Friday, April 25, 2008

Yellow Is the Color of Spring

Some people may say it's green, but I say yellow. Unexpected bits of yellow crop up all over the place and lift my heart each time. Like this: the first dandelions at our back steps!
Or this, just happened to be the first group of many I saw on this morning's dogwalk:
And then there was this, what I've been waiting for, by the library:
If you have some time, you can listen to some of the songs that run through my head at this time of year when I see these sights:

And he also sang this one - a shoutout to SonShineIn who used to drink this stuff!

For some reason I associate this next song with Glenn Yarbrough of the Limeliters, but apparently it was the Brothers Four's hit. And, very popular in Asian folk circles if you check out the "related videos" section. But here's a nice woman singing it with pretty pictures:

Sometimes it's poems that run through my head. Here's a musical version of one; it's a little unusual for a setting of Shakespeare but I think he would have liked it, it has the right sort of rowdy sensibility.

(For the words, go here.)
And there's that other William, Wordsworth.
I searched for a poem on forsythia and found this wonderful item.
Dandelions will have to wait.

Friday Five: Modern and Post-Modern

Singing Owl at RevGalBlogPals remarks:

Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on.

As for the questions!

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live without?
Well, it's not that modern but I don't think the ancient Romans had them -- eyeglasses! Electric lights are nice too. And running water of some kind with a way to heat it. And, of course, the printed word.
Everything else is gravy. I have lived without indoor plumbing, central heating, electronic entertainment, and the Internet. While I wouldn't choose to give them up, I could live without them. I have (briefly) lived without running water and I'd just as soon not, although a simple pump like my grandmother had when I was little had its charms, and a wood stove could heat the water. Again, I'm not volunteering for the pump and woodstove, but I could deal if it came to that. But without my glasses, I'd be a danger to myself and others, and no books? Ouch!

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day?
Car alarms.
I've never heard of one actually foiling a break-in or theft, but they certainly are annoying when they malfunction in the middle of the night (or really anytime.) I don't even like the little "toot" when someone remotely locks his/her car doors, as I always think someone is honking at me.

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If so, do you use it (them)?
Well, if you don't count the radio...we have one CD boombox that also plays cassette tapes, which has proved useful fairly recently for Onkel Hankie Pants' musical rehearsals. Also, we have some cassettes recording family talks or performances. I wish I still had a recordplayer, but I just had a vinyl record transferred to CD for $5 so I guess I can live without it.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something else?
Definitely a mix. Global climate change: really scary. Improved communications: exciting. Social changes: increased acceptance of GLBT people, exciting. Increased fearfulness of parents resulting in over-programmed, nature-deficient children: scary. And I could go on and on.

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain? Bonus points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process.
My mother grew up on a dairy farm, and my father in a fishing community - rural areas with no electricity. Life was not always easy, and they certainly enjoyed the comforts and convenience that technology brought them when they grew up. But they also learned a lot of skills and, I think, developed a closeness to nature and a sense of their place in it that many of us have lost or never had. Now, economics and a desire for a more sustainable life may be driving us to relearn some of those skills, to understand why fresh strawberries in December or blueberries in May maybe aren't such a great idea, to think a little about what we could do without if we had to. Even this craze for knitting that Cordeliaknits and Sisterknits have developed is part of this new Zeitgeist, I think. Maybe it's not too late even for me to learn some new skills!

Or for those who prefer a more classical vein:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What Would Jesus Drive?

I don't know. But God drives a Ford Focus. It's not a hybrid, but probably gets pretty good mileage. God has the "vanity" license plate "IMWHOIM," [Exodus 3:14] -- that's how I knew it was God's car. Also, the bumper sticker "I put snow in its place" [Job 38:22, Psalm 147:16, Psalm 148:8].

God also has some ambivalent feelings about schnauzers, if we are to believe the other bumper sticker, which has two schnauzers, one dressed as a devil and one as an angel, with the legend "Naughty and Nice."

God eats locally sourced, organic Mexican food, as the restaurant that serves it is where I observed God's car a few minutes ago. Unfortunately I was walking the dog and didn't have my camera along.

