Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

The Thought Fox September 8, 2016

Filed under: Animals,Poetry,Poets — Janet @ 5:21 pm

thought-fox-ted-hughes  Image for a poem by Ted Hughes


Have You Heard? August 15, 2016

Filed under: Books,Literary Criticism,Poetry,Poets — Janet @ 5:29 pm

IMG_0967  Have you heard of this book?  this author?  Well I hadn’t heard of the author Jerome Chardyn or the book A Loaded Gun.  I had heard of Emily Dickinson, a New England poet of the 19th century.  Now I seem to be finding the author and his work and Emily Dickinson references everywhere.  I originally ordered the book partly because I was intrigued by the title and I was interested in learning more about  this poet.  I have been rewarded.  It has turned out to be a fascinating read.  Now I will turn to a fictional book about Emily Dickinson by the same author.


A Poem For Winter December 16, 2015

Filed under: Poetry,Poets,Thomas Hardy — Janet @ 3:36 pm

A poem by Thomas Hardy

The Darkling Thrush


I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
      The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.

Abraham Lincoln and My Grandmother’s Poem February 13, 2015

Filed under: Family history,Genealogy,Poetry — Janet @ 4:42 pm

Janet's thread

I have been writing about my grandmother’s little book of poetry, Late Flowers, written when she was in her 70’s.  The poem I want to quote today is her tribute to Abraham Lincoln.  Having lived overseas for so long I had kind of forgotten my U.S. history or maybe my history lessons slipped to the back of the queue in my brain.  Whatever, now being back in the U.S. on a more permanent basis I am refreshing and renewing my interest in matters historical on this side of the Atlantic.  I recently read the book Manhunt, the 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killers, by James L. Swanson.  One thing that struck me about the book was the fervor with which people reacted to the Assassination.  Abraham Lincoln is an icononic figure in U.S. history but in part it was the fact that he was assassinated that elevated him to such a…

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A Voyage of Discovery September 3, 2011

Filed under: Ireland,Poetry,Sailing — Janet @ 11:16 pm

  This book has been in print for a while – and also sitting on my shelf of unreads.  But I have finally got around to reading it and it was most enthralling.  On Amazon.com I found the following review from the Scotsman.

Theo Dorgan’s gripping account of a transatlantic voyage on the schooner Spirit of Oysterhaven-from the Caribbean to the coast of his native Cork-is both travelogue and meditation, interior journey and outward voyage of exploration. Dorgan’s meticulously exact account of the labour and skills involved could well act as a handbook for anyone prompted to repeat the adventure. His feel for the history of the sea and sailing, drawn from wide reading, is tested against the practical realities of what is involved in such an ambitious undertaking. The qualities of endurance and willingness he must find in himself, the shared experiences that make four individuals into a crew, all these come as a succession of revelations. He brings a poet’s eye to the immensities of the ocean, its lore, its mysteries and its secrets. As so many before him, he will learn that what you find on the journey, not the destination, is what matters. “A book for everyone”-Doris Lessing “This book exerts a form of curious hypnosis which stealthily insinuates its rhythms into your mind. It keeps you alert while somehow lulling you into a drift of easy reading. This enticing travelogue’s curious spell is slow and incremental, yet all the more potent for being stealthy.” -THE SCOTSMAN

So I recommend the book to anyone with an interest in distance sailing, or Ireland, or self-awareness/examination. 

My Grandmother’s Poetry April 25, 2011

Filed under: Family,Family history,Poetry — Janet @ 6:48 pm

  I have the impression that it was very fashionable several generations ago for genteel ladies to write poetry.  I would like to think that my grandmothers would be numbered among such circles.  My maternal grandmother was very well educated, having attended Wellesley College in the early years of the 20th century.  My paternal grandmother also attended college, albeit less prestigious.  In fact it was called a  Normal School or a 2 year teacher training college – this school dated back to the 1840’s and is now a large university, SUNY.   I would like to learn more about their early lives.  One was born in 1863, the other in 1872.  One grew up in Boston, the other in upstate New York.  Each married and raised families.  One lived almost to age 70, the other lived into her 90’s. 

It was my paternal grandmother who actually compiled a little book of her poems and had it printed.  I am so pleased, and thrilled actually, to have this legacy from her.  I cannot assess her work as to its literary value, but to me it has great personal value.  It is only through this little booklet, a few photographs, and a few of her letters and recollections of my sisters that I have a feeling for what this person was like.  I wish I could have known her in real time.

I have even fewer ways of getting a sense of the type of person my maternal grandmother was.  She passed away when I was very young, hardly a toddler.  There are only photographs – not even letters.  Now as the years pass, I think about my mother in so many ways – as she grew older did she think about her mother in the way that I do?  It is puzzling to me.  And questions I could have asked but never did because at the time those answers weren’t of interest to me.  Does each generation live in its own present and just idly wonder about the comparable present of previous generations?  Now that I am a grandmother myself, I want to know more about the grandmothers who went before.

 May Belle (on the right),  my maternal grandmother, 1930’s

  May Belle in earlier years with 2 of her children


What Were They Singing Then January 29, 2011

Filed under: Family,Family history,Music,Poetry — Janet @ 8:08 pm

As I explore the lives of previous generations in my family, I’ll shift the theme a bit from what were they reading then to what were they singing then.   As regular followers of my blog know, one of my grandmothers became a poet in her later years.  And the other grandmother, on my mother’s side, was an accomplished musician.  Her publications are listed in her entry in The Woman’s Who’s Who of America, A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915; John William Leonard, Editor-in-Chief.  Published by the American Commonwealth Company, New York.

She is listed as the author of the following:  Ten Easy and Melodious Recreations;  Twelve Melodious Etudes in Unfamiliar Keys;  Six Duets;  On the Playground;  Love’s Solace;  Ride of Revere;  L’ll Drum;  Love Lost;  Lullaby;  Eventide;  Romance in G.  This list indicates to me that she was a piano teacher.  I wonder.  I know she taught Sunday School after the family moved to Winchester Mass. in the mid-1920’s.  My cousin who lives near the family home in Winchester has met a person who was a Sunday School pupil of this grandmother.

What I’m leading up to here is to write about another venture of mine that is on the burner, so to speak.   Inspired by my daughter-in-law and my 2 grandaughters here in Seattle, I have been taking voice/singing lessons.  The teacher Krista of Krista’s Music Studio is most encouraging, as is my cousin in San Francisco who did voice lessons herself a few years ago.  I am really enjoying the experience.  Last weekend there was a recital featuring Krista’s students of flute, piano and voice  – my classmates, I would like to say although we don’t all gather round the piano at the same time.   The recital, held in Bethany Lutheran Church, was wonderful, and  daughter-in-law Susan and the grandaughters Ashley and Susan participated.  Caitlin performed early on and she played a Mozart piece, A Little Night Music.         Ashley was further along in the programme and her piece was Ode to Joy.    And eventually it was Susan’s turn.  She sang Mozart’s Ave Verum – it was beautifully moving.  The memories came flooding back of singing this piece when I was in Bhutan and participated in a small choir.  It was our piece de resistance for our performance in the Hotel Jumolhari there in Thimphu.

Krista has 9 adult students and for us neophytes there is going to be a soiree.  I am of 2 minds about performing in this more intimate setting but am probably going to do it.  But my debut will be in a duet with Susan, who is more keen on solo performances than I am.  Hopefully she can cover my mistakes or hesitations etc.  It’s supposed to be fun.  The song we are going to work on is Aura Lee, a Civil War song.  Since my grandfather served in the Civil War, I feel it’s legitimate to include this in my research of the generations and hence the title What Were They Singing Then.  Here are the lyrics I’m trying to memorize.  We have until March 5th to perfect our duet.

Aura Lee, from the Guitar Song Book
Words by W. W. Fosdick
Music by George R. Poulton
Verse 1 As the blackbird in the Spring

Neath the willow tree,

Sat and piped, I heard him sing

In praise of Aura Lee


Chorus I Aura Lee, Aura Lee,

Maid with golden hair,

Sunshine came a-long with thee,

And swallows in the air


Verse 2 Take my heart and take my ring,

I give my all to thee.

Take me for e-ternity,

Dearest Aura Lee!


