asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
On Saturday morning, we're heading out to Nova Scotia. We will have very limited Internet, so I will be scarce--but I'll see you all in July. In the words of my roommate, sophomore year of college, hang loose and stay real.
asakiyume: (far horizon)
What I love about the Ashley Reservoir in Holyoke is that it has paths that run slender and reedlike right across the water--you can run or walk or bike along them and have water on both sides of you and the sky above you, and you will feel indescribable. Under the water are columns and drifts of water plants that the fish swim around and past, not even bothered (apparently) by how mazelike the plant-columns are, and on the water's surface are lily pads and often geese or ducks, and beside or sometimes in the water are turtles, and rising out of the water are reeds, and in the air are swallows and red-winged blackbirds

I wish I could have taken pictures earlier, when the geese had goslings and the irises were blooming. But it's very beautiful now, too.

paths through the water

DSCN6221

on a path

Ashley Reservoir

Ashley Reservoir


more photos from the reservoir )
asakiyume: (glowing grass)






Sounds like a line in a country song, but in fact it's a literal thing: here is indomitable Rosa multiflora, the rambling rose, coming up through the boardwalk over the marsh by our house.



Also coming up through and around the boardwalk are some boardwalk Virginia creeper, some boardwalk poison ivy, some boardwalk oriental bittersweet, some boardwalk Japanese knotweed, and some boardwalk brome grass.

Many thanks to Wakanomori for the photo of the boardwalk briar rose!
asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
Little Springtime (who lives in Japan--I had better add that detail,or the story may be confusing) told me about an interesting experience she had in a bar. She's sporting a new haircut and looking pretty boss; she used to look a teensy bit like Taylor Swift, but now she looks a teensy bit like Scarlett Johansson with short hair.

...Okay, she's blond; that's it. She actually doesn't look anything like Scarlett Johansson--just, she's blond, and now has short hair and is looking slightly tough, but not mean-tough.

So she's in the bathroom, and there are two young Japanese women her age in there eyeing her, and one of them says something to the other, but LS can't tell whether it's critical or complimentary. She hurries out. Then one of the two come up to her at the bar and says, "You look really cute!" which pleases LS, and they get to talking, and LS ends up asking her what she does for work, and the woman says, "I'm a sex worker." Whereupon LS quickly marshals all her feminist thinking and says something along the lines of "Oh, okay; cool," and--since she has complicated feelings about sex work--soon turns the conversation elsewhere.

At some point, the young woman passes a thousand-yen note (very roughly equivalent to ten dollars) to LS, saying, "because you're so cute," and LS is thinking, generally money is supposed to flow the other way? , so she says, "How about we *share* a drink?" And so they do.

Also. . .
I know this is going to seem like a very bad pun and nothing more, but the truth is I've been wanting to share this cool picture of all these different heads of screws for some time--so why not now?? Aren't they cool? I never knew that screws could be so fancy and so various.

asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
The other day I went to a high school graduation, but today was graduation for the people in the special program I help out in. There's some overlap between the two graduations, but a lot of today's graduates were not at the high school graduation.

I was standing near the front to try to take some photos, and who should I find at my left elbow at one point but the young mayor of Holyoke! I blurted out, "You're one of my heroes," and then told him the story of the girl pointing him out with pride to her relative.

He spoke at this graduation, too, said he felt especially close to this program because of his own parents: his mom dropped out of high school because she was pregnant, and his father dropped out too. In her forties, his mother went back to school and got her GED, and then--even though she had never thought it would be possible--she went on to become a nurse.

Two former graduates spoke about what they were doing now (one is in a transition-to-college program and one is in college)--they said that whenever they have something they don't understand, they come back in to get help from the teachers here. Then several of the students spoke. One talked about how he thought he was going to have to drop out of the program because he couldn't find childcare for his son, but the staff wouldn't let him--they had him bring his son along. Another spoke about dropping out of school and then getting in trouble with the law and thinking he wouldn't be allowed back because he had an ankle bracelet police monitor device on, and being welcomed by the teachers. I saw the mayor wiping tears from his eyes.

