Oikan ayns Bethlehem (The Babe in Bethlehem)

Pen and Ink drawing of The Nativity with the Dream of Joseph
The Nativity with the Dream of Joseph c. 1527/30? Parmigianino (Italian, 1503-1540), Cleveland Museum of Art

Nish lhisagh shin yn feailley shoh
Y reayll lesh creeaghyn glen
Ayns cooinaghtyn jeh Yeesey Chreest
Oikan ayns Bethlehem

Daag Eh cooyrtn sollys E Ayr
Goaill er yn dooghys ain
Ruggit jeh Moidyn ghlen gyn chron
Oikan ayns Bethlehem

Eisht ainleyn Niau ren boggey ghoaill
Haink lesh ny naightyn hooin
Ginsh jeh Saualtagh ruggiy jiu
Oikan ayns Bethlehem

Nagh mooar yn insblid as y ghraih
V’ayns Yeesey Chreest yn Eayn
Tra ghow Eh er cummey Harvaant
Oikan ayns Bethlehem

Now keep we this festival,
With purest hearts,
In honor of Christ:
The Babe in Bethlehem

He left his Father’s palace,
Taking on our human form,
Born of the pure Virgin,
The Babe in Bethlehem.

Then the angels rejoiced
And brought us tidings –
A savoir born today,
The Babe in Bethlehem.

How great the humility and love,
Which was in Jesus Christ the Lamb,
When He took the form of his Servant,
The Babe in Bethlehem.

Wishing a Merry Christmas to You and Yours!


Musings on the Start of a Season

I was bent over a potter’s wheel yesterday, inscribing my initials and the year on a pot (Vase? Cup? Curio that just sits in a box or gathers dust in the corner for years? To be determined…) when I realized that my brain still hasn’t really caught up to the reality that this year is 2019. Which means next year is 2020, a number that somehow seems important, even if only for its neat repetition. It’s odd this flow of time, how dates can both seem so near and so distant. I was trying to remember when I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories” and had to flip through my “books read” lists all the way to 2012. Twenty twelve! Surely it can’t have been that long—I still remember it well. In contrast, I have read several books in the past year, where turning the final page, it’s felt as if it was years ago when I started the books—not in a negative way, but rather a feeling brought about by the growth and changes in the characters that made me somehow feel as if I had grown and changed as well. A strange sensation, one that usually requires me to put some space between one book and the next.

And real time seems fickle as well, somehow. Days that pass by too quickly while weeks stretch on forever, time playing games with us, taunting, teasing.

I didn’t realize I’d gone nearly a month since last posting. But it makes sense—how many weekends has writing blog posts pushed to the bottom of the to-do list of late? Even on my recent “staycation” there was always something that seemed of more interest.

It’s a fine line. To stay “busy” enough that I feel I’m making progress on all my many (many – I perhaps need to develop a more limited focus…sigh) projects, but not so much as to be overwhelmed. To have something to look forward to that unexciting time might pass, but to embrace the current moment that the desired event might stretch out forever.

Some days I think I’ve found it. It was a fine—wonderfully full without being overwhelming—weekend even without today’s (US Memorial Day) holiday off. Of critical importance for me is shuffling the “must dos” to early in the day that they might be out-of-the-way so that it feels as if much more time is open for the things of interest. A hard lesson for a life-long procrastinator to learn.

Oddly enough, despite my fondness for timing to deadlines, I’ve finished my current Classics Club spin read already. (Fingers crossed I get my act together enough to post on it by Friday!) It’s been an excellent reading month, in fact—after months of finishing nothing, I finished three other books and started another two.

And at long last I finished my sweater as well. Started over a year ago (March 2018), this one fits best yet…but I’m not eager to pick up any new projects with seams for a while! Besides, summer—and summer weather fast approaches, when reading is a more suitable pastime. I envision lazy afternoons on the back screened porch, lemonade in one hand and book in another. I have a tentative “hope to read” list for the coming months. It’s unrealistically long, of course, but it’s time to make some progress on the TBR list and the library pile.

Then of course there’s Cleo’s readalong. Encouraged by my May progress, I’ve signed up to join in on her June journey through C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves.  It’s sitting here beside me; perhaps I will get started this afternoon. Or perhaps I’ll pick up the mystery immediately beneath it. Or any one of the various books scattered around, tempting me to their pages and the stories within.

This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and so it seems to mark the start of a new season of limitless possibilities—here’s hoping it brings many good ones!

