Sunday, March 29, 2009
There are also cute patterns for dolls that I would like to try if I can get brave enough sometime. The knit mitten pattern seemed a little bit confusing to me, but the crochet version seemed doable. The booties looked really cute and easy as well.
I would like to complete some of these newborn kits, as time and money allow. If you would like to do some as well, the contents of the kit are:
Place the following items in a heavy-duty, two-gallon sealable bag. Remove the air before sealing
· 4 single thickness cloth diapers, approximately 25x27 inches Birdseye Cloth or diaper flannel, 100% cotton. No pre-fold or disposable diapers
· 4 diaper safety pins
· 1 pair booties or baby socks
· 2 bars of soap 3.5-5 ounces each (Ivory or other non-allergenic brand)
· 1 receiving blanket (36x36 – 45x45 inches)
· 1 layette gown--No footed sleepers, buttons, zippers or strings Size: Newborn to 6 months, Fabric: cotton knit
Do you have any links to other worthy humanitarian organizations or projects? If so, I would love to hear from you. The next big UNICEF fundraiser is in October--so I am looking for other ways to "give back."
Saturday, March 28, 2009
So I haven't had a lot of energy to put into fancy meals (we ate a lot of easy to assemble Mexican food this week and some delicious smoothies) but I saw this recipe on the Money Saving Mom blog, and decided to try it out. Randy loves his cold cereal and even though I always buy it on sale, it still is one of the more expensive menu items on my shopping list. So this is my provident living attempt for the week--as well as a new recipe. It turned out delicious, is really easy, and makes a ton. Since there are only two of us to plan meals for I am freezing the leftovers in smaller portions so we can just pop them in the microwave in the morning. This is way better than instant oatmeal, better for you (if you use the applesauce substitution), is very inexpensive to make, and is a great way to use your food storage oats.
1 cup oil (can substitute butter or applesauce)
1 ½ cups sugar (can reduce)
4 eggs (I used an egg substitute--worked fine)
6 cups oats
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups milk(I used soy)
Combine all ingredients in order listed. Pour into greased 9x13-inch pan. Bake at 375° for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned. Can refrigerate overnight before baking. Serve topped with butter, brown sugar, and milk.
Yields: Approximately 8-10 servings
I just topped mine with a little soy milk (Randy used rice milk) without the extra butter and sugar, and it was delicious. I tried it both ways, and I couldn't tell enough of a difference to justify the extra calories :o)
A side note about egg substitute: even if you aren't of the Vegan persuasion, I recommend keeping a box of this on hand for food storage emergencies. It is very versatile, inexpensive, and works great for most recipes. It stores for a long time and I am a big fan. Even before I was vegan there were always times when I would run out of eggs or the eggs would go bad before I would use them all . . . Plus if there is some kind of emergency it is nice to know you can still bake things that need eggs.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
And he was very cute and sweet.
His cute little hind paws were all the better to kick with . . .
And his cute little front paws were all the better to play with.
Sometimes he would get into mischief, but only the adorable kind.
Mostly, he just waited to be loved! Because he was a cuddly bear.
He liked to come to work and help Mom do inventory (yuck!)
(Thanks Aunt Sandy for the cute cute overalls!)
And after a long, fun day . . . sometimes a bear cub just needs a nap.
. . . or maybe two. Like how my little paw is up in the air?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
They really aren't too difficult to make, although the rick-rack is not my favorite thing to try and sew with. But I think they turned out pretty cute in spite of my novice sewing skills!
Here they are unrolled. The picture is kind of far away to get both of them in the shot, but there are little slots for crayons. Then you roll them up, tie them with the ribbon, and take them with you wherever. I want to make one in boy fabric for Wesley when he gets old enough. I think they would be great to take to church or on road trips. If you are interested in making some, you can find the pattern here.
Monday, March 23, 2009
A few times when we took an extended road trip, my mom selected a really good novel to read aloud. She read us the condensed (thank goodness!) version of Les Miserables, and then a particulary good read-aloud, The Count of Monte Cristo. I think we pushed her to keep going until she was literally hoarse.
Not only did I develop a love of good literature, but we had a lot of fun reading together. Listening to my mom read was as entertaining as any movie--and it brought us together. We could stop and comment on an interesting part, or something might foster a particular discussion. In any case it was a great family activity, and one that I hope to keep going in my family.
