Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Prescient Wisdom of Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide and the other four books of the trilogy ( it's complicated) have been a part of my life for almost forty years now, mostly in recordings of the radio and television versions as well as by recorded books. Recently I began re-reading this amazing synthesis of extreme silliness and deep wisdom. There's always something new to discover.

What popped out at me yesterday was Adams's description of Zaphod Beeblebrox: "... good- timer, (crook? quite possibly), manic self-publicist, terrible bad at personal relationships, often thought to be completely out to lunch.

"President? No one had gone bananas, not in that way at least.

"Only six people in the entire Galaxy understood the principle on which the Galaxy was governed, and they that once Zaphod Beeblebrox had announced his intention to run as President it was more or less a fait accompli: he was ideal presidency fodder.*

* " . . . The President in particular is very much a figurehead -- he wields no real power whatsoever. He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it."

At least our current distraction has only the one head and two arms. I don't think I could bear two heads like that.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Varina by Charles Frazier

What a writer this guy is! He can craft a sentence or paragraph like nobody's business. 

Charles Frazier's latest novel is a richly imagined account of the life of Varina Davis -- wife of the Southern Confederacy's  first (and only) president and front line witness to history.

Teen aged Varina marries the widowed Jefferson Davis expecting to settle down to life on his Mississippi plantation. When her husband opts for a life in politics, she follows him to Washington where she enjoys success as a popular hostess and access to some of the most powerful names in the government. This life is turned upside down when the South secedes and Varina's husband is appointed president of the Confederacy.

The novel is structured as a series of conversations (interlaced with flashbacks) between the elderly, long-widowed Varina and James Blake, an educated mixed-race free-born man who, for a time during his childhood, lived with the Davis family and was treated like one of the children.

Varina does much to shed light on the varying sentiments that led to the war, as well as the confused residue of emotion afterward. All of the characters are memorable, none more than Varina, who is intelligent and educated beyond the norm of the time. 

As is James Blake, struggling to find his place between the white world and the black,  James Black, once known as Jimmy Limber, who asks the aging Varina if she had thought of him as a pet.

Frazier has brought history to life through the eyes of this remarkable woman. The questions raised of morality versus the law and of the nature of complicity are eternal, and oh, so relevant today.

 Highly recommended.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cameraless and Twitchy

On the advice of my friend Cory, I've taken my camera to a professional for cleaning. (Who knew fungus could grow on lenses?) I'll be cameraless for about ten days so will mostly be posting odds and ends from the archives.

These are Purple Martins, taken at the Folk School last week. You can almost hear the conversations.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Crafts Show and Tell at JCC

Apologies for the quality of the photos -- it was crowded and I had to keep moving. I missed several displays -- Greek Cooking was all eaten before I got there. And I missed Spinning and Knitting.

Quilting is always popular.

These Feathered Stars are paper-pieced.

Wood turning used green wood and left the bark on some.

This gorgeous stuff is made with copper clay -- the metal is powdered and mixed with a binding agent till it is moldable. It's molded  and stamped and fired in a kiln. The firing removes the binding agent leaving a beautiful piece of art.

I love the leaves!

Glass beads



Longbow construction

Bobbin lace

I once thought I might like to try this . . .

Mainly because I liked the look of all those bobbins . . .

Not happening this lifetime . . .

The folks in clay were doing raku firing . . .

I almost know what that means . . .

And the music class opened and closed the show.
 (My writers had done their readings the previous night.)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Happy to Be Back to the Garden

John C. Campbell has such beautiful flower and vegetable gardens (tended by various staff and work/study folks) that I always find myself wanting to pull a weed or plant a seed as soon as I get home. So yesterday I did both. 

John had taken good care of everything in my absence and the weather had obliged with rain. My little porch herb garden is thriving and the lavender is blooming. No cherry tomatoes yet . . . but soon!

Amazingly, even these pansies are still thriving -- they usually give up as soon as the weather gets hot.

And the clematis, which were pruned back severely a few months ago so John could replace the trellis, are flourishing. 

As are a few holly hocks down there at the end.

The morning glories are beginning to climb. This year I planted a mix of sky blue and my usual purple -- I'm eager to see them bloom!

The upper box beds seem to be just fine . . .

And, so far, the electric fence has protected the veg(tomatillos, broccoli, kale, collards, sweet potatoes, peppers, and beans) in the lower box beds. I hope my very ugly scarecrow will do the same for the corn.

Lower down, the tomato blight seems to have held off so far (though I know it will show up eventually,) the potatoes are looking good, and, except for a bit of damage during a cow outage, the pumpkins are doing their thing . . . 


What would a summer garden be without summer squash?

John wouldn't miss it -- but I would. Zucchini and Crookneck, poised to bless us with squash. (If, as they always say, nothing don't happen.)

And cucumbers! These are those long skinny ones that are so good cold with onions, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. I really can hardly get enough. 

In fact, I plan to start a second round in the the bed where some of my lettuce is bolting. I pulled up half of the old, grown-bitter stuff (the chickens will enjoy it) and sowed beans in that half of the bed. Tomorrow  I'll go find another trellis and sow cucumbers in the other half.

So much to do -- and it pretty much needs to happen before 10:30 or 11 when the heat gets bad. 

But what a pleasure to be back in the garden!