Tag Archives: autumn

Monday Moments: F(r)og

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long. ~ e.e. cummings

Holiday festivities begin this weekend, as local malls herald the arrival of Santa. Two local radio stations began playing holiday music on November 1.

24/7.

This week is (in theory) a quiet break in the action before the full force gales of the holiday season are upon us. It’s finals week at the university where I work, so there is a strong scent of panic (and coffee) in the air as students crunch to study and force 10 weeks of learning into their brains in 1 or 2 days (or nights). It is also our last fall “quarter” as we transition to semesters beginning in Fall 2012. No more long holiday breaks after this year for the students.

But it’s also that break in the weather. Fall is trying to twist into winter, and the winds were wild all weekend long. Rainstorms hit early this morning, and there is a chance of storms with thunder and the potential for a tornado as well, according to my favorite weatherperson. A tornado in November? You bet. On Veterans Day weekend 2002, Van Wert, Ohio, (just north of where I live) was hit by an F4 tornado, one of many which swept across the midwest that day. The video captured by a patrol car still amazes me.

Weather can be crazy in November, but it can also be beautiful.

The crazy combination I love the most, though, is frost/fog, or f(r)og in my world. There’s something magical about fog anyway. As dangerous as it is to drive in, there is always that niggling feeling that something other-worldly, something different perhaps waits on the other side of the divide. I always catch my breath, wondering if what is lurking there beyond the fog is something good (like Brigadoon) or something bad (like a serial killer from Criminal Minds). When it is combined with that little crunch of frost, that frosty fog crispness gets an extra dose of magic (and can help chase those serial killers away, too).

I’m not so fond of snow, especially lots of it. And I hate to see autumn disappear for another year. But the beautiful possibility of f(r)og on the morning drive or weekend walk make the transition to winter slightly more palatable.

Plus it’s just fun to say.
“How’s the weather today?”
“F(r)oggy.”

As we gear up for the beginning of the end of the year, I hope to get a chance to catch my breath and fill up my energy well before all the zaniness kicks in.

Any suggestions or ideas? How do you wind down and fill your well before the crazy-busy holidays?

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Monday Moments: Ghosts of My Friends

What we remember from childhood we remember forever – permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen. ~ Cynthia Ozick

Directions: Sign your name along the fold of the paper with a full pen of ink, and then double the page over without using blotting paper.

So opens the book The Ghosts Of My Friends. Arranged by Cecil Henland and published out of London by Dow and Lester Forester’s Hall Place, E.C., this book is a charming collection of autographs, with a “ghostly” twist. When the instructions are followed, the resulting image oftentimes produces a ghost-like image, built around the lines of the original signature. Sometimes, if the ink is too dry, the image is just a reflected signature. Other times, the images look like insects. Sometimes they don’t look like anything at all.

But with Halloween approaching, take a look at a few samples from a copy of The Ghosts of My Friends that we have in the archives where I work. See what images you can see in them! And did you notice that some of the signatures were collected while sailing on the Lusitania?

If you’d like to see it in the Archives, the book is part of our MS-383, Local History Ephemera collection, which has a number of interesting and unusual items relating to the history of the area. And if that isn’t enough “boo” in your Halloween festivities this weekend, be sure to check out some vintage Halloween photographs from our Dayton Daily News Archive on our DDN blog!

And I would be remiss if I didn’t share a picture of one of the scariest costumes at our local Halloween party. This guy was good…. He dressed in a suit, complete with tight-fitting black silk gloves, just like you see in all the great serial killer movies or television shows. He never spoke. Not a single word. Nor did he eat or drink. And, in case you are wondering, that is a real pumpkin. A very large one, that he carved out and wore. I think it is now my new favorite costume that I’ve ever seen.

What is your favorite Halloween memory? A favorite costume or treat? A scary moment?

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Soup Weather

As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It’s time to start making soup again. ~Leslie Newman

Soup weather has arrived! The air is crisp, full of the smell of burning leaves and carrying a hint of cool. The days are warmer, if the sun comes out. But it is the kind of weather that makes me long for a bowl of good homemade soup.

Problem is, I’m not a good soup maker! Cookies and desserts? You bet. Main dishes? I can make some pretty decent choices. Salads? I’ve got some go-to recipes that are good. But soups? Mine never turn out the way I expect. Or want.

Take the other day. I found a recipe online for a soup that sounded absolutely marvelous. Rustic Fall Vegetable Soup, replete with winter squash, sweet potato, and other yummy flavors. It was even in the easy category! I picked up the ingredients I didn’t have on a trip to the grocery store and set out to make this recipe. Did it work? Not really. The squash and sweet potato never softened! I even simmered it an extra 25 minutes, and those two vegetables were still crunchy. It has now sat in the fridge for three days. Guess what? Still crunchy! What the heck?? It said *easy*? I should be able to handle the easy ones, yes? Yes!