And this time, I got pictures. I don't feel free to share them, but believe me: they are beautiful.


asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
Today's cryptid is the Bandit Cat

Bigger than your average housecat, it weighs about as much as a Canadian lynx, but with a gorgeous bushy tail that is the envy of lynxes. A bite from a radioactive human endowed the Bandit Cat with a taste for McDonald's food and a desire to play percussion in a garage band. Its name comes from the mask it wears in a poor attempt to hide its identity. If you want to see the Bandit Cat, leave some McDonald's food or a drum set out--or just put the McDonald's food in a metal trash can; that works, too. If you compliment it on its sick beats, you'll have a friend for life.

Bandit Cat


(source)
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
Things hanging from a line: it could be grape vines encumbering utility lines...

grape vines on the utility wires

... or, this morning, it could be laundry. I like my new line-lifting pole (a fallen tree bough), it's like a mast.

laundry

Yesterday, our neighbor across the street was celebrating her daughter's college graduation. THIS GIANT RED BIG-RIG CAB was bringing all the boys to the yard. Literally.

Big red truck calls the boys to the yard

Out back that same evening, ferns were green flames in the deep shade. I love ferns; they were my wings in childhood.

Fern-green flame
asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
I'll be away for a few days and without any Internet, but back on Friday late in the day. Keep on keeping on in the meantime!

Blessings

Jun. 6th, 2017 04:38 pm
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Last week I went to the graduation of one of the high school students I'd been tutoring. The high school she was at has a history of low performance, which probably contributed to the huge joy and sense of celebration in the air for this ceremony. Everybody was really, really rooting for these kids; each one represents a huge victory for everyone--the kids themselves, the families, the teachers, the whole community.

That sense of community spirit! The very young mayor of the city was there, and when he got up to speak, a girl sitting in front of me--maybe eleven or twelve years old--said to her older relative with pride, "Do you see him? He's our mayor." I have never lived in a place where a little kid would be that enthusiastic for a local politician.

Afterward, I had to walk a few blocks to get to where I had parked, and on my way back I couldn't stop smiling. A guy coming the other direction said to me, "God bless you sister," as we passed, and I did feel blessed.
asakiyume: (Hades)
The reason I feel anxious when I dump off my papers in the paper recycling dumpster is because people like me will see interesting items and pull them out--as I did, yesterday. I was attracted by the fancy handwriting. The book in which it had been inscribed was falling apart, but I grabbed the first few pages to situate the dedication.

Erle Stanley Garnder to Frances G. Lee

It might have been hard to decipher the name of the person who was making the inscription if it didn't happen to be ... the author of the novel!

copyright page

Although he was writing under one of his many pseudonyms:

title page

I thought the name "Erle Stanley Gardner" sounded somehow familiar--and a Google search told me that yes, indeed: he was the creator of Perry Mason and many other mysteries. Regarding his writing, the Thrilling Detective website says, "Although critics sneered and many felt that Erle Stanley Gardner was not a very good writer ... Gardner was one of the best selling writers of all times, and certainly one of the best-selling mystery authors ever."

Erle Stanley Gardner


source

Armed with this knowledge, and with some effort (and invaluable aid from Wakanomori), I take the dedication to read,

To my friend and
instructor
Capt. Frances G. Lee -- Trooper Gardner reporting.
With all my love
Erle
Stanley Gardner
June 1958

So who was Captain Frances--female spelling--G. Lee?

Well! She turns out to be Frances Glessner Lee, whom Wikipedia tells us is the "mother of forensic science"!

She had to wait until she was 52 to embark on the career for which she became famous, but at that point she inherited a fabulous fortune that enabled her to pursue her studies and endow departments of legal medicine, police science, and a library.

Further, Wikipedia tells us that "for her work, Lee was made an honorary captain in the New Hampshire State Police in 1943, making her to first woman to join International Association of Chief of Police."

a picture of her

source

And, Erle Stanley Gardner dedicated several novels to her.

... and somehow one that he'd sent to her himself, with an inscription, ends its life in a recycling dumpster in my town. I wonder who owned the book?

an extra, on prisons )

In any case: not your everyday find!


Juracán

Jun. 1st, 2017 12:06 am
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)






Here's something I just learned:
According to some of the chroniclers, particularly Pané and Las Casas, the Amerindians from Hispaniola recognized the existence of an eminently benevolent being. His name has been spelled in different ways, but in Puerto Rico it is commonly written as Yuquiyú. There was also a furious and malevolent being known as Juracán, from whose name the word hurricane is derived, which denotes the Caribbean's extraordinarily destructive storms.
--Fernando Picó, History of Puerto Rico: A Panorama of Its People (Princeton: Marcus Wiener Publishers, 2006), 17.

