Friday, March 16, 2018

A kind act

As you may know, we feed the deer in the wintertime. Here is Hazel helping Pop put down their food the other day.

They eat the deer feed on the road, and also enjoy the sunflower seeds we put out for the birds.

We live on a town road and are lucky because the town crew plow during the winter. Our plowman, Brett lifts up the plow when he gets to the feeding area so he won't plow it to the side and bury the grain in the snow bank. Such a kind thing to do as he goes about his busy day.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Quote du jour/Monty Don

I read this on wikipedia.

In May 2016, Monty Don revealed that years of gardening had left him with "dodgy knees", from which he was "almost constantly in pain". But he dismissed any suggestion of replacement joints, saying: "Listen, when you get to 60, you ache. Just take it."

Well, I, too have dodgy knees. One much worse than the other. When I was 15, my friend's mother was driving us to a local baseball game when we skidded on wet road and went off into a ditch. They were both uninjured, but I had a broken femur. In those days, 1963, the treatment was traction. I was in it for several weeks, and in the hospital for 3 months. Unheard of today. Since then, one leg has been shorter than the other, and I've always had a limp. It has naturally gotten worse as I've gotten older. At this point, one shoulder is lower than the other, and I use a cane when walking long distances, and a knee brace most days. But, just like Monty, I shall have no operations or replacements. I accept my pain without (much) complaint.

And by the way, I am more than excited that Britbox is offering the 2018 season of Gardeners' World. I watched the first episode and it was just lovely.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Quote du jour/Ben Fogle

From the television show Walks With My Dog, which I watch on Acorn.

I'm a self-confessed, crazy, barking Labraphile.
Ben Fogle

Yup, me too. After many dogs since 1973, I have found the love of my dog life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Quote du jour/Monty Don

This is a golden time for those of us in the United States who love British television. We have Netflix, Acorn, Britbox all bringing us everything from drama to mystery to garden shows. I've just finished the last episode of the first season of Big Dreams, Small Spaces on Netflix. It has been a lovely viewing experience particularly during some dreary weather in these waning days of winter. I've gotten new ideas, and I'm so excited to get going on them! This quote comes from the very end of the show. Of course, I've now ordered two books by Monty Don.

You don't ever finish a garden. Gardens are a not a place, they're a journey.
Monty Don

Friday, March 2, 2018

Quote du jour/May Sarton

From At Seventy, writing of the poet Archibald MacLeish who had died at almost 90,

Two years ago I had a little word from him, saying, "Come soon. Time is running out." Why didn't I go then?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Stillmeadow - February

Well, here we are on the last day of February, and I still haven't used the snowshoes Tom and I bought last year. I brought them up from the cellar, and placed them next to the swing on the terrace, positive, absolutely positive that we would walk the fields of snow on our trusty snowshoes. But, no. My excuse is that I need to buy some snow pants, not the nylon or whatever the new material is, but wool. That's what I had for years, but I 'outgrew' them, and need a new pair. Why didn't I buy them last spring, summer, or fall so I would be ready when the snow arrived? This is who makes them. The price has gone up considerably in 40+ years! I plan to order some in the next few days, and I plan to put on those snowshoes next fall as soon as it snows. Of course it may well snow some more this winter, but somehow that doesn't count in my book. By the end of February, the old-timers used to say "the back of winter is broken."

These thoughts were floating around in my head as I read Gladys Taber's February entry in The Book of Stillmeadow. I reminded myself of Gladys. She isn't afraid to note her shortcomings either. Gladys and I are rather anachronisms in these times of everyone putting their best face forward on social media. No little foibles show up there!
I never have been adept at focusing opera glasses. Just as I get the right end to my eye, and screw the things up, whatever I am viewing moves away and I only see blurs and table legs.
I always mean to file my sheets according to size, but they never get filed correctly. The twin size play hide and seek with me every week at Stillmeadow, where we have all sizes of beds and all kinds of sheets. Flushed and unhappy, I am always lugging piles of the wrong size up and down stairs.
When her companion Jill says that "this is the time of year to reorganize everything in terms of what is oftenest used." Gladys admits that
She is certainly right, and if I were an organizing person I should instantly wrestle with the jammed-up china cupboards and pack up those dishes never picked up except to dust. ... The trouble is that as I pick up a cracked ironstone plate, I get to admiring the glaze and the way the edge is scalloped, and I think it is nice to look at with the candlelight glimmering on the soft finish - and back goes the plate in the same old spot.
Gladys talks about the seed catalogues that overflow the mailbox this time of year. I remember reading that sentiment often in the past ten to twenty years, but now I never hear anyone talking or writing about it. That must be because we can order online now. I'm also lucky that my favorite, local-ish company offers its seeds in my Co-op store. But I do miss the days of a pile of catalogues to look through.
There's never so fair a garden as the one that grows during a blizzard - on the colorful pages of the seed books. ... Nothing ever comes up and looks like any picture.
A quote I used once here is from this book, as she writes of the brightness of the February sun. I say frequently during the month that there is no sun in any month that can match it. Is it because we have been starved for the sun from November through January? The sun, even when it comes out in those dark months tends to be rather weak. Welcome, but not startling beautiful. The February sun tells us that spring is coming regardless of the temperature or the snow on the ground.
After Valentine's Day we can really feel that winter is on the downgrade. A few more blizzards, perhaps, but definitely March will arrive. There will be a certain day when the air comes in over the hills with a different feeling. It's an intangible thing, known only to folks who have had hard winters, and it is exciting and wonderful. One morning you poke your nose out and you know all of a sudden that there will be another spring. You smell it in the air, and no matter how deep the snow is, you think nothing of it. You dash out without your arctics and Mackinaw and catch a raging cold, but no matter - spring is coming! Tallyho!
And thus, Gladys ends this month's entry.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Jacob's Room is Full of Books - February

