Slow

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{illustration from the charming Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem}

Here are a few pieces from around online for weekend perusing. I’ve been thinking on how quickly I get caught up in culture’s god of the Frantic if I’m not careful. These speak against that in a few key areas of my life. I want to hang onto these and consider them quietly this weekend.

Life and Home Education  – “…no prizes for getting there first…”

Wonder and Life – am I truly seeing?

Writing – “… be humble…”

Walking – get out and walk, Amy!

Weekend Slow Soundtrack

Happy Friday!

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Bookmarked Bits

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An old Milwaukee Brewer’s ticket, a receipt for Goldfish crackers, and a yellowed photograph. Torn-edged Emily Dickinson poems, exotic postcards with black squiggly postmarks from long ago, and fluorescent hued post-it notes. Advertisements, crumpled bits of paper with phone numbers, and love letters. Thank you cards, a gallant knight hand drawn by my son. Bits of string, tags from a favorite store, shirt bought two sizes ago, and an old Valentine. Origami, playbills, and church bulletins folded accordion style. Bits of napkin, strips of paper bag, and special chocolate wrappers. Empty tea bag wrappers, coffee drink labels, and business cards. Strips of washi tape stuck together, ribbon, lace, and old empty envelopes. A friend’s obituary, a wedding invite, and pressed flowers. Metal book darts, watercolor flowers on card stock, and coffee stained cardboard. Fabric squares, old conference name tags, and retreat brochures. Cell phone case instructions, empty seed packets, and piano recital flyers.

Tangible memories of life in between the pages of my books.

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Happy Birthday, dear Elizabeth Goudge!

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Can I introduce you to a dear friend of mine? Elizabeth Goudge. A gorgeous writer who has touched me profoundly. She is in my top five favorite authors.  Someone who you cannot read quickly, you must simmer and savor. Today I celebrate her birthday and like to think of her with a glimpse of the English countryside outside her window, pen scratching the paper, sipping tea, creating unforgettable stories for us to enjoy. They are sweeping, deep, with many layers, and you can reread them over and over and take away something entirely new each time. My favorites are A City of Bells, A Dean’s Watch, and A Pilgrim’s Inn (formally, Herb of Grace, which I like better). Have you read any of her books? Join me today in remembering Miss Goudge! Many happy returns!

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Gather Round {April 21}

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{I truly wish we could all ‘gather round’ and chat about life, relationships, parenting, education, books, and our passions. Please grab a mug of steaming coffee or pour yourself a cup of tea, and get comfortable. I enjoy being a ‘fly on the wall’ so to speak, reading about people’s lives, plans, or just what’s generally happening. I’d like to share that occasionally (every, fortnight, or so) here under this title. I’m not sure how it will play out, but I’d like to give it a go. I will post headings so that if you only have a few moments, you can scroll right to what interests you. I love conversations, don’t be shy, please chime in.}

 I can’t believe it’s been two weeks already since my first Gather Round post.  Here are a few biweekly bits for you!

Domesticity ~ The smell of brownies is permeating the air here. My two littlest children and I just whipped up a batch. I have exactly 4 loads of laundry waiting to dry as my washer is much quicker than my gas dryer. Note to the Northern Midwest: Please stop snowing. It’s April. I could then use the clothesline and get caught up on laundry. Thank you.  I got a delightful order of seeds in from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Honestly, I love their ‘organic’ seeds mainly because of the pretty vintage packages. I can’t wait to start some soon on their way to a probable slow death.

Education ~ Besides a week of coughing and fevers, we’ve enjoyed our lessons. My oldest had her piano recital after rescheduling due to aforementioned snow. Our 18th century costuming class/dance lessons are winding down, the ball is in two weeks! I have so many little bits of things to do on my costume, but we are enjoying the dances. Here is one of the ones we’ve been learning, “Knole Park”. Next month, our weekly gym night switches to baseball in the park (sleds on standby), and everyone is looking forward to getting outside. On the topic of costuming and reenactments, we’ve enjoyed this place.

