Sunday, January 22, 2023

Thoughts on First Day

 The Quaker Meeting that I attend has ventilation problems. That's never a good thing but when viruses gather where people gather, it can be a bit dodgy. So, we crack the windows to make sure the air moves around, even now, in Winter.

We keep our coats on as we sit in silence. This morning, I remembered my childhood Winter Sundays. The pastor of the Catholic Church my family belonged to poured the parish's money into the school. The nave had ceilings that were as high as heaven. The aging, overburdened furnace churned out heat and it sailed immediately to those heights. We never took our coats off unless we were lucky enough to sit right next to the heating vents.

Those memories made my Winter coat feel like a hug as I sat in Meeting. I imagined people long gone putting their arms around my shoulder - Friends who have moved to other states or other parts of the world. I remembered F(f)riends and family whom I will never see again in this lifetime. This morning, they sat with me, as I huddled in my coat.

I remembered teachers and the other students at that parish school. They sat with me in Meeting, too. Worship shared has no boundaries.

If our ventilation problem isn't solved by summer, we may end up meeting under the trees in our shorts. And that will be fine.

Where two or more are gathered in the name of peace, there also will peace be found - even if it comes in a Winter coat.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The moon over the sunrise. A gift!

 In 2020, I learned that the world is not as safe as I may have thought. The virus, the political arena, the arguments and disagreements, - all added up to make me anxious. I was not alone.

2021 was not a whole lot better, with violence in our capital and the return of mass shootings. (Even shooters stayed home during the pandemic's first year.)

2022 - more of the same. My disillusionment was becoming a world view.

I dropped out of social media. I went to ground. And I told myself that the world was an unsettled, unsettling place.

Over and over again, I warned myself about real and imagined dangers. Over and over again, I congratulated myself on wisely hunkering down, laying low, disengaging.

Now, I am teaching a short "stories-we-tell" workshop to the children of my worship group. What a wake-up call! 

The world is complicated! The world is full of flawed and wonderful people, intriguing living things, beautiful rocks and trees, (awful traffic, annoying noises, too - let's be honest). 

Still, there is light - Light - every morning, even if the skies are gray. If I tell myself that the world is full of danger, I will treat everything and everyone as an enemy. Do I want to live in a world like that? Does that make me happy?  Um, no.

If my conversation is ONLY full of the way people irritate me, or close calls with disaster, or wrongs that I have suffered, YUCK! How can I bear getting up each day?

Somewhere in our suffering, we have to find birdsong, or cloud dances, or funny hats, or smiles.

The Attitude Doctors tell us to find three things to be grateful about each day. Make it easy on yourself. Be grateful for ONE thing! Just one. But be grateful for that one thing several times during the day. Maybe in a day or two, you will notice another thing to be grateful about.

Here are some suggestions:

Hot toast with your favorite spread. Just the smell is a gift.

Birds in puddles - they are seriously silly.


Warm socks.


The fact that things will change - hopefully for the better.

Can you walk? Be grateful. Can you see? Find interesting things to see.

You can change scary stories to ones of possibilities, tales of comfort, the history of growth.

Time to crawl out of the bunker. You can do it.

(Right now, I am grateful for radiators and tea kettles.)



Sunday, July 17, 2022

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris - remembering Paul Gallico

 When I saw the title of the new movie version of this book, I knew it had to be a typo. The book was published - in 1958 - under the title, Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris.  I just learned - from Goodreads - that in Britain, the title was Flowers for Mrs. Harris. Notice that the British title did not drop the "H" from Mrs. Harris' name. I wonder if that bowdlerized spelling was considered a slur. Hmmm.

The author was Paul Gallico. I read all of the Mrs. Harris books. For a hardworking charwoman, she got around. She even went to Parliament.

I moved on to Gallico's less humorous works.  His first foray into authorship was as a "smart-alecky" movie reviewer. Then he became a sports writer. After asking if he could spar with Jack Dempsey, (he lasted two minutes), he wrote about the bout and his fortune as a sports writer was made.

Gallico was a storyteller at heart and in the late '30s he sold a piece of fiction to the movies, quit his sports writing job and moved to Europe to write fiction.

He made his mark with the novel The Snow Goose, the story of the friendship between a reclusive artist and the young girl who brings a wounded snow goose to the artist for healing. Every year the snow goose returns to the marsh where the artist lives. 

I read Gallico's books as a teen and all I could remember of this book was the returning goose and the boats rescuing soldiers at Dunkirk. The ending is bittersweet. I LOVED it. (I was young.)

Gallico wrote novels that will be familiar to movie goers - Thomasina, for instance. His Love of Seven Dolls (warning: this is a dated and sometimes troubling story) became the movie Lili  and was the inspiration for the musical Carnival. He wrote The Poseidon Adventure as well.

The 2022 movie version of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris follows the 1992 movie that starred Angela Lansbury.

Looking into Gallico's work - 41 books, 20 or so movies - I realized I barely scratched the surface with Mrs. Harris, Thomasina and the The Snow Goose. I may have to find a few "sentimental" books by Paul Gallico.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Question of the day! What kid snacks did you eat?

My brothers and sisters and I were "free range" kids. Most kids in the 50s, 60s and 70s were. One of our favorite "ranges" was the corner store where Mom sent us with bottles to hand in for pennies or nickels. That was the recycling program of the time!

We took those nickels and pressed our fingers against the glass case where tri-colored coconut candies, candy necklaces, gumdrops, chocolate drops, wax lips, Necco wafers, chewy fruit slices, lay out on trays. "2 for 1c" or "1 for 1 c", (my keyboard no longer has the slashed "c" symbol that stood for a penny), OR, be still my greedy little soul, "3 for 1c" - at those prices, empty bottles bought us a paper bag of treasure!

Then we moved, much too far to walk to a corner store, too far from any store. So, we foraged for our snacks. Mulberries, wild raspberries, honeysuckle, - spring and summer was a veritable smorgasbord of stuff. Once, we even savored "onion" grass - wild onions with baby bulbs at the end. Once was enough for that snack.

In the Fall we ate the wild pears. So grainy! But still sweet enough for us to enjoy. In the winter, we ate crackers spread with jelly. On Bridge Club nights and the days after, we had pretzels, chips and candy! Popcorn! Oh, we loved popping corn on the stove. And Dad made us a treat he called a Black Cow - root beer and milk - yum! And Mom made an eggless, milkless chocolate cake that we adored. I still make it. Some people call it Wacky cake or Depression cake. I call it delicious.

I loved the fruit slices -Chuckles! - that came 4 or 5 to a pack - gummy candies liberally covered in sugar. I even liked the licorice slice that was always included. Next to that I loved the wild raspberries that will ripen soon.

 So the question of the day is this: What was your favorite kid snack?  

Monday, April 11, 2022

Question of the day! Doing without.

For Christians, it's Holy Week, the last week of the 40 day season of Lent. 

One of the traditions of Lent is to "give something up", do without something for all 40 days. I have always been totally dismal at this practice. So, here is the question of the day:

Did you ever "give something up" for a purpose? If so, what did (do) you usually give up?

See the source image

Most major religions fast, or do without, sometime during their liturgical year. In some traditions, religious or cultural, fasting is part of coming of age, preparing for a major life change, or an effort to ensure a desired outcome in one's life. (A vigil before a battle, for instance, or fasting before a major exam, or giving up something during pregnancy.) Liturgically, fasting encourages atonement, empathy, and an appreciation of what the faster usually has. Fasting is considered a form of prayer.

Because I went to a parish school, announcing what we intended to "give up" during Lent was often a classroom activity.  I always gave up candy. Then I did a little mental bartering.  I went from ALL candy to CHOCOLATE candy to SNICKERS. What a cheater! When did I ever have access to Snickers bars?

By the time we entered the middle grades, we added activities to our fasting. "I won't play solitaire during Lent." "I won't borrow my sister's perfume during Lent." "I will not call my little brother a baby during Lent." OR instead of giving something up, we added things. "I will do my chores before Mom reminds me." I will take flowers to my grandmother every week." I will put half my allowance in the collection plate every Sunday."

The worst thing about announcing our "give ups" was that classmates could call us out.  And they did.

This year, I didn't give anything up. But I have decided to TRY really hard to avoid screen games during Holy Week. (This includes the morning word games I get in my email.) Will I make it? I can but try.

Tell me...

Did (Do) you ever give up something for a purpose? If so, what did (do) you usually give up?

Sunday, April 3, 2022

The Librarian Always Rings Twice by Marty Wingate

The Librarian Always Rings Twice  by Marty Wingate, 2022


Hayley Burke returns as curator of the First Edition Society  and things are not going well. Charles Henry Dill, the only living relative of Lady Georgiana Fowling, the First Editions Society's founder, has wormed his way into being hired to assist Hayley. His only interest is to find a way to get more money from his aunts' estate.

When John Aubrey arrives at the First Edition Society's first open-to-the-public afternoon and announces that he is Lady Georgiana's grandson, it sends people who knew the late Lady Georgiana into eddies of suspicion. Lady Georgiana had no children as far as anyone knew.

There you have the set-up. Someone connected to John Aubrey is murdered. The open afternoons bring in all sorts of people, most dedicated to the Golden Age of Mystery and the authors thereof - Christie, Sayers, Wentworth, Marsh, Allingham - just to name a few. But some visitors may not be what they seem.


I finished this book last night. Today, I want to go back into the world of Bath, England and the library of the First Edition Society and the canals that crisscross the countryside and the narrow boats and a new character that exudes an almost fairy tale charm.  

Wingate populates each of her mysteries with several characters that may or may not be the culprit. Some we hope to see again. Most we'd just as soon avoid. This book was a poser. The mystery of the murder was not nearly as consuming as the mystery of who or what John Aubrey was. 

Also, now I have to read Daphne Du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek.  The Librarian Always Rings Twice is a charming book filled with charming people. Read it.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Making Stuff. Question of the day

When I get moody, I make stuff - muffins, slippers, origami frogs. My hands are busy. My brain is engaged and the moodiness turns from blue to bright - or brighter, at least.

 I have always looked at things and wondered. "How could I use this to make something new?"

One Easter, (I was about 8 years old) I gathered cones from one of our evergreens. It was Spring so the cones were long and tight. I decided that I could use them to make bunny figures. So I taped them together with cellophane tape- a long one for the body, wrapped in white copybook paper, and shorter cones for the legs. Then I taped on paper ears. I cringe to think of them now because they were not pretty at all. BUT I liked them.

I set them out in the living room, hoping that the Easter Bunny might take them away and share them with other children.  

They were still in the living room when I woke up on Easter morning. 

Nope! This bunny did not want my pine cone rabbits.


My parents just told me that the Easter Bunny probably had too much stuff to hand out already. My Dad was not very kind about it. I think he suggested that I toss my pine cone bunnies in the trash. Ouch.

I was not as crushed as I thought I would be. Even at that young age, I knew the difference between a fun idea and a successful follow-through of that same idea. My idea may have been fun but I failed in its execution.  

Sometimes, just making something is its own reward. We don't always need praise. We don't even need success. Nothing is wasted if it teaches us something or cheers us up.

So Question of the day: Have you ever made something that did not work out as planned? 

I made these bracelets. They worked out, I think.