For Randy's birthday last year, I bought him a copy of Treasure Island--which coincidentally was one of his favorite movies growing up (the Charlton Heston/Christian Bale version). I can't wait for him to read it to our son.
These are difficult economic times--but I believe that most of us can spare $1. If you are planning to eat out any time this week, please check out this website first, and support a restaurant that has pledged with the Tap project. If you can't afford to eat out--we are in that category ourselves--then please simply text "TAP" to UNICEF (864233) to make a $5 donation (to read the fine print, visit here.)
There are many things in this world that are horrible, and we have very little control over. This is one thing that we can change--one dollar at a time. One dollar can provide a child with safe water for 40 days--a big difference in someone's life. This is a fundraiser powered by volunteers all over the country, and it is a cause I really believe in. If you do make it to a TAP restaurant this week, I'd love to hear about it!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
For the dough: 3/4 cup tofu (non-veg variation: 3/4 cup cottage cheese), 1/3 cup soy or buttermilk, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 4 TB butter/margarine melted, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 cups flour, 1 TB baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 baking soda
For the filling: 1 1/2 TB butter melted, 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground allspice, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, 1 cup chopped pecans
For the glaze: scant 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, 2-3 TB cold soy milk, 1 tsp. vanilla
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9 to ten inch springform pan with cooking spray.
Make the dough: In a food processor or blender, combine the tofu/cottage cheese, milk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Process until smooth, about ten seconds. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Make a well and pour tofu mixture in the center. Mix to form a soft dough (don't overprocess). The dough will be soft and moist. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with floured hands 4-5 times until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12 x 15 inch rectangle.
Make the filling: Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2 inch border unbuttered around the edges. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and pat gently into the surface. Sprinkle the nuts over the sugar mixture. Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open. With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 12 equal pieces. Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan; they should fill the pan and touch slightly, but don't worry if there are small gaps. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 20-28 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the inside edge of the pan and remove the springform ring. Transfer the rolls to a serving plate.
Make the glaze: In a small bowl, mix the confectioners' sugar, 2 TB milk, and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. It should have a thick but pourable consistency, so add up to 1 TB more milk if necessary. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls. Let stand for 15 minutes and serve.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I never thought of Tess as a "Modern" character before now. Hardy published Tess toward the end of the Victorian age--but still well within it. Yet she does pre-date some of the modern feelings of discontent, disillusionment and conflict seen across the western world in the decades to follow.
Marx wrote about the modern world, "In our days everything seems pregnant with its contrary.” The same could be said of Tess, who inspired such fierce criticism as well as praise by the Victorian world. I think it is the contrairies in Tess that continue to make her an intriguing character for contermporary audiences. She was neither an angel nor a whore--she was a good woman who lived through incredibly difficult experiences and in the end succumbed to them.
Marx further states, "All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and men at last are forced to face . . . the real conditions of their lives and their relations with their fellow men.” Tess certainly challenged the assumptions of the world in which Hardy introduced her--indeed I believe she continues to challenge the close reader of the text today with the complexity of her character. When she takes it upon herself to baptize her own infant, she at once contradicts the church and reaffirms her faith in it--a complex moral conundrum that theologians have puzzled over to which she finds a straightforward, "modern" approach.
Marshall Berman described the Marxist approach to contemporary life as, “ironic and contradictory, polyphonic and dialectical, denouncing modern life in the name of values that modernity itself has created, hoping–often against hope–that the modernities of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will heal the wounds that wreck the modern men and women today.” Tess, a modern heroine juxtaposed against the ancients of her family--those fallen d'Urbervilles who haunt her throughout the novel and contribute to her downfall--can be seen throughout the novel adapting, hoping for the "modernities of tomorrow" to help her solve the problems of yesterday that linger into her present.
For those who have read the novel, how does Tess speak to you as a "modern" character? Do you think she fulfills the definition of modernity, or is she still a product of Victorian society?
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I have a new chair so I can help Mom in the kitchen. I really like to sit and kick.
Seriously, I have urgent things I need to get done . . .
Here is my little guy in action. He's my little sneezing panda! (For those of you who haven't seen that YouTube video, you really need to. Super cute.)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I made this apron and one to match--finished it fifteen minutes ago at 12:25 a.m.--to fulfill my goal for today. All I have left is some embroidery on the front and it will be mailed off to its long-overdue recipient.
