Friday, January 30, 2009

Terror of all terrors

If I could write a poem like William Butler Yeat's "The Mother of God," I would die happy:

The Mother Of God
by William Butler Yeats

The threefold terror of love; a fallen flare
Through the hollow of an ear;
Wings beating about the room;
The terror of all terrors that I bore
The Heavens in my womb.

Had I not found content among the shows
Every common woman knows,
Chimney corner, garden walk,
Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes
And gather all the talk?

What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,
This fallen star my milk sustains,
This love that makes my heart’s blood stop
Or strikes a sudden chill into my bones
And bids my hair stand up?

Not because of the religious connections, though I don't deny they are there, but because of how the poem combines the sacred and mundane to make the experience more palpable. For another example of this juxtaposition, see my friend D.'s post on an experience he had while at Monemvasia in Greece.

I saw the White Witch's domain

Cabin fever drove us out of our apartment to Jon's folks in Lincoln County. The drive home was eye-opening. It was like driving through a war-zone, in some parts. Branches were scattered everywhere. Entire trees leaned over the roads, creating obstacle courses that the truck weaved around in its rumbly way. Ice clinked against the windows when the truck nudged ice-encrusted branches.

Some houses looked pretty, others were completely obscured by all the branches that had come down in the yard and on top of them--it looked like a winter jungle. We passed one house, a stately white manor house with black shutters, surrounded by trees groaning under the weight of ice and snow, but not one had surrendered yet. They no longer looked like trees, but statutes. Black trunks punctuated the startlingly white scene, interspersed with the cold glitter of ice, and the house itself looked ghostly, as if it was barely hanging on to its semblance. It made me think of the White Witch's lair (don't tell the owners that).

I told Jon, "It's like Narnia: always winter, never Christmas."

Before there were bookmobiles

My friend Abbi wrote about a unique take on the bookmobile: the biblioburro. This made me think in turn of Kentucky's version: the pack horse librarians.

These determined lady librarians and their horses delivered books and other materials to remote homes in eastern Kentucky between 1933 and 1943. Popular books included Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Robinson Crusoe, and popular magazines included National Geographic and Popular Mechanics. Demand for reading material outstripped the number of books available, so the librarians began clipping newspaper articles and recipes, and other odds and ends, to create scrapbooks to loan to the greedy readers. What I found especially moving: the patrons themselves started creating scrapbooks detailing their own recipes and family history and local stories so that these, too, could circulate among their fellow eastern Kentuckians.

The statistics from 1939 tell us that 30 packhorse libraries served 48,195 families on a monthly basis. The libraries had a total of 154,846 books which circulated 889,694 times. This is amazing, considering how remote eastern Kentucky was (and still is).

You can read more about Kentucky's pack librarians at KDLA's website: The "Book Women" of Eastern Kentucky: W.P.A.'s Pack Horse Librarians

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A day in the life of ice

Once again we have been slammed by an ice storm, nearly on the scale of the one in 2003. Jon and I have been holed up in our apartment, enjoying electricity, and Pope is confused by this break in his routine, doing a random hop-skip here, a frenzied gallop into the other room, instead of his normal day-long naps.

I have not been to work since Monday, and will not be back until next Monday. They have already closed campus for the rest of the week. Jon has been off since the beginning of the week, and most likely will be off through the rest of the week.

A big tree branch fell in front of our house onto Jon's car. The funny thing is, we don't think the car is damaged, due to its inch-thick coat of ice.

This morning, we walked to Starbucks for coffee. It was raining, water pooling on top of already-icy roads and sidewalks, slowly freezing. We made the 1/2 mile trek there safely, sans any fall (not for lack of trying on the ice's part). We stayed there for an hour or so, enjoying the warmth, hot coffee, listening to other people chatter about the storm. The rain changed to snow--snowflakes as fat as your thumb tumbling out of the sky--and the temperature dropped noticeably. Believe me, though, it's much better walking in snow than rain.

All the trees along Ashland were drooping with the combined weight of ice and snow. Their heavy branches obstructed the sidewalk, and branches littered the road. We saw more than one homeowner standing in their front yard, staring stupidly at the masses of branches covering their yards or leaning against their houses. It is so white, our camera is confused.

