(I took the header picture of a Common Loon resting on a pond in Utah on its way north in June of 2015. It was in transition from winter to summer plumage.)

Translate - I dare you. Then make a comment on the funny errors the translator made.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

To live between a rock and a hard place in between time

-I really had meant to do more posts on my typewriter, I really had.

I have meant to do many things, and making excuses has never been one of them.  But dealing with all the demands on my time ("too many hands on my time," as the Canadian poet also wrote), seeing how I fail at meeting them all, and seeing the hard choices I have to make, maybe I can continue to be patient and forgiving with others when they fail to gratify some of my wishes for time spent with them.

I haven't finished any of my planned Christmas calligraphy projects this year, but I'm going to post some calligraphy of Christmases past.  Looking back over my work, I can see that I have improved my technique, even though I still have much room for more improvement.

First, a section of the Wexford Carol, one of my favorites, that I did - oh, probably three years ago.

And this one, from about the same time, showing the same shaky penmanship and indecisive long "s" (though I'm not sure how much better my current forms are):

Finally, a translation of the Magnificat, which I did as a gift for someone, also in 2012.  This was a bit of work: I translated it into one of the languages in the novel I'm writing, which required some last-minute invention of words and grammar, and then I had to write the thing out carefully and neatly.  At least in this script you have no other specimen to judge it against.  Here it is, enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I'm starting to wear more jewelry. What does that mean?

I guess I've always liked jewelry.  I still have a Navajo silver-turquoise ring from Arizona that I got when I was maybe 10.  It doesn't fit anymore, so I bequeathed it to my daughter.  And I've had a few rings and bracelets that I've worn over the years, but never for very long.  The longest I've worn any item of jewelry has been my wedding ring: a nice plain gold band that a brother-in-law described as a "Ben-Hur ring" when he saw it.

This summer I started buying hematite rings at Dancing Cranes Imports in Salt Lake City and wearing them until they break - usually a month or two.  They cost about a buck, and they're fun.  I also bought a green stone pendant there that is apparently made of rainforest jasper.  I like to wear it.  My baby daughter likes to play with it when I do.  So I don't wear it as much as I might.

And I've always liked the idea of bracelets too: I mean, Ben-Hur, right?  So recently I ordered a brass bracelet from Gifts with Humanity and am looking forward to wearing it.  I used to wear a wristwatch and sometimes I miss having metal around my wrist.

It's not the sensation I miss, it's the adornment.  I'm starting this personal socio-psychological experiment, to claim more of a stake in the masculine tradition of adornment.  This tradition isn't nearly as strong in my culture as it is in some others, but I'm a citizen of the world.  I'm also interested in depth psychology.  I've never been a typical guy, but I've learned enough that I don't have to conform to a narrow cultural and historical definition of masculinity to be a man, and to feel like a man.

So this is my little way of expanding my personal sense of masculinity: searching for pendants and bracelets on ebay, finding adornments to put on my person.  That and (far more typical) collecting sticks and stones - but that's another story.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My grandmother's unfinished work (including a scanned typewritten page)

Lately I've been going through some old family papers.  There was a time, not so long ago, where I worked full-time as a professional archivist.  Since then I've kept my hand in with some side projects, and this is the latest one.  As with any project involving personal or family papers, there are easier parts (like sorting letters) and then there are the perplexities - in this case, my grandmother's writing.

My paternal grandmother was born in Salina, Utah (how many of you reading this have heard of it?) and had an expansive and curious mind.  She wrote poetry, drew and painted, as her time allowed while raising children and keeping house, and when her children were grown she went back to school, where she planned on writing a Master's thesis on the history of her hometown.  She never finished it, but she left a quantity of handwritten notes and drafts, including many typewritten pages with corrections and revisions.  Working with all this has reminded me forcefully of a collection I worked with in my former archives job: the manuscripts and research notes of another woman who had attempted to write a history of her hometown and left it unfinished at her death.

I wrote about it on another blog I maintained at the time, commenting on the tendencies I saw in her methods and the affinities I saw with my own.  My grandmother left behind much fewer notes and drafts - at least, much less material has come to me - but working with them is of course much more interesting to me.  I recognize in myself a wish that she showed to address a wide range of questions within the scope of what might seem a discreetly-defined subject.  Her research into her hometown's history seems to have swung wide to accommodate various reflections on sociology, economy and theology - not surprising, really, when you consider Salina's history as a Mormon Pioneer town.

I think that the work my grandmother left undone was motivated by either the same spirit or a similar one to what has been working in me for several years.  In my case, I'm attempting to express my ideas in fiction, and while I don't know how early on my grandmother began her work, I think of my age and my life responsibilities, and I don't want to let the rest of my life go by without finishing.  Maybe this can be one more motivator for me: to finish this for her sake as well as everything else.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

More about music: alternative skating rink mix

This evening we took our seven-year-old to a roller rink for a school party.  I could write a book about this.  I went to skating parties when I was in elementary school - in fact I saw one boy who looked just like me at 10.  Not just in the color of his hair and the shape of his face, it was also the way he wobbled unsteadily on the skates as he tried to keep his balance and figure out how to push himself along.  I wanted to go give him a big hug and tell him "it's all right, everything will be all right."

Maybe it was the nostalgia, but I found myself enjoying this evening's outing immensely, even the dance-beat pop music that played loudly over the speakers.  But I still thought of other music that might be interesting to roller skate to - or to watch people roller skate to.  What would some of the teens and preteens who were so amazingly agile (so glad to see that youth are still skating!) make of something like "ZNS" that I posted a few days ago?  Or . . . well, let's come up with a few more possibilities.

I would pay money to watch choreographed roller skate performances to these.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Some music offerings for Halloween

What's Halloween without some suitable music?

Today we went to our first-grader's school costume party (some of you longtime readers may recall, with me, when this girl was first born.  In particular, I believe it was Michael Clemens who warned me that before I knew it, she would be telling me about her boyfriends in Kindergarten.  Alas, 'twas all too true.

I digress.  At the school they played The Monster Mash.  not just the well-known song, but the entire Bobby Pickett album.  I hadn't known there was a whole album.  I hadn't known that the guy who did the voice was named Bobby Pickett.(1)

In our family we usually listen to Midnight Syndicate around Halloween.  They're great fun as long as you don't take them seriously.  We have several of their spooky Halloween albums, bought over the years from trips to Halloween stores.  Our seven-year-old loves them - she's constructed mythologies around them involving characters of her own device.(2)

Then there are our Type O Negative CDs, kept in the Halloween box.  Heavy metal and Halloween: a match made in . . . don't say it.

I saw Type O Negative in 1994 when they opened for Queensr├┐che, whose Rage for Order stands for me as the definitive statement of vampire-themed heavy metal.  I'll be forever grateful to my sister for buying it on vinyl and letting me inherit it.

But check this out:

I've been a fan of Einst├╝rzende Neubauten for about 14 years now.  The song for the video above, "ZNS" comes from their 1985 masterpiece Halber Mensch.  So does this:

Trick or treat!

(1)  I hadn't known there was a deluxe re-release of the thing on purple vinyl:

I love the internet.

(2)  Born of the Night was the first one we bought and probably still my favorite.  They now have a Halloween Music Collection on Amazon as an mp3 download.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Quillcast: calligraphy: Proverbs 9 excerpt in Spanish

Chapter 9 of Proverbs has been one of my favorite passages of scripture since the summer of 1996 when I was reading through the Old Testament during a course of intensive ministerial training.  I've lettered it in English, and I'll do so again, I expect.  But I've also been wanting to letter more quotes in Spanish.  So here is the first part of Proverbs 9 from the 1960 Reina-Valera version.

Yes, I did this with a quill pen, one that I made myself.  (If you're interested in learning how to do really old-fashioned calligraphy, you can buy a quill pen from me on eBay or Etsy.)  It has taken me about six years to get to my current level of skill in lettering, and I'm still looking to improve.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Typecast: two original haikus

Haiku is not a form that I've done much with, but here are two I've written: