Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Five: Seasons Change...

ReverendMother at RevGalBlogPals said:
It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States, also known as Summer's Last Hurrah. So let's say goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn. (People in other climes, feel free to adapt as needed.) 1. Share a highlight from this summer. (If you please, don't just say "our vacation to the Canadian Rockies." Give us a little detail or image. Help us live vicariously through you!) Image at right is The Four Seasons I by Pham An Hai (More info here)
For my birthday, we took a ride on the Casco Bay Lines ferry to Great Diamond Island. It was a beautiful day to be out on a boat. I don't do boats myself, but I have always liked being on them.

Here is a picture taken from the deck of the ferry.

2. Are you glad to see this summer end? Why or why not? Yes and no. I do like fall the best, so in that sense yes (we have had some pretty muggy weather now and again). On the "no" side, there's what my father always used to say: "Summer's gone and nawthin' done." Too often I feel I haven't accomplished as much as I had planned and this summer is no exception.

3. Name one or two things you're looking forward to this fall.
Cooler weather! Fall colors! Possibly a visit from a friend or two, and a weekend outing with Onkel Hankie Pants and without the dog!

4. Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another? (Cleaning of house, putting away summer clothes, one last trip to the beach)
Putting away summer clothes and getting out the fall/winter is a much easier task now that I have a huge closet in the guestroom where I can hang things.

5. I'll know that fall is really here when __a majority of the leaves have changed color (a tree across the street is already turning yellow and dropping leaves!)________________________________.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another one of those crazy blog things

You Are a Purple Crayon

Your world is colored in dreamy, divine, and classy colors.
You hold yourself to a sky high standard, and you are always graceful.
People envy, idolize, and copy you without realizing it. You are an icon for those who know you.
And while it is hard to be a perfectionist, rest assured it's paying off!

Your color wheel opposite is yellow. While yellow people may be wise, they lack the manners and class needed to impress you.
What Color Crayon Are You?

I don't know what happened here. Purple crayons are great, and there's even a book about them. But I don't really see myself in this description.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Friday Five, One Day Late (Again)

Sally over at RevGalBlogPals posted the following; I’m a day late, but then, I’m not yet an official RevGalBlogPal.

I have spent the week at Summer School studying the Gospel and Western culture, we have looked at art, literature, music, film and popular culture in their myriad expressions. With that in mind I bring you the cultural Friday 5.

Name a

1. Book
The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis. For several years after confirmation, I was not at all sure about God, and when I became a little surer about God, I was still not sure about Jesus Christ. Then I read this book and found a Christ I could believe in. The Incarnation is very important to me; although I do believe Jesus is fully human and fully divine, I would give up the latter before the former if forced to do so.

2. Piece of music
Hymns in general are the music that helps and challenges me spiritually. One that runs through my head a lot for some time now is "Great Is Your Faithfulness." “Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed your hand has provided.” I have so much to be thankful for and this helps to remind me.

3. Work of art
I’m going to “cheat” on this one as Songbird did, and use a theatrical performance. In 1991, Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis produced The Nightingale, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story and featuring noted Twin Cities gospel singer Robert Robinson as the Nightingale. As a Christmas present, I asked that our whole family attend. It was a transcendent evening of theatre, not least because we five enjoyed it together; Robinson’s voice, the costumes and sets, everything worked together; and the story has a lot to say about what’s real and what’s not, an important spiritual lesson. (If you follow no other link in this post, do the Robert Robinson one and watch the video.)

4. Film
The first one that comes to mind is one of the first films I saw on my own in a movie theater. (I saw a lot with my brother when I was younger, but around age 12 or 13 I was going to the movies by myself in Milford, CT). It’s not, apparently, available on VHS or DVD, but if you ever see it listed in a TV schedule be sure to watch it. It’s called Hand in Hand, the story of a little Catholic boy and a little Jewish girl who become friends. I don’t know quite why this film has stuck in my mind so long, but it seems to have the same effect on others. Its message of religious tolerance and, by extension, acceptance of our many differences, would be as important now as it was then.

5. Unusual engagement with popular culture
I don’t know how unusual this is, but…a few years ago there was a choral music series at the University of Minnesota that we got tickets for, and the first in the series was The Blind Boys of Alabama. Now, although I like all kinds of music, my general practice in worship is pretty sedate. At, say, a Pentecostal service, I would normally feel about as out of place and self-conscious as I did at pep rallies in high school. But toward the end of the concert, the Blind Boys were wailing and strutting and jumping up and down (and some of the ones jumping were probably in their 70s) and that audience of Scandinavians and Germans and Anglo-Saxons, Lutherans and Episcopalians and Unitarians, were all on our feet, not just standing but bouncing up and down, and folks, we had church. A peak experience.

That have helped/ challenged you on your spiritual journey.

Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
I’d say yes, just because I like making connections (there will be more about this when I get to “c” in my alphabet) and because, if faith means something, it needs to be present not just in worship on Sunday but in every part of our lives.

A is for Austen

The summer I was ten years old, I signed up for the Summer Reading Program at the Mary Taylor Memorial Library in Milford, Connecticut. The standard was to read ten books. Nine of them I don't remember, but somehow -- whether by sheer luck or a librarian's suggestion I don't recall -- the tenth was Pride and Prejudice. I suspect I became a Janeite on the first page. I've now read all the volumes in The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen several times, have seen many film and TV adaptations, and even attended a meeting of The Jane Austen Society this past winter. One of my daughters is named (in part) for an Austen character.
When I am reading Jane Austen, I do not have the feeling that I'm reading "a classic" in the sense of something that's good for me even if I'm not enjoying every word; no, though I know that each book will end, as the films invariably do, with the appropriate wedding, I am drawn along by the story, charmed by the insights into human character, made to chuckle at the caricatures of the less admirable denizens of the English village. I've never studied Austen's work in an academic setting and am not sure I'd want to. I read her for fun.
Yesterday I had a chance to see the film Becoming Jane. (The Jane Austen Society website linked above has a nice little discussion of the film's historical accuracy.) I thought the film was believable and truly evoked the society that Austen's work detailed so carefully. I'd recommend it.
One of my college roommates picked up Pride and Prejudice for the first time during our junior year. After a few pages she put it down, because, she said, she couldn't stand to read a book where husband and wife addressed each other as "Mrs. Bennet" and "Mr. Bennet." Please, gentle reader, do not make her mistake. Enjoy the look at the mores of a long-ago society, but also let yourself see the constants in human nature which Jane Austen described so well. Read some Jane Austen soon!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A is for Addendum

Here is a photo I located too late to scan for yesterday's post. In it, I'm wearing the WAC summer uniform with my Interpreter brassard (the black thing on my left arm) and the then-newly-authorized black beret. I have two ribbons. One is the National Defense Service Medal, which everyone who served during certain periods received (I had thought the Cold War, but in fact they stopped awarding it in 1974 and resumed in 1990) after a minimal time in service. The other is a bit more unusual for 1972-73. It is the Army of Occupation Medal (Germany), and the only way to get one after May 1955 was to be assigned to Berlin. As they kept reminding us, "Berlin is unique!" (Sometimes, alas, they would say "very unique.")

The reason I was in Berlin with an Interpreter brassard is that I was, for about 14 months in 1972-73, a Russian interpreter on a US Army train traveling overnight from West Berlin to West Germany. To hear more about this, you will have to stick around till I get to the letter "B".

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A is for...

Celeste is doing this , and I thought I would too. If I have anything else to report or opine on, there will just be extra posts. And some letters may need more than one post, so it may take more than 26 days to finish!

A is for Army.

I am both an Army brat and an Army veteran. My father had joined the 240th Coast Artillery of the Maine National Guard at 16, and in 1940 President Roosevelt Federalized it along with a number of other units. Daddy served through the war, and was called up again in 1950, when we (my mother and I) accompanied him to Fort (then Camp) Stewart, Georgia . Here is a photo of him, taken September 1950 at Fort Gordon, GA (I think Camp Stewart was not ready yet, according to the history. I'm not sure, but I think Mama and I took the train down to Camp Stewart and joined him there).

Subsequent assignments took him to Fort Hancock, NJ, and unaccompanied to Japan and Korea. It was probably at about this time he decided to make the Army a career. We also lived at Fort Sill, OK; Fort Bliss, TX; Wiesbaden, Germany; and in Milford and Fairfield, CT, while he was a National Guard advisor in Bridgeport. His last assignment was with the VII Corps Engineers in Stuttgart, Germany.

Shortly after college graduation, I found myself back in Maine with no definite plans for the future. My sister, four years younger, was in the same boat. We decided to call the recruiter, and before we knew it we were on our way to WAC Basic Training at Fort McClellan, AL – she with a guarantee for medic training at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, and I with one for Russian language school at DLIWC. I’ve mentioned before the results of my Army experience (see June 25 blog post). I can also report that it’s really true that Basic Training will put you in the best shape of your life. Here is a photo of me upon completion of Basic Training. I might add that both The Medic and I were promoted to Private (E-2) at graduation, so we started out with a stripe on each of our sleeves. (Given that we were graded not only on paper tests, but physical training, marching skills, and keeping our bunks and lockers neat, I feel this is still one of my greatest achievements!)
How has this experience affected my worldview?

  • I tend to bristle when anyone makes blanket statements about “the military mind.” The military is made up of a lot of different people with differing ideas and experiences.
  • I firmly believe we should have some kind of National Service for young people, with the military as one possible option. The generation which is now in the 18-26 age group is actually doing a lot of national and international service on their own, but it would be nice if it could be recognized and rewarded. And no one should be exempt except the most profoundly disabled.
  • I enjoy military history and historical fiction, probably more than most women. The Sharpe series is one of my favorites.
  • I’m puzzled by the complaints of some military brats and wives. I had a fine childhood with many experiences and opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. Having to make new friends at each of the nine schools I attended from grades 1-12 helped me overcome enough of my natural introversion to function in society (see August 13 post).
  • And where else would I have learned this song?
1)The biscuits in the army
They say are mighty fine,
But one rolled off the table
And killed a pal of mine.
(cho)OOOOh, I don't want no more of army life.
Gee, but I want to go home.
2)The coffee in the army
They say is mighty fine.
It's good for cuts and bruises
And tastes like iodine.
3)The chicken in the army
They say is mighty fine,
But one jumped off the table
And started marking time.
4)The uniforms they give you,
They say are mighty fine.
Me and my battalion
Can all fit into mine.

(I got this from the Mudcat Café , from a person whose stepfather had learned it in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, so I suspect it goes back at least to WWI. I edited the last verse to reflect what I remember.)

Or these:
Duty - WAC Song
(Tune: Col. Bogey March words by Major Dorothy E. Nielsen, USAR)
Duty is calling you and me,
We have a date with destiny,
Ready, the WACs are ready,
Their pulse is steady,
A world to set free,
(it goes on but I don't recall singing the rest)

Song of the Women’s Army Corps
If the task at hand is an Army command
And the deadline is zero hour,
If the way is rough and the odds are tough
And the need is for all our power,
And if everyday brings a challenge your way,
No matter what the score,
Count the mission won, for the job will be done

Pallas Athene, Goddess of Victory
History tells your story brave,
And our own Statue of Liberty,
Shows what we’ve sworn to save!

Shout the word around, let the echo resound
On every distant shore,
Whether peace or war, there’s a need evermore,

(For more songs, go here. Yes, we actually sang these in Basic Training.

I have a couple more “A” things to post about, but it's getting late, so more anon.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My States Visited Map

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

I'm reasonably sure about Arkansas and Missouri, since I remember driving through the Ozarks with my family on our way from Texas to Maine via Norwalk, Ohio (where my aunt and uncle lived at the time) in early 1955. It's possible I may have visited New Mexico while we lived in El Paso, Texas; I'm just not sure. Actually I think I'm going to make another one that shows states I've actually lived in, which will be perhaps more impressive.

create your own visited states map

Well, it's not THAT impressive, but it's more realistic than states visited -- for instance -- I have visited South Carolina several times, but North Carolina only as a drive-through in early childhood. Except for Minnesota, all the states were lived in before age 25. Since then, just Minnesota and Maine.

A Quiet Day and a Clean Dog

Yesterday, on his way to work at Big Map Company, Onkel Hankie Pants dropped Rusty off at the Doggie Daycare in L.L.Beanport. I had a day without dog-walking, barking, scratching, or squirrel-spotting. It was nice! I got some laundry done (without worrying about the dog getting into the basement where the cat is), went to the library, out to lunch, and to get my hair cut (observe! no annoying hair down the back of the neck -- of course, the weather is cooling down now. The Knitsgirls will be pleased to know that I made an appointment for my next cut on October 2)

without worrying about how long he could stand his crate, and made 26 servings of peach cobbler for the Tedford Shelter without having to pacify Rusty with peaches.
And, he came back a clean dog, as we had instructed the carers to give him a bath! He smelled lovely and looked very pretty too. Here are some photos showing his nice clean hair before he decides to dig in the lawn and dirty himself again:
A tired dog is a good dog, usually, and he still seems tuckered out today, although he's had his usual long walk with Onkel H. first thing, as well as a walk around the block with me at 9 am or so. When he arrived home, I had no idea where the cat was. I had brought Heidi upstairs under protest from her, and by the time I returned from the library she was nowhere to be seen. Well, it turned out she was hiding under my chair in the living room, and Rusty's inestimable tracking skills found her fairly quickly. There ensued several minutes of barking, jumping, and burrowing on his part, and growling, hissing, and batting on her part, until Rusty was put in his crate just long enough for me to extract Heidi and return her to her underground home. I don't know what we are going to do about this situation. Heidi got her name because she hid for the first week we had her, and was only slowly becoming a more affectionate cat when we introduced Rusty into the home. She doesn't like this. Rusty is interested in other cats that we see on our walks, but if they sit calmly and look at him, he will just point at them and wag his tail. I think her immediate angry reaction to his presence may have poisoned any chance of a relationship for them. Heidi is also gaining weight so I suppose we should limit her food, but then there will be complaints, which will cause Rusty to bark and try to get through the door, floor grates, laundry chute, or any other way he can think of to reach her. Advice welcome!
Today will be a long day of dog care, as Onkel H. has a 7:30 performance and won't be coming home between Yarmouth and Lewiston. I'm thinking my chief task today should be tidying my desk.