Chorus I again


Verse 3 In her blush the rose was born,

‘Twas music when she spake

In her eyes, the light of morn

Sparkling, seemed to break


Chorus I again


Verse 4 Aura Lee, the bird may flee

The willow’s golden hair,

Then the wintry winds may be

Blowing ev’ry-where.


Chorus 4 Yet if thy blue eyes I see,

Gloom will soon de-part

For to me, sweet Aura Lee

Is sunshine to the heart

 But before we get to perform the above, here is the programme for last week’s concert and a few photos.


  before the concert, Caitlin and Susan

  after the concert, note baby Ethan as well.  All the performers did so well.  It was a wonderful concert.

  baby Sean was eager for it to begin – I got to hold him while Susan sang – thankfully he didn’t start crying!  I was the one who was shedding a few tears of emotion.

I don’t seem to have an individual photo of Ashley but she is in the front row of the group photo.



A Little Known Family Fact January 22, 2011

Filed under: Family history,Memoirs,Poetry — Janet @ 12:30 am

  a little book of poetry written by my paternal grandmother in her so-called twilight years.  Self-published, written when she was in her late 70’s and a member of a poetry circle in Florida.

  her book of poetry was privately printed for her by The Beach Press, Daytona Beach, Florida.  She introduces herself as follows: 

     I was born in Crown Point, New York in 1863; married Major Charles D. Miller of Newark, Ohio, in 1882.

The best work, as well as the greatest joy of my life, has been the rearing of my four children to good American citizenship.

Spending winters in Orlando, Florida, in 1939 I was attracted to the Poetry Club and, although I had never before written any poetry, I found I could really turn out something with rhyme and rhythm.

The greater number of these poems were written for the Club before I left Orlando for Daytona Beach.

I hope, dear reader, that you like them and become my friend as I am yours.



How could you help but be proud of and have great fondness for this grandmother of mine.  A grandmother I did not see all that often, in fact only seldom, and who lived far away from where I grew up. 

  January 1, 1942,  my father and his mom,  Daytona Beach Florida

My grandmother in fact outlived her son by 5 years.  She passed away in 1954 at the age of 91.  I can only remember her through photographs, a few letters in the family archive,  and what my sisters now in their 80’s are able to tell me about her.

What struck me today though about her was when I opened up this little book of poetry and found the following:         

A poem she wrote To The Half-Century Club (At State College, Albany, New York, June 1941) on the occasion of their 60th reunion.

To the Half-Century Club

Half-Centuryites we are here today

To look back along the way

We trod together for awhile

Only a short, but lovely mile,

And gather up from here and there

Some recollections we may share,

So short a time it was, you know,

Only two years, that long ago

That teachers did their sturdy part

To us their wisdom to impart.

In seventy-nine I came to wait

For knowledge at old New York State,

In June, ’81, I left its hall

But where’er my footsteps fall,

In all my life, I’ll ne’er forget

The lessons learned, the friends I met.

I recall that building, old and gray,

Where Dr. Alden held full sway,

I still can see, as I saw of yore,

The faculty filing through the door

To seat themselves in solumn style

Upon the rostrum for awhile,

While Marsh, the temperamental dear,

Made music to delight the ear;

His eagle eye cast ’round the ring

Making sure that each should sing.

Today could Dr. Alden see

What his school has grown to be

A certain pride he’d surely know,

But other things would shock him so

He’s shed a tear and tear his hair,

Perchance, forsooth, he’d even swear,

Full well I know the dancing class

Would make him cry aloud, “Alas,”

Once on the carpet I was called,

Across the coals well overhauled,

Because one evening forth I pranced

Broke every rule and danced and danced.

Enough of this, we stand today

In life’s twilight, cold and gray,

Our work near done, our faces turn

To where the sunrise glories burn,

For well we know this life to be

Only a link in the chain which we

Make complete when, our lessons learned,

Last life lived!  last body spurned,

Strivings over and hardships past,

Perfect peace is ours at last.

So from Daytona’s Beach I send

Greeting and farewell to each friend

Until next year shall bring our way

Another glad Alumni Day.


I just love what she has written.  So long ago now.  My grandmother on the occasion of her 60th reunion from college – and only recently I celebrated my 50th reunion from college, relatively near where she was born and went to school.  Middlebury Vermont, Crown Point New York, and Albany New York are not all that far apart.  She went to the college (I guess what would have been called a Normal School or a Teacher Training College) at the age of 16.  Attended for the requisite 2 years.  Graduated in 1881 and then married in 1882.  The little known family fact – to me anyhow – was that she had even gone to college at all.


Another Memoir May 21, 2010

Filed under: Authors,Autobiography,Memoirs,Memories,Poetry,Reading — Janet @ 5:27 pm

As regular readers of this blog know, I am working on my memoir/autobiography 8 countries, 62 years.  Here is another memoir which I discovered in the poetry section of Easons here in Dundrum.

  Help Me to a Getaway, A Memoir,  by Knute Skinner, published by Salmon Poetry, County Clare, Ireland

Knute is mainly a poet, but it is his prose and his memories which held my attention.  Knute is American and has shared his years between Ireland and the U.S.  But the memoir is mainly about his travels in Europe in 1958-59 when he sailed from New York on a student ship to disembark in Cobh Ireland and spend time in Ireland, Denmark, London, Paris, and Spain.  Approximately 10 years later I travelled to Europe, not by ship alas – in 1959 I flew from New York in a 4 engine propeller aircraft operated by Flying Tiger Airlines, with stops in Halifax Nova Scotia, Gander Newfoundland, Shannon, and finally London.  I was only coming for 2 months, as opposed to Knute’s intention of spending the rest of his life on this side of the Atlantic.  He  wanted to write poetry; I wanted to bicycle.  What sold me on this book early on though was to discover that he had attended the Bread Loaf School of English – well known to graduates of Middlebury.  

My travels took me not only around England and Scandinavia by bicycle, train, bus, and ferry, but also south through southern France and northern Spain and up to Paris via a friend’s newly purchased VW.  Knute’s experiences a few years earlier in southern Europe and Paris, as well as his experiences in Ireland and London and Denmark made for very nostalgic reading.


The Winter Solstice Is Approaching December 20, 2009

The Winter Solstice is drawing near.

  photo from this source.

This year, according to my source, the winter will officially occur in Dublin at 15:47 , 5:47 p.m., tomorrow December 21.  Correspondingly, it will be 9:47 a.m. on the west coast of America, 8 hours behind us here in Dublin.  There is a really interesting website showing photos and explaining the winter solstice at Newgrange, a world famous prehistoric site in Ireland.  Around the time of the winter solstice the rising sun shines into the inner chamber for 5 or 6 mornings.  Some of the photos shown of the 2005 solstice were taken by Anne-Marie Moroney, a weaving friend of mine.

Anne-Marie is also a photographer and author interested in archaeological and mystic phenomena.  Anne-Marie and a poet  friend, Susan Connelly, produced a book about some of the holy wells in Ireland.  She used not only her own photographs but also some of her textiles as illustrations.  I would like to tell you more, but that will have to wait for another day.  My copy of the book is currently in a container on the SS Rotterdam Express, approaching the Panama Canal, en route to Seattle.

I have a diary called Murakami Diary 2009.  Haruki Murakami is Japanese by birth and his books have been translated into many languages.  According to the Diary, the Winter Solstice in Japan is called Toji.  And looking up Toji I found the following:

Japan:  Tou Ji or To Ji (literally means winter solstice)

A few weeks (about 15 days) starting around 22nd of December is called Toji [or Tou Ji : Winter Solstice].

When solar celestial longitude gets 270 degrees, the most south, the solar height becomes lowest in the year in Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, the daytime is shortest in the year and cold increase severity. In Japanese custom, we eat “Japanese Pumpkin” and Konnyaku (devil’s tongue) to pray for luck of money. Also, we take Yuzuburo (citron bath) to pray for health and fortune. From ancient times, there are many festivals held in all around the world to celebrate Toji (Winter Solstice), when sun approaches most in Northern Hemisphere. The festival of Christmas, which is originated in Europe is related to Toji this strongly.

Source:  http://www.b-zenjapan.com/nihon/12shiwasu.phtml

Winter solstice in Latin     sol=sun in      stice=stand still