Retreat: an act of moving back or withdrawing.

Sometimes we all need to retreat–maybe a strategic withdrawal for the sake of ourselves, our families or jobs, the institutions we support, the beliefs we hold sacred.

We're not giving up
we're not giving in
We're exploring fresh ways
to advance 
our thoughts,
honing in on what is essential
what is important
and what is extraneous.

When it all seems overwhelming
it is time to withdraw
and focus the light
where it seems the darkest.
What do the colors of
your prism reveal?

Cabell on Literature

You may write it, but once it is published, it becomes whatever the reader thinks.

words and music and stories

Three  quotes by James Cabell:

“A book, once it is printed and published, becomes individual. It is by its publication as decisively severed from its author as in parturition a child is cut off from its parent. The book “means” thereafter, perforce, — both grammatically and actually, — whatever meaning this or that reader gets out of it.”

“A novel, or indeed any work of art, is not intended to be a literal transcription from Nature … Life is a series of false values. There it is always the little things that are greatest. Art attempts to remedy this. It may be defined as an expurgated edition of Nature.”

Poetry is man’s rebellion against being what he is.”

“Un libro, una volta stampato e pubblicato, diventa un individuo a se stante. Con la sua pubblicazione viene nettamente separato dal suo autore come durante il parto un bambino è separato…

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The April Full Moon is April 16

This moon of full power
is named after a flower
herbal moss pink
that cascades over rocks,
 also known as mountain phlox
It has other names that might make you think.

Inspired by the Springtime
various tribes
used regional names
that would help to describe
events of this season
like Grass-Sprouting Moon
Or Egg Moon for some bird-brained reason.
Near the coast it was called after Fish,
will they soon appear in a dish?

National Gardening Day–April 14

National Gardening Day was founded by Cool Springs Press in 2018 to celebrate the hobby of gardening and to encourage gardeners to share their expert knowledge.

Forest gardening, a forest-based food production system, is known to be the world’s oldest form of gardening. Forest gardens could be found in prehistoric times along jungle banks. Ancient Egyptian paintings from around 1500 BC provide some of the earliest evidence of people gardening for pleasure and to achieve an aesthetically pleasing outcome.

After a decline during the Middle Ages, cottage gardens became popular during Elizabethan times. These usually contained food and herbs, with flowers added for decorative purposes. Gardens gradually became more open plan and less rigid in their structure and by the mid 19th century in Europe, we were starting to see the types of gardens that we are all familiar with today.

The initial gardeners in the U.S were essentially harvesters. In the 17th and 18th century those lucky enough to own land and consequently a garden would try and use it to make money by harvesting whatever crops were suitable. Home gardening started to become a leisure activity in the 1800s as villages grew bigger and mass produce was beginning. Ornamental gardens took the place of edible gardens and research on plant diseases and pests began.

The last 150 years have seen gardens become an increasingly social space, with methods of caring for them evolving to provide gardeners with a much-increased body of knowledge and equipment from which to garden with.

Voltaire: We must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest.

May Sarton: Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.

Zora Neale Hurston: Trees and plants always look like the people they live with, somehow.

Michael Pollan: The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.

A Jeffersonian Inspired Feast at Palladio Restaurant at Barboursville Winery

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743. In 1785, Jefferson was appointed the United States Minister to France (1784-1789), and subsequently, the nation’s first secretary of state under President George Washington from 1790 to 1793.

In February 1787, Thomas Jefferson went on a journey which led him through southern France and northern parts of Italy. In his memorandums, Jefferson begins by proposing a route through Italy, France, and Germany. Jefferson also recommends some places for accommodation and describes the finest wines of each area. Some of the areas mentioned include Nice, Lyons, Tende, Burgundy, Milan, Cassino, Rozzano, Genoa, Noli, Albenga, Languedoc, and Bordeaux. The letter takes on a more serious tone towards its end, where Thomas Jefferson outlines “Objects of Attention for an American.” This part covers French mechanical arts, manufacturing, and agriculture. He, for example, notes that Americans should learn from the French architecture, as the U.S. population was rapidly expanding, it needed longer-lasting houses. He also describes paintings and sculptures as “too expensive for the state of wealth among us. It would be useless, therefore, and preposterous, for us to make ourselves connoisseurs in those arts. They are worth seeing, but not studying.

