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Archive for October, 2010

“Paes ofereode – pisses swa maeg” is a line from Anglo-Saxon poetry, from The Wanderer, I think, which my son wrote out for me and I taped up on the wall by my computer the day I had my melanoma diagnosis. It means, “that has passed away, so may this.”

One of the very last things Paul said to me before his last days in a coma before he died was, “Don’t fret, remember, nothing lasts forever.”

Once I thought life was like this..........

Or this....like my old childhood books....

And he was right. Nothing does last forever. Not the beautiful, and not the difficult. Change is the only thing that can be said to last, and that is saying………..nothing………….or everything.

I am most probably about to begin a year of interferon therapy, something that is not like chemotherapy, but has similar side effects. But I don’t know how I will react to it yet, so I am not going to begin complaining. Its goal is to stimulate my immune system to resist any recurrence of this cancer. I hope it will be successful. I am not looking forward to it, but I don’t work. I love to read or listen to books on tape. I hope I can manage this. I will do all I can to make sure this is so. It is a year of my life, but no more than that….Maybe I will lose some weight, though that it not a good reason to undertake this! (It’s a joke, son, as Paul would have said.)

I have had a wonderful life with a lot of opportunities most people don’t have. But I have to admit that the last ten years have not been according to plan, and it is a good lesson for me.  Paul would have said all you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. I hope I do not waste this year! I hope I find the blessing in it.

And now I will get off this little soap box! On Friday I am driving to Pennsylvania and plan to spend the Halloween weekend enjoying my two little granddaughters and their dear dear parents.

I hope I have some good pictures for you when I return!

 

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Happy Sunday

Autumn's Lingering blessings

We’ve been having sunny days EVERY SINGLE DAY since my newest grandson was born on October 6th. And today is the 24th. For a time it seemed as though the weather was turning cold but some of today was in the low 70s to compliment the blue skies and soft clouds.  Soon the weather will change, but as of now, I am determined to appreciate the loveliness we are living through.  Soft balmy sunny days.

This afternoon Andy and I went out for lunch, and not wanting to wait or have anything elaborate, we decided to enjoy something from Chipotle’s, which we did sitting at outside tables. Then we drove over to my brother-in-law’s home to deliver the family wheelchair. He has just returned from having double knee replacements and seems to be doing very well. It has not been easy. He cannot tolerate the pain medication available and he is also eight-one years old, or will be next month.

After this we drove to a park in Akron city limits where my daughter and her family, including little Stephen Paul were meeting my nephew with his three little children. His oldest son is three months older than Nathan. He has a daughter who is just four and another daughter who is just one. It was so peaceful there in Hardesty Park. I’ve really only been there before for the huge Art in the Park events they have once a year. Today I had a chance to watch families with small children enjoying the playground and at a picnic table was a man practicing his bass fiddle. It was lovely, and reminded me of parks in Budapest, especially the one on Margit Sziget where I once listened to a talented saxophonist entertaining himself. Definitely a more urban feeling that the places I usually spend my time. All in all, a wonderful day!

Mike, Alice and Stephen at the park

local color

Marton and Nathan goofing around

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How the Heather Looks

This is what my DES (D.E. Stevenson discussion list) friends would call a DESultory post. Linda’s comment on my post about The Thing With Feathers led me to write briefly about Dickinson’s poem Chartless which led me to think about the wonderful book :  How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children’s Books by Joan Bodger.

The illustration is from amazon which accounts for the “Click to look inside”, by the way. I have found another picture without the “Click” which I will post at the end of this. I found with it a lovely review which you can read here:

http://www.mcclelland.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780771011184.

For those who love children’s literature, and that would include most of my friends, it is the best, the very best of several books about people who traveled with their children to find the places they had been reading about in books. In this case, it is the earliest such book I know of;  it was published in the nineteen sixties, and is quite charming. An added feature is that the Bodger family’s travels happened before quite so much of the British Isles had begun to exploit its tourist possibilities.  It is not the same nowadays, though still often wonderful. We never really did this sort of trip, but when Paul, Andy and I spent a month in England in 1998 we did spend a day in Shrewsbury to which we’d traveled especially to see the setting for the Brother Cadfael books of Ellis Peters, and do the Shrewsbury Quest. Those books of course, are mysteries, not children’s books. But this summer I traveled to Beatrix Potter’s beautiful and well-loved Hill Top Farm in the Lake District. And I have a post about that in early July, I believe.  Literary England is filled with places of pilgrimage for all the English speaking world.

