bits and pieces

These are a few 'leftover' photos from Soubriquet's trip to Texas this summer. He's behind the camera on all; I just did a wee bit of editing! They remind me of happy times.

Tucked away behind the high rises of downtown Houston ...

He always manages to spy a dragon or two for me!

You can take the man out of England, but the curious boy travels!
Pipes? Really?

A good selection of lassos to round up yer mule in Brenham.

And a warm blanket for yer mule on a cold Texas night!

The broken pot cemetery at the Antique Rose Emporium, Independence, TX.
'Rest in Pieces' 'Cracked Up' 'Died Broke'

MORE rusty trucks .... Independence, TX

downtown Brenham, TX, very quaintly western

Newnan, GA - my home town!

I love the varied architecture of my home town.

The county courthouse in downtown Newnan, GA.
It survived the War of Aggression ...

Newnan skyline at dusk. I just liked this pic.


on depression

As most of you know, I struggle with bipolar depression. What most of you don't know, is that I've been living medication-free for the last 3 months, with the permission of my doctor. We (doctor and I) had come to the agreement that current medicative therapies weren't working, and we've gone through the gamut of what's available/what I can afford (as in, I cannot afford electro-shock therapy or the new magnetic therapy) so ...... why not stop all medication and see what happens. In my doctor's words, "The worse that can happen is you'll crash and burn."

At first, I felt .... euphoric. Then the panic attacks started. And slowly, my world has been caving in on me. I've soldiered on because frankly, starting a new med is not what I want to do. What I want to do is get better and hoped the depression would begin to lift / hoping for a little bit of bipolar mania to step in and save the day. As my luck would have it, my doctor is now doubting that I'm bipolar at all (as I've had no manic spells in the last two years.)

What does this mean for me? Well, I feel a little like Alice in Wonderland - I've fallen down into a deep rabbit hole and I'm not sure how to find my way out. Did Alice get embiggened? I'm not sure that will work for me.... But the signs are here: I skipped my last doctor's appointment, and then I called in sick to work today which I've NEVER done except for when the little one runs a fever.

This is what depression does, it carves the hope right out of you until there is nothing left but empty despair.

In "The View from Here" by Kay Redfield Jamison, she states,

Depression, which is bloodlessly, if accurately, described by the DSM as, “depressed mood or the loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities,” is more humanly conveyed by William Cowper, in lines he wrote after a suicide attempt:

encompass’d with a thousand dangers,
Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors,
I, fed with judgment, in a fleshy tomb am
Buried above ground.

Kay also writes, "I have found a kind of solace in poetry that I cannot find elsewhere. Perhaps it is because poetry so astutely conjures moods; moods, in turn, have determined so much of my life;" (she is bipolar and a doctor)

So today, I want to share this poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. He describes how I'm feeling so poignantly:

Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack’d with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.

Be near me when my faith is dry,
And men the flies of latter spring,
That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
And weave their petty cells and die.

Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.

~ from In Memoriam A.H.H.



on the bookshelf

I've been stumbling about trying to find something INTERESTING to blog and well .... sometimes inspiration is lacking. BUT, I did find in my intertent travels today this wonderful tumblr site called Bookshelf Porn which has THOUSANDS of photos of books and shelves and bookstuff. Some of my favorite book photos are on this site. It's overwhelming, I confess, to be confronted with so many images at one time of something that you love. Well, it's a bit like porn, I suppose ....

Recently, I've gone back to actually READING books, rather to just listening to them on tape. (Long convoluted story on why I stopped reading which I won't share.) So far I've read 18 books during the last two and half weeks. Most have been rather forgettable reads. Jodi Picoult's House Rules was an interesting look at Asperger's syndrome and its legal ramifications. Plus she had a great joke about a psychiatrist in it that I wish I had dog-eared to blog because it was very funny! The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has been getting a lot of hype as it is being made into a movie (which will either be a really interesting thing or a train wreck of a motion picture). It's geared towards the Young Adult market and wasn't as gory and grim as I expected it to be. I'll probably wait for the video to come out. Jury is out on whether I will continue reading the entire series.

