Monday, June 29, 2009

That Joe Biden. . .

He sure has good taste! Here is a picture of Vice President Biden looking over a copy of Genius of Common Sense (via Genius author Glenna Lang).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Joe Biden and Genius of Common Sense

Vice President Joe Biden came to Boston to raise money at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on June 23. Before he was set to speak, people mingled in a large space high above Fenway Park. My old friend from Cambridge politics, Rob Barber, who now heads the New England Steering Committee for Organizing for America and was to introduce the vice president, tipped me off that if I positioned myself “along the rope” keeping the audience about eight feet away from the speakers, I might have a good chance of being on Joe’s path while he greeted the crowd as he exited after his speech.

When I noticed folks starting to move towards the podium, I headed up there and saw that tall, mostly men in suits had already lined up along the rope. I turned to the woman next to me, who was several inches shorter than my 5’2”, and said, “What do we do?” It turned out her name was Magdalena and she had taken a ferry, a bus, and a train to get there from Martha’s Vineyard where she works as a nurse. She had volunteered in Obama’s campaign and was enthralled by the candidate and his running mate, to say the least.

When I asked one of the tall guys if Magdalena and I might stand in front of them, they graciously agreed. We all had a great conversation as we waited a long time for the program to start. And right before it did, an 11-year-old girl made it through the crowd behind me, and I pulled her in next to me. I now had the beautiful young girl in a salmon-colored chiffon dress on my right and Magdalena in her colorful garb from the Dominican Republic on my left, all of us along the rope in front of the lectern.

I can’t neglect to say what a terrific and charismatic speaker Joe Biden is. He hit all the right points about health care, the environment, end to nuclear proliferation, etc. This is not a time to prioritize, we must do everything at once. He mentioned Scranton a number of times, with a funny story that took place there to boot. The three of us, directly in front of him, were smiling and nodding. When he spoke about children and education, he paused to ask the girl next to me how old she was and wove her into his message.

Sure enough, after his speech, Biden stepped off the podium and headed along the rope. His second stop was Magdalena. She blurted out that she had always wanted a hug from Barack Obama. Joe Biden responded with a bear hug and a promise to deliver it to the president. I held up Genius of Common Sense with a post-it note on the cover saying “About someone else from SCRANTON.” I said, “I wrote this book about another very important person from Scranton.” The vice president widened his eyes, yanked the book from my hands, studied the cover, and said, “Jane Jacobs? No kidding!” I managed to get in “It’s for your grandchildren” before he exclaimed “THANK YOU” and planted a kiss firmly on my cheek!

Magdalena had asked a woman across the room to take some photos of us if we got to speak with Joe Biden. Not surprisingly, he was surrounded by secret service, so I am not sure if the photos will capture anything. She’ll email them to me if they do, but anyway, it was a thrill – and I hope he or his grandchildren read the book. I think they just might.

[The author of this post is Glenna Lang, co-author of Genius of Common Sense, as well as several other Godine titles.]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bombus impatiens — Common Eastern Bumble Bee

The Common Eastern Bumble Bee is one of the most oft-encountered pollinators found working in the garden. I love to say the words Bombus impatiens (BOM-bus im-PAY-shuns); the round soft sounds of the genus and species names rolls around the lips and off the tongue. Bombus is Latin for ‘”booming” or “buzzing.” Of course, a babbity buzzing bumble bee must surely be a Bombus! The binomial nomenclature for the Spanish poppy in the photograph, Papaver atlanticum (pronounced pah-PAH-ver at-LAN-tik-um), too, is pleasurable to say aloud. Learning about the root meanings of these descriptively beautiful names and how to pronounce them is just one of the many joys of learning about the natural world.

Taxomic Classification of the Common Eastern Bumble Bee
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta (True Insects)
Order: Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps, and Sawflies)
Family: Apidae (Bumble, Carpenter, Digger, Cuckoo, and Honey Bees)
Sub-family: Apinae (Honey, Bumble, and Digger Bees)
Genus: Bombus (Bumble Bees)
Species: impatiens

Bombus impatiens ranges across eastern North America from Ontario to Maine and south to Florida. It is more commonly found along the Atlantic coast and is much less common near the western edge of its range (eastern North Dakota, western Kansas, and eastern Texas).