Week’s End Notes (33)

Vase of cut zinnias and sunflowers And so we’ve arrived at the first August weekend. I may have said last post that about this time of year it always feels as if summer’s almost (practically) over–and indeed, two area schools (individual schools, not districts; they are experiments in student learning improvements) started classes this past week.  But today it certainly feels “summer” – hot and humid. I don’t expect much variation between now and mid-September–this is what late summer usually is like around here. But I won’t complain. We don’t get wildfires, we don’t get serious drought.

Cover: Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Penguin cloth bound edition)My classics spin title ended up as probably the one I least wanted on the list–indeed, I hadn’t even realized it was still on the list. (Oops.) Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Not because I don’t want to read it–I’ve read and liked Hardy previously. But I have serious doubts as to the likelihood of being able to finish it by the end of the month. (And no, I haven’t started yet. I’ve been trying to finish up other things first.) So we’ll see how that goes. Maybe the deadline will prove the needed inspiration.

And there’s this, too, that helps: I haven’t gone a single day since May 20 without reading for at least five minutes! Some days it’s only been that five little minutes. But it’s become a streak that I am so reluctant to break, that there was even one night when I had to work late on a deadline–so late I was up past my bedtime–and even sleepy as I was, I wouldn’t let myself fall asleep before I’d read for that five minutes. On the other hand, while reading always seems a good thing, perhaps I should question my priorities…

(But the streak!)

I haven’t kept up with blogging as much as I’d like; that has been one of the casualties of busyness. I’d hoped to be able to participate in the Spanish-Portuguese Literature Months hosted by Stu and Richard, but that doesn’t look likely now. (Though there’s still time…maybe if I skip work for a week–think anyone would notice?!)

In some ways I feel the last few months have been absorbed all in work. And yet, when I think back to all that I’ve done, that’s not so, I just have had very little “do-nothing” time. I’ve finished seven books since early May. I’ve been to four movies, a rate higher-than-normal for me. One of them was the delightful documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, which I was able to see thanks to a colleague telling me about a local independent theater that I didn’t even know existed. Apparently the documentary is quite popular–they sold out every showing (in an admittedly small theater) over at least two weekends.

I also got to do something I haven’t done in years–I went to a performance of the Cleveland Orchestra, featuring Audra McDonald, at Blossom Music Center, their summer home. I’d forgotten how wonderful those performances could be–and McDonald was so impressive. She truly can sing anything.

So summer hasn’t been a complete loss, even if at times it feels that way. In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting on the back screened porch, enjoying the breezes and sounds of birds and insects, glancing up to see fresh-cut flowers and the greens of the trees and shrubs. I don’t stop to enjoy the sounds of the world around me often enough, too busy with music or other distractions.

Hydrangea (white/green)

Sometimes I think our fully air-conditioned protected world prevents us from knowing the seasons as fully as we ought. Those hot lazy days of summer disappear without us even noticing how hot they are. We don’t take the time to appreciate the breezes or the humming of insects or trilling of birds when we stay inside our climate-controlled bubble. We scramble around in a world of pavements and buildings instead of meandering though forests and fields and streams. And so time passes us by because we let it be filled and busy and stressful instead of taking a deliberate pause and engaging in a world where a clock holds no meaning. It is certainly something I am guilty of.

Perhaps if there is one thing I hope for my coming months more than anything else, it is that I remember to pause. To meander. To be.

Happy Reading!

Mid Week’s Notes

March Crocus
Early spring Crocus

I can’t believe we’re over halfway through March already! (Although the cantankerous weather and stubborn bulbs prove it so.) This year has been so busy–every week I add “write blog post” to my to do list and more often than not it gets shifted to the next week. And I’ve been even worse about keeping up with reading other’s posts. Hopefully I can get back to that here soon…

Looking towards Cuyahoga River and downtown Kent on a snowy day
My view today

On the other hand, the reading’s been mostly good. There was the Olympic lull in February, which I expected, but otherwise, the reading pace has been faster than last year. I guess that’s what happens when I start the year with children’s literature and classic mysteries! But I’m also eager to start my title for the current Classics Club spin, Cold Comfort Farm. (Aside: surprisingly, no one pointed out that I only listed nineteen titles instead of the standard twenty! That’s what happens when I write a drive-by post on my lunch break…) I want to finish up a couple library books first, and then it will be back to the classics, as well as my year of Madeleine L’Engle.

