Saturday, September 29, 2007
We do, however, have Michaelmas Daisies in the U.S. These late-blooming purple flowers are a welcome addition to the fall garden. They get their name because they are usually blooming profusely on Michaelmas Day.
Since I don't celebrate the holiday, I'm going to let an Englishwoman take over. Please check out Leanne's wonderful post today at "Somerset Seasons". To see history, lore, quotations and poetry surrounding Michaelmas Day, just click here: www.somersetseasons.blogspot.com
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The brightness of the Harvest Moon is an illusion. Wikipedia gives an excellent explanation: "The yellow or golden or orangish or reddish color of the moon shortly after it rises is a physical effect, which stems from the fact that, when the moon is low in the sky, you are looking at it through a greater amount of atmosphere than when the moon is overhead. The atmosphere scatters the bluish component of white moonlight (which is really reflected sunlight) but allows the reddish component of the light to travel a straighter path to your eyes."
I hope I didn't destroy your romantic illusions about the Harvest Moon with this scientific explanation! This also happens to a lesser extent with the next full moon, The Hunter's Moon.
Our eyes actually do see the low-hanging Harvest Moon as being larger than ones that ride high in the sky. This is known as Moon Illusion. I'm not even going to begin to try to explain or understand this visual or optic illusion.
In addition to color and size, the Harvest Moon is special in another way. At this time of the year, it rises about the same time the sun sets, but more important, instead of rising its normal average of 50 minutes later each night, the moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night. The extra light these evenings gives the farmers hurrying to finish their harvest added time to work their fields. Hence the name "Harvest Moon." In some years, the Harvest Moon occurs in October.
By the way, I misquoted the lyrics to "Shine On Harvest Moon" in an earlier post. Here is the song as it is supposed to be:
"SHINE ON HARVEST MOON"
(By Norah Bayes and Jack Norworth)
"Shine on, shine on Harvest Moon, up in the sky
I ain't had no lovin' since January, February, June or July.
Snow time ain't no time to stay outdoors and spoon,
So shine on, shine on Harvest Moon, for me and my gal."
I wish I could take credit for these amazing photos, but I can't. I found them on the Internet. I think the last one was digitally enhanced.
Monday, September 24, 2007
However, this weather puts me in a mood for hearty meals, cozy afghans, sweaters and socks, cocooning, decorating for fall and giving things away. You may remember that I had promised to do a giftaway when I reached my 200th post, and this is it!
Put a comment on this post and you will be entered for a drawing to receive all of the things you see here. I had already given you a sneak peek of the fall fairy shown below. The photo above is of a squirrel holding acorn salt and pepper shakers. In the top photo, there are the following items: a kitchen towel with (not too) scary black cats, some hedgehog tissues, a Halloween bracelet with vintage scenes, and a ceramic leaf. There's also a "cinnamon bun" candle to be placed on the leaf, but I couldn't scan it so you will just have to imagine it.
I will keep this giftaway open for a week, and draw a name next Monday evening. Good luck to all!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
One of our members moved to Dickinson some years ago, and we drive out every September to see her. The day always includes lunch at a local restaurant, some shopping, visiting with dessert and coffee at her home, and of course, discussing the book. Dickinson actually has several nice shops, including one called "The Village", which is far nicer than any home decor/gift shop in Bismarck.
It was a beautiful day, and I think the best part of it was the drive there and back. Although I followed the conversation of my fellow travelers, and joined in from time to time, for the most part I was content to gaze out the windows and note the subtleties in the scenery.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Oh, sure, I didn't have big bags under my eyes back then, I had only one chin, and I was a whole lot slimmer (skinny, actually), but I think the inner essence of "me-ness" is the same. For sure, I have come full circle to almost the same hairdo. There's not much a person can do with absolutely straight, fine, thick hair and a darned cowlick!
I still have the same facial expression too. People who don't like me would call it a smirk; people who like me (or myself) would call it an enigmatic, Mona Lisa smile.
I'd like to think that the 15-year old Julie is still inside this 58-year old. I'm still the avid reader, I still love to learn, I am still the unquenchable romantic. I still love the songs of the British Invasion. I still love nature, the country, dogs and family, birds and flowers.
