Friday, April 28, 2023

Three weeks later

and almost the end of April... Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 75 years old. I simply cannot believe it. I can't believe the old lady in the mirror is me. I still think I look like this:
Today this list of wise advice appeared in my Instagram feed. It's written by the SCS Staff ( Science Sensei) and posted in March 2023: Thirty lessons people learn far too late in life: 1. Everything is temporary 2. Stop complaining 3. Life isn't fair 4. Live without fear 5. Family matters more than friends 6. Money can't buy happiness 7. Don't try to change other people. 8. Treat yourself with love and respect 9. Don't sleepwalk through life 10. People aren't thinking about you as much as you think 11. Never stop learning 12. Know your destination 13. The sacrifices you make now will pay off in the future 14. Happiness is a choice 15. Take care of your health 16. Curb your expectations 17. Don't let fear of embarassment stop you from being yourself 18. Material things don't matter 19. Eventually, things get better. 20. Everyone is out for themselves. 21. Age is just a number 22. Forgive others ( even if you never get an apology) 23. Learn to put your ego in check 24. Everyone is suffering 25. Be present in the moment 26. Don't be afraid to ask for help 27.It's always worthwhile to see the world 28. Say what you mean to say 29. Remember to enjoy life. 30. A lifetime is not really that long, I'm not going togo through that whole list right now; many of them I have learned by the middle of my life. But there are still many I haven't yet learned. Like #5, and I blame my parents for that, and my relatives, as well as myself. Long story. And #22... I still have a long way to go on that one. And #9 - how much of my life have I lived as one sleepwalking? Enough of that for today. Here are some lovely April pictures:
Spring Beauties... photo by Julie Zickefoose
and this:

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Already Holy Thursday

My post from the last time looked as strange in draft form as this one does. But it looked alright when I posted it. I don't know what's going on.
Mary Webb Green Rain Didn't get back to posting until now. The story of my life. I am out of school until Tuesday, April 11, so perhaps I'll do better. I've been working in the garden, digging up the Cherry Bells I planted about seven years ago. I was so ignorant then about native plants and aggressive plants and so much more. Sigh. These Cherry Bells have gallopped through one quadrant of the courtyard, and they are not native plants. So I am digging them up in hopes of planting so good native plants that attract butterflies.
Paschal Moon- Pink Moon photo by Christine Muldowney Today I baked Easter bread. It's called Paska --- Ukrainian Easter Bread. I've made it other years and it is pretty reliable. And it makes me think of the people of Ukraine. Spring is bursting out here in the Valley.
The Gardener Lizzie Riches

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

"The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.” Arnold Bennett For some reason, this is the only font and size I can get tonight. Oh well. Here are some Spring pictures:
any pictures, or just code?
will try again tomorrow

Sunday, March 19, 2023

On the Feast of Saint Joseph


I love this ancient mosaic of Joseph and the Child Jesus -   so playful and loving.

I've become a big fan of the TV series "The Chosen"  about Jesus and his disciples. They are up to Season Three, and the third episode on the season is about Jesus visiting his home of Nazareth.

It's very close to the Gospel, about Jesus being rejected by the synagogue leader and former friends.

But it's also a wonderful imagining of Saint Joseph --- how he was with the Child Jesus.

This is the only clip I could find on Google, and it's not the best one of Joseph,  but it's close enough.
To me, he is very believable and lovable.

I have all kinds of associations with the name Joseph.  My father's name was Vincent Joseph.  I went to Saint Joseph College.  My classmates and I are forever known as the "Joe's girls".

So sorry I haven't written for so long.   I had cataract surgery on March 7, and lots of doctors' appointments and the taking of eyedrops for days before and after, and papers and midterms at school.

It's still so cold out and I am so yearning for Spring, which is supposed to arrive tomorrow.

inside a Dandelion...

Saturday, February 11, 2023

The Song of Bernadette

 February 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

This is how the grotto of Lourdes looks in this century:

I was there in 2004 -  how is it so long?     And also experienced the candlelight procession which happens just about each evening, where thousands of pilgrims carry candles and say the rosary together, in about ten different languages

I vividly remember reading Franz Werfel's novel The Song of Bernadette  when I was about ten years old.  It made an enormous impression on me.

Bernadette was about 15 years old, from a large, impoverished family, and in poor health.

On February 12, 1858, she was out gathering wood for the fire at home, and gathering it in a dump, when the lady appeared to her.  Bernadette called her "the lady"  and also "Aquero" which means "that one" in the local dialect.

