Blooming

EAC09A27-9B2B-4E47-A949-5897C13B70ACA third bloom! How lucky am I?

In other news…

In about two hours, I will attend my fourth Theater of War production. Warm thanks to the reader who brought this fabulous group to my attention. Today they’re doing The Book of Job Project, using the Stephen Mitchell translation. Maybe I’ll “see” you there?

Also, I finished two more books in June and wanted to add them to the count, which, at the year’s midpoint, stands at 124, with 102 read from the shelves.

Circe (Madeline Miller; 2018. Fiction.)
Read with my older daughter as part of our informal summer reading program. Both of us described it as a page-turner and finished it in one day. Related links here and here.

The Godmother (Hannelore Cayre; 2019. Fiction.)
Light and quick with a few witty observations. Perhaps it will work better as a movie?

p.16
People say I’m bad tempered, but I think this is hasty. It’s true I’m easily annoyed, because I find people slow and often uninteresting. For example, when they’re banging on about something I couldn’t give a crap about, my face involuntarily takes on an impatient expression which I find hard to hide, and that upsets them. So, they think I’m unfriendly. It’s the reason I don’t really have any friends, just acquaintances.

No ice, please

Orchids and I don’t usually enjoy long-lasting relationships; that is, they generally spend more time with me than a bouquet of flowers.

But not much more.

Before I left last summer, I gave my daughters a beautiful orchid from IKEA. When they came home for the holidays, my older daughter admired my new orchid (a just-in-case-I-forgot-someone-at-work holiday gift). I asked how long the IKEA orchid lasted. Wait, what do you mean it’s still alive? So, yeah, apparently, their orchid had not only grown but sprouted new leaves, new roots, and eventually, buds.

What’s your secret, kid?

“I just water it like the rest of plants, Mom.”

Wait, what? That’s it?

When I visited in February, I saw this mighty orchid for myself. My daughters have arranged most of their many plants on benches in the sun-filled windows of the Boston-area apartment they share. They’re thriving — my daughters and those plants. Even the orchid.

Hmmm. Just water it, eh? I can no longer remember if I was my aunt or my sister (maybe both?) who told me that orchids get ice-cubed not watered, but does it matter? Why did it never occur to me to research the matter myself? For years, I plied my orchids with ice cubes.

And they died.

Well, my current orchid has never met an ice cube; I just water it like the rest of the plants. When a new leaf emerged, I took a chance and repotted it with some orchid mix from Home Depot. Another leaf. Two roots. Two new stems. A number of buds.

And now… flowers.

Don’t ice your orchids, folks.

Shooting into the sun

 

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Recent acquisitions.

When I left for my first walk of the day at 5:32 a.m., the thermometer in this window read 58 degrees. Twelve hours later, it reads exactly fifty degrees higher. The light in this spot is so lovely, but in the summer, when the street-facing side of the forever home is bathed in sun, we would be pizza in a brick oven if not for central air conditioning and the beautiful oak that partially shades the front.

According to our arborist, the cold, wet spring was hard on trees, especially oaks, and for the first time in ten springs, that protective oak out front is struggling. We have been relatively lucky, though: Other property owners have experienced catastrophic tree loss since the odd deluge / drought cycles began in 2011. Still, I worry. We lost a maple in the backyard in 2014 to rot stemming from the previous owner’s bad pruning, and shortly after that tree was removed, the backyard oak began showing signs of stress. It was eventually diagnosed with bur oak blight, and, oh, has it been plied with the tree health services since! It finally showed signs of stability last summer, and yesterday the arborist expressed cautious optimism about its chances for survival. He was also encouraged by our ginkgo tree’s miraculous rebirth: Last month, its new leaves suddenly browned and shriveled, but it proved healthy enough to sprout an entirely new set a few weeks later.

I sat down in this clean, well-lighted place to write about the new books I received this afternoon and the one I finished reading this morning, but all of my thoughts are about the trees. I mourned the maple and continue to feel its loss; and I worry about the oaks as much as I do the cats. What explains my attachment?

From Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees:

But we shouldn’t be concerned about trees purely for material reasons, we should also care about them because of the little puzzles and wonders they present us with. Under the canopy of the trees, daily dramas and moving love stories are played out. Here is the last remaining piece of Nature, right on our doorstep, where adventures are to be experienced and secrets discovered.

