Monday, March 31, 2014

Don't Waken

Where the days go laughin' by
As love comes callin' on you
~Harold Arlen and Truman Capote

This week, there's a sleeping bee in the garden:

Updated to add:
A Sleepin' Bee on Amazon (MP3)
A Sleepin' Bee on iTunes

Friday, March 28, 2014

Poetry from the Herbary

"Farewell, dear flowers; sweetly your time ye spent,
Fit while ye lived for smell or ornament,
And after death for cures."
~George Herbert, 1593–1633

Garden at Shakespeare's Birthplace by nonelvis

In January 2014, I started studying botanical medicine with clinical herbalist Maria Noël Groves of Wintergreen Botanicals. You probably know some bits about the medicinal qualities of plants already... e.g. aloe is soothing for burns, eucalyptus is helpful when you are congested, ginger and peppermint are each good for settling stomachs. Lavender is so well-known for being calming that many baby bath and lotion products include it.

My interest in learning about medicinal plants beyond the basics was sparked when one of my daughters discovered that nettles helped her allergies more than over-the-counter meds. I felt as though there was a tool kit for our health that we hadn't fully opened. I've pulled it open now, but it will take a while for me to feel like I know what's what.

Fennel by Søren Holt

As you can imagine, people have written about herbs forever. Shakespeare wrote, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance" in Hamlet (follow the link to read about rosemary and memory).

I haven't studied fennel yet, but the excerpt below from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Goblet of Life discusses some interesting historical traditions:

Above the lowly plants it towers,
The fennel with its yellow flowers,
And in an earlier age than ours,
Was gifted with the ponderous powers
Lost vision to restore.

It gave new strength and fearless mood,
And gladiators, fierce and rude,
Mingled it in their daily food;
And he who battled and subdued
The wreath of fennel wore.


Here's a bit of a poem about woodruff, not sure who it is by:

The Woodruff is a bonny flower; we press her into wine,
To make a cordial comfort for sickly folk that pine.
We plant our graves with Woodruff, and still on holy days
Woodruff on country altars gives out her scent for praise.


Thomas Tusser, who wrote 500 Points of Good Husbandrie in 1557, said this about saffron:

When harvest is gone
Then Saffron comes on;
A little of ground
Brings Saffron a pound.
The pleasure is fine,
The profit is thine.
Keep colour in drying,
Well used, worth buying.


I read these poems in a booklet by Frances Bardswell called The Herb Garden.

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading is the Poetry Friday round-up host today.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Never Strikes The Same Place Twice

If lightning is the anger of the gods, then the gods are concerned mostly about trees.

How would you picture a lightning bolt, if it were being held in someone's hand? Here's how Pierre Granier envisioned a bolt in the hand of Jupiter/Zeus circa 1686:

Jupiter of Smyrna
Restored by Pierra Granier, the Louvre

He looks pretty relaxed for someone who is holding a billion volts of electricity. More lightning:

Ball Lightning, 19th century engraving

Mountain Landscape with Lightning
by Jean-Francois Millet (1642–1679)

by Józef Chełmoński (1849–1914)

A bolt of lightning striking a man, Weird Tales magazine 1941
by Wayne Francis Woodard (1914–1964)

Thunder Storm on Narragansett Bay
by Martin Johnson Heade (1819–1904)

Lightning Striking Long Peaks Foothills
by Bo Insogna

Lightning over Dallas
photo by Neff Conner

How To Paint Lightning, a lesson by Tom Fleming

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dressing for Who You Want to Be

Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.

Dandy Wellington, proponent of well-dressed jazz:

Dandy's attitude reminds me of something I have said once or twice myself:

©2011 Austvina Phan at fillegarcon

(Don't recognize the silhouette? That's Loki from The Avengers/Thor.)

Friday, March 21, 2014


Art is enchantment and artists have the right of spells.
~Jeanette Winterson

Rebirth by Daniele Paccaloni

After the Changeling Incantation
by John Philip Johnson

To become a goose
had seemed important, earlier,
when he made the change.
A gray goose for some reason, fat,
with the ability to lift above
the archers' arrows,
fly past the leafless autumn trees,
and cross the bowl of the mountain valley,
beyond those far peaks.
There was a mission—
to get something,
or to return with someone—
some reason to be a goose
other than just gooseness,
other than filling your wings with sky—

Hands drop the wand;
feathers cannot pick it up.
We forget when we change
we become something else.
Things mean differently.
He circled the great alpine woods,
forgetting. There, below,
knotted in the trees,
were the plottings of men,
creatures like little gods,
with their endless violence upon things.
They make such noise. They wail and bleed.
It is no place for a goose.
It is no place for one who can find
north and south within his body
and know which one to choose.


