Monday, November 30, 2009

Child of the Seventies

They say the sixties didn't start until 1963 and they ended in the early seventies. I don't know when the seventies started, maybe when miniskirts went out of style, and I and my friends started wearing knee-length (top of the knee, but still miles longer than before) skirts. That would have been when I was in junior high, so maybe about 1974.

What I'm driving at is that I consider Queen a 70s band, or at least my enjoyment of them feels 70s to me, even though the only album of theirs I ever bought, The Game, was released in 1980, and I listened to them mostly in college, which I started in 1979.

And the Muppets were definitely a 70s phenomenon. That was the time of the original Muppet Show, when Jim Henson (may he rest in peace) was still alive and voicing Kermit the Frog.

And all this to wonder if I love the following more because I am a child of the seventies.

First, the classic "Bohemian Rhapsody," by Queen, who made a music video before there were music videos:

Then, a new classic, by the classic performers, the Muppets:

Words fail me when I try to express how much I enjoy this. I can only stammer, "The chickens . . . buck, buck . . . Animal . . . Beaker . . . Bunsen Honeydew . . . the cows . . . so many familiar faces from the past." I love it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Touched with autumn

The impatiens have perished, and the creeping jenny is more straggling than creeping.

This calla lily produced not many blooms but very lush leaves. A few are turning yellow.

And the begonias are almost done. These blooms will not be replaced with new ones, and the petals and leaves are starting to rot.

Approaching dormancy

Floral life is winding down on my deck, as November approaches its end.

It has been a fairly mild autumn, in temperature. We have had some storms with rain, hail, wind, and lightning, but we haven't had any hard freezes yet.

However it has been cold enough for the marigolds in the herb basket to die off. The tarragon, which was the only herb to come back on its own from last year's hard winter, has turned brown. The parsley has a couple touches of yellow, but the sage, rosemary, and thyme are all still green and full.

These stones were covered by the petunias for much of the summer, but now they are visible again.

The contorted filbert has shed most of its leaves. The verbena underneath it is still green, but with only a few random blooms left.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Yesterday we had some thunder and then hail.

Even standing a couple feet away, I could smell the herbs from this barrel because the hail bruised them.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Catkins and colors

As the leaves fall from my contorted filbert, the beautiful twisted branches come back into view. Those yellow pods are called "catkins." According to Wikipedia, pale yellow catkins on a filbert are male, while female catkins are small and red. I can't figure out from what I have read whether the whole tree is male or female, as I believe hollies are, or whether the same plant bears both kinds of flowers. I don't see any female catkins, but I haven't looked hard.

These are the leaves of a Japanese maple on the street where I walk my dog. Such a brilliant red.

My dad cleared the leaves off my deck, and to facilitate his work, he made this interesting arrangement of the chairs, hiking them over the retaining wall.

Here is some color in the yard.

Fledged birds' nests

As the leaves come off the trees, you can see where the birds lived during the spring and summer.

In the Barbara Pym novel Less Than Angels, after the death of a loved one a character reads or remembers these lines of poetry:

He that hath found some fledged bird’s nest, may know
At first sight, if the bird be flown;
But what fair well or grove he sings in now,
That is to him unknown.

It is from the poem "Beyond the Veil," by Henry Vaughan. In the Harry Potter books, there is a room in the Department of Mysteries where a veil hangs over a doorway in the middle of a room, and when a character goes through it--goes "beyond the veil"--that is his death. Harry Potter, who has a lot of loved ones who have died, and Luna Lovegood, whose mother is dead, can hear voices beyond the veil, and Harry is very drawn to it. Death--the fear of death, the death of friends and family, facing one's own death, even longing for it as a means of reunion with those who are gone--is a central theme of the Harry Potter novels. Jo Rowling reveals her Christian faith in how she finally handles this topic. I believe she lost her mother at a rather young age, and I think part of her motive in writing the books was to work through that experience.

Fall Scenes

The position of this leaf is pretty unlikely, but nature placed it there.

A pretty tree in our back yard.

Our neighbors' tree had very pretty color. Those leaves are gone now.

A Japanese maple shrub in front of our house had pretty color.

passion for dead leaves

This is the tree in our cul-de-sac with its leaves in color.

Here it is with the leaves pretty much gone.

From Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen:

"And how does dear, dear Norland look?" cried Marianne.

"Dear, dear Norland," said Elinor, "probably looks much as it always does at this time of year. The woods and walks thickly covered with dead leaves."

"Oh!" cried Marianne, "with what transporting sensations have I formerly seen them fall! How have I delighted, as I walked, to see them driven in showers about me by the wind! What feelings have they, the season, the air altogether inspired! Now there is no one to regard them. They are seen only as a nuisance, swept hastily off, and driven as much as possible from the sight."

"It is not every one," said Elinor, "who has your passion for dead leaves."