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Showing posts from January, 2015

365 Daily Lessons - Week 4 Day 3 - Venus de Milo

The Venus de Milo was discovered by a peasant on the Aegean island of Melos in 1820.  This sculpture is in the likeness of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and to the Romans she is known as Venus.  Thus the title Venus de Milo.  She is made of out of Parian marble and stands six and a half feet tall.  (This was a woman not to mess with!)


While the artist is not truly known it has been discovered that this statue was created during the Hellenistic period, 323 B.C. to 31 B.C.  The term "Hellenistic" comes from the word Hellazein, which means "to speak Greek or identify with the Greeks".

The Venus de Milo stands in the Louvre Museum in Paris, a donation which was given by Louis XVIII.  Have you seen it in person?  I haven't, yet.  It's on my list!

Here's a funny story;  there is a tale of a man who ordered a plaster copy of the statue and then sued the railroad company when it arrived from Paris without arms.  But that's not the oddest…

Dear Pop Music Creators

Dear Pop Music Creators,

My 14 year old daughter has informed me that she is tired of being embarrassed by your lyrics.  She loves the tunes, she loves the beat but she is done with hearing lyrics that paint images that she doesn't want in her mind.  She's hopeful that 2015 will have songwriters that understand there's more important, and pleasant, things to write about other than big booties, drinking and sex.

What she would like more of are songs that inspire you to be a better person, help you know that you have support and are not alone or something just plain fun!  There are a few of you out there with smart, clever writing skills and your songs are appreciated.  Then there are those of you that are just nasty, vile, low-class.  (My words not her's.  She would call you "just plain gross").

The song "Try" by Colbie Caillat is a current favorite.   If you're not familiar with these lyrics Colbie Caillat shares that you don't have to try …

Finding The Sunshine

For those that are in the midst of a blizzard, here's a little break from the snow.

A family walk through the "resting" International Rose Test Gardens in Washington Park - Portland, OR.

How Old Is Too Old To Have An Imaginary Friend?

Thoughts are always streaming about something I saw on Facebook, or a news story I saw online.  I'm thinking of how I would have handled a situation or the 'What I should have said...' dialogue that goes round and round in my brain.

Did I say that out loud?

There are many, many occasions where I have a conversation swirling in my head and then I hear someone in the next room and I wonder if I had been having this imaginary conversation out loud.  I have supported some really good arguments while vacuuming or making the bed.  And wow!  Did I ever get my point across while I was curling my hair! That'll show them, oh those people that aren't in the room. Try to intimidate me will ya'!


I really admire those that can meditate and clear their minds.  Just be.  How do they do it?  I've tried many times to follow the instructor and "Focus on the breath.  In two-three-four.  Out two-three - hey, what about that ridiculous request today?  What I should have sai…

365 Daily Lessons - Week 3 Day 2 Literature "The Harlem Renaissance"

In the 1920's to early 1930's the Harlem neighborhood in New York City became a flourishing scene for African-American literature and art.  This artistic surge became known as the Harlem Renaissance.  W.E.B. DuBois, a founding member of the NAACP, helped set the foundation for this creative expression by inspiring a sense of black cultural consciousness and pride.  Before his role of founding the NAACP in 1909, DuBois wrote The Souls of Black Folk in 1903, which is regarded as a cornerstone of African-American literary history.

Leading writers of the Harlem Renaissance were James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston.  Ms. Hurston wrote "Their Eyes Were Watching God".  (For you fellow Oprah fans you should remember this book was an "Oprah Winfrey Presents" movie starring Halle Berry.)

The popularity of words and stories also found its way to the increasingly popular jazz music scene.  Links between music and literature of the Harlem Renaissan…

A 5 Year-Old's Parents Were Billed For Not Attending A Birthday Party

Did you hear the one about the 5 year-old who received a bill for not attending a school mates birthday party?

This is real.

The mother of the birthday boy had an invoice for payment placed in the sack lunch of the child who's parents verbally R.S.V.P.'d "Yes", but didn't attend her son's birthday party at a Snowboard and Ski Slope Center in England.  Yes, a mother had a teacher put an invoice in the sack lunch of a 5 year-old child - and a teacher actually did that.  (Now, the headmaster of the school agrees that the teacher was wrong - we'll move ahead of that issue.)  What would you do if you received an invoice such as this?

