Monday, December 15, 2014

The Real Prayers Are Not Words, But the Attention That Comes First by Mary Oliver

 
 
My Kwan Yin statue
 

 
Of my hundreds/thousands of dragonfly photos I've taken, this is my favorite.  I love this tattered, curious little guy.  We played together for an hour or more before I took this photo.  I have it on a giant poster in my living room now.  He reminds me of the fragility, mystery and joy of life...
 
* * * * *

The Real Prayers Are Not the Words, But the Attention That Comes First
By Mary Oliver 
The little hawk leaned sideways and, tilted, rode the wind. Its eye at this distance looked like green glass; its feet were the color of butter. Speed obviously, was joy.
 
But then, so was the sudden, slow circle it carved into the slightly silvery air, and the squaring of its shoulders, and the pulling into itself the long, sharp-edge wings, and the fall into the grass where it tussled a moment, like a bundle of brown leaves, and then, again, lifted itself into the air, that butter-color clenched in order to hold a small a small, still body, and it flew off as my mind sang out oh all that loose, blue rink of sky, where does it go to, and why?
 
---------------------------------
 
There's nothing more relaxing than watching a hawk drift among the clouds on the wings of the wind.  I see them often in the woods by my house.  I even pull my car over to the side of the road to watch them twist and swirl over trees when I drive.  They fascinate me.  Last week one casually swooped down and picked off a baby squirrel that was running along the dirt road.  The circle of life...
 
It's been a mild winter, so far, here in Swamplandia.  Today, I walked around the block sleeveless and took pictures of the Ents, I mean trees, with their arms also bare.  Oh, how I love winter trees, naked for all the world to see.  The humidity is a thousand percent and it's been raining off and on today with the sun peeking out ever so often.  A typical Louisiana day.  My rain barrels are all full again and my Kale, Spinach, Lettuce and Swiss Chard are thriving wildly even though I pick from them every day.  This time last year we'd had snow three times, which was the only time in 25 years living down here that that's ever happened.  I think I prefer the warmer, humid days, having lived in the South all my life.  The Camellia bushes are already blooming (as are some of my Roses) and those vain Narcissus are poking their green heads up from the cool ground.  I act surprised every year, but I do live in a near tropical climate only a few hours from New Orleans.
 
I'm through Christmas shopping and ready for Santa to drop by.  I miss having small children around this time of year.  My youngest grandson, Warner, is 7, but he's in Nashville.  My Mary Mace turns 11 on Christmas Eve.  That blows my mind.  She's already borrowing my books and asking what I was reading at her age.  She's far ahead of me.  I gave her "The Hobbit" and she loved it and wants to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy now.  I was still reading Mark Twain and Archie comic books at 11. 
 
My college freshman grandson wanted "American Classics" for Christmas (which tickled the hell out of me...how I love my reading family!), so I dug through my 6 rooms of books and came up with a modest 50 books for him.  I put them in milk crates so he could haul them back to college with him.  It blew his mind.  He started out with some J. D. Salinger and "A Confederacy of Dunces".  I told him it's a must-read, especially if you're from Louisiana.  So, I'm happy.  All I ever prayed/hoped for my children/grandchildren was that they'd all be healthy, well-educated and then avid readers...and they are, all five of them.  My work here is done.  :-)
 
I hope you all have a safe, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! 
 
Love and Blessings from the swamps of Louisiana.
 
xo,
Marion
 
+ + + + +
 
"Remember
This December,
That love weighs more than gold!"
~Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon
 
+ + + + +
 
"I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys." ~Charles Dickens
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Decade by Amy Lowell and Euphoria by Lily King

 
This lady must surely be reading poetry.


I've only recently begun reading Amy Lowell's poems and I'm totally intrigued with her.  I got a free Kindle book of her poetry online ("Men, Women and Ghosts") and it only whet my appetite for more.  Her poems are sensual and oh, so earthy.  If you've never read her, I highly recommend that you do.  And here's how I discovered her writing:

I've been reading an amazing novel, "Euphoria" by Lily King, and, in it, the main character quotes from the first poem below, "A Decade", which put me on the hunt for more of Lowell's work.  I got the book on CD from the library (and later bought a hard copy) and have listened to it twice all the way through.  The reader has a luscious voice and the story is utterly & totally compelling.  xo


So many books, so little time.....


A Decade
By Amy Lowell

When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
and the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
but I am completely nourished.

Published in











Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Under the Snow by Marion


Snowstorm by Maurice de Vlaminck
 

Under the Snow
By Marion


I never bought flower bulbs when I was young.
I couldn’t believe the bulbs would sprout
from this dry, dead thing.
And I was too busy to even think of spring
so far away.
Now I decide, timidly, to try growing them.
Now that I’m closer to the dark, fecund earth---
and by closer I mean
closer to death & dying, much closer---
closer to becoming like the desiccated, brittle
bulb I palm, I dig.

I cram the bulbs into their exact, prepared holes
(graves) in the cold, hard ground---
dozens, maybe hundreds of bulbs:  small, medium, large,
precisely spaced.
For am I not a meticulous woman, a bookkeeper
in a previous life, numbers always balanced, nary
a penny lost or gained?

I cover the bulbs tenderly with earth when I’m done,
as gently and lovingly as I once tucked in my own two
babies so long ago.
I look around and see nothing but smooth, rich dirt---
rows and rows of it and nothing else.
(In my heart, flowers are wildly blooming).

I have finally learned,
in the winter of my life,
the meaning of
faith and hope, and,
inevitably,
resurrection.

11/23/14

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mama's Sweet Potato Soufflé

Cooked and ready to eat!

I'm sharing one of my family's favorite Thanksgiving recipes.  I posted it a few years ago, but it's time for a repost.  It's my favorite dish. Turkey and dressing just doesn't taste the same without this on the plate.  I used to take it to work for holidays and had men proposing to me after tasting it.  Ha!  Seriously, it's a real winner.  If you need more, just double it.  I find that it works best, though, making the recipe individually, twice, in two separate containers.


Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!  ~Marion


Mama's Sweet Potato Soufflé

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (I used canned yams, but you can use fresh)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon  (you can also add nutmeg if you like)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (my secret ingredient)
½ cup butter or margerine, melted

Mix the above ingredients well using electric mixer and pour into oven-safe casserole dish.

TOPPING:  (mix in separate bowl)

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/3 cup butter or margerine

Melt butter in mircrowave.  Mix all topping ingredients together with a fork. It will be crumbly. Sprinkle mixture evenly over top of casserole mixture. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown on top.  Enjoy!!!
 
==============================


From my quote journal
 
Edges of my quote journal.  Crafty me made it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Autumn by Marion

Autumn

All summer I watched
dragonflies, fat bees and birds
swoop, dive, and
swirl
just outside my
window.

Today,
they're gone.

Dying leaves
have taken their place---
     joyfully.

~Marion, 11/10/14

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

For Desire by Kim Addonizio

Gardenia after rain by Marion


For Desire
By Kim Addonizio

Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I'm drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.

I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I'm nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
and I want to resist it.

I want to go
staggering and flailing my way
through the bars and back rooms,
through the gleaming hotels and weedy
lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
where dogs are let off their leashes
in spite of the signs, where they sniff each
other and roll together in the grass, I want to
lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
and put on that little black dress and wait
for you, yes you, to come over here
and get down on your knees and tell me
just how fucking good I look.

From:  "Being Alive, the sequel to Staying Alive", edited by Neil Astley, page 61

---------------------

Monday, October 27, 2014

UNDONE by Sue Goyette




UNDONE
By Sue Goyette

In this weather, wood has warped and doors
won't shut the way they should.  The mist holds daylight

close, hoarding.  When it escapes, the light doesn't
spill, doesn't slide cross the floor, but creeps

and hobbles using furniture to hold itself up.  It just wants
to sit.  In this weather, light has age, grows rings like a stump

and can no longer hear.  It's the ancient relative in the corner
with a change purse and a group of grandchildren at its feet.

Extension wires, 100 watt bulbs, nothing helps.  It's faint
and weak and drinks only water.  In this weather, not even

the high tide of starlings rolling onto the lawn gets its attention.
"Leave me alone," it says, having forgotten the way it ranted

and raved.  How it demanded more time and more flowers.
The garden couldn't keep up, it touched everything:

the silver sugar bowl, the glass fish, every mirror, every drop of water.
And so begins the season of forgiveness, when the birch trees

bordering the yard turn back to bark and branch and you're alone
and I'm alone, the pantry is stocked

and winter is coming up the driveway.

----------------------------------------------

I'm undone and don't know how to put me back together.  This painful (physical, emotional, spiritual) ageing is the hardest thing I've ever done.  My body betrays me every single minute of every hour of every day.  Then it betrays me some more. What is a woman without the essence of what makes her female?  Why do we run out of hormones and become dried up shells of our selves when we're still so young?  We're dying, of course...but...but...Winter comes too soon, too soon...

xo,
Marion


"The great secret that all people share is that you really haven't changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don't change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion." ~Doris Lessing

-------------------

When I can look Life in the eyes,
grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
and taken in exchange — my youth.  ~Sara Teasdale


-------------------

Monday, October 6, 2014

Late October by Dorianne Laux


Red leaves in the Louisiana Swamp


I am this woman, have been this woman, will probably always be this woman...


Late October
By Dorianne Laux

Midnight.  The cats under the open window,
their guttural, territorial yowls.

Crouched in the neighbor's driveway with a broom,
I jab at them with the bristle end,

chasing their raised tails as they scramble
from bush to bush, intent on killing each other.

I shout and kick until they finally
give it up; one shimmies beneath the fence,

the other under a car.  I stand in my underwear
in the trembling quiet, remembering my dream.

Something had been stolen from me, valueless
and irreplaceable.  Grease and grass blades

were stuck to the bottoms of my feet.
I was shaking and sweating.  I had wanted

to kill them.  The moon was a white dinner plate
broken exactly in half.  I saw myself as I was:

forty-one years old, standing on a slab
of cold concrete, a broom handle slipping

from my hands, my breasts bare, my hair
on end, afraid of what I might do next.