Writing ~ Have you noticed the “chirp, chirp” sound around here at the blog? Egads! I have, too.  After a busy first couple weeks of writing in April (I submitted another poem, an essay, and worked on my fiction), I just felt DRAINED mentally and then family things hit, and did I forget to mention we had 12 inches of snow in a few days, which made EVERYTHING slow as molasses? (I really loathe when people constantly complain about the weather.) Anyway, I was able to attend a lovely two hour library talk on poetry this morning and it was so refreshing and got my juices flowing. I also hoping to get back outside, because nothing is more refueling than sunshine and stars. It’s so much easier to talk about writing than actually doing it, although, I guess I’m writing about writing right now. Gah. What recharges your writing/mental juices? I’m really curious.

Reading ~ What are you currently reading that you love? Maybe I’ve actually been reading more and that’s why I haven’t written as much. Neither good nor bad, I guess, as far as the writing goes. I finished Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Hourglass: Time, Memory, and Marriage by Dani Shapiro, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, and Crosstalk by Connie Willis. I’ll review them at the end of the month.

Sillies & Sundries ~ Here is a silly for the rest of your weekend. 

Cheerio, lovelies.

~

Many Happy Returns, Gladys Taber!

Gladys Taber at Stillmeadow

{Gladys Taber on Pinterest}

I want to wish Gladys Taber, a very Happy Birthday! She is one of my top favorite non-fiction authors, her love of books, nature, and life’s minutia, find her a kindred spirit with me. She actually died a few months before I was born, but her observations and love of the dailiness of life are timeless. In honor of her wonderful writing, I’d love to introduce you to Michele, a wonderful online writer, who captures Glady’s spirit in her writing.  Go on over and visit Michele at The Rabbit Patch Diary and prepare to be inspired. Are you familiar with Mrs. Taber? Do you have a favorite classic memoirist and a favorite modern memoirist? I love to hear!

A cake and tea will be happening here later in memory and honor of  Gladys!

~

Monday Ponderings {April 9th}

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“The World Is Too Much With Us” by William Wordsworth
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
{Saturday was Wordsworth’s birthday and I took some time to read a little of his poetry. This one is one my favorites and I’m thinking on it as we tackle this week. I don’t want to be a pagan ;), but I do want to shut out the craze of the modern world and delight in Nature’s minutia. It’s snowing here, so perfect for sipping coffee and mulling over his words. Happy Monday!}

Gather Round {April 7th}

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{I truly wish we could all ‘gather round’ and chat about life, relationships, parenting, education, books, and our passions. Please grab a mug of steaming coffee or pour yourself a cup of tea, and get comfortable. I enjoy being a ‘fly on the wall’ so to speak, reading about people’s lives, plans, or just what’s generally happening. I’d like to share that occasionally (every, fortnight, or so) here under this title. I’m not sure how it will play out, but I’d like to give it a go. I will post headings so that if you only have a few moments, you can scroll right to what interests you. I love conversations, don’t be shy, please chime in.}

Domesticity ~ We home educate our children and so that means our home is pretty much a mess most of the time, because we are always here.  You should have seen the look on the electric guy’s face today when he saw all the shoes tossed about on our porch. Poor soul was confused about the sheer number, I’m sure. We are in our last and third term of the learning year, and the winter/early spring is particularly a trying time. We have pretty good systems in place, but whew, The Piles (insert scary music). My husband kindly purchased me a red Kitchen Aid mixer (squee!) and it’s been an extremely bad thing. We are baking entirely TOO much. Ha. I have a seed catalog here that I’d love to make a small order from, but my brain is trying to reconcile with the snow outside our window. I’ve been wading through clothing and trying to sort it all out, why does a eight year-old girl need seven jumpers in her drawer?

