Friday, December 21

"Cry havoc, and let loose the therapy dogs of war!"

To celebrate the Solstice, a dull and damp day, I put tinsel on the tree. It's splendidly shiny now. By mistake, I came home with four cards of tinsel. If the day continues dank, I might open another one. The Solstice doesn't actually occur until 1 a.m. tonight. The earliest sunset was two weeks earlier, and we've already gained three more minutes at the end of the day, so welcome, sun! Even though we can't see you today, welcome.

I recommend a daily dose of "Sherman's Lagoon" to anyone who's ever loved the ocean. The fan group is over here. You'll have to go to the website for pictures, because we don't copy here at Shards. Over on the book blog, that's a different story. But not here, so no cartoons. Only my own pics. This one has been enhanced with water color effects, thanks to Picasa.
Celebration will continue later with "Left, Right and Center" at 6:30, a perfect opening to a Friday evening.
A poem excerpt for Christmas, from an unattributedsource:
And at night we win to the ancient inn,
Where the child in the frost is furled;
We follow the feet where all souls meet
At the inn at the end of the world.
The gods lie dead where the leaves lie red,
For the flame of the sun is flown;
The gods lie cold where the leaves lie gold,
Ans a Child comes forth alone.
G.K. Chesterton,
"A Child of the Snows"

Tuesday, December 18

Waiting for Christmas

It once was July, and I was in Rhode Island. Now my camera's still in the shop, and I'm lucky to have a store of summer pictures, to remember Little Rhody by. Because I won't be going up there for the holidays, not until March. I get to stay home, trim a tree, and be cozy, once I've mailed off my New England presents. There's nothing like a vacation at home. We had snow on Sunday, though most melted in. But all the children at Luther's birthday party were out sledding on the wet, snow-sprinkled hills, and playing in the magic garden until dark.

Thursday, December 6

Love is where you find it

I have not eaten the heart.
~~Ani, Papyrus: Book of the Dead

I will not eat my heart alone.
~~ Tennyson, In Memoriam

What shall we do then for food? "Shall the blessed Sun of heaven prove a micher and eat blackberries?" (Shakespeare, King Henry IV)

Life is a puzzle. Or, as Lewis Hyde wrote,

Cold winter night,
Little bugs on the firewood:
What are we to do?

Tuesday, December 4

Are you clickable? I am....

Technology & Learning for November 2007 has a one page bit called "The Importance of Being 'Clickable,'" talking about how important it is (at least for professional purposes) to have an online presence. So I went ahead and Googled myself, without the middle initial, and found one "real" me and the usual assortment of English chinchilla breeders, opera singers, actresses and a motley assortment of dead people. But then a light bulb went on, and I searched for "Jane L. Hyde." Aha! That made all the difference. I found lots of hits, nothing embarrassing but a bit surprising, most being comments I've left on other blogs and websites. It's curious to see your own comments out there on the web. So I'm reassured, I think, to find that I have an online presence, however modest. But my school blogs and personal ones are under different registrations, so maybe my professional connections don't show up as much as my enthusiastic responses to sundry topics.

Sunday, December 2

Some Great Thoughts

Oh bother, I can't remember any of them. They were good, or I thought so. But I was over at Brother Dunstan's den, helping him out... or maybe eating his currant scones, I forget which. Well, anyway, it's December, nearly St. Nicholas Day, and maybe it will snow some day soon.

Monday, November 26

The Last Days of November

The Full Beaver Moon is waning, and finally, four days from the end of November, things are getting bare. For most of the months the oranges and reds of all hues have held on to the trees and shrubs, and the expected final blast didn't come until last night. Now there's intermittent rain and gusts of wind to blow most of them down.

Coming up this week are the birthdays of Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix. Bruce Lee, James Agee, Berry Gordy, Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, and Louisa May Alcott.

The Urban Almanac for 2006 quoted St. Francis of Assisi thus: Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. The other side of that is letting the dishes pile up in the sink [substitute and image of entropy] with he result that the next day you don't have time to go past what's necessary. many people live their lives keeping up with the necessary, some because it's all they can manage, and others out of a spiritual laziness that doesn't dare to dream -- or won't get off the couch. Fear or laziness, it all leads to nothing.

