It is March?

George and Meg

The weather has been unseasonably warm here in Wisconsin. Someone told me that our daytime temperatures are reaching the average for July. I believe them. Spring chores have been sped up for me. Getting things done before the grass gets too long seems to be a deadline that I never quite reach in time.

Along with the hot weather, George has spring break, and we have been married 11 years this March. We took some time off from the grass deadline to canoe on the Little Wolf River today. George was in the bow because I have more experience steering than he does. Like many things that he attempts, George relies on brute strength than balance or finesse. I felt like I was mostly paddling to counter his force rather than navigate down the river.

Just paddling along

Turtles sunning on a log

We saw a frog, lots of turtles sunning themselves on snags, ducks, geese, and a turkey. Most of the plants are still thinking about turning green and the grasses along the bank were brown.

The water was high enough, even though we didn’t get nearly our usual amount of snowfall or other precipitation since fall. We had to work to hit a couple of rocks and there where nice ripples, but nothing rough. Perfect for us. There was a tense moment when George didn’t feel like I was doing my job of steering well enough and attempted to steer from the bow. When I thought that the moment was over I told George that he would just have to trust me. “But I don’t trust you!” George shouted back. Maybe we will work on trust for our twelfth anniversary.


Wanna hug?

Endnote: No, George does not want a hug. He’s showing off a spruce moved from Scott and Barb’s land and transplanted on Paul and Barb’s land.

A heap o’livin’

A little poem for Jessie. This poem is from the book Poems Teachers Ask For: Book II. Not only are “dialect” poems difficult to for me to read, they also can be very sentimental.

by Edgar Guest
(1881 – 1959)

It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ‘preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.

Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ’em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumb-marks on the door.

Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.

Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ‘come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.

Childhood book

Grandma and I have shared many stories from her youth within the last few months. Grandma moved with her family from Milwaukee to Colby to Abbotsford. With one of the moves, Great Grandma must have culled the family book collection. Grandma wished that the book Poems Teachers Ask For had been kept because she enjoyed it so much.

I went in search of a copy of of the book for Grandma and found Poems Teachers Ask For Book II. I’m not sure if Grandma will recognize the poetry in it or not. Based on my favorite poems in the book, I will like your poetry better if your name is Henry. The number of poems written in dialect (Irish accent, southern drawl, etc) in the book surprised me. I almost immediately skip over these, which is probably a loss for me.

Loss and Gain
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.

I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.

But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

If All the Skies
by Henry Van Dyke
(1852 – 1933)

If all the skies were sunshine,
Our faces would be fain
To feel once more upon them
The cooling splash of rain.

If all the world were music,
Our hearts would often long
For one sweet strain of silence,
To break the endless song.

If life were always merry,
Our souls would seek relief,
And rest from weary laughter
In the quiet arms of grief.

The Height of the Ridiculous
by Oliver Wendell Holmes

I wrote some lines once on a time
In wondrous merry mood,
And thought, as usual, men would say
They were exceeding good.
They were so queer, so very queer,
I laughed as I would die;
Albeit, in the general way,
A sober man am I.

I called my servant, and he came;
How kind it was of him
To mind a slender man like me,
He of the mighty limb.

“These to the printer,” I exclaimed,
And, in my humorous way,
I added, (as a trifling jest,)
“There’ll be the devil to pay.”

He took the paper, and I watched,
And saw him peep within;
At the first line he read, his face
Was all upon the grin.

He read the next; the grin grew broad,
And shot from ear to ear;
He read the third; a chuckling noise
I now began to hear.

The fourth; he broke into a roar;
The fifth; his waistband split;
The sixth; he burst five buttons off,
And tumbled in a fit.

Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye,
I watched that wretched man,
And since, I never dare to write
As funny as I can.

Just a few ideas…

What says fun like a list of links!


Finish National Gallery

Seurasaari Open-Air Market

Suomenlinna Island Fortress

National Library of Finland

National Archives Service of Finland


Isojoka, Kauhajoka and Kurikka Libraries

Alpo’s Savannah see also ITE Art

Lauhanvuori National Park

Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park


Sievi Library


Kemi Art Museum

Kemi’s Museum of History

Muonionalusta, Sweden

Pallas-Yllastunturi National Park


Vadso Library

Craft for the pitiful

I am a generally healthy person and am usually thankful for it, as I should be.

Then I get a measly cold (no, not measly as in 1: containing larval tapeworms or 2 : infested with trichinae, but as in 3: contemptibly small*) and I deteriorate into a snively (both 1: running at the nose and 2: pitiful or whining) creature. I hate being sick. What to do?

Since I’m snively, I can’t do all the fun and robust activities that I normally like. But, I can browse Pinterest and find a craft for the pitiful. The parts are easy to gather, the process is decidedly simple, and the outcome is satisfying. What can be better than that?

Getting something done felt so good, that I even braided the free end to use as a cable tie. Now let’s just hope that I feel better before I need to start on another cable.

*Have I mentioned that I love the feature of a Google search where “define:” is added to a search term and Google finds definitions for the search term?

