Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Random Thoughts From My Journal.

It is well worth the time to clear space and arrange things after a work session.  Arranging things to file or use provides clarity and purpose.

On Thanksgiving night a deer ran into my car and damaged the front.  For months I harbored animosity toward deer.  The feeling gradually waned away.  On a walk in April I encountered a lone deer and felt no negativity.  On the same walk I met a group of five deer.  I felt peace toward them.  It was a sort of forgiveness.

The proprietor of a local restaurant is justly proud of his meatloaf.  I ordered a serving and asked for catsup.  “You puttin’ catsup on my meatloaf?” he asked.

The Flower Moon rose, shining bright in a murky black sky.  It chilled me.

A  lone deer lies in a grove of still-bare aspens, gazing to the north.

”Who wouldn’t want to imagine that life might have a shape, a formula?  That the years didn’t just pass through you.” —Emma Cline, “Son of Friedman,” fiction, The New Yorker, July 1, 2019.

Wisdom from Friends.

I said, “I did the best I could but it wasn’t enough.”     A friend said, “Why wasn’t it?”

I said, “I know I have to, but I don’t want to wait.”  A friend said, “You have to do your homework first.”

I said, “I will not enjoy my time there more than I’ve enjoyed here.”  A friend said, “You don’t know that.”

Puns from a Cross-Word Puzzle.

Clue:  a small goodbye?                                                        Answer:   MICROWAVE

Clue: a socially correct goose in Boston?                          Answer:  PROPAGANDA

Clue: a crazy cause?                                                               Answer:  LOCOMOTIVE

Clue:  a city elf?                                                                       Answer:  METRONOME

—Carol R. Blumenstein,  Puzzle 180.  The New York Times Easy Crossword Puzzle Omnibus, Volume 2.  Will Shortz, editor.  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.

This Week’s Note to Eva.

Dear Eva, Change is in the air.  Days are cooler; nights have more chill.  There are mor clouds and breezes during the day.  Darkness comes earlier.  It’s time.  Fall arrives next week!   Love from your friend, Bill

The Adams Loop Walk.

It is a fall-feeling morning, about 10:20.  There are many clouds and a cool breeze from the mountains.  It’s close to being light jacket weather.

The sun is often covered by moving clouds, and the sky is light blue to bright blue, depending on the configuration of the clouds.  As I admire the mountains to the west, I think that it will not be long before I see them streaked with the gold of aspen leaves changing.

I park at the bank and walk to the northeast, toward the highway which enters the town from the north.  I walk parallel to the great open space park at the edge of town, where the observatory is located.  There is a young man playing frisbee with a dog.

There is a steady incline to the top of a ridge, where I turn to the east.  The elevation gives me a good perspective on the town, as I look down on Main Street and the sides of the bowling alley and grocery store.

I’m walking on a new residential street, and not long after I turn I hear hammering and electric saws.  Two houses are under construction, and it is good to smell the new lumber in the almost-fall air.

I cut across the parking lot of a church in order to reach the highway.  I pause at a steep drop down a field.  If I go there, I will have to across a waterway or gulch and have to climb up the other side.  I decide to take the highway, though I enter on a curse and there is little shoulder.

Before I reach town, I encounter three vehicles.  One is a UPS truck, and the driver and I exchange waves.  The others are a pickup truck and a large truck with long trailer, both carrying hay.  It’s good to see hay trucks and transports.  The winter and spring were wet, and ranchers are happy that there is hay to harvest.  Last summer there was little.

I pass the Sharing Center, where I volunteer at the food bank.  I pass the town’s Visitor Center, which is closed.  I continue walking, cross Main Street, pass a house with my favorite planter, a wheelbarrow planted with marigolds.  I turn and pass a motel, the train depot and engine house, now museums, and arrive back at the bank.

Between 25 and 30 minutes, this walk.  I feel invigorated.

Thank you for reading.  I welcome comments, either posted here or in an email to me.  Enjoy the beginning of fall on the 23rd!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Crossword Fun.

I came upon these clues.  I’ve learned that if a clue has a question mark, the answer is generally a pun.  Here are clues and answers:

Genesis weaponry?  ADAMBOMBS

Genesis actor?  EVEMONTAND

Genesis military forces?  ABELSEAMEN

Genesis agricultural product? CAINSUGAR

Fred Piscop, Puzzle 171, The New York Times Easy Crossword Puzzle Omnibus, Vol. 2, Will Shortz, editor.  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.

My favorite puzzles are those with such word play.

Velma and Victor.  

Velma was a Cadillac of a vacuum cleaner, an Electrolux canister model with several attachments.  There was a retractable electric power cord.  The machine followed me around for decades as I worked a vacuuming and dusting.  When I owned a house, it was of good service.

Now that I have four rooms and only one bathroom, I no longer need Velma.  I donated her to Goodwill.

I bought Victor, an upright, battery operated slim machine that I push in front of me.  No cord to manage, no nasty filter bag to change.  At the end of each use, I detach the dirt collector, wash the parts, and reassemble.  Easy and clean and efficient.  The battery charges nicely.  Light, lean Victor stands in my utility closet, new and clean and ready to help out.

A Walk Down Fifth Street.

Sunday morning, about 10:45.  It’s 70-degrees.  The sun feels hot, but there is a cooling breeze from the mountains.  It’s quiet.  The residential street has only two establishments, the Catholic Church and the chiropractor’s office, with its motto, “The Back Stops Here.”

Last time I was walking here, I was going to Mike and Betsy’s house.  It was a cold, windy winter night and because the street was covered in snow and ice.  I had to be careful how to step.  Now, with late summer sun and dry street, that night seems long ago.

