Category Archives: Art

They All Fall Down

I found this on You Tube yesterday – got to it from one of my favorite science blogs.

This is amazing to me for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s not just the work of laying out all the dominoes.  You don’t just come in one morning and start randomly setting up dominoes.  Something of this complexity needs to be mapped out ahead of time and I means seriously mapped out.  You have to know exactly how much space you need, you need to know how much time it takes for domino trails to fall, you need to know how many of each color, you need to know how to set them up so you know what they’ll look like when they fall down… a pretty long list.

But I think one of the most amazing things is that you don’t really get to test this. It took a team of 19 individuals from around the world a week to get it all set up.  There is no test-run.  You pull the first string and then you hold your breath for the 12 minutes it takes.  You really have to have confidence in your abilities to take part in something like this.  I’m not sure I have enough obsession or emotional strength for it!

What feat of engineering do you admire?

 

Birthday Boy!

Today is the birthday of our dear leader Dale!

We’ve talked here over the years of the gift that Dale has given us by starting the blog and setting a tone that we all appreciate.  Now let’s make a list of what gifts we would like to give Dale.

Here’s a poem for Dale’s birthday – although not quite up to the standards of Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler.

You’re honest,
decent, lovable,
and truly are first rate.
You’re charming,
unforgettable,
and clearly pretty great…

You’re dignified,
sophisticated,
gracious, sweet,
and kind.
You’ve got a lot
of talent
and a wit that’s
hard to find.

You’re cleaver, cool,
considerate,
and clean up really nice.
You’re worldly wise,
and wonderful
and full of good advice.

You’re fun
and entertaining,
not to mention
very smart.
You’re altogether awesome
and you’ve got a lot of heart!

What gift would you give Dale?

In Search of My Irish

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

By the time you read this, I will be in Ireland. I could not get my head around how to tell one of these stories. It is cruel and overwhelming and unbelievable. It stopped me cold when I started to write it.

The group I am travelling with is a group of polymer clay artists who have been the students of our teacher from Jordan, MN, Maureen Carlson. She has for years had a teaching studio where people came to learn from all over the world.  One of those students is an Irish priest Father John.  Maureen closed her studio nearly 2 years ago to semi-retire.  He cut a deal with Maureen—let me come over for lessons one more time, and then the next year you can bring a group to the retreat center I run in Ireland for another 5 day lesson.  She said SOLD!  I was invited to attend.  I said yes.

Weirdly, this retreat center is located in the Irish county where my ancestors emigrated from in 1841 to Canada, County Down. That is my mother’s side.  You can the read the story of my great grandfather at this link:

https://www.bookemon.com/book_read_flip.php?book_id=278253

That story is stereotypical. The Newells wanted a better life.  They emigrated to Canada, then Iowa to homestead and did very well.  I hope to travel to see the old stone house the Newells lived in on the sea.  It is still there, 25 miles from the retreat center

The story I found in Ancestry.com on my father’s side knocked my socks off. I had no idea.  This is located in the county north of Down, in Antrim where Belfast is located.  I understand the Irish hatred of British after this one.  Sorry this is so long.  Here we go:

“The year was 1548 and it was in Ireland and it was time to pay Taxes to England . Ever year England would send a small army of tax collectors to Ireland to collect taxes, The people of Ireland had very little money and never enough to pay taxes to England . The tax collectors had been given the right from their King Edward V to take any thing of value to pay the taxes owed. It was the practice of King Edward and Mary Tudor to take Children in payment of the taxes. The children were taken to England to be trained as domestic servants and bonded labors.

This small village called Antrim, in the Ulster Province and of the MacDonald Clan was no different than any other village in Ireland everyone had to pay taxes one way or another, And this is where my story begins, Young children ages 12 years and older that looked in good health were taken from the family clans as payment for the taxes.From the time that the tax collectors picked the first children until they had over 100 children to go back to England it would take lest a week to 10 days. The children would be put into carts and wagons and most of the time their hands were tied to the racks on the carts to keep them from running away.

One young boy that came from Antrim was called James Antrim. His last name was from where he came from. He was being trained as a cord winder and rope maker. James Antrim was a hard worker and he learned well he also learned to read and write that would help him to get ahead in life. He lived and took his training at the family mansion of Sir Thomas Wyatt . During the five years of training young James Antrim had a hard time at first until his hands and arms got stronger, then he was as good a rope maker as there was.

It was on a spring day on a weekend that James went to the market with three men that he came to see for the first time a young lass with red hair , James had to know more about this young women. James found out that she was a cook’s helper at this master’s house and that her name was Colleen O’Shay . This was the first time that he seen his wife to be. The servant’s Masters was willing to let their servants have relationship with other household master’s  servants.  With the hopes that it would lead to a marriage. This way the servants children would be under the master ‘s care and they would become servants also and it would be cheaper than going to Ireland and bringing back young children to train .

Our ancestors were two of these servants that were married and two of their children came to Salem , Massachusetts, America in 1635. they were Thomas Antram and his wife Jane Batter, . And Thomas sent two of his sons John and James back to England in 1679 to bring friends and to raise funds to buy land in New Jersey. Our Ancestors were early America Pioneers.”

I hope that in our 5 days of touring we get to the Antrim area, as well. I want to know more about this practice of taking children for taxes.  It is guaranteed to create hard feelings that last for hundreds of years. It makes me think about how much I hate taxes sometimes.  Several times, while I owned my practice, I had to reach down deep to pay my taxes, but never did I have to make this kind of sacrifice—a 12 year old child.  I cannot come up with a question for discussion for this one.

What would you suggest as a question?

What’s Up, Doc?

OK, so I missed International Rabbit Day by a few of Earth’s rotations. I discovered this when opening Saturday’s bing.com… Saturday’s bing.com  Who knew?

The following paragraph is from Wiki Wiki :  “Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit, cottontail rabbits, and the Amami rabbit. There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha. The male is called a buck and the female is a doe; a young rabbit is a kitten or kit.”

I got curious about the long-eared jumpers when I lived on the California coast, next to a vacant bunny-populated lot… loved watching them chase each other and jump in the air. I read half of The Secret Life of Rabbits by R.M. Lockley in the mid-70s (before leaving it on a plane); collected rabbit tchotchkes for a while; and still receive occasional rabbit gifts, most recently some beautiful note cards.

Some of my favorite rabbits are from children’s books – Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books, of course, and Dubose Heywood’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. But even adult lit has come up with good rabbit tales – Watership Down lingo Watership Down lingo has stayed with me for decades – silflay, hruduru… and I loved the characters’ names – Bigwig, Fiver, Efrafa, Cowslip…

Take a gander at more of these rabbits in literature

Do you have any rabbit stories?

What’s your favorite literary animal?

Music To Cook By

VS’s story about making pesto reminded me of the pesto fests that Husband and I had this month as we harvested the too large basil crop  in the garden.  Husband took the leaves off the stems, which I find to be the most tedious of chores, and I whirred up the ingredients in the food processor.  We ended up with 54 jars.

Husband has gout in one of his feet, and  he needs to shift his weight from one foot to the next pretty regularly if he has to stand for any length of time.  I figure that he stripped about 110 cups of basil leaves off the stems this year over three pesto making extravaganzas.  That meant a lot of standing at the sink. He said it would be easier for him if he had some music to listen to and shift his weight to as he took care of the basil.  He thought that Celtic music would be good for the purpose.  One evening we tried something by Clannad, but that was too dreamy and new age.  We finally settled on a disc by Danu, a group we heard once at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. He shifted and danced his way through the basil stems, and it wasn’t too tedious for him at all.

I listen to music as I do paper work for my job. I typically choose classical music for work.  We have music on most of the time at our house, and choose music accordingly for what we need to get done.

What music helps you work?

State Fair 2017

As you all know, I adore the Minnesota State Fair. This year I was able to attend three times: opening day on my own and twice with Young Adult.  Some new things this year: a thorough exploration of the West End area, Macaroni & Cheese Curds, llamas and alpacas in the very back of the horse barn.  And the traditionals as well: Hawaiian Shave ice, bunny whispering, butter heads.  After three years of lusting after them, YA and I caved this year and purchased a big set of Thin Bins, collapsible containers with color-coded lids. We also went home with some t-shirts, assorted bags and cookies.

Even though it is essentially the same parade day after day, it is one of my favorite parts of the fair. I love seeing the different marching bands, the dairy princesses and the art cars.

On reflection though, one of my favorite things about the Fair is the people watching – and the unbelievable “variety” there is in the folks of Minnesota (and Iowa/Wisconsin/Dakota visitors). Lots of different family types, from extended families in matching shirts to young families with their jam-packed strollers.  An amazing array of clothing and shoes – why would you wear bright white tennies to the fair?  Or high-heeled shoes?  Lots of shoppers (YA and I included) getting fancy scissors, wine pouches, shark teeth – this list could go on and on.

So now the fair is finished for another year and I’m already looking forward to next year. If my feet and my pocket book can handle it, maybe I’ll go four times!

Where is your favorite people-watching locale?

Its Own Magazine

Turns out the Mississippi River has its own magazine. I have finally finished reading my latest issue of Big River, which covers news of the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, MN, down to Muscatine, Iowa. Its byline is “Covering the heart of the Driftless Area for 24 years,” although there is usually some news about the Twin Cities. (The Driftless area includes Hastings and Red Wing, as well as La Crosse and Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin, Dubuque and the Quad Cities in Iowa, Galena in Illinois.) It is published six times a year here in Winona.

I devour this magazine. First I read all the Big River News segments, which give updates on everything from the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone to a new plastic pollution problem:  tiny plastic particles from people’s microfiber jackets. Besides environmental issues, these paragraphs cover items like a new bike rental system in Clinton, IA, and an expansion of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. My favorite tells of a new happy hour in St. Paul – the Kellogg Park Craft Beer Overlook: 3 to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays till mid-October. This September-October issue also has a special sidebar detailing and picturing which ditch weeds to NOT PICK because some part of them is poisonous (poison hemlock, giant hogweed, wild parsnip, and cow parsnip).

Feature articles range from “A Tale of Two Neighborhoods”, about North Mpls. and Northeast Mpls, to a short two-pager on kestrels. For the exploring traveler, an article details sights and places between La Crosse, WI to Winona, MN. Restaurant and book reviews are regular features, as are lots of glossy ads – I don’t mind because they are for things and places that interest me.

I just checked, and Big River is available at Minneapolis’ Central Library, but only for “in-house” use. I’ll bring some back copies next time I get to BBC (Blevins Book Club – see top left of this “page”, under Blogroll).

What river, anywhere in the world, would you like to explore?