asakiyume: (glowing grass)
2017-07-23 09:31 am

buttonbush

The Ashley reservoir is now one of my go-to places to take people when they visit. I took my old college friend and her husband there, and learned that the water-loving plant that I had thought looked very mangrove-y is buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), which grows up and down the Atlantic coast and as far inland as the Mississippi, and is indeed a species in the mangrove biome!

Buttonbush

button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Yesterday I took [personal profile] osprey_archer there (and we read aloud to each other--so much fun), and lo and behold, the buttonbush was in bloom! I didn't have a camera, so she obliged me with a photo:

Buttonbush in flower, by [personal profile] osprey_archer



The flowers look like how pollen looks under a scanning electron microscope:

Buttonbush flowers....

buttonbush flowers

Pollen, much magnified:



(source)

Or, um... like an influenza virus...



(source)

It smells nice, though, and bees and butterflies love it. AS DO I.


asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
2017-07-20 10:04 pm

Idiosyncratic special-made authors card game

Did you ever play the authors card game? We had this when I was a kid: 13 authors--a pretty random assortment of 19th-century English and American writers, all men with the exception of Louisa May Alcott--with four works for each author. You play it like you play Go Fish, with the goal being to get as many completed sets of authors' works as possible. Wakanomori and I enjoyed playing it the other day, but I thought it would be fun to make up a set of YA fantasy works. [personal profile] osprey_archer is visiting, and we created a set. It's a fairly random assortment, only two male authors (CS Lewis and Lloyd Alexander), and two authors I follow here one LJ/DW (that would be [personal profile] sartorias and [profile] pamaladean). The authors had to have four works or series of works; we tried not to list individual works in a series, and we decided all the works should be fiction.

The original Authors game features portraits of the authors...



But we are not good at portraiture, so we used symbols for each author. [personal profile] sartorias, you're a fan! [personal profile] pameladean, you're a sprig of rosemary!

(click through to embiggen)
DSCN6425

DSCN6426

DSCN6427

DSCN6428

DSCN6429

Just now [profile] wakanomori, [personal profile] osprey_archer, and I played it. Very satisfying!
asakiyume: (nevermore)
2017-07-18 07:48 pm

witness bears

Out of the corner of my ear I was listening to a Cornell West lecture from the 1990s, and in it he said "witness bearers," but I heard "witness bears," and I know bare-bear-bear wordplay is low-hanging fruit, but here is a witness bear.

witness bear

In other news, Wakanomori and I are nearly done watching Person of Interest. I *really* have liked this show. Not every single everything--I'm not into gangster plotlines--but all the characters, intensely, and the care with which the overall story arc was handled, and the AI, free will, ends-means, creator-created stuff, very much so.
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
2017-07-16 02:47 pm

The Red Shoes

Today in church one of the altar servers was wearing red ballet-slipper-style shoes with sparkles.

red shoes

They were beautiful, and I was thinking, wow, church has come a long way since Hans Christian Andersen's time (different denomination, too, but let's sail by that issue), when the poor protagonist of "The Red Shoes" eventually HAS TO HAVE HER FEET CHOPPED OFF for the sin of indulging in vanity by wearing her red shoes to church. And then, even after she's repented and had her feet cut off, her bloody feet, dancing in the shoes, keep her from entering the church!

I have vivid memories of the illustrations accompanying this story from the version of HCA's fairy tales that we had when I was a kid--particularly the one of Karen, the protagonist, her hair a wild golden tangle, pleading with the executioner to cut off her feet. With much searching (a zillion people have illustrated HCA, including famous people like Edmund Dulac and Arthur Rackham), I found that the edition we had was called Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by twin sisters, Anne and Janet Grahame Johnstone. They had an overly pretty, slim, stylized way of drawing people that I was fascinated by. I couldn't find the one illustration online, but I did find the one of her going into church all in white... but with the offending red shoes on. Unfortunately the person who took the photo cut off the feet (LOL), so you can't see the shoes, but you can see the glow from them:


(source)

If you click on the source link, you can get more of a sense of the illustrators' style. They had a great illustration for "The Wild Swans" of the prince who ends up still with one arm a wing, but I thought you might like this fairly hot (in an overly pretty way) picture from Tales of Greeks and Trojans:


(source)


asakiyume: (miroku)
2017-07-14 10:18 am

shy like a pigeon

Eve Shi introduce me to this great phrase, shy like a pigeon. It means someone who seems gregarious, but flies off if you get too close. I really understand that! I can be really sociable so long as there's a certain distance built in, like with .... drumroll .... social media!1 Specifically, the sort of interaction that you can get on LJ/DW. You can share all sorts of thoughts, chat, enthuse about whatever it is you want to enthuse about, even give or receive comfort and consolation--but you can also retreat, and by and large people won't mind too much. It reminds me of something [personal profile] sovay said about a writer's characterization, that his characters were "on the whole are drawn more vividly than deeply." It's that type of friendship, vivid but not deep.