At the beginning of the walk, at the Catholic Church, I exchange quiet smiles and good-mornings with two parishioners going to Mass.

There are houses of various designs, including a purple Victorian with large hanging baskets of purple flowers on the front porch, a large contemporary house with solar panels and large windows that open on spectacular Mountain View’s (it’s for sale), and some smaller log homes.  A large log home is surrounded by a tall wooden fence, with a flag over the gate.  It seems to be a fort.

I gain a new perspective of the town from here.  An easy walk takes me opposite the hardware store and Amish furniture store on the outskirts of town.  It’s quiet.  There is little traffic.

I cross Hermit Road and walk a block away from and parallel to the highway that comes into town from the south.  It’s quiet.  I pass the park with soccer field, tennis courts, and sheltered pavilion and pass by the twenty tall evergreen trees that mark the beginning of open space.

At the end of the dirt and gravel road, I turn around and see in the town the most beautiful church in the area, Peace Lutheran Church, with its tall and ornate steeple.  Almost exactly opposite, on the other side of the highway, is the new AT&T tower, erected just about a week ago.  I imagine that the town is marked by these two tall structures.  On the way back to Hermit Road, I notice large wildflowers of purple, yellow, and white.  I thought about taking some for home, but I knew that part of their beauty was in the mild temperature, the gentle breezes, the surrounding fields, and the vista of the Sangre range.

Birds are quietly chirping.  I hear the occasional grasshopper at the edge of the field.

It’s a peaceful walk, a Sabbath blessing, and I plan to go there near or at sunset soon.

This Week’s Note to Eva.  

Dear Eva, Shorter days and cooler temperatures at night are sure signs that fall is approaching.  Fall can come quickly here.  There in the South, you can look forward to another month of heat and humidity.  Thinking of you, and sending love, from your friend, Bill.

Notes on Reading.  Poetry.  Carl Sandburg, selections from Cornhuskers (1918).  In The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg, Revised and Expanded Edition.  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970.

Cornhuskers is a collection of 103 poems in free verse, divided into five groups:  “Cornhuskers,” “Persons Half Known,” “Leather Leggings,” “Haunts,” and “Shenandoah.”  This week I read several times the poems in the first section.

Here are 15 quotations from the selections that give a good view of life in the rural Midwest and a portrait of the people, at that time.  They show Sandburg’s skillful use of personification and imagery.

Do you see a favorite quotation?  Can you spot my top three?

”Have you seen a red sunset drip over one of my cornfields, the shore of / night stars, the wave lines of dawn up a wheat valley?”  (“Prairie”)

”And I know what the rainbow writes across the east or / west in a half-circle: / A love-letter pledge to come again.”  (“Prairie”)

”The hunched shoulders of the grain elevators—“  (“Prairie”)

”A boy, yellow hair, red scar and mittens, on the bobsled, in his lunch / box a pork chop sandwich and a V of gooseberry pie.”  (“Prairie”)

”The horses fathom a snow to their knees. / Snow hats are on the rolling prairie hills. / The Mississippi bluffs West snow hats.”  (“Prairie”)

”A wagonload of radishes on a summer morning, / Sprinkles of dew on the crimson-purple balls.”  (“Prairie”)

”The farmer’s daughter with a basket of eggs dreams of a new hat to / wear to the county fair.”  (“Prairie”)

”The cornhuskers wear leather on their hands. / There is no let-up to the wind. / Blue bandanas are knotted at the ruddy chins.”  (“Prairie”)

“Falltime and winter apples take on the smolder of the five-o’clock / November sunset:  falltime, leaves, bonfires, stubble, the old things go, and the earth is grizzled.”  (“Prairie”)

”The frost loosens cornhusks. / The sun, the rain, the wind / loosen cornhusks. / The men and women are helpers.”  (“Prairie”)

”The phantom of a yellow rooster flaunting a scarlet comb, on top of a / dung pile crying hallelujah to the streak of daylight”. (“Prairie”)

”The phantom of an old workhorse taking the steel point of a plow / across a forty-acre field in spring, hitched to a harrow in summer, / hitched to a wagon among cornshocks in fall”  (“Prairie”)

”The baby moon, a canoe, a silver papoose canoe, sails and sails in the / Indian west.”   (“Early Moon”)

”Tomatoes shining in the October sun with red hearts, / Shining five and six in a row on a wooden fence”  (“Falltime”)

”I lean on an ash and watch the lights fall, the red ember glow, and three / muskrats swim west in a fan of ripples on a sheet of river gold.”  (“Three Pieces on the Smoke of Autumn”)

Thank you for reading.  Comments, here or to my email, are welcome.   Enjoy the full moon of the month, the Harvest Moon, on Saturday.

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Wednesday, September 4, 20

This Week’s Note to Eva.  Labor Day, September 2, 2019.  Dear Eva, We made it to September!   This month autumn arrives on the 23rd.  I will be sure to enjoy these last few weeks of summer.  Last September we had our first snowfall on September 30.  There is no snow visible on the Sangre peaks; the mountains look thirsty.  You enjoy these times, too!  Your friend, Bill

My Minimalist Accounting.

Henry David Thoreau in Walden gave advice about accounting, “keep your accounts on your thumbnail.”

I don’t do that, but I do use a college ruled, 70-sheet spiral composition notebook.  At the end of last month, I completed the pages of one I started in January, 2014.

For each month I use a double-spread page.  On the right page I list my total income from retirement sources and social security and a list of categories to which I budget amounts.  I keep record there of how much I’ve spent, and at the end of the month I write down how much I’ve gone over or under budget.  On the left page I list expenditures from categories I make multiple payments in a month: groceries, travel, medical, gas and car, and miscellaneous and during the month I list amounts spent.

I budget for savings, and surpluses each month go into the savings account.  I find this system to be simple and effective.  It keeps me mindful of expenses.

For this month, I started a new notebook, which should last about five years.  I tore out the pages from the old notebook for recycling and recycled the cover and spiral.  Now for years ahead of “getting and spending.”

A Downtown Walk.

Sunday morning, September 1.  About 10:00.  I park in the parking lot of the grocery store and follow the sidewalk through downtown, headed east.  It’s in the mid-70’s; the sky is a cloudless deep light blue.  There are several people milling about the open shops.

Each block is filled with flowers: hanging baskets, planters, plots of ground.  There is color everywhere.  Winter is long and often severe here, and I enjoy the bright color in summer as much as I enjoy the stunningly beautiful white of snow and ice in winter.

I walk east for about fifteen minutes.  At a coffee shop, outside tables are filled with customers enjoying coffee and pastries.  The aroma is tempting, but I smile and keep walking.  One of the bed and breakfast inns is broadcasting quiet music onto the sidewalk.  The liquor store is open, and I see several people entering and leaving.  I pause at the used car sales to look at a 4-wheel drive KIA, but I see no price tag.  At the school I cross the street and return into the main part of town.

For some reason I had not noticed the landscaping of the school grounds.  The ground is gravel, and there are mature pines and firs and a beautiful, large aspen near the front door of the main building.  All are shining bright green in the late summer sun.  I pass the laundromat, open this time of year for business on Sunday.  There are several cars there.  The new ice cream shop is just opening for the day.  The proprietor is opening the door and putting up the OPEN sign.  Tourists are entering shops.  I notice license plates from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and Oklahoma.  The bright and sunny day makes me happy to be there.

Notes on Listening.  No Strings (1962).  Original Broadway Cast Recording.  Angel Records CD, 1993.

The words and lyrics are by Richard Rodgers.  The play is a sophisticated musical about the love affair of an African-American fashion model and a white American writer, set in Paris and other places in France.  According to the program notes by David Foil, Rodgers had recently finished writing the two songs inserted into the movie version of The Sound of Music.  He sought out Diahann Carroll to play the lead.  Richard Kiley (Man of La Mancha) played opposite her.  The orchestral score is written with no strings.

The subject of an interracial love story was controversial at the time, and Foil discusses reactions in his notes.

The only song which became well-known is “The Sweetest Sounds,” one of the several duets of Carroll and Kiley.  It is beautiful, haunting, and memorable.

I particularly like the other four duets.  “Maine” contrasts life in Harlem and in rural New England, the American homes of the two lovers.  The other duets are love songs, “Nobody Told Me” and “Look No Further.”  Both are reminiscent of and much better than the insipid, stifling “Something Good” from the movie version of The Sound of Music.  “No Strings,” the final duet is a mature reflection of both parties of their relationship.

The social milieu of the characters is the fast-paced, free spirited life of wealth and leisure, and the other eight songs of the show are in the main jazzy and cynical.

It had been decades since I last heard the score, and I was not surprised that I had forgotten most of the songs.   The work in the play, but they are not universal enough for popular song status.

Most of the musical numbers can be found on YouTube and some are not surprisingly by jazz groups.  I don’t advise your listening to Julie Andrew’s version of “Nobody Told Me.”  Your blood sugar will rise to stroke levels.  She sings “lightning” and “quake” as if the words were licks on sweet ice cream.  I do recommend the duets mentioned above on the YouTube original cast selections.

My time listening was well-spent.

Methodists and Catholics.

These questions have been on my mind this week.  I have long known the answers.

What is the difference between the Catholic Church’s policy of refusal to give Eucharist to Protestants and the United Methodist Church’s police of refusal to marry same-gender couples?

What is the difference between the Catholic Church’s policy of denying priesthood to women and the United Methodist Church’s policy of denying ordination to gay and Lesbian people?

The Down the Field Walk.

At the west end of the street on which I live is a path through a huge field.  It leads in a steep descent down to a parking lot of a Dollar Store on the highway.  I enjoy taking it when I walk to the post office or downtown.

This time of year there are many small yellow daisy-like flowers and larger yellow blooms of a plant some here call Rabbit Grass.  I come across a few small orange blossoms of Indian Paint Brush.  There is a sage-colored grass, but it doesn’t smell like sage.  Perhaps it is some kind of sage.  In places ants have cleared an area and erected an impressively large hill.  There are many large and small rocks, some piled into cairns.  I don’t know their names.

It is fun to walk up and down the hill surrounded by open fields.  I want to know the names of things.  The purchase of local guides to flora and rocks and minerals is in order.

Notes on Reading.  Fiction.  Piers Anthony.  A Spell for Chameleon.  DelRey, 1977.

Decades ago I enjoyed Tolkien’s The Hobbit and trilogy, and a few years ago I spent the winter reading all of the Harry Potter books.  Browsing in a book store this summer, I came across the works of Piers Anthony in the science fiction/fantasy section.  I liked the author’s name, the cover of the book, and the description on the cover and saw that A Spell for Chameleon is the first book of a series of ten novels.  I thought I’d give it a try.

Twenty-four-year-old Bink, the main character, has a year to discover and demonstrate a magic power or be exiled from Xanth, a magical kingdom.  Urged on by this fiancé, he travels to the castle of the Good Magician Humphrey, who may be able to tell him what is power is.  The plot involves his quest there, his banishment to Mundania, his unexpected return, and his further adventures in Xanth.  During the course of these adventures, he discovers his powers and finds a purpose for his life.