Speaking of which, my mom and I went to see A Wrinkle in Time opening weekend and quite enjoyed it. It’s not entirely the same as the book–which I could tell from the trailer–but I felt they kept the characters true to those in L’Engle’s novel.

*Slight movie spoiler* I was a little disappointed that Aunt Beast (and her planet) were not included, though I’m guessing that’s mostly about movie length *end slight movie spoiler.*

It did seem to me, however, that the Camazotz scenes were not as effective as in the novel. This might be one of those instances where it’s difficult to convey ideas on screen as well as on page. It also occurred to me to wonder–while IT was visualized in a way I found very appropriate to the spirit of the novel, was this representation understandable to someone only coming to the story via the film? Maybe it doesn’t matter; after all, even as readers we all approach the same material differently. But all-in-all, I’m quite glad I saw this and the first half, especially, was magical.

Clay pot

I’ve also been continuing to enjoy an activity I first took up last fall–pottery classes. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my Instagram posts of partially-finished ceramics. (Instagram is also a newer endeavor – I’m simplerpastimes there as well–no bookish posts as yet, but I’m sure some day…) After about 18 weeks of classes I’m finally starting to be able to make the clay do what I want instead of the other way around. Victory! (And such a good thing I’m doing this for fun and not a grade–that would have been way too much stress in my life!)

Add in work and work-related events, and that’s pretty much been life lately – busy, fun, trying not to get over-committed (a fine line some days). If only I could figure out how to be two places at once, I’d be all set!

Happy reading!

Week’s End Notes (27)

Feb 2016 Crocus
Feb 2016 Lenten Rose
Feb 2016 - Snowy Cuyahoga River
Feb 2016 - Pufferbelly in Snow
Feb 2016 Rainbow

February 2016. Not until I started sorting through the pictures I took this month, did I realize how well the weather paralleled life this month. Up and down, all over the place, restless, unsettled, hopeful. There have been both highs and lows–though at the moment it feels the lows have been deeper than the highs tall, but some things that have been suspended, waiting for resolution, have been resolved. Snow gives way to rain gives way to sun gives way to snow gives way to spring flowers. And so it goes.

My reading this month has been similarly unsettled–and sparse. My New Year’s goal of 5 hours a week has been woefully unmet of late, and I seem to be all over the place with my reading. I have so many books started but seem not to be making much progress on any save for the Shakespeare I read over the course of a few evenings a few weeks back. I’m feeling the need to finish something, yet I can’t seem to settle with anything. I even–quite unplanned–started a new title Thursday night, The Sound and the Fury, which seemed to just jump off my shelves at me. I wasn’t planning on reading anything then–rather, to sleep, but despite the trickiness of the first chapter (and I’m only a short ways in), I must confess I’m currently quite captured by the book. We’ll see if it holds.

Hopefully, though, all the partially read books means at some point I will be finishing like crazy. And then of course, have the difficulty of too many blog posts to catch up on. I’m a little behind right now as it is…

I am however looking forward to April and the Children’s Classic Literature Reading Event! The official announcement/sign-up post should go up this week, and I’ve begun pulling books off my shelves to read. I also already ordered Emil and the Detectives from the library, as it won the vote for the readalong title. (If you’re thinking of joining in, you may want to start looking for it now, as it doesn’t seem to be as readily available as some of the other titles–I had to order it from outside my library system.) Truth to tell, I will probably start reading for the event in March, and continue into May!

Speaking of non-challenge Spring Events, Richard at Caravana de recuerdos is hosting, now through May 15 or so, a Mexican reading event. The only requirement is to read a (fiction) book by a Mexican author or a (nonfiction) book about Mexico. My impulse is to join in, but I honestly don’t know what I would read just now or when I will have time to add another book to the pile. (See above about too many books started…) Still tempted though, and I did vow to read more in translation this year.

As far as the challenges I joined at the start of the year, it’s been slow-going (see above about being all over the place), but I feel I’m making progress. I’ve finished a Shakespeare play and watched a BBC adaptation of it, so that will be one down for the Bardathon challenge, and, if I choose, it could double for one of the Back to the Classics titles. (I haven’t decided yet if I’ll count it for that.) I’m also working on a couple titles that will count for both my Ohio reading projects and Back to the Classics plus there’s another Shakespeare play sitting next to me, and of course the Children’s Classics may count for some titles as well. And The Sound and the Fury could be the 20th Century classic. Phew. No wonder I’m all over the place with my reading – too many good options.

So how’s Februry been treating you and your reading? Better than me, I hope!