattering: having a large quantity of small bits (like feed for chickens, or seeds) and tossing them far and wide with a generous sprinkler-like sweep of the arm.

Maybe we don't have enough space to throw things around like that; the inches of dirt we plant are not spacious enough to need a throw of seeds over them. What small amounts of land we have to offer to growing things must be calculated and doled out. Animals we have are fed pinches, or half cups. Or as in Kate's case, a few shakes from a canister.

So we don't carry seed wheat in leather bags over our shoulder. Or know what it's like to throw handfuls of corn everyday.

My plan is to go to one of the new "calming circles" and scatter some seeds. Maybe I will mix them with dirt so I have more to throw.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It's not the same without you around.

Last weekend we went to see Mates of State, and Viva Voce, and the Botticellis. It was such a good show. The Botticellis did great, Burton was happy and people clapped along. Viva Voce is fascinating...this girl plays the guitar in a very thoughtful way, and she seems to take her time and oozes the self-confidence that prevents most girls from playing the guitar with such presence. Solos that were intricate, and feedback that was calculated. Very cool.

And then Mates of State, who I haven't seen in a few years, and haven't heard their new stuff. Didn't know they had a kid, didn't know they were touring with The New Pornographers in the UK...Peter, did you know that!?

Watching them play was so good! It reminded me of being a teenager, and loving going to shows and seeing bands. There were so many kids there who had the new album memorized. Singing along and clapping and dancing. They knew the instant to pause and the instant to rock their little heads back into the beat. We bought the latest album, Bring it Back, this week and it isn't super super great-they are best, really, THE best, live. But there is one song, "Punchlines" that is wonderful. When they played it live, it was great, but on the album it's great too. As it started out, the first 3 dozen times I repeated it, I thought it would be the anthem for the summer. Super-fun and happy. Then, I listened more thoughtfully and even though it is still wonderful, it feels sad and kind of desperate. Still great, still can't stop listening to it. I love Mates of State. But sometimes I think, when a band is a husband and wife team, you can't help but feel weird listening in on their music. I think that's why I like it best live, because they're up there inviting you to participate. On CD sometimes it feels like spying or something.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Roses and May Day

I love this kind of old fashioned rose. It opens up by expanding. The outer petals don't fold back, they just make room and all those many layers to show themselves, they don't spread out, they just show how many. I love that. I finished Chicken Every Sunday and now, until I can get my hands on Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro for book club, I am starting The Shipping News.

Tomorrow is the first of May. I don't have any Cecil Brunner roses to share as May Day bouquets, like I used to at Grandma's house, but maybe someday I will have a Cecil Brunner bush of my own. The best part about that bush is that you can cut dozens of stems everyday and make these adorable fragrant pink bouquets for every bud vase you can find. They are so sweet and miniature! See them! I like to snip them off the bush just as they are buds, and then they open up beautifully.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm not very quiet, OR submissive.

I've been thinking about a little dichotomy I have. Actually prompted by Gid's discussion about gender roles with some guys. As he was preparing, he asked me if I knew those verses about the man being the spiritual head of the household. I didn't, off the top of my head, so I started looking and naturally became repulsed and disgusted about the verses I read in the Bible about my fair sex:

"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one decieved; it was the woman who was decieved and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."

It's downright depressing to read this in Holy Scripture. What to make of it?

I do not think a woman should learn any more quietly or any more submissively than any man. (I will assume that in this time in history, women had not been present in learning atmospheres, religious or otherwise and that this is a small step in welcoming them into learning.)

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent"
Strictly Paul's opinion.

"Adam was not the one decieved; it was the woman..." True, he wasn't decieved. He chose to disobey. Hmm.

"But women will be saved through childbearing..." I don't read this as a statement that glorifies maternity or mandates childbearing. Praise God through childbirth we are all saved! Mary gave birth to Jesus who saves women and men from their sin.

So this brings me to my own personal reflections on being a woman, a Christian, a feminist. How does that add up? Am I doing a disservice to my "sisters against suffocating traditional female roles" by baking pies and collecting teacups? Are the domestic arts a valid hobby or have they been put upon me by my own mother, and this society? Do I feel put upon?

I like to bake and I am furious that women earn a fraction of what men do. And I will keep thinking on this one.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Queen Anne's Lace

She is tall and she spreads her doilies over those meadow moments of land. She seems a soft surface. She is wide and clean. She is forest and protector. She smells a little funky.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Young Woman's Musings on Flowers

A few years ago I started a log of flowers and memories or thoughts, or poems that they stirred up in me. In a way, a definition of flowers according to my perspective. I titled it "A Young Woman's Musings on Flowers" and I would like to transpose some of those entries onto this computer from my laptop. Here are a few:

Primrose: Lizard Leaves

Geraniums: Dari's house in Vail. Bright red in terra cotta pots, doing well despite bone-dry conditions.

Plumeria: Hawaii. Perfect blending of colors, like sand to wet sand. A little twirl of a flower. A perfect smell that meant a certain temperature and humidity. Not too perfumey because the thick air just holds a scent like that. It doesn't rush quickly into your nostrils like when you light a match too close, or dump Crystal Light powder into a pitcher. No. It drifts and floats and surrounds-held aloft on that thick air.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Chompin' too many treats!!