In one of the later visions, the lady called herself "I am the Immaculate Conception".  Bernadette had not heard that expression before; the parish priest had to tell her that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born free from original sin - a doctrine proclaimed just 4 years before all this happened.

This is a long and moving story.  The book tells it better than I can.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

At the intersection of Pagan and Christian

 It's the feast of Saint Brigid of Kildare.  

Here are some interesting pictures and information about her.... and perhaps, about us.



02/01/23 St Brigid of Ireland (451?-525) She was born at Faughart, near Dundalk, in Ireland. She was a milkmaid who was converted through the preaching of St Patrick, and with whom she prays as the patron of Erin.
Indeed, the legends of her life abound. A beautiful woman who saw, in her society, her beauty as an obstacle to the will of God in her life, it is said she was temporarily disfigured so as to pursue the Monastic vocation.
Please note this is no pious eccentricity. In a world in which women were either the possession of one man or doomed to be possessed by every man; in which women were either seen as chattel or a sorceress, to choose monastic chastity was to state loudly that in Jesus she had found a Saviour that gave her worth in and of herself.
Her name is that of the pagan goddess of fire, her symbol the Cross, made of reed from her cell. She is known to have imitated her Saviour in making beer from water, and was a healer and reconciler of factions. She founded the first monastic communities in Ireland, made of men and women, and died at her monastery in Kildare in 525.
She is buried next to her friends St Patrick and St Columba.
She remains an ancestor in faith that reminds us all that in Jesus we are chosen for love, selected for life and saved for eternity. Wherever we are today, we can find the Cross (Brigid saw it in the straw on the floor of her room!) embrace and proclaim it, wear on the heart and announce it with the mouth.
How? By loving simply, simply loving.
Wear green today, or her cross!

by M. Dennis McCarron

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The last night of January

 and I have this item of good news:

and also this:

art by Jane Newland

Monday, January 30, 2023

Garden Dreams, continued

 I found some of the photos .

Closeup of Cherry Bells    May 22, 2012.  

Cherry Bells     June 24, 2016

Cherry Bells     April 11 2021    By 2022, they had spread to the right all the way past the last daffodil,

I didn't know they would spread like that.  And when I planted them in 2014, I didn't know they were not native plants.

Sigh.    So I will try to document my efforts to pull out the Cherry Bells and replace with native pollinator plants.

I know so much more now than I did 9 years ago!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Garden Dreams


I hope to have a sign like this in my garden.

Now that classes are back in session,  I am sliding into procrastination on this blog.  Once again, I give promises to improve my contributions.

It seems that these late January days, mostly rainy and grey here, are inviting me to think about the garden.   It's also because several of my sisters are working on improving our community's commitment to Laudato Si,  Pope Francis'  letter about the environment, our "Common Home." Also, I have been reading Doug Tallamy's book Bringing Nature Home, and watching his talks on You Tube.  He's a big proponent of the shrinking of the American Lawn, among other things.

So in the last few days I have been thinking about replacing one patch of my large courtyard garden ( it's not really mine alone --- but I am its steward right now.)   with native plants which are butterfly host plants.

I've been writing about this garden since about 2015, when I started working on it.  The garden has been there since the building was built in 1964. Back then, it was mostly rose bushes.  Then, in later years, it was filled with pachysandra ground cover and annual flowers.  Then, the garden guy who was the Attila the Hun of grounds keepers,  pulled all that out and spread mulch everywhere, except for the "Knockout Roses" he planted in the center beds.  The sisters complained that his favorite colors were brown and green!

Summer, 2014

Summer, 2022

October 2014   

July 2022

I could go on for pages with the before and after photos, but I am searching for the photos of the Cherry bells, and how they have taken over.

Hopefully, will return to this post.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Winter the Magician

 I like this poem   by Fyodor Tyutchev:

The Forest Is Entranced

The forest is entranced
By Winter the Magician.
Under velvet snow
It's mute, immobile, glistening
Wondrously with life,
Standing enchanted,
Neither dead nor alive,
Entranced by a magic dream,
Entirely covered, fettered
By light links of snow.
Should winter's sun cast a sudden flare
Glancing across its summits,
Not a thing will shiver in it.
It will sparkle and flame
And be blindingly fair!

Art by Lennart Helje

I've had a busy ten days: January 12-15 I hosted seven of my Saint Joseph College classmates at Mother Seton's White House for planning for our April reunion.... and, of course, partying.
Introvert that I am, I was exhausted by Sunday.

Tuesday ( yesterday) was the first day of class. I am again teaching Modernity in Literature - on Zoom- and it looks to be a very promising semester.

