Thursday, November 27, 2014

thankful

.


So many things for which to be grateful!

Clean air, clean water, sunshine. Rain. Snow.

Family. Friends. Dogs.  Polar bears. Hippos.

Enough to eat.

Modern medicine.

Modern plumbing.

Tampons.

Trees. Autumn leaves. Flowers

Tomatoes. Basil. Garlic. Pasta. Nutella. Oats.  Pumpkin pie for breakfast, especially on Thanksgiving.

Feet that can carry a person without complaining (during, or after).

Eyes that can see well enough.

Hands that comfortably do what we want them to do.

Microbiomes that keep us healthy and functioning.

Brains that consider, and wonder, and synthesize, and decide, and generate ideas.

The ocean, the beach, the sea shells, feathers, sea weed, driftwood, pebbles, beach glass.

Airplanes.  Trains.  Subways.  Buses.

Libraries.  Museums.  Botanical gardens.  Zoos (properly done!)

Cameras. Computers. Software.  The internet.

France. Paris. The Eiffel Tower.  Applesauce with rhubarb.  Baguettes so fresh from the oven they are too hot to handle.  Mirabelle plums.

Washington, DC.  The Smithsonian.  The Metro.

Italy.  Italians.  Tuscany.  Taralli.  Olive oil.  Parmigiano reggiano. Gelato in the middle of the afternoon.

Color. Contrast.  Reflections.  Shadows.

Artists, in whatever medium they may work -- food, fiber, paper, words, paint, chalk, photographs, plants, music.....

Postage stamps. Maps. Menus. Postcards. Greeting cards.

People who take the time and trouble to think first, and act second (or not at all).

Our beautiful planet.

England. The BBC.

Public television.

Perseverance. Generosity. Love. Charity. Responsibility. Courage.

People who TRY.

You, for visiting. Thank you.




.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 19

.

Snow.



Closer crop of the above.



Hill Auditorium.  It's interesting how different a naked stage can look, depending on the lighting.  I was especially caught by the way the lights show up on the organ pipes.



The ceiling.........



We went to hear Jake Shimabukuro, who is the rock star of ukulele players.  Jake is to ukulele as Yo-Yo Ma is to cello.  He's a genius, and he puts on an excellent show (some of it very rock-star-y, and some of it very quiet and contemplative).  Go see him, if you get a chance.  He's wonderful.  He can make a ukulele sound like a banjo, like a Japanese koto, like a rock guitar......  Amazingly fluent, technically, and overflowing with emotion.  And fun.  Do go, if you have a chance.




(Don't forget your earplugs.  It never occurred to me that he might be amplified to the point of pain.  I spent a good deal of the concert protecting my hearing with my fingers.  I used to have earplugs in my pocket all the time, just in case a rock concert came along.  I don't know why I stopped having them.  I think I'll start carrying them again!)

.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 18

.

The night between the 17th and the 18th was COLD.

When I opened the blinds in the study, I discovered the windows were completely frosted.



Frosty sunrise.








Much later in the day.  Still cold.  Walking.



It was too cold and windy to take pics of leaves on the ground.   I brought this one in and took its pic inside.  Bradford pear.



The camera remembered this sunset as much more washed out and pastel than I remembered it.

This is probably more saturated than it really was, but this is how I liked it best, when I started upgrading from washed-out pastel.


.

finding zero

.

Here's another interesting article from SmithsonianMag.com -- the oldest known example of a written (carved in stone) zero....

.

10 oldest known examples of their kind

.

Here is a fun and interesting article from SmithsonianMag.com, about 10 of the oldest known examples of everyday things (shoe, flute, soccer ball, photograph, Apple computer...), and where you can see them up close and personal.  (The computer is right here in southeast Michigan, at The Henry Ford, which we have visited many times.)

I encourage you to click through and see the images of these objects.

.

November 17

.

It snowed.







.

repairing hearing?

.

I'm pretty sure I posted something about this a while ago, but I think this is a more detailed article.

Scientists at the University of Michigan have been able to restore hearing to mice deafened by noise.  The hope is that the techniques used will be helpful for restoring hearing in humans who are losing hearing due to noise and/or aging.