I want to amend this to say, "I HAVE a boy who will build me bookshelves."

A surprising read was The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton which turned out to be sort of a grown-up's version of my favorite childhood book, The Secret Garden. Lots of plot twists and turns! I'll probably look for another one of Morton's books next time I'm at the bookstore. I was disappointed with Rescue by my favorite author, Anita Shreve. It wasn't up to her usual standards. And similarly felt the same about State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, another fav author.

I've heard that Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is excellent, so it's on the list to read. If you have any additional recommendations, please feel free to comment. I'm always on the look-out for a great read.

all photos from Bookshelf Porn



through the garden gates

These are a few photos of gates we've discovered and liked during our travels together. As a former landscape designer, I tend towards simple farm gates because their lines are pleasing to most customers (and cheaper to build as well.) The first three photos are from Soubry's recent trip to Texas. The rest of the gates are from 'somewheres in England.' The photos span a 4 year period.

Thank you to Soubriquet for providing such lovely anecdotal tales about these gates. You should read them in the comments. ~ RDG ~ oh heck, I'm just going to add them to the post. They are THAT good!

Gay Hill, TX - I designed this front gate for a client 7 or 8 years ago.
Nice post....
gate the first, I like this, its geometry, I like the way it frames the house beyond, echoing the roofline of the porch. I like the way it form a clear boundary, like the gatehouse of a mediaeval castle, or a church, it seems to offer sanctuary, a pause, a place to kiss goodnight, hello, goodbye, a place to rummage for your keys in the pouring rain, a place to square your shoulders and ready yourself for whatever comes next.
A place to stop, and smile, as you walk out of one world, and toward another.

Independence, TX

The second gate, Independence, Tx, the house looks abandoned, looks as though nobody's lived there for a while, but as though someone keeps an eye on it, drops by every now and then. But once, oh once it was new. Once it was a home. I can only guess, there's a barn with a gas pump. Next door. By that gate.
Maybe, long ago, before at road was straightened, and traffic dwindled, maybe the man from the house, and his son came through that gate in the morning, to work on cars and trucks, to pump gas, sell tyres and fanbelts, oil and grease, sparkplugs and paint. Maybe the garden within rang to the sound of children playing. Maybe the men waited for the squeal of that gate, heralding the smiling woman who brought a can of coffee, and told them not to be late in, because she was cooking, and if they were late, the little ones would get it all..
Back then, that gate was a big deal. It could have been a simple wooden one, but she said "No, Joe, I want one that's pretty, one like we saw at that house in town, we may live out here in the middle of nowhere, but we're not nobodies. " And he smiled. He'd be happy with anything that worked, but he said "Give me a kiss, and on saturday we'll go into town and order your gate."
Which they did, and it would come, next week, on the train to the little station in town. And when it did, the store would load it onto Hank's truck, along with the drums of oil, and the tyres, and the boxes of parts, and it would come, some day. With the little can of bright paint. And she'd sit, in the hot sun, painting it, looking proudly at the entrance to her home, wondering if that gate would outlive her, who would paint it when she and Joe were just names on a stone? Would they think of her, wonder who chose that fancy metal?

Arch made out of stacked terracotta pots at the Antique Rose Emporium,
Independence, TX

Gate the third. I had to photograph it. hundreds, maybe thousands of plantpots, coiling like a terracotta wisteria around the gate to a rose-garden. I loved it. I wonder who thought of it, who did it, were they all old redundant pots, that someone said... "get rid of them, we don't use them any more"?
They make an unforgettable portal.

I think this is in Masham?

Next We're in England. a gate of splendour, guarding an archway off a little town square. Oh, it's in a stone arch, but its exuberant steel foliage hints at the leafy garden beyond.
(Masham, North Yorkshire. Where I own shares in a brewery...)