I found the story here

The father of the invoiced child went to speak with the mother directly.  Perhaps he was a bit upset?  Maybe his voice was raised?  Communication between the mothers of the two children have been happening through Facebook which gives more insight.  The invoiced child's mother gave reason for having to…

365 Daily Lessons - Week 2 Day 7 Religion "Noah"

My most interesting take-away from reading about Noah from the book of Genesis in the bible is that it is the first appearance of wine in the bible.  After the flood, Noah is discovered by his sons having imbibed a tad too much with the vino and is out like a candle.

Considering the story we are told of what he just went through, I pass no judgement what-so-ever.

Christians and Jewish historians and theologians give slightly different interpretations of Noah's story.  What else is new.  Of course there are different interpretations.  The Christians see Noah as an ideal faith in God due to his obedience to make the ark and follow the instructions of male/female animals and such.  Jewish interpreters take the written description of Noah being the last one to board the ark as a sign of hesitation and reluctance in faith.

Both religious teachers view Noah and the flood as critical expressions of faith.  Nice.  Something to agree on.

365 Daily Lessons - Week 2 Day 4 "Science" - Eratosthenes

Today's science subject is Eratosthenes (276-194 BC).  *How fitting because we just watched "The Theory of Everything" last night.*  This chief librarian of Alexandria devised a way to measure the earth's size.  I've read this page two times and my mind is still boggled.  It took a water well, the sun and a measuring stick.  Oh, and a pacer - a professional walker trained in taking perfectly equal steps.  What?!?

On June 21st, the longest day of the year, Eratosthenes got crackin' with his plan to visit a special well in the neighboring town of Syene and wait for the sun to hit the bottom of the well. That time was 12 noon. By seeing the bottom of the well this meant that the sun was directly overhead in Syene, which was due north of his town of Alexandria.  If the sun was directly overhead in Syene then the suns rays must be hitting at an angle in Alexandria.  On June 21st (I'm assuming the following year, they don't say) Eratosthenes took a measuring…

Guess Who Showed Up At Our Back Door?

Well, well, well - guess who came back?


Honestly, I'm not surprised. (See "Goodbye Cooper") This cat was going through our back yard for weeks when he decided to join us inside and get familiar and cozy in June.  Obviously he's in the neighborhood somewhere.  I received the owners name from the vet and I thought his named sounded familiar from a neighborhood Facebook group I belong to.  I sent a private message to this familiar name and let him know of Cooper's time with us and the care we'd given him.  I told him the street we lived on but I didn't give the address.

Three days later, Monday night, I received a response from "John" saying that the cat had been pretty unhappy at their house, and that he really doesn't know why.  They were trying to re-acclimate the cat to being indoors however, they now have a 9 week old puppy and the cat escaped during one of the many potty trips.  "John" said if the cat found his way to us that &q…

365 Daily Lessons - Week 2 Day 2 Literature - Ernest Hemingway

When it comes to classic literature I went through a period in my early twenty's when I would visit the Library after work and roam the old shelves in the vault.  I found Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Proust and loved getting lost in their worlds.  With regard to Ernest Hemingway I've only read one of his works - A Moveable Feast.  This is actually a memoir of his time being an expatriate writer in Paris in the 1920's.  So, I really haven't read a literary creation of his, yet.  Have you?
I think I let his personae of bullfighting and hunting guide my interest in his writing.  These two things have little to absolutely no interest to me so I passed him by.  However, reading more about his first novel, The Sun Also Rises (1926) has me intrigued.  A disaffected young American spending time in Spain and France.  I could go for that!
Have you read many, or any, of Ernest Hemingway's books?  Do you have a favorite?

My 14 Year Old Expert

You know those moments in parenting where you just can't win?

With our recent situation of taking Cooper the-cat-that-adopted-us to the vet to have him fixed only to find that he was already fixed AND had a chip (read "Goodbye Cooper") Rob and I weren't looking forward to telling our girls.  The loss of our old cat's Maddy and Phoebe 1 and 2 years ago hurt the girls tender hearts so much that telling them that Cooper was returned to his original family was sure to be met with tears.  Not my favorite thing.

Before Lily got in the car Rob and I decided we'd let her lead the conversation.  If she brings up the cat we would tell her, if not we'll talk when we got home.  The first words out of her mouth were "Where's Cooper?"  Ugh.  I took a deep breath and told her that he had a family, that they were looking for him and that they were very grateful that we brought him to a vet to be found.

Tears.

After spending some alone time in her room Li…

365 Daily Lessons - Week 2 Day 1 History - The First Lawyer "Hammurabi's Code of Laws"

How come you can't find lawyers sunbathing on the beach? Cats keep covering them over with sand.

The first known lawyer was Hammurabi the King of Babylonia.  (This land is now known as Iraq.)  Near the end of his forty-three year reign he created rules for his citizens and the consequences for breaking these rules.  The concept of rules applying to everyone was new, and changed the familiar governing by the whims of rulers.

The code of Law was written by the King's scribes on a black stone pillar in cuneiform, a complex writing system common in ancient civilizations in the Near East.  The pillar was unearthed in 1901 by a French archaeologist and now stands in the Louvre in Paris.

Hammurabi declared that "all coming generations" observe the laws, and not "alter the law of the land which I have given".  Also he stated that future kings must uphold the rule of the law.  Hammurabi was a powerful man, in living and in death.

365 Daily Lessons - Day 6 Philosophy "Appearance and Reality"

A strong theme in philosophy has been the conversation of distinction between appearance and reality.  What is "reality"?  I'm sure you've heard of Socrates (do your best not to let the "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" pronunciation enter your mind).  There was a small group of philosophers that came before him and they are known as the Presocratics - because they lived before Socrates.  A large part of their conversation was that the nature of reality was tremendously different from the way it appeared to them.  Behold - skeptics!
In this group Thales believed that all reality was ultimately composed of water.  Hmm, that's an interesting way to interpret things that surround us.  Heraclitus was of the mindset that the world was built from fire. And, that everything was constantly in motion.  I get the motion part.  We are turning on this big orb now aren't we.  Another in the group, Parmenides, challenged them all by saying that nothing …

Goodbye Cooper

And so it has come to pass, Cooper - the cat that adopted us in June - has been reunited with his owners.


When this cat, who was the same grey as our beloved Maddy and Phoebe that passed away 1 and 2 years ago, walked into our open back door and demanded attention by following me around, meowing all the time, I knew he must belong to someone so why was he bothering me?  'Shoo' I said. 'Shoo!'  But did he?  No.

He joined Rob in his basement office.  He sat on his lap.  Lounged on an available chair.  Meowed around the unused Barbie townhouses (that need to go on Craigslist).  This cat got to know the layout of the house by roaming through all the rooms and where did I find him when the meowing stopped?  On the end of our bed, sleeping.



A day went by of this roaming and meowing and on the second day I couldn't take it and bought him food.  I put it outside since I wasn't planning on having him hang out in our house. I just wanted to know that he was eating to re…

365 Daily Lessons - Day 5 Music "The Basics"

Time to receive an explanation of just what is music.  Day 5 gives definitions of what music is and isn't.  Organized sound that can be replicated through imitation or notation, that is music.  The sounds of a creaking door or fingernails on a blackboard - these sounds are not only incredibly irritating, they are irregular and disorganized therefore, not music.

With regard to what is music, here are basic ways to analyze sound:

Pitch:  Your ear hears high sounds and low sounds.  Those sounds are described as "Pitch".  Pitch is measured by sound wave frequency, or the repetition of sound waves.  Western Music has twelve unique pitches;  C, C-sharp or D-Flat, D, D-sharp or E-flat, E, F. F-sharp or G-flat, G, G-sharp or A-flat, A, A-sharp or B-flat, and B.  You know the black keys on a piano?  They are sharps and flats.

Scale:  An arrangement of pitches.  The major scale has an upbeat sound due to its arrangement of pitches.  The minor scale, as its opposite, sounds sad.…

365 Daily Lessons - Day 4 Science "Cloning"

Well, hello Dolly!

Science fiction became reality in 1997 when the first clone was created, a Finnish Dorset sheep named Dolly.  Scientists at the Roslin Institute in Scotland created Dolly by a process called nuclear transfer.  *grab your science hat - here we go* This process is made by taking the genetic material from an adult donor - in this case a 6 year old ewe - and transferring it into an unfertilized egg whose genetic material had been removed.  The researchers shocked the egg and it began dividing into an embryo.

Whew!

