Wednesday, April 30, 2014

From the Flashcards: Some Spanish Vocabulary

I was working on absorbing some more words this morning, notably:

the fog  =   la niebla

the flood = la inundacion

the storm = la tormenta

the rain =   la lluvia

I'll see if those will stay with me.

painting:  Rainy Meadow  by Henna L on the DeviantArt website.

Meanwhile, here's a poem
by Edward Thomas:


By Edward Thomas
Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.

Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (Pearson, 2006)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Going Postal

I opened Yahoo this morning and saw news of another shooting in a public place, this time at a FedEX Facility near Atlanta.

These violent acts by violently angry individuals - usually men-  keep happening in our country. Are they happening in other countries?  What the "other countries" have is violence on a much broader scale. 

Has human life always been this way, and we are just much more aware of it because of our access to the news?

I keep thinking of Yeats' poem. Worth posting here:


    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

widening gyre - art by emily tellez

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Birthday Green and Golden

This witty quote says it all:

As I turn 66, I really wonder.  I look back to the decades of the 80's and 90's in particular and I do not know where they went.   Settings from those years show up regularly in my dreams, and generally, not too happily.  They are not nightmares, but they feature things like neverending dirty laundry and crowds of disconnected and displaced washing machines.  What does that mean?

I am grateful each year that I was born in late April.

The gift for the day is the gorgeous green weather.  The gardens and lawns around here are flourishing:

This photo, the view from my window, taken in the early evening yesterday, reminds me of Robert Frost's poem:

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay. 

- Robert Frost

True as that is, it doesn't counter the joy I felt today when I saw that my Butterfly Bushes had survived the long and unusually cold winter:

Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay. - See more at:
Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay. - See more at:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Head Cold Whining

How/Why did I get a miserable head cold in this beautiful Spring weather?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


That's the call of the White-eyed Vireo!

photo from

Highlight of our birding yesterday.  This bird is usually quite elusive and difficult to see, either high up in the trees or lurking in the green thickets.  But yesterday we heard several, very loud and close, and had great "naked eye" views of one.

Another frequent sighting yesterday was the Towhee-  I love this guy and his call:

photo by Diane Porter

Another breathtaking view was a long look at a mature Cooper's Hawk in the act of building a nest high in a fir tree.  Back and forth he/she went, scooping through the trees, gathering sticks and bringing  them back to the nest, seemingly oblivious of us.

photo by davidandry is good, but doesn't do it justice.

We heard the call of the Prairie Warbler numerous times, but didn't get a look. This is one of my favorite birds:
photo by Jim McCormack

It was chilly yesterday and is chilly today; migration is still slow.  I'll be out again tomorrow, I hope.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day

One of my friends and I are going birding this morning at Codorus State Park  near Hanover PA... one of Pennsylvania's lovely green places.

Here are some photos and art and a poem for this day:

Virginia Bluebells in my garden

The Peace of Wild Things

By Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Violets in my garden
Bobolink  by Alexis Ross Hayes

Sedge Wren by Diane Porter

Pine Warbler  by Anne Harlan

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pääsiäisleipä and Paska

I love to bake bread.

Yesterday, I had the luxury of a whole day without interruption to bake. So I tried two new ( for me) recipes for Easter bread.

Usually on the Christmas and Easter feasts, I make Stollen, but this time I tried Pääsiäisleipä, a Finnish bread, and Paska, Ukrainian Easter bread.

They turned out well.  Here's what they look like.  I didn't take these photos -  forgot, and at this point, the loaves are in the freezer and will appear on Easter morning, and the samples I set out for the hungry hordes  are largely demolished.

Pääsiäisleipä ( no idea how to pronounce this one)

very similar to Stollen, but just sliced almonds and golden raisins .


very similar to Challah, but the dough is even softer and finer with the recipe I used.

Here's a poem I wrote a long time ago about making bread. It seemed appropriate to post now, during the Paschal Triduum:


Yeast rises
like praise
clings to the cloth,
leaves its thready face there.

Dough rolls smooth
springs back
seamless in hand
as thought.

The oven opens and closes
its arms.
Smell seeps
from room to room.

Bread, as finished
as a child.
Every slice of the knife
it sings its fearful litany:
I live in the jaws of hunger.
I break as I give
I rise as I die.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hope Strums Her Harp

a villanelle I've been working on for a while... inspired by this painting:

Hope   1885   George Frederick Watts

  Hope strums her harp and sits astride the world.
  A blindfold keeps her focused as the sound
of peace and mercy’s fragile flags unfurl.

