For the US, it's that time again: "spring forward" -- we all did it Saturday night supposedly in the wee hours. For Europe, I've heard, it happens on March 30th. Here I sit at the computer at 7:20 in the morning -- it would have been 6:30 last week.
I am reading a book about Greek mythology, reading it in little dips each evening because I've heard the stories before but now that I'm older some portion have faded and I welcome the insights of the author as to just what the ancient Greeks were bequeathing to Europe, philosophically speaking. When humans came on the scene, well after the gods had appeared and the cosmos was in shape, the idea of hubris became important. Those who challenged the gods, (in fact the gods who challenged Zeus also) were in deep trouble. Their sin of hubris, of thinking they were gods or had some of godlike attributes was a grievous one.
Perhaps it's only a small sin, to challenge Apollo, who pulls the sun across the sky each day. He's grander than any puny human rule and will appear in timely fashion no matter what. But governments have had the hubris to tell their people -- all their people -- that twice a year they must readjust their clocks, their diurnal rhythms, their habits by an hour. Must sleep, eat and, most importantly, work at the assigned time.
What's the big deal? By now I should be accustomed to it and just go with the flow. Well, of course, I do. But always there's an echo in my auditory memory: my mother hated the time change. "One of the damned stupidest laws ever made," she grumbled. And so do I. No government can change the rising and setting of the sun; shouldn't we at least accept some inevitabilities and stop this nonsense?
Tim Jenison (gray beard) is a computer geek, an inventor, a man of ideas and he has enormous stick-to-it-ness when working on project. He feels he's figured out how Vermeer (and perhaps Caravaggio and perhaps a few other painters of the 16th century whose works are amazingly light filled and lifelike got their effects. He's gone a bit beyond David Hockney's (major British painter) idea of using a camera obscura.
This documentary, produced by the illusionist team Penn and Teller (both of whom are in the movie now and then) shows Tim discovering the process with mirrors and deciding to paint a Vermeer -- in fact "The Music Lesson" which is rarely seen by the public since it belongs to Queen Elizabeth and is in Buckingham Palace. Tim got permission to actually look at it for half an hour. Of course photographs of it exist so Tim decided to totally recreate the room of the painting -- an incredibly laborious process (probably very expensive too -- but, hey, it's a movie, well a documentary movie). He met with Hockney and a British art historian who supports the idea of camera obscura. Eventually Tim -- who is not a painter, has no art training, but taught himself how to make paints as they were made by Verneer, etal -- spent over three months laboriously painting "The Music Lesson" including the laborious detail on the clavier and on the oriental rug that is seen in the original. To prove he's human he admits after about 3 months that if this weren't a movie he'd throw in the towel). He completes an amazing painting that seems exactly like the original. The viewer get a load of information in the movie. I found it totally fascinating. It's new and it's being shown in art theatres -- at last on the East Coast (as a Google search showed). I'd strongly recommend it to people who care about fine art.
For a few months I've been part of a growing, changing group of women brought together by Lynn who seems a natural born facilitator. She has invited people she's met over the last six or eight months, all of whom are involved in some creative activity -- but of widely different types -- to meet once a month with some of their creations. Because we began meeting at a restaurant called The Chat House (which encourages groups like ours to meet there) we became The Creative Chatterers.
However mostly we were strangers to one another with Lynn as our Mother Hen. One of our group suggested "Getting to Know You" exercise she used in her career as a teacher. Each of us were given a brown paper lunch bag and told to put in five items that tell something about who we are. The bags were bunched on the conference table and opened one by one, each time by someonw other than the bag's owner. As a group we looked at the items, passed them around, made conjectures such as "this looks like a grandchild", "this person likes sailing", etc. Then at a count of 3 we pointed at the person we thought it might be from those clues. Often we guessed wrong because we hadn't yet shared many of our interests nor talked much about our families.
Then the person whose items we'd looked at told about them, what they suggested about her and added whatever other information she wished. Thus we learned a great deal about one another but the exercise was not intrusive. Each person revealed what she chose. It was a fascinating gathering; we all have insights into one another we would never have had before. One person revealed that, as an adult, she had seen her first grade evaluation which said, "pathologically shy". Yes, she had been very, very shy and still has moments of shyness (although the rest of us did not know that) but she felt that note then led other teachers to treat her a certain way in school (perhaps not call on her often). Other revelations were surprises. A friendly woman announced that she's an introvert and suggested others of us might also be as many creative people are -- and we agreed. So it went. We were only sorry some of our group were unable to come to the meeting.
I've lived in apartments about half my life, counting early married years and (to stretch it a bit) college dorm life. I'm currently on the the ground floor of an H-shaped, three-story apartment complex with about 150 apartments. I know very of the residents and only those near me by name. I wrote about a poem about a current phenomenon where I live. This is the first verse.
When my radio alarm wakes me
the peson above me gets out of bed.
His or her footsteps go into the bathroom
With me. I hear the water running.
We walk into the kitchen together,
Crows announce their morning itinery
As gulls and geese arrive loudly.
I don't know if the person upstairs hears
Or turns on the TV for the news.
I hear only footsteps, never voices.
Many nights we go to bed at the same time.
I've never met him or her -- or is it them?
I go on to say apartment living suits me. I like my own space and freedom of movement although for many other years I lived with people -- my parents, of course and then my husband an kids. I think of living alone as an English garden with cultivated and wild flower and many tiny creatures; into which I sometimes invite visitors.
This is a picture of Josh Fox; he looks like a hippy or flower child sitting by the river with his banjo. He has more fervor than most of the '70s activists had. He is a man of determination, skill perseverence. He produced, narrated, wrote Gasland parts 1 and 2, trying to tell us what is happening throughout, not only American, but the world as natural gas companies fracture the earth beneath out continent, pouring hundreds of chemicals into our aquifers, sickening people, animals and polluting the food we grow, all in pursuit of cheap fuel .... at the expense of the ecology, the health of millions and the beauty of the country.
Much has now been written about fracking -- search for it, read about it. I am too distraut to write about it. I have seen both Josh's films in the last six weeks and I am unable to express my horror at what is not only happening to the ecology but also to a government that once did not bow to the greed of corporations -- indeed did not believe corporations are "people" -- special people, who don't have to pay taxes in the same way other people do, corporations that can buy Congressmen with their huge contribution which, unlike other people they don't have to disclose. Corporations who have hired the best PR firms to brain the American people about the need for natural gas and it's "safety" the way we were taught to love Coke, cars, television and tranquilizers.
In the sequel, Josh Fox shows how fracking is being done in nearly every continent in the world; that utter disregard for human and ecological safety means they are even fracking at the Saint Andreas fault, and many other earthquake prone sites. Last week's NYTimes Book Review featured Al Gore reviewing Elizabeth Kolbert's book The Sixth Extinction. I'm not sure if Kolbert talks about fracking, but she is not the first to see that extinctions are happening throughout the animal and vegetable ecosystems. We are aiming to make ourselves extinct as well -- when our water becomes so pulluted we sicken, when the methane (which fracking dumps into the atmosphere at a greater rate than any other pollutant) utterly changes our climate -- and we are seeing that throughout the world -- we are headed toward chaos.
Fox's documentaries and all the rest I know are simply too horrible to think about very long. Many people refuse to believe the well known facts; that's one way to live with what's happening. I believe the horror of what is happening even if I am able to life out the rest of my life with comfort and reasonably good health, as i expect will be the case, I am hurting about what is happening and I feel utterly unable to do anything but write and talk about it, And that's not enough to make a difference,
A gestation of nine months, in this case, produced an anthology, Reflections 2013, which was entirely written by members of the Academy for Lifelong Learning a Cape Cod purely volunteer educational organization. It contains prose, (mostly essays, a couple of pieces of fiction) poetry, photography and a drawing by members of the Academy, all 50 years old or upward - soemtimes WAY upward.
As Chairman of the committee I've been involved at every step, including soliciting some specific pieces, and aranging a launch party a couple of days ago at which several people read their work to crowd of about eighty. I am sorry the flash faded out part of that gorgeous photo of the Hunter's moon seen through our autumn maples. The back photo, for those who are unfamiliar with New England, is a cranberry bog ready for harvest.
Topics covered in the book range from a 75 year old woman skinny dipping at daybreak with her dog in a secluded pond --and being warned by a policman to never again committee lewd and lascivious behavior, to a man's memory of buying a $14 Model T Ford, fixing it up and driving it around to impress his teenage friends, and many, many contemplations about life in this beautiful part of the US, many rememberances of family and friends, to a visit to the burning ghat in Varanasi, India and so much in between.
When purchased flowers for the woman who gave hours of her time and talent to achieve the beautiful look of and arrangement of the book. I purchased a bunch of daffodils for myself because their scent means spring to me, and it was a 29 degree day with snow on the ground. But then I was given the great spray of flowers (first time in my life I've been given such a bouquet) so I have more beauty to look at then expected. I found myself rereading the book last night as if for the first time. I enjoyed it.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!