The first time I saw the formal Sears portrait of my infant niece, Kelsey, the thought instantly came to my mind that "this is an old soul." There was just something in her eyes that told me so. And at 16 now, she is a wise young woman.
I think I am a young soul, still "trailing clouds of innocence", as Wordsworth said of children, but perhaps not so young as my soul at 15. I'm not so painfully shy, or so terribly sensitive. I have also definitely become tougher, though it may not show on the outside. I'm not a naive, inexperienced young thing anymore, but then what woman is? One certainly would not want to be arrested at that stage of development forever. I had not yet had my first kiss at age16, from Jim Peterson after a church group hayride.
People have debated from time immemorial about what the soul is, and where the soul resides. Where is my soul? I think it rather abides with me, rather than resides in me. One quote I read that has stayed with me for a long time is that we are not bodies with souls, we are souls that happen to have bodies.
Did I exist as a soul without a body before Julie was born? Will I go on as a soul when Julie's body is gone? I don't know. I don't know when the soul is born or dies; I'd like to think it never dies. But I do believe that my soul was with me in the beginning, and made - and makes - me what I am. My soul has created the expression on my face, the particular light in my eyes, the words I speak, the words I write, the thoughts I think. And I think I like my soul.
The collage above is by one of my favorite artists. How fitting that I should find a piece of her work that speaks to creativity, not long after I posted about giving up my fears regarding creating art. (By the way, you can see more of her work at http://www.christinemasonmiller.com.)
I have one little criticism directed at her use of the word abandonment. I think she meant children create with a level of abandon. (Though creating art helps abandoned children therapeutically, I don't think that's what she meant.)
I want to thank all of you for leaving such encouraging and thoughtful comments and emails. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate it. You have really lit a spark for me and I hope it grows into a lively, snapping, warming fire.
Here's another bit of serendipity: I bought the magazine Mary Englebreit's Home Companion yesterday and found a painting of hers with the phrase shown below. I do agree. No matter what level of skill we are at, we are all gifted and we cannot neglect or suppress it.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I am using this collage of mine - which happens to be the cover of a spiral bound journal/notebook, to tell you that I am no longer going to be afraid. Somewhere recently (in a blog, I think), I read this question: "What are you afraid of?" I am afraid to create, and I am afraid to share the results of my creativity.
But I have a burning need to create, and I have more than enough materials at hand to do so. I mean, I have all the paints, ribbons, markers, crayons, colored pencils, stamps, papers, embellishments, findings, magazine clippings, etc. that one woman could want. Mostly, they sit unused in boxes or in drawers.
I have read books on journaling, collage, book making and writing poetry. Now it's time to stop being afraid and get to work. I had a good start when I took my visual journaling class, but that ended in early April. Since then, I've hardly opened the door to Kristen's old room, which has become my office/work area.
Creating art is something that I WANT to do; something that I enjoy doing once I begin. But there's this inner critic, this subversive, nasty voice, that usually prevents me from even getting started. It censors me. It dampens my flame.
How did I get to be that way? I think I, like most people, think that if I can't draw, I can't create art. Also, one summer during my college years, my stepfather saw me pasting some magazine pictures into a scrapbook. He was very scornful about my "childish" activities. He was forever putting me down, killing my spirit and sucking my soul.
However, I have come to believe that playing with papers and scissors is good for your soul, no matter what age you are. I have put this quote into another collage of mine (sorry I don't know the source): "I've talked to a lot of women my age, and they say it all goes back to cutting out paper dolls. When women are together and they cut out or color in, I notice an almost-going-back to childhood feel in the atmosphere of the room, and it's an escape. That's what's magical and delightful - it's almost a return to something in your childhood."
I vow, from now on I am not going to be so fearful any more. And I am also going to push the envelope beyond what I have already done. All of my "art" so far is pretty. I can't seem to help it. I want it to be less pretty, less structured, more spontaneous. I want it to have texture and depth. It is too glossy, too planted in reality. I need to push my boundaries further and further.
