I was trying to read some book from somewhere, and it just wasn't grabbing me. Can't even remember what it was, but it was tedious. So I put it down and picked up another second-hand Penelope Lively find, Judgement Day. The change was like leaving the listless warm South Carolina ocean of late August and jumping into a bracing New England pond in June. Precise, economical writing, well-defined and sympathetic characters, and immediate psychological suspense. It's just a story of a sophisticated London woman finding engagement in her new home in the seemingly narrow-minded suburbs, trying to help out the local church with its historical pageant. There's an ineffectual parish minister, who is captured at once by Lively's description:
Saturday, December 13
Thursday, December 11
The early part of it, anyway, prime time maybe around 7 p.m.....http://cdn1.ustream.tv/swf/4/viewer.45.swf?cid=317016
Sunday, November 30
Wednesday, November 26
Tater often walks up and down the keys, quite deliberately, I'm sure. It's hard to catch him with the camera, but in this clip, he finally did a descending scale, with a nice resolution -- and then one more note.
Of course, I can't prove to you that he is doing this deliberately. But why else would he walk down the 88 keys, thunderously, then up again, during certain wakeful periods. Of course, you say, he wants to go out! Just open the door!
But because he's a cat he can be perverse and apparently "indecisive." I doubt that a cat is indecisive at all. He's just weighing the odds that, given the cheddar cheese aroma lingering on your fingers from your snack, you will lead him to the kitchen for his own portion. rather than not.
Tater seems to walk deliberately down and up the keyboard. Sweet Pea, on the other hand, steps nimbly and soundlessly along the narrow edge of wood.
Monday, November 17
Sunday, November 16
It's not mild Portland, Oregon, nor is it the colder southern New England, and there are thousands of microclimates here in the southern Appalachians, depending on elevation and aspect. In my little yard in town I have differing zones.. Here's some of what's going on in the sunnier areas these days. In this region we plant fall pansies. They are colorful in the fall and hunker down for the winter then come into their own in the spring.
I got in my car this afternoon and noticed this (the picture is after I got home, so subtract a few). It's hard to read, but Club Members will Get It.
Sunday, November 9
Blame the absence on work, or laziness, or the fact that the cats always try to sit on the keyboard. It's hard to type when you have to balance the laptop on the edge of your knee. It's much easier to just READ. And once in a while I read to the cats. (They love it.) So here are a few booknotes, first on children's books I've read recently. Now that it's a new school year it's time to read this year's Battle of the Books choices. The most recent is Christopher Paul Curtis's Elijah of Buxton. Curtis has been winning awards for his fine historical fiction, and it's not clear why this one was only a Newbery Honor Book, not THE winner. It's also a Coretta Scott King winner.
Tuesday, September 30
Kim Sunee's memoir, Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home, appeared by chance on my lap. Kate found it at the Mars Hill Library and passed it on to me. It's the true story of a young (30-something) woman, born in Korea and abandoned at age three in a market, who is eventually adopted by a New Orleans couple and who, at the time of writing, has ended a domestic relationship with a wealthy Frenchman and is still searching for her true identity and her home. The book is as captivating as a novel because the author writes so well and has a tale to tell. Because Kim or "Keem" --(I call her that because she is so referred to by the people in her life AND because I can't manage the diacritical marks for her family name) loves to cook, the memoir is also suffused with recipes French, Asian, and New Orleanian.
Saturday, September 27
"Dead rock stars are singin' for me and the boys on the Rivet Line tonight. Hendrix. Morrison. Zeppelin. The Dead Rock Star catalogue churnin' outa Hogjaw's homemade boom box. There's Joplin and Brian Jones and plenty of Lynyrd Skynyrd Dead Rock Stars full of malice and sweet confusion. Tonight and every night they bawl. The Dead Rock Stars yowling at us as we kick out the quota."
Tuesday, August 26
Posted by JLH at 8/26/2008
Thursday, August 21
Sunday, August 3
Tuesday, July 29
Wednesday, July 2
At the Oregon Zoo in Portland (accessible by rapid transit from downtown and the suburbs) a child can experience close up creatures of different species. For the city child or for any modern child who doesn't live in the country, such encounters are usually with dogs, cats, minor rodent "pets" that live in little plastic worlds, and if the child is lucky enough an Uncle Milton's Ant Farm. it doesn't take a lot of occasional encounters to let the child know that she shares the air and earth and water with other, interesting creatures.
The Lorikeet exhibit at the Portland Zoo is an outdoor enclosed habitat with double doorways to ensure that the birds stay in. In the anteroom you can buy a cup of nectar for a dollar, and then you walk into the sunny preserve with flowery areas and a path bordered with wooden railings. If you are smart and have listened to the guide (or your parent has listened and passed this wisdom along to you), you stand still by a portion of fence, rest your forearm on the railing, and hold the little cup even and steady. Then you take a deep breath and hold still and wait. Soon a brilliantly colored bird lands on the rail (or on your wrist, if you're tall enough to rest your arm on the railing), holds tight with its feet, little foreclaws and backclaws, looks at you, then bobs its head into your cup. It drinks and drinks, and you hold very still and stare at the bird with wonder.
It doesn't take a lot to make a person aware, but someone needs to create the setting or provide the opportunity -- for the child, and for the child-in-us and for everyone.
Tuesday, July 1
Saturday, June 28
Friday, June 27
he Single Action Shooting Society is an international organization created to preserve and promote the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting™. SASS endorses
regional matches conducted by affiliated clubs, stages END of TRAIL The World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting, promulgates rules and procedures to ensure safety and consistency in Cowboy Action Shooting matches, and seeks to protect its members' 2nd Amendment rights. SASS members share a common interest in preserving the history of the Old West and competitive shooting.
Click here to learn more about SASS Mounted Shooting. Click here for a brief history.
Posted by JLH at 6/27/2008
Wednesday, June 25
When I was a child I colored. I also painted and cut paper and glued and pasted and sometimes taped it together into creations. They were ephemerals, and I've always been since those days the fan but never the artist. I love crayons and colors and hues and intensities and color names and blending and the tactile nature of doing it on paper or whatever -- experiment!. The smell of Crayola crayons is important to my childhood, right up there with pine needles and beach air and low tide and fish parts drying on docks and wood fires. And it's still there, folks. Some visitor asked during my recent visit to the Crayola Factory (which see further on), "Uhh, where does the smell come from?" And the guy said brightly, "Paraffin wax and pigment!" and most of the people were satisfied and went on the the next question. I still don't know where the smell comes from (or maybe how).
I could write every day about crayons. I could have entries for at least a month. They would be alt of fun for me to write, and they would quickly get very boring for my faithful reader(s). But I'll do it anyway, because I like to. Better formatting than handwriting.
The song "64 Different Brilliant Colors" is a brilliant and colorful song with shades and shadows, performed by a pair of young women a decade or two ago. My copy of the original album is on tape.
If you feel like coloring and have a printer nearby, here's a real gem. It gives me a frisson from my childhood, when we could buy a coloring book and if we wanted to duplicate a picture we could trace it with tracing paper (probably produced by Crayola, oh yeah!).
Tuesday, June 24
Nativity of St. John the Baptist~~Midsummer Day
For one week now the length of the days has been 14 hrs. 24 mins., the longest days of 2008. But the sun will continue to set at its latest until July 6, so Tater says, Stretch, breathe, watch the bees and enjoy midsummer.
From William Cullen Bryant:
Go forth under the open sky/And list to nature's teachings.Or observe from your back porch. Tater's Quick Quiz: What do you see in both of these pictures? Look closely.
Jupiter is appearing earlier at night, and the hot humid weather of earlier in the month have gone away, and the days are sunny and showery and nights are cool.
"Perhaps you have felt [the truth of your essential goodness] on some rare day in early summer, when you have been alone in a wood on a blue-bell carpet, and your eyes, wandering to the hedge-wall, have seen it white with may; all around you there has been a silence--a silence that strikes like a blow; and suddenly it ceases to be silence for the birds are singing, and you wonder how long that music has been there without your noticing it. You are right away from the world...."
Ernest Raymond, Through Literature to Life: an Enthusiasm and an Anthology, 1928
Friday, June 20
Tuesday, June 17
Finale: Eating Salmon. Right past this counter at Pike's Place in Seattle I picked out a piece of smoked salmon for my cat-sitter, but I don't have a picture of the fish nor of the poached salmon a couple of weeks later at Jacob's Bar Mitzvah in Allentown, Pa.
Wednesday, June 11
Wednesday, May 28
I'm visiting Zack in Portland for a roomy two weeks, and there's so much to show and tell. Today I want to mention Maya Lin's Confluence Project, a series of installations along the Columbia River, ending at the mouth of the river, where it flows into the Pacific at Ilwaco. Lin agreed to do this project for the 200th anniversary celebration of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Her intention was to show the chosen sites not just as they are now, but in a way that makes the visitor simultaneously inhabit past, present and future. Like the work of the archaeologist or fossil hunter, who draws our attention to the life that has been in a place before us and thereby makes us aware of the continuum of time in landscape, Lin's work here recreates past eras in a living way. These sites are not at all like the "living history" exhibits we can see at the Mayflower replica in Plymouth, Mass., nor even at Washington and Cape Disappointment State Park.Plimouth Plantation, nor the recreations at Old Sturbridge Village or Colonial Williamsburg. Those places have their use in giving us an image of human life in a particular landscape and try as best they can to show what life was like back then. But Lin's goal is more subtle: to show the continuity of human life in a specific location. In preparation for the work at the Cape Disappointment site, work was dune on reclaiming some of the dunes and natural features, and Lin's projects, created out of natural materials simply and subtly show that continuity. Her fish-cleaning table, above, was made out of a slab of basalt, which abounds here, and both reminds us of the Chinook's reliance on fish and provides a working space for fishermen now.
This is what we saw in the bay right off the end of the table.
Here's the site where you can read about the project and see a video of Lin talking about it:
Note: The Chinooks, like so many tribes, were nearly decimated by the arrival of the whites, and were about to gain recognition once more as a tribe at the end of Clinton's presidency. But when Bush came in he denied them this courtesy. I hope that the thinking of the people who commissioned this project and others like it and who encourage similar projects in the schools will prevail in the years to come.
Sunday, May 11
Giant spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, in the Jardin des Tuileries, in a photo of a picture torn from the New York Times and hanging on my fridge
Like the giant polar bear that used to grace my daily commute, this spider delights my soul. I hope she will come to the US. I might go to see her if she does. She's been to London, so maybe D.C.? Unless the President is an arachnophobe...
* in case you expected a wheelbarrow and a chicken, just wait -- they're coming soon.