Wednesday, November 19, 2008
...By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,--
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,--
By the mountain--near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,--
The day after we moved in to our new place, our neighbors-next-door graciously offered to show us part of the lake we now call home from a boat owned by our landlord, a businessman in Chicago. We occupy the upstairs part of one of his two houses here. Our gracious neighbors live in the downstairs part of the other house. It's rather an unusual living arrangement, I will admit, but these times we live in sometimes call for unusual tactics. Our neighbors call Springfield home and own property there just as we still own a home in Florida. They have decided, as we have, not to sell in this dismal real estate market. We are trying to remain optimistic about the future. I took the picture above of a coal-fired electric plant across the lake from us as a representation of optimism. The people of this area have a longstanding acquaintance with downturns and so must constantly look forward to a brighter day. The power plant plays a key role in making that dream a reality by providing energy, cleanly and cheaply, from an abundant area resource--coal. Clean coal technology, employed by this recently modernized plant owned by Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, aims to reduce emissions, and--despite what some ardent critics of modern living choose to believe--it succeeds. The plant provides hundreds--if not thousands--of jobs in the area for miners, electricians, plant operators, administrative staff, truck drivers, and maintenance people.
By the gray woods,--by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp,--
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,--
By each spot the most unholy--
In each nook most melancholy,--
I am thankful to have ready access to electricity. Without it, we would be left in the dark, feel darn cold here this time of year, and our bellies would not be filled with warm, home-cooked meals.
There the traveler meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past--
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by--
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the worms, and Heaven...
You may be wondering about the prevalence of Egyptian sounding names on these street signs. The area--variously known as Greater or Little Egypt, depending on the perspective--has an interesting, often dark, history. You know me. Like another blogger you should know by now--if you read the comments and follow their links--I feel compelled to dig a little into the history of a place, especially if it seems to be covered in some "dirt." My digging uncovered some online articles like this one by Jon Musgrave, who admits that there are differing opinions about the origin of the area's name--Egypt. I like the fact that there is no one single "right" or "wrong" answer to the question of origin. As one of my new blogger friends (hope it's all right to call him friend!) admits, even absolutes like temperature can sometimes be relative. History is no exception to that rule (?!), and the southern part of this Land of Lincoln has a lot of it--history, that is. Some of it involves things like massacres, and I'm not even referring to any involving Native Americans. Unions have played a large part in the region's dark past as well as in creating a bright future for many residents of this state--even newcomers like us. Oh wait. We aren't newcomers. Hubby was born and raised not far from where we live right now. His dad and grandfather were coal miners. Several members of his family are or were members of various unions. So you could say we have a stake in what happens to the natural resources so abundant in this region and so important to its future, as well as the future of this entire nation of workers.
Of course, here on the lake even hard workers find time to relax, and what could be more relaxing than casting a line and maybe even catching a few fish? Another one of my favorite bloggers has asked me to prepare and share some recipes for freshly caught lake fish after I asked her for her own fish curry recipe (you will need to read her comment section on that coral jasmine post to find it). Hubby would like to be doing some of this kind of casting about pictured above, but his boat--at least one as nice as this--will have to wait for some time in the future. We will learn to be content as bank or kayak fisher-people for a while. This blogger who likes to play in the dirt of history will be returning to school soon and working on her Master's degree in--what else?--Workforce Education and Development at Hubby's alma mater. I will eventually have an even bigger stake in the heart of this region known as "Egypt."
For the heart whose woes are legion
'T is a peaceful, soothing region--
For the spirit who walks in shadow
'T is--oh 't is an Eldorado!
But the traveler, traveling through it,
May not--dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills the King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses...
--from Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Dream-land," 1844--
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
On Monday I had the good fortune to attend a Town and Country Garden Club meeting near the small town from which we just recently moved. Susan, the lady hosting the meeting, amazed me as well as the other ladies present with a veritable multitude of talents. She and her husband have transformed a 100-year-old cabin into a warm, inviting home by adding features like this stone hearth and gas fireplace. The gourds displayed on the hearth belong to the guest speaker, Diane White from the Marion garden club. Diane gave an interesting presentation about preparing, painting, and finishing the gourds. She said she uses leather dyes, acrylic paints, and water-based stains on them and polishes them with paste wax. Decorations are added as a final touch.
She drilled small holes into this charming snowman to insert a pipe and stick arms. Some caution should be observed when drilling into gourds, though. Diane suggested wearing a dust mask to avoid breathing any mold spores which might be inside them.
I arrived early at Susan's house and snapped a few photos of her yard and its denizens, with her permission of course. She probably would not have minded me taking more pictures of her home's interior, but I felt kind of funny about it and decided not to. I don't know her very well and felt like I would be invading her privacy. The outside, though, seemed like fair game. Like I said before, Susan has a lot of talent for decorating. She made this grapevine deer herself and topped it off with real antlers. I hope for the real deer's sake that they were shed in the woods and not harvested. That term, "harvesting," is a kinder, gentler way to think of the deer meeting its end.
I wish that winter in the Land of Lincoln would be kinder and gentler. Susan expressed some disappointment that we didn't get to see any of her flower beds in bloom. There was a hard frost the night before, and the flowers were finished for the year.
Now that I am finished unpacking boxes, I can begin to wander about my new surroundings and take notice of things. For instance, there is an oil pipeline visible to passersby not more than two blocks from our house, laid beneath the lake, and continuing on beyond it. You can see the clearing made for it on the other side. One of our neighbors told us that security guards regularly patrol the area, I suppose, to prevent vandalism or theft. I wonder if they carry weapons or care if people like me take pictures?
After some blustery weather this past weekend, most of the colorful leaves have fallen. Yesterday afternoon, Hubby and I took a long walk in the neighborhood and explored some of the hilly roads nearby. There are no sidewalks here, but the traffic is light most of the time. No wonder it's so quiet around here. I did hear a train last night, but it was miles away and sounded kind of soothing instead of jarring to the nerves.
A certain blogger I mentioned in my last post recently gave me something she had made with her talented two hands. It's sitting on top of one of my bookcases right now because the garden outside is not familiar territory to me yet, and I'm not quite sure where it belongs yet (click on the picture to read the inscription). I feel like I'm a member of a very special kind of garden club now, one that doesn't have any ways or means committee, is not answerable to any federation rules, has no set meeting times, and is open to anyone with an interest in gardening or nature. Let's hope it continues to grow and gains new members from all over the world.
My world now contains elements of breathtaking beauty like this sunset viewed from the deck at our new place. I want to share it and many more like it in the future with members of the "club."
When earth's last picture is painted, and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colors have faded, and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it--lie down for an aeon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew!
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew!
And those that were good will be happy; they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets' hair;
They shall find real saints to draw from--Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!
And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame;
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are!
--Rudyard Kipling's L'Envoi--
Friday, November 7, 2008
Do you recognize these good sports? They did not mind indulging this blogger entering her dotage and posed for her in front of an interesting painting at the Red Geranium Restaurant in New Harmony, Indiana. I am mostly pleased with the way the picture turned out--could have done without the reflection of the flash in the glass--but a little puzzled about the painting. I am wondering why the ladies in it are wearing white gloves. Do you suppose they are afraid of a little "dirt"?
The blogger on the left (sinister) side of the photo appreciates Tina's keen interest in gardening and meeting as many other garden-bloggers as possible. Tina impressed me even more in person than on her blog with her positive attitude and dedication to family, friends, and teaching. She truly wants to learn as much as she can about gardening and share that knowledge with the rest of us. And she is definitely not afraid of getting her hands or fingernails dirty. She made this sinister blogger a lovely garden marker (more about that topic later). Tina's sunny-blue-sky personality seems to have been reflected in the weather on the day we spent together.
This sinister blogger, though, likes to discover dark things. I probably would have been a "goth" if that kind of personality had been in vogue way back when I was in high school and if my parents had been the indulgent kind to let me dress and act like one.
Modern things like this visitors' center just do not appeal to my taste in architecture. For some reason, it does not seem to harmonize with the rest of the town. I wonder whose idea it was to construct such a thing out of touch with the rest of the quaint little place?
Keep in mind that these pictures were taken the week before Halloween. I am sure the residents of New Harmony do not bury their dear-departed in the front yard, although it might not be a bad idea. Going green could really happen in that kind of situation. Think of how well-composted your lawn would be. There would be no need for chemical fertilizers, and visiting the cemetary would no longer require a long car trip.
These two inscriptions together on the ceiling of one of the buildings in town seem dissonant or incongruous. How could anyone not be mad about getting older and time running away? It can sometimes be a real PITA.
Why do I like twisted things like this tree trunk? Hubby and I found it on a short hike we took after saying goodbye to Tina and her wonderful family.
You know us. We like to roam about a bit in state parks and other places. Be aware, though, this particular park charges admission, albeit a small one. We paid five dollars for the privilege of visiting. I guess Indiana plans on keeping places like this open. The people in charge in the Land of Lincoln have other ideas for public places built with taxpayers' money. There has been talk in recent months of parks closing for lack of funds to keep them open. Maybe those people ought to consider and talk about other options.
The weekend after our visit with Tina and her family, Hubby and I said goodbye to the small town and tiny apartment we have lived in for the past year. We have moved to a slightly larger house on a lake which is about thirty miles farther south. I guess we are getting back to Florida in small--very small--increments.
We will not be hearing interstate traffic, trains going by at 2 o'clock in the morning, or young people visiting otherwise quiet neighbors until the wee hours. The horse pictured above the train seems peaceful enough, even though its pasture is just a few steps away from the train tracks. It probably does not bother itself with thoughts about heading south. The marker that Tina made for this sinister blogger will find a place of honor in a new garden, in a new place. It will even find its way onto this blog in the near future. And it will travel with this blogger wherever she moves next. No doubt about it.
...As you will know, the students of harmony make the same sort of mistake as the astronomers: they waste their time in measuring audible concords and sounds one against another.
-Yes, said Glaucon, they are absurd enough, with their talk of 'groups of quarter-tones' and all the rest of it. They lay their ears to the instrument as if they were trying to overhear the conversation from next door. One says he can still detect a note in between, giving the smallest possible interval, which ought to be taken as the unit of measurement, while another insists that there is now no difference between the two notes. Both prefer their ears to their intelligence.
-You are thinking of those worthy musicians who tease and torture the strings, racking them on the pegs [Note: in order to extort from them a confession of the truth, Greek law allowed the torture of slaves for this purpose at trials]. I will not push the metaphor so far as to picture the musician beating them with the plectrum and charging them with faults which the strings deny or brazen out. I will drop the comparison and tell you that I am thinking rather of those Pythagoreans whom we were going to consult about harmony. They are just like the astronomers--intent upon the numerical properties embodied in these audible consonances: they do not rise to the level of formulating problems and inquiring which numbers are inherently consonant and which are not, and for what reasons.
-That sounds like a superhuman undertaking. I would rather call it a "useful" study; but useful only when pursued as a means to the knowledge of beauty and goodness.
--from The Republic of Plato, Chapter XXVI, Harmonics--