Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Festivities

October is almost over, and it has been grand. Here is some pictorial evidence.

So much goodness.

Giving thanks: 146-154

This season where everything gets a chance to burn with the last fire of summer before bowing under winter.

My hilarious and very human roommates, who make my life amusing with their words and actions, and make it pleasant with their kindness and love.

A woolen poncho on a cold, cold day.

Hitching rides around town with friends.

Douglas Wilson

Violins in Vivaldi music

Dollar Store candy in a bright yellow bowl

How much Becki makes me laugh

Water filters that make really-gross city water drinkable

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Did you get a sunburn?"

Being a naturally-rosy person, and one that flushes easily with heat, embarrassment, anger, tears, laughter (you name it!), I have no idea how many times I've been asked that.

Today I didn't mind it at all.

Doris asked so sweetly, and her face is so palely aging, and she wanted to hold my hand and to talk about her six sons and my seven brothers, and she waits to see us Monday by Monday and to hear our voices.

Doris has watery eyes and thin, dark-grey hair. She seems like she has had a happy life, in the easy way she smiles, in how she thanks us for singing, and requests we sing particular hymns, and in the kindness she shows to Patsy by finding her page in the hymnal every single time. Even brightly-dressed Patsy who watches us sing with her mouth open and no comments after the songs cannot be rude to Doris, and her presence is softened by her quiet, gentle-spirited neighbor. Doris is grace and peace behind a walker. She is joy in the grey moments, joy in the last days.

Doris is one of the people who makes Monday a delight.

Other goodies in my life today: 135-145

135. Extra sleep after the alarm rings

136. A bag of apples in the pantry, another on the counter, another on the floor, and the fruit bowl piled high

137. New socks on cold mornings

138. T. S. Eliot, particularly snippets from Choruses From 'The Rock' (1934) IX and X.

139. A notebook with a clear page, and a pen with a fine nib

140. Freshly made applesauce steaming on the stove, golden lumps and smoothness, faintly breathing cinnamon

141. Pomplamoose and their delightful music (Youtube will acquaint you with them - awesome couple!)

142. Lisa's apple Pan-Dowdy

143. Cheddar cheese in thick slices

144. That my car has a radio

145. Really hot water from the tap.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Food, love, poetry, beauty

Two poems I read today were about onions. Almost invariably I think of Father Capon when onions show up in books I am reading. His directions for knowing, looking at, enjoying and using an onion will always stick with me, nudging me further down the path of loving the little things. Capon's book, theology and cookery, is also extraordinarily poetic, and his way of looking at the onion is especially poetry.

But perhaps these vegetables are ultimately poetic, these multi-layered, strong and stringent, beautiful globes with pale pale flesh, filmy slips between the layers, lightly-striped and crisp golden skin. I already admire them for the way they grow in their dark straight lines in the garden, for their crinkling tops as they dry hanging in the storage room, for their perfect circles falling in sloping stacks on my cutting board, for the way they pale and become nearly clear and then honey-colored in the bubbling butter in my frying pan, for the flavor they add to my spagghetti, my taco, my salsa and my salad, BLT and hamburger and the pork roast. But today, my love for these countertop sweet-and-hots grew a little more.

The poems:

William Matthews

How easily happiness begins by
dicing onions. A lump of sweet butter
slithers and swirls across the floor
of the sauté pan, especially if its
errant path crosses a tiny slick
of olive oil. Then a tumble of onions.

This could mean soup or risotto
or chutney (from the Sanskrit
chatni, to lick). Slowly the onions
go limp and then nacreous
and then what cookbooks call clear,
though if they were eyes you could see

clearly the cataracts in them.
It’s true it can make you weep
to peel them, to unfurl and to tease
from the taut ball first the brittle,
caramel-colored and decrepit
papery outside layer, the least

recent the reticent onion
wrapped around its growing body,
for there’s nothing to an onion
but skin, and it’s true you can go on
weeping as you go on in, through
the moist middle skins, the sweetest

and thickest, and you can go on
in to the core, to the bud-like,
acrid, fibrous skins densely
clustered there, stalky and in-
complete, and these are the most
pungent, like the nuggets of nightmare

and rage and murmury animal
comfort that infant humans secrete.
This is the best domestic perfume.
You sit down to eat with a rumor
of onions still on your twice-washed
hands and lift to your mouth a hint

of a story about loam and usual
endurance. It’s there when you clean up
and rinse the wine glasses and make
a joke, and you leave the minutest
whiff of it on the light switch,
later, when you climb the stairs.

Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Thank you, Colleen at Live a Life Worthy, for tagging my blog as 'versatile.' At first, I was just as confuzzled as you seemed to be when tagged, but I think I can sort of 'keep to the code' in carrying on this thing.

As part of being tagged, I have "2 responsibilities: writing 7 things about myself and tagging 15 blogs with this award." I will likely come very short of the 15-blog mark when tagging, but will give it an effort. :)

Thing 1. I do not blog only-pictures, only-poetry, only thoughts on family life, only links to other blogs or music, or only-anything-else-I-love. Part of my goal in keeping this blog is to share my love of this world, in all its varied beauty and unpredictable pain, because the Maker of it all is a Trinity. So yeah. May my blog become more diversified (versatile?) as I grow in knowledge and love of this wild and wonderful sphere spinning at 67,000 miles per hour (hat tip to ND Wilson and one of my favorite books).

