Friday, March 24, 2017

Joan Baez singing Mary Hamilton, a haunting love song

Joan Baez singing Mary Hamilton

When I was in college my favorite musicians were Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and others who often resurrected or re-wrote ballads from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Click on the above link to hear Joan Baez singing the song. The painting shows Mary Hamilton in custody.
This is a tragic love story and here are the lyrics Joan Baez wrote, following the story as it unfolded in a well-known sixteenth century ballad from Scotland (Child Ballad 173).

Word is to the kitchen gone, and word is to the Hall
And word is up to Madam the Queen, and that's the worst of all
That Mary Hamilton has borne a babe
To the highest Stuart of all
Oh rise, arise Mary Hamilton
Arise and tell to me
What thou hast done with thy wee babe
I saw and heard weep by thee
I put him in a tiny boat
And cast him out to sea
That he might sink or he might swim
But he'd never come back to me
Oh rise arise Mary Hamilton
Arise and come with me
There is a wedding in Glasgow town
This night we'll go and see
She put not on her robes of black
Nor her robes of brown
But she put on her robes of white
To ride into Glasgow town
And as she rode into Glasgow town
The city for to see
The bailiff's wife and the provost's wife
Cried Alack and alas for thee
You need not weep for me she cried
You need not weep for me
For had I not slain my own wee babe
This death I would not dee
Oh little did my mother think
When first she cradled me
The lands I was to travel in
And the death I was to dee
Last night I washed the Queen's feet
And put the gold in her hair
And the only reward I find for this
The gallows to be my share
Cast off cast off my gown she cried
But let my petticoat be
And tie a napkin round my face
The gallows I would not see
Then by them come the king himself
Looked up with a pitiful eye
Come down come down Mary Hamillton
Tonight you will dine with me
Oh hold your tongue my sovereign liege
And let your folly be
For if you'd a mind to save my life
You'd never have shamed me here
Last night there were four marys
Tonight there'll be but three
It was Mary Beaton and Mary Seton
And Mary Carmichael and me.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

My walk and some happy moments

On my walk today at 9 a.m. before church on March 19 I enjoyed the quiet. Few people were out. Later I know there will be many people out walking, jogging, bicycling, skate boarding, pushing baby strollers and walking dogs. On my quiet walk with my dog Bounce we discovered the same box full of free lemons we saw yesterday. Each day I took four gorgeous yellow lemons. Doesn't their cheerful color make you happy too? I treated myself to some pretty pink roses, as you can see. On that same walk I gave 3 magazines to a Little Free Library and took one book, set in Istanbul, a city I love. The book is "Arabesk" by Barbara Nadel and is the third in a detective series that is new to me. Along the bay two blocks away I saw people on a walk/run to raise money for charity. When we have moments like these it is wise to cherish them, before the tears come again. Somehow I found this walk and these moments to be healing.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ooops, I have more books to read

Yes, I do have a reading habit. Ha ha. Sometimes books end up in my house and I almost don't know why. I am still moving a lot of books out of my house, giving them to the public library and to Little Free Libraries, but when I visit these dens of iniquity some (most) times I leave with a book or two.
I "accidentally" bought 5 books on Kindle last week: "Angling Bumateurs", the fifth in a trilogy (yes, you read correctly)  by Tottie Limejuice, "Amberwell" by D. E. Stevenson, and "Squirting Milk on Chameleons: An Accidental African" by Simon Penton, his memoir of living in Senegal, "We Have Lost the President" by Paul Mathews, and "Old Age Private Eye" by W. Blakely.
 Then at an aforementioned Little Free Library while giving away some of my books, I took "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood, and am reading it as fast as I can because the plot grabs me. [I finished it quickly and found I am disappointed in the book as there was no hero, no character to cheer for or to admire. The narrator, Crake and Oryx were losers, in my opinion and the near future was full of evil and lack of hope. I know many people like this book, so that is just my take on it.]
Then today while working as a volunteer at a retirement home library I saw the fascinating "Mistress of Nothing" by Kate Pullinger. I like to read books set in Cairo and this novel is based on the true story of Lady Duff Gordon and her lady's maid, Sally Naldrett, in the 1860s, so I am borrowing this one.[I read "Mistress of Nothing" quickly and enjoyed it. The maid had a tough turn of events in Egypt. I also read "Old Age Private Eye", a short book, with the bored and retired senior citizen on a whim putting up a sign saying he is a P.I. for hire. Humorous bits and a mystery of a missing body to solve.]
Since I wrote this I got another book at a neighbor's Little Free Library, "The Woman in Cabin Ten" by Ruth Ware, and I am reading it. It is exciting, the narrator is a troubled woman who thinks she saw a body fall into the sea while on a luxury cruise. But all passengers and staff are still aboard. That is as far as I have gotten.
In my Bible study group we are reading Colossians so I bought a book "Paul: The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon" by N.T. Wright. Imagine Paul writing those letters while he was in prison.
Oh, and at the beginning of my post is a photo of my brand new Star Magnolia tree's first flower.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Beginnings: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Ok, Jenny Lawson is not for everyone, but I like her books and find her books compelling reading. If you like the cover, you might like Jenny. Yes, there is humor in her memoirs, but also honest and revealing writing about mental illness and physical conditions she faces like a true warrior. I honor her courage. But you might find her books (and a few cuss words) simply not for you.
I am linking to Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader where the rule is to post the first sentence of a book you are reading.
So "Furious Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things" begins:
"No, no. I insist you stop right now.
Still here? Awesome. Now you're not allowed to blame me for anything in this book because I told you to stop reading and you just kept going. You're like Bluebeard's wife when she found all those heads in the closet. (Spoiler alert). But personally I think that's a good thing. Ignoring the severed human heads in the closet doesn't make for a good relationship. It makes for an unsanitary closet and possible accessory charges."