Of course you can *make* it deep. I bet anyone who's been online for more than a few years has had serious, lasting friendships blossom from their online interactions. I know several people who've gotten married to people they met online. But when it gets deep, most probably you're no longer interacting solely through LJ/DW. Probably you're meeting up in person, sending private messages or emails, maybe exchanging paper letters, maybe phoning--you're getting to know the person through more than one medium.

But once a friendship is a deep one, you can't convert it back into a shallow one. You can drift apart as friends--that happens--but you'll never not have shared a deep friendship. And if you have a social-media space made up of people who are mainly close friends, that's very different from a social-media space made up of strangers and acquaintances. Speaking for myself (but I'm willing to bet this is true for many people), it changes how you interact. You have responsibilities in a way you don't if you're interacting with strangers and acquaintances.

Musing on the nature of online interactions and in-the-flesh interactions, and what friendship is, etc. etc., has gradually led me to the conclusion that I haven't been a very good real-life friend to very many people. I **haven't** done that thing that gets talked about in every movie and every essay on friendship: I haven't been there as a supportive presence for people in hard times. Not very much. Part of me wants to say that it took my mother dying, and having to be there for my dad, for me to understand what being there for someone really means. Kind of late in life to learn that stuff.

But I'm trying harder now. Still in a very limited way, because, see above, shy like a pigeon. (Or maybe I shouldn't blame shyness. Maybe it's just selfishness.)

I thought I might segue into talking about how being in a social-media space composed of actual friends lends itself to certain types of posts and inhibits others, but as I think about it more, I think a lot of that comes down to personal styles--it's actually hard to generalize on. Maybe what I could talk about would be my own feelings on that--but another time.


1And not just social media. Acquaintanceship through some shared activity can be like this; my interactions with people in my book group feels similar. Warm, friendly, but not too deep.
asakiyume: (birds to watch over you)
2017-07-09 02:22 pm

The Bird Island Boat Tour

We didn't set out with any plan do anything like a boat tour, and when we saw a brochure in a visitors' center somewhere, featuring a puffin wearing a captain's hat and a promise of seeing puffins, we thought it would be fun, but still it wasn't something we were actually planning on doing.



conversation, legends, and bird information under the cut )

My attempts at photographing puffins, razorsbills, bald eagles, black guillmonts ("white wing patches, and sexy red legs" was how Ian taught us to recognize them), and cormorants hanging their wings to drain and dry were hopeless, so I'll post a couple of the Van Schaiks' own photos:

puffins!


razorbills




... and share my sketch of some seals instead. The scribbled note says "Mark said, when I said that they have dog faces, that his dad said the males have dog faces and the females have horse faces."



1 I can't find any corroboration for this legend elsewhere, and I may have mangled it--but anyway, it makes a good story. (The closest thing I find is the remarks of John MacGregor, published in 1828, remarking about fishermen on the other side of Cape Breton, that they
are Acadian French, who live by pursuing cod, herring, and seal fisheries, together with wrecking; at which last occupation, in consequence of the frequent shipwrecks about the entrance of the Gulf during the spring and fall, for several years, they are as expert as the Bermudians, or the people of the Bahamas.
asakiyume: (man on wire)
2017-07-04 10:40 pm

Our secret stream (and phallic tower)

Two posts in one day? Why not!

Wakanomori took me to Holyoke's secret stream, which runs beneath Interstate 91. There's a park there, but these boys preferred the actual stream (so did a chipmunk and an oriole I saw).

