Ode to Motherhood

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The Mother

by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Here I lean over you, small son, sleeping
Warm in my arms,
And I con to my heart all your dew-fresh charms,
As you lie close, close in my hungry hold . . .
Your hair like a miser’s dream of gold,
And the white rose of your face far fairer,
Finer, and rarer
Than all the flowers in the young year’s keeping;
Over lips half parted your low breath creeping
Is sweeter than violets in April grasses;
Though your eyes are fast shut I can see their blue,
Splendid and soft as starshine in heaven,
With all the joyance and wisdom given
From the many souls who have stanchly striven
Through the dead years to be strong and true.
Those fine little feet in my worn hands holden . . .
. . .
Books in the Spirit of Motherhood:

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money.

 

Set within a contemporary black community in Southern CA, Bennett’s first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.
In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

“Mothers are all slightly insane.”
~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

The Mother
Continued

Where will they tread ?
Valleys of shadow or heights dawn-red?
And those silken fingers, O, wee, white son,
What valorous deeds shall by them be done
In the future that yet so distant is seeming
To my fond dreaming?
What words all so musical and golden
With starry truth and poesy olden

Shall those lips speak in the years on-coming?
O, child of mine, with waxen brow,
Surely your words of that dim to-morrow
Rapture and power and grace must borrow
From the poignant love and holy sorrow
Of the heart that shrines and cradles you now!

Some bitter day you will love another,
To her will bear
Love-gifts and woo her . . . then must I share
You and your tenderness! Now you are mine
From your feet to your hair so golden and fine,
And your crumpled finger-tips . . . mine completely,
Wholly and sweetly;
Mine with kisses deep to smother,
No one so near to you now as your mother!
Others may hear your words of beauty,
But your precious silence is mine alone;
Here in my arms I have enrolled you,
Away from the grasping world I fold you,
Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone!

9d6715843aa1ce1c0df00b81875be7c6“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?”
~Milton Berle

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Why I Love Coffee

Why do I love coffee..? Let me count the ways.
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The taste of coffee is comforting and grounding.
When I drink coffee I feel a nostalgia that is hard to explain; a warmth.
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The aroma, the taste, the buzz, the culture, and the connections, all are worthy reasons.
In the morning coffee lifts me up and boosts my day.

I love the culture and variety of coffee:

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I enjoy learning about the different countries that grow coffee.

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I’m intrigued by different roasting and brewing techniques. I love the roasted nutty smell and taste of good coffee beans. Experimenting with coffee flavors and styles can be a lot of fun.

cupsI am fascinated with all the wonderful different ways to enjoy the incredible edible coffee bean.

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Coffee is soothing on a rainy day, and melts away the brittle snow or ice of winter. When a day is full of hustle and bustle, taking the time to enjoy a cup of coffee calms me.

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Drinking coffee also induces community. People like to drink coffee together. It makes talking easier and more comforting. It may be tea or some other beverage, but the concept of sitting around in comfy couches or chairs drinking something steamy and talking, is oh so inviting.

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I suppose many people just drink coffee because it is caffeinated and a good energy boost, and that is certainly a good reason.

However, to me, coffee is an experience; something to slow down for, to savor and enjoy.

Of course what better experience to share coffee with, then curled up with a great book!
Good-Morning.jpg What do you enjoy most about coffee? 

A Flight of Fantasy

magic_ball_library_columns_castle_63093_602x339I love fantasy fiction, especially when it is a bit different and outside the box (as fantasy fiction goes anyway.) I love books that enchant and leave the mind twinkling with imagination and magic. That is the inspiration behind this article and I hope it will captivate even the skeptics.

Worthy Fantasy-Fiction reads in all their phantasmagorical splendor:

Neverwhere
by Neil Gaiman
Richard is an unassuming young businessman living in London, with a dull job and a pretty but demanding fiancee. One night he stumbles across a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her and the life he knows vanishes. He has become invisible, and inexplicably consigned to a London of shadows and darkness a city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He’s fallen through cracks in reality and landed somewhere that is Neverwhere.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
by Susanna Clarke
An epic tale of the two magicians who emerge to change Englands history. In the year 1806, in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, most people believe magic to have long since disappeared from England — until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers and becomes a celebrity overnight. Another practising magician emerges: the young and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s pupil and the two join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic and soon he risks sacrificing everything.

Rated 4.2 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Dynamic Duo Mocha
Orange-Mocha-Recipe-1.jpgA magical mix of cinnamon and orange in a mocha that’s to die for! Step 1: start slowly heating 1/8 cup or 3 small squares of dark chocolate (temping in double boiler or in microwave.) Step 2: When melted move to stove-top and mix in 1-2 drops of orange extract (or use orange flavored chocolate) and cinnamon powder to taste, then slowly whisk in 4-5 oz of milk of choice till smooth. Step 3: make coffee preferably pull a shot of espresso. Once your chocolate is hot and frothy and your coffee is ready cup your chocolate and pour in your coffee. Top with marshmallows and garnish with orange zest and cinnamon.

Dracula
by Bram Stoker
“There he lay looking as if youth had been half-renewed, for the white hair and moustache were changed to dark iron-grey, the cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst the swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole awful creature were simply gorged with blood; he lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his repletion.”

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
by Stephen King
Roland of Gilead: The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which mirrors our own in frightening ways, Roland tracks The Man in Black, encounters an enticing woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake.
Inspired in part by the Robert Browning narrative poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” (appropriate don’t you thik 😉 ) The Gunslinger is “a compelling whirlpool of a story that draws one irretrievable to its center”

Rated 4.2 on amazon.com


Book Bean:
The King’s Tea
a9241d03_snickers-pousse-cafe-001_thumb.jpgPour 6 oz of black or spiced hot tea into a pousse cafe glass, using a spoon in glass to prevent cracking. Add 2oz’s amaretto almond liquor, but do not stir. Top with on oz chilled whipped cream. Garnish with nuts and chocolate flakes. Enjoy.

 

The Once and Future King & The Book of Merlyn
by T.H. White

51yf9TfEUML._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg The Once and Future King:
A masterful retelling of the saga of King Arthur is a fantasy classic as legendary as Excalibur and Camelot, and a poignant story of adventure, romance and magic that has enchants.

Rated 4.2 on amazon.com

The Book of Merlyn:
This magical account of King Arthur’s last night on earth. Even in addressing the profound issues of war and peace, The Book of Merlyn retains the life and sparkle for which White is known. The tale brings Arthur full circle.

Rated 4.1 on amazon.com

The Eye of The World: Book 1
by Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs (a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts,) five villagers flee into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and the light.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Tea & Cake Latte
4d0362963d474978c371f7bd88d94948Another magical dynamic duo, this time in respect to England it’s with tea! Start with  4 ounces of strong steeped black tea (brew 2 tea bags in 5 ounces of water.) Steam 8 oz of milk (or boil and put in a blender, to make hot and frothy.) Pour .5-1 oz Real vanilla bean syrup (if you’d like to make it yourself heres a link!) in to cup of choice. Add in white chocolate powder and/or flakes to taste. Next add the tea and stir. Last add the steamed milk. Sprinkle with white chocolate flakes and vanilla bean.

The Queen’s Poisoner
by Jeff Wheeler
King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life. Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. When new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

Under Heaven
by Guy Gavriel Kay
It begins simply. Shen Tai, son of an illustrious general serving the Emperor of Kitai, has spent two years honoring the memory of his late father by burying the bones of the dead from both armies at the site of one of his father’s last great battles. In recognition of his labors and his filial piety, an unlikely source has sent him a dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses.

Inspired by the glory and power of The Tang dynasty, Guy Gavriel Kay evokes the dazzling 8th-century China in a story of honor and power.

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Masala Chai
shutterstock_168107177Bring two cups of water to the boil. Add 3-4 tsp tea leaves, 1 chunk dried ginger, 3-4 crushed cardamom pods, 3 whole cloves, one piece of cinnamon, and 1-2 whole black peppers. Bring to boil again for about 15 seconds. Let stand for one minute. Warm milk in a pot. Filter the above tea into cups. Warm desired amount of milk in a pot. Filter the above tea into cups. Add warmed milk and sugar to taste. Garnish with Anise.

The Golem and The Jinni
by Helene Wecker
A chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on an enchanting journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem; creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.
Ahmad is a jinni; being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in NYC, though entirely free.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

That concludes the list but here are A few other notable fantasy reads:
            

I purposely left off selections that I have featured before,
I want to keep it interesting.
So for more of my fantasy picks and favorites click HERE
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and HERE
Narnia, The Count, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Ring, Potter etc. and a few other great titles are featured elsewhere as well.

What are your fantasy favorites?

Robert Browning Remembered

“Love, hope, fear, faith – these make humanity;
These are its sign and note and character.”

collection_5295_RobertBrowningRobert Browning was born in Camberwell on May 7th 1812 and educated by private tutors. His parents were wealthy enough to allow him to travel and to be a poet as if it were a profession. He came known by literary figures such s Wordsworth and Landor after the publication of “Paracelsus” in 1835, but he was unrecognized by the public until “Men an Women” appeared twenty years later. He was therefore almost unknown when in 1846 he eloped with Elizabeth Barrett.

He is now widely recognized as a master of dramatic monologue and psychological portraiture. Browning is perhaps best-known for a poem he didn’t value highly, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, a children’s poem that is quite different from his other work. He is also known for his long form blank poem The Ring and the Book, the story of a Roman murder trial in 12 books.

A long dramatic narrative poem, and, more specifically, a verse novel, of 21,000 lines. It was published in four volumes from 1868 to 1869 by Smith, Elder & Co.

The book tells the story of a murder trial in Rome in 1698, where an impoverished nobleman, Count Guido Franceschini, is found guilty of the murders of his wife Pompilia Comparini and her parents, having suspected his wife was having an affair with a young cleric.

“No, when the fight begins within himself, A man’s worth something.”

“One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake.”


The love affair between two of the Victorian era’s most famous poets is one of passion, tragedy, illness, and ultimately, endurance. Collected here are their 573 love letters, which capture their courtship, their blossoming love, and their forbidden marriage.


Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.