The Waste Land: Five Limericks

The Waste Land: Five Limericks

I’m working on the next entry in my Waste Land series; but I keep getting sidetracked. In the meantime, this is really quite delightful:


In April one seldom feels cheerful;
Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful;
Clairvoyantes distress me,
Commuters depress me—
Met Stetson and gave him an earful.

Read the rest here: The Waste Land: Five Limericks by Wendy Cope.


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  • I know how you feel, although I have a little different struggle.  I’m having a hard time coping with how weak I am right now, and accepting that sometimes the best thing for me to do is lie there and rest.  I’m so used to having a big, strong, energetic body and it’s so hard to let that go and be weak.

    Tonight is David’s baptismal anniversary, and I don’t have squat planned.  I don’t even know where his candle is.  He doesn’t care, but I feel awful.  He’s such a good little boy, and lately it feels like he’s taking as much care of me as I am of him.

    On a funny note:
    Advent is almost here and earlier this year, in a fit of pique, I started making beeswax pillars for our wreath.  So far I’ve made one.  So I’m either going to have some fun making candles this weekend, or I’ll be filling in the wreath as we move through Advent.  And I can’t even blame it on being pregnant… I started this project in May!

  • Oh oh oh!  I asked and the wonderful Joe Pastry is doing Santa Lucia buns right now, if you want a good recipe.  I haven’t tried it yet, and won’t till the 13th, (I’m not made of saffron), but he’s never steered me wrong, baking wise.

    (Lucia, give my eye problems, is a special patron of mine.)

  • Thank you for sharing this, Melanie!  Thankfully, if there is one thing I have learned during these six years of parenting, it is to be easier on myself.  No, we’re not doing a Jesse Tree again this year.  Is it a lovely tradition?  Yes, it is fitting for our family, in this time?  Nope.  Same thing with so many of the lovely traditions I have been reading about.  I felt guilty my first couple years as a parent, trying to provide it all, and then realizing that I couldn’t and feeling bad about that.  I don’t have that guilt anymore, and that’s certainly a grace and not my own doing, because I am a total Type-A-get-it-all-done-and-then-some personality. wink

    That said, I’m still feeling a little unprepared this Advent—though I *am* thankful for this extra week between Thanksgiving and Advent’s start.  I have some rough plans scribbled out, mostly things from years past that we’ll now just be digging out of the box and starting again—no extra prep for me.  (Love that!)  I have a few very simple new-to-us things I would like to do this year (cookies for St. Lucy’s day, Mexican hot chocolate for OLOG), but if they don’t happen, they don’t happen.  With a newborn in the house, that’s sometimes how things go. smile  I think your Advent plans sound just lovely.  Simple is often best.

  • GeekLady,

    I’ve been pregnant during Advent several times now; but I’ve never been in that first trimester helpless and weak stage. When I was pregnant with Bella Christmas was just about when I hit my second trimester stride and the nausea had subsided and I was feeling human again. I can imagine, though, what it is to feel that way.

    Somehow every Advent for the last few years I find myself feeling overwhelmed from one thing or another. I’ve just about decided that Advent is for me a season of spiritual littleness, of coming to grips with my weakness and dependency. Any dreams I have of Christmas festivities inevitably get sidelined for one reason or another. And I’m starting to accept that perhaps it’s better that way. That God’s plans really are better than mine.

    Oh but I do know how frustrating it is to feel so weak and so helpless. And we’ve had those baptism anniversaries where nothing really got done. I think last year Ben’s was like that. I knew he was too young to notice but I knew what I wanted to do and what didn’t happen.

    I do try to console myself with the knowledge that my own cherished memories of Christmases past are highlight reels, composites of things we perhaps only did a few times. I fondly remember making a Jessee Tree as a child; but I wonder what the experience looked like from my mom’s point of view. Probably as imperfect and messy and incomplete as anything I do. I suspect we only really did it a few times and I’m pretty sure we seldom if ever made it through the whole cycle of readings.

    We’ve had some years of filling in the Advent wreath as we move through the season and not even because I was making homemade candles but just because I forgot to buy them and was using stubs of a previous year’s candles. Funny how that’s an Advent I remember fondly, though. The one I didn’t even buy candles until after the second Sunday.

