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From June, 2008: Choose Wisely

20 May

Apropos of watching the new Jane Eyre movie and now having a 15 1/2 year old daughter, this re-post from when we were reading and listening to the book together:

Jane Chooses Wisely  

We reached the crux, the climax, the pivot around which the story of Jane Eyre turns the other day.

The wedding has been stopped, the mad wife revealed, Mr. Rochester has given his history and begs Jane that she promise him “I will be yours, Mr. Rochester.”  When she refuses, he tries to manipulate her by saying she will ruin his life if she does not do as he wishes (by becoming his mistress) as there is no one who will be offended and they are in love.

“This was true: and while he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitor against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. …Who in the world cares for YOU?  or who will be injured by what you do?”

“Still more indomitable was the reply–”I care for myself.  The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am , the more I will respect myself.  I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man.  I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad–as I am now.  Laws and principles are not for times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be.  If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth–so have I always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane–quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.  Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.”

Opening Day

7 May

In the black hour before dawn,

In the deep dark wood

In beauty sit, surrounded

Nestle at knees of looming

Lace-fringed gypsy trees

Beneath bright night ornaments

See sky jeweled finger-fronds sieve

Wind, shake semaphore

Signals, sough with soft singing

Some last leaves telegraphing

Soft Morse code music.

Squat surrounded on leaf skirts

And surrender to

Beauty  Big Beauty  Beauty

Then night sinks into the soil

Day drops from above

Color and detail expand

Make ordinary

Replace mystery with mundane.

Dark beauty departs

Dark beauty becomes docile

In dawn daylight dons

Different revealing veil.

Come, realize this bounty

These dark tree dances

Waving worship in the wind

Leaf laughter, loose, free.

Such surfeit of bountiful

Beauty unbound and

Repeated on a hundred

Thousand hills.  From our

Hurry hidden in plain view.

November 2010-April2011

62 Violets and Jane Eyre

6 May

Picked in the field this morning.  And the first rhubarb was cooked with honey and served over yogurt for breakfast.

The mocking bird is singing each morning as I go up the lane.  I try to pick out all the different bird songs he is copying.  The field out east is all fitted now.  Jay thinks corn will be planted there. At 50 and sunny it feels like a true spring day today. He mowed both our lawn and the neighbor’s yesterday for the first time this year with his new mower.  I  prefer letting the grass grow long .

Went with Amy this week to see  the new Jane Eyre movie.  It was the second time for me. I really like the book.

Interiors were filmed using natural light or light available at the time so the atmosphere is dark; marvelous costumes. It fulfills admirably the Gothic fiction “quest for atmosphere”: indeed I think the director chose to use the Gothic novel as a theme for the whole movie.  At one point one of St.Johns sister’s even references a popular Gothic novel of the day when speaking to Jane about how she was found on their doorstep half dead.  Flashbacks are used to tell most of the story.  St. John Rivers and his sisters are not related to Jane, the ending is premature. People and large scenic chunks have had to be removed to make a movie of the ‘proper’ length.

One of the main themes of Bronte’s book is investigating how individuals interpret Christianity in living their lives; whether (wrongly) used as a tool, as a means to serve a (sometimes) immoral ends (personal power or glory), or is rightly understood as relationship with and service to God. This theme is ignored in this movie.  Since one must assume given the time period that all  persons are Christian, most are portrayed as wicked, stupid, self-centered, or immoral.  I especially disliked the twist the director gave to the character of St.John Rivers.  God’s name is invoked once only–and it seems out of place since no relationship with him was evident prior to this moment.  There is morality, yes.  There is talk of spirits and spiritual things, yes.

That talk of spiritual connection, of relationships that ignore our fleshy house,  is the strength of this movie.  It makes it worth seeing and thinking about.  And the costumes.

Visits and Visitors

16 Apr

Since Wednesday each morning I go visit and care for Sarah, and elderly, blind-in-one-eye, black rabbit.  Yesterday she sat on my lap while I combed and plucked out much of her hair that is falling out due to the season change.  She is mostly skin and bones and spirit.  But a very nice spirit.

Wednesday evening Linda and I heard Noboyuki Tsujii in concert.  What an extraordinary treat!  He is only22.  He is blind. He learns all music by ear.  He played the Mozart Sonata in C major, Beethoven’s Sonata no.17 in D minor, op.31, no.2 (Tempest) and Mussorgsky”s Pictures at an Exhibition, complete. His playing is incredibly nuanced.  The music sings.  But as a mother I worry about his physical being.  His back is curved and rounded like an old man’s; he has little evident muscle tone in his torso.  What pain lies ahead…

Thursday Rocky, the flying squirrel came to stay with us while his family are on vacation.  This morning he explored my knitted vest and rested in the folds of my nightgown and the towel basket while I was getting dressed.  He lives in an aquarium in the bathroom when he comes here, the better to not fall afoul of large teeth.

Yesterday a new Hellebore and a small pink lilac– Sugar Plum Fairy– came home with me, thanks to a birthday gift from Mom M.  They are both in the ground now.  It is supposed to rain and be high strong winds here today. 

Jake, son of Jeni, comes to town with his crew team this morning for a race.  Will they still hold it if there is a storm?   It is nasty out there right now.

We are due to go to L and M’s this morning.  There is a two-day old calf to see and a hanging steer to cut up.

Recently finished reading Portrait of a Turkish Family by Irfan Orga.  What a wonderfully written memoir.

It inspired me to seek out another memoir: Carla Grissman’s Dinner of Herbs.  Another incredibly wonderful book.  Am quite sad to see that Ms. Grissmann died just a couple months ago.


24 Feb

Worldview is something that influences perspective; how and what one thinks about just about everything.  For instance there are in the nearly ten degree clear morning walk blue shadows;  small hoarfrost ice rectangles dropping from small sticks onto the smooth snow surface making faint piles of miniature ice windowpanes; tracks: coyote, rabbit, a small rodent jumping on two feet, snowshoe prints of someone with one ski pole and a dog; clear blue sky. My children refuse to go outside.  It is cold.

The town of Lucas do Rio Verde can be seen as a wonder or a horror, a blessing or a curse. I see it as the former. I do not think that Brasil wants all of its land to look like that town.  My friend suspects so.  We have different world views.  My friend fears people and a growing population.  I, on the other hand, wonder how many discoveries, inventions, new ideas, helps, medicines, books, music we in this country alone have destroyed by killing 40+ million babies the past few decades.

The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin shows some consequences of differing worldviews.  It is an interesting book I am reading now.

We agreed that our money will be better spent on others than on keeping pets alive in a terminal illness.  No CT scans, diabetes shots, kidney dialysis, radiation or chemotherapy for our dogs or cats.  Vaccinations for rabies, distemper, and pesticide doses against internal and external parasites.  That’s about it.

First Corinthians Nine

13 Feb

Last year as part of an art video project, I volunteered to memorize a chapter of First Corinthians.  Specifically, Chapter nine.  It took me a long time.  Many months longer than making my first graph in Excel. It was very hard for me, even after I found a translation that I could live with all that time. And, as you will notice if you care to watch, I still had to look at my notes.

Karen Brummond, a local artist, did all the videotaping.  I am very happy the backdrop for my recitation is an early spring morning up in the alfalfa field behind my house.  Which is now no more, as it was manured and then chisel plowed in the fall.

From the First Corinthians Memorized site:

“With the action as the subject, the participants’ recitation is woven together with images and sounds that explore how we perceive God’s Word. Each distinct video (or memory) is connected by four repeating themes. The color, place, sound, and frame are used as media for exploring the message of this project. First, color is used as an idea itself: It becomes an absolute juxtaposed with the details of the image and landscape. Place literally wraps around the story. Not merely a background, it is the context for our living. In the videos, it is familiar, ambiguous, fabricated, similar, or hidden. Sound is meant to be clear, so we can get the message. Characteristics of the sound give clues to our perception of the place and time. Finally, viewers must repeatedly deal with the frame. The frame is the border between what we can see and what we cannot see. It is a limit. Within, around, or beneath these four themes questions about the influence of First Corinthians Memorized arise.

May the listener be refreshed by a new presentation of I Corinthians, and encouraged to learn part of the Bible for personal reflection.”


Last Day of January

31 Jan

And the outside temperature on the house has dropped since 6AM from about 8 degrees to less than five.  Which means it is about zero out there.  The animals were let out on their own recognizance for morning latrine duty.  Hawthorne was first back and pounded on the door with his front paw: Bam, Bam, Bam.  The fire is going.

Last night was very fun.  Four ladies who live close and who have known each other for decades–some of us went to college together–came over so we could watch the Masterpiece Theatre version of Jane Eyre. The best version out there.  There was lots of food, too.  Winter squash, my mother’s home canned grape juice with ginger ale, rice and lentils with vegetables and herbs, Camembert and slow cooked mushrooms, chai, creamy potato soup, homemade salsa with cheese and two kinds of chips–yellow and blue, a warm homemade apple pie made with lots of cinnamon,  and a round loaf of homemade no knead bread from a NY Times recipe.  It is essentially the way my friend K makes it in Mongolia.  She makes it on a much larger scale.

Alas, I see Mark Bittman has written his last column His videos are fabulous.  My loaf was baked in an old cast iron pot that had no lid. I covered two tin pie plates with aluminum foil for a lid.  Worked fine.  Just needed to cook the bread uncovered about 15 minutes more.  Initially it was too moist inside.  But the crust!  Cracking and splintering heaven.  So we had a wonderful lady time together.

Sometimes I think it would be nice if children reached a nymph stage, like cicadas, where they would burrow into the ground, live and crawl in deep dark soil, far underground, and suck juice from tree roots for years until they are ready to molt into adults.  Don’t you?  But I only think this sometimes.

I am reading Laura Bush’s biography, Spoken From the Heart, on loan to me from my Aunt Janice.  It is really good.  I recommend it  especially to those who wish to understand a more rural, hardscrabble mindset as opposed to city-of-your-choice.

For a book club I am also reading The Necklace, about 13 women who bought a diamond necklace together and the changes it brought to them individually and in the community.  I notice they are all tan and most of them are bottle blonds.  Well, it did take place in California.  Maybe it wouldn’t work here since layers are the fashion accessory of choice for at least three months of the year.  Just finished The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle. The former is my favorite in the series.  Much of the latter is painful to read but is a bookend to the former. And has an ending that we can all hope for.  My copies must be quite old now, since I can not even find a picture on Amazon of the cover of The Last Battle that looks like ours.

Running through my head are the tunes and a few words to hymns from Eritrea and Ethiopia.  They were the loveliest of the songs from other nations that were sung yesterday at church for International Sunday.  And I had been practicing them all week on the piano.

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