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Emily Bronte
(Image Source)

Song by Julius Angora
by Emily Bronte

Awake! awake! how loud the stormy morning
Calls up to life the nations resting round;
Arise, Arise, is it the voice of mourning
That breaks our slumber with so wild a sound?

The voice of mourning? Listen to its pealing;
That shout of triumph drowns the sigh of woe;
Each tortured heart forgets its wonted feeling,
Each faded cheek resumes its long-lost glow -

Our souls are full of gladness, God has given
Our arms to victory, our foes to death;
The crimson ensign waves its sheet in heaven -
The sea-green Standard lies in dust beneath.

Patriots, no stain is on your country’s glory
Soldiers, preserve that glory bright and free
Let Almedore in peace, and battle gory,
Be still a nobler name for victory!

Happy (early) Easter, and happy National Poetry Month!  Reading anything springy?

Peanuts Picks Lets Read

Mother GooseMother Goose is a large, aggressive bird who sips tea and haunts children’s dreams.  This is something you might not know about geese, but it’s true.  They are angry, violent birds with a talent for making up terrifying rhymes.  That’s why, when my mom asked me what I would like to talk about for National Poetry Month, I picked Mother Goose.  Because what is the point of poetry if it’s not to make children cry and cling to their mothers?  (Their real mothers, not their bird mothers.  As a matter of fact, let’s get this one thing straight right now, before we go any further: Mother Goose, YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER.)

Anyway, Mother Goose is a super scary book of horrifying poems.  My mom didn’t want to get me this book because she said it was too scary and she would rather I read A.A. Milne, but my Nana wanted me to taste delicious fear so she bought it for me while my mom was at work one day.  Thanks, Nana!

It’s fun to look at the cover of this book and say “Honk, honk,” because that is what geese say.  But the fun stops there.  As soon as you open the cover you will be assaulted by terrifying images like enslaved mice and children in the process of breaking their heads.

Example:

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.

Then up Jack got and home did trot
As fast as he could caper.
He went to bed and plastered his head
With vinegar and brown paper.

In case you are dense about poetry, let me explain.  This is not a poem about a boy king, as you might have thought, although that would be better.  This is actually about a botched medical procedure.  Jack is a young peasant and that means that his “crown” is actually his head, because wishful thinking.  He breaks it, then tries to perform head reconstructive surgery on himself.  Unless you like gross medical stories, this poem will haunt your dreams.

Here’s another example:

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her.
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well.

This is a good example of how poetry can make you think.  My parents disagree about what this poem is about.  My dad says it’s about infidelity.  My mom says it’s about false imprisonment.  Either way, I don’t want to touch that pumpkin with a ten foot pole.  Just look at the dead eyes of Mrs. Peter in any of the pictures, and you’ll see what I mean.

One more:

Pease porridge hot!
Pease porridge cold!
Pease porridge in the pot,
Nine days old.

Some like it hot,
Some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot,
Nine days old!

This is a tricky one, so let me explain.  Pease Porridge is a poem about a child whose mother is so lazy that she doesn’t go to the grocery store for almost two weeks, which to a child is the equivalent of years.  The child has to eat nine day old porridge (yum?) and it doesn’t say this part but I’m pretty sure it’s implied that everyone gets food poisoning.

Isn’t poetry fun?

Lesson for parents: Save your pennies, because my therapy is going to be expensive.

TinyBookworm

Yay, National Poetry Month!  You can go ahead and buy Mother Goose rhymes for your children here, or support your local indie bookstore.  These are not affiliate links, but my mom should probably look into that so she can start saving up because I’m scarred for life.

 

A Favorite Poem

My favorite family picture snapped this fall... maybe my favorite family picture ever.

I may have dedicated my month of poetry reading to Emily Bronte, but I can’t resist sharing one poem by my favorite poet, e.e. cummings.  I’ve loved this poem for years, but it gets more and more meaningful and more and more special to me.  The reason: two people, and they know who they are.

i carry your heart
by e.e. cummings
Source: The Poetry Foundation

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,mydear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Emily Bronte
(Image Source)

Tell Me Tell Me
by Emily Bronte

Tell me tell me smiling child
What the past is like to thee?
An Autumn evening soft and mild
With a wind that sighs mournfully

Tell me what is the present hour?
A green and flowery spray
Where a young bird sits gathering its power
To mount and fly away

And what is the future happy one?
A sea beneath a cloudless sun
A mighty glorious dazzling sea
Stretching into infinity

Happy National Poetry Month!  Have you read a poem today?

CR9

As you may remember, instead of making resolutions or setting goals for 2014, I decided to set an intention (a la yoga class) and let that intention guide my decisions and actions this year.  My intention for 2014 is: A Better Life.  Basically, I want to take the already-pretty-great life I have going and make it even better.  Here’s how I’ve been working to create a better life for myself, hubby, and Peanut so far this year:

January

  • Started a new habit of drinking a glass of warm lemon water every morning.  This was an idea I saw in Giada’s Feel Good Food and I wanted to give it a try.  Lemon is great for the liver, and warm water is a little less shocking to the early-morning system than cold water is.  I’ve tried, in the past, to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water before I eat or drink anything else, and it’s finally stuck.  (The lemon flavor really helps - and that’s coming from someone who loves water and has no trouble getting 64 ounces every day.)  I keep lemon wedges in a Rubbermaid container in the fridge and every morning, the first thing I do when I get downstairs is pop one in a glass and fill it with some warm water.  It’s such a nice, gentle way to get going and I love that I get two cups’ worth of water in right away.
  • Experimented with a gluten-free lifestyle.  I sometimes feel a little silly trying out new eating philosophies – like, am I a sheep?  Am I succumbing to trends?  But I’ve been doing some reading about gluten sensitivities, and gluten was the only food that gave me trouble when I reintroduced it after my last Whole30, so I think it’s worthwhile exploring whether eating gluten-free might benefit me.  By asking these kinds of questions and looking for the answers, I am working on saying YES to myself and tuning out my worries about what others might think.  (Since going mostly gluten-free, I have fewer headaches and less digestive distress, and I’ve noticed other health improvements, so I think there might be something to it.  I also notice that I feel considerably worse when I am less disciplined about eating gluten-free.  I’m hoping to visit an allergist at some point and get some more concrete answers.)

February

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  • Ran my second half marathon!  Seriously, I’ll bet you’re all sick of hearing about it by this point, and I promise I’ll shut up eventually.  But this was a big thing for me this month.  I loved having the training time be something “just for me” and it meant a lot to me to know that I could chase after this big goal and achieve it.  Running definitely makes my life better in so many ways – it’s good for me, it’s something I can do for myself, and it lets me work to improve.  Now I’m looking to the next step, but more on that later.

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  • Started juicing.  I’ve been wanting a juicer for awhile, but neither the budget nor the kitchen cabinets have space for it at the moment.  So I decided to give juicing in my VitaMix another whirl.  I love the VitaMix for soups, smoothies and baby food, but the one and only time I’d tried to make juice it just didn’t turn out very well.  When I found out that our Stroller Strides instructor had been making fresh juices in a blender, though, I thought I’d better give it another whirl.  (<– See what I did there?)  I’ve come up with a formula for a fresh green juice that I really like, and I’ve been drinking a cup most mornings with my breakfast, and occasionally as an afternoon snack.  I love fresh juices, and I’m so glad I’ve found a way to make them inexpensively at home.  So far, I’m the only one who is really enjoying the homemade green juice.  Hubby says it “tastes better than it has any right to,” but he won’t drink a glass, and Peanut will occasionally take sips from me but she prefers to pirate my morning lemon water.  They’ll come around.

Intention Q1 1

  • Visited the Buffalo Botanical Gardens – twice!  Hubby planned a Valentine’s Day outing (actually, it was the Saturday after) to Night Lights at the Botanical Gardens – basically, a seasonal event in which the Gardens are kept open late and light shows play in each of the greenhouses.  We all loved the event, but Peanut particularly had a ball.  She discovered the koi pond and was completely entranced by the fish swimming around, and “Pond! Pond! Pond!” is pretty much all we’ve heard since.  So, since she loved it so much, we went back the very next weekend during the day.  Of course it was fun to see her big eyes take in the majesty that is the koi pond (LOLwut?), but I also found it to be a good winter survival tactic (a la my pal Katie).  Spending a couple of hours wandering around in the heated greenhouses, with the winter sun baking down through the glass ceilings, was absolute bliss.  It felt like summer for the afternoon.  You can read more about our Botanical Gardens adventures here, and I’m sure we’ll be going back many times – but especially in the winters.

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March

  • Started a new job!  Although it’s been tough to leave Peanut, she’s in good hands during the day and I know that me bringing in an income is a good thing for our family, and will definitely contribute to a better life for all of us (starting with enabling us to finally start looking for a permanent home, and it’ll feel great to be settled again).  It’s also good for me to get back out there in the legal community, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a position practicing my specialty with a well-regarded firm.  I couldn’t ask for a better situation and I think this is going to be a great thing for our family.
  • Taken several family walks, including one at Tifft Nature Preserve and one with Grandma and Grandpa at Chestnut Ridge (the same park we visited with Zan and Paul back in December).  Even though there was still snow on the ground for most of the month, we were so over the indoors.  It was good for all of us to get out and breathe some fresh air.

Have you set an intention for 2014?  How’s it going?

Night Lights 1

Continuing on our quest to ferret out all the best family-friendly activities in Buffalo, we’ve got a new winner: the Botanical Gardens!  I’d been wanting to poke around here for awhile, and hubby planned a special surprise visit as a treat for the night after Valentine’s Day: an evening exploring the Night Lights.  The Night Lights are a light show inside the Botanical Gardens (I believe they’re a seasonal special event, but it could be more frequent than that).

We arrived to find the dome all lit up and glowing green from within.  It was bitter cold, so I stood outside in line holding a place for our family while hubby kept Peanut warm and happy in the car.  When I got close to the door I called him and they darted up to join me right as I was about to make it through the entrance.  Once inside, we were immediately dazzled by the green, sparkling lights darting all over the central dome.

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(This picture does not do the dome justice.  It’s gorgeous.)  We drifted along with the crowd, checking out both the plants and the fun lighting.

Night Lights 3

Peanut and I were both obsessed with this little rainbow waterfall.  I couldn’t help but think of Fancy Nancy; I think this is exactly the sort of event she’d adore. (Adore is fancy for love!)  And speaking of adoration, while at the Night Lights, Peanut discovered her new soulmate: the koi pond.  (Can a pond be your soulmate?  If not, please don’t tell Peanut.)  She was completely enamored of the fish swimming through the clear water and darting under and around the lily pads.  So much so, that she talked about the pond nonstop all the following week and we decided to make a return visit only seven days later.

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Two things: (1) the Botanical Gardens are even more beautiful in the sunlight than they are at night, and (2) darned if it wasn’t blissful to be SO. WARM.  We all stripped off our coats immediately and basked in the tropical heat – a nice change from the biting chill outside.

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The Botanical Gardens are set up as a series of greenhouses, each one dedicated to a different plant type or habitat.  There’s a room filled with ivy, another with dozens of Bonsais and miniature trees, and my favorite (other than the pond, of course!) was the desert room, where I drifted from plant stand to plant stand admiring the succulents and the cacti.  (I’d love to have a succulent garden one day, but I don’t know if it could withstand our Buffalo winters unless it was under glass like this one.)

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Naturally, we spent a bit of time playing in the “family garden,” which was a room filled with activities for the littles.  There was a sandbox, a few plants that the kids could touch, and a couple of tiny lawn mower push toys.  Peanut went straight for the lawn mower and set up a few spectacular crashes.

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After we spent some time in the family garden, Peanut was clamoring to head back to the pond, so we found our way back there.  Grandma and Grandpa had joined us for the outing, and Peanut spent some time showing them her favorite fish.

