Sunday, September 30, 2018

Weekend wonders

This weekend a trip 20 miles east took us past all the small towns and fields that are into early autumn activities. One little township was having its annual Wine Festival and it was packed with tents of vendors and visitors galore. Every few miles we'd pass a roadside stand full of pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant. Very Norman Rockwell-ish.

The highlight, however, was the grape fields that were being harvested right as we passed by. If you've never seen a grape harvesting machine you should, it's really something. Kind of like a giant letter U, upside down, on wheels, with a cab on the top. The driver rides right over a long row of grape vines and the harvesting begins.

Finally, our presider at Sunday Mass gave a wonderful reflection on "entitlement," a contemporary topic for the readings of the day. He proposed four areas that should be part of our own entitlement awareness: a) it should force us to do some real soul-searching; b) prayer should be a part of our considerations; 3) we must adopt "speaking truth to power" as a personal commitment and 4) politically speaking, we must vote and exercise our responsibility as citizens. Serious subject, wonderful reflections.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Owl Power

This week we watched a wonderful hour-long show "Owl Power" on PBS. It was one of those stories where a dedicated couple, Brits by the way, are truly bird-whisperers who live among a number of falcons, eagles, hawks, etc. in the countryside and engage in lots of education and research.

This show focused on two barn owls they raised from the moment they hatched to the time they flew away to be independent. Along the way they helped researchers study and try to understand better the amazing "super powers" of owls: sight, hearing and flight to name the major ones.

We have owls in our woods occasionally and we can hear them in the early mornings, especially.

This month's magazine, Birds & Blooms has an owl on its cover and my own entry into the coming year's art show is this beauty...a snowy owl in cross stitch.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The beauties of autumn are many

The opening days of fall find goldenrod all over our gardens, along highways and in every field. Here's  Mary Oliver's reflection on a herald-of-autumn "weed."

This morning the goldenrod are all wearing
their golden shirts
fresh from heaven's soft wash in the
chill night.
So it must be a celebration.
And here comes the wind, so many swinging wings!
Has he been invited, or is he the intruder?
Invited, whisper the golden pebbles of the weeds,
as they begin to fall over the ground.

Well, you would think the little murmurs
of the broken blossoms would have said otherwise,
but no. So I sit down among them to think
about it while all around me the crumbling goes on.
The weeds let down their seedy faces cheerfully,
which is the part I like best, and certainly
it is as good as a book for learning from.

You would think they were just going for a 
small sleep. You would think they couldn't wait,
it was going to be that snug and even, as all their
lives were, full of excitation.

You would think it was a voyage just beginning,
and no darkness anywhere, but tinged with all
necessary instruction, and light,
and all were shriven, as all the round world is,
and so it wasn't anything but easy to fall,
to whisper Good Night.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Celebrate---good times

Walking up the east side of our property from East Lake Rd. we discovered what has to be 8-10 crab apple trees that are not out on the grounds but instead are "just inside" the woods. They are loaded with ripe crab apples. No wonder the deer travel down that route so much. I wonder--were they purposely planted like the others and by shifts in mowing and clearing got absorbed into the woods? Or can trees grow up on their own at wood's edge? Or----how did they all get there?

The monastery is moving quickly toward a grand weekend celebration as we honor five sisters who pronounced their first monastic vows in 1968, 50 years ago! Family members and friends will join us for Saturday afternoon's prayer and reception and many will return for Sunday morning Mass, too. Weather looks good and a wonderful time is surely to be had. See our community website over the next week to see for yourself!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Tree shopping

This week I'm going tree shopping--to buy a tree in memory for a recently deceased friend. We've decided on a black gum tree, which seems to be good for this area and is beautiful in autumn:

And, then next spring we'll bring in part 2 of the memorials, with the purchase of a larch tree--a twin to the larch we already have near the back patio--only this one will be going in front.

Hmmm, that might be a worthwhile "retirement" project: asking people, who probably wouldn't entertain the thought themselves, if they'd like a new tree for their front or backyard. All it would take is some money, some time, some helpers and some jumping of hoops for permissions (landlords, etc). I'll have to start a list!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

BBC/PBS mysteries

To all my fellow PBS/BBC mystery lovers, here's a new type of show that we just discovered and like very much. It's an 84-minute DVD titled " Inspector Morse's Oxford." It's a wonderful companion piece, as they say, for all Inspector Morse mystery lovers. It was produced for the 25th anniversary of the TV series and was filmed right in Oxford. The narrators are none other than the author of the Morse books, Colin Dexter--and let's be honest, from the get go he comes across as a classic quirky Brit, as well as the actor that plays Morse's assistant and later star of his own PBS series, Inspector Lewis, Kevin Whately.  I checked: has it and pretty cheap!