I need to grow and stretch. I need to "think outside the box." I need to go beyond the cliches and be truly creative.
I think that the more I explore with my toys, the more free my expressions will become. I need to break out of the conventional traps that I find myself in, and find my real self.
I am 58 years old, and if I am going to do it, I have to do it now. There will be a lot of trial and error, a real learning curve.*
To that end, look for my announcement of a new blog coming soon.
When I left home this morning the sky was morning-glory blue. As I drove west, I couldn't believe my eyes. Was that fog I saw a few blocks ahead? Indeed it was. By the time I reached the river's edge, I was enveloped in fog. Emerging from the mists which shrouded them were the construction crane for the new bridge and the beautiful lacy ironwork of the old bridge. (The photo above shows yet another bridge - to the south of the one I drive across every day).
As soon as we got to the Mandan side of the river, the fog was gone, instantly! When I reached my office a few minutes later, I looked out my second-floor window toward the river. A dark grey ribbon of fog followed the river's course. Fifteen minutes later, and the fog had turned pure white, but still clearly delineated the river's path. By 9:00, the spectacle was gone.
In recent days, the Missouri has looked so serene and calm as I cross it. It's hard to believe that underneath its surface it is shifting sandbars, eroding banks, and moving hundreds of thousand of gallons of water in its quest to meet the Mississippi River and eventually drain into the Gulf of Mexico.
A mighty dam holds back the river at Garrison, about 50 miles north of Bismarck. We folks upstream, the Montanas and Dakotans, want the river levels to be high here. When they are down, recreation suffers, and our states need the recreation revenue. (And our residents deserve to enjoy their lakes and rivers.) The U. S. Corps of Engineers has a different idea for this river. They have lowered the water level here so that it will be high down south, for barge traffic.
I am not going to get into this argument at the moment. And the Mighty Mo, in the long run, doesn't care. It just keeps on a-rollin' toward the sea, and it will do so long after we are gone. But today it showed me part of my sacred life.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
This is a familiar song to most of us, having been performed by a number of famous American recording artists.
I do enjoy this song - the melody, the evocation of falling leaves drifting by a window, and the thought that the lover will miss his darling most of all "when autumn leaves start to fall."
However, this song is a translation of a French song called, "Les Feuilles Mortes." And I learned it in French. So where Mercer wrote about sunburned hands and lips, I learned "Les feuilles mortes se remassent a la pelle, Les souvenirs and les regrets aussi". Loosely translated, with nearly 40 years between me and my last French class, this means: "The dead leaves are gathered on the rake; the memories and the regrets as well." (Dear Kristen, my French-major daughter, I can visualize you grimacing. So please if you have time send me a proper translation of the song or at least of the few lines above.)
I found several English translations of "Les Feuilles Mortes" on the web. One, by a Frenchman, is extremely literal, awkward and inept. ("I loved you so much, you was so pretty.") By the way, this translation recites that the leaves are gathered by a shovel. The correct translation of "la pelle" is shovel, but I am sticking with rake as it is what I learned, and it sounds so much nicer.
The other translation is by Coby Lubliner, who has some interesting things to say about translating lyrics in general, and in particular, the practice of creating a virtually new song with only vague connections with the original: "One of the most egregious examples of this practice is the poignant, bittersweet French song Les Feuilles Mortes, whose lyrics are by the great poet (and screenwriter) Jacques Prevert and which made a star of Yves Montand. The American music industry, alas, amputated this song of its verses and published only the refrain as the ballad Autumn Leaves, with typically mawkish lyrics by Johnny Mercer. But since this version was recorded by the likes of Nat "King" Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and their ilk, not to mention countless instrumental performances, it has, like the north wind, swept the original song into oblivion's icy night, except perhaps in French-speaking cultures. I have modestly tried to remedy this (in my opinion) travesty."
