Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Most Obliging of Spring Blooms


The flowering quince is one of the first things I planted in the spring of 1976.  It was an offshoot of a bush down at what was the Freeman's and is now Justin and Claui's house and it has persisted and spread to the point that every year I hack at it, trying to control its spreading tendency. But those early buds and blooms -- ahh!


Many of my daffodils date back to that spring -- the gift of that same neighbor. Daffodils multiply into big clumps that need thinning and resetting every few years -- another thing for the to do list. Daffodils also seem to be impervious to the various critters that wipe out tulips -- alas for all the beautiful tulips I've planted over the years that are only a memory now.


Forsythia, or Yellow Bells as my neighbor called them, is another vigorous and hardy spreader. It's nice to bring inside for some early blooms and it also roots quite easily, making it easy to share with friends.


 So much in my garden that dates back to those early years was the gift of friends and neighbors, and I think of many of them, now gone, especially when the blooms return in the spring -- the eternal return.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology


I grew up reading Greek mythology and knew those gods and goddesses and their carrying on backwards and forwards. But somehow I was never much attracted to the tales of the Norse pantheon -- for one thing the names were so hard to pronounce (and there are so many of them, even for inanimate objects like Mjollnir and Gjallerhorn.) 

And though I was aware that my literary heroes C.S. Lewis and J.R. R. Tolkien were deeply influenced by these stories, I managed to avoid knowing much more than the bare details of Odin, Thor, Loki, and Valhalla.

When I read Gaiman's wonderful American Gods and realized that it was all about the Norse gods, albeit in modern form, I thought to myself that I really needed to pursue this.

But I didn't. 

Now the perfect introduction has come along. Gaiman's very personal story telling style introduces the Norse pantheon in manageable doses. And since I have the audio version with Gaiman doing the reading, now I know how those tricky words should be pronounced.

It's not a scholarly approach -- it's a story teller's version. Indeed, in the introduction Gaiman encourages readers to make these stories their own, to retell them -- just as they have been retold down the centuries. As I listened to the tales, I could remember echoes of them in various books and see parallels in other religions and cultures.

I adore listening to Gaiman read. And here he's made these stories his own -- the Norse deities speak, not in the high flown language some might ascribe to deities but in colloquial English -- British English with a variety of accents. 

I highly recommend this book on its own merits and because it's a great start -- I foresee doing some more reading, serious reading, to broaden my  understanding of this mythology. 

 HERE is an excellent review from the Washington Post that pretty much coincides with my own reactions.

Neil Gaiman image by Beowulf Sheehan)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

French Broad River Dreams -- a repost


Sometimes a man just needs to be off by himself . . .
Away from the bother of family life . . .
The screaming kids, the quarrelsome wife . . .
Out in nature on the wild river
That flows down to Hot Springs . . . 
And the hot tubs . . . and the hippie chicks
Just off the Appalachian Trail . . .
Maybe looking for a real man . . .

But the river keeps running, not stopping for no one . . .
Bound for Tennessee and beyond . . .
River joining river . . . carefree
Sliding through state lines . . .
Into the great Mississippi, and down to New Orleans . . .
Music and booze, all night long. . . 
And the women . . . wild and free as the river, they say . . .
  

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Options Available . . .


One of my Facebook friends posted that she and her wife were considering different plans for Valentine's Day -- dinner out? dinner and a movie? Fancy restaurant? View and Brew? They decided to go with picking up a pizza locally, taking it home, and watching Netflix in their jammies.

I had to laugh -- something like that's our usual choice for celebrations. Tonight we're fixing a Surf 'n Turf -- filet mignons and crab cakes, along with stuffed baked potatoes and green beans and salad. With expresso chip ice cream for dessert. Quick, easy, and indulgent. And we'll be watching Netflix too -- probably MidSomer Murders - a series we've just gotten into. All that gorgeous English countryside and amazing character actors!

A little bubbly and the spicy scent of the Stargazer lilies that were an early Valentine present from John -- how could it be better?

Hoping that you treat yourself to something special!