.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Burt

.

Wilbur Gilburt McSneezlepants

November-ish, 1998 -- November, 2014


It's never a good day to put down the dog.  There are only bad days, and worse days.


On November 15, we helped Burt not be in pain.  Not be abandoned at home while we ran errands or took a trip, ever again.  Not worry about stairs, or be unhappy about not being able to jump up onto the couch.  Not worry that that every bit of food he consumed would be the last ever available to him.


We got him 15 years ago.  He was one year old, and had spent that year running stray in rural Kentucky.  He was a friendly, gregarious guy, but as far as we know, he had never had a home.

He adjusted very quickly to the indoor life.  I think he decided he had spent more than enough time being uncomfortable, sleeping outside under a bush.  He decided to put all of that far behind him, and be as comfy as possible, always.  On the cowshe.  Preferably on pillows, in the sunshine.  With a blanket.

He learned very quickly that if he barked at the back door, he could make us open it to let him out, or to let him back in again.  When he came in, especially when it was wet and cold, he would often do victory laps.  It seemed to me that coming into a warm dry house after being outside in the cold and wet, he was so full of joy that he just had to RUN.....

He had a very healthy outlook on life.  He always hoped for the best from everyone he met (but was ready to skedaddle if things looked iffy).  He thought every human might give him a treat, and he never failed to check to see if they would.  He was the kind of person who never missed out on an opportunity because he didn't ask (and ask politely).  He never offered violence to anyone (until the last several months, when he could be cranky with other dogs....).

He has been less and less himself, over the last year or so.  His long-term congestion got worse and worse.  His hearing went, and his vision was going.  Mobility was more and more and more difficult.  He failed a biopsy last spring, done on a bad spot in his mouth, and those rogue cells were multiplying out of control, visible as a swelling on the side of his face that grew and grew.......  I know this was painful for him.

A year ago, I'd have said he had all of his marbles.  Lately, I'd have said that, on a good day he had, maybe, 20% of them.  He began eating things he should not eat (walnut shells, hazelnut shells, locust-tree pods).  He began to be dangerously underfoot (if one of us tripped and fell on him, both of us could have been hurt).  Just lately he forgot he knew how to get us to let him out when he needed to go....


Even so.

It's never a good day to put the dog down.


We hope he has found a cowshe on which to snooze.  In the sunshine, next to a bacon bush.  When he's not exploring the neighborhood (WITHOUT a leash!), checking to see which people will share treats, and which dogs wish to exchange friendly greetings.  We hope he is full of joy.


You were a good dog, Burt.  We miss you.


Remembering him with a smile, when he was himself.....





Note -- I posted this originally on Nov. 16.  Now (on the 24th) I'm moving it so that it fits in chronological order with the rest of the mid-November posts.

.

November 15

.

This is the only pic I took on the 15th.


Note that many things in this pic are broken, despite (or in addition to?) the tunnel of light.

.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

voles! er, I mean, shrews!

.

I wrote this whole post, sure I'd seen voles.  But I thought it might be nice to link to something about them, and I discovered that what I've seen are shrews, not voles!  The sausage shape, the tiny ears, the very short tail....  All three of the ones I've seen were black or very dark gray.  Shrews, not voles. 

Who knew!

(Now I need to find out what the difference is, between mice and voles........)



Before this month, I'd seen exactly one vole, I mean shrew, in my whole life.  It was last year.  I was walking in the neighborhood, and stopped still for a minute (to take a pic, of course).  I heard a rustling at my feet, and then a snout poked out of the vegetation, followed by a head and shoulders....  I moved; it skittered; that was that.

Now, this month, I've seen two voles, I mean shrews, both completely out in the open.  One on the 16th, and one the day before.

Late afternoon walks.  The vole, I mean shrew, was running across the sidewalk, in one case, and over someone's driveway, in the other.

Cloudy days, dark-ish.  Far enough apart geographically (different sides of different blocks) that I don't think it can have been the same vole, I mean shrew, twice.

Don't you think that's odd?  To have basically never seen one before, and now see two in two days?

I wonder if it's just coincidence, or if we're having a vole, I mean SHREW,  invasion..............

I don't think I've ever seen a mouse out in the open like that.

I think seeing those voles, I mean SHREWS, out in the open was at least passing strange.  And that's the "Bizarre News From the Neighborhood" news.

.

November 14

.

Leaves on the back step.  With snow.




Snow on the fence.



Tea in the sunshine.  (And plastic lizard.)



Maple leaf suspended in the weeds.



Blue sky.  Odd fully-leafed branch of maple tree, at right, and tulip tree covered in spent flowers, at left.



Usually there are several branches on the tulip tree that bloom, but not all of them, or even most.  I was surprised, on the 14th, to realize that the top of the tree was awash in bloom, late last spring.  I had no idea.




What you're seeing here are seeds, mostly.  The things that look like petals are seeds.  After all the seeds fall, what's left is the pointy thing you see, bottom right.



Indomitable rose.



More blue sky.


.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November 13

.

It snowed, the morning of the 13th.
video


Then it snowed harder.
video

(I never noticed the neighbor getting out of the car, when I was taking the video....)



Walking, later.

My stalwart rose.  Blooming twice yearly, with no care at all.  Even after it's been days since temps were above the mid-30s (F).  Even after it's snowed.....

The last flower for 2014.






The penultimate rose.  I'm not usually fond of the "dead flower" sort of image, but I like the colors and shapes here....




Maple.



The evening of the 13th, my daughter and I went to a tasting of the Italian art of pasta.  This image is the ceiling and the lights (including strings of lights draped on the wall).



I am pretty pleased with this next one, when it's large.  I don't think it shows up, here, as well as I wish it did.  This is the room, set up for the tasting, with white tablecloths and napkins, and eager tasters waiting. 

Here's a closer crop.

I used the "cut out" filter, which I always think I should like more than I hardly ever do.  In this case I like the way it abstracted the faces, making them more anonymous, and I like the few colors it chose, which I also hardly ever do.



Enough about pics; back to the tasting!

We were all there to listen to Gianluigi Peduzzi of Rustichella d'Abruzzo and Rolando Beramundi of Manicaretti Italian Food Importers talk about pasta.

Gianluigi's father was instrumental in starting Rustichella ("Roos tee CHELLLa") in 1924.  This image shows Rolando talking to us, in front of a slide telling us the three most important things about traditional Italian pasta -- it's made from the best semolina, it is extruded through bronze dies, and it dries slowly at a low temperature.

In addition to learning a lot about pasta -- how different kinds of pasta are made, where different shapes may be made, what their names mean, what is traditionally served with different shapes -- we also learned a bit about Italian history, a bit about Italian pasta traditions (finish pasta in the sauce, then bring the pan to the table, rather than ever serving pasta that has grown cold, and do not break the spaghetti by mashing it down into the water as it begins to cook...), a bit about how to pronounce Italian words (a doubled consonant is pronounced -- do not rush over the Ts in spaghetti, but, rather, linger a moment:  "spa GET ti."  You don't say the T twice, but you give it ... presence.  :-)  )

And, of course, we tasted.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  It never occurred to me to take pics of the pasta.  I guess I was too eager to taste.

Luckily, EJ Olsen, who documents goings-on at Zingerman's, did a much better job than I at recording the food.  I hope you'll click through to see EJ's behind-the-scenes pics in the kitchen, as well as the pasta.

It was all delicious.  If you made me choose, I think maybe the linguine and the orecchiette were my favorites.  Mmmmmmm.  I love pasta..........

A very enjoyable and instructional evening.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.



In case you are wondering, my better half was off at a bridge tournament, where he and his team covered themselves in glory.  Another excellent way to spend an evening!

.

Friday, November 21, 2014

November 11

.

8:09 am.



Later.  Walking.  I have finished Gaudy Night, and have moved on to Hangman's Honeymoon.  Grateful to be able to continue to walk with Harriet and Peter (and Peter's mother, whose diary we are glimpsing on these pages).



Maple.




Spirea.



Dandelion, etc.



Love that little ground-cover thing peeking out from behind the leaves.



Another nice November sky.



I think this is a sweet-gum leaf.


.