Looking back at India

Here are some of my old notes, written on September 13, 2009:

I used Lonley Planet (c. 2007) recommendations for movies to see about India and then continued to explore others. They are either in English or have English subtitles.
Earth, Water, and Fire, a trilogy directed by Deepa Mehta. These are very good films, but not necessarily happy ones.
Gandhi directed by Richard Attenborough
Mr & Mrs Iyer, directed by Aparna Sen
Monsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair; see also her acclaimed earlier film Salaam Bombay!
Lagaan directed by Ashutosh Gowariker  I watched the beginning and end, napped in the middle.
Story of India with Michael Wood.Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Collection 2 Disc 2: Rajasthan, Kolkata/Mumbai – these cities are north of where I’ll visit, but nice to get a feel for India in general. Rick Steves is a little to vanilla for me at times, but Anthony Bourdain is a little too snarky for me at times. Handheld camera and fast shots make me a little sea sick.
The Namesake directed by Mira Nair.
Swades directed by Ashutosh GowarikerMeenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities” directed by M.F. Husain – I gave up on this because the story line didn’t capture my attention and a scratch made the DVD difficult to play.
The Mahabharata directed by Peter Brook. I’ve been intimidated by “The Mahabharata” because it is 5 hrs and 25 minutes long.
India: Kingdom of the Tiger directed by Bruce Neibaur

From  August 31, 2009:

Books about India that I’ve read or listened to:

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup

February 27, 2012

I’ve read quite a bit more about India since my original notes and added them to LibraryThing. I’m currently reading India Becoming, listening to Last Man in Tower, and working on an India scrapbook (finally!) that all have me thinking about India again.

My sweetheart

My sweetheart and I share the same favorite color…blue.

My sweetheart and I share the same unreasonably large affection for sweets, especially boxed chocolates, the kind with caramel inside.

My sweetheart and I love to read. Most recently we have been enjoying Strictly for the Chickens together. Fran’s search for a packing box large enough to hold her husband had us both laughing.

My sweetheart and I love fresh snow lit by a bright sun in a blue sky.

My sweetheart and I agree that Grandpa can be unnecessarily grumpy at times. We both still love him.

My sweetheart can fall into the snow, while waiting for me to cross the road and get the mail, and only proclaim “I’m not going to do that again!”

My sweetheart is kind, loving, and just sweet. Her mind doesn’t always work in the predictable fashion that it has for many years, but her personality and humor persist.

One of the things my sweetheart has taught me recently is the power of a good habit. Grandma’s favorite breakfast is shredded wheat, half of a grapefruit, coffee with cream, and a glass of juice. Other meals and foods, even some past favorites, can be questioned at times. Breakfast is always enjoyed with enthusiasm. Grandma says that when she was growing up, she was the only one in her family that liked shredded wheat.

May you have a sweetheart in your life to share joy with.

Photograph of Grandma and I

December 2011 - Photo taken by HVB


Quilting and Valentine’s Day

Grandma had a brilliant day last Saturday. The day was filled with energy and new ideas. Alice, Grandma, and I browsed through a quilting magazine and Grandma picked out a quilt with a basket square on it. She would like to make one for each of the boys  (Robbie, Charlie, and Henry) and thinks that muslin, blue, and green fabric would be best for it. It was fun to plan the quilt and think about the boys.

I am a fan of Valentine’s Day. Not buying lots of “cute” stuff (cards and stickers excepted). Not demanding a demonstration of your admiration of me (although voluntary actions will be appreciated). Not going out to eat (why would I want to eat with a million other people around?). Not celebrating a saint or saints. But I do like celebrating relationships…friends, family, and others. Happy Valentine’s Day to you when it comes around.

Happy 69th Wedding Anniversary to Grandma and Grandpa on Monday!

Thinking Finland

There are times when I like to focus my reading, listening, and watching on a theme. Right now it is Finland, land of many ancestors.


Riding with Reindeer Bicycling can be done in bad weather, in areas with so few people that you converse with any animal or object.

The Princess Mouse: A Tale of Finland Love the one you’re with, with great illustrations.

The Year of the Hare The reserved Finns are too much for me. I shall befriend a hare.

Culture Shock! Finland Finns are reserved. Who knew. I found the Culture Shock! India book very helpful and am currently reading the Finland guide.

The Winter War It’s been a while since I read this, but it has helped form my image of Finland.

Louhi, Witch of North Farm Louhi, the Witch of North Farm, partakes in the activities of daily life in Finland. She makes blueberry soup. She looks at the boats. She knits. However, she isn’t in the mood for everyday activities. She wants to do something Witch-Witch-Witchety. Louhi goes out looking for trouble…and finds it!

Living in Finland Just browsed this one.


Finlandia Too many changes in volume for my old car. I was constantly adjusting the volume. I’ve gotten a newer car to try again.


Ultimate Scandinavia I didn’t even know that river boarding was a sport. Now I want to try it!

Mother of Mine A child, WWII, Finland and Sweden.

The Man Without a Past

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Reindeer, Santa Claus, mining, elves, and a child hero in a dark comedy. Very funny for those with a tough skin.

Aki Kaurisaki’s Leningrad Cowboys


Finnish…In 60 Minutes “…the listener can commit it to memory.” I daresay that the editor of this blub should consider the difference between can and may.

Do you have any suggestions for me?

Birthing is hard…

“Folks, I’m telling you, birthing is hard and dying is mean- so get yourself a little loving in between.” ― Langston Hughes

I’ve been spending more time than usual with my grandma at her home while grandpa is in the nursing home.

Grandma asked me what day it was today. I said “I hate to tell you, but it is Friday the 13th. We will have to watch our p’s and q’s.” She asked me about the origin of that phrase and I launched into a description of typesetting and so forth. Grandma said “When I think of peas, I think of little green dots.” That was followed by her tracing p’s and q’s on the table with her finger, then conducting with her fingers in the air to the music on the turntable. She was content and happy, which is good for both of us.

I don’t reread books very often, only because there are so many I haven’t read at all yet. I just finished rereading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which I haven’t read since high school. I need to watch the film, since it is so highly rated and is said to follow the book well.