Tuesday, April 30, 2019

In the Dirt

Sunday was a beautiful day to be outside and pulling weeds.

I began outside our basement door where a curving rock border has gotten obscured by weeds. Worried that the person wielding the weed-eater might not find it easy to know just where the boundaries are, I sat myself down and began to weed.  (For some years now, I do all my weeding sitting down and unching along. Easier on the back.)

My striped socks are actually compression stockings to prevent the swelling that tends to occur in my rebuilt ankle--and probably always will, according to the surgeon, unless I wear these. I'd resisted, remembering the ugly white hose from the hospital but when I saw these beauties -- looking for all the world like witch stockings -- I gave them a try.  They work well -- no swelling -- but I'm not sure how I'll feel about them in the summer heat.

My white iris--that didn't bloom last year--is back! An excellent reason to weed.

Such a pleasure, sitting in the sun and enjoying the new growth all around! An even greater pleasure being able to get back up without having to drag myself to the stairs. (Being on a slope helped.)

After lunch I set in on the asparagus bed. There are a few spears showing and even more weeds. But by four, it was clear -- except for the near end where the horseradish is. Last year it took me several days to do as much -- so thankful to have some off my strength and endurance back.

Next on the to-do list is the box bed garden. John has prettied it up with fresh blue paint and new trellises to replace the old arbor. Now I have more weeding to do -- as well as planting. We haven't been visited by deer recently -- but I know they're out there and will plan and plant accordingly. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Magnetic Girl

Wow! Jessica Handler's new book is enthralling -- dare I say mesmerizing? It's a novel based on the real Lulu Hurst, aka The Georgia Wonder, who had a brief (1884-1885) career touring as a vaudeville act. She was touted as having supernormal strength and magnetism due to powers she developed after a lightning storm.

That restless period of history was filled with charlatans of every sort as well as simple folk, eager to believe. (I explored this a bit in the historical subplot of Under the Skin.)  Lulu, though, is no charlatan, but a believer in her own powers, which she allows to be exploited to earn money for her family (poor farmers) and especially for her damaged little brother.

Handler's beautiful prose follows Lulu through grubby opera houses, hotels, trains, and boarding houses as she learns the ways of show business and its people and begins to assess her own powers. It's an astute look at the interplay of belief and knowledge, of trickery and revelation, and of the enduring willingness of people to be fooled.

Handler treats Lulu with great sympathy as she becomes a star and, at the same time, grows in awareness of the falsity of her stardom. Lulu and her time are delineated with loving precision by a masterful writer.

Jessica Handler will be at Malaprop's in Asheville, NC this Wednesday May 1 at 6. She will be in conversation with Charles Frazier. I plan to be there -- Jessica is an engaging speaker as well as a fellow teacher at Wildacres, and Charles Frazier . . . well, that's the icing on the cake. For more information, go HERE.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison

I have no idea how long this lovely little book has been sitting unregarded on a bookshelf in the hall. This book is a reprint ('87) and it has that lovely aged paper smell to it but nothing to indicate from whence it came. I might have scooped it up at a library book sale or elsewhere because of the cover. (I've always loved the Unicorn tapestries.) I haven't a clue of its provenance though. 

But how glad I am it fell off the shelf into my hand when I was looking for something else! And how glad I am to know about Mitchison, who lived to 101 and wrote over seventy books.

Travel Light is a kind of fairy tale -- the good kind that adults as well as young readers can enjoy. It's the story of Halla, a king's daughter cast out by her new stepmother. She is brought up by bears and later by dragons, from whom she learns a proper dislike of heroes -- handsome young men with swords who slay dragons. Then she meets the All-Father, Odin the Wanderer, who gives her a piece of his cloak, sets her on a unicorn, and bids her to travel light.

This is such a delightful story -- it reminds me of Neil Gaiman and I wonder if he's read Mitchison.  And I can't wait for Josie to read it when she's a bit older. Halla is the independent, hero-shunning, tough sort of princess I can admire. And hope that Josie will too.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Yain, Tain, Eddero . . . and Mystery Eggs

My friend Josie in California sent me a book that I've been doling out to myself like expensive candy -- One Man's Meat by the legendary E.B. White is a delightful collection of essays and I'll talk about it at length when I've finished reading it.

But for now, I just had to share this bit of esoterica from his book: ancient Celtic sheep counting numbers. Here goes, from 1 through 15 --Yain, Tain, Eddero, Peddero, Pitts, Tayter, Later, Overro, Covvero, Dix, Yain-dix, Tain-dix, Eddero-Dix, Peddero-dix, and Bumfitt.

White used these numbers to name his sheep. It makes me wish we had sheep. But just saying these numbers makes me happy for some reason.

(Addendum: for more counting from the various parts of England, go HERE. Such riches!)

And then there are these -- a tiny package from China, filled with these little speckled eggs, mysteriously arrived Monday. I suspect my niece Amelia, who has often given me eggs of one sort or another, but many thanks to whomever sent them -- all dix of them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Day After

Easter Monday dawned bright and clear -- everywhere on the farm!

John and his sister and I headed for the house while the younger generation was still partying -- it had been a long weekend and we were ready for a bit of a sit down, leaving the mess in the barn and elsewhere for the next day. 

And when we came down Monday morning, the younger generation had done it all -- quilts down, utensils washed, tablecloths in the wash, and all party paraphernalia back in the boxes to be stored to next year. Those who were still there, helped John load up all the garden furniture and took it back to our house. Then we said goodbye to the last of them as they headed out for Virginia and Texas and parts in between.

Despite the damp, chilly weather on Sunday morning, it was one of the best Easter parties yet. I know the weather -- along with flooding in parts of our county -- kept some of our usual attendees away, but there was a whole new crop of young families and little ones running about and, I hope, making memories and adding to our 40 plus year tradition.

Among my favorite moments  . . . Josie -- enjoying a houseful of folks, all willing to play games with her.

And the usual Easter baskets and small egg hunt first thing Eater morning.
Some new quilts in the barn . . .

Seeing Josie hanging out with kids without needing Mama or Daddy around . . . and how sweetly the kids treated her . . .

And, of course, the Big Egg Hunt -- with Mama and Grandma in attendance . . .

The very best was watching the four cousins -- the boys are so solicitous and protective of Josie -- I kept thinking of Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins -- all those boy cousins and little Rose.

Memories are made of this . . .

Claui's picture