I meant to speak of Thanksgiving. Most of the tributes and reflections I've read recently have been either the typical ThanksyouGoiforeverything" or have been thoughtful and religiously non-committal musings on the good things all around us.

I'd like to write an anti-Thanksgiving prayer or statement. Because behind most of the celebration in this country (at least among those who are safely and securely living here) lies the Puritan belief that we deserved these blessings because we were among God's chosen ones, on a divine mission to settle here. Yes, they were thankful at Plymouth, of course, for surviving the winter, for food and houses, for freedom, and for -- so far -- cordial relations with the native people. But while they gave thanks they simultaneously included the affirmation that God was on their side. I know that the national holiday didn't exist until Lincoln's time, but the roots are in Plymouth, and we never forget it.

Why am I talking about this? Because I would like to declare that I am NOT "thankful" in the common American meaning of this. I am appreciative to be sure and thankful in my own sense for what I have and that I don't live under hardship, and I love all the simple things of nature and life and blah blah blah -- BUT I DON'T in fact thank anyone for any of this, because however it all came into being I do not think that a God person gave it to me for a purpose. Maybe there's teleology in biology, I tend towards the teleological explanations of things where they're possible, but none of it issued from a person-like creature to whom I can talk or who "knows" me.

I read thew Psalms for comfort. but I do not really think that there is One Who Knows my innermost soul.

I love to go to Plymouth and eat ice cream at Peaceful Meadows and clams at Wood's and buy postcards and visit the Mayflower and walk the old streets and look a,t the eroding rock, but it's more a feeling of being at home on those sandy grassy shores by the salt bay, forty miles from where I grew up.

Sunday, November 25

Entertaining Ourselves

Artist's Studio, West Barrington, RI, 2007

Unlike my children, I don't write only when I have something to say. I'd rather write a non-memorable paragraph every day than less, just for the practice of seeing my words in print, and for the discipline. Maybe a new winter's resolution is to do just that.

Here's a passage from one of my favorite books, Now That We Have to Walk by Raymond Tifft Fuller (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1943):

"... a dismaying proportions of us Americans buy too many superfluous gadgets to save time and labor (working still harder than ever to possess and maintain them); neglect our health and our insurance, and live always above our income-level; we have put far too much of our 'saved' time into being entertained. Seductively placed before us is a variety of more or less effective diversions perhaps never equalled since the days of the Caesars. Eighteenth century royalties never had the time-killing opportunities we common Americans have. We are being painstakingly trained to regard entertainment and ever more entertainment as the crowning feature of civilized life. Subtly the passive role has been glorified into being the characteristic element of a high standard of living..... Millions of Americans have surrendered all personal sovereignty over their fun and their interests."

Zow. I say this all the time. Or, rather, I think it but do NOT say it, as I have an antipathy toward stating the obvious. And it's been said many times, probably centuries before Fuller. But this is from 1943 -- how long must the prophet speak in the wilderness?

I had a couple more passages to copy here, but this is enough food for thought for one session.