I am also linking to Friday 56 at Freda's Voice where we share something from page 56.
"The second advantage of being on antipsychotics is that they can actually help. In the time I've been on them I've hurt myself less. I feel more stable. The blue men who live in my closet try to sell me fewer cookies and most of those squirrels plotting against me have disappeared."

Personally I salute this brave young woman. Her supportive husband gets my admiration too.

Here is the cover of her first memoir.
Her dad has a love of taxidermy which affects her life today and as a child, and explains the two subjects of the two book covers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Magic Rabbit

Did you ever have a pet rabbit? My grandpa, Elmer Pelkin, was a professional magician and he pulled a white rabbit out of his top hat and gave it to my sister and me as a pet. So I had a magic rabbit.

We named the bunny Fluffy and his favorite times were when I let him hop around the yard eating clover. I picked clover for him and he found his own.
Now thinking of rabbits has me thinking ahead to Easter.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Best Books I Read in 2016

Some of you bloggers count the books you read each year. I have not counted them before, but since 2011 I have been writing down each title I read, so I decided to look at my list and found I read 92 books in 2016. That is a nice number of books. Now that I am retired I have time to indulge my reading passion.
The list includes several 500 page Anthony Trollope novels and the Bible which I read in a year.
Reading Highlights
"The Belton Estate" by Anthony Trollope. I love this book: who will Clara marry?
"Bilbury Grange" by Vernon Coleman, the memoirs of a U.K. country doctor. I read the first two in this series before figuring out it is fiction. It is fun to read and very realistic.
"God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew. One of my top 20 all time favorite books, this is the true story of how Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles to countries where it was illegal to buy or give away Bibles. He was in dangerous situations, fell in love, had almost no money, but a lot of faith and courage.
"The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper" by Phaedra Patrick. Upbeat book about an older widower who uses his wife's charm bracelet to track down more about her past. I reviewed this on my blog recently.
"Cruelest Month" by Louise Penny. This is the third in the series about Inspector Gamache, a mystery set in Canada in a small town south of Quebec. Gamache is a man of high character and his own unorthodox ways of solving mysteries.

"The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine" by Alexander McCall Smith. Number 16 in this series about Mma Ramotswe, a lady detective who lives in Botswana. I give all in this series 5 stars.
"The Enchanted April" by Elizabeth von Arnim. Another book on my 20 all time favorites book list.
"Even Dogs in the Wild" by Ian Rankin. Rebus, Fox and Shiobhan are back in this great detective series.
"A Man Named Ove", a curmudgeon at age 59. One of my favorite books this year.
"Pursuit of Love" by Nancy Mitford. Witty, upper class England between the wars.
"The Three Clerks" by Anthony Trollope. I like all 15 of his novels I have read. The 3 clerks all take wildly divergent paths in life, careers, and love.
"Ralph the Heir" by Anthony Trollope. There is more than one Ralph in this novel, which one will be the heir?

"Is He Popenjoy" by Anthony Trollope. Love and inheritance. Is the child legitimate? Is the man a pretender to a title and an estate? This novel echoes an actual scandal in England in the 1870s of a pretender to a title.
"Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson. Brilliant, dark memoir by young woman who copes with mental illness. I bought her next book "Furiously Happy", haven't read the new one yet.
"Mother Was It Worth It?", number 3 in humorous memoirs by Tottie Limejuice, who moved to Auvergne in rural France from England with her ill mother and troubled brother. Start the series with the first book so it makes sense.
I like reading books other bloggers enjoyed and hope you like my list of reading highlights from 2016. I recommend all of the above.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Finding peace in Scripture

I wrote this post a year ago, holding it in reserve to post in future. I wrote this before the unexpected death of my darling husband, Will, in November of 2016.
These words are even more meaningful to me now, and I hope will touch your heart too and help you if you need to feel peace. I know our Shepherd cares for us tenderly.
Sometimes I need help in finding peace or ease, in a stressful situation. This may be true for you too.
One thing I did years ago is to type my favorite Bible verses on a small piece of paper, laminate it, and keep it in my purse. You can buy little packets of laminating paper at office supply stores, 3 x 5 inches or so, that are sticky on one side only, so use two of them a bit bigger than your paper. Easy peasey and cheap protection for your verses.
The verses I have in my purse are about God protecting us and quite a few of them are in Psalms.

"Behold! I send an angel before you to protect you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared." Exodus 23:20

"But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 59:16

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:39 KJV 

Many translations of Psalm 91 speak to my heart. Here is the poetic KJV. " I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; ... There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.  For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Psalm 91:2-11

What a beautiful thing, that he gives his angels charge over us, to keep us in all our ways. 
"The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ", Ann Voskamp.