At any rate, this desultory way, rambling from topic to topic,  is the way my mind does work. But this is my last rambling post this evening!

How the Heather Looks - second illustration

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A friend from my D.E. Stevenson list commented on my last post, wondering about how Emily Dickinson could have known the chillest lands or the sea since she never left her home after a young age……..

It reminded me of another well known poem of hers – Chartless.

I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in Heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.

 

She certainly was a remarkable woman and poet.

Stormy seas near the Shetland Islands

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Hope

a folk art bird

Our Ohio State Bird - the Cardinal

There is a poem which has been running through my head a lot lately – one by Emily Dickenson. In my bedroom hangs a small picture with the word “Hope” on it and a lot of folk art drawing around it, with a bird in the center. I think perhaps this alludes back to her famous poem.

Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

I haven’t written about this in my blog, but some of you know already. In mid-August I was diagnosed with cancer which was called metastatic melanoma. The first book I picked up to read about this called it the Tyrannosaurus Rex of cancers. Not what I wanted to hear, and not perhaps always accurate. In any event, I’ve been undergoing what felt like thousands of tests, but actually were only eight, and two surgeries, and they have not found any more cancer so far. So thus far, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve also had a host of people praying for me! Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist and even a Muslim who works near Chicago with a friend of my son’s who asked everyone he works with to pray for me.  (They do high level work for a global security firm which I had not imagined to be such a spiritual powerhouse. Who knew? ;-> We live and learn.)

I am grateful to everyone who was praying, sending “maudvibes” (from friends from the Maud Hart Lovelace discussion list) or well wishes. They all made me feel very supported. And perhaps this affects the immune system, too.

At any rate for the moment life goes on, this precious fragile life, this astonishing gift we share and should never ignore. No. We should open our eyes every second to its wonders and blessings. No one lasts forever, and indeed, I might die in a car accident tomorrow. But for the moment, that little bird, Hope, is singing me the sweetest songs you can imagine.  (a postscript – I see my last bird image is the blue jay which has not perhaps the sweetest song of all warblers, not being a warbler at all. Indeed of all the birds I know only the Great Blue Heron and the Peacock have  more raucous unmusical voices. But I will leave this image because the blue jay is part of life, and so am I and all of you. And all our songs are beautiful if we know how to hear really well.)

Bluejay from Ohio

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Subaru Outback 2008 just like mine - but not mine

 

Today was the day to get the tires changed on my Subaru outback and while it was a great day, really, and here I am back home with my Subaru in the garage wearing its new tires, it was also a comedy of errors day which just made me laugh a lot at times.

My friend Penny and I have been wanting to get together for a while, and since she lives near the really great dealership where I bought this car and have the work done, and the tire changing might have taken a few hours, she picked me up just after I dropped the car off and we were off to have some fun.

We spent a long time browsing through quilting fabric at The Polka Dot Pincushion, a lovely quilt store in Richfield, Ohio. They always have great fabric choices and books and notions and I managed to spend a little too much money there, but I don’t go often and I really like what I bought. Perhaps I’ll have a post soon about quilting and fabric. And after that we headed over to The Bistro restaurant (http://www.bistroathammonds.com/)   where we shared their delicious entree salad of  baby greens, roasted beets, goat cheese and toasted walnuts and followed it up with chicken Murphy which features chicken with sauteed onions, mushrooms, peppers, and artichoke hearts in a white wine sauce and was also yummy. (It comes with linguine and a great tomato sauce, possibly Marinara, I’m not sure.)

I can never figure out how people can manage dessert after such meals. It’s just too much.

Toward the end of the meal I had a phone call from the dealership with some bad news. One of the rims was so badly bent (possibly from driving over one of the spectacular pot holes that are such a feature of northeast Ohio driving!) that they couldn’t seal a new tire to it. I imagine that this is why my tire pressure warning light has been on so continuously! They didn’t have another rim on hand and weren’t sure whether they could get one today, and are not open on the weekends and didn’t know whether they could find a loaner for me. They were searching for a rim and would let me know. Monday they could get someone over to fix my old rim, but not today.

Penny and I were lingering over coffee and talking about what to do and before we decided that, the service man called back and said that they had located a used rim in Medina county and could have it by four o’clock and would fix it right away.  So we decided to go back to Penny’s where we had a lot of fun in her quilt room looking at all her works in progress and fabric. A delightful show and tell followed…I enjoy Penny’s color and fabric choices and she showed me a trick about making Dresden Plate blocks which I hadn’t know before.