My dishes didn't get done, but one victory is enough for today.
Does anyone have advice for a beginning seamstress? What are some easy projects you would suggest to get me over my intimidation of the whole process? The pattern I used had the word "Dummies" in the title . . . if that gives you any indication of my skill level . . .
Monday, March 16, 2009
My grandmother was amazing at this. She wrote weekly letters to my parents until she was physically unable to do so, and always included something small for me in there as well. Stickers, a piece of gum . . . just a little treat to say "I love you" in the mail. It always made me feel closer to her. I have heard similar feelings from my cousins--we all felt special because of her little remembrances. She had so many grandchildren . . . something over 40 . . . but I think we all felt like we were her "favorite."
I would like to be more like my grandmother in this way. I want my nieces and nephews to know their Aunt Alicia loves them, is their friend, and will be there for them as they get older and need support. Hopefully I will get better at it as I get older--but I'm trying. And at the end of the day, I hope that's what counts.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
|This recipe has interesting, unusual flavors that really work well together. It is a wonderful side dish, or with some added nuts (or meat for non vegs) it transforms into a lovely main dish. We have had this a few times, and it has become a new favorite. |
|Cooking Time: 30 minutes - one hour|
|In a heavy saucepan combine water, salt, and turmeric and bring to a boil. Add rice, giving it a couple of stirs, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 50 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to "steam" cook another 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl and fluff with a fork. Meanwhile, Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 2-3 minutes, or until transparent. Add raisins, roasted cashews and Cardamom. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and cook another 1-2 minutes. Combine with the rice and toss gently until mixed. Serve immediately.|
Friday, March 13, 2009
The next time I do this, I would use lighter-weight fabric, and enlarge the pattern. I used ribbon instead of the velcro tab--which meant that I sewed the ribbons in the seam before turning and top stitching. Then I added a buttonhole on the top, like so . . .
The thing that is cute about this pattern is that you have a little place-mat when it is open to eat your lunch on.
The thing that I don't like about this pattern is that you can't use it really for anything other than sandwiches, maybe bagels. It can't replace ziplock baggies for snacks . . . although I have a green idea in the works for that . . . stay tuned. Some people have suggested using vinyl placemats for the material, and then it could be just wiped down. I didn't like that idea, so I made mine completely machine washable, so I can just throw it in the wash afterwards. If any of you have a more clever pattern for this, let me know! I would love to try it.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
- ULYSSES by James Joyce * This is a novel you really should have a reading guide for
- THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald *
- A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN by James Joyce *
- LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov * see my review here
- BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
- THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner * Point of trivia-- Toni Morrisson is a Faulkner expert, and wrote her dissertation on him.
- DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler
- SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence
- THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck * read exerpts, need to finish it
- UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
- THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler
- 1984 by George Orwell
- I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
- TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf * Honestly not my favorite Woolf--I'm a Mrs. Dalloway fan, but still a gorgeous novel.
- AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser
- THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers * (one of my favorites-- tragic and moving)
- SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
- INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison *
- NATIVE SON by Richard Wright *
- HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow
- APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA by John O'Hara
- U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
- WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson
- A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster * (great for post-colonial theory)
- THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James
- THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James
- TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- THE STUDS LONIGAN TRILOGY by James T. Farrell
- THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
- ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
- THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James
- SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
- A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
- AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
- ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren
- THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder
- HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster
- GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin *
- THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Graham Greene
- LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
- DELIVERANCE by James Dickey
- A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME (series) by Anthony Powell
- POINT COUNTER POINT by Aldous Huxley
- THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
- THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
- NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad
- THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
- WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence
- TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
- THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer (I really dislike Mailer, so I choose not to read this one)
- PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth (just bought this used--I'll let you know how I like it)
- PALE FIRE by Vladimir Nabokov
- LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
- ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac
- THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett *
- PARADE'S END by Ford Madox Ford
- THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton *
- ZULEIKA DOBSON by Max Beerbohm
- THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
- DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP by Willa Cather * (I love Cather, and this one is a great read. Her landscapes are characters in and of themselves.)