Comparing it to last month’s photo of the Carpenter Bee, which is characterized by a shiny black abdomen, the first abdominal section of the Common Eastern Bumble Bee is covered with yellow pile and the remaining segments with black pile. Members of the genus Bombus are generally covered in aposematically-colored pile, meaning long hairs in “warning” colors of black and yellow.

As do their relatives the carpenter bee and honey bee, bumble bees form colonies, feed on nectar, build nests, and gather pollen to feed their young. Bombus impatiens typically nests below ground in preexisting holes, often using discarded rodent nests.

Unlike a honey bee’s stinger, which is barbed, the bumble bee’s stinger is smooth and can be used over and over again. Usually, bumble bees present very little danger as they are typically non-aggressive and would rather not expend their energy manufacturing venom unless absolutely necessary. The loud buzzing sound bumble bees make is the result of vibrating its flight muscles, which it must do to warm up to become airborne at low ambient temperatures.

Pollination by bees is known as melittophily. Many bee pollinated-flowers are blue or yellow, often with ultraviolet nectar guides, and are scented. Bee-pollinated flowers fall into several categories: open, bowl-faced flowers such as wild roses and poppies, composite flowers (asters and goldenrod), and non-radial symmetric flowers such as lupines and turtlehead. Up to forty percent of the world’s food is pollinated by wild bees, including bumble bees. Because they are especially efficient pollinators Bombus impatiens is increasingly called upon in the agriculture of blueberries, cranberries, alfalfa, clover, and hot-house tomatoes. Cool, cloudy, and even light rainy weather may slow bumble bees, but activity will not be completely halted. Bumble bees can fly in temperatures to 41 degrees, whereas honey bees require temperatures at a minimum of 50 degrees.

The greatest threat to bumble bees is loss of adequate habitat. Monoculture farming has changed fields formerly rich in floral diversity. Bombus species need habitats continuously in bloom, from April to November. One solution is to create, between farm fields, buffer zones of wild flower meadows. Bombus impatiens has been recorded feeding on many flower families, including the following: Apiaceae (carrot), Asclepiadaceae (milkweeds), Asteraceae (composites), Balsaminaceae (Impatiens capensis), Berberidaceae (barberries), Convovulaceae (morning glories), Ericaceae (heaths), Fabaceae (legumes), Lamiaceae (mints), Malvaceae (mallows), Papaveraceae (poppies), Rosaceae (roses and allies), Saliaceae (willows), Saxifragaceae (saxifrages), Solanaceae (tomatoes), and Urticaceae (nettles).

Spanish poppy, also commonly called Moroccan and Atlantic poppy, is an utterly delightful perennial poppy that begins to flower in mid-spring in our garden, and, with consistent deadheading, continues unstintingly until the first frosts of autumn, providing nectar for three seasons. The lovely deeply lobed blue-green foliage begins to look a bit tired by mid-summer but then recovers with the cooler weather of late summer. Moroccan poppy blooms in one color only, a clear shade of Spanish orange. The flower takes a semi-double form “Flore Pleno,” but I (and the bees) prefer the single form. In reading up on Papaver atlanticum it is often recommended to weed out the ordinary and “less desirable” single forms, silly advice really. The singles are beautiful and less fussy-looking. P. atlanticum is found growing wild in rocky crevices in the mountains of Morocco, giving us a hint about their culture. They require good drainage (excellent for the rock garden) and grow well in full to light sun. When the seed capsules are allowed to mature, Moroccan poppy will reseed readily throughout the garden. Remove the unwanted seedlings, allowing others to take hold where they are desired. Transplant seedlings when they small, only a few inches in height, and early in the season, while the weather is still cool. Moroccan poppies resent transplanting and will not recover if attempted during the heat of summer.

End Notes: Save the dates for the Seaside Garden Tour sponsored by the Rockport Garden Club, Friday July 10 and Saturday July 11 from 10 am to 4 pm. Tickets are on sale at Toad Hall Bookstore. Tour includes perennial plant sale.

[Find more of Kim Smith's gardening and garden design tips in her book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities, available now from Godine and fine bookstores everywhere.]

Monday, June 22, 2009

P.K. Page at Poetry Magazine

A new poem from Godine author and acclaimed Canadian poet P.K. Page appears in the current issue of Poetry Magazine (June 2009), "Cullen in the Afterlife." If you enjoy this, we highly recommend Cosmologies, which was shortlisted for the 2003 Griffin Award for Excellence in Poetry, has a foreword from book critic Eric Ormsby, and is the first (still the only?) of the poet's collections to be published in the United States. For your reading pleasure, here is another poem from Page's Cosmologies,

"The Understatement"

I speak not in hyperbole,
I speak in true words muted to their undertone,
choosing a pebble where you would choose a stone,
projecting pebbles to immensity.

For where love is no word can be compounded
extravagant enough to frame the kiss
and so I use the under-emphasis,
the muted note, the less than purely rounded.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Perec at the NBCC

This is maybe one of the strongest recommendations I've seen of a Godine writer who has — to say the least — an enthusiastic fan base. Critical Mass, the NBCC blog, has been posting responses to the question, 'which work in translation had the deepest effect on their reading and writing?'

Martin Riker, of the estimable Dalkey Archive Press, writes, 'That would be one or all of Georges Perec’s novels. If I had to pick one, it would be Life A User’s Manual, unless it was W, or A Memory of Childhood. Although it might also be his early novel, Things. These are the translated titles, to which I resort because I don’t speak or read French. I once had the occasion to write to the translator of these books, David Bellos, and I took the opportunity to let him know that Perec is my favorite writer, and that, since a translator is to a large extent the creative force behind a translated work, he, David Bellos, is also, in a palpable way, my favorite writer. Few writers have opened up the possibilities of literary art with as much enthusiasm, mastery, and pleasure as Perec.'

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rosa bourboniana

Roses grow well in our Gloucester garden. The buds are reluctantly, yet deliberately, beginning to open in the cool dampness of this year’s early June weather. While coming and going along the garden pathway and up and down the front stairs, we are teased by their fleeting scent. I am impatient for their beauty and fragrance. The climbers and ramblers grow more massive, and ever taller still, and soon the garden, and the adjoining rooms to our home, will be infused with their pervasive perfume. The large-flowered redolent climbers ‘Aloha’ and ‘New Dawn,’ along with ‘Variegata di Bologna,’ clamber up the porch pillars. ‘Louise Odier’ and ‘Souvenir de Victor Landeau,’ both sumptuously scented Bourbon roses, are planted adjacent to these beauties, one on either side of the front steps. Around the corner is the rugosa hybrid ‘Therese Bugnet,’ with inherent beach rose fragrance, and opposite her is my mystery rose, climbing two stories tall, her aromatic Persian pink blossoms draped about our second story bedroom window. Sublime, really.

Because the roses are sited within close proximity to the house, along the garden paths and embowering the front entryway and windows, few pests or diseases escape my attentive eye. Eliminating the earliest Japanese beetles helps to control a mass onslaught. Removing, and carefully disposing of, leaves that show the first signs of black spot helps to retard the spread of the disease.

The following is an excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! For extensive information on rose culture and an expanded list of the most richly scented cultivars see Chapter 14 titled "Roses for the Intimate Garden."

Rosa bourboniana

The Bourbon roses (Rosa bourboniana) comprise one of the most extravagantly scented class of roses, along with having a wide range of growth habit in form and height. From the shrubby and compact ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison,’ growing to about two feet, to the thornless climbing ‘Zephirine Drouhin,’ there is a suitable Bourbon rose available to fill nearly every conceivable desired effect in the landscape.

