Thursday, September 25, 2014

Past and Future

Today I look into the past and toward the future.

Into the past
This is my 500th post on this blog.  On this festive occasion I would especially like to thank my children:

- my older daughter, who, when starting her own blog (long since abandoned for other worthy pursuits) also challenged me to blog;    
- my son, who, having no qualms about comparing his mother to a cockroach, thought of the name for this blog; and
 - my younger daughter, who, having the soul of a poet, has provided several guest posts, and is a loyal reader.

I thank my husband and my children for providing endless material, and for putting up with me as I furiously jotted down their dinner conversations. 

I thank you, dear readers out there in cyberland, for reading this blog that is often about nothing.  For me, writing here has provided a welcome diversion from the private and unspoken challenges of our lives here in the Common Household.  My very first post was about head lice, and I like to think that it has been all uphill since then.

Today is my Dad’s birthday.  I miss him.

Today is also Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Days of Awe, and the start of the year 5775.  A palindromic year!  

For a sweet new year
In this post I would like to show you photos of our beautiful, elegant Jewish New Year dinner last night, but I can’t.  We had Chinese food my husband picked up from the grocery store.  (Chinese food is appropriate on the Jewish holiday of Christmas, but not Rosh Hashanah.)  This is because we were in a rush to get to the synagogue early.  I was in charge of last night’s oneg, which supposedly means “delight” in Hebrew, but actually means “a large amount of cakes, cookies, chips, crackers, hummus, and other snacks served after a worship service.”   When I was growing up, this type of event occurred at church every Sunday after worship, and it was called “coffee hour.”  But we never had hummus at coffee hour.   

Into the future
We did have some apples and honey last night and today, to signify our wish for a sweet year.  I wish the same to all of you!

Very soon I expect to be a great aunt.            ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 

Tomorrow I have a big work project due.  So I’m off to try to get some sleep, dreaming of wheat acreage.  But, dear reader, I want to ask about your past and future.  Did you attend coffee hour in your childhood?  What snacks are in your future?

A note for Younger Daughter on Wednesday

Monday, September 22, 2014

Are We So Different?

When I first heard of the museum's exhibit on race, I wanted to make it a church field trip.  Sadly, that never happened. There was way too much stuff going on in my family that required immediate attention, so I couldn’t organize a trip.  Apparently nobody else could or would, either.  I was glad when the opportunity presented itself this past week to just go to the exhibit with another interested friend.
What will humans look like in a thousand years?
Click to embiggen to find one scientist's answer.

My main take-aways from the race exhibit are:

- Sickle cell anemia and genetic resistance to malaria overlap.  Sickle-cell is not a disease of a particular racial group but of people who are from a certain geographic area.

- Sports teams with ethnic or racial names should cease and desist from using those names.  Animal team names are okay, but personally, I think sports teams should be named after food. The Racing Raviolis! The Ferocious Fruit Pies!  The Wild Buffalo Wings!  There are plenty of merchandising opportunities here.

- Brazilians have a lot of words for skin colors.

- Human beings have an insatiable need to categorize.  I think we do this in order to make the world comprehensible to us.  It’s necessary but also very likely to lead us to incorrect conclusions.

- Human beings are incredibly complicated.  (This is actually my main take-away of this entire year of my life.)

In this quote from Eric Holder, he says that Americans “do not talk with each other enough about race.”   Well, yes, but why is that?  Because many feel that they don’t need to talk about it?  (If you are a member of the race with privilege it is unlikely to be very important to you.)  Because it’s too likely that something I say will be taken as an insult by someone else?  Because we have forgotten how to agree to disagree?

It’s a thought-provoking exhibit.  I recommend it.  Here is a tour schedule, although it might be out of date.  And you can see online versions of some of the exhibit here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Einstein Goes To The Museum

Starting in March the Carnegie Museum of Natural History hosted an exhibit on race and racism.  Last Thursday I finally found the time to go see it.  I went with a friend and my buddy Einstein. 

I might share my thoughts on that exhibit in another post.  Right now I want to show you how much Einstein enjoyed this field trip.  There were some surprises.

This display of bugs was right near the elevator.  Very natural history-ish.

Einstein does not seem too thrilled.

Einstein seems to often find himself threatened by birds.  Last year it was a big rubber ducky.  This time it's an eagle sculpture.
Einstein once again in peril - is he going to be lunch for the eagle?

Since the Carnegie is both an art museum and a natural history museum, we were not surprised to see people amongst the dinosaurs, honing their drawing skills.  It was a surprise to be looking down on the dinosaurs from above - not the usual vantage point one gets at a museum.
This photo is here mainly to point out that I was at the
museum WITHOUT CHILDREN so I did not HAVE to
 go see the dinosaurs up close.  
We were thrilled to see these guys in an exhibit about birds which we rushed past on the way to the race exhibit:
Foghorn Leghorn and Opus.

After seeing the exhibit on race, we tried to do a mad rush to see the rest of the museum.  First, to the Hall of Sculpture.  It is surprisingly empty of sculpture, unless you count pillars as sculpture.
This room is just crying out for some activity:
a water balloon fight?  a three-legged race?
One wonders if the sculptures have all gone out for tea.
Some clever sculptures on the second level of the Hall of Sculpture
A few more sculptures, but really,
we are not getting our money's worth of
sculptures in this Hall.
Then we rushed down toward the Hall of Architecture, stopping to see Jane on the way.
Einstein said he did want to stop and see this dinosaur.
 Jane was just hanging out in the hallway,
waiting to use the bathroom.  
 The Hall of Architecture, in contrast to the Hall of Sculpture, is crammed full of artistic objects.  My friend said that this has been her favorite part of the museum since childhood, and with good reason.  It has many fascinating things in it.

Sophocles stands guard at the entrance of the Hall of Architecture.
Einstein at the feet of Sophocles.

All of Sophocles with a little bit of Einstein

The Hall of Architecture contains a clash of ancient and modern.  On the left there is the facade of a Romanesque church from 12th century France, details of which I might show you in another post. There are all those majestic pillary things, which we did not even look at, and a piano hanging dangerously from the ceiling.  

The piano is participatory art - the sign encouraged us to not be afraid and to stand under the piano and take a selfie.  Einstein was game.  

Brave Einstein, among 12th and 21st century art.

All I could think of was the Veggie Tales movie of "Esther" where murderous peas try to drop a piano on the king.  I spent as little time as possible helping Einstein get under this piano.

Did a Boy Scout tie that huge knot?
What kind of knot is it, anyway?

Do you enjoy visiting museums?  What's your favorite?

What event would you want to have in that empty Hall of Sculpture?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tiny Harvest

Onions planted in the "hillside" garden.  Doing quite well
under my 'Plant and Ignore' gardening regimen.

Onions in the strawberry patch

Strawberries in the strawberry patch.  

I had these strawberries on my cereal the next morning!

The strawberries are only about 1/2 inch in size.
The leaves seem to have the measles, but the plants
are still producing flowers and fruit.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Psalm for Andrea

On Friday night, Rabbi led us through a short study of Psalm 27.  She said it was customary to ponder this psalm during the month leading up to the New Year (Rosh Hashanah, which starts the evening of Sep 24 this year). 

Psalm 27 has two parts, first confidence, then insecurity, ending with hope.  Most translations have this in the final verse:  “Be strong and of good courage.”

Andrea is a blogger. I do not know her personally.  From reading her blog, I recognize that she could use some strength and courage.  If you are so inclined, you can visit Andrea’s blog and leave a comment of encouragement, and send prayers and good thoughts on her behalf.

A psalm for Andrea

Lord, be the saving light for Andrea,
So that she can move forward without fear.
Lord, be a living strength in Andrea,
So that she can take the next step in confidence.
If nasty people approach, trip them up and push them away from her.
Even in the face of difficulties and hardships, be right next to Andrea,
So that she can move forward without fear.

Spread over Andrea the shelter of your peace,
Each day and every day.
Make the ground under her feet solid and sure,
So that she can move forward without fear.
When she feels fear and weakness,
Lift up her head and show her eyes the beauty
In the world and in herself.
Enlighten her path,
So that she can take the next step in confidence.

Put a song in Andrea’s heart,
And a melody on her tongue.
Lord, hear her when she shouts for you,
Or at you, or about you.
Send a friend to be heavenly hands and feet,
To help pack boxes or carry boxes or unpack boxes,
So that Andrea can move forward without fear.
Send a friend to be heavenly heart and mind,
To talk, to cry, to laugh, or to be silent.
Keep Andrea safe from enemies and liars,
So that she can take the next step in confidence.

Andrea, look at the world around you,
and the ground under your feet,
At the people near you. 
Can you see in them the spark of life and love, the goodness of God?

Andrea, look for God! 
Be strong, and let your heart take courage.
Move forward and take the next step, looking eagerly for God.

Based loosely on Psalm 27