- FROM HERE TO ETERNITY by James Jones
- THE WAPSHOT CHRONICLES by John Cheever
- THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
- A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
- OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
- HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad * (I ended up reading this I think a total of 3 times during my time as an English major . . . the horror!)
- MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis
- THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton
- THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET by Lawrence Durell
- A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes
- A HOUSE FOR MR BISWAS by V.S. Naipaul
- THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West
- A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway * (if you can get over his complete misogynist take on all his female characters, his terse language is breathtaking. I like Hemingway in spite of myself)
- SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh
- THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE by Muriel Spark
- FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce (ok--I take exception with this one. Completely unreadable--even for experts!)
- KIM by Rudyard Kipling
- A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster
- BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh
- THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH by Saul Bellow (love Saul Bellow, still need to read this particular novel of his)
- ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner
- A BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul
- THE DEATH OF THE HEART by Elizabeth Bowen
- LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad * (a staple for all you post-colonial theorists)
- RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow
- THE OLD WIVES' TALE by Arnold Bennett
- THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London *
- LOVING by Henry Green
- MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie (This is near the top of books I want to read--still need to buy a copy)
- TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell
- IRONWEED by William Kennedy
- THE MAGUS by John Fowles
- WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys
- UNDER THE NET by Iris Murdoch
- SOPHIE'S CHOICE by William Styron
- THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
- THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE by James M. Cain
- THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy
- THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Booth Tarkington
Beloved, by Toni Morrisson
Mama Day, by Gloria Naylor
All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I've been having all kinds of fun lately.
Just kickin' it in my jammies . . .
With cool monkeys on my feet . . .
Hangin' out with Mom . . .
Playing with new toys . . .
Munching on my delicious hand . . .
Taking a big stretch and making a funny face . . .
. . . all makes me so tired. Goodnight!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Weight: 11.49 lbs (2.77 %tile)
Height: 25 in. (20.19 %tile)
Head: 16.5 in. (42.62 %tile)
Favorite things: his monkeys, his hands (tasty snack and endless entertainment), a toy that lights up and plays music when I hit it (thanks Joy!), Daddy
The pattern is super easy, and I think looks pretty darn cute. (Or is it that I just think my baby is so cute the hat is cute by extension?) Anyway, here are the instructions if you want to give it a try:
2 shades Caron so soft yarn (if you want it to fit a three month old. Finger weight for tiny ones, regular worsted weight for a toddler, you get the idea . . . )
Size 4 US needles
Size 6 US needles
yarn needle to sew up seam
Beg at lower edge with first color and no. 4 needles, cast on 70 sts. Work in ribbing of k 1, p 1 for 6 rows. Change to No. 6 needles. Work in stockinette st, 2 rows one color, 2 rows the next until 24 rows above ribbing. Dec Row 1: Continuing in stripe pat, *k 2 tog, k 8, repeat from * across. P 1 row. Row 2: * K 2 tog, k 7, repeat from * across. P 1 row. Continue in this manner, dec every other row, having 1 less st between dec, until 7 sts remain. Cut yarn, leaving a 12" end. Thread end through rmaining sts and fasten securely. Sew sweam, matching stripes.
Monday, March 9, 2009
If you have never tried homemade pizza before, you really should. It is surprisingly easy, and so, so delicious. This dough recipe is pretty foolproof, and you can top it with whatever you love. My parents are a big fan of the turkey pepperoni you can buy--way less greasy. My favorites are vegan taco pizza, veggie pizza with dill sauce (see below) and good old fashioned pineapple.
1 c warm water
1 TB yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tb oil
2 1/2 c flour
8 oz pkg cream cheese (tofutti makes fabulous vegan stuff)
1-2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3-1/2 c mayo (veganaise is the only good substitute). Optional ingredient if you add more milk to even out the consistency.
2 TB milk
Cook the dough that has been pricked with a fork for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Add the dill sauce, and top with desired veggies. I like cucumbers, tomato, red bell pepper, red onion, avocado, and olives. Top with a little salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Randy's grandmother is the perfect example of this. She has given unselfishly her whole life, and now she is a little slowed by age and health--but still giving. She has made thousands of little newborn hats which have been donated to hospitals, like these ones:
The ones on either side were given to Wesley, and the pink one I'm saving in case I have a little girl someday. They are washable and warm, and were such a blessing when I had a tiny baby in the winter. It is a simple thing--warm hats donated to new moms who don't have a lot of money--but it makes a difference.