Late May

EB3E0261-41EE-4FF7-8B5B-1E059C0F7F1B Over the last two or so weeks, Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, ruby-throated hummingbirds, white-crowned sparrows, American redstarts, and indigo buntings have returned to our yards, as have the small purple flowers of a plant I lazily dropped in a bare spot in the semi-tamed area out back four years ago. That each spring since I have been so richly rewarded for so little effort (I do not even know what kind of plant it is!) is such delight in this weird, uncertain time.

Catching my breath

2B129CD5-D012-4E53-9F9E-B4C1899B8E94Earlier this month, my older daughter and I spent a morning reading and birdwatching by the lake. When we arrived at our usual spot, lifeguards were dragging battered rental canoes to the water’s edge, and maintenance crew members were rolling mowers off the truck, so we headed to a less frequented part of the shore and lingered there until nearly lunchtime. It was lovely.

While some summer breaks are, metaphorically speaking, mornings by the lake punctuated by flurries of activity, this summer break has been a flurry of activity punctuated by the occasional morning by the lake. Yesterday over lunch, though, I realized that at least four days of (metaphoric) mornings by the lake stretch ahead of me. Walks, books, and music practice; maybe a movie or two and some games. I don’t even care that it’s supposed to rain. Again. The house is clean. The yards are mowed and trimmed. The refrigerator and pantry are full. This is going to be great!

Speaking of books, here are commonplace book entries from True West by Sam Shepard:

Act Two, Scene Five
LEE: It’s not a film! It’s a movie. There’s a big difference. That’s something Saul told me.
AUSTIN: Oh he did, huh?
LEE: Yeah, he said, “In this business we make movies, American movies. Leave the films to the French.”

Act Two, Scene Nine
LEE: Sounds original now. “Intimate terms.” That’s good. Okay. Now we’re cookin! That has a real ring to it.
[…]
LEE: (continues) “He’s on intimate terms with this prairie.” Sounds real mysterious and kinda’ threatening at the same time.

And from the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf:

Lines 24 – 25
Behavior that’s admired
is the path to power among people everywhere.

With Beowulf, I reached sixty books read this year. So how am I doing with my reading resolutions, particularly my “Read from the shelves” challenge? Well, twenty-seven of those books were from my shelves; seventeen from the library, twelve acquired this year, and four other. With only a little more than half the year remaining, then, it seems unlikely that I will read one hundred books from my shelves. But my acquisition rate has certainly slowed, and I will handily meet my goal of thirty non-fiction titles — I’ve already read twenty-one. Of course, only ten of those were from my shelves, and my goal was twenty-four non-fiction titles from the shelves, so I have some work there. It’s achievable, though.

I also remain optimistic about reading at least one book from each of the following “special collections”: Shakespeare, poetry, NYRB, Vonnegut, Joyce Carol Oates, philosophy, art, and children’s / YA. In fact, I reread Hamlet last month and will reread Vonnegut’s Player Piano over the summer. As for my close (re)reading of Moby Dick, that may be a fall project.

Notes

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Image taken at Cantigny Park two weeks ago.

My school year concluded Thursday. I went out with a bit of a bang this time: A slip near a flooded entrance sent me to urgent care on the penultimate day of our program. Three X-rays, one brace, and two nights of worry later, all seems well. Phew!

Today we located the twelfth of fifteen finds on the geocaching passport we hope to fill before summer’s end.

We also signed up for the summer reading program at the local library. Although we were advised that movies and library programs could also be used to satisfy the requirements ( !!?? ), we agreed among ourselves to stick with books. The summer selection for our family book club is Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf.

Two weeks

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Last Friday at Lake Geneva, WI.

Since my last post, the rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, Baltimore orioles, and ruby-throated hummingbirds have returned to our yards, and I have

— reached Book 52 in Robin’s 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge;

— seen Hamlet at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and realized that last year’s Gift Theatre production may prove the most electrifying and memorable Hamlet I will ever see;

— planted impatiens, purslane, and geraniums and mowed the lawn at least five times;

— reread fourteen of the eighteen chapters of James Joyce’s Ulysses (in anticipation of seeing Remy Bumppo’s Bloomsday) and wondered, “Why?” at least twice during each chapter;

— visited Cantigny Park (much of which is under construction) and Lake Geneva, WI; and

— watched my younger daughter graduate from university.

Hand copied

524A91C1-AC63-475C-B6AB-A1AC32A51701That gives new meaning to “pressed into my commonplace book,” eh? I get hook-hand while writing thank-you notes, so it’s hard for me to imagine copying an entire book.

The image was taken at the Lost Valley Visitor Center’s “19th Century Scientists” exhibit.