We're starting to go a little stir-crazy in our small apartment. Jon has conquered half of Europe in his "Total War" computer game, or whatever it is. I have already read a book and started another one. The TV has been on non-stop, either for the news or House reruns.

This is one thing about Kentucky I have never grown accustomed to: this propensity for freezing rain and ice.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Circling over the earth

Satellites took some interesting images of the inauguration. The people look like ants. How funny, considering the magnitude of this event in human terms.

Manifesto for the hour

I hope people enjoyed my post about 21 random things, and I hope it makes you think about what you would write if you were tagged (and at least one person reading this has been-you know who you are). Lately, I've been feeling self-conscious about writing blog posts because they're usually about me (obviously). This makes for mostly one-sided conversation, with the exception of comments from mostly one person who lives on the other side of the world, and whose blog I follow and sometimes comment on. While I don't mind writing about myself (I started this blog as a way to let my parents know what's going on with me 8 hours south of them), sometimes I begin to wonder how self-centered I am becoming, how banal my topics, which in turn affects my inspiration. Which is why I have not been posting as much as I would like (my goal was to write at least a little something everyday).

But I hope to turn a new leaf today, in part because I need to keep writing. It keeps the senses sharp.

Monday, January 26, 2009

21 random things

I've been tagged by somebody on Facebook to write 21 random things about myself.

1. I can move my nostrils without moving my face.
2. One of my traditions with my dad is to go see a really bad action/adventure movie, in the hopes of finding one that will dethrone Anaconda as the worst movie ever made.
3. Once I saw the alpacas in the field in front of Maple Hill Manor, I knew I had found the place to have our wedding.
4. Making up for lost time, I devour all the fantasy young adult books I can find. (Yes, I have read Twilight, but, no I am not in love with Edward)
5. I can pronounce "Nicolae Ceausescu" properly, having been to Romania.
6. I dislocated my jaw while eating a baguette beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and my jaw has never healed properly-a constant reminder of my time in France (how awful, I know).
7. I know more about professional cycling, bikes, bike gear, training for the bike, than I ever thought I would, and I don't ride a bike (thanks to Ann Kazee for this!)
8. I have hiked over 30 miles in one weekend.
9. I have a blue t-shirt of my grandpa's that I've been wearing since I was 13 (it's worn quite soft, with a few holes at the collar), and it's one of my most valued possessions, in addition to his old sweater that I nabbed from my parents' shop
10. I've joined the genealogy craze, and I'm barely past one quarter of a century old.
11. Someday, I want to raise goats. Seriously.
12. I never realize how much I rely on lip-reading until I'm talking to people at night.
13. When I go home, I like to snoop through my grandma's stuff and hear her stories about them (she secretly enjoys my nosiness).
14. I couldn't get into Lord of the Rings the first time I tried reading it. Now it's one of my favorite books.
15. I love cheese--the more pungent, the better.
16. There was a time when I thought the Archie comics accurately represented school life.
17. I am an intense homebody, and seriously wish that I could apparate home frequently.
18. Some of my favorite movies include Pride & Prejudice and Die Hard.
19. I wear a machine that cost over $3,000. Besides collecting earwax, it maximizes what little hearing I have left.
20. Being married doesn't keep me from being a cat lady.
21. One of the simplest pleasures in life is sitting with a cup of coffee and reading a good book.

Some grave matters tonight

I've been going through some of my old writings tonight. Here's a poem I wrote while at Asbury (I was inspired by Anna Akhmatova's poem Cleopatra) :

"The Song of Cleopatra"

The asp
is my lover;
his fangs
the gates to paradise.

the sandy sea
stretches away;
I can almost hear
the ocean.

the stones
rise high and higher;
surely the ceiling
grazes the stars.

The smell of Death
is perfume.
I can hear him
around the corner.

The last of my lovers,
he is my match,
for even my allure
he can destroy,
with power greater
than my own.

(Asbury Review, Spring 2002)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cheetah looking up - Cincinnati Zoo

This cheetah is looking right at me. I was mewing, and she responded. Their meows do not match their size--they sound like housecats!

I'm sure she thought I was another stupid person making noises at her, but at least she looked right at me. She ignored everybody else making a ruckus.