Why is it that when I feel a little bit like a fatty, I feel least like eating less food or exercising? Shouldn't the fattiness make me want to walk it off or purify it away by drinking 8 glasses of water and eating carrots?
Shouldn't the tightening waistband inspire a "No, thank you" to egg salad, more cheesy potatoes, tart, chocolate, peeps, ham and jelly beans?

I don't know, but it never really does. The motivator to be more healthy and active is always so elusive. I don't know what makes me start, or keep doing it. It kind of just happens in this quiet sudden way. It's never a thought-out, sacrificing way. If I think too much about what I'll be missing if I jump on the "points" wagon it'll be like missing a ski lift and I'll fall on my tush. Oops, waited too long, maybe the next chair...

But man, I've got to count something other than how many See's "pastel creams" I've eaten today. Can I count points tomorrow? Maybe.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Split-Pea Soup

Last night I made split pea soup and cornbread. It reminded me of being little and eating things that came out of a cast iron pot. The color that lentils get from a cast iron pot is dark and stony. Lentils, beans, split pea soup, chili beans...we ate lots of soup like that. The kind of soup that is thick and comforting, and fills your belly and makes you feel at home. I don't have a cast iron pot- so when I make these things, they don't look the same. They taste good and homey though. I remember coming home from school on a cold wet day in November and smelling soup that had been on the stove all day. It is nice for a kid to come home and feel like someone's been there, keeping it warm and clean and smooth.

I also remember running wild in those early fall evenings. When the days were warm, but the evenings got chilly. I can so clearly remember the feeling of running in the back door for dinner, three steps to the kitchen door and inside. The warmth and light made my whole body tingle from being barefoot and cold and dirty, breathing hard from playing. That also was a wonderful feeling. It is good to have these nice warm memories of childhood. I like the sensation of remembering the smells and feelings, games and toys. Children just don't play outside here the way we did where we lived. When I was in the backyard, I felt like I was in my own world. Independent, creative, safe. It's a wonderful thing.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


My sister is going to visit a friend in Missisippi this week and make a little visit to New Orleans. It got me thinking about our trip to the South and the related trips that seemed to just happen on that journey. I tried to remember the places we camped, the people we saw, the destinations that we found ourselves. It's hard to remember. I should have written more down. But when you are driving along and you see something so strange, or so beautiful, or so remarkable- you don't make remark- you think you'll always remember it. So as I tried to remember little things I remembered one thing that Peter didn't even see, that only I saw and it was only for a second and I can't remember what state we were in. (Iowa or Nebraska I think, because it was after leaving Chicago and we were heading west again.) The superhighway etiquette having been mastered, we were driving in the right lane. (I love that term: superhighway-it sounds very 50's) There were cornfields for miles. We had seen cornfields for at least a few hours of driving and would be sure to see a few hours more, so I had been looking at the horizon. But I turned my head to my right and I saw a field full of bobbing sunflowers, flanked by the fields of cornfields. They were gone superfast because on those superhighways we were usually going 85 miles an hour. But it was such a secret. The walls of green cornstalks all around this huge expanse of yellow sunflower faces, and the black dots all in the middle. It was a moment that I won't forget because I remembered it now and I have officially written it down. I wonder who did that? Who was bored, or who was looking for beauty enough to plant that space with flowers? But I was so glad they did, and that I saw it, even just for a second.

It looked much like this:

Friday, April 07, 2006

too busy for martha??

I pulled out my old back issues of Martha Stewart Living for April last night at 10:30pm. I have 8. It is nice to leaf through them. Even though there is always something to do, and I have been too busy to do many of the things I enjoy, it's nice to glance at pictures and read articles about plants I can't afford to collect and things that take too long to bake. It's not frustrating at all actually, it's just pleasant to absorb the information, and try to remember where I saw it. I just say to myself- save it for later, kid.

On another note, today at preschool it was absolutely beautiful in the morning- and that meant that all my little friends and I ran around outside for almost an hour. It was great. They kept blinking and saying "It's sunny!" Oh, the poor moles they have become down in our basement classroom during all this rain...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Little Gilead

Just finished Gilead, in bed yesterday afternoon in the midst of one of the busiest days in recent memory. I laid down. I read. I fell asleep as soon as I finished the book. Which was fitting as the last sentence was "I'll pray, and then I'll sleep."
I would like to write about this book and why I liked it. But for now, I'll just copy out a part of it, sometimes that's a good idea.

From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson:

There are two occasions when the sacred beauty of Creation becomes dazzlingly apparent, and they occur together. One is when we feel our mortal insufficiency to the world, and the other is when we feel the world's mortal insufficiency to us. Augustine says the Lord loves each of us as an only child, and that has to be true. "He will wipe the tears from all faces." It takes nothing from the loveliness of the verse to say that is exactly what will be required.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Daffa-down-dilly-you're so pretty, I love your yellow petals!

Today felt like Spring in that the air was warm. All the daffodils had withered in the classroom, but Katie had brought more. And I say, daffodils are sometimes garishly yellow when they are illuminated by unnatural flourescent light. Outside, they are pale and lovely, or even bright and sunny. Inside, it's pitiful their color. But they always smell the same. I would call it: a sweet water smell.