 As music from the hemlock trees uncurls
as unresolved boundaries still resound,
 Hope strums her harp and sits astride the world.

 While syllables of weapons clash and whirl
 while oceans twist with Fukushima waste,
 still  peace and mercy’s fragile flags unfurl.

With music smooth and cool as oystered pearl
 Pacific tides blunt poison gas until
 Hope strums her harp and sits astride the world

 This time let no trench gas grenades be hurled.
  The ship won’t meet the iceberg this time round.
 Hope strums her harp and sits astride the world
 as peace and mercy’s fragile flags unfurl.

Monday, April 14, 2014

You Talk Too Much

You Talk Too Much

You talk too much
You worry me to death
You talk too much
You even worry my pet
You just talk
Talk too much

You talk about people
That you don't know
You talk about people
Wherever you go
You just talk
Talk too much

You talk about people
That you've never seen
You talk about people
You can make me scream
You just talk
you talk too much

You talk about people
That you've never seen
You talk about people
You can make me scream

( Joe Jones, 1960)

As usual, I was tuning in to the webcam and chat on the Great Dane Service Dog Project this afternoon, and listened in to the online moaning ( I can’t think of any other name for it) of one of the women who is new to the site and who went down there to the farm to volunteer today.  She had her feelings hurt in a large way by the owner of the farm, who is known to be , shall I say, a blunt and even rude speaker.
Anyway… it boils down to the part where the would-be volunteer was asked to go to one of the outbuildings to do some chores; on her way out , she overheard the owner say to her other regular helpers ( who had been very nice to this volunteer). It was on the order of  “How did you stand that woman in here with you these hours?  I’m glad I just arrived. She drives me crazy: she never stops talking!  Blah! Blah! Blah!”

I do not think the owner intended for the volunteer to hear that, but she did, and she left in tears.
She had the whole chat room buzzing through the afternoon, debating about rudeness, ingratitude( on the part of the owner), entitlement, oversensitivity ( on the part of the volunteer).

This episode got me thinking about  bluntness and rudeness; but also about people who really do talk too much.   How do you tell someone in an unhurtful way that he/she talks too much?   I can’t think of a way.  I generally avoid such people because even though they are generally wonderful souls, they get on my nerves.  It’s that unconsciousness of one’s effect on others.  I have been guilty of this plenty of times, but in recent years, I have become aware of it in myself, and generally keep pretty quiet. 

As one wit has observed, “It’s a terrible death to be talked to death.”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday

This isn't specifically a Palm Sunday poem, but it is a Lenten poem, by Phyllis Levin:

Lenten Song

By Phillis Levin
That the dead are real to us
Cannot be denied,
That the living are more real

When they are dead
Terrifies, that the dead can rise
As the living do is possible

Is possible to surmise,
But all the stars cannot come near
All we meet in an eye.

Flee from me, fear, as soot
Flies in a breeze, do not burn
Or settle in my sight,

I’ve tasted you long enough,
Let me savor
Something otherwise.

Who wakes beside me now
Suits my soul, so I turn to words
Only to say he changes

Into his robe, rustles a page,
He raises the lid of the piano
To release what’s born in its cage.

If   words come back
To say they compromise
Or swear again they have died,

There’s no news in that, I reply,
But a music without notes
These notes comprise, still

As spring beneath us lies,
Already something otherwise.
( source:  Poetry magazine  2013)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Seventy Years Married

This photo was taken when my parents were courting. The car is my mother's -  new Chevrolet she bought with her earnings as a registered nurse.  She used to tell the story that this car was from the last batch off the assembly line in Detroit before they stopped producting cars and began producing machines needed for the war effort... and the doctors she worked with kept trying to buy it from her, but she wouldn't sell it.

They were married April 10, 1944.  They celebrate this anniversary on the other shore.

Here's a poem I wrote about them a few years ago:

Corot Blue

puckered with clouds,
Damask wards off rain
Father Hopkins, lick ink into my pen
shake blue over paper.

My parents’ wedding day
Cold and blustery in 1944
Outside the rectory of Saint Agnes Parish
In the brittle afternoon sun.
My mother holding her hat on her head,
Shivering in her new suit.
No wedding gown for the non-Catholic ceremony
Of thirtysomethings in the rectory.
My father dapper happy in a new dark suit
So glad she said yes.