I am re-printing Lubliner's version below. I think he keeps pretty well to the spirit of the song, if not the letter, if my shaky French is any indication. But he strays too far sometimes. He avoids the whole shovel/rake quandary and instead makes it "Dead leaves are gathering as in December." The word December does NOT appear in this song! I'll forgive him, however, because he uses December to rhyme with "remember". He is successful in rhyming the English translation, which is extremely difficult to do when moving from one language to another.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
When I was looking for photos for my post about bittersweet (below), I wasn't surprised to find this photo labeled "Bittersweet." Not surprised, because a lot of people mix up bittersweet and Chinese lanterns. I suppose it is because of their shared orange color and their appearance in fall. FOLKS, THIS IS NOT BITTERSWEET! It is CHINESE LANTERNS.
I tried growing Chinese lanterns once, but failed miserably. I have never seen it grown in any garden in Bismarck so I had supposed it was not suited to our climate. However, since then, I have been able to purchase stems of Chinese lanterns at fall craft fairs from area vendors.
The "lanterns" are extremely fragile but if you take really good care of them and pack them well from season to season, they can last a long time.
The first time I ever heard about bittersweet was when I was 15 and read Betty Smith's book "Joy in the Morning." In the book, Annie McGairy, who had never seen bittersweet either, passes by a florist's window and is captivated by the beautiful red and orange berries. She stops in to inquire about the cost, which turns out to be 10 cents a stem. For Annie, this is a lot of money - a real extravagance - but she can't resist purchasing some, and the florist wraps her bittersweet stems in florist's paper.
When I moved to Bismarck, I learned that keeping one's bittersweet-gathering spot a secret is akin to mushroom hunters in Provence keeping mum about the location of their truffles. I have a friend who always brings home big loads of bittersweet branches every fall. I kept asking her to take me along on these excursions, but she never seemed to call. Finally, it dawned on me (I am a bit slow on the uptake) that she was NEVER going to call me to go with her.
Actually, I know where a lot of bittersweet grows - south of Bismarck in Sibley Park by the Missouri River. However, it is against the law to take any natural material from state parks, so I have never taken any. I suppose I could scope out a site in the daytime and return at night to purloin some. However, knowing my luck, I would fall in the river instead.
I have managed to find some bittersweet on my own - in ditches along the back roads by the river. In North Dakota, at least, this is where bittersweet seems to thrive.
I especially love finding bittersweet that hasn't opened yet. In this state, the berries appear orange. But pick them, bring them into your warm home, and in a very short time you'll see the orange outer layer split and flare out to become the bittersweet "petals". Hiding inside are the orangey-red berries. Some years, I can't find any bittersweet, and have to rely on finding some at the various fall craft festivals held in the area.
Stems of bittersweet look wonderful no matter how they are displayed, but they look especially good in straw baskets or copper or rusty containers.
I could belabor the obvious and natter on about autumn being a bittersweet season, but I think that's all been said before.
P. S. I mentioned the book "Joy in the Morning" by Betty Smith, of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" fame. Apparently, a lot of people think this book is not quite up to par with ATGIB, which is of course a classic. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Penguin Books has chosen it as a Modern Classic. It tells the story of Annie McGairy, a Brooklynite like ATGIB's heroine, Francie Nolan. Annie is transplanted to an unnamed (in the book) Midwestern university where her brand-new husband is studying law. I just found out tonight, by Googling Betty Smith's name, that the school is the University of Michigan. Like ATGIB, "Joy" is an autobiographical novel for Smith.
Joy in the morning? Yes, it is a joy to see an uneducated Annie try to be a good wife to Carl, to see her make friends with members from all the social strata of the town, and to slowly, slowly start to gain an education for herself. I especially loved the part where she finds a tattered old copy of "War and Peace" for a quarter, patches it back together and laboriously - with the help of a dictionary - studies the book page by page and re-writes it too!
By the way, do not bother with the dreadful movie that was based on this book.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Lila contributed the "Bohemian" collage, the dotted brown paper, the feather and the robin. I took it from there.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Today I found myself an Autumn "Green Man", or whatever he would be called. I just really liked his expression. It's not a very good image, as I could not fit all of him on the scanner.
I also found a little someone who would be perfect to add to my next giftaway. I am approaching my 200th post, and when I do hit that number I will advertise a giftaway of autumn- and Halloween-themed items. I can't wait to show what else I found too, so I guess I will be writing a lot of posts in the next couple of weeks! P. S. I'm keeping this little fairy's sister (seated) for myself!
