Poem of the Week

An article online about poetry prompted me to find and share this one.

Digging

By Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

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Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, of course, I survived the so-called Polar Vortex, which was frigid. Luckily, we had heat continually, which wasn’t the case with parts of the town south of me. Imagine losing heat when it’s -10°F/-23°C. Some people lost heat in the middle of the night for hours. Now it’s 35°F and it feels balmy.

Last Monday my car wouldn’t start after work. Luckily, my brother lives near that library and he came to my rescue. The car was towed to a repair shop, but they couldn’t look at it till Thursday, when they discovered it was a problem with the electronic key mechanism. Go figure. We had other keys so all’s well. Since he was so helpful with the car, I made my brother a pecan pie.

I have discovered that Hoopla Digital offers many of the Great Courses courses. I’ve happened on one about Mental Math, multiplying double digits like 36 x 78 or adding 395 +882+130 in your head. The professor Alexander Benjamin, PhD teaches at Harvey Mudd College and is quite engaging. mental math keeps your brain sharp and isn’t as hard as you think.

I watched Cary Grant in The Batchelor and the Bobby-Soxer and just finished Heart Beats Loud last night. Both were pure entertainment, but I’d say the former was the better film.

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m looking outside my window at a a beautiful snowfall. It’s graceful and serene.

On Saturday my friend Maryann drove down from Wisconsin and we went to lunch at Michael Jordan’s Steak House before going to the Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibit of Ukiyo-e paintings. All the paintings came from the Weston collection. Ukiyo-e art depicts the “water trade” or the life of musicians, dancers, geishas, and concubines of the era from the 16th to early 19th centuries.

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I’ve started reading Crazy, Rich Asians, which has been flying off the shelves. Colline of Colline’s Blog recently finished it and that convinced me to get the book. I’m also loving Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale, which offers a witty look at small town 19th century middle class.

I did get a promotion at work, which goes into effect next week. In addition to assisting patrons, I’ll do more reference work and work on projects reaching out to local businesses and to seniors. Alas, I did not get the other job. A friend at that library mentioned that when she was who did get it, she realized that it was a foregone conclusion. There are a few more jobs, again all part time, that I’ll apply to. Fingers crossed.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve caught a cold and have been mainly staying home, drinking tea, reading a bit and resting.

I did read the selection for this month’s Great Books discussion at the library. We read and discussed Darwin’s Moral Sense of Man, rather a dry read in my opinion. I do accept Darwin’s ideas, which I think are pervasive nowadays, but I’m not all that interested in natural history, which he describes in detail. I did appreciate a woman who clarified the idea of Natural Selection. I mistakenly thought our choices in mates and behavior determined the survival of the fittest, but it’s all about how nature chooses. We’re just little pawns as far as that goes. Our group leader rambled a lot and as has become usual the discussion goes all over the place with tangents like robots and Trump getting mixed in. The Great Books Foundation aims to gather people to discuss an influential text and stick to analyzing it and not roaming all over the place, which is too easy to do.

I ran into a childhood friend’s mother at the library. Her daughter an I were great friends from first to third grade. In fourth grade I changed schools and later I moved so we lost touch. It was nice to hear a little bit about Laura and what she’s doing now. I do hope my old friend drops by one day.

There’s a new opening at my library and Wednesday I’ll interview for this position, which is a step up, but alas still part time. still my fingers are crossed. I haven’t heard from the other library yet about whom they’ve chosen. Skokie’s a well respected library so I know it’s quite competitive.

I’ve been quite disappointed with PBS NewsHour, which I count on as a sound news source, but they were in error twice last week. First they broadcast the Buzzfeed story that Cohen testified that President Trump told him to lie. The Mueller team soon stated that this was not the case. While the story was amended, I’d love to see an apology tonight and a statement that they should have investigated the veracity of Buzzfeed’s report, which was written by a known plagiarizer. Next there’s the mess with the boys from the Catholic school and a stand off involving a Native American man and the Black Hebrews. Originally, the boys were reported to mock the Native American and to be troublemakers. Later a more complete video was shared online and it became clear that the boys weren’t in the wrong. Again, the media, including PBS rushed to boradcast a story before they found out all the facts. It’s disgraceful because these errors impact people’s reputations or understanding of the  government.  With the boys, people have contacted the colleges they applied to and asked that these kids get rejected. They’ve discovered their contact information and have harassed and threatened them and their relatives. A mob mentality has been unleashed and it’s hard to contain it. Again, I hope to see PBS and other channels apologize and vow to adhere to a higher standard.

I got the Moone Boy series DVDs and finally saw the final series. I love this Irish sitcom, about pre-teen Martin Moone and his imaginary friend Sean. It’s not to be missed.

A Place Apart

Travel writer, Dervla Murphy is known for boldly flinging herself across the globe and opting for the most inconvenient transport forms to encounter cultures that pique her curiosity. In A Place Apart, Dervla takes her trusty bicycle Roz up to Northern Ireland. Written in the 1970s, when the “Troubles” or terrorism, if you’re not fond of euphemisms, was running high, Dervla examines the complexities of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The result is an encounter with a people who confound and amaze her as much as any.

I had oversimplified the issues of Northern Ireland and thought that it was simply a conflict over religion. Religion wasn’t the cause and the conflicts weren’t between just two groups. There weren’t two sides. There were several. Both Catholics and Protestants had several subsets.

I was impressed by Murphy’s chutzpah as she’ll enter a pub where she’s marked as an outsider and regarded with suspicion, yet she’ll tough it out to get people to open up and share their opinions and insights. I will note though that most people were welcoming and saw the value in sharing their point of view and experiences.

The violence people suffered was shocking. Fathers shot dead while watching TV in their living rooms. Children shot. Families on all sides suffered and no place was safe.

While things have changed for the better in Ireland, which gives hope for all conflict zones, our world still has spots where death and violence are an everyday occurrence.