Broadway in the Cotswolds

Now we come to a solid oaken farm-gate, in the Cotswolds, Broadway is the village. A place of beautiful old houses, warm creamy limestone, lots of flowers, very expensive houses, the moneyed classes supplanting country folk.

I love this gate. Estate in Leeds - Harrowood

Harewood. Harewood House, a gate into a paddock, very fancy, because it can be seen from the stately home, Arts and Crafts period, William Morris era. Heaven knows what this gate would have cost. Wrought iron. Hammered glowing metal, bent and twisted in the forge. Wreak, wrought.
Close to this gate, by the steps to the formal garden, there's a tree. Evergreen, laden with sweet scented white flowers, Eucryphia. The bees get drunk on fermenting nectar, I think of this place, smile a smile. You know why.

somewheres in England - Riveulx

We're moving on, to a gate from the beechwoods onto the lawn of Rievaulx Terrace, a landscaped overview on the edge of the North York moors. Beyond this gate, we pass out of the beechwoods onto a grassy sward, at each end of which, is a classical building, an ionic temple at one end, a tuscan temple at the other. They've been here since the 18th century, when they were built by the owners of Duncomb Park, as a banqueting house and summer pavilion, a private fantasy, a few miles from the great house, overlooking the romantic ruins of a far older place, Rievaulx Abbey.
A plce for romance, I think.

somewheres in England - Leeds, Oakwood

The last gate in your photo-odyssey is on Montague Place in Oakwood, Leeds. Or it was. I think it's gone now. I think the house it belonged to was sold, the buyers built an extension. ans the gate's gone. I think. I'll look for it on monday, as I drive to work.
You liked the gate, and the old garages at the back of the houses. I quite like it, but it's the product of a guy with an arc welder and a scroll-forming jig, and he's gone overboard on scrolls...


for gz

We Are Living
by Brendan Kennelly

What is this room
But the moments we have lived in it?
When all due has been paid
To gods of wood and stone
And recognition has been made
Of those who'll breathe here when we are gone
Does it not take its worth from us
Who made it because we were here?

Your words are the only furniture I can remember
Your body the book that told me most.
If this room has a ghost
It will be your laughter in the frank dark
Revealing the world as a room
Loved only for those moments when
We touched the purely human.

I could give water now to thirsty plants,
Dig up the floorboards, the foundation,
Study the worm's confidence,
Challenge his omnipotence
Because my blind eyes have seen through walls
That make safe prisons of the days.

We are living
In ceiling, floor and windows,
We are given to where we have been.
This white door will always open
On what our hands have touched,
Our eyes have seen.


a gate poem

Misery and Splendor
by Robert Hass

Summoned by conscious recollection, she
would be smiling, they might be in a kitchen talking,
before or after dinner. But they are in this other room,
the window has many small panes, and they are on a couch
embracing. He holds her as tightly
as he can, she buries herself in his body.
Morning, maybe it is evening, light
is flowing through the room. Outside,
the day is slowly succeeded by night,
succeeded by day. The process wobbles wildly
and accelerates: weeks, months, years. The light in the room
does not change, so it is plain what is happening.
They are trying to become one creature,
and something will not have it. They are tender
with each other, afraid
their brief, sharp cries will reconcile them to the moment
when they fall away again. So they rub against each other,
their mouths dry, then wet, then dry.
They feel themselves at the center of a powerful
and baffled will. They feel
they are an almost animal,
washed up on the shore of a world—
or huddled against the gate of a garden—
to which they can’t admit they can never be admitted.



the curious case of missing frogs' legs

Scientists think they have resolved one of the most controversial environmental issues of the past decade: the curious case of the missing frogs' legs.

Around the world, frogs are found with missing or misshaped limbs, a striking deformity that many researchers believe is caused by chemical pollution.

However, tests on frogs and toads have revealed a more natural, benign cause.

