Sunday, March 29, 2009

Catching Up

It seems like it's been feast or famine with me on this blog the past three months.  In January, I wrote every day, but in February and March the entries have been few and far between.  It's not like I have nothing to share.  Rather, the time has just not been there to think things out for blogging.  I have also been reading a lot more than usual, and that generally means I write less as a result.

While that was going on, Spring has finally made its way to New England.  All our snow is melted in Massachusetts, but in Maine, at my parents' place in Alfred, they still have a couple of feet of snow in their front yard and almost as much in the back.  It's not very pretty anymore, unfortunately.  I was up there yesterday and captured a funny little chipmunk stuffing his face with bird seed and a Harry Woodpecker flying away just as I snapped the picture.  

Meanwhile, back at the . . . condo, I've also been watching movies.  One was Lawrence of Arabia.   I'm almost embarassed to admit that I have never seen it before.  It was amazing.  I would never have watched it even now, though, except that I read a book recently called Dreamers of the Day where he figures rather prominently.  Until that book, I had no idea that Lawrence was a real person and that the movie was about his real experiences.  The book was beautifully written, by the way.  I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saturday Sunbathers

While making the rounds to my favorite North Shore towns, I saw a number of birds.  Not as many as I thought I might, but some interesting poses all the same.  

And even though the pigeons and sea gulls are fairly common, I love their contrasting and irridescent colors...never mind their cool demeanor.  

The pigeons were...well...let's just say they were in a loving mood.  This is the most decent of the pictures I took of them =)  

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rockport Rocks

My trip to the North Shore on Saturday was inspiring and refreshing.  I stopped in a number of towns, each for a different reason.  I shared yesterday how Gloucester seemed to mirror Jane Austen's Lyme for me this time.  My last stop before going back home was Rockport, home to the famous Motif #1, beloved ov artists and photographers alike.  Here's why:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Very Austen Weekend

I went on a huge Jane Austen kick this week- end, watching no fewer than three different versions of Persuasion and the Emma Thompson version of Sense & Sensibility with Thompson's comments and the second half of the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice as well as Becoming Jane Austen.  

Actually, it started Thursday, while I was home sick for two days, so it wasn't quite as concen- trated as it sounded at first.  Still, it was a lot of Jane Austen =)

On top of all that, I had such cabin fever yesterday, that I took a drive up to the North Shore  (Manchester-by-the-Sea, Magnolia, Gloucester, Rockport) and found myself going right back in time.  

See if you don't agree with  the similarities between Gloucester, MA and Lyme, England (setting for Persuasion).

Small Wire

Just for my poetry-loving friend, Inland Empire Girl, who shared an Anne Sexton poem on her blog, here is my favorite Anne Sexton poem, "Small Wire." When I teach American Literature, I teach this poem in tandem with Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon. The 17th century Puritan minister and 20th century poet with a Puritan heritage use much the same imagery, to very different effect. Where Edwards describes sinners as loathesome creatures that God holds by a fragile strand over a raging fire, ready to drop us into that fire at any moment that strikes his fancy, Sexton talks about that thin strand being strong enough to connect us to God, big enough for Him to become intimately part of our lives, part of the very fabric of our being. I much prefer Anne's take. Tell me what you think!

Small Wire

My faith
is a great weight
hung on a small wire,
as doth the spider
hang her baby on a thin web,
as doth the vine,
twiggy and wooden,
hold up grapes
like eyeballs,
as many angels
dance on the head of a pin.

God does not need
too much wire to keep Him there,
just a thin vein,
with blood pushing back and forth in it,
and some love.
As it has been said:
Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love.
So if you have only a thin wire,
God does not mind.
He will enter your hands
as easily as ten cents used to
bring forth a Coke.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Beautiful Noise

Even though it's not here officially for another two weeks, Spring rather loudly proclaimed its imminent arrival today in two distinct ways.  When I arrived at school this morning my ears were literally assaulted with a cacophony of bird song coming from the woodsy marsh on the far edge of the property.  It was, indeed a beautiful noise.  I've been hearing birds there for the past few weeks, but not the roar it was this morning.  A sure sign of spring =)

My little window bird feeder has continued to see constant activity from a dozen or so birds: the shy cardinal pair, the sparrows (still can't tell what kind for certain), and the several titmice.  They are the boldest and most comfortable.  There are two, in fact, who stop to sing to me before taking their seeds each time.  I still can't get great pictures, but they do put a bright spot in my day each time they come to eat, especially when they sing to me.  Another beautiful noise =)

When I left school this afternoon, the snow had melted enough to reveal . . . the daffodils have pierced the frozen ground and are on their way to blooming!  I was so excited!  Another sure sign of spring!  And while there was no noise involved there on the part of the daffodils, I certainly was making a joyful noise at seeing them =)

Monday, March 02, 2009

In Like a Lion

March sure came in like a lion this weekend!  But typical of New England, it was also on a roller coaster ride, taking us with it.  Friday, we had 60 degree, balmy weather.  All I needed outside was a light jacket.  Saturday was MOTS ("more of the same," in the words of Boston's award-winning legendary meteorologist who just retired on Thursday after 30+ forecasting the weather here).  In fact, it was feeling so much like spring that I indulged and bought 3 bunches of daffodills to brighten up my living room.

All well and good until sometime last evening.  It started with an e-mail from a parent asking if we would have school today.  I looked out the window.  Nothing.  I went on-line to check the weather and saw that Boston Public schools were already cancelled.  Within a couple of ours, our local superintendent had called to tell me we wouldn't have school today either.  So I sent out a flurry of e-mails and Facebook messages (actually, just put it in my status!) and made several phone calls to let everyone know they had the day off.

Then I settled in to see what would happen.  I can't tell you how many times school has been called off when it shouldn't have been, or it wasn't called off and should have been.  You never know when you do things ahead of time.  But when I looked out my window this morning (after sleeping in), I saw that we'd made the right call this time.

After shoveling out, I went to see if I could find some wildlife and ended up at my favorite nearby lake.  I thought I might see some ducks and geese, but there were only sea gulls huddled on the still ice-covered lake.  I'm not sure why the unprotected wind-swept lake is a better place to sleep than the warmer, less windy shore.  Perhaps it's safer is all.

Once again, I was intrigued by the silhouette of the dark leafless trees against the white of the frozen, snow-covered lake.  Contrast, patterns, and texture are interesting to me...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Gang's all Here

Last Thursday, four colleagues and I went out to eat at a Lebanese restaurant in downtown Portland.  Thanks to GPS, we found it with ease and were treated to a delicious feast of such things as stuffed grape leaves, falafal, and other typical Lebanese foods.

After a leisurely meal, we made our way back to the car.  As I was walking along, I noticed a Greek restaurant with a gigantic octopus on the side of the building.  Thinking it interesting, I took its picture and one of the streets each way, too (it was on a corner).  We crossed one street and turned left away from the restaurant to the parking garage where our car was parked.  I passed a group of young men, but didn't think anything of it . . . until I watched the news later that night.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a reporter on the street in front of that Greek Restaurant talking about the gang activity going on in the neighborhood and how upset all the merchants and restaurant owners are that their patrons no longer feel safe on the street there!  The photographer panned down the streets we had just trudged a few hours earlier and pointed out gang members hanging out on the street corners...looking suspiciously like the young men I had walked around on the way to the car!  I never would have expected to find myself in the middle of gang territory in Portland!  Boston, maybe.  New York, definitely.  But Portland?  I got more than I expected here, for sure!