2. I have never flown in an airplane. This is one of the serious deficiencies of my life so far.

3. When I was little, I planned to be an author and write under the pseudonym Terry Lane. Which I thought was clever because Terry/Terri can be a girl or a guy, and how sneaky is that for a pseudonym?!?

4. I hate, detest, abominate, fake food. This includes things like boxed mac n' cheese, American cheese, white chocolate (WHAT chocolate???), powdered anything-that-should-be-moist (soup, milk, mashed potatoes), imitation crab, etc etc. People, food is important. Don't scrimp, don't pretend, and don't be shallow about these glorious thing that cooking and eating are.

5. It is way too easy for me to get addicted to computer games. Hence, no one was allowed to use computer games on my laptop when I was going to school.

6. Secretly, I have always wanted to be an artist. Someday (perhaps in the Eschaton) I shall do more than stick people and 2-dimensional houses with puffy leaf trees beside them.

7. One thing I shall perhaps always slightly regret is not having kept track of how many or which books I have read over the course of my life.

In Front of Your Eyes
the artsy sophisticate
Green and Blue World
Imago Dei
Glory of Kings
Crazy as Me

Monday, October 17, 2011


"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."
Sir Winston Churchill

One of my favorite 13 year olds just returned from a week in Florida with her family. They were sent there per her Wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation which gave them the trip of a lifetime and the memories to last several.

We spent over an hour this morning looking at the pictures captured - the sunshine, the theme parks, water rides and dolphin-feedings, happy faces under hat brims and bare feet in amazing blue water, sweet horses giving rides, carousels, cartoon characters giving hugs, elaborate villas, ice cream shops - and took school this morning very slow and relaxed. She had so much fun. She wants to go back to Florida and stay there - presumably with all the wonderful gifts of the last week continuing into the unforeseeable future.

Grateful for gifts: #123-134

123. Henri Landwirth, founder of Give the Kids the World, and his miraculous life, whose survival of the Holocaust contributed to his desire to bless the kind of children who did not survive things like that.

124. safety through a lot of car and plane travel, and being across the country for a week

125. Renee and Laurie, the ladies here who gave so much time to make this wish come true

126. a week of relaxation away from the daily schedule

127. four days in my own little Valley of Elwy with my family

128. the happy little blid-ip my phone says when a text comes in

129. how warm a laptop feels on a super-cold morning

130. my mom's boxes of food she donates to our little house of girls

131. pasta with homemade cheese sauce

132. fog in the morning

133. sun in the afternoon

134. tea with honey and raw milk

Sunday, October 16, 2011


It is fall.

There, among the rough, beige-grey-brown of the eternally-constant evergreens, maple. It grows there by a fallen pine whose kinked and bone-white branches scribble along the angled trunk. On its other side is the front right fender of an old car that is almost completely rust-colored, windows all long gone, tires flat and falling into the ground, various side panels and hood pieces loose, bent, or just plain missing.

The car sinks, turning browner all the time. The white tree leans more as months pass, its wood becoming lighter and more brittle. The maple is alive. It leans Southward, as if reaching face, hands, arms, soul toward the life of the sun that throbs across the sky every day.

In the quiet of the sparse trees here in this corner of my parents' property, surrounded with old and lifeless cars, a sagging fence marking this land from that neighbor's land, the maple grows. The maple sees another season leave, another come, and changes garments to flourish in the new one. It reaches forward, glad to golden and wave and wane here among the death of ancient Chevrolets and fallen evergreens, reaching content for this quiet death that will be overthrown in spring.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


This is a poem from Billy Collins' new book Horoscopes for the Dead. Do you ever feel this way?


I don't want to make too much of this,
but because the bedroom faces east
across a lake here in Florida,

when the sun begins to rise
and reflects off the water,
the whole room is suffused with the kind

of golden light that might travel
at dawn on the summer solstice
the length of a passageway in a megalithic tomb.

Again, I don't want to exaggerate,
but it reminds me of a brand of light
that could illuminate the walls
of a hidden chamber full of treasure,
pearls and gold coins overflowing the silver platters.

I feel like comparing it to the fire
that Aphrodite lit in the human eye
so as to make it possible for us to perceive
the other three elements,

but the last thing I want to do
is risk losing your confidence
by appearing to lay it on too thick.

Let's just say that the morning light here
would bring to any person's mind
the rings of light that Dante

deploys in the final cantos of the Paradiso
to convey the presence of God,
while bringing the Divine Comedy
to a stunning climax and leave it at that.

Monday, October 3, 2011

planks of thanks

"Trust is the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built with planks of thanks. Remembering frames up gratitude. Gratitude lays out the planks of trust. I can walk the planks - from known to unknown - and know: He holds."

from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp


110. a sister who comes and wakes me up if I oversleep in the morning
111. the bliss of sleep after insomnia
112. a wedding and its attendant gladness, tears and bittersweet memories
113. Luke and Theresa's smiles as they turned to face one another over the rings
114. my mom putting a check into my hand
115. fresh cow's milk
116. latin conversations all the way from Bucer's to Garfield Street
117. tortillas fried
118. Billy Collins
119. reading someone else's poetry and being lifted by it
120. old computers that still run
121. a zip-up hoodie with long enough sleeves
122. the satisfaction of paying rent on the exact day it is due