Wednesday, April 26, 2017
It is just possible that spring has finally arrived in Connecticut. It is a bit hard to tell right now because we are in the midst of a torrential downpour and the world is grey and gloomy but there is a faint haze of green on the trees and things are starting to sprout and bloom. I have been trying to hurry things on by indulging in my annual rereading of The Enchanted April and The Secret Garden. Please don't bring me back to reality by telling me that my reading of those books has nothing to do with the arrival of spring. I prefer to believe my book choices guide the world's seasons.
Before the endless rain began we did manage to go for a walk on the bike trail. It was gorgeously warm that day and I found all kinds of things blooming and bursting out.
I have no idea what that pretty yellow flower is. Does anyone know? It was blooming all over under the trees. I don't think I have ever noticed it before.
As you can see from these photos, we really don't have leaves on the trees yet. Spring is very late. However, my forsythia is blooming wildly and that is always a good sign. If it would ever stop raining I could go out and clear up my gardens and pretend I had a green thumb. The Secret Garden always convinces me that I will be a success at gardening this year. Obviously, my only problem is that I don't have a wonderful, walled garden to bring back to life.
What season is it where you live? Do you manage to keep plants alive? Tell me your secret.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
So many people smoke. You walk through the streets and there is a near-constant smell of cigarette smoke. My son noticed this particularly because he says that among his generation, smoking cigarettes is viewed as disgusting and he doesn't really know anyone who smokes. He was surprised by the number of younger people who were smoking.
There is so much green space and people treat it like it is their own backyard. The kids were amazed at the huge parks right in the middle of the city and they were impressed with how busy they were. People were picnicking ( and boy, do the British know how to picnic--hampers and wine glasses and fancy finger foods) and playing ball and sunbathing and walking their dogs.
Which leads me to the next point, the dogs. Both of the kids commented on how well-behaved the dogs are. We walk on the bike trails near our house and the dogs are always leashed but they still bark and want to jump on us. In the parks, the dogs were running free but they never once jumped on anyone or caused a problem. Maybe American dogs are just, in general, poorly trained. I am not really a dog person and I wanted some of the dogs I saw. My daughter wanted them all.
The kids were amazed by the history. They know that the U.S. is a relatively recently created country and that a building here is considered very old if it was built a couple of hundred years ago. However, it is something else entirely to see for yourself the truly ancient buildings in England. We toured Arundel Castle (above) which was built in the 11th century and they were enthralled. It was one of the highlights of the trip. My son said it might be the coolest thing he has ever done. That is high praise from a sixteen-year-old.
They loved the food. I took my daughter out for afternoon tea and she thought it was wonderful. She wanted to go every day. We didn't eat in fancy restaurants, we aren't fancy restaurant people, but they thought the food was typically better than what they get at restaurants at home. They also thought the food available at cafes and restaurants in the attractions we visited was far superior. They couldn't believe that the zoo didn't just have chicken nuggets, limp french fries, and dry hamburgers. It isn't that the food at the zoo was amazing, it was just that it was decent and zoo food here is basically disgusting. The restaurant at Arundel Castle flabbergasted them. There was hot food that tasted home cooked, things like sausage and bacon casserole, mackerel salad, and quiche. Plus, big slabs of cake and scones with cream and jam. Again, it isn't that it was the best food we ate, it is just that we are so used to food at museums being unpleasant. They did love Gourmet Burger Kitchen. I think we ate there three times.
They had questions about so many things. Do London kids take the Underground to school and, if so, do they get a discount on their fare? We toured the castle and my son had questions about the Civil War. My daughter had questions about the money and why the terms she has read in old books aren't used anymore. She also wanted to know the names of all the flowers and some were not familiar to me. They just were interested in everything and we loved that.
My daughter has decided she wants to move to London. Both of them spent a lot of time discussing what they would do on another trip. They debated the merits of staying in London again or staying in the countryside and they decided that next time we need to rent an apartment or cottage instead of staying in a hotel. It was wonderful to see them so enthusiastic even though we did have to break it to them that another trip is not going to happen anytime soon.