Saturday, November 24

Beckoned by Bivalves

I don't know if it's just the NY Times, or if everyone's doing it, but I've been noticing a number of alliterative headlines lately. And you can tell they're deliberate, because they're repeated on the inside page, the "Story continues on" page. There was a super duper one a couple of months ago in the theatre section: No Wonder He's Crunchy, He's Covered With Condiments." I like that. And I especially like "Beckoned By Bivalves," the header for a story about life on Prince Edward Island, a northernfFantasy if there ever was one.
As the url of this blog suggests, I grew up in the company of bivalves, so they have been beckoning to me all my life, along with the bear in "Snow White and Rose Red," Reddy kilowatt, and Winnie the Pooh, up in his forest. I don't think bivalves presented as food would be very tempting to someone not raised near salty tidal flats: they're slippery looking, with odd translucent yellow and grey parts, and an ominous dark stomach. Not food for the squeamish. You don't hare to travel like Anthony Bourdain to find squeamly food: just go to our Pilgrim shores. But to one raised on them, there is nothing more succulent than a cold, briny, littleneck on the half shell, unless it's an oyster, similarly served. With a touch of lemon and maybe a dash of cocktail sauce, but slid down from the shell with the salty liquid, it's food for the gods.
i consider bivalves among my earliest friends also because my first assigned research paper was a report on the quahog (the round bivalve of Rhode Island and nearby waters). Mr. Curran gave us the assignment (because, as he said, he'd once had to write an article on the quahog and it was darned hard, or interesting, or something. So we paired up, Valerie Cameron and I, and set out on the town. To the Providence Public Library and our first experiences in the dizzying world of microfilm and primary sources. We read old newspaper accounts and saw old photos of East Providence in its heyday of steamer rides up and down the bay and clambakes at the Squantum Club for the posh set and shore dinners at Crescent Park for the rest of us.
We rode our reporters' bikes down to Blount Seafood, on the waterfront street in Bristol, a place still operating and still housed in a green painted building with a large yard covered with crushed clam shells. We were received like the true reporters we were (barely out of our Nancy Drew days) and, seated in a large office with large brown chairs, we were told the story of commercial quahog harvesting.
And back in those dark days before anyone in the schools spoke about Native Americans except the obligatory paper hats and paper feather cutting and Thanksgiving stories, we learned that the Indians' form of cyurrency, , was made from the insides of the quahog shells. White beads were smaller units, as most of the inner shell was white; the violet was less plentiful and so provided t higher denomination beads. Before Mr. Rogers and Schoolhouse Rock, we at least learned a sold bit of American history and anthropology.
I'm sorry the paper we wrote has disappeared. I think it was 9 or 14 pages, handwritten, in all. It's disappeared, and I live farther from the salt-water mollusks and bivalves, but they always beckon.

Sad footnote: My third child just visited a mecca of the bivalve, Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Coast, but he doesn't like any kind of "seafood." I'm very glad he went but wished he could have capped off the trip with the ultimate bivalve experience.

Tuesday, November 20

My Soccer Team

Since I forgot to bring home the book of science essays with Stevenson and Burroughs and Lewis Thomas, instead I'll present the roster of my school's fall varsity soccer team. All names are aliases, but they represent the variety of boys on the team.

Sam Willett

Gus Peterson

Tomas Arroya

Heinrich Heinicke

Henry Cho

Joe Spumoni

Blackmer Root

Ake Makole

McMillan Mulligan

Russell Pinckney

Tony Capisco

Rodney Yee

Anatoli Boxwood

Derek Walcott

Ali Mahoub

Tyler Spinnaker

Herb Yonik

and so on. That's a lot like our list. they are from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Jamaica, Korea, Sweden, Minnesota, Africa by way of East Tennessee and Washington State. just a slice of boarding school life in the southern mountains.

Now I'll look into my picture hoard and try to find something new.

Friday, November 16


This is way too much fun.

Tuesday, November 13

Daisy, Stripe and Button: A New Rutabaga Tale, or I Serve the Muse

All day they were playing the Story Game, a version of Dungeons and Dragons and Zork and their always love for stories, with one person setting the plot and giving choices. The oldest's was many branching, wide open, and recently informed by the newly discovered pleasure of Zork, the ultimate imaginative adventure set in white text on a black ground, representing the Story master's voice and the response. The second played a similar story, but with predetermined choices: "You see a big tree. What do you do? Do you want to climb the tree?" "Yeah...." "You go into the town full of shops. Where do you go?" "I go to the pub, to talk to people and have a beer." "No, there's a weapon shop. You go to the weapon shop." "You meet a big monster. What do you do?" "I talk to the monster and offer him some of my lunch from the brown sack." "No -- you KILL the monster." "Oh."

Later, the little sister takes her turn. She is newly five. I cannot do justice to her story, can only tell you about it. She begins: "Once there were three people, Jemmy, Junny and Bami." (Bami was a nurturing African nurse in last night's book, Jim's Lion by Russell Hoban.) "No, they had different names. They were... Daisy, Stripe, and Button."*

The story continues (here's where I can't do it justice). It has three sections, three quests, with the last, Daisy's, being the triumphant one. The story structure is perfect, the plot perfect. It incorporates elements of the day's storytelling -- a maze, paths in the forest, treasures, choices. it is economical, and it is perfect. And there is a coda -- at the very end, there's a surprise ending: the grandmother appears and spanks them all!

