Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky
Poetry, Gardening, Birding, and other reflections on life.
Friday, April 28, 2023
Three weeks later
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Already Holy Thursday
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Sunday, March 19, 2023
On the Feast of Saint Joseph
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.
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.
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
The last night of January
Monday, January 30, 2023
Garden Dreams, continued
I found some of the photos .
Sunday, January 29, 2023
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!
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Winter the Magician
I like this poem by Fyodor Tyutchev:
Sunday, January 8, 2023
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:
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.
Sunday, January 1, 2023
Happy New Year!
Here's a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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:
Thursday, December 29, 2022
Burning the old year
Just stumbled upon this poem:
Burning the Old Year
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:
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 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"