Monday, March 3, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

The Rogers, staying close to home
Hello from Costa Rica!
    A certain part of our road has been washing out over the years. It became so bad they at last had to do something. They dumped a couple truckloads of rocks to fill the hole and covered it with dirt. I’m not saying they will not get around to fixing the road, but it took two years to get the rocks dumped.

    Sometimes the best place to go is right in your own back yard. Puntarenas is at the end of the highway coming off our mountain. We can go north or south along the coast to find beaches. While we go to Puntarenas to eat quite often (there are restaurants with views of the beach and outdoor tables), we never thought about going to the beach there. It’s more of a local beach and on the week-ends it's full of people.
    It is a forty-minute drive from my house and one weekend our neighbor, with her two kids and her sister with her one son, suggested we spend the day on the Puntarenas beach.
It is a lovely beach and right off main street. There are shops along the boardwalk (cement) and a number of restaurants within a few feet of where we set up camp. It is now our place to go. In fact, tomorrow (Feb. 25) we are taking a drive down to see about booking a room for a week-end.
    The roads aren't great, but there are benefits that far outweigh driving over a pile of rocks.
                            –Ed & Janie
Chuck Smythe, cruising again
I spent most of the week skiing at Steamboat Springs, cruising at warp speed with geezers who should know better.
    Here’s something I just picked up. It won first prize for video in the Science Magazine Visualization Challenge. "Computer simulation of ocean/wind circulation":

Vic Midyett, on to victory
We are waking up in a little seaside town in New South Wales called Narooma. No one had told us about this place, which we are surprised about, as it has a fantastic beach and has a great caravan (or travel trailer) park.
    We are still pointing South and will be in Eden by the end of this day. Next place will be in the state of Victoria and near the most Southern tip – Lakes Entrance....
    Now we are in a park in Eden, New South Wales, "Garden of Eden Tourist Park." Ha! Yes, it is above average. So is the price.

    We are moving kinda quickly right now. We have a good ways to go to get to the biggest river in Australia by Easter weekend – the Murry River on the Northern boarder of Victoria. First, though, we have to get to the most Southern tip of Victoria to join friends we met on the road and another bunch in central Victoria before we get to the river. I'm looking forward to the Murry as it has good fishing, paddle steamers, and other exciting stuff. Weather permitting, I'd like to spend at least a month there.
    After that we will go to near Adelaide (city of churches, music, and art) before we continue West back to Western Australia.
    The Cann River, which we will reach tomorrow, is barely into Victoria. The states in Australia are much bigger than in America. There are only five states on the mainland (Tasmania is an island) in an area only 600 sq. miles smaller then the United States. Western Australia alone, for instance, would hold Texas eight times....

    Every seaside around the 35,877 km of coast line of Australia has Pelicans. Every town has light poles (duh), and the poles are the Pelicans' favorite perch. Got this pic yesterday after we ate lunch at this cafe at the fisherman's wharf. Had oysters Kilpatric and battered muscles. Yumm! We leave here for a small place called Cann River further South of here and close to the Victorian border. The "park" we're planning to stay at is part of the towns pub grounds. The phone message said, "Lob into a place to park, get settled in, and come to the pub to pay the $20." Methinks it's gonna be interesting. Ha!....
    We are now in the Cann River caravan park. It is over-statedly basic. I know that is a curious phrase, but it suits the place. There is two toilets, two sinks, and two showers, which were put in at least fifty years ago and seemingly cleaned six times since. Ha! Definitely never renovated. We will only stay tonight.

    On to Lakes Entrance tomorrow morning, at the most Southern tip of Victoria's eastern side. EARLY! When we went to the pub, as instructed, to pay our $20, we also had an above-average and delicious lunch of pork ribs. The highlight of Cann River....
    We arrived at the marina at Lakes Entrance yesterday about lunch time and went immediately to the pleasure and commercial fishing boat harbor – my favorite place to see. They certainly have a lot of commercial fishing boats here. Many of them offer fresh fish, lobster, and shrimp for sale right off the boat when they come in. They had all sold out by the time we got down there. In the first picture below, there's a floating cafe. It's only four blocks from our caravan park. It's a very clean, nice park, but we are packed in like sardines.

    We leave tomorrow for Sale, northwest of here, for one night, then on to Toora (southwest) to meet folks we met on the road last year. We will probably spend at least a week there. Maybe more. I am promised to catch some fish.
Caelen's dad's clan tartan
Paul Clark, aka motomynd, in need of a nap
Instead of striving to survive life on two wheels during the North Carolina winter, Motomynd is surviving on two- to three-hour sleep shifts thanks to six-week-old son Caelen, now nicknamed the "tryptophan terror." Motomynd reports Caelen tried to "launch" seven weeks premature, held off until only 12 days early, and has been self-appointed head of the household since. "He is very well behaved and hardly ever fusses," Motomynd says, "as long as his bottle is ready when he is ready for it." Caelen's attitude toward life is simple: "If I wanted a bottle in five minutes, I would have slept an extra five minutes. I'm awake now because I want it NOW!" Thus the tryptophan terror nickname.
    The biggest news for Motomynd for February? "Caelen gained a pound a week, and I managed to get five hours sleep two nights in a row."
A landmark in the realm of Caelen's mom's clan
    The big news for March? "I'm selling the vintage Honda sport cruiser I set up to ride to Alaska and back in 2013 (a trip preempted by Motomynd's wife becoming pregnant a few months earlier than the medical 'experts' projected), but I'm keeping the Ninja sport bike so when I have the time to ride, I can go to a race track and really ride! That of course is assuming I don't just go take a nap instead."
The Neumanns, neglecting the boating life
We've been very busy in February with finding a new place to live, so Pineapple Girl has been a neglected! We did visit overnight February 8th as we had our interview with the Devil's Isle membership committee. We have been accepted as provisional members and look forward to spending time at the island this year. We also went up February 21st and took Pineapple Girl to the boatyard in Pittsburg. Since we will be busy packing, moving, and unpacking the next few weekends,it seemed like a good time to get a few things done on PG. She will get a new port shaft, a new bottom, and some other odds and ends.
Susan C. Price, entering stage
I went out to my alma mater to review the teaching kitchen and arrangements. (Mike and I are teaching a pizza, pie crust, and kale salad class for students there in April.) I get talked into joining a career panel on Non-Profits...after I explain that I did not plan any career and never really had an idea of what I wanted to to or accomplish in my life. Why do I get myself into this? Ah, so obvious. I love the stage.
    And a friend will be taping me about my art work in April on her interview show about seniors (bleah) on the local public access channel. Yes, a glutton for the stage. Any kind, anywhere...

"Invisible" [no longer?]
    Also, I had 15 minutes to share with the 5-yr-old one afternoon:
Ms 5-yr-old: Grandma, let's play soccer in the front yard!
    G: Ok, but let's not take your piece of pizza out there.
    5: Ok, I'll finish it later.
    Oh! We need to have a team. Let's get the Barbie dolls! Will you carry them?
    G: Nope.
[5-yr-old returns from her bedroom with 5 Barbie dolls.]
    5: Grandma, play soccer!
    G: Um, I'm not sure how this works. You need to teach me.
    5: Ok, here, these two dolls are your team, you have to hold them. Oh, Grandpa, you play too. I'll get you the Ken doll. Ok, now you hold your team and you kick the ball. Grandpa, you are the goal. We have to kick the ball between your legs.
[5-yr-old takes a kick. It's very good, long and straight. Grandpa is hot and leaves to go inside.]
    5: I need to start again. It's still my turn.
[5-yr-old moves closer to the goal. Grandma kicks one, far but offside and hurts her toe. Next time Grandma kicks she uses the side of her foot...but her shoe goes flying as the ball does. 5-yr-old has two abortive kicks, where her body follows thru...but she does not connect with the ball and winds up on her rear.]
    5: Grandma, let's go play soccer in the backyard.
    G: Um, the dogs are there, and there's poop.
    5: We'll just play on the cement.
[When we get there, having brought the soccer ball and the "team" of Barbies, the 5-yr-old notices a hula hoop.]
    5: Grandma, I will get you the pink hula hoop.
[5-yr-old returns with another hula hoop and a jump rope.]
    5: Let’s play train with the hula hoops.
[5-yr-old strings the hula hoops together with the jump rope, and we walk a bit...together in the "train." She notices the camellia plant.]
    5: Grandma, help me get these flowers down.
[5-yr-old goes into the house to get a bowl to display the camellia blossoms.
    I ask her to count them. There are 7. But her counting is not yet smooth.

    G: Hey, Grandpa, when is it time for N.A.P.?
    5: That means nap, doesn't it?
[She begins to pout. ]
And that is the first time she has recognized a word we have spelled.
    Creativity and milestones.

Kyle Garza, facing a first-world problem
In my latest unit in my MA course, we have been studying C.S. Lewis’s method of communication; he is without doubt a master communicator, so it is my task this week to write an essay that analyzes his “theory of communication,” essentially a sweeping look at his best essays in an attempt to figure out what makes his communication so exemplary. Sneak peak: it has a lot to do with his understanding of semiotics, particularly in his distinction between metaphors and symbols in language. He was a professor of linguistics after all!
    I would say that I look forward to the writing of it, but every hour I spend writing is an hour I could have spent grading: “1st world problems” as I like to say.
Geoffrey Dean, looking for the stork
Moristotle's request for a character update confirmed my general feeling about the month of February, one I'm sure most of us share: it's just too short. And ending on a Friday doesn't help at all. When we put the application for the Vivapiano competition on March 1st, we knew something wasn't quite right, but couldn't put our finger on what. It's almost at bad as having chosen February 30th (see my update from this time last year).
    Making matters even worse are the several holiday-type days compacted into this first weekend in March. There's the traditional "Baba Marta" greeting on the 1st [see inset right-set photo], when "martenitsa" charms are exchanged, and schoolchildren (and older ones too) end up with large collections of red-and-white bracelets that they have sworn not to remove until they have seen a stork. Wearing one or more martenitsi shows you believe that spring WILL arrive. Seeing a stork proves that spring HAS arrived.

What you do with your martenitsa after seeing a stork
    Authentic martenitsi are made from yarn, but in recent years it has become apparent that such yarn is available in China too, because many of the martenitsi sold on the streets of Sofia are in fact cheap imports. Knowing a "genuine" Bulgarian-made martenitsa when you see one is emerging as a new art-form, and I'm told that an objective laser-testing device is being developed to compete with these artsy martenitsa-identifiers. In these parts the martenitsa market is big least in February.
    Oh, I said several holidays. Indeed. There's also March 3rd...on this day in 1878 the Bulgarian people experienced what one patriotic organization describes as its "resurrection" as it was freed after 500 years of Turkish (Ottoman) domination. And that's also a big deal...and not only on March 3rd!
Mandy Al-Bjaly, researching family history
I recently went to a family history fair where I took three different classes. One was amazingly thorough about how to find female ancestors, since quite often maiden names were not recorded. Another helped me learn how to use the Family Search website, a tool for doing family history. The last class was about how to incorporate family history into family activities, including how to record the lives of your own family now for future generations. All of the classes helped me gain an excitement for doing my family history. Other members of my family have done so much of it, but I have a goal to research all the holes we currently have and fill them. I am also realizing that family trees really never end as there are countless directions you can go in your research. It's grand to understand how many of us are linked to each other and will never know it without doing this research!
Speaking with Wake Democrats
Madison Kimrey, on the usual move
Spring is almost here! I'm excited to have been cast in a role I really wanted in a drama called "The Diviners," which you starts at Studio 1 in Burlington on April 4th.
    I'm continuing to spread the word about how important it is to encourage young people to participate in democracy and was honored last month to speak to a gathering of Wake County Democrats.
    I've also been fighting against laws that allow businesses to discriminate and started a new petition asking the NFL to pledge not to bring the Superbowl to any state that allows discrimination by law. The reason I feel it's so important to encourage young people to be involved in the issues that are important to them is that we can make a difference.
    I'm looking forward to traveling to Bowling Green State University in Ohio at the end of the month to participate in their Women's History Month Event.

Jill Auditori, steering local change
One bonus of serving the Mebane community is the endless opportunity for learning. And while many folks would be quickly put to sleep by lectures on the history and current trends of planning and zoning in municipalities, or the intricacies of municipal law, I find these topics fascinating and extremely useful in my role.
    I recently attended a University of North Carolina School of Government conference that was held specifically for elected officials. We spent hours on topics such as the ones mentioned above, and I returned feeling more competent and more inspired. One might think that serving on the city council is pretty simple and straightforward – you vote on zoning requests and ordinances, and attend a lot of functions. Yes, that is true.
    However, I believe (and I think that my fellow council members would agree) that our role is also to help set the direction of Mebane, to play an active part in what it will look like not only next month or year, but also in 10 and 20 years, or even further. (Of course, those long-term decisions are always up for reconsideration as new council members are elected.) Great leaders – whether of a household or of a nation – are not just thinking about tomorrow, but rather are looking over the horizon.
    To understand the full scope of our decisions, and of our roles as elected officials, means understanding what we can and must do from a legal perspective, based on laws enacted by the General Assembly (of course, we also have an attorney to keep us on the straight and narrow!). It also means knowing how to best plan for growth, avoiding mistakes of other towns, and approaching land use and development in a strategic way.
    Mebane is going to change. Being equipped to make proactive decisions that will result in a change for the better is crucial. And I am grateful for opportunities that help me do that better.
Tom Lowe, enjoying good life
I'm enjoying the rainy days the Bay Area is finally having, and trying to use the inside time productively. Two photographic projects: more shots of the San Francisco Bay at sunset