The ewe whose genetic material was used to create Dolly was, for all intents and purposes, her mother.  And you would think that a clone would be an exact replica but Dolly had many differences than her mother.  One way that's noted in this book is that specific chromosomes developed differently.  By the term "many" being used for their differences I believe I'll have to research on my own what the rest were because they aren't noted on t…

365 Daily Lessons - Day 3 Visual Arts "Lascaux Cave Paintings"

The earliest known works of art were found by accident.  In 1940 four boys discovered a cave in Montignac in central France.  Inside the cave was a series of rooms covered in paintings and these paintings were researched to be between 15,000 to 17,000 years old.  Whoa!  (Or, whatever is French for 'whoa!').

A majority of the paintings were of animals, mostly silhouette, drawn in careful detail.  A belief is that drawing the beasts would bring them under the mans control or increase their numbers when becoming scarce. The few images of man were more crudely drawn.  They say it suggests that prehistoric man did not think they themselves were endowed with magical properties.  Here's my take - I think the one doing the drawing was mad at the guy he was drawing so he made him look scraggly for eternity.  Ah ha!  Revenge.

The caves were open to the public, however, in 1955 it became apparent that exposure to as many as 1,200 visitors per day was taking a toll on the paintings and …

365 Daily Lessons - Day 2 Literature "Ulysses"

Day 2 is Literature.  For week 1 Day 2 in The Intellectual Devotional the topic is Ulysses by James Joyce.  I haven't read this book.  Have you?  They make reference to his use of "stream-of-consciousness narrative" and I have read another author that used that style, William Faulkner (Oprah's Book Club ;-> ).  Wow. Talk about an exercise in concentration.  Faulkner was inspired James Joyce.

If you aren't familiar with this style of writing, here's an example from Ulysses:

"He is young Leopold, as in a retrospective arrangement, a mirror within a mirror (hey, presto!), he beholdeth himself. That young figure of then is seen, precious manly, walking on a nipping morning from the old house in Clambrassil to the high school, his book satchel on him bandolier wise, and in it a goodly hunk of wheaten loaf, a mother’s thought.”

Once you find your groove with the writer then it can be enjoyable, like a game.  But in the beginning it was difficult for me to rela…

365 Daily Lessons - Day 1 History "The Alphabet"

With the beginning of a new year I am going to get back on track with a reading project I began months ago but let fall by the wayside.  My journey with "The Intellectual Devotional:  Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class".  I'm not as concerned about "roaming confidently with the cultured class" as I am about keeping my wits about me and sharpening my brain cells.  This book gives one page exercises in learning and reflection.  Between this, and the Lumosity app, hopefully I'll stop walking into a room and forgetting what I went in there for!

There are 365 lessons with each day of the week having an assigned subject.  Monday is History - Subject: The Alphabet.  Oh, those Egyptian's and their hieroglyphics.  Fascinating!  The alphabet was produced so the Egyptian's could communicate with their prisoner's of war a.k.a. their slaves. Hieroglyphics had over a thousand symbols and no one could keep the…

Seriously?!

A neighborhood Facebook group I joined keeps me in the loop.  There are times, however, when I wonder if this is such a good thing.  This group is a lively one when it comes to the sharing of information ("Traffic is bad on the bridge), complaints ("Go away Hipsters!") and neighborly inquiries ("Did someone lose their chickens?"  Yes, Portlandia films in my neighborhood often ;-> ).  But there was a post recently that had me shaking my head.  I'm just not sure what to think of the inquiry and I wasn't sure if it was a put on.  Someone in the neighborhood wants things, in great condition, for free and she wants them a.s.a.p.  Read the post and tell me what you think:

"I had my baby shower a few days ago and didn't get anything. It's a boy. So if anyone has anything I need that I can have for free that would be amazing. I'm due within a few weeks so I need them asap: infant soothing swing, gliding bassinet with storage underneath and …

New Year New Focus - Join Me!

I am joyful for a new year.  


My hope is to get back to doing something I enjoy - writing.  My direction will need to change however.  I began writing this blog 8 years ago to share stories of my young children.  Well, my "young" children turned 17 and 14 years old in December and I'm sure fellow parents of teenagers (or just those of us that remember the emotions of being a teenager)  understand that they are not fond of having most of their stories shared.  I get it.

With a new year comes a new awareness, a different focus.  And, hopefully, a greater connection to those in the blog-o-sphere.  Through a Facebook group I belong to I found a delightful group whose objective is to grow your blog in the areas of influence and community.  With regard to influence, I'm not sure how my thoughts/writing will fit with that description but I'm all for community, finding my new voice and seeing what I can create in 2015.  If you would like to take part in New Year,New Blog