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October 2007

Posts from September 2007

Her charm and graciousness made people love her


First Holy Communion picture of Katherine and her brother Anthony / Camden, NJ / circa 1914

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of my Grandmother Katherine Elizabeth. My mother describes her as “a genteel and lovely lady -- sensitive, intelligent, insightful, thoughtful, hardworking, and practical.” To honor her memory, today we will light a candle, think a good thought, sing a song or whistle a tune.

The poetry of hands, 20


More Moet please (do you see the flute as being "empty" or simply "waiting to be refilled"?) / Washington, DC / May 2007

Half the fun of drinking champagne is hearing the popping of the cork --€” a sound of celebration and joy --€” and an indication of the effervescence to come. I like drinking champagne from beautiful long-stemmed glasses and I like drinking champagne from paper cups when the occasion calls for it. During the 19th century a champagne cup (pronounced "coupe") with a shallow saucer-shaped bowl became fashionable, so I guess it's good in any kind of vessel. Autumn is the time when the champagne grapes are picked and the fermentation process starts. More champagne please!

May she have freedom soon


Detail of Indian block printing on fabric / April 2007

“May we be completely free from all danger,
may we be completely free from all grief,
may we be completely free from poverty,
may we have peace in heart and mind.”

~ 1000 Buddhist monks chanted this prayer for 15 minutes on Saturday after walking to the home where Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has been imprisoned for 12 years. Armed guards usually block the road, but they allowed the monks and an equal number of supporters in. Witnesses said Aung San Suu Kyi walked out with two other women and cried as she waved to the monks. Read more here.

Set out on a journey


The launching point of a thousand journeys / Rijeka, Croatia / May 2005

From Elizabeth Gilbert the author of Eat, Pray, Love (a wonderful book; the author packs up her life in the U.S. and spends a year abroad -- she eats and learns Italian in Italy, prays and lives in an ashram in India, and finds love in Indonesia) :

I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this:
“If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself . . . then truth will not be withheld from you.”

A tripwire of smell


My sweet-smelling Clematis; this morning its fragrance drifted up to my office window / New Jersey / Sept. 2006

“Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once.
A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.”

-- Diane Ackerman

On practical wisdom and neurobics


Two traveling minstrels performing a scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet / Lake Chrisann / Sept. 2007

A recent story in the New York Times bemoaned the fact that memorization and recitation are old hat in our current culture. “Oration and recitation, once thought staples of the American school system, have largely been phased out.” Instead we rely upon computer chips to be our memory. Prof. James Engell is quoted as saying that at one time, “rhetoric was an umbrella where you got moral philosophy, the development of literary taste, intellectual prose, aesthetic appreciation, memorization and oral presentation. The ultimate object of this was what the Greeks call phronesis, or practical wisdom.” The story went on to say that “scientists have discovered that memorization exercises can stave off dementia, introducing a new world of 'neurobics'. Memory needs as much of a workout as the abs do.”

As I have been experiencing slight memory problems, I have resolved to try some memorization exercises -- starting with a passage from Shakespeare . . .

“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought” (Sonnet 30)

The September sun


Lunch on the terrace / New Jersey / Sept. 2007

September -- so different from August. Instead of hiding from the noon-day sun, I want to soak it up. Inside I need a wool sweater and socks while I work. Outside the wonderful warmth of the sun. Even the glare doesn't bother me. Insects buzz. Chipmunks chirp. The air is perfumed with the sweet scent of the clematis in bloom (I wonder all summer why it doesn't bloom, and then one day in September it seems to explode in tiny white, sweet-smelling flowers). All is peaceful and serene.

The first step to something better


A morning glory struggles all summer to find its way through the decking; when it finally gets through in September, it glows in all its morning glory cobalt blue / New Jersey / Sept. 2007

What is defeat?
    Nothing but education;
        nothing but the first step to something better.

-- Wendell Phillips

Hot Saucy Saucers


Hot Saucy Saucers: my '07 Hot Sauce Fest entry / Lake Chrisann / Sept. 2007

Hot Saucy Saucers

  • 4 ounces grated sharp provolone
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

Combine ingredients. Spray a foil-lined-pan with a non-stick spray. Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto pan, two inches apart. Broil until cheese bubbles and edges turn brown. Cool and remove from foil. Hot Saucylicious!