Friday, December 13, 2019

Oh, Joy!

My good camera -- the Nikon D5300 -- has been at the camera repair shop shop since before Thanksgiving, waiting on a part for a broken thingamajig inside the lens.  I was delighted finally to be reunited with it yesterday and immediately started taking pictures right there in the parking lot. Which just happens to have a clear view of the iconic Mt. Pisgah and The Rat. 

I've made do with the little Sony but it's limited. It couldn't have caught the magical shimmer of this little beech glowing amid the dark bare trunks.

Or the sun and shadow on these rooftops.

It could surely have done justice to this pink mailbox that always makes me smile when I pass it, but yesterday was the first time I had had a clear road to stop on the perilous curve where it's perched.

Shapes and snow and shadows . . .

And despite my bitching and moaning about the deer that eat my garden, after the epidemic that killed so many this past summer, I was tickled to see not just one in our pasture . . .

 but two more!

One little orphan has been hanging around for months now and I've felt so sorry to see it lonely. Now, at least, it seems to have some friends. 

And I'll probably be bitching and moaning about what they're doing to my shrubbery all winter long.

Still, I'm glad to see them.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

A Very Small Book Club

Oddly enough, in all my years as a voracious reader, I've never belonged to a book club. There was a time, early in my marriage when I read and reported on books for my mother-in-law who did belong to one and somehow rarely got around to reading the selected book when it was her turn to report on it.

But I've attended any number of book clubs as the speaker, when they were reading one of my books, and always enjoyed the lively discussions (and the food and the wine too.)

Now I find myself in a very select book club sort of a thing. My friend Allegra and I exchange piles of books  and have lunch and chat about this and that. Several months may pass between our 'meetings' and no one has to make a report on what she's read. If I'm particularly inspired by one of the books, I may email Allegra and tell her so but, so far at least, there's been no detailed analysis of any given book -- in spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that she's a retired English teacher and I put in nine years as one.

You see in these two pictures the wealth she brought me yesterday. An interesting assortment in the top photo -- I'm looking forward especially to the Patchett and the Chevalier books. And in the bottom photo, the entire Shetland series. I loved the series on television but had never read any of them. I've already deep into the first (not pictured) Raven Black and am not disappointed.

Undoubtedly I'll be reporting on my reading here--in this online extension of our very small book club.

Any suggestions as to what I'm most likely to enjoy in the top photo?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Peer Pressure?

We won't put up a tree and greenery till around the 15th -- but the past weekend seemed a good time to change out the fall colors and bring in the red and green. And strings of lights. And all the old familiar Christmas stuff.

I think it was my DIL Aileen who posted a meme saying "Tradition is peer pressure from dead people" and I kinda have to agree. 

My family "did" Christmas but in a relatively restrained way. John's family, on the other hand, went all out, with bubble lights, clacking wind up toys, Christmas decorations everywhere, down to little decorative Yuletide covers for every doorknob.

And red suspenders and tartan trousers  for my father-in-law.

We don't go that far but every year I bring out the familiar family stuff -- the little Santa that John painted in Cub Scouts sits by the picture of his folks . . .

I hang up my great-grandmother's quilt . . .

... and the little Yule hanging John's grandparents bought on a trip to Scandinavia back in the Fifties ... and many, many more bits and bobs of Christmases past. It's all faded and time worn but then so are we.

I made this pillow cover (below) in 1984 -- and every year it looks a little sadder. And every year I think I should make a new one and every year, I don't.

 I hope when it come time for my sons and DILs to deal with all this stuff, they'll have the strength of their convictions and toss out whatever doesn't 'spark joy.'

I refuse to be the peer pressure from Beyond.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Silver on the Tree

Just as many people put on Christmas carols or binge on Hallmark movies or other seasonal entertainment, at this time of year, I seem to find myself re-reading the fantasy sequence The Dark Is Rising.

I blogged about it two years ago but here I am again to sing the praises of this extraordinary quintet of books for younger readers.  (I reread the Narnia books too, every few years.)