Named for the island of Reunion, formerly called Isle de Bourbon, Rosa bourboniana is a natural crossing of the China rose (repeat blooming) with the Autumn Damask rose. Reunion belongs to the archipelago of Mascareignes in the Indian Ocean and lies east of Madagascar. Originally discovered by the Portuguese, then colonized by the French in the seventeenth-century, Reunion had a diverse population of settlers from around Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. The Bourbon rose was discovered growing wild in Reunion in approximately 1817.

Hybridized Bourbon roses flower in hues of white to china pink to cerise and purple. The flowers are quartered at the center and filled with overlapping petals. With their sublime fragrance, tolerance for cold temperatures, and freedom of flowering (‘Louise Odier’ remains in bloom from June until the first frost), Bourbons are amongst the most distinctive of all roses.

The following is a list of Bourbon roses successfully growing in our garden, along with one failure noted.

‘Louise Odier’ ~ 1851 ~ Bourbon ~ Delicate china pink, camellia-style flowers, enchanting and intensely fragrant. Blooms lavishly throughout the season, from early June to November, with a brief rest after the first flush of June flowers. Grows four to five feet.

‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ ~ 1868 ~ Bourbon ~ Clear hot pink. Thornless. The sensuous Bourbon fragrance is there, only not as intense relative to some others noted here. Repeat blooms. Twelve feet.

‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ ~ 1881 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep raspberry-magenta. Considered to be one of the most fragrant roses. Six to seven feet. Note: We no longer grow Madame Isaac Pereire as its buds usually turned into brown, blobby globs that rarely fully opened due to damp sea air.

‘Souvenir de Victor Landeau’ ~ 1890 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep rose pink, richly fragrant and consistently in bloom through October and into November. Pairs beautifully with Louise Odier. Four to five feet.

‘Variegata di Bologna’ ~ 1909 ~ Bourbon ~ Creamy pale pink with rose-red striations. Suffused with the heady Bourbon fragrance. The foliage becomes tattered-looking later in the season. Slight repeat bloom, although it initially flowers for an extended period of time, four to six weeks in all. Tall growing, best supported against a pillar.

‘Souvenir de Saint Anne’s’ ~ 1916 ~ Bourbon ~ Ivory flushed with warm pink and cream single to semi-double blossoms. Sensuous Bourbon fragrance. Compact growing, ideal for the garden room. Continually blooming. Two feet. Note: ‘Souvenir de St. Anne’ is a sport of ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (1843), with the similar lovely colorway. The unopened buds and blooms of ‘Malmaison’ have the tendency to be ruined in damp air, whereas ‘St. Anne’s’ do not.

Several tips for improved rose culture:

Aphids are soft-bodied, winged and non-winged, gnat-sized insects found in a range of colors — bright green, reddish brown, orange, yellow, and black. They form colonies on the tender new growth tips of roses and will suck the moisture out of every flower bud. Vigilance is key. Simple and organic methods for controlling aphids include spraying the infested area vigorously with a garden hose set on a jet stream directed onto the infested new growth (preferably in the very early morning to allow the foliage to dry) and then repeating this routine for a total of three days; snipping the infested tips and discarding them into the trash; or introducing beneficial insects such as ladybugs, praying mantises, and green lacewings.

If spraying with a garden hose proves to be ineffective, or you do not want to wet the foliage for three days during a particularly damp season, try a mixture of one tablespoon (begin with a tablespoon or two, gradually increasing the dose as needed) of Dr. Bonner’s peppermint soap to one gallon of water. Spray liberally; this will suffocate the pesky creatures.

Ladybugs and praying mantises will stay if there is a continual supply of food. For the past several years we have done nothing at the onset of an aphid invasion. The welcome green lacewings have decided to call our garden home; the larvae of the green lacewing efficiently eradicates the aphids. Their nickname, “aphid lion,” gives an indication of the role the lacewings play in the rhythm of the garden.