They loved London. We loved watching them fall in love with London. I just wish we had a bit more time but then, isn't every vacation too short?
I did manage to sneak in a bit of book shopping but that is a post for another day.
*I realize my daughter is the only one featured in these photographs. That is because, in general, my son and my husband would rather not appear on my blog. And I am always behind the camera. I think there are four photos of me from the whole week.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
We will start with Mark Twain. He seems to have been eminently quotable. I have been thinking that I should go tour his house again. Last time I went I was in high school and we won't think about how many years ago that was. He lived in Hartford, CT which is only about an hour from where I live. Besides, it would make a great blog post.
Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
This suggestion fascinates me. First of all, he is right. Of course. After all, he is Mark Twain. Second of all, imagine living in a world were your editor deletes the word 'damn.' I think I want to go back to that world. Twain also said;
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
This is true. I live in a small town and many people don't go very far from it. I don't necessarily think that is a healthy way to live. I want badly for my kids to know there is a whole world out there with other ways of doing things and other ways of thinking. That 'other' is not a bad word. That differences can be what make people interesting. That we don't need to fear differences even if we don't agree with them.
I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.
Me too, Mr. Twain. Me too.
A book is made from a tree It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called "leaves) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millenia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time--proof that humans can work magic.
Carl Sagan said that. Isn't it wonderful? I keep reading it over and over because it is such a perfect description of the wonders to be had from books.
And then Dorothy Parker said
Of course I talk to myself. I like a good speaker, and I appreciate an intelligent audience.
She also said,
It turns out that, at social gatherings, as a source of entertainment, conviviality, and good fun, I rank somewhere between a sprig of parsley and a single ice-skate.
And we will end with a few from P. G. Wodehouse because he makes me laugh out loud. I'll try to restrain myself and only give you a few quotes.
She looked like she had been poured into her clothes and forgotten to say 'when.'
A melanchly-looking man, he had the appearance of one who has searched for the leak in life's gas-pipe with a lighted candle.
She was definitely the sort of girl who puts her hands over a husband's eyes, as he is crawling into breakfast with a morning head, and says "Guess who!"
He manages to create a complete mental image of a character with just a few words. Incredible. If you haven't read him, do so. He is a master of comedic language.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Thursday, April 6, 2017
If I am totally honest, it hasn't felt like there have been a lot of golden moments in my life lately. The rain has been non-stop and everything is still dingy and brown. My schedule has been crazy busy. I have had a constantly ill child. People have been annoying. I have wanted to throw up my hands, shout "forget it" at the sky, and curl up on the couch for the foreseeable future. But I haven't. I have kept trudging on through and, if I look back, there have been some bright spots. That is why I like writing these posts. It forces me to appreciate the little moments, cheesy as that sounds.
- My daughter and I went to get our hair cut. We both felt fabulous and well-groomed so we stopped for ice cream on the way home. Because there is no better way to show off a new look than by sitting on a stool at a counter and licking an ice cream cone. Salted caramel crunch, if you were wondering.
- I bought a totally unnecessary silky, black, bomber jacket simply because I fell in love with it. I spent the month buying totally necessary clothes for the kids and I rebelled. I regret nothing.
- I saw the first daffodils and crocuses of spring the other day. They were pretty and cheerful and brightened my whole day.
- My husband and I went out to breakfast. By ourselves. The kids went to school and we ignored our responsibilities and went out to eat. It is amazing how much I can talk when there are no kids listening and commenting on every word I say.
- I went to a library book sale where I bought eleven books for $2.75. I know. That is just crazy. They might as well give them away. And yes, those are the books in the photo at the top of this post. I am currently rereading Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell. I needed something light and relaxing for the evenings when I am too tired to keep track of all the characters in my other book, King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett.
- I've been planning our itinerary for our trip to London next week. NEXT WEEK! That will be a whole week of golden moments right there. I can deal with all manner of stresses and annoyance if London is in my future.