Thursday, July 18, 2019

Instead of Worrying

Sunrise - 6:36 July 18, 2019

I Worried

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well, 

Is my eyesight fading, or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang. 
    (By Mary Oliver)

Monday, July 15, 2019

A Natural Leafy Bower

A week ago today, on the way home from a short trip to Eastern Missouri, we stopped at the Locust Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site off Highway 36 between Laclede and Meadville.

Because of a change in the river channel many years ago, you actually cross the creek on a foot bridge. The covered bridge is about a quarter of a mile down what once was a main thoroughfare in Northern Missouri. Now it is a narrow footpath which, according to the warnings, could be muddy, even under water, during a heavy rain or a wet season. Indeed, as we walked down the path you could see where the water had washed away some of the gravel and there were some puddles and muddy places.

The bridge which once crossed Locust Creek now sets above the wetlands. It is the longest covered bridge I've ever seen. And while many covered bridges, like Madison County Iowa's, are celebrated, this one seemed almost forgotten.

Missouri had a very rainy spring. On the signage near the bridge you can see how high the water had been.

On the way back to the car I noticed what looked to me like an almost perfect natural bower. But for the mud, I would have been tempted to follow it to? A secret garden? A trysting spot?

"And bid her steal into the pleached bower
Where honeysuckles ripened by the sun
Forbid the sun to enter ....."
  (Wm. Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing.)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

The River of Your Imagination

For years every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
The feet of ducks.
And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be, 
darling citizen. 

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.

And live
your life.

Mornings at Blackwater
  by Mary Oliver

A Day In January
My photo of Walnut Creek
West Des Moines, Iowa
Thirty Years Ago

Friday, July 5, 2019

A Recommended Read

Once in a while I read a book so good I have to comment on it before the end of the month round-up of reads.

If you enjoy well-researched and well-written historical fiction, as I do, give this book a try:

I rate it a solid five and put it in the same category as Where The Crawdads Sing which has been #1 on The NY Times Fiction Best Sellers list for weeks.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson combines the history of a WPA job creation enterprise for women known as The Pack Horse Library Project, which lasted from 1935 to 1943 in the poorest and most isolated areas of Eastern Kentucky, with the lives of the remaining descendants of a family whose skin was blue. (Based on the real Fugate family - The Blue People of Kentucky.)

I vaguely remember once hearing/reading about the blue skinned people, but I think I related them as part of the Melungeons of Appalacia without learning my error. As for the Pack Horse Library Project, I had never heard/read of it. (Only the New Deal WPA and CCC projects for men.)

When I began this book, reading about the poor, mostly illiterate, proud, clinging to the old ways, people, I felt as though I was reading about life in the 1800's. I had to remind myself the book was set in the 1930's. I thought surely by then things were much better for them. Then I remembered a class I took at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. One of my classmates was a woman who had been working as a visiting nurse, tending to people in the hills, hollars and back woods of Kentucky. Her stories of families still living without electricity or running water and distrustful of 'outsiders' were remarkable - almost hard to believe - and that was in 1967!

There are eight pages of photos of the real women of the Pack Horse Libary Project at the end of this book. Regardless of weather conditions, they went by horse, mule and shanks' mare, traveling many miles, to deliver reading materials to their patrons* - all for wages (sorely needed) of $28.00 a month. I know how much I would have welcomed a Book Woman had I lived there and then. What an amazing service they provided.

This is Richardson's fourth novel and the only one available through my two libraries at this time. I would love to read her first three. I will return my books to Gibson Memorial Library some time next week, so consider adding it to your reading list. I don't think you will be disappointed.

*Now that I am a Patreon of at least one author, material is delivered fast and on time via E-mail - no mules involved. 😉

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Read In June 2019

Nine books read this month. The first six are from the Corning Library, books by authors I follow that my local library doesn't have (yet). I'm grateful to have two libraries from which to feed my reading habit.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger is not one of his Cork O'Connor series, which I love, but a stand alone, young adult, historical fiction which won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2014. I highly recommend it.

Kingdom of the Blind is #14 in Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. I like the series and characters so much. I'm glad Penny decided to keep writing after the death of her husband.

Undone and Pretty Girls by  Karin Slaughter as mentioned, are books the Corning library had by an author I've been reading my way through.

As are The Old Man and Poison Flower by Thomas Perry. Now I'll have to wait until they come out with new books.

Broken Bone China is #20 in Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mystery series. Childs has two other series which I don't follow, but am always glad to read a new Tea Shop book because I'm invested in the characters and enjoy learning more about teas.

