I have been following Trish's posts where each month she picks a kitchen appliance she doesn't use enough and dedicates a month to it. Since January I have been toying with an idea of my own that adopts her idea, but I want to broaden it a bit. I am not much for the kitchen. I am going to do something that encompasses my entire house. So, at the beginning of each month I am going to set goals and then we will see how it goes.
For May, I want to take more pictures. I used to be huge into photography but I hardly take pictures any more. I bought a new camera recently, though, and I am determined to use it more often. My goal is to use it everyday in May and to help I am using a photo a day meme of sorts hosted at Fat Mum Slim. You can see the categories in the picture below.
I might post the actual pictures to my Tumblr, which I actually resurrected yesterday. Or Pinterest. I haven't entirely decided yet...
In preparation, I took some pictures today:
Mrs. T and I are in Chicago this week, and I'm going to be busy throughout our stay there, so in lieu of blogging today, I'm posting a video interview that I did in 2009. The occasion was the publication of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong. The interview was conducted by the folks at Big Think, an exceedingly interesting website that is insufficiently well known. Big Think recently posted the interview on YouTube, and if you didn't happen to see it in 2009, you might possibly be interested in seeing what I had to say back then:
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A very quick post today - in case you missed it on my previous post, Annabel/Gaskella has taken up the challenge of nominating another author for a reading week, and designing a great badge, and so... Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week will be hitting the blogosphere June 18-24! More info from Annabel here. I've been intending to read Beryl Bainbridge for years - at the moment I only have Master Georgie, so it might well be that one I read, but I'll see what the library. Go over and express your interest, if you are interested, and spread the word!
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At the time of writing this it is two weeks since my twilight visit to Dennis Severs' House at 18 Folgate Street in Spitalfields. Yet I can still see and smell so much of the house which makes me think perhaps I did manage to glean something from an experience that felt like no other.
The game is that you enter the house as if you have interrupted the lives of the Jervis family, early 18th century Huguenot silk weavers who were in mid-meal when a time-traveller from centuries hence crept into their house having paid £14 for a good look around.
Dennis Severs was 'an artist who used his visitors' imaginations as the canvas' and who apparently lived in the house until his death 1999 in much the same way as the original occupants might have done in the 1720s. I can vouch for the fact that a visit is a truly memorable and extraordinary encounter. If the intention is to have passed through the surface of a painting then I most definitely did my best.
No photography is allowed inside the house and this feels right. To have been distracted by my camera would have felt completely wrong, as would have been any reproduction of those pictures here...I needed to see it and feel it, smell it and hear it all and let that leave an impression on my imagination which it most certainly has.
My visit started at 6.15 pm with a brief introductory talk outside from the curator who asks that I remain silent, no talking and definitely no mobile phones, thus making for a visit of complete concentration. I did make some notes and interestingly the notes revealed something afterwards of which I may have been unware at the time.
You don't need to to be able to read what I wrote...but just look at pages one and two...
and compare with pages five and six...
The whole house is candlelit, but to varying degrees and when the visit starts down in the kitchens, in the cellar, the crowded table laden with food and manuscripts, the delft tiles around the sink and the range glowing and radiating warmth from a real fire, with the freshly baked scones on the griddle, are all just barely visible to the eye. This is 18th century light and with the ceiling a scant three inches above my head below stairs, as I moved on through the house and through time, (because the final room brings the visitor into the 19th century) that light had gradually increased, but in a way that I might have missed but for my notebook.
This is still-life drama, the chance to become lost in another time, and not so much what you see as what you imagine too, and little signs and notes constantly upbraid the lazy visitor...
'You either see it or you don't...you are looking at the thing rather than what the things are doing...'
and a few rooms later another reminder...
'What! You are still looking at 'things' instead of what 'things' are doing...'
'Would you recognise art if it fell out of a frame...'
and suitably chastened I vowed to try harder.
There are bells peeling and footsteps, the floor creaks and the clocks tick and chime and then you catch background whispering which had me looking over my shoulder and about to say 'Shh' to other visitors who must have been talking ...except they were about to say the same to me, and it dawns that this is the family who have just left. As you approach they depart, as you depart they re-enter.
Then a voice off-stage says ...
'Rebecca, we'll need more fuel in the morning, keep an eye out for someone peddling it on the street..'
And a very unnerving moment when I coughed and so did the invisible resident... I'm telling myself that was a coincidence.
The smells were a heady mix of ginger and spices various and coming as a consistent and gentle reminder to use all my senses as I then heard a baby cry and bird song, and noticed the wig on the chair and upstairs in the withdrawing room, the half-toasted waffle still on the fork, the broken tea cup perhaps knocked over by the ladies of the house wearing their large hooped dresses. The sewing basket lay open, the music cast to one side..they had been singing 'Mrs Spriggs Gave Parties' just before I walked in it would seem, the little house of cards behind the chair...perhaps that was the children.
And I desperately wanted to sit down and watch and listen to what my imagination was telling me, but of course that wasn't allowed. I was a bird of passage not a resident.
Up into the bedrooms and an imprint in the cushion in the window seat...someone had seen me approaching and disappeared... leaving behind a full chamber pot I hasten to add which I decided not to sniff.
I moved on up to the attics and clearly a time of poverty has descended on the family. The light was stark, the air noticeably cooler, the fire a mere flicker in the grate though still real, and everything much grimier, crumbling lathe and plaster giving way to gaping holes in the ceilings, washing hanging on the landing, the rugs rumpled enough to snag my feet on and make me look down, a plate of oyster shells on the table perhaps not the luxury food then that we view it as now, and in the background gunfire. At this point I knew that explanations would follow if I looked hard enough and sure enough this is 1837, the King has died a new young Queen is about to ascend the throne.
The final room back downstairs and a Victorian parlour crammed to the gunwhales with all that wonderful Victorian clutter, the smell and the light different again and I realised this was the oil lamps.
I did a great deal of standing and staring which is built into and an acceptable aspect of the visit during which you are never made to feel rushed or hurried, if you go to walk into a room, or approach a stair case having missed a room, someone just silently stands in your way. In fact everyone was overtaking me but my imagination wanted its moneysworth and most certainly got it.
As I emerged blinking back into the 21st century I did have that sense of the disorientation of time travel were it possible, with every inch of my imagination out on stalks and working overtime as I walked back along Folgate Street....
and then around Spitalfields where so many of the old buildings remain and signs of a bygone era are in constant evidence..
until in creeps the 21st century with quirks of its own..
I even managed to preserve that imagination through a journey on the tube back to Bloomsbury and into the next day and a visit to Sir John Soane's Museum, more of which soon.
But if you are in London please don't miss a visit to Dennis Severs' House, it really is magical
Intersecting Sets: A Poet looks at Science / Alice Major
Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, c2011.
I thoroughly enjoyed this set of essays exploring the intersection of poetry and science. These two subjects, as well as their interactions, are two of my absolute favourite things; I love to study the neuroscience of reading literature, for example. This book was very satisfying -- literary and poetic in style, it also had a high level of "scienticity", as Major develops her themes in various areas of biology, linguistics, physics and more.
She's a poet who was turned on to physics at a young age and is able to draw parallels between the literary arts and many areas of science, in a very natural way. Her chapter on linguistics and fractals was very precise and certainly took a lot of concentration to get through for this non-linguist! But, it was entirely comprehensible and sparked more and more new ideas... kind of like a fractal pattern itself. I really loved the chapters on physics and on neuroscience (my particular areas of interest). But I learned something with each entertaining and thoughtful essay, which to me is the sign of a great read. This is one of those books I classify as "dinner party books", since you learn so many tidbits to dazzle others with at your next dinner party! (I have a whole shelf of those)
Major's premise is that for too long, Science and Art have been considered separate spheres, at odds with each other, or perhaps even antagonistic. Scientists and Artists are assumed to hold competing worldviews. Major posits, however, that the separate worlds of Science and Art are more like a Venn diagram, with lots of commonality -- points of which she explores in her essays here. Or, as the title states, she's exploring the Intersecting Sets of Science and Art.
She does not claim to be a science writer, merely a poet who is interested in science and has kept up on developments in a layman's role. I am also a bookish individual with a strong interest in science, and I don't think that discussions of such should be limited to "professional" scientists or science writers. Both poetry and science allow for new understandings of our world, and new ways of seeing, even if from different angles. Major's particular angle is that of a longstanding poet, and her vision of how the 'dreamy' world of poetry and the 'rational' world of science intersect was compelling.
Content of this post owned and copyrighted by The Indextrious Reader. c2006-2010.
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Hilary Mantel on the art of making the dead speak. I think she may go slightly too far in the direction of flattening the language and making it undistinctive: I loved Wolf Hall and am very eager to read the sequel, but language is the least interesting part of the fictional world she creates.
Sent off the piece I had due today about twenty minutes ago; have a couple of school things I really should do this afternoon, but they are going to have to wait till tomorrow! Struck with a slight cold or sinus infection of some sort, alas; it is the inevitable consequence, I fear, of a spell of working too hard and the struggle to get out of town without leaving too many loose threads.
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For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you may remember me writing about my son winning a large teddy bear for the school raffle back in April 2010.
Well, last week, I gave my son $2 to buy more raffle tickets, and guess what!!!
Today he came home with yet another Prize. This was a large stuffed toy sheep - about 18 inches tall by 15 inches wide.
And being 2 years older, my son no longer wants to be photographed holding this sheep.
So I have had to take a picture of the sheep - now named Sheepie - for the record.
There is a huge difference between being almost 8 years old and being almost 10 years old.
When my son was almost 8 he was proud to hold Carrots (the large teddy bear ) and show him off to the world wide web.
Now that he is almost 10, he no longer wants to do that. He was adamant he would not hold a stuffed sheep in front of the camera. The sheep was allowed to have his photo taken, but not its owner!!!
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You can look at literally thousands of Stanley Kubrick’s photographs online through MCNY. I’m partial to the sets featuring the child boxers, Rosemary Williams, and Betsy von Furstenberg, but there are gems a plenty. Related posts: Start Something New A Betsy Lerner follower asks Betsy what to do when... A First for The Second Pass [...]Related posts:
I didn’t even get a chance to celebrate National Poetry Month on my blog this year but why stop at celebrating poetry just one month out of the year right? I wish I could tell you that I’ve read some great poems lately or been to some poetry events but I haven’t had the chance [...]
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