The reviews of Jacob's Room is Full of Books haven't been all positive. I don't have an opinion yet, but probably will by the end of December. It isn't much like Howards End is on the Landing. It is less about books and authors, at least so far, but I rather like the rambling from one thing to another.

The words from Jabberwocky popped into my head as I sat down to write about the February entry.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes - and ships - and sealing wax -
Of cabbages and kings -
And why the sea is boiling hot -
And whether pigs have wings."

I'm not a big Lewis Carroll fan, but I do love this. Susan Hill goes from subject to subject, and I wish I were there beside her so I could say, "yes!" or "I don't agree." She even talks of cabbages (!) in the context of the bright colors at the greengrocer.

She writes of not liking stories with fairies in them, preferring goblins and trolls. She says,
What does our individual taste in matters like this, matters that actually don't matter, say about us? I wish I could understand. I am not keen on folk tales either. Or folk songs. Cecil Sharp must have been a bore.
I don't like fairies or the scarier creatures. And I would so love to have known Mr Sharp. I am very interested in the work he did. It would have been fun to say that to her, and ask if she had liked the Natasha Solomons book (The Song of Hartgrove Hall), and if she has read Electric Eden.

She wrote of a website where various people offer five books on a theme. She was so interested in this, and I just didn't care at all, but then she began writing of Iris Murdoch's Alzheimer's disease, and my metaphorical ears pricked up.
I have always felt that, in writing his [her husband's] memoir of her decline and then in allowing it to be filmed - the whole sad, sad detailed saga of it - he had betrayed her and, above all, betrayed her dignity. She had no say, no opportunity to say no - or, of course to say yes. 
As much as I loved the book and the movie, I certainly understand her view, and even agree with it. It is possible though that they may have helped someone who was going along the same path as John Bayley was in those years. And of course, without the movie, we wouldn't have that perfect Hathaway line in Inspector Lewis when he goes into a cluttered house and describes it as the Iris Murdoch school of decorating!

In Howards End is on the Landing, Susan Hill was living in Gloucestershire, and that house seemed my dream place. Her descriptions were so good that I could see it as I read along. There's a nice piece here that talks about this. In Jacob's Room is Full of Books, she has a new home by the sea in Norfolk. She describes it:
Norfolk is the least horsey of all the counties I have ever known. I don't think there is even a hunt. It isn't much of a sheep place either, though there are a few flocks round here. No horses. No sheep. Instead, pigs. Pigs and sugar beets. And churches. And the sea. The sea. ... If you have been born and bred by the sea, you can be content watching it for hours.
As I read along I wondered why she moved. I understand the appeal of the water, especially if one is born near the ocean, but leaving that house? Well, this article might explain. 

The author does, of course, talk about books.
Not the weather for standing around more than two minutes admiring the spring flowers, the weather for clearing out bookshelves. If we ever leave this house, we will not want to start doing it as the removal men are at the door. I thought I had cleared out all the books I would ever need to lose five years ago, but books breed. They beget second copies because you have mislaid the first and buy another, the day before you find the first. They interbreed, too, so you have The Cambridge Companion to the Bible next to the Oxford ditto, and several copies of Quentin Bell's biography of Virginia Woolf next to the one by Hermione Lee. 
And whenever I go to the shelves to start an hour of de-stocking, I come upon a forgotten treasure. 
Susan Hill's birthday is 20 days before mine, and she says
I found a great quote for a birthday, too, from May Sarton's Journal of a Solitude: 'Do not deprive me of my age. I have earned it.' It gives the lie to all those who want to remain young, and although they surely must know that they cannot do that, they still give it a go, via facelifts and Polyfilla.
Later in the February essay, she attempts to de-stock again. Some of the work is easy, like
...ephemeral detective stories you will never re-read, and duplicate copies, the books that don't belong to me, the books that have had coffee or wine spilled over them, been left out in the rain or fallen in the bath and retrieved, more in hope than in expectation of a good outcome.
 She then goes on to talk of "small collections" she has made over the years.
Most people have obsessions and these usually come and go. Once you have fallen out of love with your passion, you do not want books about it to take up several yards of shelf space, though you may feel fond and nostalgic enough to save one. Or perhaps two.
One of Susan Hill's passions might surprise the reader. Not, of course, Virginia Woolf books, either by her or about her, but an obsession with Marilyn Monroe?!

I ended January's installment by saying that I was going to re-read Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf, and I did begin on her birthday, January 25, but I put the book back on the shelf because I realized that I wanted to read a print book that I haven't already read. I do hope to get back to it, but unless I begin reading more than one print book a month, I really must pick up those unread books.