The deformed frogs are actually victims of the predatory habits of dragonfly nymphs, which eat the legs of tadpoles.

read more here: BBC - Earth News



for the sisterhood: a fairy tale

"Once upon a time, in a land far away,
a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess
happened upon a frog as she sat contemplating ecological issues
on the shores of an unpolluted pond
in a verdant meadow near her castle.
The frog hopped into the princess's lap and said:
'Sweet Lady, I was once a handsome prince,
until an evil witch cast a spell on me.
One kiss from you, however, and I will turn back
into the dapper young prince that I am.
Then, my sweet, we can marry
and set up house in yon castle
where you can prepare my meals,
clean my clothes, bear my children,
and forever feel grateful and happy doing so.'
That night, dining on a repast of lightly sauteed frogs' legs,
The princess chuckled to herself and thought:
I don't f**king think so."

from I Don't Know How She Does It
by Allison Pearson



the elephant

The Elephant
by Dan Chaisson

How to explain my heroic courtesy? I feel
that my body was inflated by a mischievous boy.

Once I was the size of a falcon, the size of a lion,
once I was not the elephant I find I am.

My pelt sags, and my master scolds me for a botched
trick. I practiced it all night in my tent, so I was

somewhat sleepy. People connect me with sadness
and, often, rationality. Randall Jarrell compared me

to Wallace Stevens, the American poet. I can see it
in the lumbering tercets, but in my mind

I am more like Eliot, a man of Europe, a man
of cultivation. Anyone so ceremonious suffers

breakdowns. I do not like the spectacular experiments
with balance, the high-wire act and cones.

We elephants are images of humility, as when we
undertake our melancholy migrations to die.

Did you know, though, that elephants were taught
to write the Greek alphabet with their hooves?

Worn out by suffering, we lie on our great backs,
tossing grass up to heaven—as a distraction, not a prayer.

That’s not humility you see on our long final journeys:
it’s procrastination. It hurts my heavy body to lie down.



ponderin' life's small questions

How come when you're young, people tell you
'An apple a day will keep the doctor away,'

But NOW it takes an entire orchard ??!!!



street sign furniture

from RDG:
Okay, Okay. It might not be the most comfortable looking of furniture, but think about what a conversation piece it would be in the garden, on the patio - a place where it would weather and age like all good road signage does. Plus I personally like the bowls and spoons and could see myself happily munching my cornflakes out of them each morning. The bright colors make me smile!

From his website:

"Boris Bally's award-winning work is both witty and innovative employing the use of jeweler's skills on non-precious materials. His current body of work transforms recycled street signs, weapon parts, and a wide variety of found materials into objects for reflection. These pieces celebrate raw American street-aesthetic in the form of objects, often useful, for the home and the body."

by Boris Bally

go green!


for you ...

I consider this to be the sexiest song written of all time. Go ahead. Prove me wrong. I wish I had written these lyrics:

You've got your ball
you've got your chain
tied to me tight tie me up again
who's got their claws
in you my friend
Into your heart I'll beat again
Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock
and sweet you roll
Lost for you I'm so lost for you

You come crash into me
And I come into you
I come into you
In a boys dream
In a boys dream

Touch your lips just so I know
In your eyes, love, it glows so
I'm bare boned and crazy for you
When you come crash
into me, baby
And I come into you
In a boys dream
In a boys dream

If I've gone overboard
Then I'm begging you
to forgive me
in my haste
When I'm holding you so girl
close to me

Oh and you come crash
into me, baby
And I come into you
Hike up your skirt a little more
and show the world to me
Hike up your skirt a little more
and show your world to me
In a boys dream.. In a boys dream

Oh I watch you there
through the window
And I stare at you
You wear nothing but you
wear it so well
tied up and twisted
the way I'd like to be
For you, for me, come crash
into me

oh sighhh....xxx


casting pearls before swine

by Mindy Flexer



GASP! A serving wench writes poetry!!

