Thursday, May 30, 2013

Emily Dickinson & Carlo

"There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry-
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll-
 How frugal is the Chariot 
That bears the Human Soul-"
-Emily Dickinson

This week I've been taking some time in the refreshing May evenings to read and revisit some of my favorite poetry.  As is always the case, I find Emily Dickinson's poetry best appreciated by candlelight giving it a true, simplistic 19th century air.  I have always been touched by Emily's deep friendship with her Newfoundland, Carlo.

Emily Dickinson has brought some of the most unique and beautiful poetry into the world.  We have many unclear depictions of her, and perhaps no one, besides her dog Carlo, will ever have a completely accurate picture of who she was.  Besides the fact that she was very eccentric, talented and somewhat misunderstood, what we do know is that she loved Carlo and was hardly ever seen without him.  

A Newfoundland

Emily and Carlo had a very strong bond, and Carlo was readily accepted into her family.  They were often seen walking together--an odd appearance because of his large size and her slight frame.  I have read that in correspondence with Thomas Higginson, Emily Dickinson said that often Carlo was the only audience for her poems.  At another time Higginson expressed that he hesitated to publish her poetry due to the unusual punctuation and unconventional rhymes, and she replied that she was more interested in pleasing Carlo with her writing than in writing for the public.  Emily also referred to Carlo as her "shaggy ally" and her "mute confederate".   

I started Early- Took my Dog-
And visited the Sea-
The Mermaids in the Basement 
Came out to look at me-

And Frigates- in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands-
Presuming Me to be a Mouse-
Aground-upon the Sands-

- an excerpt from a poem by
Emily Dickinson 

A page from Emily's Herbarium.

"Every bird that sings, and every bud that blooms, does but remind me more of that garden unseen, awaiting the hand that tills it."
-Emily Dickinson
from a letter to Susan Dickinson, 1852

Emily Dickinson was also a very passionate gardener, her love of plants began early in life.  At age 14, she started a herbarium (a book of pressed wildflower specimens each labeled with its Latin name); some of these pressed flowers were quite rare leading some to believe that she must have walked quite extensively in the surrounding woods and fields.

" I find ecstasy in living- the mere sense of living is joy enough." 
-Emily Dickinson

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tea in the Garden

This week we have been working most ardently in the garden.  We have our beds prepared and most of our plants in.  It's always very exciting getting the gardens going in the spring. I am always very helpful....

In the summer most of our produce comes from our vegetable garden.  This week we put up a new fence and transplanted the small plants we started under grow lights from seed.

In my small, personal garden bed the flowers are really taking off; sunflowers and strawberries are some of my favorites!  Unlike the meticulous vegetable garden, my garden grows with its own whimsical will, perennials come back every year as a strong foundation while the annuals spring up as they please always in different, imaginative configurations. 

Tasha Tudor

 Tasha Tudor (1915-2008) is my favorite illustrator; I have been collecting her books for quite some time.  She was also an avid gardener.  She lived in Vermont and illustrated many children's books.  She would always lay down her paints in the summer to work in her extensive gardens and tend to her chickens, goats and of course, her constant Corgi companions.    

In the middle of the afternoon with the sun at its peak, it's always nice to stop for some iced tea.  This week I will share with you the premiere of my original recipe for my favorite iced tea. 

    - - - - - - - Thé au Citron Fraise - - - - - - -  

2 teaspoons loose Oolong tea (or tea choice)
1/2 cup fresh Lemon Balm leaves (about 12 sprigs)
2 cups water
1 2/3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup 
4 pureed frozen medium strawberries 
2 cups ice cubes
* Bruise Lemon Balm and brew with tea in 2 cups of just boiling 
  water for about 5 minutes.

* Strain tea into pitcher and mix in maple syrup, lemon juice,   
  pureed strawberries and 2 cups ice.

* For an added touch, garnish glass with sliced fresh 
  strawberries or lemon and enjoy.  

It really is quite good!

* And for my canine friends, remember more than a few sips of caffeine can be harmful to your health.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In the Spotlight

Though personally I have always enjoyed a simple, pastel lifestyle, it's not to say that I'm not intrigued or inspired 
by celebrities.  

As a Cairn Terrier, I feel a kind of kinship toward Terry (Toto) from The Wizard of Oz (1939).  I have always enjoyed The Wizard of Oz!  Who doesn't like this excellent Classic about the little dog who saves the day by leading her incompetent friends through forests and poppy fields to the wonderful Wizard and is almost eaten by a witch along the way!  Toto was so modest she didn't even ask for anything from the Wizard!  

Many people are unaware that Terry had a full career as an actress; she also starred in Bright Eyes with Shirley Temple.

I simply adore old movies!  When I think of old movies, I think of Petey.  Pit Bulls were the nanny dogs of the 20s and 30s; where would the Little Rascals have been without Petey?  He was always there to help, protect, and play with them.  Petey was just an all-round endearing dog!

I have always loved Audrey Hepburn's films even though they are, for the most part, sorely lacking dogs.  Her close companion Mr. Famous is an iconic dog.  There are many wonderful photographs documenting their "loverly" friendship.

Uggie, who starred in The Artist (2012), is such a wonderful actor; he is also very handsome and has such style! (Oh, I may be blushing!)  Anyway, it's a very good film.  Uggie also starred in Water for Elephants.  He always adds such comic relief!  I have included pictures, both from the Artist and the Golden Globes.

I, myself, have dabbled in a little acting. I received a wonderful review as Sandy in the musical, Annie--and my own bow.  I have also participated in some innovative independent films.  
It took at least an hour just to get into costume for my avant-garde role as The Lion.

I think everyone deserves a walk down The Red Carpet.  As Shakespeare said,  "All the world's a stage..."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Time of Quiet 

At the beginning of this week a close family member passed away.  We are taking some quiet time together with our family to remember and honor him.  I will be back to normal postings next week.

He has achieved success who has lived well, 
laughed often, and loved much;
Who has gained the respect of intelligent men 
and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has left the world better than he found it;
Who has looked for the best in others and given the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration,
Whose memory is a benediction.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, May 2, 2013


There is nothing more satisfying than walking in the sunshine, feeling your blood pumping, and breathing the fresh air.  In fact, I attribute my excellent health (and figure) to my daily walks.  For most of my life I have delighted in the words, "wanna go for a walk?".  As Henry David Thoreau said,

"An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."

And it's true, taking an invigorating walk puts you in a good mindset for the entire day.

Jan Zoetelief Tromp (1872-1947) is a Dutch artist I recently discovered; I instantly fell in love with his work.  These pieces are perfect for the subject of walking.

Jan Zoetelief Tromp

Jan Zoetelief Tromp

We are fortunate enough to live on a pleasant farm in the Pastoral Midwest, also situated conveniently near a small city brimming with the arts.  Here are some lovely sights from my daily walks, along with some of my favorite walking quotes.  Many well-known writers, composers, artists and philosophers have also found solace and inspiration in the act of walking.

 "You ask me where I get my ideas.  That I cannot tell you with certainty.  They come unsummoned, directly, indirectly - I could seize them with my hands - out in the open air, in the woods, while walking, in the silence of the nights, at dawn, excited 
by moods which are translated by the poet into words, by me 
into tones that sound and roar and storm about me till I 
have set them down in notes."
-Ludwig van Beethoven

"If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should 
explode and perish."
-Charles Dickens

"Mine is a dog's life and I never stop walking; I walk 

here, there and everywhere."
-Claude Monet

"Walking is also an ambulation of the mind."
-Gretel Ehrlich

"Now shall I walk or shall I ride?
'Ride,' Pleasure said;
'Walk,' Joy replied."
-William Henry Davis