And God lives in Midcoast Maine. But you knew that, right?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Photo Update

Just a quick post of a few photos I took on Friday, showing that spring is indeed coming to Maine!
Believe it or not, this is what our new outside thermometer showed on Friday afternoon around 3:20. It's on the west side of the house, so possibly sun was shining on it in some way that distorted the reading. The computer said it was 65 at the same time, but it felt closer to 80 to me and Rusty.
Here is how blue the sky is a lot of the time these days. (The computer also said it was "partly cloudy," I don't know where they get their readings.)
Remember a while back I posted a photo of some green shoots with a plastic cake box next to them? Well, the cake box is gone and here is how the green shoots are doing -- there will be flowers soon! There are actual daffodils blooming elsewhere in town now, and even a few varieties of tulips. Ours are still just green leaves but we now have faith that they will bloom in time. They just aren't in as sunny or sheltered a location.
Now it's time to get ready for church. No boots needed!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday Five: Twenty-Four Hours (24 hours later)

Rev HRod at RevGalBlogPals remarks:

Yesterday I had the 24 hour flu. I had been told by the people who had it first that it really was a twenty-four hour bug. And so while I dealt with all the blech of the flu, I kept reminding myself that morning would come and I would feel a lot better.

This is certainly a strange way to start out a Friday Five but it made me think about what I might like to do if I knew it would only last for 24 hours. There are no reality boundaries to these imaginings. So here are the five things for you to consider...
  1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do?
  2. This might be cheating because it's not just "appearance," but I'd like to go back to the body I had 37 years ago. I don't think I appreciated it sufficiently at the time.
  3. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go? Almost anywhere except Las Vegas or Orlando. (Or Atlantic City I suppose). There are so many interesting places! But maybe just for 24 hours I'd like to go to the Ruzizi Valley in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where my nephew's organization is building a sustainable village (

  4. You get to do somebody else's job for a day... And does this mean I'd be competent at it too? Then, I'd like to work as an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control. Though I have no talent or training for it, epidemiology has always fascinated me and I will always read books about it. It would be fun to see what the work is like from the inside.

  5. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space... Initially I thought about just going back to when one of my children was small -- 3 or 4 years old perhaps. But then I'd have to choose which one. So now I say, pick an ancestor - any ancestor. I enjoy ferreting out the details of their lives but there is only so much that's in the records. Perhaps my great-great-grandparents during their brief sojourn in southeastern Minnesota -- why did they leave?

  6. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick? This one was mentioned as a "futuristic" technology in some Friday Fives a few weeks back -- teleportation! I'd love to be able to visit my children and friends who live far away without the expense and downright misery of airline travel these days. (Not to mention I could come back the same way and sleep in my own bed!)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Five: Moving

Mother Laura at RevGalBlogPals shares this wonderful video of The McGarrigle Sisters (a personal favorite with Auntie Knickers)

and says:

We are right in the middle of a move--only twenty minutes away, but we're still a mix of busy, excited, nervous and surprisingly full of grief about what we're leaving, for me at least. So this week's Friday Five asks about your experience of the marvels and madness of moving...

1. How many times have you moved? When was the last time?
Um - you're not going to believe this -- I come up with 36 moves. Only ten of them have been since I was married, so Onkel Hankie Pants appears to have brought some stability to my life. The Army career of my father and the usual migrations of college students account for the rest.

2. What do you love and hate about moving?
I love the new beginning, the finding out about a new place, a chance to start over. I hate leaving people behind.

3. Do you do it yourself or hire movers?
Since I have been responsible for it myself, it's always been ourselves and friends -- though the last two moves we did hire some younger people to do some of the heavy lifting. When I was younger the Army paid for movers.

4. Advice for surviving and thriving during a move?
Divest yourself of excess stuff BEFORE the move.
Label the boxes so you'll know what's in them, especially the ones with things you'll need right away.
Think positively and relax.