Friday, September 7, 2007
This little sea otter came to live at my house today, all the way from California. This photo really doesn't do him justice. The color of the waters swirling around him is actually a lovely shade of blue, his little tongue is shell pink and he has the most wonderful expression on his face! Yeah, he's a he, I just know it.
I thought I had better have a representation of my sea otter totem to join my dolphins figurine and my bluebird of happiness sitting on an acorn. The bluebird is a precious symbol to me and my sister, although we have never seen real bluebirds, because our Grandma had bluebird patterned china. Whenever we see some bluebird china in a shop, we draw a collective sigh of remembrance (and a little gasp at the prices). Each of us has just a tiny bit of bluebird china - for me, a teacup and saucer. I also gave my sis a little bluebird (pin) to sit on her collar.
As for the acorn, that is my remembrance of Daisy Lupin, who wrote about the mighty oak and about the protective powers of its acorns. One of these days I will try and take a photo of all of these creatures on my desk, but for now, in lieu of a digital camera, please enjoy my playful sea otter.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
North Dakota has a possible second albino buffalo (actually bison), an extremely rare occurrence. The white calf was first spotted with its mother, "White Cloud" over Labor Day weekend. White buffalo are sacred to the Lakota, or Sioux, Indians.
The following is the newspaper article on the calf, copied from the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:
White Cloud, the albino bison that has been a tourist attraction here for 11 years, has given birth to a calf that could be a rare albino as well.
Bob Mountain, the treasurer of the board of Jamestown's National Buffalo Museum, said White Cloud and her calf were spotted for the first time Saturday. The calf was believed to have been born late Friday night. Officials said they did not know whether it is a male or female.
"It has a pink nose and ears, so I think it's an albino," Mountain said. "But it will be awhile before we know for sure."
White Cloud is a DNA-tested albino bison. The calf was her fifth since she joined the Jamestown museum herd 11 years ago.
Officials say the odds of a white calf being born are extremely rare. Many bison born white eventually turn brown.
"The problem is, there's nothing to compare it to," Mountain said.
The odds of White Cloud giving birth to an albino bison are considerably better than normal, however, Mountain said, because she was bred back to her only bull calf, Dakota Thunder. The process called line breeding gave her a 50-50 chance she would have a white calf, he said.
"You line breed for certain traits," he said.
Daniel and Jean Shirek, of the northeastern North Dakota town of Michigan, own White Cloud and lease her to the buffalo museum. The Shireks also are joint owners of the new calf with the museum.
"It took us by surprise, and we think it's wonderful," Daniel Shirek said. He planned to come to Jamestown to see the calf and discuss DNA testing with museum board members.
"We'll do whatever they want to do," he said.
The white buffalo is sacred to most Plains Indian tribes and is often seen as a sign of great changes in the world. To some tribes it is a blessing. Others believe it is a sign of peace, prosperity, unity and hope.
The birth of a white calf is a boost for tourism in Jamestown, said Buffalo City Tourism Director Nina Sneider.
"White Cloud has been a tremendous draw for the last 11 years, and I'd guess we'll have even more visitors now," Sneider said. "We get visitors, even in the dead of winter, who want to see her."
Sneider said it doesn't matter whether the calf is an albino or was just born with a white hide; it's still a rarity. Part of the Lakota legend speaks of the white buffalo changing to a brown one as it walked, she said.
"So, it's in keeping with the legend and, spiritually, makes the calf precious to them," she said.
In the post below I have reprinted the Legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman.
The White Buffalo are sacred to many Native Americans. The Lakota (Sioux) Nation has passed down the The Legend of the White Buffalo --a story now approximately 2,000 years old--at many council meetings, sacred ceremonies, and through the tribe's storytellers. There are several variations, but all are meaningful, and tell of the same outcome. Have communication with the Creator through prayer with clear intent for Peace, Harmony and Balance for all life living in the Earth Mother.