Education ~ I’m barely hanging on through this last term. It has nothing to do with what we are reading or doing. I love all of that, truly. It’s just the mental weariness of me “on” all the time. All parents, regardless of whether you’re home educating or not, understand this, I think. My INFP-self is rearing its ugly head. Dear Lord, can it be summer, please? Doctor Who, will you please bring the Tardis and who, whoo, eee who me away? Can I decamp and head to a remote cabin alone for an extended holiday? Anyone? However, having done home educating for numerous years, I know that I always feel this way at this time of year, and I always live through it. A couple things we’ve been especially keen on have been, Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Abraham Lincoln by Enid LaMonte Meadowcroft, and D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths.  I’ve been thrilled by Amy Carmichael’s poetry, Edward R. Sill’s “Opportunity”, and John Masefield’s “Sea Fever”. Poetry is my jam. I’ve been excitedly looking at resources for The Odyssey and drooling over all the beautiful books on my shelves to choose from for our autumn term.

Writing ~ I found a few lovely looking online places that I’m thinking through ideas for submitting essays or poems. I’m very disorganized and am brainstorming to keep moving forward and growing. I love the creative nonfiction/memoir genre and want to grow as a poet as well. I know next to nothing about structure and the formal bits of poetry and need to just sit down, really study and practice. I’m a nervous and S-L-O-W as molasses fiction writer, but I’d love to have a rough draft done on my current idea by the end of this year. Oh my goodness. That freaks me out. Fiction has meant so much to me over the course of my relatively short life (I’m not THAT old yet, at least I tell myself that, as I pull out gray hairs), so I have a high respect for it and don’t know if I can ever really do it justice. However, I want to try. I write things that bless, encourage, and inspire ME and share them only in the hope that they just might do the same for even one other person.

Reading ~ What are you currently reading that you love? I have so many on my TBR stack, as usual, it’s toppling over. I’m never going to change, though, so I just embrace it, as long as I don’t let it stress me out. The truth is, I don’t have to read any of them, except The Holy Bible and poetry, because those things help me to breathe and not hurt people. At the moment, I’m quite fond of Betty Crocker’s Kitchen Garden with charming illustrations by Tasha Tudor. It is just so peaceful and lovely. As long as I don’t think about weeds, watering, sweaty, back-breaking labor, and my black-ish thumb.

Sillies & Sundries ~ I joined Twitter and am blindly fumbling my away around there like an idiot. I’m not even quite sure how to properly post a blog link on there. It’s been fun and whoa, there is a lot of nasty, mean-spirited rubbish on there. Yikes. I started walking in the middle of March which with all the reading, writing, and Kitchen Aid moments, is a good thing. Then a family wedding hit and the weather turned for the worst. I’m just waiting for the new snow to melt and things to warm up again. Excuses. I love doing the washing up while listening to podcasts. I’ve been listening to a lot of English shows and one Scottish show on writing. They are very fascinating and I wonder if you noticed my cheesy American attempt at using their lovely lilting turns of phrase and speech in this post. I’m such an unabashed Anglophile.

Cheerio, lovelies.

~

Old Friend

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Slashed straight across,

split, stacked, corded, loss.

No more gnarly, twisted limbs.

No more waves, nods, bare and slim.

Moving along that curvy road,

understanding grew between dead and souled.

Once weekly we acknowledged each other,

empty, dry, haunt-of-wood and I, sister, brother.

On the swoop of a curve,

a wide expanse, rattled one’s nerve.

Except for tall, weather-beaten giant,

he’d seen sun, wind, storms, and stood defiant.

The moment I saw him laid to rest,

a small pain spread warmly through my chest.

An ache, a prick, of beauty lost and gone,

wisdom, solace, and strength, now wind’s song.

The next pass I made the sadness was less,

still sat the bones, remnants, dusty mess.

However, a thought of Amish toes by a hot fire,

a child cheered with warmth, flickers to inspire.

My friend still lives, not gone forever,

memories and warmth, our lasting treasure.

