• Growing Up in a Small Town

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     “More common sense can be induced by observation of the diversity of human beings in a small town than can be learned in academia.” – Louis B. Wright

    Sherwood Anderson knew the lie in this quote.  Observation of the diversity of human beings in a small town can teach us a great deal, but common sense is not often part of it.  Winesburg, Ohio is a work that sticks in the memory because, like Spoon River Anthology, it knows the individuals in a small town are just that, individuals, no more imbued with common sense, good sense, or evil, for that matter, than folks in any other place.  This quote comes from the following book:  Barefoot in Arcadia, University of South Carolina.  Might explain the naivete.  Or, it might not.

    I succeeded in marrying the endurance program of Core Performance with the resistance work.  Felt good and will prove manageable.

    Getting that get down to work feeling again.  The last week or so have seen me immersed in productive activity, but not on point when it comes to writing new stuff.  Got waylaid on the marketing/distribution work, so I have to get back to that, but I want to work outside some tomorrow, get started on the firepit.  Nice to have choices and good work to choose.

  • Diffusion or Delusion?

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    Sheila lectured this morning on divination and origin stories among African nations.  The morning felt long.  Maybe it was me; maybe it was a conflict I keep having bewteen the art historical approach and the anthropological.  In art history the appearance of similarity is often taken as evidence of diffusion, that is, one culture influences another.  In fact, diffusion often does not explain similarities.  A classic example is pyramid forms in Mayan cities.  Early antiquarians felt the pronounced similarities with Egyptian pyramids sealed a  relationship.  They did not, however, explain how Egyptians got to Central America or the Central Americans got to Egypty.  No contact, no diffusion.  Even though Thor Heyerdahl showed that trans-oceanic travel could occur given simple technologies, that is not the same as providing evidence that it happened.  The anthropological approach demands broader evidence than stylistic simliarity or similarity between one set of stories and another. Why?  Because, as humans, we often follow similar paths to problem solving–you might call them AncienTrails.

    After, I wandered the galleries, always happy to have the museum to myself.  Ran into John, a guard, whose father has some industrial design work on display in the Don Harley exhibition.  Since I’m assigned to the Modern Design galleries for a SuperValu event this Wednesday, I’ll show off his Dad’s work which includes a plastic flyswatter, a metal flask and plastic ribbon dispensers.  All high concept design.

    The other project was a magic of myth tour I’ve got coming up on Sunday.  This one wants Roman and Greek mythology.  A lot more objects than I’d thought.  I wrote them down and will do some research, consider a theme.

    The museum speaks to me.  When I’m alone there, the art begins to accumulate, put layers on my heart.  Later, perhaps days or months later, my heart will work through what I learned.

  • Isolation, Volcanoes and Perfume

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    In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.
      – Andre Maurois

    Even though the trip is three months away, the travel bug has begun to gnaw at my attention, drawing me toward the Pacific and that peculiar place neither fully Asian nor fully Western nor fully Polynesian, Hawai’i. 

    When Kate first suggested going to Hawai’i back in 1992, I said no.  “There are a lot of places I want to see before beaches and surfboards.”

    She persuaded me. 

     The islands had me at the fragrance of wet soil, evident even when walking on the skyway from the plane to the terminal on Honolulu. It was so pungent, redolent of sailing ships and Buddhas, navigating by the waves and stars.  Then, the flowers and the perfume of gardenia and jasmine thick even at highway speeds.  Blues, so many blues, from cerulean to sky to turquoise.  Greens in even more shades.  Greens that climb the mountains, dive into the ocean, and all that wasted green on the golf courses.   Most powerful, and I do not sun bathe, the scent of coconut oil and warmed human flesh.  Whenever I smell coconut oil, I’m plunged back into the sweetness.

    Each time I’ve gone since that first trip I’ve had a theme, something I wanted to pursue in more depth.  One trip it was the isolation.  Look at the map.  Hawai’i is as far away from the continental experience as you can get on terra firma.  One evening I sat on the beach on Kauai, listening to the waves crash against the shore.  Brilliant pieces of glass sparkled in the black sky.  All at once the time between the waves became prominent, a silence, a caesura.  The isolation of the islands dwelt in that silence. 

    Another time I investigated volcanoes.  We stayed at Volcano House on the rim of Kilauea.  I spent a week hiking Kilauea and Mauna Loa.  We managed to be there during a six week cessation in an eruption which has been otherwise consistent since 1983 and which picked up the week after we left.  Even so, I hiked out on the lava field from the Puu ‘O ‘O eruptions.  Hiking on lava is difficult; it is sharp, jagged and unsmoothed by erosion.  When I got out of sight of the visitor area, which took over an hour, it was as if I had landed on an alien world.  There were no plants, no buildings, no roads, no signs of life.  All I could feel was the occasional heat from lava coursing through lava tubes beneath my feet.

    Not sure right now what I want to have for a focus, maybe just r&r.  Write, relax, hike, eat fish and papaya.  Something will probably come to me.

