Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Year with Mrs. Appleyard - January

The wit and sense of playfulness which permeates Mrs. Appleyard’s Year begins on the copyright page, after we read the 1941 date.
The author asserts that any resemblance between Mrs. Appleyard, members of her family, or other characters in this book, and any real person or persons, including the Scandinavian, is purely coincidental, and she can’t think how it happened.

When you read that, you know you are in for some light, fun reading. The book begins with a chapter called About the Appleyards which rambles on enchantingly from one thought to another from statues to getting older to details about her husband and four grown children, and her house
that was too small for them when the children were small, and that is too big now that the children range in size from five feet four to six feet two.
The book then proceeds to a short January chapter which begins
Faults Mrs. Appleyard certainly has. As she looks them over on the first day of the New Year they seem to her like the ‘other articles too numerous to mention,’ always mysteriously listed in auctioneers’ advertisements. Since she has had most of her defects for over half a century, she is well acquainted with them. Some of them, indeed, have become enjoyable simply because she has had them so long. For instance: if she did not impulsively bring home a large Chinese cabinet (because it was such a bargain) instead of the lacquer finger bowls she started out to buy, her family would be deprived of the pleasure of observing: ‘Now, isn’t that exactly like Mother.’
She tells more anecdotes which illustrate her ‘faults’ and ends the chapter with a list of the things she intends to ‘improve,’ like planning to ‘glance occasionally at her engagement book instead of keeping the entries in it a secret from herself.’ And then because it is getting ‘too depressing’ to continue on with her faults, she takes note of her ‘virtues,’ such as
She uses the brakes on her car instead of the horn.She balances her own checkbook, no matter how long it takes.She never makes a fourth at bridge to help anyone out. She found out long ago that she was no help.
And the month of January ends with her feeling pretty good about herself!
Really, as she thinks it over, she feels almost unbearably virtuous. Perhaps her own best contribution to a pleasant New Year for everyone would be for her to indulge in her vices a little more. So, that is her Resolution.
I just love this book, as I did twelve years ago. It is a joy to read.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Quote du jour/Penelope Fitzgerald

Writing of the pleasure of having grandchildren, Penelope Fitzgerald says,

‘It is such a joy to have someone who wishes to sit with you on a sofa and listen to a watch tick.' 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Today's poem by Esther Cohen

Yesterday a Friend a Very Good Friend Said

Esther what are you going to do
With all your poems?
Where will you put them?
How Will They All Add Up
What Will They Say When They Do?

When I was a little girl a very little girl
my grandmother lived with us
before my Uncle Alex drove up to our door
then drove her to LA.
We were at 43 Jackson Street
Ansonia Connecticut and then we moved
oddly enough to 43 Holbrook Street
also in Ansonia Connecticut it was not
intentional or unconscious either and my grandmother
I thought she was wise because she was old
she was much younger than I am now
my grandmother said to me
I was around seven you have a lot of poems,
so many poems in your room
you never have to do anything with all those poems
because they are poems.
But now, because of life speeding up
and because I live in New York City
Upper West Side in particular and because
Of Homeland and The Good Wife and Anti-Social Media
and because of books and ebooks and because of ambition
and NPR and the finite nature of life and because I am
a Jew not a Buddhist though I often wish
it were otherwise and because I do not meditate
when my friend
said to me What Will I Do With All These Poems
I said I Will Have a TV show or a podcast
or I will paint them or make a book or two
or turn them into shower curtains or poem wall paper
or make an audible app or maybe I will
just write poems.

Esther Cohen is co-editor of the new Jewish Currents art calendar. (type Channel Esther into the search bar)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Yoga with a one-year old

I have a number of different yoga DVDs, and today's was 

Tom had gone down to get Hazel Nina this morning, and when she arrived I was just beginning the seated part (in my jammies). He put her in the Joovy and she came into the living room and was riveted. She never moved for the whole 20 minutes.


When I finished, Tom took her out. I went into the study to do cobra pose, and look who followed, and crawled up to do it with me!


Over thirty years ago, her mother and her uncle used to do the very same thing. Makes me so happy!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Today's pictures/We are family

Yesterday we all went down to visit the little cousins' great grandparents, who are celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary today! No pics of Matthew, or Tom, or me.

Campbell Walker - 8 months and Hazel Nina - 13 months








Saturday, January 10, 2015

Today's song/Three Little Birds - sung by Stephen Marley


This song, these words are like a prayer to me. 

Over fifteen years ago, a friend had breast cancer, and these were the words in my heart as she went through her surgery. Everything was indeed alright, and there’s never been a hint of the disease since. 

Then last fall when Margaret was in the hospital for those five weeks, the hardest and scariest of my whole life, she saw these three little birds outside her window


and I saw this number plate in the hospital parking lot


We all took it as a sign that Margaret and her unborn baby girl would be fine. And they were.

The past few days, I have been aching with fear because one of the friends I love best in the world is in critical condition, in an induced coma, and on life support. This morning, Three Little Birds came on the radio, and I am praying it is yet again a good, good sign that all will be alright with him.

I couldn't find a good video of Bob singing this, so I thought his son's version would be the next best thing.