*As i heard these names and wondered, I realized immediately that sitting by Daisy and listening were her brother in *striped* pajamas and her grandmother, in a brown sweater with large white *buttons.*

The imaginative power is strong, absorbent, as Maria Montessori observed, effortless, and instantaneous. Most of us lose it in the ensuing muddle that is life; a few, the poets and magicians, retain it.

Tuesday, October 30

Waiting for Iorek: Some Ideas

1. Get bear (large, fierce, not teddy) cookie cutter. Make a polar bear cookie for everyone. Serve at *gathering* to introduce TGC.

2. Get PBs for everyone. [How many?]

3. Blog about it on SDL and invite parents (8th) to read it too.

4. Use tape at *gathering* and ***MAYBE*** loan tape.

5. Watch previews at *gathering* and drink cider.
I added the cider to avoid dealing with punctuation issues.

Sunday, October 28

Evening Traffic Report

4:30 p.m., traffic moving normally through the Village, sqwak! Chatter chitter chutter, swswswswsw. Looka that one, just turned into Wendeez withou blinking, ooh that one behinda didn like it, hes mad, givin the Eyetalian elbow. Those people still smokin on the bus stop bench, wonderin will the bus ever come. We could tell em it's already past HoJo's, comin down on the cathedral. Just wish that old guy would quit with the menthol, though, jeez it stinks.

Wish we could check out that crane over there, getta good view, but its still swingin back and forth. Too bad it doesn't quit till we go to the trees. Where you stay at? I stay in Seven Springs.Where you stay? Oh , I stay over at All Souls, its real cozy there. Haveta share with the bats, though.

Train's comin, onna theez days I gonna catch a ride down to Canton, see my neeces and nephews.

Here comes my cuzzin now, with his flock. Hey bro! Plennya room for all of yaz.

Friday, October 26

Three GOOD Dogs

This picture fell out of the rubble on my desk last night -- three of the best, all now gone to Dog Heaven. That's D in the lead, being the youngest girl of the group, then Sophie, then Roni (Veronica). Since my last post generated more responses from my vast readership than do most, I thought people would like to see this picture of a picture.
Roni was a white German Shepherd-wolf mix, 120 lbs., golden eyes, and a super sweet disposition. Scary looking, but a lamb, unless you were swimming in Boone Lake with her. She loved to swim and would come right at you, paws scrabbling. I found the best way to manage that situation was to reach out my arms, grab her, turn her around (easy to move 120 lbs. when they're floating), and then hold on to the fur on her sides for a nice tow. On the shores of the lake she'd look at your eagerly, poised and ready for you to pick up a piece of shale and pitch it out into the water. She'd catch a piece of rock in her mouth, give it a few chews, then spit it out and ask for the next one. She'd go after sticks, too, but rocks were her specialty. At the beach, she'd thunder into the waves, fetch sticks, and swim.
Sophie HATED the beach, wasn't much for swimming and hated the heat. She wanted to run up into the dunes and flush out small wildlife. One night while Rob (Roni's person) and I were sitting by our campfire at the edge of a swampy bit of the maritime forest behind the dunes, Roni and Sophie, both leashed to trees because that was the park rule, bolted suddenly into the swamp after a raccoon, breaking their leashes.
On one late evening walk down the beach, the dogs, who were off-leash (oh no!) suddenly raced up over the dunes and disappeared for a few minutes. Shortly, we heard eerie, loud squealing cries which subsided after a minute or two. We never found out what they'd caught that night, but they definitely violated the island's wildlife.
Congratulations to Rebecca and Michele, who have made a fine choice of dogs and now have a German Shepherd, who will be their best friend for many years, if all goes well. You will never regret your choice!

Sunday, October 14

In Memory of D, One of the World's Best Dogs

December Pansy, October 1995--October 2007

D joins the company of Good Dogs we will always remember. She was one of the best. She was the dog who taught me that German Shepherds are just about perfect. Noble, intelligent, and protective, they love to learn and to obey their master or mistress. They are guarded with strangers and completely trustworthy with their family. They are the embodiment of Dog.

Last weekend I spent two nights with D and her mate and daughters, Corkscrew and Miry. I let D sleep in the house, a treat for her. I took these pictures of her out on the porch. Every time I'd visit she would stay near me when I sat on the porch. She'd long since given up hope that I'd take her home with me, but when I sat down, she'd curl up near me.

Tuesday, October 9

Fall Colors

Seen migrating through the library of late.

Also, tiny pink Chucks on a very small girl, but no camera handy.

Another sighting in library:

And a whirl of color from a late September birthday party for J and J:

Wednesday, September 26


An unusual butterfly was on the rue one day. Dusky brown wings with giant vees of buff, not one of the everyday visitors. Investigation found it to be the Giant Swallowtail. Since I didn't get its picture, this one will have to serve.

The purple morning glory vine seen here sent a bud over the top of the opened window to bloom indoors on the back porch, my treehouse.

Most days tiger swallowtails, black and spicebush swallowtails, monarchs, and white sulfurs come to the front yard. I found out that the hatchlings of the cabbage butterflies feed on nasturtiums. That explains a lot, but i never catch the butterflies laying eggs. They must wait till everyone's in bed.

Like Housman with his cherry trees, I think there's little time to watch the butterflies, so I keep an eye out when I'm near flowers. Te porch is a good place to sit quietly when it's too hot to sit out in the sun. And as long as the black and white cat's not under the bird feeder, you can see the chickadees and finches too.

Over at Reading Life, there's a note about a book to help anyone enjoy the seasons, even if you can't tramp through the rolling English landscape. As Cosmo Dogood showed us in his late, great Cosmo Dogood's Urban Almanac, all we have to do is to look out and up and around us. Nature is everywhere.

Sunday, September 9

Anatolian Shepherd rescue! Adopt a Giant Sweetdog!

Puppy Brody, from Flickr shared photos

Wanna see a Good Dog? "A Good Dog?" Wanna fall in love at first sight, and, like Opus and those late night TV offers he can't resist for Roncorini Spaghetti Busters Only $19.95* Sign up now!, you want to finger the touchpad and sign up now for adoption, restrictions apply please see information first about this breed from the National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network

Chapter One: "Do You Really Want an ASD?: Ask Yourself These Questions before Bringing One Home."

Oooh, I'd put a Good Dog picture here right now, but my respect for the conventions of copyright prevent me. But there are lots and lots of pictures out there. Start anywhere.

If your breaking heart knows that you do not have a yard large enough for your shepherd to run laps at will and securely fenced you will still go on to read the second chapter, "10 Reasons NOT to Get an ASD."

Some of the available dogs are pups, some are older. Some are nearby in NC or GA or SC, others all over the US. Some are Urgent! dogs. All look sweet and smart -- and really BIG. 100 lbs. or so at adulthood. Wow. That's a dog that could keep your feet warm -- or numb -- on winter nights.

La luna pasa, sabe, canta, avanza y avanza sin descanso.
-- Vicente Aleixandre, "No existe el hombre" in World Alone: Mundo a Solas
15th Sunday after Pentecost. Madeleine L'Engle has entered the Church Triumphant. as they say in RI.
My brother's company had a lovely celebration Friday, the dedication of a Japanese garden in front of the building in Cranston in his memory. Over 100 employees came, as well as family members from the area. Many people spoke of David, of his warmth and quiet friendliness. One woman is reported to have said that she took a walk with him every day at noon in the parking lot. Another said every day at two he would walk around the two-story building, and say hello to people in the company. He was well liked and is clearly missed by everybody there.
His burial site in a quiet cemetery tucked away in Barrington, is now marked with
a granite stone, that says
David S.
with dates
My mother (David's mother) wishes it said
David Simmons Luther
The old slate stones are the best. You can see them at St. Mary's Churchyard on the East Main Road in Portsmouth, where most of my family is buried.
Time to ride my bike down to the boatyard. See you later.

Monday, September 3

Labor Day 2007

"Philosophers have explained space. They have not explained time. It is the inexplicable raw material of everything. With it, all is possible; without it, nothing. The supply of time is truly a daily miracle.... You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions....

"You have to live on this twenty-four hours of daily time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect, and the evolution of your immortal soul. Its right use, its most effective use, is a matter of the highest urgency and of the most thrilling actuality. All depends on that. Your happiness--the elusive prize that you are all clutching for, my friends!--depends on that. Strange that the newspapers, so enterprising and up-to-date as they are, are not full of 'How to live on a given income of time,' instead of 'How to live on a given income of money'! ...

"We shall never have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is."

-- Arnold Bennett, How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, 1910

Notes: 1) Photo: Labor day sunrise, Sweeten Creek Rd. 2) I am profoundly grateful that none of my family members were injured in recent accidents.

Monday, August 13

"I spoke to the sea... I turned to the blue heaven over"

" Have you not often felt, I say, the truth of your essential goodness, and that your hard-set evil parts are an encrustation acquired from without and not grown from within? Perhaps you have felt it on some rare day in early summer, when you have been alone in a wood on a blue-bell carpet, wandering to the hedge wall, have seen it white with may; all around you there has been a silence--a silence that strikes like a blow; and suddenly it ceases to be silence for the birds are singing, and you wonder how long that music has been there without your noticing it....
"Dancing, riding, running, climbing, you still the mind from its doubts and questionings, and stir up the elemental life in you to say what is."
~~ Ernest Raymond, Through Literature to Life: An Enthusiasm and an Anthology (London, Cassell & Company, 1946)
(Post title from Richard Jeffries, The Story of My Heart, as quoted by Raymond)

Wednesday, August 8


Today is Zack's birthday, and in deference to his likes and dislikes I won't post the picture of an amazing spider I saw in the front yard the other day. That can wait. Today will be for Zack-frendy pictures only.

Sorry about the flash, but it's too hot to go out into the sunshine, even at 6 p.m., EDT.

Another quote from this great book, The Rotten Book, by Mary Rodgers (of Freaky Friday fame), with illustrations by Stephen Kellogg:

[the policeman says] "I'm afraid, madam, that your little boy is under arrest."

"That's fine by me," his mother would say.

"Whoopee!" his sister would say.

"Fair enough," his father would say.

"Jail's too good for a rotten kid like that," the fireman would say, and they'd all stand around in the doorway and watch the policeman drive off in the squad car with the boy sitting beside him in handcuffs.

This book was one of Zack's favorites, and every time I read it I understand why he loved it and why lots of us love it. Some of his other favorites back then were, as I remember, The Marvelous Mud-Washing Machine, In the Midnight Kitchen, Richard Scarry (of course), When the Sky is Like Lace, Benjamin's 365 Birthdays, and Bread and Jam for Frances. I still have all of these except the wonderful Benjamin, though the Mary Rodgers is a newer paperback, because we never owned it back in the '70s but would check it out of the D.C. public library (Blue Cat Branch) every other time we went.

I don't remember when Margaret Wise Brown's Sailor Dog (Garth Williams, ill.) came into our lives, but it's also a favorite of Zack's and mine, and the grandchildren, and eventually we discovered Mister Dog (Brown, Williams) and then later Hobo Dog (Thacher Hurd) and Art Dog (Thacher Hurd). In case the line of inheritance isn't clear to my readers, Thatcher Hurd is the son of Edith Thacher Hurd and Clement Hurd, who (Clement) illustrated Margaret Wise Brown's Good Night, Moon and Runaway Bunny. And, not to leave Edith out of the mix, she is the author of Catfish and the Kidnapped Cat, illustrated by her husband Clement and published in 1974. By the date, it could have been one of our favorites back then, but I didn't discover it until fairly recently. Isn't it great how there keep being new things to discover?

So a very happy birthday, Zack, and aren't you glad you're not at Pinewoods for it?

P.S. "Frendy" is not a typo but a literary reference, as in "dog-frendy."