A Poem, on the Supposition of an Advertisement

Appearing in a Morning Paper, of the Publication of a
Volume of
Poems, by a Servant-Maid

By Elizabeth Hands

The tea-kettle bubbled, the tea things were set,
The candles were lighted, the ladies were met;
The how d’ye’s were over, and entering bustle,
The company seated, and silks ceased to rustle:
The great Mrs. Consequence opened her fan,
And thus the discourse in an instant began
(All affected reserve and formality scorning):
“I suppose you all saw in the paper this morning
A volume of Poems advertised—’tis said
They’re produced by the pen of a poor servant-maid.”
“A servant write verses!” says Madam Du Bloom:
“Pray what is the subjectd—a Mop, or a Broom?”
“He, he, he,” says Miss Flounce: “I suppose we shall see
An ode on a Dishclout—what else can it be?”
Says Miss Coquettilla, “Why, ladies, so tart?
Perhaps Tom the footman has fired her heart;
And she’ll tell us how charming he looks in new clothes,
And how nimble his hand moves in brushing the shoes;
Or how, the last time that he went to May Fair,
He bought her some sweethearts of gingerbread ware.”
“For my part I think,” says old Lady Marr-joy,
“A servant might find herself other employ:
Was she mine I’d employ her as long as ’twas light,
And send her to bed without candle at night.”
“Why so?” says Miss Rhymer, displeased: “I protest
’Tis pity a genius should be so depressed!”
“What ideas can such low-bred creatures conceive?”
Says Mrs. Noworthy, and laughed in her sleeve.
Says old Miss Prudella, “If servants can tell
How to write to their mothers, to say they are well,
And read of a Sunday The Duty of Man,
Which is more I believe than one half of them can;
I think ’tis much properer they should rest there,
Than be reaching at things so much out of their sphere.”
Says old Mrs. Candour, “I’ve now got a maid
That’s the plague of my life—a young gossiping jade;
There’s no end of the people that after her come,
And whenever I’m out, she is never at home;
I’d rather ten times she would sit down and write,
Than gossip all over the town every night.”
“Some whimsical trollop most like,” says Miss Prim,
“Has been scribbling of nonsense, just out of a whim,
And, conscious it neither is witty nor pretty,
Conceals her true name, and ascribes it to Betty.”
“I once had a servant myself,” says Miss Pines,
“That wrote on a wedding some very good lines.”
Says Mrs. Domestic, “And when they were done,
I can’t see for my part what use they were on;
Had she wrote a receipt, to’ve instructed you how
To warm a cold breast of veal, like a ragout,
Or to make cowslip wine, that would pass for Champagne,
It might have been useful, again and again.”
On the sofa was old Lady Pedigree placed;
She owned that for poetry she had no taste,
That the study of heraldry was more in fashion,
And boasted she knew all the crests in the nation.
Says Mrs. Routella, “Tom, take out the urn,
And stir up the fire, you see it don’t burn.”
The tea-things removed, and the tea-table gone,
The card-tables brought, and the cards laid thereon,
The ladies, ambitious for each other’s crown,
Like courtiers contending for honours, sat down.



make love, not war


ninja economics



an excerpt from:

Beyond Grief and Grievance

The poetry of 9/11 and its aftermath.

by Philip Metres

" The events of 9/11 occasioned a tremendous outpouring of poetry; people in New York taped poems on windows, wheatpasted them on posts, and shared them by hand. In Curtis Fox’s words, “poetry was suddenly everywhere in the city.” Outside the immediate radius of what became known as “ground zero,” aided by email, listserves, websites, and, later, blogs, thousands of people also shared poems they loved, and poems they had written. By February, 2002, over 25,000 poems written in response to 9/11 had been published on poems.com alone. Three years later, the number of poems there had more than doubled.

Often invisible in American culture, poetry suddenly became relevant, even—and perhaps dangerously—useful. People turned to poems when other forms failed to give shape to their feelings. Some of these poems, certainly, employed the language of faith, a faith that has often been mobilized as a weapon of grievance. Some were desperately angry, in the way Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” promises to put a “boot in the ass” of those that “messed” with the U.S. of A. In Cleveland, I recall hearing some rather salty Osama limericks involving his mama.