    Oh and re St Lucia buns/bread, if I feel up to it I’d like to try Karen Edmisten’s recipe again. Really loved it last year. (Meant to link it in the blog entry, but got distracted.) But I’m always up for adding new yummy recipes for my collection as well, so please do pass it on.


    This was not a blog post I planned to write. And then this afternoon suddenly I had this very strong urge to write an Advent post. I couldn’t quite shake it so I plopped myself down with my laptop and hammered it out. I had no idea what I was going to write and was quite surprised (and pleased) at the result. I love it when writing is the process of discovery.

    So true about “is it fitting for my family at this time?” I think that’s a question I need to use to sift everything I’m tempted to try. So many good ideas out there but I can only do so much. Trying to discern what fits here and now is a struggle but as long as I remember to frame the question properly, it soon becomes clear when my reach is exceeding my grasp.

    I do hope you enjoy your Christmas with a newborn. Lots of snuggles coupled with reduced expectations could be a recipe for wonderful.

  • My first trimester ends on Saint Nicholas’s Day, but I don’t think the associated crud will end then I’ve got a bad feeling it’s associated with the up and down of all the progesterone they’re stuffing in me, and will continue as long as the shots and sundry do.  I keep trying to pep myself up with “at least she’s doing something about it” but it’s astonishing how little that works on a violent tummy.

    The homemade candle thing… I had a taper wreath once, but then the first candle had burned to a stub just from being lit during dinner the first week, and I revolted and went to pillars.  Then last year I had a couple pillar malfunctions from cheap, too fast burning paraffin and decided to make beeswax ones.  And I’m too damned stubborn for my own good.  I’ve got one made, I’m not going back to paraffin now.  grin

    Oh!  If you really want to do a Jesse Tree, And Sometimes Tea is blogging one this year, with symbol PDFs uncolored or precolored.  (  I’m not a fan of Jesse Trees in general, but I think I’m going to give this one a shot because I’m annoyed with our CCE program at the moment.  (What did David learn in CCE this week?  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!  Gah!)

  • I asked Geoff about an Advent wreath, and he said, “Our children and candles. No.”

    Three out of the last five years have been me in my third trimester, and this year we have four under five, and the twins are just starting to crawl. We’re doing a low-key Advent and Christmas, too. I don’t think we’ve done any big Christmases or Advents for at least six years.

  • I just wanted to say, I sympathize. I’ve been slowing down myself. I don’t have as many appointments as you do, but I know I have to limit myself or there won’t be much Merry.

    We aren’t doing a Jesse Tree this year but I am hoping to get some Jesse ornaments for Christmas and do one next year. I got out the Advent wreath and calendar and nativity yesterday. We’ll get a tree in a week or two and I’m hoping to do a print-labels Christmas card mailing, but otherwise, I’m having a hard time focusing on Advent and Christmas over preparing for labor and a new baby.

    In some sense though, I think being this pregnant is its own Advent/Christmas preparation… I mean, Mary had to be needing to go to the bathroom during the night too and was being kicked in the ribs too! It is like walking towards Christmas the same way Mary did and while, like you, I’ve been pregnant during Advent, I’ve never been this close to giving birth this close to Christmas. I am thankful not to be riding on a donkey though – Oh, I can’t even imagine! smile

  • Geek Lady, thanks for the link!  We enjoyed doing our Jesse Tree last year using these brief reflections instead of the longer readings. 

    For those worried about children and candles, there are some fun child-friendly wreaths out there!  Or you could always use flameless battery-operated candles.  We keep our “wreath” on the fireplace mantle (it’s not actually a wreath, of course); I used to think that when the girls were old enough we’d have the lovely real sort of thing, but then we got cats…

    Point is, there’s no one “right” way to do an Advent wreath, a Jesse Tree, or any other private, in-home devotion—do what works!

  • So funny, I just saw Charlotte’s link to Erin’s Jesse Tree and thought to myself: well, then maybe there’s your answer: something already done and fun for the kids to color. Maybe I’ll try to print them out and see what happens. The timing does seem to have been an answer to my question for sure.

    Geek Lady, my first trimester crud never ends at the actual end of the trimester. It usually tapers off over the course of weeks. I think some of what makes the first trimester so exhausting is the process of growing the placenta and at least you’ll be done with that bit of it. I’ve heard that progesterone supplements will make the nausea continue; but I hope things at least get a little better for you.

    I’m sticking with tapers for now but I understand the attraction of pillars. The odd length stubs can really get on my obsessive side too. And if I’d started on something I’d have a hard time not stubbornly finishing it too.

    Kyra, I totally understand. Advent wreaths have always worked for us; but our kids are all pretty calm and even tempered. I’m a little concerned about Anthony and the candles this year. It might have to be a sort of light the candles and let them burn for a few minutes and then blow them out right away sort of thing.

    Erin, Thanks to both you and Charlotte for putting something together and sharing it.

    I’m loving everyone sharing their own versions of low-key, do-what-works for you Advent.

  • My children are older, but this has been a challenging year with my husband losing his job and my oldest having some health issues. We are slowly getting back into some simblance of order. When my children were younger, they made decorated boxes for advent. Every day we wrote on little pieces of paper what they had done that day as a gift for baby Jesus.(helping Mom, saying a prayer,etc.) We then presented the boxes to Jesus on Christmas Eve.
    This year I am planning on doing that in my personal devotions, offering up one thing each day I do, especially the things I dread, as a gift for Christ. We are also getting out the Advent boxes.
    I never could get it together enough to do a Jesse Tree, but the boxes helped the children remember what we were preparing for during Advent.

  • Re: children and candles

    I must be a terribly reckless mother, I just put burning things out wherever I think they oughta go.  The worst trouble we’ve ever had was when we had guests with insanely rambunctious kids 2 and 4 – the 2 year old kept considerately blowing out the vigil lamp.  I couldn’t figure out what was happening until we caught her at it.

    Then again my preschooler wants a real functioning grill for Christmas.  Maybe we all just like fire.

  • I have a cupboard that has many, many almost new dark purple candles from Advent wreaths past where the candles were barely burned or even lit. Our parish has an annual Advent wreath making workshop and my kids would always bring home new candles. Oh the shame….

    My childhood Advent memories are centered around anticipating the wreath being lit in church. Nary a wreath or Jesse Tree in my childhood home. But I still remember that sense of anticipation and quiet waiting just from that one day a week.

  • Read The Nativity illustrated by Julie Vivas as your Advent read this year….the kids will love, you’ll see yourself with the BVM smilesmile Enjoy this wonderful season…aptly a season of parousia/the beginning of presence or arrival smile))))

  • Melanie, big hugs. This is one of those times when you have to put blinders on and focus on your family needs and limitations. My pregnancies were high risk and my second was born on the feast of St. Lucy (but he’s named after the bishop saint the week before). I hardly did anything before or after his birth (I do c/s, also, and I take a while to recover.)

    But, in my memory, I felt closer spiritually to the first Advent with Our Lady, than any other year. You are doing the greatest work imitating Our Lady!

    Plus I think what you listed is just perfect. I try to keep things at a minimum. If it looks like a lot, it’s because I set things in motion other years and my boys keep them running, but I’m not planning new things.

    Advent is a SEASON of preparing. That consoles me—I’m trying to finish our reading plans so my son has direction, but otherwise, I’ll take some time to get in gear and we’ll keep progressing slowly. I’ve had a few things I’ve been juggling here, including upside down main floor because of painting, travel, and my father getting sick last week. Today my plans for working on cleaning the living room were burst when Dave decided to clean the garden and yard. Instead of balking, I kept the song “People Look East” in my head. It needed to be done, and this was the opportunity. Plans can wait—family time outside was pressing.

    Oh, and about me having conversations on blogs…yours and Jenn’s are about the only places I do have them! I know it’s because I feel like your blogs are cozy corners of the internet and you are so like-minded. I really love your perspective!

  • No, you’re not- my husband is just super-concerned about fire hazards.

    We have these completely amazing Advent calendar boxes my step-MiL made for the kids last year- they’re paper cubes covered in little drawers. She teaches scrapbooking classes and is very crafty. We’ve got them stashed and I should pull them out tonight and fill them. I like the idea of putting little notes in them day by day but probably lack the discipline to coerce the children.

  • Our children are about as opposite to calm and even-tempered as it’s possible to get, so anything that enters the house has to be checked for- how can they use it to kill each other?- before it passes muster. I have PTSD still from watching Nathaniel take the palm branch given to him and hit his one-week old baby brother with it repeatedly. On the head. Now it’s more even, since they’re two and four, but the carnage continues.