You think? By the way, the wallpaper on my computer is of a painting by Robert Spear Dunning, a distant cousin who was part of the Fall River School of artists in the 19th century. I am using the catalog from Daedalus Books to see which of the books I am interested in are available at the Curtis Memorial Library or through Minerva, our state interlibrary loan system. I think it will soon be time for another Book Diet month, maybe October (a month in which I don't take books out of the library or buy books, but only read books I already have, in an attempt to clear some of the To Be Reads off my shelves.)
It's a beautiful day today, and I'm sure Rusty and I will take a few more walks before the day is over. he has a very good memory for places where items of interest to him occur -- a tree where he saw a squirrel, a house where a cat lives, and our neighbor's rosebushes which are covered with rosehips at this season. Rosehips are one of the many fruits he enjoys, and he has an amazing ability to extract the rosehip from the thorny branch it's on with no apparent injury to himself. (I can't! Not without gloves anyway.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rusty and I Go to the Farmers' Market

Yes, after nearly two months of fobbing you all off with occasional webquizzes and such, I’m really blogging today. I hope to be more intentional about this now that the Dog Days are over (I mean the hot hot days of July and early August, nothing to do with Rusty.)

Today was one of the days that the Brunswick Farmers’ Market is in business on the Mall. For those of you who have never been here, the Mall is what Brunswick calls the green stretch in the middle of downtown that in other New England towns is often the Green or the Common. (We have a Town Commons as well, it’s more woodsy and a place for hiking and such.) Two hot dog stands have been set up there since time immemorial, and there are park benches and a gazebo. On Tuesdays and Fridays from May till Thanksgiving there is also a local Farmers’ Market.

I’ve been meaning to take Rusty down there ever since we got him, but was a little nervous about his manners. They were not perfect today, but I was able to keep him from eating all the produce (he is very fond of fruit and vegetables and will eat radishes, rose hips, bananas, etc. with alacrity and no apparent ill effects.) As usual he made many new friends, both canine and human, and was much admired. He scored a green bean and two apples, and a tiny squash when we got home. It was also a long enough walk (1 ½ to 2 hours all told, much of which was wandering about the market stalls) that he was quiet for about 5 hours after we got home.

Here is a picture of some of the gorgeous local stuff I bought.

I bought more potatoes than that, of course. I asked about the onion tops on the beautiful red onions, and was told that some people cut them up and put them in salads ( much like scallions, just a bit bigger). So I may try that.

I can’t show you the sweet corn because I ate it for supper, along with a sliced tomato sprinkled with sugar (the way my Grampie used to eat them). I want to make a ratatouille with the eggplant, tomatoes, onions and squashes, and I may have to wait till Friday when there’s another market because the exigencies of keeping Rusty under control made me forget to get garlic, green pepper and basil, all of which were on offer. Note the size of the blueberries if you can see them – they are wild Maine blueberries, not the giant-size cultivated ones. I had a few on some Gifford’s French Vanilla ice cream with a little maple syrup. Probably I will make some blueberry muffins as well.

Some time ago I mentioned that Onkel Hankie Pants is appearing as Sitting Bull in Annie Get Your Gun in Lewiston. The show is midway through its run now. The last weeks of rehearsal, as reported by Onkel H,, put me in mind of a Cole Porter song, “Another Op’nin’, Another Show” from Kiss Me Kate. And so did the preview, which I saw last Thursday:
“Four weeks, you rehearse and rehearse,
Two weeks, and it couldn’t be worse,
One week, will it ever be right?
Then out of the hat comes that big first night!”
I’ll be seeing it again on Friday evening with my brother, sister-in-law and their son. Good times!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Whaddya know?

I found this on another blog -- that person came out as Watership Down, which is a book I have at least read. Now that I have a fan in my office, I will start blogging in earnest again tomorrow, I promise!

You're Ulysses!

by James Joyce

Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared
to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do
understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once
brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in
the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you
additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.