When I saw the photograph below in the March 2008 Smithsonian, a memory of a daydream was reawakened. I have it clipped and stuck in a journal. Isn't it strange how daydreams can be, sneaking up on you out of the blue, out of the years, fading away, and returning with the force of the tide? One of my strong memories, and ones that I look forward to making, are walks with my dog(s) (plural for the dogs that we have not yet gotten, but will--they are already named, too: Mitzpah and King George), so seeing this picture of a lady and her cheetah evoked not only my daydream of walking with wild things, but the more domestic memories of my old dog Bear. Daydream and memory fused.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reader, I married him

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

According to this quiz I am not an obsessive-compulsive bookworm, though I think my family and friends would disagree. When the last Harry Potter book came out, I told Jon that I would not exist for the period of time that I was reading that book. He grinned and said, "Sure." I think that's one of the signs that I married well.
If "Settlin' In" is reading this, I am curious to know whether she picked up on the title of this post, given the book that she recently blogged about.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One point in time.

The library where I work invited the campus to watch the inauguration of Obama at the library throughout the day on Tuesday January 20th. The TVs in the lobby were tuned to NBC's coverage of the events, the babble of reporters mingling with the sound of students chattering as they entered the library. In the auditorium, the big screen was lit up with live coverage of the proceedings through CNET.

I ducked in a little before noon to watch Obama as he was sworn in and gave his inagugural speech. The seats were mostly full with students and faculty. The students snickered here and there when the closed-captioning on the screen misspelled words (I pitied the poor people writing the captioning since they were doing it live), so "Barak" sometimes showed up as "rock" or "hindu" was "due", while the faculty were quiet. The room became quite still when Yo-Yo Ma and other musicians performed John Williams' "Air and Simple Gifts" and I noticed for the first time in my life how achingly beautiful a cello sounds, melancholy and inspiring at the same time. We all clapped when Obama finished his oath, and I noticed that no one snickered when the closed-captioning mangled some of Obama's words.

This was a unique experience. We were not physically at the inauguration, yet the sense of community in that room was palpable. Together, we watched history unfold, knowing that we were active participants in the transition of presidential power.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Random observation

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amusing that James Bond, Billy Elliot, and Sabretooth are roughing it in the woods together in the movie Defiance?

Jon on bike

Jon on bike
Originally uploaded by ozimanndias8
Jon took this neat shot of himself on the bike.

Your very own Mr. Darcy

You can purchase the portrait of Mr. Darcy used in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice.

It's kind of like a high-art version of those heart-throb photos I used to tear out of those teeny-bopper magazines back in middle school.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sand cat (maybe) - Cincinnati Zoo

Does this look like it belongs in the zoo?

To give you perspective, this cat is the same size as a housecat.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Jon and I looked at a house that has a butler's pantry. It was nestled in the hallway next to the kitchen, with glass-fronted cabinet doors, drawers with glass knobs, a small counter to set bowls of artfully placed fruit.

This house also had a dark wood banister that ended in a spiral at the bottom, a 9 ft. high foyer with a beautiful entryway, built-in fireplaces, retro bathrooms with subway tiles, and what appeared to have been the original kitchen stove (very cool in its retro-ness, but definitely something to replace).

We're enjoying this aspect of house-hunting, enjoying the pretty details of houses before setting our minds on all the negative features.

Friday, January 09, 2009


Originally uploaded by freerangelibrarian
I have been guilty of "excessive wandering" through the library.

What on earth is this rule about? The only thing I can think of is bored teenagers or the steady stream of homeless folks in the library. But most of the ones I see usually just sit in a corner and read the newspaper or look out the window, enjoying the warmth and safety of the library.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

In the library

I spent some time in the university library on the Saturday after all the students were gone, and the campus was virtually deserted. It was a strange experience walking the stacks, knowing I was probably the only person on the entire fourth floor of the library.

I walked between bookshelves and past bookshelves. I saw the sunlight stream through the arched windows of the fourth floor; it fell on vacant study tables. I paused in the history section, looking for Harry Caudill's Night comes to the Cumberlands and tarried there, distracted by the other books there. The silence was absolute, except for the shuffle of papers as I opened a book, a cough, the whisk of my pants as I walked.

The silence was absolute, but the volume of books filled that gap.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Something to do in your spare time

Do you have any idea the amount of strength it takes to dance like this? Especially the squatting kicks?

Jon and I tried last night. The results were hilarious, however horribly executed.

Monday, January 05, 2009