Pruning is necessary to maintain the overall desired shape of the rose plant, to increase its number of blossoms, and to keep pests and diseases at bay. To encourage vertical growth while becoming established, climbers and ramblers should not be pruned. When it does become necessary to prune a rose plant, cut off to the base old, dark brown woody canes that are no longer flowering. Canes crossing over other canes can be removed for a neater appearance. Weak and twiggy growth and blackened tips from winter damage should also be removed.

Bourbon roses generally require minimal pruning. Roses that bloom repeatedly throughout the summer (this includes all the aforementioned Bourbons, with the exception of ‘Variegata di Bologna’) should be pruned just after the first flush of flowering. Repeat bloomers also benefit from diligent deadheading and an occasional neatening during their extended period of florescence, by removing tattered foliage and twiggy growth. In early March, and again after the first flush of flowers, remove weak and twiggy growth and apply a three- to four-inch layer of compost to the drip-line to help control black spot.

A sepal, a petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flash of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—
A caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!

Emily Dickinson

End Notes: Please join me on Sunday, June 21st from 10 am to 11am for a book signing and informal lecture at the Sargent House Museum’s garden festival. For tickets and information about the weekend-long event, information is available on their website.

The 2009 Summer Concert Series at Willowdale Estate begins on Thursday, June 18th at 7:30 pm. “At the Heart of June” features the music of Martinu, Poulens, and Messiaen for piano, cello, clarinet, and violin. Light reception sponsored by Willowdale. Tickets are on sale now at Eden’s Edge.

Monday, June 15, 2009

David Bromige: 1933—2009

We were very sad to hear of the recent passing of noted poet and Black Sparrow author David Bromige. The acclaimed poet D.A. Powell has a touching remembrance of Bromige at The Poetry Foundation blog, Harriet: "I think I probably took 18 classes from David Bromige, including my undergraduate classes and my graduate courses. After completing my B. A., I hung around and did an M. A. in English. In 1993, as I was working on my thesis, the state of California — suffering from a budget crisis, as always — extended a 'golden handshake' offer to faculty at the top of the salary scale. It was a handsome deal, and David was one of many who were drawn into early retirement. One of the requirements, though, was that the retiree would have to cease work immediately; not even finishing out the semester. This would have left me without my poetry advisor. David graciously offered to oversee the completion of my studies without pay."

You can learn more about David Bromige at Wikipedia, and find a nice collection of online resources at the University of Buffalo.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Leithauser on Updike

Congratulations to those first fine five folks who emailed us for posters — they are on their way. Enjoy!

And a quick note: Godine author Brad Leithauser has a nice review today, at Slate, of John Updike's final collection of short stories. Brad writes, "It has become almost a cliché to marvel over Updike's adherence to Henry James's dictum that the writer should be 'one of the people on whom nothing is lost.' For Updike, no meaningful experience went unrecorded and unpublished, ingeniously translated into fiction or verse. Over time, loyal readers began to feel a companionable connectedness not merely with his writing but with his much-photographed life."

You can also read David Godine's thoughtful note on the occasion of Updike's passing here.

The Great Godine Poster Giveaway

We have some lovely posters here in our office (strays from BEA) which we are going to give away to the first five readers who email with the subject line BEA Poster Giveaway and their address in the message body.

The posters:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Back from BEA

We're all back from BEA, and wiped out. As has been widely reported, the show this year was smaller than in the past. A few of the heavy-hitters downsized from aisle-length booths to basement meeting rooms, fewer publishers were giving away galleys, and overall attendance was down (whether by nature or design, as I hear the officials were stingier this year with badges). Our booth was full of disappointment — not because we had less material to give away or took fewer orders than usual, or anything like that, but because David Godine had to leave for his daughter's high school graduation.

Aside from the disappointed faces of so many visitors to our booth — who inevitably were there because they're old friends of David — Book Expo 2009 was a great success. We gave away almost all of our galleys, most of our letterpress marketing material, all the posters we wanted to give, and got to meet some very interesting reviewers and other (always wonderful) industry people. There was plenty of interest in our new titles and we put together some very strong orders. If you were there and didn't see us, feel free to call up to place an order.