Though written in the 1970's and set in England and Wales, now, more than ever, these books are relevant for the Dark is indeed on the rise in our world.

I was struck particularly by an early scene in Silver on the Tree, the final book of the sequence.  A school bully has been tormenting an immigrant boy and when the bully is treated to a bit of his own medicine, the bully's father takes noisy exception. 

"Let them solve their own problems, not come whining over here. What's all that have to do with us? They don't belong here, none of 'em; they should all be thrown out. And if you think they're so bloody marvelous you'd better go live in their lousy countries with them!"

One could hear this tirade most any day on right wing media or on the streets, emboldened as many haters are by the Bigot in Chief.

By the end of the sequence, Merriman/Merlin and deep magic from the past have repelled the present threat of Dark, but the children who have been a crucial part of the battle are left with a warning--which I found especially pertinent:

"For remember...that it is altogether your world now...we have delivered you from evil, but the evil that is inside men is at the last a matter for men to control. The responsibility and the hope and the promise are in your hands--your hands and the hands of the children of all men on this earth. ...the hope is always here, always alive, but only your fierce caring can fan it into a fire to warm the world."

 "For Drake is no longer in his hammock, children, nor is Arthur somewhere sleeping, and you may not lie idly expecting the second coming of anybody now, because the world is yours and it is up to you. Now especially since man has the strength to destroy this world. it is the responsibility of man to keep it alive, in all its beauty and marvellous joy."

"And the world will still be imperfect, because men are imperfect. Good men will still be killed by bad, or sometimes by other good men, and there will still be pain and disease and famine, anger, and hate. But if you work and care and are watchful...then in the long run, the worse will never, ever triumph over the better. And the gifts put into some...shall light the dark corners of life for all the rest, in so brave a world."

May we all strive to light the dark corners of life, in whatever way we can, with whatever gifts we possess.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Leaf on the Windshield

I liked the shape against the sky.

And then, when the sun was behind it, strange things happened. It seemed to go transparent. And the barn, that appears on the hill to the right is actually behind me -- reflected in the windshield.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

It's Not Easy Being Green

The holiday decorations are going up in Marshall; the Thanksgiving turkey has been reduced to a delicious broth; I've made a start on Christmas cards; now comes the Christmas shopping.

In the past I've relied on John's woodworking and Amazon to do most of the work but, nudged by my daughter-in-law in Atlanta's wish list, I'm investigating some Fair Trade, environmentally and socially active businesses.  I was pleasantly surprised by many and slightly overwhelmed by others. So many choices -- cruelty-free, sustainable, vegan, woman or minority run, politically active-- I applaud the intentions, even as my head swims..

I'm trying to pay special attention to cutting back on plastic--all those sad pictures of sea creatures killed by eating/being trapped by plastic are haunting to me. But it's everywhere-- my toothbrush, my bottle of Dawn for washing dishes, the containers I freeze leftovers in-- the list is endless.

Ever since the early Seventies, I've used cloth napkins rather than paper, composted/fed to chickens food scraps, and tried to follow the maxim "Use it up; Wear it out; Make it do; Do without" -- well, at least the first three quarters of it. 

But today, almost every decision is fraught with difficult choices. I'm just going to have to get better at this. I've taken my own shopping bags to the grocery for years. Now I've asked for reusable cloth produce bags for Christmas. I reuse the plastic bags as much as possible and when I finally dispose of them, I tie them in knots so they won't blow around at the landfill 

Grocery shopping yesterday presented me with a new decision-making opportunity. I needed to buy eggs. (A possum got in our hen house and killed the rooster a few nights ago. The girls were traumatized and their egg output, already low due to the time of year, has dropped off.)

I definitely wanted cage free/free range eggs. Organic would be nice but not a deal breaker. And I wanted a cardboard carton, not foam, not see-through plastic. 

I settled for cage free in cardboard -- all the other candidates were encased in plastic.