Derrick Baxter wrote a book based upon those Memorandums, In Pursuit of Jefferson: Traveling through Europe with the Most Perplexing Founding Father. Baxter gave an author talk during the meal which was inspired by Jefferson’s likely meal choices during his travels.

The Menu

The food and wine pairing were delicious. All of the ingredients were local but based upon what Jefferson might have eaten during his travels in France and Italy. The recipes were some of Jefferson’s own. All of the wines were from Barboursville, which is owned by the Zonins, who also own the largest family-owned winery in Italy.

War: “I Have a Rendezvous with Death”

I mentioned this poem in another of Luisa’s blog posts. She has written an eloquent explanation of the poem. Well worth reading today.

words and music and stories

When I published the post “T.S. Eliot & April “(see here) where there was a connection between spring and death, our friend Pat (e-Quips) left a comment in which she said: “ Eliot’s poem reminds me of a more convoluted version of Alan Seeger’s ” I Have a Rendezvous with Death”

Here is the poem she was referring to:

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year

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Catholic Vocabulary

From a forwarded email.

Catholic Vocabulary List

  This information is for Catholics only. It must not be divulged to non-Catholics. The less they know about our rituals and top-secret code words, the better off they are. 

AMEN: The only part of a prayer that everyone knows.
BULLETIN: Your receipt for attending Mass.
CHOIR: A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the Parish to lip-sync.
HOLY WATER: A liquid whose chemical formula is H2OLY. Created by boiling the HELL out of it.
HYMN: A song of praise usually sung in a key three octaves higher than that of the congregation’s range.
RECESSIONAL HYMN: The last song at Mass often sung a little more quietly, since most of the people have already left.
INCENSE: Holy Smoke!
JESUITS: An order of priests known for their ability to find colleges with good basketball teams.
JONAH: The original ‘Jaws’ story.

KYRIE ELEISON: The only Greek words that most Catholics can recognize besides gyros and baklava.
MAGI: The most famous trio to attend a baby shower.
MANGER: Where Mary gave birth to Jesus because Joseph wasn’t covered by an HMO.
PEW: A medieval torture device still found in Catholic churches.
PROCESSION: The ceremonial formation at the beginning of Mass consisting of altar servers, the celebrant, and late parishioners looking for seats.
RECESSIONAL: The ceremonial procession at the conclusion of Mass led by parishioners trying to beat the crowd to the parking lot.
RELICS: People who have been going to Mass for so long, they actually know when to sit, kneel, and stand.
TEN COMMANDMENTS: The most important Top Ten list not given by David Letterman.
USHERS: The only people in the parish who don’t know the seating capacity of a pew.
Little known facts about the Catholic Churches in Las Vegas :
There are more churches in Las Vegas than casinos.   During Sunday services at the offertory,some worshipers contribute casino chips as opposed to cash. Some are sharing their winnings – some are hoping to win.   Since they get chips from so many different casinos, and they are worth money, the Catholic churches are required to send all the chips into the diocese for sorting.   Once sorted into the respective casino chips, one junior priest takes the chips and makes the rounds to the casinos turning chips into cash. 

And he, of course, is known as The Chip  Monk.   

Painting the Trim with Sunshine and Glass

Stained glass pattern, just add sun
When the sun slants in through the window just so
the stained glass puts on a colorful show
decorating the walls with color and swirls
some lines are straight and others are curls
Some patterns crisp like geometric design
Others soft images, both look quite fine
A gift from the sun for those in the pews
If the sermon is boring, you can come for the views.

Taking Books to the People, Pt 20: Laundromat Library League

The Laundromat Library League makes children’s books available to children who have little or no access to books at home. We place them in laundromats and similar sites in which children and caregivers spend time waiting. Children and caregivers are invited to enjoy a book, take it home, and eventually pass it on to another child.

