Receiving comfort from Georgia Heard, Janet Wong & Ecclesiasties

Language is a sweet  ponderable. I am living the idea in these current days that receiving comfort is not the same as being comfortable.

I find this to be true in the poem by Janet Wong, “The Ones They Loved the Most” found in her collection NIGHT GARDEN.

And I find this to be true in the poems of THIS PLACE I KNOW, Poems of Comfort, selected by Georgia Heard to comfort children who witnessed the World Trade Center tragedy and later, the soothing words becam bound and illustrated for a beautiful book.

Recently my dear sister through marriage, Angela, read in church from the sage poem of Ecclesiastes. And yes,   “To every thing there is a season. . . ” always catches my breath, the idea that all the emotions, all the highs and lows have a place. This gentle chanting, familiar regularly at  Bible lessons from kindergarden age through age thirteen. I knew I would take comfort from the line “. . . a time to live and a time to die . . .” and althoughI I needed to hear this line of Chapter Three, I felt at that moment & still feel at unexpected reminders, forlorn.

I agree deeply with Georgia Heard as she shares in  her book that, “Poetry has always offered comfort and consolation during sorrowful times, and reminded us of the places in our lives, inside and out, that can help us heal.” If you are comfortable now, but in wisdom know that some day you will need comfort, perhaps you keep handy comfort-giver poems:

-Ch. three, Ecclesiastes.

-I KNOW THIS PLACE, Poems of Comfort.

Lines in this touchingly illustrated book such as from –

“Stars” by Deborah Chandra: “I like the way they looked down from the sky                                                                /And didn’t seem to mind the way I cried.”

 

-lines from “Trouble, Fly” by Susan Marie Swanson:

“Trouble, fly.

                                                                                             Let our night

                                                                                             be a night of peace.”

 

– lines from “Holes” by Lillian Morrison:

-“Strangest of gaps

                                                                        their goneness 

. . .

                                                                        the hole is inside us

                                                                        it brims over

                                                                        is empty and full at once.”

Lillian Morrison

Christmas, Dad Annino & Jan Godown Annino, Ormond Beach

Dad Annino is missed every day, in oh so many ways. Because my hubby’s parents have long selected winters in Florida rather the cold blanketing New England shores where more of our family lives, most of our Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter festivities, meals, prayer ceremonies, have centered on them, for at least 27 years.

Easter was a special Dad Annino holiday. He collected as many of the palm leaves handed out at church he could hold, to later sit outside in the sunshine near the lemon and kumquat trees and fold them in beautiful ways for gifts. Always always always his intricate folds included a sacred shape he learned in his child days on the island of Sicily. Although our opinions sat firm on “different sides of the olive grove wall” on many topics,  I loved him with a fierceness that at first surprised me and then I accepted, not trying to puzzle it out.

Although he, Mom Annino and my hubby, with me, were all in Florida, the stretch of our state is such that it was an eight-to-ten-hour round trip to be with them depending upon holiday traffic.

In between visits, in more recent years I began warbling to Dad Annino over the telephone and lucked into finding that each time, I had picked a song he recognized and loved it that he either sang or hummed along with me. 

Twenty-seven years ago when I was the family’s new Mom, Dad Annino told me a story.  In a small Sicilian village a mother of many children woke up early in the morning to a ruckus among kids in her home. Ignoring the bickering, she got up, calmly washed, dressed and set about to make herself a cup of coffee. Only after she had sat as long as she wanted, clean, fresh, ready for the day, supping the sacred morning cafe and enjoying her morning pastry, did she tend to the squabbling children. “You see, la Mama must take care of  herself, first, before she can take chare of la bambina,” he said, wrapping me up in a story hug. Good-bye, sweet good bye to Dad Annino, but to paraphrase St. Matthew, I will feel you with me, always, even unto my end.

 

More poem comfort-

lines from Janet Wong’s “The Ones They Loved the Most”

-“My mother says

                                                                                                        the spirits of the dead

                                                                                                        visit

                                                                                                        in dreams

                                                                                                        seeking out

                                                                                                        the ones they loved

                                                                                                        the most.”

                                                                                 

Folded palm leaves by Dad Annino

                                                                                                          

Finally, if any of this appears garbled or out of place, please know I have a funny story about my laptop traveling to Kentucky, yet I never have. I’m temporarily working on my mobile phone, praise be to it. – jga

    

 

 

 

bookish cheese, with cat & mouse

What was by my side from the Thanksgiving holidays right on through, well, it’s still by my side, is cheese. I’m not talking about the cream cheese with chives of my youth or the brie of my 30s, but the robust hard cheeses of my middle age. And If I look to share blame for this overindulgence, I will charge & convict, but spare a sentence in the Tower of London a particular volume, for being an accomplice in an abundance of cheese love.

The culprit is a deftly illustrated book for ages 9-12  (& for those of us adults who read a lot of children’s books) that is also a beautifully told story of love among unlikely friends: The Cheshire Cheese Cat.

Barry Moser, of his own Pennyroyal Press and many superior  projects, is the artist. And that signals a lot right there. Co-authors are Carmen Agra Deedy,  one of this nation’s most beloved storytellers & a rip-roaring picture book author (The Library Dragon, The Secret Old Zeb  & many more.) I was ever more her fan after I met her last year at the UCF Morgridge International Book Festival. Her co-author here in this is new to me;  Randall Wright  is now a writer I want to become familiar with for titles such as The Silver Penny. 

In this collaboration, an uncommon blue alleycat, Skilley & a London chesse pub’s mouse, Pip,  team up with a perfectly named girl, Nell, & a big bird. It’s fun, it beautifully carries off what the most welcome picture books do-  bringing something clever to the story for adults. It also calls to mind the affection among unlikely characters in the Garth Williams-illustrated classic, The Cricket in Times Square.  Surprises & secrets & yes, some sadness (watch out for that cleaver!) are salted through The Cheshire Cheese Cat, with a fond nod to Dickens & many atmospheric aspects of  Olde London.

“The innkeeper bent forward, hands on knees, and inspected Skilley with a critical eye. London’s alleyways, docks and sewers appeared to have dealt harshly with the young cat. The artful dodging of hansom cabs, chamber pots, and inevitable fishwives’ brooms had left him with a ragged ear, numerous scrapes, and a tracery of scars.”

March on

March

This month begins with too many good ducks in my little world keeping too close company with doctors, medicines, hospitals & various shoulder, foot & ankle restraints & also the medicines for cancers & blood clots & sadly, the rituals of saying so-long to someone you’ve know your entire life.  That’s the lion of March.

Here are some of the lambs.

I learned in these very same days about the kindness of nighttime nurses such as the angel of the 6th floor, Katharine Rose.   And I am reminded how comfortable it is to have a pal who I worked with years back at two newspapers, to have her living right here in town, who can hustle over her perfect, no longer needed,  expensive medical supply store devices in a moment’s notice.     Now I present below another notice, arriving in email the same day as the medical device for a family member.

And honestly as much as I want to frame the notice from Kirkus Reviews (thank you whoever has that opinion of our beloved project about Betty Mae Jumper), it was Janie’s dropping off of the device on our front step at the right moment, that makes me smile most at this moment.

Many, many thanks, Miss Rose, many, many thanks dear Janie & and thank you so very much anonymous writer of the Kirkus Reviews review, for all of your big lifts.


She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper/ National Geographic Children’s Books March 2010/ Jan Godown Annino/Lisa Desimini/Moses Jumper, Jr.

From KIRKUS REVIEWS

Short poetic stanzas join jewel-toned illustrations to sing the
satisfying story of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper. Deep in the Everglades in
the 1920s, Seminole tribal leaders threatened to throw this young
daughter and granddaughter of medicine women into the swamp for the
“bad spirits” of her white father. Her family fled to the Dania
Reservation, where she grew up and acquired the Mission faith she
combined with traditional beliefs.Seeking an education, she left
Florida and became a nurse, but she returned to serve her people. She
returned truants to school and helped set up a tribal council and a
newspaper. Her election to tribal leadership in 1967 was a remarkable
achievement in her male-dominated culture, and she continues to sing
stories of her people today. The design of this attractive,
chronological biography reflects the subject. A column of text on a
natural fabric background accompanies each of Desimini’s paintings;
their rounded shapes and glowing colors reveal interesting details of
Seminole life. A glossary serves as the index to pictures and text.
(afterword from her son, maps, chronology, further facts, author’s
note, bibliography)”

love letters

You remember school love notes in February.

Folded pieces of paper passed fast in the hall to you & notes someone else found tucked into the math book.

Maybe put there by you.

Arnold Adoff &  Lisa Desimini remember those days. They team up for the best book of sweet poems on the school love  topic. Isbn 0.590.48478.8  It’s all here. The shyness, the frustration & the puppy love. It includes mom & dad & the teacher & the whole family. Plus the kid across the aisle

Lisa brings each poem to the page visually in tender & inventive ways. Arnold Adoff deftly gifts us with the words that say I hope you never find out this red heart is from me. I think you will oooh & aaah through this book.

I especially like the chalkboard rimmed with the alphabet page & the dad on the sofa page.  Enjoy!

from "Love Letters" by Arnold Adoff with illustrations from Lisa Desimini

"Dear Once Upon a Time"