Saturday, September 10, 2016

Alcohol-enjoying librarians are honored in a Barbara Pym quote

"'I think I should prefer a glass of lemon squash,' said Miss Lydgate.

This was a relief, if only a slight one, Digby felt, as he assured Miss Clovis that he and Mark never drank in the middle of the day.

'I feel one shouldn't go into learned societies or libraries smelling of drink,' said Mark, at his most prim. 'It might create the wrong impression.'

'Oh, I hadn't thought of that,' said Miss Clovis, sipping her dark foamy drink. 'I don't suppose anyone would notice. Of course, it's all right for librarians to smell of drink,' she added jovially.

'Of course,' said Digby enthusiastically."

From chapter eight of Barbara Pym's Less Than Angels

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Scary Mary

When I first encountered this spoofy video on Facebook, I found it highly amusing. Yes, perhaps the cool primness of Julie Andrews' Mary Poppins bordered on the frigid. But she was nothing like the Mary Poppins of the book, a fact I realized when I finally read it a few years ago.

But even that icy creature is nothing compared with the Mary Poppins featured in the first few chapters of the sequel, Mary Poppins Comes Back. In this section are two scenes which paint her didactic personality with even colder, darker strokes.

For instance, just after Miss Poppins reenters the Banks household, following close on her heels is Euphemia Andrew, Mr. Banks' enormous, terrifying former governess. Miss Andrew has come to stay, unannounced, doling out unwelcome child-rearing advice to anyone who will listen. Mary Poppins will definitely not listen:

"'Thank you, ma'am' said Mary Poppins with icy politeness, 'But I bring the children up in my own way and take advice from nobody.'"

The miffed and shocked Miss Andrew makes a fatal mistake: during her retort, she refers to Mary, not by her name (she hasn't bothered to ask), but as "Young woman." All her subsequent demands for Mary's sacking are nothing to this.

So when Mary discovers that the formidable Miss Andrew keeps a caged lark, she speaks to the creature and discovers that it was once free. To make a long story short, Mary wields her magic, has the two switch places, and soon the lark is flying through the air, carrying in its beak a cage inhabited by a terrified, screaming Miss Andrew.

After a survivable crash, and a forced apology, Miss Andrew hightails it out of the Banks household quicker than you can say, "My, that was little creepy."

But the creepiness has, apparently, come to stay. In the very next chapter, "Bad Wednesday," Mary punishes a grumpy Jane by leaving her all alone in a room with a demonic plate; that is, a plate with painted figures who lure Jane into their Hotel California world, then refuse to let her leave.

Terrified, Jane begins to shout for Mary Poppins who eventually pulls her out of her captor's encircling arms. She's safe, yes, but apparently post-traumatic stress wasn't a thing back in Edwardian England.

I haven't yet continued reading, but yes, this Mary is a little scary.

Saturday, July 2, 2016


The train whistles
as the boys fight invisible enemies with gusto and plastic swords
forcing sound effects from their mouths with every thrust.

The conductor calls the stop
as the warrior knights fight each other. 
A few rays of the falling sun press between the nearby houses
to run glowing fingers through the boys' hair
as they join forces to scale castle battlements.

The train pulls away
as the boys swing together in the twilight.
I wish they could stay, defying gravity and the globe's motion,
forever entertained with swords and swings.
But the lights of the train are dim now and its rumblings distant
and it's time for us to go. 

The DesPlaines River at Twilight

A deer emerges from the woods.
The geese at the river's edge silently make way
for this queen of twilight. 
When her graceful neck bends to drink
I know a surfeit of wonder. 

But the moment grows. She steps into the water
till nothing shows but a lovely, determined head.
Emerging, her hooves find a man-made bank
and its green reward.

(The deer in the above poem came out of the area near the clump of bushes on the right, swam/walked across the river to the cement bank appearing below the buildings on the left/center and began to eat the foliage seen there. This occurred about 45 minutes after this photo was taken).

Thursday, June 30, 2016


He is descended from Dutch farmers and Puritan nobles
and his truthful eyes whisper the promise of honorable manhood.
His conscience is as golden as his straight hair and as prominent as his perfect nose.
He tentatively offers this perfection to the world.
He is a generous pirate of story and humor, delighted to share each treasure he finds.

He is like the sun waiting impatiently behind the clouds for another turn at center stage.
He has passionate dreams of being Legolas, the warrior elf
but settles for fighting invisible Orcs on playground equipment.
His soul is full of music, played in his head with a full orchestra that comes into being through the tiny hole of his pursed lips.

A thousand tiny bright colors collide when she laughs at her brother.
Her porcelain skin envelopes a profile heartbreaking as a china doll.
Her blond curls are tight as her will and her skin transparent as her soul,
which pours out stories and music, strumming non-chords for clear song.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Flotsam and jetsam from used books

Courtesy of my fav. used bookstore. He also had a large collection of paper clips and menus from local fast food restaurants. The three items in the above photo were by far the most interesting. More to come, I hope!