down the rabbit hole

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.” ~ Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

 

Down

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Down

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Down —

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Oh, hello! Didn’t mean to be rude, but I only just noticed you. 🙂

Happy September!

We’re finally back at ye ole’ blog, and I’ve missed you. Hope you’re safe and well. Before we have a little chin wag, see if this poem doesn’t describe how things have felt for you lately.

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Anthony Browne (Alice in Wonderland, 1988)

 

ON THE OTHER SIDE
by Lynn Ungar

Through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole,
into the wardrobe and out
into the enchanted forest
where animals talk
and danger lurks and nothing
works quite the way it did before,
you have fallen into a new story.
It is possible that you
are much bigger — or smaller —
than you thought.
It is possible to drown
in the ocean of your own tears.
It is possible that mysterious friends
have armed you with magical weapons
you don’t yet understand,
but which you will need
to save your own life and the world.
Everything here is foreign.
Nothing quite makes sense.
That’s how it works.
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.

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It’s now been about six months since life as we knew it was suddenly upended. Crazy, scary, unbelievable times.

Up is down, down is up.

Do you feel like you’ve been in freefall too — spinning, confused, worried, frustrated, unable to focus?

Each day there’s a new challenge, yet another outrage, another reason to adjust and readjust as we try to navigate this neverending nightmare. Choppy waters, impossible mountains to climb, crawling through broken glass, drowning in a pool of tears, you name it.

 

Anthony Browne

 

As Ungar’s poem suggests, we now find ourselves stuck in the middle of a strange story we never chose to be a part of, one we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams. Talk about dystopia.

Because all bets are off, we’ve been forced to make things up as we go. We shop, eat, clean, communicate and connect differently. Companies have changed how they do business. Educators have had to ramp up their superpowers to refine remote learning. Families have set new parameters for work, play, and privacy as they strive for peaceful coexistence. Frontline workers of every stripe, from healthcare employees to delivery people to grocery store clerks, now routinely risk their lives.

We’re all mad here.

 

Charles Robinson (1907)

 

We don’t take much for granted anymore either, not healthcare, safety, financial security, mobility, dependable mail delivery, truth in reporting, or that anchor of steadiness, predictability.

I find anti-maskers sadly foreign with their defiant denial, business-as-usual selfish behavior, and sheer lack of respect or caring for other human beings. A simple act can help save lives. Shouldn’t that be a no brainer?  I keep wondering what happens when they get sick. Do they see a real doctor or call up the My Pillow guy?

Off with their heads!

New buzz words: Zoom, social distancing, quarantine, rapid results testing, contactless delivery, curbside pickup.

Pipe dreams: shaking hands, hugging, airline travel and vacations, anxiety-free restaurant dining, concerts and sporting events, a classroom full of happy, chattering, maskless kids.

Curiouser and curiouser.

 

Anthony Browne

 

More and more, we realize we have to be the heroes in our own stories. After all, it’s a time when finding yeast or toilet paper at the store is a small victory, when getting your hair cut is an act of bravery.

So how are you finding balance and staying sane? There is simply no right or wrong way to cope. We all do the best we can, armed with a personal cache of magical weapons.

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Hello — is it Fauci you’re looking for? (+ a summer blog break)

 

I can see it in your eyes
I can see it in your smile
He’s all you’ve ever wanted
And your arms are open wide . . .

 

via Andy Andersen/Instagram

 

Thought we needed a little Dr. Anthony Fauci fix today since we haven’t been seeing as much of him lately.

When it comes to the pandemic, he’s the voice of calm, reason, and truth. He’s the one we trust, the one who makes us feel better even when the news is bleak.

 

hubba hubba

 

More than a brilliant public health expert, Dr. Fauci is now a pop culture icon, a sex symbol, and a personal hero to many. Brad Pitt played him on SNL, and Julia Roberts was totally starstruck when she interviewed him on her Twitter account. There’s even been talk of a Nobel Prize and Time Magazine Person of the Year. Oh, and did you notice he has blue eyes? All the best doctors do. 🙂

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“Dr. Fauci Starry Painting” by haris0250

 

THE NIGHT OF CORONA
by Ann Barber

‘Twas the night of Corona when all through the world
Not a creature was stirring as the nightmare unfurled
The face masks were missing, the gloves and the gowns
The nurses and doctors were all falling down
The children and old folks were scratching their heads
To wonder what mayhem this virus could spread
Pa gathered his strength, Ma stuffed down her worries
Pulled courage together to start their new journey
When throughout the world there arose such a clatter
Of singing, and loving, though hearts were in tatters
We stood at our balconies, doorways, and windows
To let out the love Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus
The moon lit the green of the fresh budding Spring
Giving Hope for Rebirth we yearned it would bring
We opened our hearts and expanded our characters
Knowing our children would be the inheritors
When who to our wondering eyes did appear
But the good Dr. Fauci dispelling our fear
A lively old doctor so truthful and wise
We knew in a moment he’d tell us no lies
More rapid than eagles his interviews came
Knew we needed to hear him so he could explain
The virus, the distance, how not to transmit it
The challenge we’re up for, no doubt we can do it
The world just got smaller but we’re growing bigger
Our hearts and our souls demonstrate we’re no quitters
Our Heroes are Healers, not killers of Life
And many strong Women in the thick of the strife
May All who draw breath see God in Each Other
Embracing Our weakness As Sisters and Brothers
Stronger Together

~ Adapted on April 10, 2020 from “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” by Clement Clarke Moore, via Daily Hampshire Gazette (4-27-20).

 

“Faster Than a Speeding Fauci” by Andee Axe

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the reading blues

“Portrait of Artist’s Wife,” by Pronaszko Zbigniew (1935)

 

I’ve got the reading blues!

I love figurative paintings of readers, and have noted through the years that there are oodles of them. Most of the subjects are women, and many appear to be well-to-do, with the leisure to lounge on plush sofas or perch on uncomfortable chairs near a window, lost in the printed word.

Of course I always wonder what they’re reading and what their daily lives are like. Since I also love books, I feel a decided kinship with them, even though thousands of miles and more than a century may separate us.

Recently, readers dressed in blue have been calling out to me. Perhaps I’m drawn to blue’s peace, calm, and serenity. Spiritually, the color blue symbolizes the healing power of God — much needed in these terribly troubling times. And the readers themselves seem content and contemplative, making me feel better.

In any case, I hope you enjoy gazing at these blue readers, joining them, for just a few minutes, in their fascinating worlds (I also managed to dig up a few men). 🙂

 

“In the Library,” by Auguste Toulmouche (1872)

 

“The Reader Wreathed with Flowers,” by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1845)

 

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strawberries: a taste of something wild and sweet

“Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” ~ Pema Chodron

 

Hello, good-looking friends. How are you holding up?

Hard to believe it’s already June. It’s certainly been a trying three months! Time to anticipate summer with a little strawberry love. 🙂

As we hunker down in our private spaces, our strength, resilience, faith and patience are being tested as never before. Each day brings a new concern as we reassess our priorities and consider an uncertain future.

Rather than perpetually bemoan forced confinement, we can mindfully pause to carefully consider, with humility and gratitude, the time we are actually being given and the challenge to use it wisely.

I’m here to tell you there is good news: Today, it’s your turn. Wherever you are standing right now, I give this to you:

 

“Strawberries” by Alexis Kreyder

 

WHAT IS GIVEN
by Ralph Murre

The likelihood of finding strawberries
tiny and wild and sweet
around your ankles
on any given day
in any given place
is not great
but sometimes
people find strawberries
right where they are standing
just because it is their turn
to be given a taste
of something wild and sweet

 

“Strawberries on Spode Plate” by Jeanne Illenye

 

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[chat + recipe + giveaway] Please Look After Michael Bond Biographer Rosanne Tolin. Thank you.

 

Today we’re more than excited and pawsitively delighted to welcome More Than Marmalade author Rosanne Tolin to Alphabet Soup!

The 60-something resident Paddingtons are simply beside themselves. They’ve brushed their fur, cleaned their whiskers, and polished off at least 126 marmalade sandwiches in anticipation.

FINALLY, they keep saying — finally someone wrote a book about Michael Bond, their favorite person in the entire universe. Indeed, it is hard to believe that this is the first published biography of the iconic British author, whose first Paddington chapter book came out back in 1958.

 

 

Though More Than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear (Chicago Review Press, 2020), is geared for middle grade readers, it’s a beary interesting read for Paddington fans of all ages. A work of well researched creative nonfiction, the narrative is an engaging blend of facts and fictionalized scenes that highlight Bond’s life from his childhood in Reading, England, to his death at age 91 in 2017.

Bond always felt Paddington was “real,” and in this book we learn about the real historical events and personal experiences that inspired this inimitable bear character. We see how circumstance, a vivid imagination, and perseverance all came to bear at a time when Bond hadn’t actually planned to write a children’s book.

 

 

His love of trains, lifelong empathy for immigrants, script and story writing background, BBC cameraman experiences, and a fateful decision to rescue a lone bear from a department store shelf one Christmas Eve spawned a classic children’s book series that would evolve into several TV series and two feature length films, along with a slew of children’s merchandising. In 2018, the Great Western Railway named a new Intercity Express Train after Michael Bond and Paddington Bear.

Though he grew up in a nurturing, book-loving family, Bond was deeply affected by the hardships and devastation of WWII. In newsreels and at the train station, he witnessed the traumatic displacement of child evacuees from London (his parents also hosted two Jewish refugees in their home), and at age 17, he survived an air raid in his village before enlisting in the Royal Air Force and later, the British army.

 

 

 

More Than Marmalade not only chronicles Bond’s path to becoming a published author, it shows how he sustained a successful, demanding career — a journey that was fraught with rejection, a broken marriage, even a bout with depression. His grandfather’s advice about never giving up, and his enduring belief in a little stowaway bear from darkest Peru got him through thick and thin.

Why is Paddington so beloved by people of all ages all over the world? How are Bond’s messages of tolerance, kindness, and acceptance — especially of foreigners — more than timely? How does this book prove than when it comes to Michael Bond and Paddington Bear, there is so much more than meets the eye?

We know you’ll enjoy hearing what Rosanne has to say. More marmalade, please!

 

 

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Rosanne with the marmalade loving bear and her dog Dexter.

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