Saturday, December 22, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Big beautiful doors, everywhere
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Friday, August 3, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.
Jane Kenyon, Constance (1993)
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
About two years ago I decided I wanted to “read” Proust. I kept coming across references to his Remembrance of Things Past, I’d see it in a bookstore, and even Emily came home with the first volume in tow. In the New York Times I read of a group devoted entirely to Proust which met at the public library and I thought that sounded interesting. At the time I was still pretty new to Ellsworth and hadn’t found many non-work activities which interested me, so…I started asking around…a Francophile friend, a librarian, acquaintances who read serious books. And in the fall of 2010 five of us met at my house for drinks and madeleines and got started.
Remembrance of Things Past (known as In Search of Lost Time in the newest translation) is a SEVEN volume series of the narrator’s musings on French life in the late 19th century. Paragraphs can go on for pages, descriptions include so many minute details that many readers want to throw in the towel, and once again, it is SEVEN volumes long! And yet…Proust was onto something. His observations of human character are superb, and the characters themselves, whether annoying or charming or both, are universal. With all his flowery language he still manages to speak to twenty-first century readers.
Proust is most often associated with madeleines, small French pastries somewhat like cookies. It is the taste of a madeleine, dipped in tea, which brings a flood of early childhood memories back to our narrator. And, according to Jonah Lehrer in Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Proust actually anticipated the scientific discovery of involuntary memory; that sensory experiences of sight, sound, smell, feel and taste can trigger remembrances of things past.
There are now nine of us in the group and we meet every 5-6 weeks for a marvelous potluck meal and “discussion.” We are all at different places in the seven volumes and our librarian member is always challenging us to go further with our analysis. She has even given us an assignment for next month: we are to read aloud a passage that has special meaning to us. That may be difficult for me because I have resorted to cheating by listening to the audio version as I drive back and forth to work. It is so much easier this way, and also somewhat abridged. To die-hard Proustians this probably doesn’t count, but it’s good enough for me.
Invariably someone at our gatherings will ask if we should keep on, or might suggest another book as a diversion. And just as invariably the general consensus will be if not now, when?
I’ve just begun Volume 4, and I promise to take a photo of the group at our next get-together.
Monday, March 26, 2012
The calendar says that spring has arrived, but usually that doesn’t mean a thing in
Exactly 2 months after my dad’s death my mother fell and broke her hip, and on a day’s notice I flew to
These weeks away from home have left me disorganized, behind at work and out-of-sorts. The debris from our winter boots is scattered throughout the house, piles of laundry sit patiently waiting their turn, the cucumbers in the fridge have grown interesting molds. On my desk sits an unfinished seminary paper, the Fauré Requiem performance is looming, and just this morning did I choose music for Easter. Exercise has been almost non-existent and my attempts to eat properly are a constant struggle.
When I have a chance to reflect on the past few months I realize that my life is at a turning point…not only with my parents, but with Emily as well. Simply put it is called change and it’s something I’ve never been particularly good at. Friends tell me to go easy on myself and I suppose that’s good advice…but at some point I need to pick up all the loose threads.
So this change from winter to spring has given me hope-perhaps it is arbitrary, but I’ll take it. To celebrate the new season Bill and I went for a beautiful walk last weekend along
Sunday, February 19, 2012
After almost 30 years of marriage I've been thinking that Bill should take on some of the cooking. After all, he is retired and I am still working long hours. To give my husband due credit, though, I have to say that there have always been a few things that he can cook, such as pancakes and cookies. But it’s time for him to expand his repertoire and we’ve been working towards that end.
So for now Bill has kitchen duty on Wednesday nights. I am in
Rinse a 1 pound salmon fillet and pat dry. Put into an oiled baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, until fish flakes easily. While the fish is cooking soften a tablespoon of butter and add some chopped herbs (parsley, rosemary, oregano, etc.) When fish is done, dot with the herb butter. This serves 2 generously, with enough leftover to top a salad for lunch the next day.
Wash and dry some small red or fingerling potatoes, enough for 2 servings. If necessary cut some in half to make them of a uniform size. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add some minced garlic, to taste. Bake at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. You can start these while preparing the salmon and have everything come out of the oven at the same time.
Serve this healthy and delicious meal with a salad or green veggie and a glass of red wine. Bon appétit!
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Hold on about the painting… I’ll get to it later.
Lit by Mary Karr. Karr grew up in southeast Texas, affectionately known as the Golden Triangle. I lived there, too, when I worked at Lamar University in Beaumont. It is an oil refinery culture and the flares from the wells make for a spooky type of nightlight. Lit follows two previous memoirs and tells the story of Karr’s trek to New England and New York and subsequent descent into alcoholism. But she is a brave and strong woman and her tale of overcoming this disease and making a good life for herself and her son is mesmerizing and powerful.
Woman Alone: A Farmhouse Journal by Carol Burdick. I stumbled across this book in the Bar Harbor library while looking for the new biography of Pearl Buck. Its stark cover showing a red barn on a snowy day, seen thru a window with an amaryllis on the sill, caught my attention. Burdick, in her late 40’s and on the heels of a painful divorce, has moved home to take care of her ailing parents. Reeling from her situation, she spends time each weekend at the family cottage writing in a journal. In this special journal I will try to censor my heaviness and merely report those things I do and see and hear, noting the small sensations and accomplishments which help to buoy a sinking spirit, restore an eroded ego. Good advice for those of us who rush headlong from one thing to another and a practical approach to living in the moment.
Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell. A Pulitzer-Prize winning writer and former book editor at The Boston Globe, Caldwell is from Amarillo, only 100 miles from my old stomping grounds. Her first memoir, A Strong West Wind, compellingly speaks of both her need and difficulty in leaving Texas and her struggle to make a new life for herself in New England. (Yes, in respects both positive and negative Texas might as well be a foreign country.) Her recent book tells the story of her deep friendship with another writer and is a testament to the profound and extraordinary bonds of women. So many times in reading this book I was reminded of my own close relationships with my female friends.
The House By the Sea by May Sarton. This New England poet is equally well-known for her many journals. In this one she goes out on a limb, moving from a beloved town in New Hampshire to a friend’s big, empty house by the seaside in Maine. She chronicles the ups and downs of her health, writing, loneliness, gardening, social life and ageing. Particularly touching are her notes about a dear friend’s Alzheimers disease and the comfort of her pets.
In thinking about why I like to read memoirs I’ve come to the conclusion that I respect and am moved by how these writers have taken the time to honestly look at their lives. I suppose this blog is my own small attempt to do the same, which brings me back to the painting…my dear friend Kate painted this for me. It was inspired by a photo of when I was about 6 years old, taken in my grandparents’ back yard. I’m holding a trout that I caught in New Mexico, while wearing a Sunday dress. Can you see that my slip is peeking out from the dress? That is authentic, as are my super short bangs, courtesy of my mother. In the photo my grandmother’s black cat is rubbing against my leg, VERY interested in that trout. If I had to sum up my childhood, that photo, which speaks volumes about a loving family, vacations in the mountains and the importance of pets, would just about do it.
Monday, January 16, 2012
My dear dad died over the holidays. Early Christmas afternoon I got a call from my sister Amy saying that he had taken a bad fall at her house, shortly after they had opened Christmas gifts. He was being loaded into the ambulance as we spoke. Immediately I knew this was bad-I buried my head in my hands and took a very deep breath.
Over the course of the week Dad’s surgery for a nasty broken leg was repeatedly postponed due to one thing or another. He was immobilized and in great discomfort. I was able to get a plane ticket to Dallas for December 29 and arrived at 2pm, the exact time Dad was scheduled to begin surgery. But fortunately the surgeon was running late and when I arrived at the hospital he was still waiting in his room with my mother and sister. I was taken aback by how he looked- my 6’4 father was an ashen and shrunken old man. He could barely speak and was very agitated from the morphine. But I was granted a marvelous gift…2 hours in a quiet room by my dad’s side.
Later in the afternoon he was taken to surgery and towards the end he had a serious problem with his heart. He died a few minutes later in intensive care, my mother and sister by his side. I was at the airport, picking up Emily.
The surgeon was a quirky type-big tattoo down his arm and a cross around his neck. He said something along these lines: When the Lord calls someone home, there’s not a thing I can do about it. While I might not have phrased it like that, I do think we all have our time and I believe that my Dad’s had come.
My happy memories of time with Dad could just about fill a book. We rode horses together, rewarded ourselves with banana splits, enjoyed the annual Father-Daughter Day at the Lions Club and drove around Texas looking for the right college for me. He came to my rescue a number of times, such as when my apartment in Beaumont flooded and I needed to move NOW. And one New Year’s Eve, when I was desperate to get back to Dallas and my new love, Bill, the roads were icy and I dared not drive the 350 miles alone. He came right home from work and drove me nonstop across the top of the state. We stopped by the airport for him to catch a flight, and well, you know the rest of that story.
We had 2 beautiful services for Dad- a memorial at my parents’ church in Irving and a graveside at the family plot in Lubbock. He was a very special man to many folks, as witnessed by the attendance at these services and the many, many cards and calls. I have not yet begun to grasp what my own life will be like without his living presence or the size of the gaping hole his death has left. But I know that I am one lucky woman, to have had my dad for 56 years.
George Edwin Morris, beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, died on Thursday, December 29, 2011 at Las Colinas Medical Center in Irving. A memorial service was held on January 1 at Woodhaven Presbyterian Church in Irving. Visiting hours will be Monday, January 2 from 6-7 pm at Sanders Funeral Home in Lubbock, with burial and graveside services following on Tuesday, January 3 at 10 am at Resthaven Memorial Cemetery.
George is survived by his wife of 60 years, Janice Berry Morris; two daughters: Julia Morris-Myers of Ellsworth, Maine, and Amy Rangel of Farmers Branch; and four grandchildren: Emily Myers Stein of Washington, DC, Jacob Luther Morris of Amarillo, and Lauren and Trevor Rangel of Farmers Branch. He was predeceased by his son George Edwin Morris, Jr. of Amarillo.
George was born in Lubbock on June 4, 1929, the son of Harry and Ulma Morris. He graduated from Lubbock High School and Texas Tech University, where he played clarinet in the marching band. He served four years in the United States Air Force and was stationed in Alaska. For many years he and his father owned Lubbock Auto Company, the local Ford dealership. George ended his working career at University Medical Center in Lubbock, serving as Assistant Director of Volunteer Services. George served as a deacon at First Baptist Church, as president of the Lubbock Lions Club and the Boys Club, and was a member of the Scottish Rite Masonic Order. He also served as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, an alliance between the city of Lubbock and Reese Air Force Base.
George took great joy in sharing life with his wife Jan and their children and grandchildren. He was known for his kind and quiet ways and his infectious smile.
Memorial donations may be made to the Scottish Rite Learning Center of West Texas, 1101-70th Street, Lubbock, TX 79412.