~

 

A Minute of Life

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I just finished chopping green peppers. Thunk, thunk on my cutting board’s surface and juicyish-feel as I cut stands out in loveliness. I focus closely on this process. Chop, chop, and throw in crock-pot. The black-bean corn salsa lid comes off, salsa following peppers into pot.  A little bit of taco seasoning, frozen chicken breasts, knob flicked to low. Dinner is on. Do you ever do this? Follow minutely with what is at hand? I find myself trying to make this a habit. The beauty found in the curve and color of the peppers, the grain of the wood on my cutting board, the spicy, pungent aroma from the salsa and spices, and the satisfaction of knowing dinner is being prepared ahead of time. The reality is my schedule is a bit chaotic and my home is a mess.  Laundry is spilling over, clothing organizational project gone awry, Plutarch waiting to be read, Sunday school lessons to prep, sewing projects discarded in lumps, and greasy hair on my forehead. By zeroing down into what my hands are doing, my eyes are seeing, and opening up my senses to THIS second, I’m able to keep moving forward with grace.

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Globe

Penny Wilkosz Moon Photo

~Happy National Poetry Month ~

Globe

Orange-globe of goodness

Moon glow luminance

Portal out into beauty

Watering soul’s duty

Thank you, friend

Daily mundane you bend

Dark unknown

Isn’t so alone

With you hovering just

Over hill, behind tree, I must

acknowledge a Presence

I pause a beat, a sentence

I won’t fear, life lists

You overshadow all that, bliss

A shine, a light, a face

all your own, a friendly place

I can call my own

Disappointment, heart’s moans

Still there, but buried

Covered, cocooned, married

To your comforting orb

My eyes close, face lifts, I absorb

Gifted-globe of friendliness

I’m in love with your genuineness.

 

{My dear friend graciously allowed me to use her gorgeous photo of the moon to compliment and enhance my poem. © Image copyright Penny Wilkosz}

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March Reads

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April is here, spring is not. However, who’s complaining when we have loads of coffee and stacks of books? Here is what I finished in March. How about you? What did you finish?

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks (****) – This was a unique, quirky mystery with plenty of suspense. I did not figure out the creep before the end. Bravo. It was written well and the characters were drawn wonderfully! The snake handling church plot was slightly hard to swallow, but in the end, it overall worked. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

Letters from Eden: A Year at Home, in the Woods by Julie Zicklefoose (*****) This was a delightful memoir mixed with gorgeous nature paintings. Ziclefoose’s attention to detail in her paintings and writing captured the beauty of the birds and natural world around her. I really enjoyed this and found it soothing.

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead (****) – This is the first in a fantasy series called Bright Empires and Lawhead doesn’t disappoint. This took me a little while to get into, but then I was hooked. The premise is that there are ley lines all over the world that lead to alternate realities and time travel. Kit Livingston’s great-grandfather shows up in London one day, shocking Kit out of his regular life, sharing secrets, mysterious maps tattooed on skin,  and multi-layered universes.

Habitation of Wonder by Abigail Carroll (*****) – I would give this six stars if I could. Just lovely, haunting poetry, exploring the beauty of life, nature, and faith in an approachable, gorgeous, lyrical way. I’m on my third reread of it, it’s not long, it’s so life-giving and wonder-provoking. Carroll is my favorite modern poet and you can visit her here and read some of her words.

Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro (*****) – this was a beautiful collection of essays, memoir-style about Shapiro’s life and process as a writer. She has such a beautiful way of looking at life with a slant, of appreciating the beauty, but still understanding the reality. Many times, I was nodding, and felt like I had found a sister with regards to understanding the mental battle writers are always facing. I really loved this one. Highly recommend.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie (***) – I found these six interconnected mysteries to be interesting and the perfect light read. Sidney Chambers is a priest with the Church of England and finds himself constantly intertwined with local crime solving. My favorite thing about this book was Sidney himself. He is constantly struggling with the tension between his duties to God and his parish and his strange ability to help the police solve crimes. His love of poetry, jazz, and biking and the gorgeous descriptions of England make these a delightful read. One story was a bit more disturbing as it involves a woman’s kidnapping by a twisted man, but for the most part these were intriguing. Not grisly or super in-depth crimes, definitely more inner character driven type writing. I enjoyed these very much and hope to read more.

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers (***) – this was a sweet story of redemption for two people, one a single mother and the other a tortured artist with a dark past. I really enjoyed Roman, the artist’s, character.

The Holy Bible (*****) – Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and finished Psalms.

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