Monday, August 6

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"It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality."
-- Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Wednesday, August 1

August 1

August brings the sheaves of corn;
Now the harvest home is borne.
~- "The Garden Year"

August also brings back-to-school closer and closer, and a slew of family celebrations. Tomorrow, August 2, is the anniversary of Suzanne Eun Ha Luther's arrival in the USA as an infant, to become a member of the Luther/Packard-Luther family. For readers who are in touch with Suzanne (facebook, myspace, or wherever), you can congratulate her! (The same goes for any of the following notes.) August 2 is also Mimi K.'s birthday! Happy birthday, Mimi! The 4th of August is Jared Luther's 21st. Happy Birthday to Jared! He and a friend were making a canoe into an outrigger vessel, a la Kon-Tiki, when I was in RI recently. Bon voyage! Zack Hyde's birthday is on 8/8, so we can plan ahead for festooning him with money and gifts. Gail Hyde's birthday is on the 15th, and -- ta da! -- Leroy's birthday on the 16th! Leroy will be 11 and would love an iPod but might have to settle for less. (I'd love one, too, but I don't expect one on my birthday, 9/10.). Jacob Harry has his birthday on the 27th, the same day as the late great Carter Stanley.

A couple of literary birthdays in August as well: Herman Melville, on the 1st (1819); James Baldwin, Aug.2, 1924; Percy Bysshe Shelley, August 4, 1792; Tennyson, the 6th, 1809; on the 21st, Christopher Robin Milne, 1920... and the list could go on, but these are some high points.

August 1 is Lammas Day (go look it up, since I've already forgotten), the Dog Days continue, and according to my Old Farmer's Almanac, the "Cat Nights commence" on the 17th -- must be the ending of the Dog Days. I would love to see the Dog Star at night, 'cause then we'd be nice and cold. When the sun's up in the Last Visible Dog, we swelter and sweat. But flowers are blooming, and butterflies are visiting the flowers, so I'll enjoy the season's glories. Oh, and the Sturgeon Moon is full on the 28th, by which time my time will be in thrall to the school schedule once again.

Nature notes from Buckingham Ct.: The feeders are busy with the usual -- house finches, Carolina chickadees, titmice, little woodpeckers, and once in a while a goldfinch, who has been bust on the sunflowers in the back yard. The cardinals peck under the feeders, and the nuthatch visits too. If I sit by a window (it's too buggy outdoors) in the early evening I can see the hummingbird visit the bee-balm. The climbing vines are coming on: lots of Mina Lobata, cypress vine, and purple morning glories (volunteers from last year) are blooming. the moonflower vine is tall and developing buds. I have so far just two vines of the delicate and lovely "Love-in-a-Puff." Also, four colors of butterfly bushes, but no butterfly weed -- it just disappeared this year, as did the Queen Anne's Lace. When you have gardens over several years you see lots of changes. Nature is always dynamic (but "never spent," remember that).

The moon is waning, so I'm curious to see whether the haircut I got today lasts longer than the last one, done in the waxing moon. (If you haven't lived in the mountain south or another rural traditional area, this comment might not make sense to you). Maybe I'll trim my fingernails, too.
For fans of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights) there's a new and expanded movie trailer out. You can find it somewhere on The movie looks super and is supposed to be out in December.

Monday, July 30

"Nature is never spent"


And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And thought the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

-from "God's Grandeur," Gerard Manley Hopkins

This post could also be called "What's great about Rhode Island."

Sunday, July 29

Pictures I Missed on My Trip

The only reason I'm putting this picture here is that I deleted too soon the picture of the blank blue sky I accidentally took while driving. That would have been a more fitting choice, as being almost a non-picture (though JJ, a young artist in NY and the son of my dear friend Barbara in Massachusetts, might disagree. Last year we had an interesting attempt at discussion between the layperson and the serious young art student/artist over a reproduction of a canvas which was, as best I can remember, a painting of a pale beige quadrangle with a narrow border of slightly darker beige, by an old and very famous woman named, I think, Gertrude somebody, surely famous but not in my ken), -- better for the purpose of illustrating Missed Photos than this one, which is actually a lifelike image of a twice daily phenomenon in a cove: the incoming tide. If I lived nearby I could go to this spot at different times of day, of month, of tide, and hope to capture a series, say, that centered on the turning of the tide. Then I might remember how to add audio to a little movie, and ... anyway , I'd go a lot and take lots of pictures, find better light than in this one. My mother has a very wonderful book, one that has nested in my memory and imagination, by another woman, maybe also a Gertrude, I can't remember, who's confined mainly by reaosns of health to a high rise apartment overlooking Central Park, and takes pictures throughout the year from her window. It's called something likeThe Tree From My Window. The concept is a brilliant, because the project, obviously, combines a more or less fixed scene (zoom lens or angle aside) with the continual changes of cyclical nature and of the more random human life. Tell you what -- let's all get on to abebooks and look it up! Okay, here's the