But I should say that something like this happens whenever I attempt soups or stews. The consistency is never that of what you find in a restaurant or a friend’s kitchen. My stews are too soupy, and my soups are too…. something. I love cheese soups, but I can’t make one for anything! I’ve tried stovetop and crockpot – still no luck. Something — taste, texture, consistency — is always not quite right. One of my husband’s favorite things to eat is a good soup or stew. Can I make one? Never!

So to all my friends who are soup-masters out there…. what’s your secret? How do you make a good soup or stew?

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Autumn Rain

(photo courtesy of Danilevici Filip-E. / secureroot)

 

The best kind of rain, of course, is a cozy rain. This is the kind the anonymous medieval poet makes me remember, the rain that falls on a day when you’d just as soon stay in bed a little longer, write letters or read a good book by the fire, take early tea with hot scones and jam and look out the streaked window with complacency. ~ Susan Allen Toth, England For All Seasons

I’m not sure a day and a half of gloomy skies and autumn rain qualifies as cozy, especially since I must be out in it running back and forth to errands, work, and such. Perhaps I’d feel more cozy about the rainy day if I were tucked away with a cup of coffee and a good book.

I know I’d be happier about it if I didn’t realize this marks the beginning of the end of autumn. Oh, I realize officially autumn doesn’t end until the start of the holiday season and the winter solstice, but autumn is fading. The leaves are past their peak, and these days of rain drive them off the trees to the ground, leaving starkly bare branches and piles of once-beautiful, now-brown foliage. While early autumn brings the vivid changes of green to magnificent color, late autumn, this autumn, brings changes from color to gloom – brown leaves, empty trees, and the knowledge that winter-white landscapes are not too far away.

So while looking out the window at the gray and gloomy day, here are a couple of poems to echo my mood.

“Rain In My Heart”
by Edgar Lee Masters

There is a quiet in my heart
Like on who rests from days of pain.
Outside, the sparrows on the roof
Are chirping in the dripping rain.

Rain in my heart; rain on the roof;
And memory sleeps beneath the gray
And the windless sky and brings no dreams
Of any well remembered day.

I would not have the heavens fair,
Nor golden clouds, nor breezes mild,
But days like this, until my heart
To loss of you is reconciled.

I would not see you. Every hope
To know you as you were has ranged.
I, who am altered, would not find
The face I loved so greatly changed.

“Chanson d’automne” (“Autumn Song”)
by Paul Verlaine
(Translated from the original French)

The long sobs
Of the violins
Of Autumn
Wound my heart
With a monotonous
Languor.

All choked
And pale, when
The hour chimes,
I remember
Days of old
And I cry

And I’m going
On an ill wind
That carries me
Here and there,
As if a
Dead leaf.

How do you pass gloomy, rainy autumn day?

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Reasons to be Happy

It will take a journey unlike any other to remind Hannah of who she really is, and to begin to get that girl back. Reasons to Be Happy is about standing up for all the things you love—including yourself. ~ Katrina Kittle, Reasons To Be Happy

Although released at the beginning of October, Katrina Kittle’s newest book, Reasons To Be Happy, had its official launch last night at Books & Co. at The Greene in Dayton. (You can see photos from the signing here – number 22 is me getting my book signed!) Her earlier books, Traveling Light, Two Truths and a Lie, The Kindness of Strangers, and The Blessings of the Animals, each offer an intense look at a significant social topic. Reasons To Be Happy is Kittle’s first foray into the young adult market, yet the book is rich with all the characters and characteristics which make her previous books so vibrant and memorable. Most notably, Kittle does not shy away from descriptive reality, nor does she sugar-coat the angst and experiences of modern middle-school life. When she asked the audience how many would want to relive those middle-school days, the still-awkward laughs and absence of raised hands gave testimony to how those years affect us all, even years later.

If you haven’t read any of Kittle’s work, give her a try. I won’t guarantee that the stories are easy, because the topics she chooses to deal with are anything but. But they are about life, especially difficulties in modern life, and her works reflect a social awareness as well as a literary talent for reaching into the heart of the matter and bringing it to light via unforgettable characters. You can sample some of her work via her website, including the opening chapters of Reasons To Be Happy. As part of the celebration of her new book, Kittle has also embarked on a year-long celebration of her reasons to be happy, offering one reason per day for a year on her blog. She is at #105 today.

So as we set off into a hopefully beautiful fall weekend, I’ll leave you with my current top 5 reasons to be happy:

1. Sharing my life with my best friend and the love of my life.
2. Dear friends, who understand that friendship is about being close at heart even if not close at hand.
3. An abundance of good books.
4. Fall, autumn, harvest and all the pleasures it brings.
5. Health insurance, to pay for excellent medical care.

What are your reasons to be happy?

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