Spirituality among Natives Americans and non-Native Americans has been a strong force for those who believe in the power of the Great Spirit or God.
It matters not what you call the Creator. What matters is that you pray to give thanks for your blessings and trust the guidance given to you from the world of Spirit. Many truths about Spirit are told and handed down from one generation to the next.
The legend of the White Calf Woman tells how the People had lost the ability to communicate with the Creator. The Creator sent the sacred White Calf Woman to teach the People how to pray with the Pipe. With that Pipe, seven sacred ceremonies were given for the people to abide in order to ensure a future with harmony, peace, and balance.
Legend says that long ago, two young men were out hunting when from out of nowhere came a beautiful maiden dressed in white buckskin. One of the hunters looked upon her and recognizing her as a wakan, or sacred being, lowered his eyes. The second hunter approached her with lust in his eyes desiring her for his woman. White Buffalo Calf Woman beckoned the lustful warrior to her, and as he approached a cloud of dust arose around them causing them to be hidden from view. When the dust settled, nothing but a pile of bones lay next to her. As she walked toward the respectful young hunter, she explained to him that she had merely fulfilled the other man's desire, allowing him, within that brief moment, to live a lifetime, die and decay.
White Buffalo Calf Woman instructed the young man to go back to the People and tell them to prepare for her arrival to teach them of the way to pray. The young hunter obeyed. When White Buffalo Calf woman arrived with the sacred bundle (the prayer pipe) she taught the People of the seven sacred ways to pray. These prayers are through ceremonies that include the Sweat Lodge for purification; the Naming Ceremony for child naming; the Healing Ceremony to restore health to the body, mind and spirit; the adoption ceremony for making of relatives; the marriage ceremony for uniting male and female; the Vision Quest for communing with the Creator for direction and answers to one's life; and the Sundance Ceremony to pray for the well-being of all the People.
When the teaching of the sacred ways was complete, White Buffalo Calf Woman told the people she would again return for the sacred bundle that she left with them. Before leaving, she told them that within her were the four ages, and that she would look back upon the People in each age, returning at the end of the fourth age, to restore harmony and spirituality to a troubled land. She walked a short distance, she looked back towards the people and sat down. When she arose they were amazed to see she had become a black buffalo. Walking a little further, the buffalo laid down, this time arising as a yellow buffalo. The third time the buffalo walked a little further and this time arose as a red buffalo. Walking a little further it rolled on the ground and rose one last time as a white buffalo calf signaling the fulfillment of the White Buffalo Calf prophecy.
The changing of the four colors of the White Buffalo Calf Woman represents the four colors of man--white, yellow, red and black. These colors also represent the four directions, north, east, south and west. The sacred bundle that was left to the Lakota people is still with the People in a sacred place on the Cheyenne River Indian reservation in South Dakota. It is kept by a man known as the Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, Arvol Looking Horse.
The legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman remains ever promising in this age of spiritual enlightenment and conscious awareness. In today's world of confusion and war many of us are looking for signs of peace.
"With the return of the White Buffalo it is a sign that prayers are being heard, that the sacred pipe is being honored, and that the promises of prophecy are being fulfilled. White Buffalo signals a time of abundance and plenty." (from Sams and Carson, Medicine cards)
Though harsh as the world we live in may be throughout recorded history there have been spiritual leaders teaching peace, hope and balance (synergy) amongst all life. This was taught by great teachers such as Jesus, Buddha, the Dali Lama's, and Native American leaders. Chief Crazy Horse, Chief Seattle, and Chief Red Cloud are a few of the visionary leaders who committed their lives to bring peace, and internal happiness to all who they touched. They were tangible signs of goodwill toward all men, women and children.
Legend courtesy Jim and Dena Riley, Spirit Mountain Ranch
March, 2005 (From www.legendsofamerica.com)
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Oops, Mom caught me. She told me to tell you that is NOT an actual photo of me with all that dog hair. Alright, I admit that I stole it off the Internet. I don't need clipping, but Mom says that could really be a picture of all the hair I SHED. And, what is more amazing, that is about how much dog hair she had to clip off our cocker spaniel, Lady.