Pictures I Missed

* Outrigger canoe Jared and his friend are making in the back yard in Barrington
* Fargo walking calmly on the leash
* Barbara doing the puzzle
* Vern and Clay, cooking and talking
* the $5,000,000 condos facing Bristol Harbor
* a boiled lobster with an ear of corn
* what happened next with the lobster and its bodily effluvients
* Marilyn at the coffee shop in Warren
* More pictures of the interior of Ruffuls Restaurant at Wayland Square
* More pictures at Bri's (but we were too busy talking till it was time to go)

* Maybe a picture of the menu at the Newport Creamery and the reality of the "Sesame" grilled chicken on "arugula" and "baby" greens -- oops! iceberg lettuce! and "we ran out of Sesame dressing do you want ranchfrenchparmesanpeppercornthousandislandguargumdelightfromKraft on that?" I still love the Golden Cow, but should have gone with the tuna melt as harder to mess up. Go to the Creamery for tuna, for grilled cheese, and of course for milkshakes and ice cream if Gray's is too far away or you don't have $3 for a cone

Things on the Road

NewJersey looks like rain on the windshield, but in Pennsylvania, on I-81, I saw lots of traveling THINGS, some quite mysterious.

Tuesday, July 10

Polka and Dunkin D: The Summer Tour

People in Rhode Island (and Southeastern Mass., which is really the same thing) love to polka and can stay up all night dancing, thanks to the presence of a Dunkin Donuts shop every six blocks or so in town, every six miles or so out in the countryside. People say, "Doughnuts? You eat doughnuts?" but it's not about the donuts [sic], it's the coffee, donchaknow, and the subliminal joy the pink-and-orange brings to our hearts. Starbucks? An import, for the effete. Local shops? Well, yeah, there are those, too, in the more sophisticated burgs, but the good old blue collar quahoggers and construction workers, the Congregational Churchgoers, the beachgoers, the office workers, the politicians, the farmers and all of us townies have drunk the Coolattaid and find our cars turning whenever the sensor they install at R.I. garages notice the pinkandorange.

I hope no one will be offended by the mixed tone of this note, when I say that the picture below shows my devotion to the memory of my dear brother David, who according to his daughter (and my niece) Suzanne, said at his service last fall that she would always keep Dunkin Donuts napkins in her desk drawer, because her father did. This is my desk drawer.

The Summer Tour begins tomorrow morning. I will be in DD land before long. The signs start appearing in the Shenandoah Valley, along I-81, but they're not serious DD shops till you get about to PA or NJ. That's also where you can start hearing polka music on the car radio, with stations like the one where I picked up "Second Week of Deer Camp" last winter, and "Donnie the Reindeer." Oh, and where you can buy bait in vending machines.

P.S. My buddy Dave Awl in Chicago says sans serif fonts give him a headache. So I'll leave the little legs on this post and see how it looks.

Monday, July 9

A Dead But Not Buried Blog -- and Dogs, Gone

Sophie at Sam's Gap

Two years ago when I was getting into this blogging thing I created a blog which still exists (two brief and one longer post, no pictures). It's weird to be able to see it but not to access it, although I created it. Since the fairy candle has come up again this year, I will here give the link: and add pictures. Pictures of pictures.

We never knew Sophie's birthday, but July is a good time to commemorate her and her friendship with her best dog friend Roni, both dogs gone to the Church Triumphant, as my Episcopalian parents would always say of our departed pets. This is the time of year when the Fairy Candle (Black Cohosh) appears over Sophie's grave in the back yard, and Roni's buried near a bamboo grove in East Tennessee. Both dogs were East Tennesseans. I called Sophie a Blue Ridge Beehound because she would catch and eat bees and hornets. Snap! Swallow! Gulp!... Watch... Snap! Swallow!