And then we went into the house (Her workroom used to be a garage. Now it’s all fixed up and has heat.) We had a nice visit over tea and cherry biscotti with her husband Joe who gave me one of the last jars of honey from their many years as bee keepers. By now it was 4:30 and I wondered how they were doing with my car. I had three phone numbers to use to call them  and tried several times, but always got a busy signal.  And then I had a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize and it was the service man calling on a friend’s cell phone to let me know that all the power and phones were down, although they could see electric trucks working not too far down the road.

The good news was that three of my tires were done and they had the new rim. The bad news was that my car was up on a lift and there was no power to get it down! The good news was that he could get me a loaner for the weekend. So my poor long-suffering friend Penny who had been so kind about entertaining me all day instead of just two hours, drove me back to the shop. The good news is when we arrived the lights were on, power had been restored and they were just finishing up the work on my car. After a brief wait for the computers to come back up,  everything was OK and I was on my way home with my car, with new rim and tires, having spent a really nice day with a very good friend.

 

Dresden Plate blocks, not Penny's, and not too well made, but good colors

 

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Books! Books! Books!

 

The Lovely Sour Gum Tree in the Far Back Yard

 

I have to begin with a few words about the glorious autumn weather we have been enjoying in northeast Ohio for many days now, days of blue skies with only a few clouds to help us see the BLUE more clearly, and leaf color that takes your breath away and makes your eyes sting because you forget to blink! In my yard this Sour Gum is always the most astonishing in its scarlets. This year there is some gold which I realized is from a grapevine which has to be cut away before it harms the tree, but makes a lovely contrast just now, rippling down the lower branches.

At lunch I was at my daughter’s house and was again amazed at the orange glory of the maple tree which for the eight years they have lived there is always a rather bright yellow. I really should travel with my camera at my side. I miss too many pictures and this was one. But if Alice sends me one of hers I will post it. Tomorrow may be cloudier, but I watched Alice take several pictures of her tree and many more of darling Stephen, sometimes in my arms.

Today when I returned from all my errands I was thrilled to find my pre-ordered copies of Emily of Deep Valley and the combined  Carney’s House Party and Winona’s Pony Cart in my mailbox. What joy! In the spring of 1997 when I first began to use the internet I joined two discussion lists of which I am still a part, the D.E. Stevenson list (which I began with Alison Bunting) and the Maud Hart Lovelace list  where I am also a happy member, even if I lurk too often.

Lovelace wrote one of my favorite series of books for girls and recently Harper Collins has been reissuing copies of the last eight of the twelve Deep Valley books, often as two books in one volume, but not always. They have new and excellent introductions and great sections at the end called “Insights, Interviews and More”.  The entire series is quite closely based on the town of Mankato where Maud Hart Lovelace was born in 1892, and on her friends and their adventures beginning just before her fourth birthday and continuing until she was a married woman.

The people who love her work tend to be rather kindred spirits and enjoy getting together whenever they can. There have been several conventions and many regional get-togethers. There are two societies for her fans. One is the Maud Hart Lovelace Society which seems to have members who live fairly close to Minneapolis and the larger Betsy-Tacy Society. http://www.Betsy-TacySociety.org.  They are very friendly with one another and have worked to get the books reissued and to purchase both Tacy’s House and Betsy’s House in Mankato (actually Maud’s family home and that of Bick, her best friend who is Tacy in the books). The books have been written about in the old Victoria magazine and mentioned in articles and interviews by many of her fans,  some as famous as Bette Midler and Anna Quindlen.

I especially love these last two reissues because Emily of Deep Valley was the first Maud book I ever read and I have such a strong happy memory of beginning to read it in my grandmother’s kitchen on a rather dark snowy winter afternoon, looking across her yard and the field beyond to the woods that led down to the valley of Rocky River in the Cleveland Metroparks. And though I love the other books in this series, Emily is still my favorite and author Mitali Perkins’ new introduction is absolutely perfect in explaining why so many of us feel that way.

Emily is rather an outsider and I think perhaps many people who love to read have felt this at least to some extent while young. Emily’s path to “mustering her wits and standing  in her own defence” touches our hearts and gives us hope. She learns to understand herself;  she helps others;  she finds love. Oh, this is a book every girl should read, and perhaps every boy too. I am really happy to have these new copies, but I need to buy some more for the nieces that I’ve been giving them to as they come out. My nieces are all at least 50 years younger than I am, but they love them too. This is the definition of classic literature.

 

Emily of Deep Valley and Carney's House Party and Winona's Pony Cart by Maud Hart Lovelace

 

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