I will try to keep up with this blog, but I make no promises!

Wolf Moon , Winter Path by Jim Crotty

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Epiphany Sunday


Skipped a few days with socializing and errands and just plain idleness.

I am longing for snow, even though it clogs up all plans.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Happy Feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton!

 We had a big crowd at the 11AM Mass in the Basilica today.  Lots of mothers with loud and active toddlers.  Nothing to worry about with the population of the Catholic Church!

As I watched those young mothers try to manage their squirming offspring, I kept thinking of Elizabeth, who had five young ones very close together.

Yesterday I finally retrieved my laptop from the Mount, all upgraded and working well. 

So  here are some poems and pictures from my blog post files:

Jo Grundy    Winter Morning

Here's a poem by Emily Dickinson:

The Road was lit with Moon and star

The Road was lit with Moon and star --
The Trees were bright and still --
Descried I -- by the distant Light
A Traveller on a Hill --
To magic Perpendiculars
Ascending, though Terrene --
Unknown his shimmering ultimate --
But he indorsed the sheen --

artist: Amanda Clark

Monday, January 2, 2023

It rained when it should have snowed


She Yi - Winter Moon, 1999.

Here's a poem by Seamus Heaney:

Holly - Seamus Heaney

It rained when it should have snowed.
When we went to gather holly

the ditches were swimming, we were wet
to the knees, our hands were all jags

and water ran up our sleeves.
There should have been berries

but the sprigs we brought into the house
gleamed like smashed bottle-glass.

Now here I am, in a room that is decked
with the red-berried, waxy-leafed stuff,

and I almost forgot what it's like
to be wet to the skin or longing for snow.

I reach for a book like a doubter
and want it to flare round my hand,

a black letter bush, a glittering shield-wall,
cutting as holly and ice.

art: Lynn Bywaters

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Wrinkles collected


art by Luci Grossmith

Happy New Year!

Here's a poem by  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

On The New Year

FATE now allows us,
'Twixt the departing
And the upstarting,
Happy to be;
And at the call of
Memory cherish'd,
Future and perish'd
Moments we see.
Seasons of anguish,--
Ah, they must ever
Truth from woe sever,
Love and joy part;
Days still more worthy
Soon will unite us,
Fairer songs light us,
Strength'ning the heart.
We, thus united,
Think of, with gladness,
Rapture and sadness,
Sorrow now flies.
Oh, how mysterious
Fortune's direction!
Old the connection,
New-born the prize!
Thank, for this, Fortune,
Wavering blindly!
Thank all that kindly
Fate may bestow!
Revel in change's
Impulses clearer,
Love far sincerer,
More heartfelt glow!
Over the old one,
Wrinkles collected,
Sad and dejected,
Others may view;
But, on us gently
Shineth a true one,
And to the new one
We, too, are new.
As a fond couple
'Midst the dance veering,
First disappearing,
Then reappear,
So let affection
Guide thro' life's mazy
Pathways so hazy
Into the year!

Saturday, December 31, 2022

The last day of 2022

 Very recent deaths:  Pope Benedict died today.  Also, two others I never met, but knew their work:

Ian Tyson, Canadian singer-songwriter, and Barbara Walters, news anchor and pioneer for women in the news media.  

It seems that I knew many more people who died this year; most of them were in their eighties and some in their nineties.  Since I am approaching my mid seventies, it shouldn't surprise me.

Here's a poem from John O'Donoghue:

Friday, December 30, 2022



This "meme" appeared on Facebook today and it hit me between the eyes.

and then there is this little poem by Athey Thompson:

This long and lonely path
That I walk upon
Is full of mystery
And hope, that one day
I shall find my way home

art by Iris Esther

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Burning the old year

 Just stumbled upon this poem:

Burning the Old Year

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,   
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   
only the things I didn’t do   
crackle after the blazing dies.
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Still without my laptop

 Won't get it back until after January 3rd or so.  In the meantime, I have this nice loaner laptop which is great except it doesn't have my documents, especially the folder with my December blog posts, the pictures and poems I've been saving there.  Sigh.

So here is a recent picture from Facebook:

art by Sven Svenson

and another:

photo by Mark Amirault         

It doesn't look like this here!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

How I became Invisible


Saw this on Facebook today.  I have known its truth for a long time, but she expresses it so well.

Sometime In My 50s, I Became Invisible To Men. Here’s What I Didn't Expect To Feel.

“I started to have to say ‘Hello?’ at the register to get the cashier’s attention. ‘This is it,’ I thought. ‘I’ve become invisible.’”

I didn’t notice at first. It’s hard to sense the lack of a thing, like when you don’t realize your headache is gone until an hour after it starts to recede.

It’s not like I’d ever been a head-turner. Reasonably attractive, I’ve never stood out in the ways that make people either excited or uncomfortable. But I was pleasing enough (and pleasant enough) that I’d gather grins and glances.

But somewhere in my early 50s, people just stopped noticing me.

I started to have to say “Hello?” at the register to get the cashier’s attention. As I repeated my coffee order, I could see their eyes moving past me, lighting on younger, bolder, more interesting people.

“This is it,” I thought. “I’ve become invisible.”

I used to be visible. The attention I got from men ranged from appreciative smiles to flirting to catcalls that often turned to anger when I didn’t react the way they wanted. It could be nice, until it wasn’t, and it was tricky to see the line until it had been crossed.

Some guys flirted, and it felt sweet and sexy and fun. Others just gave me the creeps. The same behavior from different men could feel very different, which made navigating these encounters tricky. Constant vigilance is exhausting.

And sometimes I just didn’t want to be bothered. I wanted to go about my business without being sized up by entitled men who act as if you’ve been placed on the earth to please them. And that you should be grateful when they deign to notice you.

Google “women,” “50” and “invisible,” and you’ll get two kinds of results. The first will tell you that yes, it’s true, women stop being noticed in middle age. The next will give you all kinds of advice for beating the odds by staying relevant. Not surprisingly, that means staying relevant to men, the arbiters of power and bestowers of good fortune.

I grew up with casual sexism, as well as all those other isms. I learned early on that I was expected to smile, and prevaricate, and laugh along with misogynist jokes. My intrinsic pleaser fought with my internal rebel. I twinkled, I raged.

I wanted the male gaze, and I hated it. I was ready for love, ready for sex, and I wanted boys to notice me. But in order to be seen, I had to run the gauntlet of male cruelty. I’ve been busty since age 16. “Healthy set of … lungs!” said Paul. “I like your shirt ― especially the front,” said Blaine.

Jokes about my period, comments on my body, the razor-thin line to walk between being a prude and a slut; honestly, I wouldn’t wish female adolescence on anyone. Actually, that’s a lie. There are a lot of men who would benefit from being forced into a “Freaky Friday” situation with a teenage girl.

I remember sitting in my freshman dorm room with the guy who would become my first serious boyfriend. We were listening to music ― my music. Lou Reed came on, and my soon-to-be-paramour asked, “Do you know who this is?”

And did I answer then as I would now? “Um yeah ― I made this tape.”

I did not.

I paused, shy, and suddenly worried that “Walk on the Wild Side” might indeed be sung by someone I couldn’t identify.

At 19, I was constantly second-guessing myself, worrying about the way I was perceived. And that’s the black beating heart of it: These boys could tank my self-confidence with a word. How did they do it? They seemed endowed by their creator with a sense of self-assurance that I couldn’t muster. That must be what it is to walk the earth as a man.

It’s so exhausting to be a woman in the world. And it can still be scary, still requires vigilance. But I no longer feel that I’m being constantly evaluated, and it’s a huge relief.

I have so much more space in my head. Other people’s opinions have become less important over time in general. But when you’re not being watched, you’ve got a little more space in which to observe. And what I saw was an enormous number of people whose opinions don’t matter in the least.

Here’s what I’ve learned: People who love you think you’re beautiful. They care about your feelings. They’re interested in what you have to say. Those who ignore me, don’t matter to me. Their opinions don’t count. I decide if I’m relevant or interesting or valuable, not them.

So I’m embracing middle age, with its pains and surprises. Do I wish I looked the way I did at 30? Well sure, I’m human. But it doesn’t torment me. It’s the mirror I want to please, not the marketplace.

A few years ago I bought my teenage daughters T-shirts that say “Women Don’t Owe You Shit.” It’s everything I wanted to tell the world when I was 17, only the world didn’t want to hear that from me.

At 57, I have simply ceased to care. Sure, there’s a little disappointment to feeling like I’m no longer interesting. But on balance it’s just such a relief to walk down the street carelessly. I’m not braced for unwanted attention. No one invades my personal space.

No one has told me to smile in at least a decade.

It turns out I like flying under the radar. There are a lot of other extremely cool women hanging out with me down here, all of us equally invisible. And that, at last, is a group whose opinions I’m truly interested in.

The Second Day of Christmas


Here's an excerpt from Tennyson's long poem "In Memoriam"

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

and here's another long one, from Robert Frost:

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

                                                     “You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.