"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday Salon: Mary Oliver Edition

My favorite poet, Mary Oliver died this past week. To honor her, this week I will share excerpts of some of my favorite poems, in between the news of the week.

From- "The Summer Day"
The question: What do I plan to do with the rest of my life. I want to find a cause that I can support and really get behind, feel like I am making a difference. Mary Oliver asks, "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

From- "The Swan"
Taking time to ponder the big questions: Often Mary Oliver's poems start talking about one thing, and then she asks a question which seems to relate to a broader, bigger topic. I am challenged today to think about her questions. "And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for? And have you changed your life?"

From- "In Blackwater Woods"
Each day gets easier: as I say goodbye to my father in my heart. Mom seems like she is doing well, too. This week she told me that she is returning to those activities she had to curtail once she needed to care for Dad full time. This makes me so happy. Mary Oliver reminds us to love with our whole hearts and let go when the time comes.

From- " Sometimes"
New Bible Study: We are studying Ephesians 6 about the amour of God. First new insight comes from verse 12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood". Some times it feels like I am playing whack-a mole with the problems related to our government and our leaders. But our real struggles are against the powers of evil in the heavenly realms. 

Dog Songs
Bingley: Bingley was neutered this week. After a day of our threats about the need to stop licking or he'd need to wear a cone-of-shame, he has done well. Mary Oliver was a dog lover. She published a whole volume of poems about her canine friends in Dog Songs. Her poems never (rarely) mentioned people but they were full of animals.

From essay- " Staying Alive"
Books: Mary Oliver had a miserable childhood. Her father abused her, her mother neglected her. She found solace in nature and in books. I didn't have a miserable childhood but I still find solace in books. I love the notion that nature and books can re-dignify worst-stung hearts.
  • Right now I am listening to the audiobook: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. It is a selection for Pierce County Reads 2019! and we are reading it, and other works by the author for SOTH book club.
  • I just finished reading: I Have a Right To by Chessy Prout. It was a Cybils nominated book and I finally finished it. Look for my review soon.
  • Up next: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (audiobook) and Wild Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, a classics club spin book.

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do - 
 determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver, 1935-2019


  1. What a coincidence that you have written about Mary Oliver today. I am not a big poetry person, but have noticed all the references to her death this past week. Then Vassar College (where my daughter attends) tweeted that Mary Oliver graduated from Vassar. It seems everything connects these days. I am glad your mom is getting back to activities she enjoys; that is so important.

  2. You introduced me to Mary Oliver, and I am eternally grateful. She brings both beauty and wisdom to our lives with her words.

  3. I love seeing where your thoughts take you this week. I’ve finished (finally!) Anna Karenina and I was so taken with the last paragraph. One of my favorite characters, Levin, is trying to figure out his life, and, though he has a deep revelation about aiming for good, he finds that he falls short. Then he comes to this conclusion: “I shall go on in the same way, losing my temper with Ivan the coachman, falling into angry discussions, expressing my opinions tactlessly; there will be still the same wall between the holy of holies of my soul and other people, even my wife; I shall still go on scolding her for my own fright and being remorseful for it; I shall still be as unable to understand with my reason why I pray, and I shall still go on praying; but my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it.”


I look forward to your comments and interactions! Join in the conversation.