Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pigs Can't Fly, but Goats?

This from The Daily Mail:

We all know pigs can’t fly — but last month we learned that goats can climb trees. Because water sources were scarce, these billies climbed up to chew on a 17ft argan tree’s tough berries. But don’t expect British goats to follow in their footsteps, as these Tamri types in Morocco have two toes that spread out to help them climb, plus soft soles for grip.

I'll be in Texas for ten days, so will not be posting for a while. In the meantime,

Best Wishes for a Happy New 2012 Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Kid's View of the Christmas Story

Thanks for sending this my way, Dottie.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Music with Cello

Top favorite buy this year for me in the genre of Christmas music was Christmas Cello Music - Piano and Cello Music for Christmas Dinner by New Age (Dec., 2011 by Winter Hill Records).

Giovanni Battista di Jacopo (Italian Mannerist painter, 1494–1540), known as Rosso Fiorentino (meaning the Red Florentine in Italian) Angel with Lute Madonna dello Spedalingo

Take a listen to Christmas instrumental music with cello accompaniment:

Jesu, Joy of Man"s Desiring (cello) (mp3)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter Songs and a Selection from Schubert

NPR is currently asking its listeners for winter songs and stories that connect its listeners with "winter music" evocative of strong emotions and memories.

In an interview from "All Things Considered" on December 13, 2011, Bill T. Jones, celebrated dancer and choreographer, gives music from Franz Schubert entitled 'Der Leiermann' (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Baritone)...... and says
It speaks about a bleak landscape. And this bleak landscape takes me back to a day when I was in fourth grade out on the edge of town, looking at a snow-covered highway many, many yards away from my window — I should've been paying attention, but I was dreaming.

And then I saw a lone figure walking across on a very, very cold day," he continues, "and you know how it is when the wind blows and you have to turn your back against the wind, and I felt so sorry for that person, and then I realized it was my father. That my father, who was completely out of work, had been the director of his own business as a contractor in the heyday of the migrant stream back in the late '50s, but now that business had died. He was up in the chilly North with family, broke and sick, and he had to get to this very insignificant job in a factory, miles and miles away. A black man with no car, trying to hitchhike, and no one picking him up, and he has to walk that 10 miles to get to the factory. And I'm sitting in this warm classroom, getting educated, not paying attention to the teacher, and suddenly feeling torn between two worlds. And this music, when I hear it, I feel for my father. There's something about art that can be, yes, depressing, but helps us bear the pain through sheer beauty and intensity.

If you would like to hear Schubert's music from the "song cycle about a solitary traveler in a savage winter whose heart is frozen in grief"...

(More from the Bill T. Jones interview)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas: A Picture and a Recipe (and Green & Red Socks)

Raphael Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483–1520), Detail of Angel c 1499-1502

Let's call them Christmas Socks.  The pattern is L.Linneman's, free on Ravelry and found at this site.  The technique used is called "afterthought heel" in that the sock is knit as a tube, and then the heel is put in after the tube has been completed.  A YouTube video found here helps in learning how to knit the afterthought heel.

And on another note:
Christmas cookie baking this year in the Kinsey-McCarroll household has been a bit spare. One batch turned out acceptably.  That term is used loosely.  They were acceptable in that eating just one cookie would fill your tummy for the entire morning...a little too loaded with every dried fruit in the cupboard, with chocolate to boot.  So next on the baking agenda are some lighter, fluffier cookies.

My friend Natalie liked these little jewels, so I tracked down the recipe, courtesy of King Arthur Flour.

Soft and Chewy Vanilla-Orange Cranberry Cookies
These cookies remain beautifully soft for days, and their flavor is outstanding: bold orange and cranberry, complemented by a hint of aromatic vanilla.
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
3/4 cup sugar
grated peel of 1 medium to large orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups Flour
2 cups dried cranberries; or a mixture of dried cranberries and toasted chopped walnuts or pecans

read more for how-to's:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Portraits of Giant Insects

From the Daily Mail in the UK ... fascinating!

The great debate: Grasshoppers meet on the broad leaf of a plant to make a lot of noise together

Read more:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reminiscences from Pearl Harbor Day, 1941

My dad wrote his memoirs about ten years ago, spending many hours at his computer thinking and reminiscing about his past.  My brother captured it all, making a book from his writings.  Dad is now 93 and living in a care center with Alzheimer's, so today he could not tell us anything about his years in the navy or what he recalled about being a test pilot in the 1940's.  But he did write his memoirs when his mind was sharp.