Posted with permission of the poet. (Thank you, John!) He says, "There is a forthcoming graphic version of this poem, which I expect to be available online this summer, part of a larger graphic poetry collection available later this year or in 2015." After the Changeling Incantation was first featured in Strange Horizons speculative fiction magazine.

The Drift Record has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

One more quote about spells:
I'm wondering if there's a spell to make lightning flash in the background whenever I make an ominous resolution.
~Eliezer Yudkowsky

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Maltese Falcon

I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble.
~Sam Spade

Today we have art that relates to The Maltese Falcon, a book by Dashiell Hammett. Dashiell Hammett was a Maryland-born author who inspired such namesakes as Dashiell Robert Parr of The Incredibles, Cate Blanchett's son Dashiell, and my own son.

The Maltese Falcon was an National Endowment for the Arts Big Read and has teacher's guides and reader's guides, which might be interesting for some of you. The settings for The Maltese Falcon have been turned into literary landmarks in San Francisco. The Maltese Falcon also has its own Facebook page, with nearly 90,000 likes.

The Maltese Falcon
photo by Chris Drumm

Maltese Falcon
photo by Ed Schipul

Maltese Falcon on mass transit
by Owen Smith
photo by bubbletea1

The Falcon! I Have Located It!
photo by Arne Halvorsen

French Maltese Falcon poster
photo by Jen

The Maltese Falcon
Pocket Book Edition

Who Is This Man?
Frame from the 1941 public domain trailer for the Warner Bros. film The Maltese Falcon

Title Shot (editor's note: that font!)
photo by What Indie Nights

photo by What Indie Nights

Maltese Falcon at night
photo by What Indie Nights


* Dashiell Hammett Complete Novels
* Maltese Falcon earrings
* Spade and Archer: A prequel to Hammett's The Maltese Falcon written by Joe Gores
* The Dashiell Hammett Tour Guidebook (San Francisco) by Don Herron
* Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett: 1921-1960
* Falcon Awards, Japanese Maltese Falcon Society awards given to honor the best hardboiled mystery novel published in Japan.
* Dash and Lilly (a movie about Dashiell Hammett and playwright Lillian Hellman)
* Dashiell Hammett doll

Monday, March 17, 2014

We Would Be So Happy

Gardens are enclosed areas in which plants and arts meet. They form 'cultures' in an uncompromised sense of the word.
~Peter Sloterdijk

Week 2 of Music Monday in the garden:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Concerning the Word "Literally"

Very Naughty Letters

Vowels were something else. He didn't like them and they didn't like him. There were only five of them, but they seemed to be everywhere. Why, you could go through twenty words without bumping into some of the shyer consonants, but it seemed as if you couldn't tiptoe past a syllable without waking up a vowel.
~Jerry Spinelli

Mary Mapes Dodge, St. Nicholas Magazine XXXIV: Part 2: 666

The Letters at School
by Mary Mapes Dodge

One day the letters went to school,
  And tried to learn each other;
They got so mixed 't was really hard
  To pick out one from t' other.

A went in first, and Z went last;
  The rest all were between them,--
K,L and M, and N, O, P,--
  I wish you could have seen them!

B,C,D,E, and J, K, L,
  So jostled well their betters;
Q,R,S,T--I grieve to say--
  Were very naughty letters.

Of course, ere long, they came to words--
  What else could be expected?
Till E made D,J,C, and T
  Decidedly dejected.

Now, through it all the Consonants
  Were rudest and uncouthest,
While all the pretty Vowel girls
  Were certainly the smoothest.

And simple U kept far from Q,
  With face demure and moral,
"Because," she said, "we are, we two,
  So apt to start a quarrel!"

But spiteful P said, "Pooh for U!"
  (Which made her feel quite bitter),
And calling O,L,E to help,
  He really tried to hit her.

Cried A, "Now E and C, come here!
  If both will aid a minute,
Good P will join in making peace,
  Or else the mischief's in it."

And smiling E, the ready sprite,
  Said, "Yes, and count me double."
This done, sweet peace shone o'er the scene,
  And gone was all the trouble!