Of course, poems that take on subjects as public and iconic as the attacks of September 11th risk not only devolving into cliché and hysterical jingoism, but also, even when most well-meaning, perpetuating the violence of terror, and the violence of grievance and revenge, as mass media did by endlessly replaying images of the planes exploding into the World Trade Center towers.
But we cannot be silent. So between the Scylla of cliché and the Charybdis of exploitation, poetry moves."

Photograph from September 11
by Wisława Szymborska

They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just now opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.

They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just now opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.



making apple butter

Apple Butter

An apple sat on the railroad track,
its heart was all a flutter.
Around the bend came number 10,
and smoosh smoosh, Apple butter.

It's almost fall .... well, it's 96 instead of 106 degrees today, and gz over at her blog, "ook?!" got me thinking about apple butter in her Say Cheese post.

One of my best memories of visiting my grandmother in West Virginia was the day she and my great-aunt Violet made apple butter - OUTSIDE!

These two ladies COULD be my grandmother Ruth and her sister Violet, but they are not. Apple butter making was an all day affair starting early in the morning. My grandfather built the fire out in the back garden and laid in a stack of wood to keep it burning nice and steady. He set the tripod up over the fire awaiting the large iron kettle. Once his tasks were complete, the ladies sent him away - this was their pleasure. They started the morning early, peeling and coring bushels of apples. I suspect the apples came from trees on their father's farm which backed up to my grandparents' property. The first batch of the season!

Once peeled and cored, the apples are placed in the large iron pot and seasoned with sugar and spices. My grandmother used a lot of cinnamon and clove in her apple butter plus lemon juice for that yummy sweet /tart flavor. The secret of apple butter is slooow cooking over a low fire for HOURS with constant stirring to keep it from burning (like a custard or pudding). A large wooden paddle was used to stir the apples. Everyone took turns, including me! I think I was 9 or 10 yrs old at the time. Too unwieldly with a knife, but I could stir. Can you imagine how their arms must have ached ???

Meanwhile, my mother and aunt were in the canning kitchen (located in the basement of the house) sterilizing the jars and rims and lids for the apple butter. I'd regularly make trips back and forth from the cooking site to the canning site just to see what was happening. Occasionally, I'd be allowed to throw another stick onto the fire. You knew the apple butter was done when its color turned a deep rich brown, and it was thick and smooth. My grandmother never used a blender or food mill to smooth her apple butter. She did it all by the constant stirring. It was nearing dusk when they decided the batch was ready for canning.

Grandpa's job was to take the iron pot down to the canning kitchen. All the women hustled and bustled to ladle the apple butter into jars and then boil the jars to seal the lids. YUMMY! I loved apple butter best on toast, but it was also great on grandmother's homemade biscuits.

Today, with the advent of slow cookers, you can make your own apple butter indoors, no stoking the fire, no constant stirring. I suppose this makes it easier on the makers, but I will always cherish being a part of the 'old-fashioned' way of making apple butter. Just like my great-grandmother and her mother and aunts used to make it!



the power of scent

"I can signal a sequence of events in my life that are instantly recallable in the context of their fragrances, that bring forth the character of those moments in a startlingly clear evocation of that instant. Scent travels from the moment to the mind in the gathering of those touches in time.

Scent is place and memory—it is experience recalled. Every scent, in the microscopic particulate nature of its diffusion, is distinctive, unforgettable to those who are mindful, informing a significant part of our experience. The memory is a story." ~ Tim Girvin

by Justin Chin

In the beauty shop, the saleswoman dabs
a touch of bergamot to my right wrist;
I grind the spot staining
my thin skin and vulgar veins
stretched across my carpus to the left
of its image; the friction
spreads the scent into my pulse
and I bring my newly aromatic
joint to my face.

This was before I knew the name
of that heady scent spilling
from teacups filling cafes
in steam and clink of pastry plates.
Before how the smell of a big pot
of chicken soup cooking in my kitchen
changed. Before I knew how
perfumous desire was, before I knew
the whiff of missing a lover.