Wednesday, January 30, 2008

February's Almost Here!

February is one of my favorite months. For one thing it has Valentine's Day which doesn't require all of the rushed activities involved in the holidays from just a few months past. I can bake and decorate a few cupcakes or "fairy cakes" as I've seen them called in some British blogs. I can read romantic valentines. I can enjoy pink, important to me as someone who raised four sons. The tulips and daffodils are getting ready to bloom. And best of all, it's a short month and I know winter will soon be over and we'll have our glorious spring weather once again.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
~ Robert Frost

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Baby, It's Gonna Be Really, Really Cold Outside!

Well, that's the prediction anyway although right now it's 43 degrees which isn't bad. And they're saying it'll be really, really cold for this part of the country which doesn't mean 40 degrees below, but temperatures in the mid-teens range and that it'll last about a week. Still, it's nothing to ignore and it's always prudent to make preparations.

We lived out in the country in an uninsulated, 150-year old house with only a wood stove as a heat source for 20 years so this is something I have experience with. The cars are gassed up, the anti-freeze and windshield fluids checked, and there are basic provisions including dried food, water, a good flashlight, extra gloves and hats and clothing plus a quilt and basic tools in each of them although both vehicles are pretty new and are well maintained. The one John will be driving to work early Monday morning will be garaged.

Our cell phones are fully charged. I'm making sure I'm caught up with the laundry. There's gas for the generator. All the flashlights have good batteries. There's plenty of propane for the portable heaters. There's wood for the fireplace. I've put a half dozen quilts in the bedroom in case we lose the electric at night.

We went shopping last night and made sure we had all the basic food staples--bread, milk, eggs, coffee, tea. I'm roasting a chicken for tonight's dinner and I can use the leftovers to make a chicken pot pie and then chicken noodle soup. I've got bread dough in the freezer, the ingredients to make a big pot of chili and a pan of cornbread, and there's still half a peach pie.

I don't have to worry about losing the water as we're on city water, not a well, but I have some potable water anyway. The vents were blocked at the beginning of winter and the outside pipes are insulated.

And I haven't forgotten my little song birds either. Their feeder has been filled with bird seeds. I have lots of books, my I-pod is charged up, and there's baskets of yarn to knit.

Bring it on! We're ready!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A.A. Milne (January 18, 1882 – January 31, 1956)

Today is the birthday of A.A.Milne, the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Now mind, he wasn't very happy at being remembered mainly for that as he thought of himself as a serious writer. In fact, he was quite bitter about it. And I could rant a bit about how the Disney Corporation ruined the books and made rather quite a mess of them, but then it was Milne's widow who sold them all the rights. The family later sued, a suit that went to the Supreme Court in 2006, but lost. I digress.

Today is A. A. Milne's birthday. When my sons were very small we would celebrate that day with a "Pooh Party". We'd make cookies which had honey as part of their ingredients and then eat them while I read one of the Pooh books. The stuffed Poohs were, of course, the guests of honor.

Here are some of my favorite quotations from the Winnie-the-Pooh books:

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

Some people care too much, I think it's called love.

If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"

A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.

I used to believe in forever . . . but forever was too good to be true.

Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Just a Bit Distracted

I'm supposed to be working on an assignment for my Archives class which involves the Library of Congress website but I've became distracted. Just a little bit.

Here are some children's books from the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room.

My favorite (so far) is Ballad of the Lost Hare/ By Margaret Sidney [pseud.]. Boston: D. Lothrop, c1882.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year Resolutions

Each New Year resolution is a small gift wrapped in shiny paper that we give ourselves and I want to chose mine carefully. My resolutions aren't always practical or concrete or measurable. They're certainly not easy.

1. Nurture serenity.
It doesn't mean to hide out from life and avoid problems but to deal with them as they come. It doesn't mean being arrogant or cold or unseeing or not being empathic, but exactly the opposite. It means being brave and patient and showing kindness.

2. Simplify.
After spending time at my in-laws house, a house crammed full of stuff everywhere you turn, where it's impossible to focus on anything because there is just too much, my resolution includes getting rid of things that I don't need, don't want, or will never use. There are some things I will keep for sentimental reasons, others because they're practical, but I will begin looking at the things in my house with a far more critical eye. I do not want to be in my eighties and spending most of the little time I have left on this earth taking care of inanimate objects while also trying to figure out how to get rid of them.
I also want to simplify my inner life. I have a tendency to make everything much too complex. I examine things too closely, try to determine all the possibilities beforehand and spend inordinate amounts of time making decisions about things which really aren't all that important. I do that partly because I dislike unpleasant surprises, have a tendency to be a perfectionist, and want to feel in control. I need to learn to let things go.

3. Pray
I pray in bits and pieces throughout my day. I don't use long and formal prayers except when I say the rosary, which I try to do daily. I pray when I'm driving, when I fold laundry, when I cut carrots for stew, and roll out pie dough. I pray when I sweep the kitchen and water flowers and hear the little birds singing.
I make prayer a natural part of my everyday life.

4. Expect Joy
Sometimes I miss the little pieces of joy that are all around me because I am just not paying attention.

5. Accept Grace
Accepting grace is far more difficult than it seems. Ann Lamott wrote: "(Grace) is unearned and gratuitous love; the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you; grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there."