Holyoke's secret stream

kids playing in the secret stream

At one end of the present-day park is a closed roadway that leads up into an overgrown, abandoned park. If you climb up and up, you reach this tower that looks like it took its design cues from rude graffiti:

phallic tower

You can climb up a literally falling-apart concrete spiral staircase on the inside of the, uh, shaft, and up top there is a glorious view of the surrounding countryside. Which I didn't take a picture of! I was too busy recovering from the hair-raising ascent. Fortunately, Wakanomori took a picture. He also obliged me by taking pictures of the words of wisdom inscribed there, and of some of the community-created artwork at the base of the tower.

View of Mt. Tom in nearby Easthampton

Mt Tom (Wakanomori's photo)

Wisdom

wisdom (wakanomori's photo)

Art

artwork (wakanomori's shot)
asakiyume: (far horizon)
2017-07-04 02:36 pm

they that go down to the sea in mines

While we waited on the Bay of Fundy for a ferry to take us to Nova Scotia, we walked around on a little patch of shore. There were lots of sea-smoothened pieces of shale there, perfect for skipping on the waves, or for decorating a piece of driftwood.

shale (and coal) on driftwood

You see the slightly sparkly stone, four from the right end? I have another piece like that. That's not shale. We thought it might be coal, but couldn't be sure.**

Later, we were staying in an old house in the coastal town of Port Hood. The house looked, from the exterior, like it ought to be haunted. We found out it had been built by someone who had made money in coal mining. Among the setbacks (disasters, more like) were that the mines sometimes flooded. Gradually, we realized that the mines had been . . . under the sea. As Wakanomori said: they would have found coal seams in the cliffs and then... worked their way down to under-the-water.

I mean, coal mining is always scary work, but PUTTING IT UNDER THE OCEAN makes it considerably more scary. As the housekeeper at the (potentially) haunted house put it, "I don't know how hungry I'd have to be to go down into that."

A cliff (not at the same place... but representative)

Cliff, St. Croix Cove

Then at one of the northernmost inhabited points on Cape Breton, we went on a little boat out to see puffins (and did see them! I hope I can do a whole post about that trip) and other pelagic birds, and the young captain (third-generation of tour-boat operators) was telling us more about erstwhile undersea mines, and meanwhile there were seals out on the rocks, watching us.... and swimming in the water and regarding us with just their heads peeking out...

More seals at Bird Island, Big Bras d'Or

... and now I think, there is a story out there about the dangers of the mines, and flooded mines, and selkies, and when I have it worked out, I'll share it with you.

**The day after the puffin tour, we found ourselves a town called Sydney Mines, a much-boarded-up town that no longer has any mines, but that does have a fossil museum and a room given over to artifacts from the mining days. There was some coal on display, and I was able to confirm that yes, the item I'd picked up on Nova Scotia's southern coast was indeed coal. Maybe if I sleep with it under my pillow, that selkie mining story will come to me faster.
asakiyume: (good time)
2017-07-01 08:57 pm

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada







I'm just back from a truly wonderful visit to Nova Scotia. I have so much to catch up with from everyone here! I had absolutely no Internet whatsoever, so it'll take time, but in the meantime, I wanted to share--just as a start--photos of the good cheer evident in every town we visited. Today marks Canada's 150th birthday! There were flags and red-and-white balloons and streamers everywhere, as well as a special flag representing Canada's multicultural heritage. (And, although Canada, like the United States, has its share of shame for various cultural conflicts, what we saw everywhere were efforts to include and listen to everyone--so encouraging.)

We got so into it, we put flags on our dashboard for the drive back across the border.

Happy 150 Canada

Happy Birthday, Canada! Canadian friends, you have an excellent country.

Happy 150 Canada

Happy 150 Canada Happy 150 Canada Happy 150 Canada Happy 150 Canada


asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
2017-06-23 11:38 pm

Away until evening of July 1

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)
2017-06-22 11:14 pm

Lovely Ashley Reservoir

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)
2017-06-19 08:17 am

she's just my boardwalk briar rose







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)
2017-06-18 04:03 pm

this isn't how it's supposed to work

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)
2017-06-15 02:48 pm

another graduation

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)
2017-06-14 10:20 am
Entry tags:

Cryptids I have known: an occasional series

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)
2017-06-12 11:56 am

some images from the past week

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)
2017-06-07 07:23 am

Away for a few days

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!
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
2017-06-06 04:38 pm

Blessings

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)
2017-06-03 11:50 am

not your everyday dumpster-diving find

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!


asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
2017-06-01 12:06 am

Juracán







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