All Hallows Day/Samhain Mashup


Grumpy hummingbird in a local cemetery. Appropriate.

This is the time of year when it’s dark when we leave the house and just about dark when we arrive home. Very little sun to be seen unless we make a concerted effort to get outside on breaks (and if it’s not raining). So thoughts turn inwards. It’s an understandable time for the development of All Hallows Eve (Halloween), Samhain, Day of the Dead. Also, we might be coming down from yesterday’s overbought-for-the-trick-or-treaters sugar high. And of course the election is next week. Yep.

For truly wallowing in the experience, provoking some thought, and then moving on better for it, I recommend:

Listening to Leonard Cohen’s new album, You Want it Darker. He’s 82 and acknowledges he’s winding down but seems to be at peace with that. Haven’t formed an opinion of the album yet beyond being glad that it exists. His voice, never strong, has lost some of what was there. Doesn’t matter.

Reading appropriate poetry such as T.S. Eliot’s “Animula.”

Carving out time for the full length read, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty.

Remembering both Tempus fugit and Carpe diem.

Not one item above is morbid. Accepting, moving on, and DOING SOMETHING with the time we have. Yes.

Random Reading

So here’s what’s waiting for me at my library on the hold-for-pickup shelf:

Numero Zero by Umberto Eco
Career of Evil by “Robert Galbraith” (J.K. Rowling)
Falling for You by Jill Mansell
The Haunted Season by G.M. Malliet
A Brief History of the Druids by Peter Berresford Ellis
Saint Brigid’s Bones by Philip Freeman
Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders by Julianna Baggott
The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell
Witches of America by Alex Mar
Brand Luther by Andrew Pettegree

Of course, the ones I wanted for Halloween came in a bit late. What’re you reading or looking forward to reading?

23 More: Sounds

As I write I’m listening to my favorite recording of Handel’s Messiah: Boston Baroque‘s 1992 performance. Period instruments and the select musicians really make it for me. [What’s your favorite version of Messiah?]  I had to start with the Hallelujah Chorus (doesn’t everybody?) but I then started at the beginning. Just now “For unto us a Child is born” finished playing and we’re into the Pifa. So amazing, so relaxing.  Yet Handel wrote the whole thing in a period of three weeks from August 22, 1741-September 14, 1741. His librettist, Charles Jennens was rather disappointed by the speed, saying that Handel had “made a fine Entertainment of it, tho’ not near so good as he might and ought to have done.”

MessiahOh, and speaking of sound: I’ve been reading Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn (haven’t finished yet but so far, so good) which led me to the research of astronomer Dr. Mark Whittle who has made primordial sound audible today. Awesome. The sounds aren’t particularly musical but do check out the audio files and accompanying text on Whittle’s website.

Someone Else’s Characters

In between visits to someone in the hospital, I managed to watch the BBC production of “Death Comes to Pemberley” on PBS.

PemberleyI have not yet read the P.D. James book on which the production is based.  But, I’ve read Pride and Prejudice about 6 jillion times.  I don’t think the characters acted the way they would have had Jane Austen still been in charge.  Thoughts?

The Shelf Got Odder

If you remember this post about my not-at-all-secret obsession with bees and bee literature, you won’t be surprised to learn that my collection of books on the subject has gotten larger.yellowI’m most fond of The Bees of the World by Charles D. Michener and of California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists. The first is much more technical and dense as Michener is a taxonomist. The California book is hot off the presses and more like a carry-along field guide.  Both highly recommended by this amateur melittologist.

It’s not the end of the year yet, but…

The best book I’ve read this year is Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore.  Highly recommended.Jane-Franklin

Lepore’s got a new book out: The Secret History of Wonder Woman (yes, the one with the invisible plane) that looks like a good read.  I never read the comic books but I was a young fan of the TV series with Lynda Carter.  I even had a Wonder Woman doll though I spurned Barbies…and most other dolls.  And I used the empty plastic reels that ribbons came on as bracelets “just like” hers.

Give a Book

It’s World Book Night, UNESCO’s International Day of the Book (and Shakespeare’s birthday).

A list of books are chosen each year and these are specially printed (royalties waived) and given out to those who normally don’t read or don’t have access to books. Or you can buy copies on your own to give out. This year’s list contains a few of my favorites.