and documenting my watercolor drawings.

    Beyond that I’m listening to Jazz either on KCSM-FM or videos from Netflix, rereading John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation, and enjoying life in Berkeley.
Allen Crowder, in center ring
    Allen's fight on March 22 in Wilmington, his second as a pro, will pit him against Arnold Adams, whose professional record is 2 wins and 5 losses. He's shown above with the Battle in the South championship belt he won as an amateur.

Jack Cover, in continuing good humor
    Jack hasn't skipped a beat in his regular distribution of the "religious latest." Excerpt from a recent offering:
A five-year-old said grace at family dinner one night. "Dear God, thank you for these pancakes."
    When he concluded, his parents asked him why he thanked God for pancakes when they were having chicken.
    He smiled and said, "I thought I'd see if He was paying attention tonight."

A woman invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?"
    "I wouldn't know what to say," the little girl replied.
    "Just say what you hear Mommy say," the mother said.
    The little girl bowed her head and said, "Dear Lord, why on Earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"
André Duvall, at work and play
I’ve started a Community Children’s Handchime Choir here in Memphis. We held our first rehearsal last week. Although it is open to any child in the third grade through the sixth grade, I’m mostly recruiting from local elementary schools that are within a one-mile radius of the rehearsal location; I have filled several spots but still have room for more. I’m especially happy to have children registered who would otherwise not have a chance to participate in a musical after-school activity due to high fees or lack of transportation. I’ve named our group the Rainbow Ringers, in honor of the first chime choir I rang in growing up. Appropriately for a group called the Rainbow Ringers, it’s exciting to have a colorful mix of personalities and ethnic backgrounds participating so far.
    This week, I enjoyed practicing on an historic 1928 Kimball Organ.

Originally installed in the Ellis Auditorium in Downtown Memphis, it was used for scores of graduations and symphony concerts until the auditorium was torn down and replaced by a new building. The organ was dismantled, and now resides in the sanctuary of Bartlett United Methodist Church as a restored instrument. It’s a large, four-manual instrument (meaning there are four levels of keyboards) with a wealth of color.
    Last weekend, I attended a live performance by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Johannes Brahms’s A German Requiem. While in college in 2006, I had the opportunity to participate in this work as part of a massed chorus composed of six university choirs, so it was great to hear it again as an audience member.
    For the next few days, I’m hosting a good friend who is visiting from Portland, Oregon. She and I attended graduate school together in Memphis, and we haven’t seen each other in three and a half years. Unfortunately, the area is under a severe winter weather advisory (lots of ice and sleet), so that may put a damper on what we can do outside of the house, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed. There are plenty of indoor games waiting to be played if needed….
Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

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  1. Man, folks have sure been busy. I enjoyed catching up this morning.

  2. yeah, me too, Ed- nice work, watercolors are the hardest...i think. I love Caelen, he's so CLEAR on his needs.

  3. By the way, Andre didn't send me that photo of the organ, but as far as I could tell from the Internet, that is actually a photo of the one he was playing this weekend. The only caveat I should offer is that the photo was probably taken BEFORE the instrument was disassembled and reassembled.

  4. The blurb I used to publicize today's column on Google+ and Facebook: The lives of Moristotle & Co.'s characters have been full of travel, art, teaching, learning, training, researching, rearing, performing, wondering, writing, speaking, governing, playing, laughing, moving, springing, scheduling, recruiting, hosting, amazing!

  5. It is great to read this column and know I at least know people who still have active, multidimensional lives. I would write more but Caelen just crashed for his nap so I'm going to take one while I can.

  6. Sounds great, Andre, and the answer was given as to how you decided to stay in Memphis. I wish every success to your group. The organ was fantastic looking.