Thursday, May 31, 2007

Almost June!

So trite and tired our chosen subject, “June”.
It mires in sentiment and in cliche--
weddings, graduations, Fathers’ Day--
and don’t forget to rhyme it all with “moon”.
Embellish it with roses, hum a tune
(for “what is so rare as” something new to say?).
Musicals tell us all this is the way--
The audience will all be yawning soon.

June, prancing in, unconscious of abuse,
looks at our city rooms with healthy loathing,
shoves us to camps where air is piney cool,
prods lazy muscles stiffened with disuse,
pulls off constricting swathes of winter clothing
and, smiling pertly, dunks us in the pool.

This is a silly little sonnet, probably unworthy of the sonnet form. It is an easy form for me to use, however, especially after translating sonnets from Portuguese. And in my opinion, frivolous verse seems more humorous if formally presented.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I want to correct that line below which should read, "ARE we supposed to be their babysitters?". I know that I should be able to correct the post, but yesterday I attempted what I have done successfully before and lost completely 2 successive posts.

Memorial Day Weekend

Otto and I have been enjoying the sight of two spotted little fawns in our backyard. Their Mama is nowhere in sight. After we supposed to be her babysitters? At least this time I had a good camera vantage point to take pictures of them. The fawns were spooked a bit when I opened the window. I got several pictures with both fawns, but they were in retreat at that point and don't show up well in a blog-sized photo. The one in the picture, however, seemed fascinated with my camera (or me) and kept turning its head to observe.

I seem to be at least temporarily marooned on the bedroom floor of our house, having left the hospital with written instructions to rest, and to walk 5 to 15 minutes twice a day. This floor is the second if you count from the front door and the third from the backyard, as our house is built on steeply sloping land. There are views from east, west and south windows, so some of my entertainment is to explore with my trusty digital camera. Yesterday I observed that Otto's trumpet vine has put out small clusters of blooms here and there. It is a very badly behaved vine, having been intended to cover and hide the neighbors' chain-link fence. While some tendrils stay on the job, others reach for the stars - or at least the next higher branch in our heavily wooded area. The photo is of a blossoms at least fifteen feet above the base of the deodar tree it is climbing. Perhaps I will post more trumpet vine pics when it is in full radiant bloom.

We spent an uneventful Memorial Day weekend, but watched the PBS Sunday night Washington DC national Memorial Day Show. I was shocked at the emphasis on armed forces and all of the nation's "glorious" wars.
While I felt enormous sympathy for the show-cased bereaved families and the Iraq and Afganistan wounded, sent home with possibly irreparable damage, I still remember when Memorial Day was Decoration Day. We would ransack the garden and carry arm-loads of flowers to the graves of our own dear dead. Some had served in the armed forces, most had not.

In the words of cartoonist Walt Kelly's Pogo, "We has the met the enemy and they is us."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I spent most of this last week in the hospital, and I am feeling lazy today. Therefore I am going to borrow from Daria's blog yet again, as I did with that magnificent fox photo last time I posted, Sweet Daria has given me permission to do so whenever I wish to. Now, that's the way to make your Granny happy! You would probably enjoy the rest of her cat pics and the little essay that introduces them. And, lest you think she spends much of her time phoiographing animals, keep scrolling down the page to enjoy her real specialty which is people. Her blog, Daria's Day is among "Links to my chain" in the column at right.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Award-winning photo

This is my second post today, but I couldn't resist showing this photo by my Vermont photographer granddaughter. It's on her post for today with the news that she won an award with it. A link to her blog, "Daria's Day", is at right.
Today Otto and I have been enjoying views of a doe with two little spotted fawns. Unfortunately they were at angles that were unaccessible to the camera without disturbing them. This is an older picture of a doe with two almost grown fawns. Today the doe was busy demolishing every flower on my pyracantha bush, probably precluding any lavish display of red berries later in the year. Since we prefer watching deer to maintaining a perfect garden, I guess we have no cause for complaint.

Mothers' Day made me think of my own beautiful mother. It's hard to believe that, were she still alive, that she would be 104 years old! On Mothers' Day she made a practice of going into the garden and choosing a red flower for me (signifying that my mother was still living), and a white one for herself. I feel almost guilty on Mothers' Day when I ignore the custom. Last Sunday I should have chosen to wear something with which my white rose necklace would be appropriate (instead of a dragon tattoo!). This snapshot reminds me that there was a time when one wore gloves even to shop at the grocery store! Although in this pic, Mama seems to be holding the left glove in her bare hand.

Recently I tried to duplicate one of her recipes from memory. I haven't got it right yet, but, in general, she parboiled an eggplant until just soft enough to scoop the center, leaving a shapely shell. This she sauted in butter along with about a cup of chopped onions, a handful of broken walnut meats and a cup of soft bread torn into shreds. She cooked these until the onions were transparent and the bread golden, then stirred in some chopped parsley and packed it all back into the eggplant shells, sprinkled them with fresh bread crumbs and baked until the shells were fork tender. All my measurements are guesswork. And I forgot to say that she seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper. Mine didn't taste as good as hers, so maybe I have it all wrong. I was sparing of the butter, given our current concerns with health and waistlines; maybe that's the difference.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mothers' Day Report

Among my Mothers' Day gifts was a set of (removable) dragon tattoos from Granddaughter Myrtle. I transferred one to the back of my arm before Otto and I went out to a Chinese restaurant for a celebration dinner with son Sterling and his family. No one seemed to feel any embarrassment at having the family matriarch display such a childish adornment. In fact, it led us all to pontificate (all of the Smiths are great pontificators) over about the role of age in determining what a culture deems appropriate.

I am right-handed. It was an acrobatic feat to take that digital image of my right arm, balancing my camera in my left hand and trying to adjust field, distance and focus!

I hope all the mothers had as happy a Mothers' Day as I did. I had long and satifactory phone conversations with the Oregon, Washington and Colorado Smiths and Shocks, plus some very nice and funny cards.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Today we went to a gathering of poets (for critical editing of one another's work), then,with our good friend, Caroline, we went up to the combination music store and cafe called "The Musical Offering." Otto and I shared a delicious (huge) baguette filled with roasted yellow peppers, red onion, mushrooms and eggplant, all hot from the oven. On the way back to our car we passed the pelargonium at the left. Since the heat-moderating fog has moved in from the ocean today, the picture is not in sunlight. The fog is very welcome after the first two days of this week, which were sweltering!

Our front yard and entry patio are dominated by the pink geraniums at right and below - pretty but voracious, consuming all the water and nourishment that used to sustain other flowers and geranium varieties. They grow as high as the patio walls, as seen below.

Have a nice Mothers' Day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Flora tries to take over our house (exterior) and yard. Ivy climbs and insinuates itself beneath our roof tiles. Small weedy things, such as the white-flowered one above, find cracks in the brick stairway and enlarge them. Otto's trumpet vine (which will be glorious a few weeks from now) stretches tendrils in all directions. The green branch above is one example.

Above is a larger view of the stairway down from the street to our front door. The pink geraniums are rampant. A few minutes ago I looked at a Google satellite view of our house and found that our roof is almost entirely obscured by trees.

After the massacre at Virginia Tech, I read the profiles of the dead students and professors in Newsweek, each a (an?) unique personality. I teared up a bit, but then I began a wonder. Why is each of these individuals more worthy of national notice just because they died together rather than one by one? According to This Week, 29,000 Americans a year are killed by gunfire. (By comparison, the annual toll in Britain is about 100, in Canada, 168). Every one of those 29,000 people was as unique, as precious to someone, as the victims at Virginia Tech. Automobiles kill 32,600 each year, but does any victim of an automobile accident rate the media attention of, say, a victim of 9/11? The moral, I guess, is that one should choose to be killed in a newsworthy catastrophe rather than alone.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Mayday and International Labor Day:

Summer arrived in earnest the last two days, although it's cooler today. Otto and I took advantage of the hot weather to eat lunch in the outdoor patio of a favorite Italian cafe across from the Monterey Market, Berkeley's favorite fresh produce store. It's one of my favorite places for people-watching. The flirting couple and Papa doing baby-sitter duty while working on his laptop, with a latte to earn him table rights, were among my favorites this time. That luscious platter of pannini (enough for two people) was another attraction!

When I was young - for that matter, when my children were young - Mayday was the occasion for hanging anonymous posies on front doors, ringing the doorbell and running like mad. It's a custom I wouldn't mind reviving! We certainly have the flowers for it on this date.

Our wisteria, which covers a trellis that raises it above the tile roof over the dining room, entry, and garage, reached the height of its bloom earlier. I decided (a little late last week) to take pictures of it after it had leafed out and the blossoms had faded somewhat. The fragrance lingers.


From maypole, festive ribbons fluttered peach,
lavender, pink, mint green and baby blue.
In thought we girls rehearsed our steps to reach
the intricate patterns final weave, each hue
crisscrossed with every other. Our pale bare feet
curled in the cut green lawn. We were too small;
Our turn at last, the ribbons wouldn’t meet
(one high, one low), nor could our teacher’s call
prevent collisions, pull our tangles free.
Reversing, bumping, blushing, we were through.

The threads of history weave imperfectly.
May first, and on our T.V. screens we view
parades of thwarted workers whose spring-bright dreams
have tangled in a web of others’ greed.
A world away a smoky ribbon streams
from a wounded plane. Its cry of urgent need
is ours, who, stumbling, fumble to unbraid a
knotted world where we’ve enmeshed us: