“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.'” - Rudyard Kipling (The Cat That Walked By Himself)
This is the cover of our school's classroom set of To Kill A Mockingbird back when we were reading the novel in English class. It is an amazing novel about children coming of age in a very racially divided Alabama during the Depression. Generations of school children have read and been moved by it. And yet, in today's "wrap those kids in cotton wool and don't expect them to deal with anything which might be uncomfortable" world, many idiots have been seeking to remove the novel from school reading lists. And here we go again: School District Pulls To Kill A Mockingbird. I'm not one to call for people to be fired for their opinions, but anyone involved in this decision should be removed from their position for being too stupid to be involved in the education of children at any level and in any capacity.
I'm off to my niece's birthday party today, which should be interesting... and loud. She's turning seven, and when my sister asked her what kind of party she wanted, she said "an underwater spy party". Whatever that is; these kids are a little random. Never at a loss, however- having nine kids probably causes you to be inventive- my sister got to work. This is the pinata she made of a fish in a fedora & dark glasses (oh, yeah- she also makes her own pinatas). This is why I feel guilty whenever I pick up muffin mix instead of making my own from scratch.
In other news, I'm working on another post on A Damsel In Distress, and also one on a non-fiction book which I finished recently: The Bletchley Girls. I'm also looking forward to finishing up with Rent, and talking about another movie I recently re-watched: Gosford Park. More about that later.
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” - H.A. Ironside
It's Thanksgiving weekend and after church I'm off to the Valley to celebrate the occasion with my family. Happy Thanksgiving to any Canadians who are celebrating and if you're not, well, it's always a good idea to practice gratitude no matter what the occasion.
Is it really only Tuesday? On Sunday morning Canadians awoke to the news that an Islamic terrorist attack had occurred in Edmonton; the perpetrator hit a police officer with his car and then stabbed him. After this, he deliberately rammed into pedestrians. Hard on the heels of this came news of the deadly terror attack in France. Then, of course, both of these events were overshadowed by the horrific massacre in Las Vegas. In times like this, when there's really nothing to say, I often find myself thinking of the words of C.S. Lewis:
"I have received no assurance that anything we can do will eradicate suffering. I think the best results are obtained by people who work quietly away at limited objectives, such as the abolition of the slave trade, or prison reform, or factory acts, or tuberculosis, not by those who think they can achieve universal justice, or health, or peace. I think the art of life consists in tackling each immediate evil as well as we can." -from "Why I Am Not A Pacifist" (The Weight of Glory)
The bitter truth is that we cannot eradicate all evil doers from this earth, or erase the anguish that they cause. The best we can do is fight evil where we find it and do good when we can. Rather than concentrate today on the depraved men responsible for these acts, I choose to think on the ordinary, decent people who suddenly found themselves in a nightmarish situation. The concert-goers who shielded others, the first responders who ran toward the danger, those who gave aid and comfort to the wounded and terrorized- I choose to think about them. As we mourn the dead, I automatically turn to scripture and its promise of a future in which we are free from such horror: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." -Revelation 21:4
Every year I take part in a three day quilting event called "Share the Warmth". For three days volunteers at various locations around the province get together and make quilts. These quilts are then donated to local shelters, and some are given to the police and fire services to take to the scene of accidents to wrap around people who need warmth and comfort. Last year when the Fort McMurray wildfire was raging and over 80,000 people were forced to leave their homes, we packed up a bunch of quilts and mailed them out west for the evacuees to use. Below are a couple of pictures I took Friday night of some of the finished quilts (hanging) and others in various stages of production:
There's something special about giving or receiving a quilt as a gift; it's practical, yet a work of art and a labour of love. Even when we don't know who will end up with the quilts we work on, they're made with care and concern for those in our community- and farther away- who are experiencing hard times. Special care is taken on the crib and child-sized quilts, made for little ones in bad or sad situations beyond their control. I remember a number of years ago, one of my nieces had to be rushed into surgery as soon as she was born. Later when I went to see her at the baby ICU, I saw that each incubator had a tiny quilt draped carefully and lovingly over the top. The babies didn't know obviously, but the quilts, handmade by volunteers, lent an air of comfort and caring to the sterile hospital environment which warmed the hearts of worried family members. Of course, I wouldn't want you to think that we were making any great sacrifice of time and effort, because it's also jolly great fun. When you get a group of women together- from all age groups- drinking coffee, munching on cookies, talking and laughing and sewing, it's always a good time. It's also carrying on a tradition which goes back for generations:
Times and methods may change, but women will always find ways and means to get together and make objects of use and beauty- like quilts.
“The eldest ones said that the laughter and tears are sewn right into the quilt, part and parcel, stitch by stitch. Emotions, experiences, heartbreak, mourning, pain and regret, stitched into the cloth, along with happiness, satisfaction, cheer, comfort, and love. The finished quilts were a living thing, a reflection of the spirits of its creators.” ― Arlene Stafford-Wilson, Lanark County Connections - Memories Among the Maples
This is a picture of the ruins of the library of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. It was set on fire by German troops in 1914 during World War I:
This is a picture of Jewish and other non-German books being burned in Nazi Germany:
This is a picture of the Al Saeh library in Tripoli, Lebanon, burned down by radical Muslims in 2014:
This is the public library in downtown St Louis, Missouri after rioters smashed and trashed it a few days ago:
Dear rioters: if you find yourself or the people you associate with smashing library windows and destroying books- which provide education and entertainment for all, irrespective of race, wealth, or social standing- it's a good sign that you're on the wrong side and frankly, a bad person.
School is back in, and my sister who home schools her kids organized their first Finer Things Friday of the term. This time they were studying Claude Monet and trying to recreate some of his paintings. This is Monet's "Waterlilies":
And this is her nine-year-old's version of it:
And this is the seven-year-old's painting of it:
A favourite- Monet's "Bridge Over A Pond of Waterlilies":
The four-year-old's take on it:
They also did something called "Colour the Classics"... here they are colouring pictures of the 18th century composer Georg Philipp Telemann while listening to some of his harpsichord music. They apparently really liked it: my nine-year-old nephew said, "It sounds like music from some fantasy world!"
Here's a few minutes of one of Telemann's works, "Fantasia In G Minor":
"Useful and ornamental needlework, knitting, and netting are capable of being made, not only sources of personal gratification, but of high moral benefit, and the means of developing in surpassing loveliness and grace, some of the highest and noblest feelings of the soul." - The Ladies' Work Table Book, 1845
Having slacked off for most- well, all- of the summer, I'm now trying to get some sewing done. I've just completed two table toppers (below), but have a lot more I want to get accomplished before winter. Time to buckle down, I guess.
Well, the eclipse was a bit of a non-event in Nova Scotia, but I saw some amazing pictures people took in areas where the total eclipse was visible. And here, from a time before cameras, is a fanciful depiction of an eclipse which is found in the the Nuremberg Chronicle, a book from the Middle Ages which contains an illustrated paraphrase of the Bible and history of the world.
Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493
Also,here is an account of an eclipse from Herodotus' The Histories which he wrote in 440 BC. Herodotus claims in it that the advent of the eclipse put a stop to a battle between two warring factions: the Medes and the Lydians. According to people who study that sort of thing, the eclipse he was describing took place in 585 BC, and Herodotus claims that it was accurately predicted by a Greek philosopher of the time period, Thales of Miletus. He doesn't explain how Thales figured out that there was an eclipse coming, and some modern scholars have questioned whether he actually did. However, Diogenes Laertius, a 3rd century AD biographer of Greek philosophers, makes the same claim, saying that Xenophanes, a philosopher who was a contemporary of Thales, was impressed by the accurate prediction. Diogenes also includes accounts of the incident from two other Greek philosophers, Heraclitus and Democritus. If this is actually true, it would be the first time in history that we know of someone accurately calculating the arrival of an eclipse. Here is Herodotus' writings on the subject:
"Afterwards, on the refusal of Alyattes to give up his suppliants when Cyaxares sent to demand them of him, war broke out between the Lydians and the Medes, and continued for five years, with various success. In the course of it the Medes gained many victories over the Lydians, and the Lydians also gained many victories over the Medes. Among their other battles there was one night engagement. As, however, the balance had not inclined in favour of either nation, another combat took place in the sixth year, in the course of which, just as the battle was growing warm, day was on a sudden changed into night. This event had been foretold by Thales, the Milesian, who forewarned the Ionians of it, fixing for it the very year in which it actually took place. The Medes and Lydians, when they observed the change, ceased fighting, and were alike anxious to have terms of peace agreed on." - Herodotus, The Histories