Thursday, February 25, 2010

The dog is a blur: the nature of family photographs

Family picnic 1970s
My first attempt at scanning pictures.  

On the back of this photograph is a note in my Great-Grandmother's handwriting: "Out for picnic with families; Tom strumming his guitar."

The gal with the pigtails in the back is my mother, with Grandma N.  Aunt Carol, Mom's sister-in-law, is lounging on the chair.  That dog is probably either Uncle Randy's or Uncle Tom's.  Mom had 3 brothers, one of whom is the cool hipster with the guitar.

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures that I've excavated while "shopping" in Grandma's house.

Bloggy friends part II

While we're on the subject of bloggy friends, my biblical scholar friend has a blog It's all Greek (and Hebrew...and Aramaic and...) in which she shares her adventures on getting a Masters in Biblical Studies.  In this post, she ruminates on the meaning of Eden.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2000 years in 3 months

I have finished reading Rebecca Fraser's excellent book "The story of Britain: from the Romans to the present."

I am bereft.  What will I read on my Saturday mornings?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Adventures involving snowy trails, icy conditions, and one very large animal

Anglin Falls
Last Monday, after a huge* snowfall in central Kentucky and the closing of both of our schools, J. and I decided to take a winter hike.  We decided on Anglin Falls, a 75 foot waterfall nestled in the secluded John B. Stephenson Memorial Forest State Nature Preserve in Rockcastle County. 

Our drive along the backroads outside Berea illustrated all too well why so many counties in Kentucky close, even after the slightest bit of snowfall (something I, a Northerner, tended to snicker at when I first moved down here).  Steep and winding roads, shaded by trees and steep ravines, makes for some very slick driving conditions.  J. learned, ironically enough, that the best way to go down a steep ice-covered road is to keep moving.  After making the mistake of touching the brakes, the truck wound up in the ditch and seemed determined to return there even after being pulled out by a gracious gentleman.

We made it to Anglin Falls after this little adventure and had a nice little hike up to the icebound falls.
Jon in front of Anglin Falls
It started snowing again while we were up there.  Fat snowflakes filled the air, like a pillow fight gone amok.  Our noses turned red.
Us at Anglin Falls
When we made it back to our truck, we noticed the neighbor's cat, which seemed quite comfortable in spite of the slashing wind and snow, owing to its ample girth.  If you are curious to see just how enormous it was,you can look at the large version of this photograph.
Cat that lives nearby

*for Kentucky

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How many hobbits can there be?

Just found a delightful website containing a collection of all the incarnations of the book "The Hobbit."  Visit Babel Hobbit to discover more.

Different aspects of time

I wonder what it would be like to experience time this way.  What recollections I have of my early childhood are a few fleeting, vivid impressions that make no sense.
Prior to the age of five, children appear to experience time in a different manner. They are perfectly capable of "forgetting" events that they experienced a minute ago, as well as their mental state when the experience occurred. They seem to think associatively, closer perhaps to the hypnagogic state that one drifts into just before falling asleep, than to one that is ordered around a timeline with a past, present, and future.

Gopnik attempts to penetrate what this different form of consciousness is like. She describes a "false belief" experiment in which children see a closed candy box that, in fact, is filled with pencils:

The children are understandably both surprised and disappointed by this discovery. But then we asked what they thought was in the box when they first saw it. Although they had discovered the truth with great surprise only moments before, they still said that they had always known the box was full of pencils. They had entirely forgotten their earlier false belief.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nice things for the pack

"He still hopefully carried some of his gear in his pack: a small tinder-box, two small shallow pans, the smaller fitting into the larger; inside them a wooden spoon, a short two-pronged fork and some skewers were stowed; and hidden at the bottom of the pack in a flat wooden box a dwindling treasure, some salt."
p. 330, The Two Towers

One of the reasons I'm enjoying this re-reading of Lord of the Rings is because I can immerse myself more thoroughly in the characters' experience, having gone in the 'wild' myself with nothing but a pack and a sturdy pair of shoes*.  I thoroughly empathize with Sam Gamgee's sentiments over some of the contents of his pack.  While you're in the woods (thankfully nowhere near as bleak as as the outskirts of Mordor), you quite literally carry everything you need on your back. And sometimes more.

Being far from the comforts of home and running water, your perspective shifts.  You realize that, in the woods, some things are nice to have, but not essential. Forget your spoon? Eat with your fingers. Forget your hat? You'll be shivering (or, like me, feeling cold as death). Other things are essential. Forget your water sterilizer? You're in trouble. Forget your second pair of socks?  Blisters will make those miles between you and your next shelter feel like an eternity.

Little wonder that we obsessively pack and re-pack.

Everything we packed

*just a few days at the time, mind you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Foreign languages

A post I wrote during the conference, then forgot to publish: 

Sign language is another language, and I'm re-learning this fact the hard way: I have a headache from 2 days in the company of interpreters.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The ways of Monk

Monk has settled into our household quite thoroughly. 

So far, he has managed to:
  • get on top of just about every surface in the house.  You would think the tops of the kitchen cabinets (at least 4 feet from the countertops) are pretty inaccessible, but not to this lanky daredevil
  • make a toy of anything not tied down (we quickly learned to hide jewelry, pens, and any other oddment)
  • investigate every last accessible square inch of the house, and some not so accessible spots: one day I spotted Monk draped over the handlebars of J.'s bike, hind-legs dangling, as if that precarious spot was his latest hangout
  • make his presence known, such as walking on the keyboard while I'm working on the computer

Dimensions of space

I was taken aback by the appearance of one of my interpreters at the conference I attended last week.  He looked like an young ex-Marine, like someone who would star in "Die Hard" or some other similar action-adventure flick.  He arrived wearing a black skull cap, black cargo pants, and a plain grey shirt (the better to slip in and out unnoticed, perhaps). 

True to his appearance, his signing style was very crisp, contained within a tight square of space directly in front of his torso. I'm sure if I measured the angles of the space he kept his hands within, I would have discovered sharp 90 degree angles.  All the library jargon bandied about at the conference didn't faze him (though I did catch the occasional raising of the eyebrow at the other interpreter), and I was impressed at the seamless flow of information from his ears to his hands. 

The wonders never cease.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Emma and the yellow room

PBS currently has the first two episodes of Emma posted online.  I took advantage of this to take some screenshots of especially interesting scenes.

I'm drawn to this room. I don't particularly want to decorate my house this way, but there's something about the color scheme and abundance of paintings that attracts me at a deep, soothing level.  

This is the dress I would like my seamstress extraordinaire friend to make for me.