Meanwhile, when U and P made up,
  The Cons'nants look about them,
And kissed the Vowels, for you see,
  They couldn't do without them.

Mary Mapes Dodge, St. Nicholas Magazine XXXIV: Part 2: 667
A big thank you to the poets and poetry lovers who have sent me original poems about imaginary places and links to published imaginary place poems! If anyone else would like to participate, please send me your contributions by March 21st. My email is tabatha(at)tabathayeatts(dot)com and here's some info about the project.
Rogue Anthropologist is the Poetry Friday round-up host today.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Just Know That Something Good is Going to Happen

All the flowers of the future are in the seeds of today.

The title of this post, which I borrowed from a song by Kate Bush, is an homage to the inherent hopefulness of a person in possession of seeds. After you finish here, check out the beautiful Hudson Valley Seed Library art packs.

Seeds, Nuts, and Herbs
photo by Peter Moons

Seeds of Good Citizenship
by Lee Lawrie
photo by Eric Allix Rogers

Seed pods
photo by mclcbooks

Sculpture, made of willow
by Tom Hare
photo by Jo Brodie

Seed pods
photo by Randen Pederson

Sunflower, ceramic sculpture
by Sugiura Yasuyoshi
photo by Bosc d'Anjou

Seeds floating
photo by bandai2011

Whether we know it or not, we transmit the presence of everyone we have ever known, as though by being in each other's presence we exchange our cells, pass on some of our life force, and then we go on carrying that other person in our body, not unlike springtime when certain plants in fields we walk through attach their seeds in the form of small burrs to our socks, our pants, our caps, as if to say, "Go on, take us with you, carry us to root in another place." This is how we survive long after we are dead. This is why it is important who we become, because we pass it on.
~Natalie Goldberg

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dance in My Garden

Music is the one art we all have inside. We may not be able to play an instrument, but we can sing along or clap or tap our feet.
~Fred Rogers

My Music Monday theme for the rest of March is "gardens." Kicking it off with Green Garden by Laura Mvula. There are a lot of things I like about this video:

Mr. Rogers had a really great outlook on life:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Poetry Posters from VQR

It is strange how a scrap of poetry works in the mind and makes the legs move in time to it along the road.
~Virginia Woolf

Today we have two poetry posters from Virginia Quarterly Review, the University of Virginia's literary journal. I appreciate that VQR has permitted me to share these:

by Claudia Emerson

by Heather Dubrow


Today's Poetry Friday host is Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

Last week's poem was Fire Victim by Ned Balbo.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lark & Key

Imagination is the only key to the future. Without it, none exists -- with it, all things are possible.
~Ida Tarbell

Spending some time with art from the Lark & Key gallery in North Carolina today. Thank you to gallery owners Sandy Snead and Duy Huynh for giving me permission to share these with you!

Just A Short While
by Angie Renfro

Steampunk House
by Barbara Chadwick

A Sea Of Umbrellas
by Kendra Baird

Tree Boats
by Janet Eskridge

Circus Romance
by Duy Huynh

Lidded Indian Stamped Jar
by Paula Smith

The Magnolia Tree
by Mary Alayne Thomas

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dialogue Resources

The Public Conversations Project has some interesting stuff, such as:

   Eleven Ideas for Making A Hard Conversation Work


   Dialogue: A Virtual Workshop

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ender's Game

I hadn't really heard about Ender's Game before the movie came out (last year, was it?). I heard about a boycott of the movie because of the author's attitudes toward homosexuality. Then recently my teenage son really wanted me to read the book. So I did, and I thought it was great.

I've said before that I don't think authors' attitudes/thoughts/personalities matter much to me.

I have bought books by intelligent authors whose blogs I love to read, and I haven't finished the books. I have loved books by authors with great blogs. I've heard of people losing their taste for books by authors who tweet inanely, and I'm glad that hasn't happened to me so far. I read a lot of poems and I would not want the responsibility of researching each poet and deciding how I feel about their lives before I read their work.

This question can apply to actors and directors -- I think Gérard Depardieu was a wonderful Cyrano, whether he is an unpleasant person or no. If someone commits child abuse, that does change things for me, although I still feel bad for the rest of the cast and crew if I avoid their movies.

I think the answer for me is that, by and large, the words stand on their own. Once something is written and I read it, it's mine. (The same thing could apply to art or music.) What do you think?