The action is frenetic.  Transformations are ubiquitous.  Life-threatening creatures and plants are everywhere.  Travelers must be on guard and use reason to figure out whether the things are illusory or not, for, “There was no certainty about anything where magic was involved.”  There are action sequences after action sequences with little respite.

I enjoyed meeting creatures from mythology, among them centaurs, dragons, sphinxes, Giants, mermaids, harpies, ghosts, shades, unicorns, griffins, trolls, and goblins.  The author creates other strange, rare creatures such as lightning bugs, which emit bolts of lightning, and cherry bomb trees, whose fruits are bombs.

There are good observations and reflections about loyalty, friendship, honor, repentance, power, integrity, and leadership.  There are some good, imaginative, vivid descriptions of magic places.

I became weary of the constant and intense action, and I was taken aback by the sexist characterizations of and thoughts about most of the female characters.

Will I continue the series?  Probably not.  But next time I’m browsing in a book store, I’ll pick up the second novel of the series and take a look.

Thank you for reading.  I hope your week has been good.  I welcome comments on this site or sent in an email to me, goodwillwrites@yahoo.com.  Have a good week.

 

 

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Inscriptions at Tourist Shops at a Mountain Resort.

”This wine is making me awesome.”

”I enjoy a glass of wine every night for its health benefits.  The other glasses are for my witty comebacks and flawless dance moves.”

”What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.  Except bears.  Bears will kill you.”

“If you ran like your mouth, you’d be in good shape.”

 

Soap.  Written on the box:

“Duke Cannon Supply Co.  Big Ass Brick of Soap.  Smells Like Naval Supremacy.

“This soap product is designed to meet the high standards of hard working men.  The scent is inspired by navigating the high seas.”

”Duke Cannon is a Man’s Man.  Duke Cannon doesn’t dine with vegans, and he could give a damn about your new selfie stick.  Duke Cannon comes from a different era—an era when men had a greater purpose than building spreadsheets and spending their Saturdays shopping for the perfect pair of chinos.”

”A portion of proceeds benefits U.S. Veterans.  Inspired by soap used by GIs during the Korean War.  Tested by active duty US Military personnel.  Made in the same plant that supplied Korean War troops.”

If you liked the fragrance, would you buy the soap?  Or would you protest the attitude of the advertising and not support the product financially?

I bought the soap.  I own a Big Ass Brick of Soap.

This Week’s Note to Eva.

Hi, Eva.  I have been traveling this week.  I took two long road trips to visit with friends.  Both trips were about five hours each way.  When I arrived, I spent two nights on one trip; I spent only one night on the other.  The travel has tired me.  I’m glad to be home for a while.  I trust things have been good for you this week.  Your friend, Bill

Since March.

I have not attended formal public worship services.  I had not had radio or other music background for daily activities, even on long drives.  When I listen to music, I listen actively.  In general, silence has been my choice.  As a result, I have felt more calm and more free.

Guidelines.

As I face the prospect and opportunity to engage in some research and writing, I remember when, in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, I was involved in experiential learning in educational dramatics and the writing of a thesis for a MA degree.  At that time, I asked myself how these activities were working successfully.   I came up with Ollie’s 3 Rules and Frankie’s Corollary.

The first of the rules addresses mental attitude and preparation. The second and third are guidelines for working.  Frankie’s Corollary is a reminder that things do not always go as we’d like.

Ollie’s Three Rules:  (1) There’s nothing to it but to do it.  (2) Admit ignorance; yell for help.  (3) When in doubt, leave it out.

Frankie’s Corollary:  You don’t have to like it.

Notes on Reading.  Nonfiction.  Philip Caputo, The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, From Key West to the Arctic Ocean.  Picador, 2013.

The author, his wife, and two dogs travel from the most southern part of the United States to the most northern.  There are interesting accounts of the journey and interviews with people they meet along the way.

Here are three quotations which challenge and encourage me:

”The sixth ager’s task is not to preserve the illusion of youth; it is to avoid nostalgia and remain relevant for as long as possible—tricky in an era when just about everything becomes obsolete in six months.”

”I’ve always had a weakness for people who refuse to do the sensible thing, or what the world considers sensible, and follow the wisdom of their hearts.”

Quoting a Lakota shaman:  “I embrace other cultures.  Because I was given so much of my culture as a youth, I’m not threatened by other people’s.  It’s sad to me that other people don’t have as much of their cultures, as they should.  It’s sad that that’s disappearing….Know your gods.  Know what makes you Italian….What a thing you can offer the world—a slight bit of color in a gray, gray world….”

Thank you for reading.  I welcome comments.

 

 

 

 

 

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August 21, 2019

The Canyon.

I do not like to drive through Hardscrabble Canyon.  As I enter the canyon, I see a warning sign, “Falling Rock,” as if a mythical rock might appear now and then and fall.  Just the past couple of weeks there was a rock slide that blocked traffic.  There is little shoulder, and the road is winding, narrow, and steep.  Signs warn of big horn sheep and deer.  Sometimes they are standing the the road just after a hair-pin turn.  Speed limit in areas is 20 miles per hour.  In winter there are often blowing snow and ice and high winds.  More than I usually am, I am cautious, I take it easy, I am alert.

This Week’s Note to Eva.

Dear Eva, You see on this card Van Gogh’s “Field of Poppies.”  Here in Colorado, the wildflowers of August are yellow.  I remember that you love small yellow flowers, and when I visit again I will bring you one or more.  Thinking of you and sending love,  Your friend, Bill

The Harvard Graduate and Influences from Wake Forest University.