The Laundromat Library League (LLL) is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides children’s books to children, primarily by placing them in laundromats. As of April 2020, the LLL had over 200 distribution sites –in 30 states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia). The LLL delivers or mails books at no charge to the laundromat or to the volunteer who stewards the site. When appropriate, LLL leaders mentor volunteers at distant sites to enable them eventually to obtain funding and/or donated books from local sources.

The LLL has an all-volunteer network of over 600 people contributing in some way. Volunteers range in age from 8 to almost 90. Some deliver books to laundromats or monitor a site twice a month. Others hold book drives or organize books into the sets of 60 that we place on a site. Each set of 60 books has the full range of levels—from toddler to teen, fiction and non-fiction.

April 7 is National No Housework Day

Forget about vacuuming
Don't wash the dishes
This is the day 
for Play Hooky wishes

For one day a year
skip your your honey do list
It will be there tomorrow
so nothing is missed.

National No Housework Day was established when Thomas and Ruth Roy felt it necessary to create a holiday where we don’t do any chores. They chose April 7 as National No Housework Day and encouraged people to “leave it all for tomorrow.”

April 5 is National Dandelion Day

Any plant as versatile and durable as the dandelion, certainly deserves a special day set aside to honor it. We all know of dandelions as weeds in our lawns. To kids, the dandelion is a flower to gather and bring home to mom. But, dandelions are oh so much more than just a weed. Even many gardeners think of it only as a weed. More knowledgeable gardeners know better. Dandelion leaves are edible and are savored in soups and salads.

You can celebrate National Dandelion Day in many ways. Eat your lawn…..use this special day to introduce yourself to the joys of eating dandelions. However, it is taboo to pull dandelions or treat them like a weed today.

Caution: Do not use dandelions for food that come from treated lawns.

The name dandelion comes from the French “dent de lion” meaning lion’s tooth. This refers to the leaves with their jagged tooth-like edges.

Dandelions are high in Vitamins A, B, C, and D and were used by Native Americans for kidney disease, swelling, and skin problems.

Harvest the young leaves in spring and add them to a salad or sauté with onions.  Brighten up a salad with just the yellow portion of the flowers or ferment them into wine.

A bit more information: Dandelions are also known as ‘wet-the-bed’. This refers to the old belief that just touching a dandelion can cause bed-wetting. This may be tied to the fact that dandelions have been used as a diuretic.

One of the first to bloom in the Spring
And one of the last in the Fall to end its fling
Medicine, weed, garnish, or wine
Any of the above may turn out fine
What else in our life have we overlooked
Only to find out  we were mistook?

National Library Week 3-9 April

From ALA: The theme for National Library Week 2022, “Connect with Your Library,” promotes the idea that libraries are places to get connected to technology by using broadband, computers, and other resources. Libraries also offer opportunities to connect with media, programs, ideas, and classes—in addition to books. Most importantly libraries also connect communities to each other. Overall, the theme is an explicit call to action—an invitation for communities to join, visit, or advocate for their local libraries.

Bodleian Library–Oxford University, UK
Libraries are useful
no matter the size.
When you open tbe door
you'll soon realize
you'll find so much knowledge
you may be suprised.

April 2 is National Children’s Picture Book Day

First founded and celebrated in 1967, National Children’s Picture Book Day has its roots in Switzerland’s International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Jella Lepman, IBBY’s founder, was a German journalist and author. She established IBBY in 1953 along with other members. The organization aimed to bring about love and interest for the written word in children. In 1967, IBBY’s goal was fulfilled as National Children’s Picture Book Day came into existence. 

April 3 is Find a Rainbow Day

A beautiful ukelele version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

When the sun’s rays are refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere at a certain angle, the light disperses and forms a colorful arc across the sky, called the rainbow. The basic science behind a rainbow was first explained by Issac Newton with his Prism dispersion experiment.

Colors of the rainbow
Each a different hue
Beautiful together
To let the sun shine through

Magical when we see it
God's promise after rain
A hope for better times ahead
with more joy and less pain

Red, orange, yellow, green,
blue, indigo and violet.
What you see is what you get.