January 28: Jeremiah and I will settle in for evenings of Kurosawa, Renoir and Von Sternberg. We even watch the films again with expert voiceovers pointing out artistry of angle, lighting or pace. Sophisticated, huh?
Well, to tell you the truth, my favorite movie is still “You’ve Got Mail,” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. I’m reminded of this today as I listen to The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett. Tom Hanks narrates the story with brilliant pacing, inflection and, when called for, incredulity and revery. I am awed by his work. Sure, when I hear his voice, I think of the big, bad Fox bookstore, but I’ll open his mail anytime!
January 29: New Zealand blogger Thistles & Kiwis delights me each week with photos of her summer garden. Today, before the showy dahlia and wild strawberry, she offered a juvenile sunflower, clothed entirely in green with collars and cuffs folded primly.
This caused me to reflect: When I see a clutch of sunflowers, I throw my head back in exuberant echo. And until today I never thought about the moments before. T&K’s photo reveals the textures and possibilities of the bloom-to-be. And it prompted me to think about how rarely I herald the beauty of beauty’s “before.”
January 31: As I stooped to untie my shoes, I heard my yoga teacher rolling something toward our practice space. I looked up, right into the pelvis of a skeleton. “We’ve been focusing on the spine,” my teacher said, “so let’s take a closer look.”
As we centered, she urged us to breathe into the space between our ribs. With Skeleton standing at the front, I could easily envision it. Later, she invited us to become aware of the curve of our spines. Yes, I see it! And when we moved from plank to downward dog, I wondered vaguely whether Skeleton was doing it too. Rising from our forward fold, we raised our hands high and then lowered them to Mountain Pose, a place of stillness and strength. I opened my eyes and peeked at Skeleton. She was already there.
February 1: “Prince Phillip. He was very handsome.” So said my friend Jennifer. I nodded, having enjoyed The Crown and its attractive young actors. Then she told me that a family friend invited her to dine “informally” with Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip when they visited Newfoundland in 1948. “Just before they went to Kenya,” Jennifer said. (I knew all about that trip from The Crown.)
Jennifer said an “informal” dinner entailed a floor-length dinner dress and long kid gloves — and just ten guests, including the royal couple and Jennifer. “Informal” also meant that Jennifer could initiate conversation with the Princess and Prince, without waiting to be addressed. Jennifer, at 18, was just four years younger than Elizabeth and remembered having a lovely time.
She also said they ate dinner wearing their kid gloves. She said they unbuttoned the tiny pearl buttons behind the wrists and, after slipping palm and fingers out of the glove, tucked the dangling part up the glove’s sleeve. “But I had very large hands, and my hand got stuck. That made Prince Phillip laugh.” Jennifer laughed too, happy with the memory.
Bonus: Enjoy these adorable Year of the Tiger decorations mounted in Singapore and photographed by Ju-Lyn for her blog Touring My Backyard. Happy Lunar New Year, everyone!
February 2: Trucks in front and back protected three workers as they clustered around a hole in the road. One of them held a small perfect ball of flame clinging to a rod, like the ball on the newel post of a staircase. Or, actually, like a flaming marshmallow on a stick. I stopped to watch. The worker applied the flame to black pellets piled and spread in the road. Shovel, flame, tamp: a cozy campfire to fill a pothole.
p.s. Even though the Groundhog saw his shadow, spring is now officially around the corner: today I saw a boy with a baseball glove and a coach with a bucket of balls, each ready to escort winter to the locker room.
February 3: Along our walking path, I watched a mom sprint and pause, sprint and pause, in front of her baby’s stroller. I eventually caught up with her. I watched as she released the stroller with a push and then sprinted the few feet to catch it again. The baby smiled and waved as Mommy bounced back and forth. And Mommy smiled as she worked a few wind sprints into her walk.
Bonus: In her blog An Embarrassment of Riches, Slovenian-Italian blogger Manja Maksimovič compiles a lovely tribute to Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk who died last week. She excerpts his beautiful reflections on grief and death. And she also quotes him saying, “Every day we are engaged in a miracle we don’t even recognize.” I love the wonder embedded here, as well as its reminder to pay attention to the tiny miracles surrounding us all the time.
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