I recently heard a graduate of the local high school talk about her four-year educational experience at Harvard.  She earned her undergraduate degree last spring.  Next year she will go to Cambridge in England for her Master’s Degree.  She plans to continue education through a doctoral degree.

From her freshman year, she was allowed to specialize in areas of interest: medical anthropology and linguistics.  During the rest of the years curriculum was based around these areas.  She said she worked closely in small groups with professors who served as mentors.

I contrasted her experience with mine.  Next year will mark my fiftieth anniversary of graduation with an undergraduate degree in English.  At Wake Forest students at that time were required to take two full years of liberal arts courses before beginning a specialization, a major, their junior year.  There were no minors.

What has remained with me?  What were the courses that for me marked development in my world view, seen from the perspective of fifty years?  There were eight.  I describe each briefly below.  The French course and the introductory philosophy were required for my degree, the three English courses were upper division courses for my major, the music and art and course in epistemology were electives my senior year.

From the English Department:

The Age of Pope (English literature, 1700-1740)  Professor Alonso Kenion.

In the works of Addison, Steele, Defoe, Sheridan, Swift and Pope, we studied how the fiction, essays, poetry, drama, and journalism of the time were a reflection of or a reaction to events of the time, events often critiqued through humor and satire.

Professor Kenion’s formal style and sharp, dry wit and humor complemented the subject matter.

As I read contemporary literature and its reflections and criticism of our times, I remember skills of interpretation I learned in this course.

American Fiction, 1865-1915.  Professor Thomas Gossett.

There was a different novel for each week.  I grew to love the writers of this era, among them Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Bret Harte, Jack London, Hamlin Garland, Ambrose Bierce, Kate Chopin, Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather, Sara Orne Jewett, Edith Wharton, and Henry James.

I saw that the literary movements of local color, realism, and naturalism can bring both enjoyment and insight into the human condition.  I enjoyed the subject matter and depth of visions that these writers brought to their works.

Whitman and Dickinson.  Professor Elizabeth Phillips

We learned that free verse is an art form in itself.  We saw how innovations in poetry influenced poetic movements in the twentieth century.  We learned how the poets’ lives shaped the subject matter of their works.

From the Philosophy Department:

Introduction to Philosophy.  Professor Vergilius Ferm

Professor Ferm, nearly dressed in turtle-neck sweater, with short white hair, saw at a table in front of our class and with quiet enthusiasm showed how philosophers worked, presented the main ideas of Western philosophy, and explained how he himself built a philosophy of religion.  It was the most well-organized course I had.  I learned to love systematic philosophic inquiry.

Seminar in Epistemology.  Professor Robert Helm.

For 90 minutes twice a week, Professor Helm sat at the head of a seminar table and with great energy and enthusiasm entertained us with the theories of knowledge of major Western philosophers.  We each chose a field in which to do reading and research and develop an original thesis to present in a 90-minute presentation toward the end of the course.  I remember a presentation on film and how it is used to give knowledge about a subject.  I analyzed poetic conventions and wrote a thesis, “The Poem as a Means of Knowledge: A Consideration of Certain Poetic Devices in Language.”

From the French Department:

Introduction to French Literature.  Professor Eva Rodtwitt.

     We read representative selection from the beginnings of French literature to the mid-twentieth century.  Professor Rodtwitt taught a discipline of literary analysis, explication de texte, which is a thorough and systematic study for analysis and interpretation of language.  That rigor taught me to read deeply and thoughtfully, not only in French, but also in English.

From the Music Department:

Literature of the Piano.  Professor Christopher Giles.

We did not study piano literature in a chronological order.  Professor Giles built recital programs which incorporated music from different historic periods and styles.  In one class, we studied major works from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic Periods, as well as from the twentieth century.  Sixteen classes and programs introduced us to the music, the composers, and the performers on the recordings we listened to during the class period and returned to the music library to hear again during the week.  The take-home exam was three philosophic questions about the role of music in our lives and the building of a recital or works we did not study in class with program notes about each piece we selected.  It was a challenging, thought-provoking, and entertaining study which gave me perspectives that make me a better listener today.

From the Art Department:

American Art.  Professor Sterling Boyd.

I am grateful for this course, because it taught me how to look at paintings.  In addition to the historic survey of painting in the United States, Professor Boyd’s lectures explained how artists presented perspective, planned elements of composition, used brush for effect, and presented color and pattern.  Going to an art museum is a  much richer experience for my having taken this course.  And I found two favorite painters, John Singleton Copley and Thomas Eakins.

Thank  you for reading.  I welcome comments.

 

 

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Protected Pine Walk.

The walk is down the dirt road that is my street.  It parallels Main Street.  It is a good 30-minute walk, and it’s my walk of choice in bad weather, especially in snowy conditions because when the road and fields to the side are blanketed evenly with snow, I’m not apt to veer into a ditch or step in holes in the road.  The way is flat, with only a small incline in elevation at the end.

A block from my condo is a RV and tiny home park.  I’ve not seen RVs all year, so there’s much vacant space.  There are a few tiny houses.  The park is fenced, and the ground on the interior is gravel.  At the head of the park, just outside the fence, is Bungalow Joe.  Across the street is a fenced yard with a large grove of locust trees.  I love the locusts in all seasons, especially when they are golden and dark brown in the fall.  On the other side of the yard is a thick hedge, where in late March scores of red-winged blackbirds called their vibrating, reverberating songs.

I pass a pregnancy resource center.  It offers counseling, ultrasound testing, and general health services.  On the porch is a sign to welcome donations of clothing and toys, but we are asked to leave things there during operating hours.

Most of the space on the roadside is open.  I walk toward peaks of the Wet Mountains, which enclose the road to the north.  One one high hill are the two water tanks for the towns.  Yellow, purple, and white wildflowers grow by the roadside.

There is a large diesel repair business that stretches two blocks, mostly open space where trucks, cars, vans, tractors, and this week, a boat, are sitting.  There is a garage-type structure under construction with only the metal frame, no roof or siding.  Sometimes the vehicles are for sale.  There are two dusty-looking tractors for sale, one red, one yellow.  The owner lives in a small house, fenced in, with a BEWARE  THE DOG sign.  The dog appears to be a sweet heart, a pit bull mix.

Across the street is a woodcutter’s lot.  There is a small shed with saws and chippers. The yard is filled with piles of wood.  At certain times, the smell of the wood is wonderful.  When I run low on firewood for my fireplace this winter, I know where to go to ask about a purchase.

Toward the hills to the north, there is a small enclave of three for four RVs.  They seem to be inhabited all the year, and I see, from time to time traffic going in and out of there.

I pass a gun shop, whose front door is on the side street.  When there is business, there is generally a car or two parked outside.  When the shop is closed, there is a sign, “GONE SHOOTIN’.”  Often in the winter I see deer standing in front of the shop.

At the block before the protected pine is a lot with a couple of structures that look as if they are space pods of some kind from the Air and Space Museum.  I don’t know what they are or why they are there.

The protected pine is a planted tree, now about 8 feet tall.  Its base and lower trunk are surrounded by wire.  It sits on a small hill, where there are a driveway from the highway and parking for those who want to read markers.  Around the markers are two wildflower beds.  There are two markers about silver mining in the area, a marker welcoming people to town with a map of businesses and attractions, and a historical marker detailing the Southwest Expedition of Zebulon Pike in the area.

The walk home gives me perspective and awesome, open views of Sangre de Cristo peaks.

This Week’s Note to Eva.  

Hello, Eva.  I thought of you Friday when I was down in the city attending to some business.  It was 95-degrees when I left there in mid-afternoon.  When I arrived home a little more than an hour later, it was a comfortable 74-degrees.  I thought that weather here is more like the weather in Norway—in summer warm and comfortable, not hot.  I hope you have good remembrances of summers there.  Your friend, Bill

The Laundrymat.

From the main streets of the towns the sign reads “Laundrymat.”  Above the entryway the sign reads “Laundromat. Cleaners. Showers.”  There is no cleaning.  The nearest dry cleaning is over an hour’s drive away.

It is a well-appointed and clean establishment.  Lined in two rows, back-to-back, are twenty regular-sized washing machines.  At the end of the rows are six industrial-sized washers.  There are sixteen dryers, stacked on one wall of the business.  There are three long tables for sorting and folding.  There are blue plastic chairs, two of which are joined by a table on which are magazines to read.  There are a change machine, a dispenser selling laundry bags, a soap and bleach and detergent dispenser, and a snack and drink dispenser.  There is a laundry basket on the floor in which are placed articles forgotten or otherwise left behind.  There is a clean restroom (no hot water).  There are several rolling baskets for removing laundry from machines.  Some have hanger racks.  There is a telephone number to call for assistance.  Most of the time there is a camera for monitoring activity.

There are large windows in the front and back of the building.  From the front there is a view of one of the school’s parking lots and the playground.  From the back there is a view of Sangre peaks.

I enjoy going there each ten or twelve days.  I load laundry into the machines and relax with crossword puzzles.  Before I know it, the washing and drying are done, and I fold clothes and leave.

Often there are others using the place.  Most people are friendly but reserved.  Some leave, drive away, while their clothes are washing and drying.  Some use the time to be on social media.  Some read.  Occasionally I have seen people go into an adjoining room for a shower.

I enjoy going to the facility, but I do not like to read the signs.  At the parking lot:

No Smoking.

Use This Facility At Your Own Risk.

Customer Parking   Unauthorized Cars Will Be Towed Away at Owner’s Expense

Inside:

You Can Thank Round Water For Price Increase.  They Raised Water Prices Over 800%.  Contact Board Members And Tell Them What You Think

The Laundromat Is Not Responsible For Damaged Laundry or Lost/Stolen Items

No Sitting on Tables

Please! No Rugs or Dog Beds in Top Load Machines!  No Dyes or Greasy Items in Any Machine!

Please Check Pockets  Screws & Nails Damage Dryers

On the trash container:

Normal Laundromat Trash Only!   No Bags of Trash!!!   $500 Illegal Dumping Fee Enforced!  24-Hour Video Surveillance

Bossing, threatening, carping, deflecting blame, these signs, though not elevated to The Art of the Tweet, are signs of the times.

Notes on Reading.  Fiction. 

Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge (1866).  Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004.

I have long admired and enjoyed the last two novels of Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure.  I like his view of the role of fate in our lives.  In his work we see the fortunes of the characters played out, determined by social class, gender, and consequences of choices they make.

Michael Henchard, the central character, is rash and hot-tempered.  He pushes away those he loves and then seeks to make amends to them to win them back.  The novel tells his rise to success and his fall into failure and disgrace through his inability to control his emotional reactions.  We see him as revengeful, deceitful, and ruthless.  Despite his faults, he is a sympathetic character—to the reader and to other characters—because he is aware of his faults, deals with them the best he can, and accepts his fate with dignity.

His foil is Donald Farfrae, a Scotsman, who is also ambitious.  We see his rise in fortune in life because of his honesty in dealings and his trust in people.

The women, Susan and Elizabeth, wife and daughter of Henchard, and Lucetta Templeman, must be aware of and realistic in their relationships to succeed with men, the key to the lives they will I’ve.  Lucetta’s coming into some money changes her relationships with the other characters, especially with Henchard and Farfrae.

The plot is developed largely through the relationship and interactions of these five characters with one another.

I enjoy novels for their settings, often even more than for plots.  I enjoyed descriptions of the countryside, the town fairs, the local wedding, the pubs, and town meetings for business.

The measure of how much I like a book is whether I’ll keep it, pass it on to friends, or donate it to the library.  This one’s a keeper.

Listening.

Benjamin Britten, The Folksong Arrangements.   Lorna Anderson, soprano; Regina Nathan, soprano; James MacDougal tenor; Malcolm Martineau, piano; Bryn Lewis, harp; Craig Ogden, guitar.  2 CD set.  Hyperion.

I enjoy folk songs by folk artists, in choral arrangements, and no less in the art song settings here.  This week I listened to Volumes 1 and 3 several times.  Both volumes are collections of songs from the British Isles.  The artists are Anderson, MacDougal, and Martineau.

In Volume 1 there are seven songs, including the beautiful, haunting lullaby, “O Can Ye Sew Cushions?”; the children’s song, “Oliver Cromwell,”; the lamentations, “Little Sir William,” and “The Bonny Earl o’Moray,”; and the famous ballads, “The Trees They Grow So High,” and “The Ash Grove.”  The singers are sensitive to phrasing and ideas, the piano parts are simple, as befitting folk song, written with appropriate poignant dissonance, never strummed.

Volume 3 includes the jaunty “The Plough Boy,” “The Miller of Dee,” “Come You Not From Newcastle?”; the plaintive “O Waly, Waly,” “The Foggy, Foggy Dew,” “There’s None to Sooth,” and the famous ballad “Sweet Polly Oliver,” who dresses as a soldier to be with her beloved in war.  I am amused at the setting of “The Plough Boy.”   As arranged, it could have been taken directly from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

These arrangements of fourteen songs from the British Isles has provided me much relaxation and entertainment during the week.  I recommend the work.

Thank you for reading.  I welcome comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

On the Vista Walk.

I walk a block away from my condo and turn right at Bungalow Joe.  “Bungalow Joe” is on a large sign above the front door of a small house.  In the front yard is a large thick section of a cut tree trunk.  Near the front door is a ceramic Southern belle wearing a long hoop skirt.  She has long golden hair.  Over the pane above the door is taped the picture of a grizzly bear.  There is a fenced side and back yard with lawn chairs.  The place is neatly kept.

As I approach to cross the highway, I hear the clip-clop of hooves and exchange waves and smiles with an Amish family in their horse and buggy as they pass by.

The walk out to the vista, about fifteen minutes away, is an unpaved street, but I will cross the two other paved streets in the town.

It is 6:30 pm, early August, and the sky is still overcast after the afternoon rain.  I wondered at first if I’d be more comfortable with a light jacket.  There’s a slight breeze, and it doesn’t feel warm enough to be a summer evening.

I walk to the southwest.  There’s not much business at the Roadhouse, only three cars and a truck.  As I pass a small rustic A-frame, two bluebirds fly across my path, making small swoops near the road before veering into a hedge.

At the corner of the next block is a small house that I like to pass because there are three Russian olive trees and two aspen trees in the yard.  I particularly like the Russian olives, with their silver-green leaves.

Wildflower on the roadside are now yellow and white.  The purple, red, and orange ones are no longer here.

It’s quiet.  One family is cooking out, and the cooking steaks smell delicious.

At the end of the road the vista opens—just open land as far as I can see, verdant, reaching to the base of the mountains beyond.  Fairly close is a large ranch.  A mile or so from ranch I get a glimpse of the town cemetery.  I stand gazing for a while, awed by the vastness of the open space and thankful I can witness it and be a part of it.

I turn and walk west.  Over the Sangres loom massive white clouds trying to block the sun, an hour or so before it goes behind the mountains.

As I turn to return home, I see dark, deep clouds with jagged lightning bolts over the Wet Mountains.  I see that this storm system is moving to the north and east, away.

I stop at the highway.  There is a truck coming from town but nothing coming from the canyon.  Seeing me waiting, the driver of the truck slows down, stops, and motions for me to cross.  That often happens.  Then a block to Bungalow Joe and a block home, one walk on the Vista Walk completed.

This Week’s Note to Eva.

This week, Eva, I listened to a recording of my favorite symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.  It tells me that at the core of the Creation is deep, unbounded, overflowing joy.  We should listen to it together and enjoy its mirth while me make skols with vodka or red wine.  Sending love, your friend, Bill.

In Our Newspaper.

The local newspaper has been in print since 1883.  It is published each Thursday.

Each week it has a masthead with a quotation.  On Thursday, August 1:  “Let them judge you.  Let them misunderstand you.  Let them gossip about you.  Their opinions aren’t your problem.  You stay kind, committed to love, and free in your authenticity.  No matter what they do or say, don’t you doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth.  Just keep on shining like you do.”  —Steve Stabile

This, from “Sheriff’s Blotter—Animal Related”:

”On Wednesday, July 17 at 10:42 am on Chadwick Lane, deputies responded to a report of a bear attempting to break into a home.”

”On Sunday, July 28 at 4:25 p.m. on South Street, a deputy responded to a report of two mules on the road.”

At the Renaissance Festival.

The Renaissance Festival is a yearly fair held in a large meadow and surrounding hillsides in Larkspur, CO.  I met friends there, and we spent five hours outside seeing the sights.  It was a beautiful summer day, in the mid-80’s, bright and sunny.  The setting is filled with Ponderosa pines, firs, and spruces, often growing closely together to make dappled shade in areas.

There were many booths selling frippery galore:  jewelry, incense, oils, rocks and minerals, hats, clothing, drinking gourds and flagons, furniture, walking sticks, leather goods, kilts, umbrellas, hats, toys, bird whistles, woolen goods.  There were several food booths and roaming vendors selling pretzels and bags of kettle corn carried on large staves.  One pretzel vendor shouted, “It’s Sunday!  I have holy bread!”

There were photo booths and fortune telling booths.  There were several rides.  The King’s Swing was a large swing that could sit six people across.  It was propelled by two men.  It was decorated with colorful ribbons. There was a elephant ride, protested by a groups on the highway into the fair grounds.

Many visitors came in costumes.  There was a large, noisy crowd, and people-watching was my favorite activities there.

Just as we finished lunch at a picnic table under evergreens, the grand parade passed by.  There were lords and ladies, jousters on horseback, a unicorn, jesters, the king and queen, washer wenches riding on an elephant, a band with drums, horns, and bagpipes, archers and Robin Hoods and Maid Marians, women dancing with scarves, fairies, and revelers wearing outrageous masks.

We went to the show of the Washer Wenches.  It was about forty minutes of crude, sexual humor.  If the crowd did not make great noise, the two women flung wet clothing about, wetting the audience.  They asked for volunteers or appointed people, all men, to join them on stage, where they were smelled, licked, groped by pantomime, and flattered.  The men were good sports and often improvised along with the wenches.

We went to a musical show called Celtic Heritage.  As we sat down, the band was playing the plaintive love ballad “O Waly, Waly” but with four drums and two bagpipes, the ballad sounded like a declaration of victory of war.  The performers urged the audience to be loud in applause and shouts.  The music quickly veered away from Celtic, to include “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” with a skit about Africa.  What can you do with four drums and two bagpipes?  Rhythm and loud droning.  There was no variation in dynamics; everything was forte.  During the finale, “Amazing Grace,” fire was emitted from the bagpipes.  Celtic heritage, forsooth!

We walked to the parking area.  They found their car easily, but I looked about ten minutes for mine.  I did not like parking in the meadow because the car crushed wildflowers where I parked.  Traffic out of the fair was much less than traffic on arrival earlier.  My friends and I checked into a hotel in Colorado Springs and went out to a superb Mexican dinner.  In the morning, we met for a buffet breakfast at the hotel and said good-bye soon afterwards.  That was a good overnight vacation from home.

Notes on Reading.  Nonfiction.  Bailey White, Sleeping at the Starlite Motel and Other Adventures on the Way Back Home.  Addison-Wesley, 1995.

Bailey White was in Denver many years ago for a book signing and reading at the Tattered Cover Book Store.  I attended with friends visiting from out of state.  By the time we arrived, the room was filled and we had to stand at the side.  To a comment about the preponderance of eccentric characters in the South, White answered, “Well, if you don’t think the West has just as many, you are fooling yourself.”  In this book she write about many interesting characters, many of them family members.  She write about their foibles and eccentricities with kindness, humor, and affection.  Other essays tell of her adventures.  There are thirty-seven short essays.

Essays about Characters:  Through White’s perceptive eye, we encounter, among others, a grandmother charged with sprinkling a deceased’s ashes, having to choose times to do so, since her husband forbids it; a reunion of family members, each of which has one of set of chairs about which they must tell a story; Red, the Rat man, an exterminator who “knew and understood rats”; a great-aunt in growing senility, cared for by a nephew, who provides dedicated service until one day he acts wildly and roles are thereafter reversed; a folk artist who obsessively talks on moonlit nights to statues she has made; an aunt who saves her decaying house by selling a Civil War artifact; the owner and operator of a fish camp in central Florida, who expresses interesting and insightful views about her clients and job; an old hippy who sells fruit trees; an old man, “a solitary man,” who trains Tennessee walking horses; a particularly disagreeable, unpleasant, condescending old woman at a wedding reception; an an aunt who has trained an alligator to “bellow on command,” and a man who is visiting  to record the sound.

Essays about activities:  We see White as she learns about folk art, visits a one-room schoolhouse in Vermont, visits a coastal island in winter, swims in the “world’s largest and deepest spring,” visits a state park in the Florida panhandle, which locals believe was the site of the Garden of Eden, but which through details she shows to be “Hell on Earth”; spelunking.

The essay “Computer Class” is a tale of adventure in which White and a colleague in her elementary school attend class to learn about computers from an inept instructor.  After the course, they will return to the school to teach other teachers.   They decide to skip classes,  break into their school to learn and read the instruction manual of the computer in the library, and then fill out their nightly lesson times by going to the race track.  There the improbable happens.  The character Mrs. Boatwright is one of the most interesting characters I’ve encounter, and the reader finds her maverick attitude refreshing.

I admire those who write lyrical prose.  I’ve enjoyed a yearly reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wale” by Dylan Thomas, and I’ve read Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s lyrical novel Sunset Song several times.  White holds her own with the essay “Sleeping at the Starlite Motel.”  Composed of three imagined incidents and people, it describes the comfort of the motel in lyrical phrases, such as:  “Only one towel, one wash rag, and one thin cake of soap are provided per guest, but the towel is thick, the wash rag is dense, and the soap is Ivory.”

I first read the book the year it was published, and I like it even more on second reading.  When I finished it, I put it back onto the shelf, looking forward to another reading in a few years.

Thank you for reading.  I welcome comments.

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