5. Are you in the middle of any inner moves, if not outer ones?

Bonus: Share a piece of music/poetry/film/book that expresses something about what moving means to you.
The only thing I could come up with was a song by Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band called "Moving Day." It's actually about having to move because you can't pay the rent, but it's upbeat and happyfeeling. Unfortunately I couldn't find a way to share it, but you can buy it on iTunes for 99c. I think the Holy Modal Rounders have also recorded it. It just comes into my head when I think of moving, because it's one of the upbeat songs I think of as "Songs to Clean House By" -- or move boxes by.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What I've been doing, learning, thinking about

It's been several days since I've blogged; also since I've finished a book or posted to my online discussion group, and I have two unwatched DVDs at home as well as a bunch of postponed housework. What is the cause of all this inactivity? I've been dealing with photographs.

I'm scanning, I'm saving, I'm emailing the scanned files from OHP's computer (where the scanner is) to mine; I'm cropping, enhancing, and filenaming as descriptively as possible. Then I'm importing the files into Picasa and creating captions, sorting the photos into folders and albums and uploading Web Albums. (At this point they're all Unlisted, which means only people I invite can see them, since they mostly consist of pictures of other people.) I'm even pinpointing locations with the mapping feature -- who knew Beard's Plaisance was on Google Maps?

In the last few days I've done this with about 500 photographs. I haven't even made a significant dent in the albums and boxes of photos we brought with us (nearly all pre-digital). It's going to take quite a while, and my joints are telling me that I need to do a bit more dogwalking and less computer-sitting. But here's what I've learned and what I've thought about while working on this project:

  • I wish I had done more labeling earlier - like, when the pictures came back from the developer. Names are not too hard for the most part, but dates and places elude me. It's hard for me to look at one of my children and say "He was 5 there" or "She was 3."
  • I wish even more that I had asked my parents and other relatives who are now gone more about the photographs while I had the chance. I have a number of unlabeled photos my father took in Japan and Korea that I'd like to know more about. Finding a group of Korean War vets who served in the same units has been some help, but I wish I would have asked him.
  • How well-documented my children are, compared to me and my siblings, and even more so to my mother and her family! And we didn't even have a video camera! Still, I doubt a month went by without a photo being taken from their births till high school graduation, at least. I have about 6 pictures of my mother up till she became a mother (not even a wedding picture!), and as best I know, just one of my grandmother before her marriage -- and that one I'm not positive about. Part of this is due to economic factors and part, perhaps, to a strain of introversion that runs in the family (and which I've inherited). My siblings and I were photographed fairly frequently during early childhood when either my father was overseas or we were all far away from my parents' families. I have almost no photos of myself in high school or college. I really have to thank Onkel Hankie Pants for taking so many, many photos over the years. I took some too, but my skills were very limited at first.
  • I have three children and, while they share some traits, they are each quite different people. Most of the pictures I've been working with are post-1980 so they feature my daughters a lot. For each of them there is a word that describes their facial expression in photos taken in early childhood -- before they knew how one is "supposed" to look in a picture. I would describe Sisterknits' expression as INSOUCIANT, and Cordeliaknits' as "SELF-SATISFIED" -- and I don't mean that in a bad way. She just seems to be so pleased with herself and her situation in so many of the pictures -- in a more lively way than just contentment. As I move backward through the photos, it will be interesting to see what I think SonShineIn's expression is. Try this at home! Look at pictures of yourself or your children, if you have them, at a young age -- probably 7 is about the upper limit. What is your expression? (I'd have to say mine was "DEMENTED GLEE." See below, my first grade school photo from Coldwell School, El Paso, Texas. It's a bit subdued because it was a school picture, but that wide grin is in nearly every photo.)
  • I was a little surprised that there seem to be more pictures of my kids with their aunt than there are of them with me. I suppose it just seemed that I was around all the time and we didn't think of photographing so many of those moments. Does anyone else have this phenomenon? (By the way, there are probably even fewer of them with their father, since he took so many of the pictures.)
  • I love Picasa. It was recommended by a genealogy newsletter some time ago, but I've only really begun using it fully quite recently. It allows you to organize the photos on your computer into albums (the folders are the same as in My Pictures in Windows) and also to provide captions which have no appreciable length restriction nor any restriction on what characters you can use. Then you can make Web Albums, which can be either Public or Unlisted. If Unlisted, only people you invite can see them. And then, the viewers can leave comments -- corrections, additions, memories, whatever. I think Sisterknits may be right when she says, "In two years, everything will be Google."
  • Although Picasa has some editing capabilities, I am using Paint Shop Pro. Onkel Hankie Pants has version XI and I have version 8, they both work really well. I learn new things about using them every day, because I seem to learn best by trial and error and saying "I wish it would do this" and then finding out that it does, indeed, do this. The last photos I deal with will be better served than the first, but the important thing is getting them all digitized, labeled, sorted and shared.
  • And here at last is the picture I promised. I wouldn't be surprised if my mother made that dress, although I don't remember a lot from that far back.