The Peacock Emporium is Jojo Moyes latest. It was a good read, but I did not like it as much as her previous books.

Devotions is a book of selected poems by Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Oliver, who died in January. I have come late to this poet, but that doesn't mean I don't love her writing. This is my favorite June read.  (Ordinary Grace and Kingdom of the Blind are close seconds.)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Wrapping Up June

I don't know that I remember a month that has gone any faster than this one. Perhaps because we've been busier than usual - painting the deck, planting flowers, weeding and that mid-month weekend trip to Eastern Iowa for a wedding. So before the month is over, here are our last three stops on the way home two weeks ago.

On the west edge of Albia, there is an impressive display of flags. If you pull into the parking lot, this replica of the Iwo Jima US Marine Corps Memorial is front and center. On the wall behind: "Welcome Home Soldier".

Somewhat reminiscent of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., is a long black granite wall inscribed with the names from all branches of service, living or dead. Called The Wall of Honor: "Donate $150.00 to have "your" veteran's name on to the wall for eternity."

Those flags seen in the corner of the 'wall' photo are the fifty state flags in their own area to the northwest side of the Welcome Home Soldier Monument.

Humble Hero Hill is the name where all the U.S. flags are flying. For a $1000.00 donation, you can honor a veteran with a flagpole in their name.

The monument is still in process, with plans for more additions. This billboard at the head of the trail gives an overview of what's already done and the future plans. It is an impressive and beautiful site to take in if you are traveling along US Hwy 34.

On a hill on the west edge of Chariton is the Lucas County Historical Society Museum, the centerpiece of which is the A.J. Stephens house. The complex consists of seven buildings on three acres. I had read ahead of time that it wouldn't be open the day we were there but that visitors were welcome to tour the grounds and admire the flowers.

Which I certainly did.



And this little one that I'm still working on identifying. Anyone know what it is?

It started to rain while we were touring the grounds, so we didn't stay as long as we might have otherwise. We just missed Art at the Museum by a week. It is something I know I would have liked. Maybe I can plan for it next year. In the meantime - Windmill! The good old-fashioned kind that dotted the countryside long before wind energy and massive turbines became an Iowa standard.

The Pioneer Log Cabin with a glimpse of the red 'Showalter' barn behind it.

Perhaps my favorite building - the Puckerbrush School - because it reminds me of our own one-room country school and the memories I have of Jasper #2. Why didn't we have a more interesting name for our school? Maybe Poplar Grove for all the silver poplars around it? (Note: Even though I always refer to it as Jasper #2, the sign where it once stood labels it as Humbert School.)

A final picture of "The Pump From The Derby School" with the south side of the Stephens house in the background, and then back on the road toward home.

Across the highway from the Murray Cemetery is the Murray Roadside Park. It has been there many years - I remember stopping there with my children when they were young. After years of neglect, it has been redevloped. Bud had noticed some plaques from the highway and wanted to see what they were.

One was about the Tallgrass Prairie.

And the many wildflowers therein.

The park has several picnic tables, a play area, bathrooms and a covered picnic shelter. Limited free camping is also available.

Clarke County's Freedom Rock is across the highway, near the cemetery entrance. I would think people stopping to view the Freedom Rock might also visit the park. Both would make a welcome break during a long drive.

Because the wedding was the reason for our weekend trip to Eastern Iowa, here is a photo of the bride and groom and her family.

This one of Ayden could be titled "Welcome to the Wedding!"

I mentioned the number of photos I took in May (400), so far in June I've taken almost 500 - and read more books than in May. Bud figured out for me how to post my photos to Instagram, since I use a camera and not a phone or some other mobile device, so I have been posting some pictures there. I'm trying to be judicious about it - so far. Ha!

My photos are mostly of birds, flowers, sunrises, sunsets, clouds, wildlife and scenery. Someday, someone is going to wonder why I took so many pictures. It is something I have always enjoyed and digital makes it so easy with little or no expense. Double win.

Friday, June 28, 2019

In Fallow Fields and Byways

Summer is here. It won't be long before delicate Queen Anne's Lace will be nodding in warm breezes.

Passing The Unworked Field

Queen Anne's lace
     is hardly
          prized but
all the same it isn't
     idle look
          how it
     stands straight on its
thin stems how it
     scrubs its white faces
          with the
rags of the sun how it
     makes all the
                  it can.

(Mary Oliver)