Coincidentally, we had some fantastical clouds prior to a thunderstorm today. The clouds looked Jovian:

wild clouds

clouds

password

May. 27th, 2017 12:59 pm
asakiyume: (the source)
When I started off on LJ, I created a super-beautiful, idiosyncratic password that gave me pleasure to type. When I re-started a DW account, the password I created was ... way less beautiful. And yet it turns out that I feel just as happy to type in the DW password and to write an entry or read other people's entries as I did/do to type in the fancy-special password.

... I guess it doesn't hurt to make marvelous passwords that you love, but on the other hand, it really is just a password, and it's getting on the actual site and doing stuff there that's The Thing.

This video is unrelated to passwords--it's Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner reading one of her climate change poems. The words are beautiful and heartbreaking, but also hopeful: They say you . . . wander rootless with only a passport to call home, and when she read it in 2014 at the United Nations climate summit, she got a standing ovation; people were very moved. Watch all the way through.




asakiyume: (more than two)
Well well well. Common names get thrown about and applied pretty randomly, so maybe **some**one calls mountain laurel shad tree, but I'd misunderstood my father: he wasn't saying that mountain laurel = shad tree; he was saying that there's another tree that blooms at the same time that's called that.

Searching on Wikipedia, I find that the genus Amelanchier has several species that get called shad tree or shadbush (they also get called things like serviceberry, a name I know I hear a lot).

As you'll see, there's alder-leaved shadbush, lovely shadbush, downy shadbush ... pick a shadbush to suit your mood! Maybe red-twigged?

But don't confuse it with mountain laurel!

Mountain Shadbush

(source site)
asakiyume: (holy carp)
When I was telling my father about the fish elevator and all those shad, he told me that he'd learned from a friend that mountain laurel, which blooms around now, is known as "the shad tree"--because when it blooms, that's when the shad run.

He just called to tell me I'd misunderstood: It's not that mountain laurel are called shad tree, but that there's another tree, that blooms at the same time as mountain laurel, called shad tree. Actually, several trees in the genus Amelanchier go by that name, including this, Amelanchier bartramaiana, the mountain shadbush (also known as oblong serviceberry--ahh, names):



(Source)



(Here's a photo from Flickr of mountain laurel--not a shad tree or shadbush--by Flickr user Robert Ferraro--you can click through to see it larger.)
Kalmia latifolia - Mountain Laurel

He also told me that there was a law in Boston in the 18th century that you couldn't feed apprentices shad more than twice a week... which gives you a sense of its plentifulness at that time (and its low regard). (I searched law+apprentices+shad and found confirmation in a Google books excerpt from The Literary Era: A Repository of Literary and Miscellaneous Information (published 1901), which says,
From a recently published report of the Pennsylvania Fish Commission, it would appear that similar troubles were not unknown in eighteenth-century Philadelphia. The low prices of fish tempted many master mechanics to keep their apprentices on a lenten diet. Shad were particularly common and particularly cheap--so common and so cheap, in fact, that they were considered fit only for Indians, helots, and apprentices. The apprentices revolted ... The youngsters ... triumphed so far that the law relating to indentures was changed so that the boys "were not to be fed on fish more than twice a week." (p. 298)
asakiyume: (holy carp)






Behold the powerful falls at the Holyoke dam. Holyoke Gas and Electric generates power here.



This dam is a barrier to fish that need to get upstream to spawn. There have been various means of solving this problem, but at present it's a literal elevator, a huge mechanism powered by giant turbines and with great chains that lift boxes of water, packed with fish, up above the falls. Yesterday Wakanomori and I went to see it--a marvelous experience!

It has very cute signposts:
Enter Fishway

In the informational room, there's a diagram that shows how the elevator works. You can see the giant turbines:

How the elevator works

And a tally of how many fish have been lifted: yesterday was a record for American shad. (In the colonial days, they used to say that when the shad were running, you could walk across the Connecticut river on their backs.)

Fish elevator totals

photos and videos of fish, people watching fish, people fishing, and massive machinery )


fights

May. 17th, 2017 05:41 pm
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
It was one of the women at the jail who first told me that middle school and high school kids film their fights with their phones and then post them on Youtube. Then last week one of my high school tutees was talking affectionately about one of her younger sisters. "She's so bad," she said, laughing, and showed me a video on her phone of her little sister and another girl fighting. They had hands in each other's hair. "Ouch," I said, "that looks like it hurts!" "She's so bad," my tutee repeated, shaking her head and smiling.

I went online and found other videos, with breathless remarks from the person doing the filming. None of the ones I happened to look at were cases of someone being beaten up (though I'm sure that happens too), and none of them were mass melees (though same). These were ... well, in some cases they seemed like duels: there were seconds hanging back on both sides, and the fight was very short, and then it was like the seconds decided it was over. And in other cases it kind of reminded me of training? Like, instead of boxing or mixed martial arts, you're doing homemade fighting.

And the people filming. They seemed from their voices and their excitement levels so YOUNG. "Come on, hurry up, Celie! Somebody grab my sister!" exclaims one kid, and then, "Come on, fight fight fight, yo!" And in another video, a similarly young-sounding kid (a boy whose voice hasn't changed yet) shouts out advice ("keep your head up"), and when one of the fighters says "I can't breathe!" he calls out for everyone to stop. The girl says, "This asthma," and the kid says, "I fucking hate asthma too."

I know there are way worse fights. I know people get really badly hurt--I've seen scars my students in the jail have. That's not what was going on in the videos I happened to see, though.

I remember one of my other high school tutees, a *tiny* girl, talking about finally having to fight someone to get people to stop taunting her. I couldn't believe that having a fight would do that--I would have thought it would just escalate things. But apparently not.

Me, I'm wrapped in a floor-length robe of ignorance, with a fluffy hat of ignorance on my head. I don't have any summarizing statement to make or judgment to pass, beyond to say---I mean, maybe this is picking up on the high spirits of the people making the videos? and the casual attitude of my student?--but I felt surprisingly un-bad about the fact of the fights. I don't want kids to be ganged up on and beaten up, and I **definitely** think there are other ways to settle differences or strut your stuff. But ... maybe this is one possible way to settle differences and strut your stuff that isn't as bad as all that if all parties are willing? I don't know! See above: ignorance.

a fight

fighting

May colors

May. 13th, 2017 11:51 am
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
A few photos of this lovely time of year

May at Lampson Brook Farm

May at Lampson Brook Farm

May wildflowers

a rescue

May. 12th, 2017 11:16 am
asakiyume: (bluebird)
I saw a pickup truck pulled up on the opposite side of the road from me as I was driving to do the recycling. As I neared the spot, I saw a catbird just sitting in the road ahead of me, not moving. The burly guy in the pickup truck said, "There's a bird in the road."

I stopped. The guy's lanky companion, who was outside the truck, approached the catbird with a jacket in his hands, to pick it up gently and without touching it. Just as he was about to, the bird fluttered off the road and into the long grass and dandelions. "He tricked me!" said the lanky guy. The guy in the truck shrugged his shoulders and laughed.

I drove on, really happy that those two guys--going in the opposite direction--were willing to stop and help out a catbird in need, even if in the end the catbird declined the offer. IRL goodness.
asakiyume: (the source)
I picked some violets after a run today--I saw them on a hillside, a really rich, deep purple. At home I have lots of violets too, but the purple ones are more washed out. Then there are the white ones with purple veins, and best of all, the speckled ones.

Here they all are in a little vase:

violets

And here is a photo of one of those trees of gold that grow in fairy woods, along with trees of silver and trees of crystal. This one has been felled by a beaver. Look how beautiful its bark is.

golden bark

And here is a tree that has been gnawed at three different spots. Three beavers sharing a meal? Or one beaver not satisfied with the taste and hoping it gets better if he tries a different spot?

beaver breakfast table
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Have people read this? I had heard about it and was mildly curious because of the child protagonist, but not curious enough to overcome my dislike of zombie stories. Then I read Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone's comments on the movie (here), which really interested me--so I read it.

I reviewed it on Goodreads. I did indeed like Melanie, the young protagonist. As expected, I didn't much care for a lot of the mainstay things that you apparently need to have in a zombie/horror story, but I could just page on by.

The thing that got me was the ending--so this discussion should only be for people who've either read the book/seen the movie or don't mind spoilers.

Discussion about the ending )

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