  • A Moving Sunday

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    Kate and I plan to move items around in the living room and kitchen today, putting some of the finishing touches on our remodeling.  Her cold has abated, so her energy is fearsome.  She’ll work me hard, at least until 11:30 when the Vikes and Packers come on the tv.

    Jon asked Kate to help him redesign their kitchen for an addition he and Jen plan.  With two little ones they’ll need more crawl space.  Jen has also considered becoming a day care provider, which, with her early elementary experience, would be a great fit.

    All for now, because a work load is calling me.

  • The Byte Master

    Bill Schmidt came over this afternoon and coached me in Word Press.  He did the heavy lifting when it came to shifting my website created in FrontPage to this new vehicle, Word Press.  I’m glad he made the change because I don’t understand what he did.

    Bill and I have spent 20 years plus in the same men’s group.  I’ve gone from from 40 to 60 over that time and Bill from 50 to 70.  That length of time together builds a lot of trust, much like a marriage.  He has the password to my site and continues to fiddle with some of the nuances.  Where did the navigation bars on the old site go, for example.

    He coached me in the original change when I put up AncientTrails for the first time.  I had a couple of months of enforced leisure then, thanks to surgical repair of my ruptured right Achilles tendon.  Thanks to his help then, I’ve picked up Word Press quicker.  Still a lot to learn, but that’s part of the fun of doing this. 

    Hope to see your comments here some time soon.

  • Korean soap operas and the Silk Road

    Back from a night at the U of M’s Institute for Advanced Studies.  The occasion was a lecture on Chang’an, the capital of the Tang empire and site of the present day city of Xi’an.  The lecture, as well as a pipa concert on Sunday at 3 PM at Kaufman, celebrates the 25th anniversary of a relationship between Minnesota and Shaanxi province as sister states.

    A supper preceded the event, paid for by somebody, and had a variety of Chinese dishes, whether indigenous to Shaanxi or not, I do not know.  Over supper I met a Korean woman, a Catholic, who is a professor of history at the Catholic University of Seoul.  She’s here on a one year research fellowship to study Asian history.  Why Minnesota?  We have a good Asian history contigent here at the U.  Her name was Seon-Hye.  Next to me was a graduate student in history, a Chinese woman, who has as her dissertation project women’s writing in China from the 18thC on.  Seems women wrote poems to celebrate their locality.  Beside her was Yoshimi, a Japanese graduate student.  We got to talking about Korean soap operas.  Yoshimi said they were very popular in Japan, so much so that Japanese young women take tours to Korea to see sites where their favorite soap operas happen.   The Chinese woman, whose name I didn’t learn, agreed, saying the Korean dramas were very popular in China, too.  

    Huang, a young Mandarin man, is a student of the Qin dynasty.

    The lecture that followed supper was on Chang’an and its cosmopolitan nature, demonstrated through art and a mini-history of the silk road.  The lecturer was Kathy Ryor, a professor from Carleton College. 

    Also picked up a pair of new sunglasses today.  Snazzy and gray/blue in tint.  Gives the world a slight wintry cast.

  • Changing the Scenery

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    First snow.  After a scatter of flakes, a beady snow dropped onto our deck, bouncing before it came to a rest.  Didn’t last long, but it was enough.  This first snow has a magical quality, a true signal that the theatre of the seasons has changed scenes and scenery.  Clouds give the day an intimate quality, the sky closer to the earth.  The brown of dead lives and withered perennials has small shadows of white. 

    This is the time the evergreens begin to stand out.  The pachysandra on the third tier under the Colorado Spruce is a nest of shiny green leaves; the cedar trees in our woods stand tall, their flat needles green against the leafless oaks, big-tooth aspens, ash and black locust.

    In my northern heart this time, called by the Celts Samain, through to Imbolc, the time when lambs came into the belly in old Ireland, around February 1st, defines me and those who live here.  This is our time as summer is the time of Southern California and Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.   Part of it is because of what we endure, for them the heat and aridity, for us, the cold and the snow, but it is more, much more, than that.  It is the difference between cranking up the snowblower and pushing the button on a power boat, between walking through knee deep snow, exhilirated, and walking through 107 heat refreshed by the mists from those outdoor cooling devices.  To my northern heart exhiliration trumps wilting in the heat; but I know that’s my bias, a bias not shared by the hundreds, thousands of Minnesotans who become snowbirds each winter, migrating to warmer climes.

  • Chicken Soup for the Body

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    A quiet night.  Kate came home early.  A good thing since she was sick, a cold.  I made her chicken noodle soup.  Had to rely on my concoction since none of the cookbooks had anything similar to what I usually make.  My recipe of choice is on Golden Plump chickens and I bought Tyson chicken at Costco.  Came out ok anyhow.

    Feels strange to use this other process for putting up entries, but I’ll get use to it.  It will be awhile before I have the hang of the whole deal.  It’s complex, but, so far, reasonably straightforward.  After Bill put my stuff into Word Press in the first place.  Thanks, Bill.

    He’s coming over  on Saturday to help me finesse certain aspects of the site.  A good friend.