There are a group of women who get together once a month in my church congregation who tie quilts to donate to a local hospital and women's shelter. I have been able to join them on occasions where my schedule permitted, and it was a lot of fun. Acts like this are within the capability of all of us, and do by increments change the world.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
The sauce itself is fantastic over steamed brown basmati rice, with or without vegetables.
Oh--and for all you non Vegs, the original recipe did call for some chicken sauted in oil before you add the slaw mix to the skillet.
Thai Peanut Broccoli Wraps
6 8- to 10-inch plain, red and/or green flour tortillas
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ - ½ teaspoon pepper
2-3 teaspoons cooking oil (I like to replace with either sesame or peanut)
4 cups packaged shredded broccoli (broccoli slaw mix)
1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 recipe Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)
1- Wrap tortillas in paper towels. Microwave on high power for 30 seconds to soften. (or, wrap tortillas in foil. Heat in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 minutes.)
2- In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add broccoli, onion, and ginger to skillet--season with garlic salt and pepper. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
3- To assemble, spread each tortilla with about 1 Tablespoon Peanut Sauce. Top with vegetable mixture. Roll up each tortilla, securing with a toothpick. Serve immediately with remaining sauce. Makes 6 servings.
Peanut Sauce: In a small saucepan combine:
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic.
Heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently. Makes about 2/3 cup.
Friday, March 6, 2009
How I do it? Well, when I make burritos for dinner one night I'll cook up some black or "refried" beans, some chipotle rice, and chop up some fresh veggies to add in. Then when we are done eating, I'll pull out the George Foreman grill--still useful even for a Veg--and start rolling up bean and rice burritos. A few minutes on the grill seals them shut, plus adds a nice crispy flavor to the tortilla, and then I let them cool for about ten minutes. All I have to do is wrap them in a sandwich bag, toss them in the freezer, and we have little meals ready to go. They work great for lunches too . . . One will fill up Randy pretty well. If you aren't vegan you could easily enough add chicken or cheese. If you are vegan, a nice variation is to smish (yes, the technical term) a couple of veggie burgers, add some taco seasoning, let it simmer . . . and voila. Some meatless taco meat.
The great part about this is that since I already cooked the ingredients for dinner, this really doesn't take that much more time. Plus I don't have to worry about wasting the leftovers. :o)
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Currently I am reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles--book review to come next week. But when I was reading the intro to the novel, there was a piece of biographical information that brought back to mind my studies of Thomas Hardy in my British Literature survey course I was required to take at University. Oddly enough it wasn't Hardy's novels that we studied--but his poetry. Before he made a name for himself as a novelist with books such as The Return of the Native and Jude the Obscure, he started out with poetry. His poems weren't originally well received, and so he turned to fiction, with great success--until the "scandalous" nature of his last two novels, Tess and Jude, created such an uproar of Victorian sensibilities that he turned from fiction back to poetry. He was a famous Victorian era novelist--and became a famous twentieth century poet, who inspired the likes of T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden (also favorites of mine). Because poetry isn't generally read as widely as fiction nowadays, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite Hardy poems. I think it is such a shame that his poetry isn't as well known as his novels, because that "bifurcation" of his career, from Victorian novelist to twentieth century poet is for me both brilliant and intriguing. The first poem, "Neutral Tones," was an early poem, published in 1898. I love the stark images, the ominous tone, the line, "alive enough to have strength to die," sends chills down my spine every time I read it. Pure brilliance. The second poem was written in 1914, is about WWI, and references in the title a line from Jeremiah 51:20, "Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms."
We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod;
--They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.
Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles of years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro
On which lost the more by our love.
The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing. . . .
Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
and wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.
In Time of "The Breaking of Nations"
Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.
Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.
Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War's annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
He was just a little munchkin
And then he grew up.
And served in the military (in Texas--cutting people open)
Then in Arizona on a church mission.
And then he fell in love with a beautiful girl, and became a wonderful husband.
And the best dad ever!
And a proud Grandpa!
Happy Birthday Dad!
I love you!