28 November 2009

What I'm Reading...


Barrie, James M.: What Every Woman Knows. (1906) Project Gutenberg. Kindle. We watched Finding Neverland (Netflix) and the movie prompted me to review Barrie's life and browse a couple of his books. (It's a good movie but it does play fast & loose with the facts.) I don't remember having read this particular play before. Clever, fun and I think it would stage rather well.

Potter, Beatrix: The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter. Project Gutenberg. Kindle. We watched Miss Potter (Netflix) and so I'm reading bedtime stories.

Richmond, Grace S.: Red Pepper Burns.
Richmond, Grace S.: Mrs. Red Pepper. (1913)
Richmond, Grace S.: Red Pepper's Patients. (1919) Project Gutenberg. Kindle. I read these books as a child and have read them at least once more as an adult. The stories are about a doctor in the early 20th Century. What stricks me about these books on this reading is the frequent mention of drug addiction. These writers are part of the "living clean" movement: fresh air, exercise, don't drink.

Palmer, William J.: The Detective and Mr. Dickens. A Secret Victorian Journal Attributed to Wilkie Collins, Dicovered and Edited by... New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990. The author is/was English prof at Purdue. He writes a compelling story set in the dark underbelly of London at night . The sinful pleasures of male Victorian life are the primary plot device. Every woman in this book is a prostitute or a pander or a victim. As one would expect given the sub-title, several scenes are quite graphic and push into pornography. In real life (as opposed to his life in this novel) Collins had arthritis and a laudanum/opium addiction. Needed to see Dr. Red Pepper Burns.

Bedside Book:

Peterson, Eugene H.: Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A conversation in spiritual theology. Kindle. I continue my slow exploration, reading and re-reading, of issues of salvation and the relationship between Exodus and Mark.


Whitaker, Evelyn: Laddie. We are exploring the 19th Century woman novelist as theologian.

11 November 2009

Veterans' Day. A love story...

Today is Veterans Day. Daddy still calls it Armistice Day, remembering "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918 marking the cease fire on the Western Front of WWI. His father, Pvt. Zach Carter Cummings, Co. D 39th Infantry 4th Division, was marching toward the sound of the guns when over the hill he heard the silence of peace. Instead of fighting in the bloody trenches of France, his war experience was with an occupation force in Germany. Here is a photo of my grandfather, taken "on the Rhine River Germany April 1919."
And a photo of the girl he left behind him, Miss Oma Calahan, in Farmersville, Texas. She wrote on the back of this photo: "I wasn't mad when this was made. I was just facing the sun." This photo was made in the autumn of 1918 and was one of those she sent to him in a letter.

For family and others who would like a bit more of the story, I've transcribed and linked three of my grandfather's letters:

  1. in late October as he sailed for Europe
  2. on November 19 at the edge of the battlefield in France
  3. on November 28 from Germany

at my domain: http://www.evelynwhitakerlibrary.org/blog_the_life_i_read/id9.html

And as she always does on this date Mother recited a poem:

04 November 2009

Autumn Leaves of Grass

My favorite season has always been autumn. Morning cool. The last of the garden. Harvest. I'll never forget driving over a hilltop in the Poconos and seeing a child-gone-crazy-with-the-Crayolas landscape. During my childhood, the family often made an October drive to the mountains of New Mexico to look at the aspens and to gather apples. David & I vacation with the Colorado colors.
It's commonly said that Texas doesn't have seasons but like much that is commonly said that's incorrect. Our deciduous trees are turning now although they are out-numbered by evergreen live oaks and pine and magnolias and tropicals--Houston truly is the emerald city. When we make our Christmas road trip across Texas there is often great color; we're all just too busy looking at Christmas lights to notice. It's like the robins which in Houston are not a sign of spring but of winter. Each place has seasons of its own but one must have eyes to see.

As I've been driving across Texas from the Gulf Coast to the Hill Country, I've enjoyed being back in touch with the seasons. What I've seen on the most recent trips are the autumn grasses which are truly as lovely as the wildflowers of spring.
There is great variety and diversity of grass--tall, short, straight, stiff, plumed, lacy. This photo is pink-haired grass waving in a row at pavement's edge but the colors are limitless: green, chartreuse, gold, brown, black, red, maroon, orange, purple, aubergine, silver, copper. Grass in fields, grass in roadside clumps, grass in swaths of self-sown sweeping waves. Seed time and harvest. A festival of grass.
I, of course, named this post for Walt Whitman's famous poem:
But in looking for that link, I found this poem by Brian Patten:
Mighty is our LORD and great in power
whose wisdom is beyond all telling...
Sing a song of thanksgiving to the LORD...
who clothes the hills with grass.
Psalm 147: 5,7,8