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Peanut and Daddy also befriended a giant ivy dinosaur, as one does, you know.

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It’s been a couple of months now, and Peanut still talks about the pond constantly.  We read her pond books (In My Pond and Who’s Hiding in the Pond?) daily, and every afternoon when I get her up from her nap, she greets me with the same description of her dreams: “A pond!  Fish!  Blub blub!”  It’s love, people.  It’s pond love, between a baby and her pond.  (Sung to the tune of “Guy Love” from Scrubs, natch.)

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We’ve since been back a third time, this time with Nana and Grandad, and Peanut had just as much fun communing with the koi and walking the little footbridge.  On our third visit, she also discovered the sand box in the family garden, and narrowly avoided filling her pants with sand, so that’s fun.  ;-)  I think it’s safe to say we’ll be going back for a fourth visit ASAP.

Do you have Botanical Gardens in your city?  Do you love koi ponds as much as Peanut does?

CentralLibrary3

It’s April, which means rain showers (that’ll hopefully bring May flowers), Easter, warmer days, and… National Poetry Month!  Every year, I like to get in on the action by making an effort to read more poetry and share some of what I’m reading here.  Last year I celebrated by dedicating my month to reading a new-to-me poet, Anna Akhmatova, in what proved to be a very enriching experience.  Peanut also got in on the action, presenting When We Were Very Young, by A.A. Milne, in a special National Poetry Month edition of “Peanut’s Picks.”  The year before, I shared one of my favorite poems, by my very favorite poet, to celebrate both National Poetry Month and Easter, and I extended the celebrations a bit by using another poem to make a very special announcement.

This year, I have plenty of poetical fun planned to celebrate National Poetry Month!  You can expect another special edition of “Peanut’s Picks,” and of course, some e.e. cummings.  And since I enjoyed exploring the works of a new-to-me poet so much last year, I’ve decided to do the same thing this year.  For 2014, I’ve chosen:

Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte!

If you’ve been reading my blog for more than five minutes or so, you probably know that I’m a big fan of Charlotte and Anne Bronte.  Jane Eyre is my favorite book, and I love Anne’s works The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey as well.  Of the three readalongs in which I’ve participated, two have been devoted to Charlotte’s work.  In May of last year, I read Villette with Beth and Amal, and in September I participated in the Septemb-Eyre readalong hosted by Kerry.

So yes, I love me some Bronte sisters.  Except, I just can’t get behind Wuthering Heights.  I’ve tried, goodness knows I have.  I’ve read Wuthering Heights three times now and disliked it more each time.  So much so that when Maggie of An American in France announced that she was hosting a Wuthering Heights readalong, I begged off.  I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it and I didn’t want to spoil the readalong for others.

I really, really want to like Emily Bronte’s work.  I’m tired of giving the caveat “except for Emily,” when I share my Bronte love with fellow readers.  So I’m going to see if I get along better with her poetry.  I expect I will.  The only redeeming quality that I found in Wuthering Heights was its forbiddingly romantic (or romantically forbidding) descriptions of the wild natural world that surrounded the Heights.  Emily’s sensibilities and her attraction to the remote and desolate strike me as a perfect quality for some seriously intense, brooding poetry.  Basically, all of the Bronte, none of the Heathcliff?  That’s what I’m hoping for.  I’ve been flipping through the copy of her collected poems that I acquired for this month (the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets, which is the same edition I picked up for Anna Akhmatova last year) and so far, I’m a big fan.  The challenge will be to read a little Emily Bronte each day this month and hope that by the end of the month, I’m a convert – if not to her one and only novel, then to her poetry.

Here’s a little taste:

The night is darkening round me
by Emily Bronte
(source: The Poetry Foundation)

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me,
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow;
The storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me:
I will not, cannot go.

Whew!  What wild imagery!  Yep, so far, so good.  I love the rhythm and the compelling words.  I’ll share one Emily Bronte poem every Friday for the rest of the month, so check back next Friday for more from the most enigmatic of the Bronte sisters.
Are you planning to celebrate National Poetry Month this year?
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