P.S. You see the problem is that we are actually running out of series that we haven't seen...I mean the really good ones: Vera, Foyle's War, Morse, Lewis, Midsomer Murders, Hamish MacBeth, Dr. Blake mysteries, Brokenwood, Shetland, DCI Banks, Brother Caedfel, Grantchester, Endeavor, Bletchley Circle...see what I mean?!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Not an exaltation of larks

nor a troop of baboons
nor a clowder of cats
not a convocation of eagles
nor an ambush of tigers
nor a descent of woodpeckers
nor a watch of nightingales
nor even a company of parrots...
we have been invaded by a gaggle of geese....a huge gaggle, maybe even numerous gaggles.

We thought that they had passed us by this summer as we had no sign of them at all...until about 2 weeks ago. And then, they appeared. Not just appearing overhead, that is a constant. But, instead, they have taken again this year, to whatever they find in our lawn as they wander and walk and jump and fly and sit and pace for hours all around the Mount property. No, they don't do any damage, unless you call having to walk with your head down, watching where every step is taken, damage.

But, Friday night those of us who eat on the patio were distracted by what appeared to be a goose who could not fly. She tried and tried, but there was something wrong with her leg or wing...something.

Our sister who knows the local bird whisperer made the call and the advice was this. "Let her be overnight and see if nature takes its course or if she recovers and if she is still there in the morning, call me and we'll send a team to get her and we'll take her to Tamarack, the animal recovery center south of Erie."

She was gone. Maybe hobbled around somewhere else. Maybe recovered her flying ability. Maybe something else.

Ah, life, in all its forms. And the coming of autumn. Which is already peaking out--just a little.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Guess who's coming for dinner!

Our dinner (and Evening Prayer) guests tonight were the wonderful residents of Benetwood Apartments, our next door neighbors. Here for their annual meal with us, we enjoyed their company immensely. At my table was Dolores, introduced as the longest resident--having moved there in 1986, at age 58 (her husband was the required 65, she got in as his wife). Now 90, she raved about her years at the senior-living complex and made us laugh with her stories of card games, power walks around the property, and the funny lines by her visiting 4-year-old twin great-granddaughters!

"A great time was had by all" as they say. And the meal? Delicious--see below!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

New detective series

Time to read has caught me up in a new (to me) detective series that I can't get enough of. Today I printed out a copy of the 24 books that Martha Grimes has written, starring her Scotland Yard detective, Richard Jury. I read two over vacation and will now proceed to make my way through the other 22...hope it takes a long, long time!

Here's a short summery from "Richard Jury is a fictional Scotland Yard detective who stars in a series of mystery novels written by Martha Grimes. Initially a chief inspector, later a superintendent, Jury is invariably assisted in his cases by Melrose Plant, a British aristocrat who has given up his titles, and his hypochondriacal but dependable sergeant, Alfred Wiggins. Many of the novels include Divisional Commander Brian Macalvie of the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary. In addition there is a recurring ensemble of background characters."

What this rather generic paragraph doesn't say is: 1) Melrose Plant and the "recurring ensemble of background characters" are equal to the award-winning casts of Barney Miller and The Closer...only British and therefore unique, quirky and delightful beyond description! 2) Martha Grimes is a great cookie-cutter plots and descriptions EVER; 3) The next book I will read with a dictionary nearby....every 8-10 pages there's a word I swear I never saw before. Do you know what an "antimacassar" is? Only by usage did I hazard what turned out to be the correct guess. Left on my own--not a chance; 4) Richard Jury himself is in the Armand Gamache club.

So, hurrah for vacations which allow us to find and read good, contemporary fiction. One I really wanted to read, but it's on reserve and is still coming, is Anne Tyler's latest, Clock Dance. Remember, summer doesn't officially end until Sept. 22 this year, so keep those summer reading books alive!

Coming home also meant doing the rounds of the gardens and plants. The hummingbird feeders were empty but the indoor plants all made it, thanks to my substitute "waterers." The gardens look good, too. It was a very good year for our flower gardens. Everything seemed to have its time and looked beautiful and healthy and full when it appeared. One of the very last to make its appearance is this clematis. It wasn't out when I left August 20, but I could tell it was on the verge. Two weeks later, viola, in full bloom and beautiful---it looks like a sky full of falling stars.