From:  "What We Carry", page 11

-------------------------------------------------

Nothing [everything] left to say, the poem says it all.  xo

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why I'm Boycotting Lena Dunham's Book

A Little Rant to Start the Week:

There are certain things in life that piss me off.  Not a lot, but some.  And when I'm pissed, I'm pissed.  Lena Dunham (whose claim to fame is a mediocre HBO show), reportedly got a $3.7 million dollar advance for her upcoming memoir.  (That doesn't bother me.  More power to her.)  I won't put the title because I don't want to.  I had pre-ordered the book at Amazon, but cancelled it. The thing that chaps my ass is that she's charging people $38 to come to her book signing.  Right, you have to buy tickets...some of which are reportedly being scalped for up to $900.  To me, that is the epitome of greed, narcissism, bad marketing and just plain stupidity.  It makes me not like her as a person, author, actress or human being, mainly because she's stealing joy from readers.  Most of her followers are probably in her age group:  20's to 30's:  the struggling years for most who don't make $6 million a year like she does.  And she's denying them the opportunity to not only get their book autographed, but to meet someone they respect enough to buy a book from.  That is no small thing.  But, obviously, she doesn't get it.  I guess she's never been a poor book-lover who had to skip on groceries to buy books like I once did.

I have three shelves full of signed first editions by Pulitzer Prize winning authors...from the magnificent Ernest Gaines to John Updike and Rick Bragg. Robert Crais not only signed my books, but also let me take a photo with him and his lovely, Southern belle mother to whom he introduced me. James Lee Burke also took a photo with me and was patient and sweet. Most not only signed my books, but also allowed me to be a total groupie and take a picture with them at book festivals.  They were grateful, nice, polite and generous with their time.  They sweated in the South Louisiana heat to attend our annual Louisiana Book Festival which is on November 1 this year.  They appreciated ME.  After all, I was spending my HARD-EARNED money for their books.  Not ONE of them ever charged me money for the privilege of signing their name in my books.  John Updike even took the time to write an encouraging note to me about my writing!  John Updike, who has two Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction.

Also, according to Refinery29.com, "some of Dunham's appearances will include seven performers, functioning as hype men. But, word on the street is the Girls creator isn't paying these artists, many of whom auditioned for the roles."  Right, she's stiffing them!!  Again, bad karma, and GREEDY!

#boycottlenadunham

Take your money and buy Rick Bragg's new biography coming out in October.  Every single book he's written has been just awesome and, for the record, he's a perfect gentleman:



xo,
Marion


A house without books is like a room without windows. ~Heinrich Mann

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Aunt Leaf by Mary Oliver


A red-veined Autumn leaf in morning sunlight...

 

Aunt Leaf



Needing one, I invented her –
the great-great-aunt, dark as hickory
called Shining-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud
or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.

Dear aunt, I’d call into the leaves,
and she’d rise up, like an old log in a pool,
and whisper in a language only the two of us knew
the word that meant follow,

and we’d travel
cheerful as birds
out of the dusty town and into the trees
where she would change us both into something quicker –
two foxes with black feet,
two snakes green as ribbons,
two shimmering fish – – and all day we’d travel.

At day’s end she’d leave me back at my own door
with the rest of my family,
who were kind, but solid as wood
and rarely wandered. While she,
old twist of feathers and birch bark,
would walk in circles wide as rain and then
float back

scattering the rags of twilight
on fluttering moth wings;

or she’d slouch from the barn like a gray opossum;
or she’d hang in the milky moonlight
burning like a medallion,
this bone dream, this friend I had to have,
this old woman made out of leaves.

Mary Oliver

--------------------------------

Oh, how I miss my crazy/wonderful/beautiful aunts!  They were drunks, one and all, but their lives were too hard for words, so I forgave them because, even as a child, I understood pain and hardship.  I love this glorious Aunt Leaf who I only just discovered on this amazing Fall day in Swamplandia and I'm adopting her, just as Mary Oliver did.

We had a cooler day yesterday...cooler and breezy---a wonder after our long summer of heat and humidity.  My house cat, Catfish, ran out of the open patio door in a rare visit outdoors...and just as he stepped into the yard, a magnificent wind came from wherever wind comes from and shook some leaves from the huge Water Oak tree.  He did the fastest about-face I've ever seen a 25 pound cat do, and ran back into the house with his nub of a tail tucked down.  I realized he didn't know what falling leaves were.  :-)  It was hilarious, bless his kitty heart.

xo,
Marion


"Magnificent Autumn! He comes not like a pilgrim, clad in russet weeds. He comes not like a hermit, clad in gray. But he comes like a warrior, with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail. His crimson scarf is rent.... The wind.... wafts to us the odor of forest leaves, that hang wilted on the dripping branches, or drop into the stream. Their gorgeous tints are gone, as if the autumnal rains had washed them out. Orange, yellow, and scarlet, all are changed to one melancholy russet hue.... There is a melancholy and continual roar in the tops of the tall pines.... It is the funeral anthem of the dying year." ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow