Sunday, February 13, 2011

Armchair Gardener

A few weeks ago, I needed the script of Arthur Miller's The Crucible in a hurry, and when I drew a blank in the bookshops, I went looking for it online. Web-savvy friends pointed me in the right direction, and I found what I needed, but along the way I came across a recorded performance at, a subsidiary of Amazon. I wasn't sure I'd actually use a subscription, but I went for the free trial download anyway! It was an L.A. Theatre Works production, and very good.

I decided to take out a subscription. I like something interesting to listen to when I'm knitting. I'm a fan of online BBC radio, and TED Talks, but at Audible there are readings of unabridged novels and non-fiction, as well as performed narratives and dramatisations of plays - and I can hear samples before I buy.

So today, I've been listening (again) to my February selection, a performed narrative of Paul Fleischman's novel Seedfolks. It's so good - and so well done! And on this dull, cold still-winter day, with the one visible tree between autumn berries and spring buds,

and even my sunshine puddies struggling for the energy to nod at me,

(We preserve the happy fiction that I actually bought them for my husband....) I've been listening to this story of a community garden, and doing Jigzone puzzles of growing things. No aubergines, unfortunately. I think the aubergine is one of the most beautiful things the earth produces.

Incidentally, Paul's name caught my eye because I read Sid Fleischman's books when I was growing up. Chancy and the Grand Rascal, and Djingo Django were titles that shouted from the library shelves! Father and son. Marvellous.

.eClick to Mix and Solve

Click to Mix and Solve

Click to Mix and Solve

Click to Mix and Solve

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Magpies, Groundhog Day, Year of the Rabbit

On Monday, I was on the bus, and thinking about phoning my darling son. We were passing a park, when I saw a whopping magpie strutting on the grass, with a few friends. Given that a) you don't often see more than a couple of magpies at a time, presumably because you can't get that much ego into a small space, and b) I like the rhyme, I counted them: 6 for gold. Good sign! The bus moved on, and then there were four more: four for a boy. Clear enough. Then two more flew past the window: 2 for joy. Most excellent omens for darling son, who is getting the dosh together to do a master's next year (pause for golden wave of maternal chuffedness emanating from your screen....). So I phoned him. He was out. Ha!

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.

In the US, it was Groundhog Day on Wednesday. For Chinese people all over the World, it was New Year on Thursday.

From the newsletter of February Dollmaker's Journey

Dear Dollmaking Friends,
Here in the United States we celebrate a very unusual holiday on February 2nd – Groundhog Day. Perhaps you have seen the movie "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray. (I made my husband watch it again today as a special date!) It is believed that if the groundhog sees his shadow on this day we will have 6 more weeks of winter in the northern hemisphere. In the past 125 years that Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the weather, there have been only 16 occasions when he didn't see a shadow. Today was one of them. (The sun came out 10 minutes after he was put back in the tree stump. Narrow escape!)

"Phil's official forecast as read February 2nd, 2011, at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, PA: Here Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye
Groundhog Day, February 2, 2011
Punxsutawney Phil was raised from his burrow
By the call of President Bill Deeley.
He greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths....
He surveyed his surroundings carefully and found that there was no shadow around,
So, an early spring it will be."

Everyone cheered. The Pennsylvania town swears that Phil has never been wrong. This will be good news for my daughter in Marlborough, Massachusetts. They have had so much snow that they don't have any place to dump it. They live in a two story colonial, and they had to dig a tunnel to get out of the front door. She noticed a neighborhood kid peeking in their 2nd story bedroom window and realized that he was standing on top of the snow. This picture was taken January 27th, and they have had more snow since then. Two more feet are expected tonight!

And never mind March hares or the Easter Bunny, it's now the Year of the Rabbit.

According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves. It is a time for negotiation. Don't try to force issues, because if you do you will ultimately fail. To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children. Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise.

Not many people know that the Rabbit is the symbol of the Moon, while the Peacock is the symbol of the Sun, and that together, these two animal signs signify the start of day and night, represent the Yin and Yang of life. It is said that anyone making supplications for wishes to be fulfilled are certain to get what they want... and in the Year of the Rabbit, the wish-granting aspect of the Sun and the Moon combined is multiplied. The Moon is YIN and this is the Yin of Heaven, signifying magic. Thus on each of the Full Moon nights of this year, go out into your garden to gaze into the Full Moon and visualize plenty of Moon dust and Moon glow flowing into you, filling your whole body with bright white light and granting you fearlessness, love and courage. This will not only strengthen your inner "Chi" energy, it will also bring wisdom into your life.