This morning after listening to the news, I thought about when Dad was in the navy and a part of The Greatest Generation.  I wondered if he had written anything about Pearl Harbor Day in 1941, so I looked into his book.  Sure enough, he did write a short piece about what he remembered on Pearl Harbor Day in 1941. Here it is.
On December 7, 1941…
The U. S. Navy accepted me as a candidate to be an Aviation Cadet. I was assigned to the Elimination Base at the Naval Air Station at Dallas. I reported on October 1, 1941, and completed primary flight training. I received orders to report to the N. A. S. Corpus Christi and to a pool of future Aviation Cadets. 
It was Sunday morning, December 7. 1941, after reveille, I dropped from my top bunk and dressed in khaki for a full day ashore in Corpus Christi. Mother and Dad were visiting the Ward Terrells, friends from Junction. I met them for church services and then we visited with Maurine Motley, a distant cousin from Hollis, OK. She was a teacher. We drove around the city and returned to her apartment. A lady came out a door and told us to turn on the car radio for the NEWS! The announcement and description of the Pearl Harbor attack was a shock to us. The sun was low in the sky in Texas but it was morning in Hawaii. 
I returned to the base by bus and was prepared for some drastic changes, but I noticed nothing different. We still drilled, had musters and formations. I remained in the Pool until after Christmas. My orders were to report to Pensacola N.A.S. as an Aviation Cadet.
The Way It Was... Recollections and Reflections of Charles Wilson McCarroll, Jr.

Charles W. McCarroll in 1941
Charles W. McCarroll, 2011
From The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw:
These men and women came of age in the Great Depression, when economic despair hovered over the land like a plague. They had watched their parents lose their businesses, their farms, their jobs, their hopes. They had learned to accept a future that played out one day at a time Then, just as there was a glimmer of economic recovery, war exploded across Europe and Asia. When Pearl Harbor made it irrefutably clear that America was not a fortress, this generation was summoned to the parade ground and told to train for war. They left their ranches in Sully County, South Dakota, their jobs on the main street of Americus, Georgia, they gave up their place on the assembly lines in Detroit and in the ranks of Wall Street, they quit school or went from cap and gown directly into uniform. 
They answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs. 
They faced great odds and a late start, but they did not protest. At a time in their lives when their days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the workaday world, they were fighting, often hand to hand, in the most primitive conditions possible, across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria. They fought their way up a necklace of South Pacific islands few had ever heard of before and made them a fixed part of American history: islands with names like Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Okinawa. They were in the air every day, in skies filled with terror, and they went to sea on hostile waters far removed from the shores of their homeland. 
When the war was over, the men and women who had been involved, in uniform and in civilian capacities, joined in joyous and short-lived celebrations, then immediately began the task of rebuilding their lives and the world they wanted. They were mature beyond their years, tempered by what they had been through, disciplined by their military training and sacrifices. They married in record numbers and gave birth to another distinctive generation, the Baby Boomers. They stayed true to their values of personal responsibility, duty, honor, and faith. 
They were a new kind of army now, moving onto the landscapes of industry, science, art, public policy, all the fields of American life, bringing to them the same passions and discipline that had served them so well during the war. 
They were not perfect. They made mistakes. They allowed McCarthy-ism and racism to go unchallenged for too long. Women of the World War II generation, who had demonstrated so convincingly that they had so much more to offer beyond their traditional work, were the under-pinning for the liberation of their gender, even as many of their husbands resisted the idea. When a new war broke out, many of the veterans initially failed to recognize the differences between their war and the one in Vietnam.
It may be historically premature to judge the greatness of a whole generation, but indisputably, there are common traits that cannot be denied. It is a generation that, by and large, made no demands of homage from those who followed and prospered economically, politically, and culturally because of its sacrifices. It is a generation of towering achievement and modest demeanor, a legacy of their formative years when they were participants in and witness to sacrifices of the highest order.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Madonna Con Gesu Bambino and Icons

This is Esteban Murillo's portrait of the Madonna and Child, located in the Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, Florence, Italy. Murillo painted this about 1650.

I purchased a small copy of this work on eBay about ten years ago and have been trying to paint a similar portrait from this print for probably just as long.  I finally "finished" this last year, and am displaying it on a table with other Madonna and Child icons in our living area.  This is my rendition:

It obviously pales in comparison to the real work, but it was an enjoyable artistic challenge.  When I look at the face of Mary that I have painted, she looks quite a bit older than fourteen or fifteen, but the gist of her facial expression has a sweet countenance.

Many more of Murillo's paintings can be found here on a slideshow.

This is a picture of two tops of tables displaying my icons of Madonna and Child which I have collected over the past dozen years while traveling.  Each comes from a different country [Spain (Barcelona), Italy (Venice and Florence)  New Zealand (Christchurch), America, and several place in the United Kingdom including one from St. Abbey's Cathedral in London].  One is a beautiful Christmas card that a friend sent one year in the mail.

These icons serve as our holiday "Christmas Tree"