Month: November 2016

Something To See

The Russian Icon Museum in Clinton

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Our Lady embraces her crucified Son, their cheeks touching as in the icon of loving kindness.  Christ in majesty appears against a red and blue background with bold lines that echo the contours of a tulip, angels swirl so speedily around Him that their faces become watery reflections.  Sts. Anne and Joachim embrace at the Golden Gate, in front of their marriage bed.  From their meeting at Jerusalem’s wall to the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, the mysteries of Christ’s life unfold, in a long wall of pictures, a sequence of scenes that recalls pre-regularization versions of the rosary.  Joined icon screens extend like accordions.  Rows and rows of saints fill pictorial calendars of the liturgical year.

A friend told me about the Russian Icon Museum in Clinton, Massachusetts years ago and now it’s my turn to recommend it.  If you are a Western Christian, you will breathe with your second lung.  You will enter many hushed mansions of the centuries since Christ.  Your soul will steep in the colors of the world to come.

And you may even see a unicorn!

-Mrs. Aldertree

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Some Recent Discoveries

 

 Poems An Early-Start Preschool Reader

This is a great little reader. In the front it has a very handy list of the 107 words used inside. The book itself contains famous little poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, some short stanzas from Tennyson and some famous nursery rhymes.  I must admit having my daughter practice reading from this was  a nice break from the  Dr. Seuss and Frog and Toad readers. The Rhyme and meter seem to help beginners anticipate the next word, making their reading voice smoother and less labored. The selected verses are very accessible to small children, the illustrations are well matched. My only complaint was it’s brevity which is hardly a complaint at all.

Dogs & Dragons 
Trees & Dreams 

 Dogs & Dragons Trees & Dreams is currently out of print which is a pity. Karla Kuskin (Author of Roar and More) has complied some of her poems for children to create a great introduction to poetry. Throughout the book she gives quick synopses and talks a bit about poetry. Her commentary is informative, concise and easy to skip over if you just want the poetry to speak for itself. (She even gives you permission to ignore them.)  In this book you’ll be happy to find funny poems, somber poems, romping poems, nature poems, narrative poems, descriptive poems, even counting poems.

-Mrs. Cooper

Small Bee

This evening I found myself looking at an old journal and reading the details of my own past life like a novel. I would never have remembered all this if I hadn’t written it down but, unlike with a novel, I didn’t just imagine the events I was reading about, I really did remember them.

On one of the pages, I’d copied out this poem.

Small Bee

I must tell you how it happened,
Believe it or do not –
An episode to end housewarmings
In granaries of song.

I say, the drowsy blossom closing,
A bee was trapped within;
Moonlight passed through clouds and darkness
Till lawns lay diamonded.

Then spirits stalked to beg for baptism
In the open halls of night,
Their silent footfalls never troubled
The clovers’ sleep nor mine.

Astonishing – that one night’s hostel,
The thousand shimmered dreams –
Who knows sleep’s charm inside a blossom,
Except the captive bee?

Leonardas Andriekus was a Lithuanian poet and a Franciscan priest. He died in 2003, not so long ago. I loved this poem all over again when I rediscovered it tonight. The spirits begging for baptism bespeak a uniquely priestly nightmare.

Let’s pray this month for the souls of the dead still longing for heaven, for the souls of the living in desperate need of baptism.

-Mrs.Aldertree

Prayer of St. Gertrude to release 1000 souls from Purgatory: "Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.":

Gift Ideas for Children: Something to Read Edition.

Is it too early for a Christmas wish list?

Nope!

Here’s ours:

Animalium

Botanicum 

I have been eyeing these two books for months. The illustrations are just stunning! And with all the weed bouquets that grace my vases and captured caterpillars that fill my Mason jars, I like to think that my children our budding naturalists. These are sure to help them along the way.

The Golden Book of Birds

The Golden Book of Birds, 1945, Little Golden Book

I have been thinking of getting this one for my youngest naturalist. Such a dear little golden book!

 

The MouseWife

We are big fans of Rumer Godden in this household. My girls’ favorite so far has been The doll’s house. But Fu-Dog, The Kitchen Madonna, Impunity Jane and The Mouse House are also much loved by them. We have not read The Mousewife yet and it looks like an endearing tale.

The Magic Nesting Doll 

We have the Lion and the Lady which is such a beautiful book.  Jacqueline Ogburn and Laurel Long make an extremely talented team both the storytelling and the artwork are arresting.

What’s on your wish list this year?

Recent Reads

Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin

Nothing like the classic Russian novels but still very Russian, Laurus was full of spiritual anecdote, paradox, lyric moments, quirky reflections on the nature of time, on the nature of healing and medicine. This story of a love that survives both death and (more miraculously) the passage of years surprises by being very very funny, with a dark but gentle humor.

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The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter

I’d never read any of her books before but now I want to read at least A Girl of the Limberlost. If you love books and honeybees, it’s hard to imagine that you wouldn’t find yourself smiling over these pages. It does not meet the current literary standards for adult fiction but it has moments utterly refreshing in their freedom from today’s hypocritical taboos. Its moralism though was unsatisfying. There is something wrong with any moral vision that puts cleanliness so close to godliness. And I missed any recognition that there can be real forgiveness and redemption for real and serious sins.

Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym

This is only the second Barbara Pym book I’ve read. Bought and read it on a whim and, this time, completely caught onto her zany, delightfully deprecating tone. A human laughs joyously at the ridiculous in being human. It is full of zest and compassion. Also, as a Catholic, I loved the way the female characters daydream and murmur about “going over to Rome.” Both this and Laurus were just *beautifully* funny.

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

It reminded me a lot of Mark Helprin, more than Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society books do. Stewart, like Helprin, puts the love between parents and children at, or close to, the heart of his fiction. Here, as in the MBS, we have a story about teamwork, which values personal independence while recognizing its limits. A real close-knit team of little people defeats a powerful, fear-controlled mafia. Read it aloud to my enthusiastic 4th grader over the course of a month.

 

-Mrs. Aldertree