in justspring

EEEE! Today was the first dogwalk with NO jacket or sweater, and the temperature got up to at least 60 degrees -- in fact it's still that now, according to the computer. Bulbs are growing apace -- our tulips and daffs just have green up, but lots of it, and the people who have crocuses are displaying purple and white beauty all over the place. Streetsweeping happened (about 4:30 am this morning, what's up with that?) so things look much tidier. Before you know it we will be seeing scenes like this:
This photo was actually taken at my parents' house about 28 years ago, probably by Brother #3. I really missed forsythia all the time I lived in Exile. Even though the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum people developed a more hardy variety in 1982, I seldom or never saw any in bloom -- perhaps because I lived in the city and people already had all their shrubbery. Now I enjoy bursts of gold around every corner in forsythia season.

The words titling this post are, of course, from e.e. cummings' poem. Look it up!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Five: Revelation

Sally at RevGalBlogPals has this to challenge us this week:

With this Sunday's gospel reading in mind, that wonderful revelation of Christ to the companions on the Emmaus road. I wonder where you might have been surprised by God's revelation recently.

So with no further waffle I offer you this week's Friday 5:

How has God revealed him/herself to you in a:

1. Book: I haven't been doing a lot of spiritual reading lately, mostly mysteries and some non-fiction dealing with economics (in a fairly superficial way). But one mystery I read was a sort of revelation: Signs in the Blood by Vicki Lane. You can read my full review on or DorothyL but what I didn't mention was this. In the book, the protagonist, a lapsed Episcopalian who hasn't been to church except for weddings and funerals for years, goes with one of her mountain neighbors to a Holiness "signs following" church -- yes, snake-handlers. She doesn't end up joining them, but she does have a revelation that there really is "church" going on here -- not just in the ecstasy but in the prayers and sense of community she observes. It was a good message for one who's sometimes tempted to think that her own way of worship is the best or only way.

2.Film: This is hard too. Lately I've mostly been watching Foyle's War and Due South (TV shows) and while they have many admirable characters, it seems a stretch to call them God-revealers. However, a few weeks ago Onkel Hankie Pants and I watched Elmer Gantry. Did I already blog about this? Anyway, the ambiguity in the character of Elmer Gantry was a big surprise to me, and the character's actions in the last part of the film left me wondering exactly where he was going next. Although the general wisdom seems to be that he went off to perpetrate more religious scams on a gullible public, and this may indeed have been Sinclair Lewis's idea, I wonder. The possibility for redemption is there, and that is a sign of God's work.

3. Song: Last year when I was taking a Bible study on Revelation, I went through my music and made a Revelation Mix playlist of songs referencing that book of the Bible. There are 100 items on it and I don't know for sure that I got them all. (Of course, there are several renditions of I'll Fly Away included.) It's hard to pick a favorite, but in honor of Brunswick's recent CUBA WEEK (our sister city is Trinidad, Cuba) I'll post this video of one of my favorites, My Lord, What a Morning.

4. Another person: My daughter, Sisterknits, reveals God to me over and over in her many phone calls. She has many thoughtful insights about her studies in film and child development and life in general. And, she gave me and her sister a Virtual Easter Basket -- a contribution to help train and equip midwives in Third World countries.

5. Creation: I saw my first robin this morning! (This year, that is.) The return of spring, indeed of every season, reminds me of God's promise to Noah and lifts my heart.

Bonus answer: your choice- share something encouraging/ amazing/ humbling that has happened to you recently! I've been posting reviews of mystery books to DorothyL and goodreads for a while now, and it happens fairly often that the authors of the books will contact me and thank me for a good review, which is humbling - A Published Arthur! Thanking me! -- but recently I've had a couple of other folks also email me that they liked my reviews and that is encouraging.