Saturday, April 30, 2011

Treasured gifts and childhood dreams

I had a Bugs Bunny grin, frizzy wavy hair, gangling long legs and was painfully shy.We'd just moved from a small farm town in Oklahoma to a small farm town in Kansas where the other kids had known each other from the day they'd started wobbling around town at their mother's knees. Add to that the likelihood they were cousins once or twice removed, and it was a pretty tight-knit community our family had just moved into!

I was already an avid reader but the new climate only added fuel to an already burning fire. One particular month, The Weekly Reader Book of the Month Club sent 'The Black Stallion'. I fell in love! 

The horse was magic and mystery and adventure all rolled up into one. I would lie in bed and dream of clutching the mane of my great horse's mane and ride off into the distance. Children care not for the grim reality of awakening from a dream... I would be far away from the new town in the new school where I was the new girl. 

And that is what happened with each Black Stallion book I read whether it was 'The Black Stallion Returns', 'Son of the Black Stallion' or 'The Black Stallion and Satan' etc.... well, you get the picture. I went on to read other horse books 'My Friend Flicka', 'Misty' and I loved them all although my first love remained 'The Black Stallion'! Which is why, when I received a copy of 'The Black Stallion' from my darling Mo on our first Christmas together, it was and still is one of my most cherished presents ever! I was so enthralled with the idea of being on the back of a big racing horse that I dreamt of being a jockey. That is until it dawned on me that I was already, in fifth or sixth grade, quite a bit taller than the jockeys. I was CRUSHED!!!  

In the spring of that school year, my brothers and I were taken to a babysitter's home for the day. The television was on and with nothing better to do (I must have forgotten to bring a book) I plopped down to veg for the afternoon. The picture flashed onto some beautiful long legged thoroughbred's as they were led from paddock to race track and I was immediately hooked. I inquired as to what the event might be and was quickly answered  "The Kentucky Derby." I knew what the Kentucky Derby was immediately and settled in for the pre-race furor.

I don't honestly recall if I selected Secretariat to win from the beginning. He wasn't black and he wore a hood so I think I might not have chosen him just from the initial introduction I got of the horses. It would be easy to lie now and say I had...but as the race began and he came up from last, no equine lover could help but fall in love with a horse that had that much heart.  I remember the tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat as he passed one horse then another and then gained ground with great strides. And then how at last he ran up alongside the front runner! Then, as if that were not enough, not only did he pass the leader but got two and a half lengths ahead!! He broke the record for running the 1&1/4 ml long race in under 2 minutes (1 minute and 59 2/5) that day and caused everyone to sit up and take notice! And I knew that I wanted to watch him run (and win) in the Preakness and the Belmont after that. And he did! (Of course he did!)

Which is why... I am so excited about the coming week. Not that every Kentucky Derby is as exciting as the one that was raced by Big Red (or even Seattle Slew or Affirmed after him.) No, but there is the potential! And I am always excited to think that maybe this year we will see another horse that will take wing and fly under the finish line, carrying our hopes and dreams with him-- like The Black Stallion.
If you want to participate in some pre-Kentucky Derby fun... head over to Lisa M Pott's Blog to catch up on all the traditions and fabulous fun she will post this week. It's too late to join the Kentucky Derby Contest of Awesome (not done intentionally since I've had a link all week and you've obviously not paid proper attention!!!) but not too late to have tons of awesome fun!!! 

Monday, April 25, 2011

History in film?

It's been a while since I saw a film I felt like recommending to anyone. Partly because great films seem to be fewer and further between these days but also when a great film wins an award, it does it's own recommending and I don't feel any compunction to recommend it on my blog. But this last weekend we saw a film that captured my imagination and I decided it was worthy of a little additional publicity and since it's no longer in theaters, you can even get it from your local library (as did I) and spend your (saved) money on some lovely treats to enhance your viewing pleasure (like a bottle of champagne!... I highly recommend a bottle of Beringer White Zinfindel! It's on the sweet side as are all white Zins but it's Pink and reminds me of Cary Grant!... ahem) But back to our film...
We find ourselves swept back into time.... 391 A.D. to be Egypt.... but to be more specific: Alexandria. On a stairway of the library a woman, Hypatia, is teaching her male students about philosophy, mathematics and astronomy. They discuss and debate the knowns and vast unknowns until one student finally says, "Why do we question what the Lord himself ordains?" The question dangles and is left unanswered... at the moment. Later Hypatia herself answers as she is speaking to her friend Synesius, "You don't question what you believe, or cannot. I must." The film quickly moves on from the teachings of the teacher to the religious factions in the city which as as interrelated as the politics and religion are today. The pagans attack the christians and the christians fight back. Political lines have been drawn and the stronger group of Christians prevail with Roman backing. Later, the christians attack the jews,  but the christians are the ruling class so little justice is found when the jews ask for help when they are initially attacked, so the jews fight back All of this discontent causes the church's leader to cast his eye upon Hypatia. In his view she represents all that is evil among the pagans. She will not be baptized and she continues to cause unrest among the pagans. SPOILER ALERT: (The ending of the movie is coming up here) Thus it is determined that the woman will die and in ancient times, death will not come easy. Just as she is about to be stoned, however, a former slave who had also fallen in love with her suffocates her in a mercy killing so that the stones fall on an already dead body and the torture is circumvented without the torturer's knowledge (otherwise they might have come after the slave). 

Much appears to have been made of the meandering away from history on the part of the film's director Alejandro Amenabar and on this point I would like to say, "Well, duh..." Making an historically accurate film for anyone in the film industry would take... well... RESEARCH! And for those who go to a film thinking they are getting an historically accurate film? Who are you kidding? It just isn't happening! Those of you who expect historical accuracy in film are perhaps more naive than those who expect honesty in politics. But by and large this film does a great job of capturing the era if the not exact moment. There was a woman named Hypatia who lived during this period and she was killed by a christian mob at the time. She was actually drug through the street and then burned and perhaps worse by historical accounts and there was no romantic coming to the rescue slave to suffocate her and keep her from experiencing the horrible morass that was her death. No her death at the hands of the angry christian mobs was as ugly as any experienced in history- including Henry the 8th's wives!  

A forty-year-old Rachel Weisz plays Hypatia beautifully and is at least close to the ancient scholar's reported age of 45 (although she may have been as old as 65). Her character is strong and intellectual and wonders about the universe around her. As her world changes she is enthralled with how the earth revolves around the sun- sometimes closer other times further away. She is not a stereotypical female even by today's stereotypes! If Hollywood had even touched this film (and they never would have!), Hypatia would have been played by a twenty-something starlet who slept with all of her students and was finally killed by the pagans for turning Christian.There are several other historical inaccuracies which you can read about here but by and large the film's errors are far outweighed by the good. No particular group comes off in a terribly favorable light and viewers get a peak into the origins of religious animosities that continue on today. Not a politically correct film by any means, but one that shines a light into the darkness of modern film for movie lovers everywhere.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bolder Boulder

A sunny spring day. The streets were aflurry of activity. People of all ilk have awoken from their winter blahs and are out and about.  
The Rubberband man and his bendable bones had his little assistants assisting in revealing how limber he really is. 
Musical instruments abound-- occasionally the sound that is heard is appealing and pleasant- other times? It's a lesson in what not to do on Pearl Street Mall unless you're desperately trying to drive people away. 
The Statueman shifts positions just in time to be not quite so statuesque
while the Busker enthralls with his dance of daring dos and do nots.
and the nimble hands of the musicmakers give off all the right vibes 
Just another beautiful Saturday in downtown Boulder, Colorado!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

To Be Human is to be a Conversation

Andrea Rexilius debut's in the world of publishing with an amalgamation of poetry, essay, and memoir as it relates to her sister- twins with the same name who meet after a decade of life. Wading through the deep waters of knowing and not knowing, understanding and misconception, she explores the relationship that develops between the two even as they speak different languages yet sleep in the same bed, learning to read each other's thoughts before foreign words are uttered. Moving from memory to expression, the author tells us, "Our first conversation was performed by the body. An electrical charge, the light of sentences... A streak of light between our edges. It's true I could no longer say the word "I," to bear meaning. I flat-lined into "beyond the body," a darkness spreading, darkness gaining shape and I saw, the pupil of my eye forming, and then I saw her black hair."

Rexilius has presented us with a thought provoking and moving account of her awakening relationship with her (as I understand it) step-sister. Moving between genres with amazing swiftness, the reader is not jarred by the change so deftly is each section crafted. Poetry is inserted into essay and memoir as air is breathed between word. The format is body, swaying and dancing it's way through relationship. Easily read in a sitting, yet more profoundly understood if read over and over so intelligently is the text handled.*

*Disclaimer: Andrea Rexilius is a friend and former co-worker at the library. However, I would never give her a good review simply because she is a friend. If this were a poorly written book, it would behoove me to tell readers this.If, however, I were afraid our friendship would be harmed by a bad review I would simply not review her book.

Corporate Tax Dodgers and Tax protests hosted by at Meanderings of a Wandering Mind

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lillies of the field

 I carry my camera with me wherever I go in case there is a moment, like this one, where the day's beauty is found at my feet. Brilliant and shimmering on the path I am walking, I pause to consider how fleeting is life- both in those things beautiful and ugly and it is not something to take for granted.     
 Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight.  ~Benjamin Franklin
Some of your hurts you have cured,
And the sharpest you still have survived,
But what torments of grief you endured
From the evil which never arrived.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.... For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.  ~Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things"
Quotes found at:
Also! A must read letter from the Coffee Party posted on my blog Meanderings of a Wandering Mind on the budget and the economy: "Let's get the facts about taxes and the debt"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Welcome to Colorful Colorado

Saturday dawned clear and bright. The pied piper skies beckoned us toward the great outdoors and without a second thought we loaded up in the car and headed out. We didn't have far to drive (just thirty minutes!) before we were in sight of vistas that are quite breathtaking (but then many are!)
The peaks in the distance are snow-capped but the temperatures break records. A winter with little snow leaves this semi-arid climate mostly brown when it should be greening in abundance. Fire danger is already high and a careless cigarette could result in evacuation.

I gaze out at the Flatirons, amazed at the wedge shaped features behind me. Their sharp angles in contrast to the mountains beyond. They earn their name from pioneer women who felt they resembled an upended household flatiron. (the likeness more obvious when viewed farther north in central Boulder- like in this picture)

 Consisting of a similar rock (conglomerate sandstone) as the aforementioned Red Rocks amphitheater, the uplifted earth reveals stories that are nearly 300 million years in the making: the dinosaurs that roamed here, the sealife that hatched. Tales that are written in stone and will endure longer than the humans that would come along to read the biography.

  It was a busy day on the trail- the trail abuzz with conversation and bicyclists straining. The first really warm spring day awakens the hibernating Coloradans from the winter doldrums in a wave of outdoor frenzy. And warm it was, shattering the previous high temperature by 6 degrees, topping out at 84!
click on the picture to get the effect of this panorama 
But in true Colorado fashion, the weather did an about-face as swiftly as a marching band. The next day there were snowflakes fluttering to the ground! Much needed moisture but a change so dramatic that one might be excused for fearing they'd been transported to another planet.
But that is what makes Colorado so colorful- not the green landscape as they might try to advertise- (it remains brown for most of the year except for the spring and only then if we've had enough snow) but the weather.   

Saturday, April 2, 2011


As a child, heading into The City meant shiny shoes and dress clothes
  Gazing at buildings from car windows as we drove down traffic laden streets, 
the excitement was tangible, Country mouse safe in her fishbowled car
 looking up at the city, gawking at towering windows 
that reach up into the sky.   
There is elation still as I walk the streets downtown 
staring up at buildings that angle up into the skies, 
quadrangles and triangles of brilliant blue  
  the morning is brisk and the crowds have disappeared through glass doors,
up elevators where,
in the bustle of the day's busyness, 
They Forget     
 Cerulean skies that seem to be just within reach 
  The streets, teeming with life, 
with those who are not so fortunate
who carry their life in a bag that rolls along the street for humanity to gawk at
 Who wear misfortune with the same casualness that some don their day's wardrobe
 the spectrum of the rainbow that splatters the walkways 
  "art" that amuses amidst the stone cold hardness of the streets
 peddlers who make their daily bread one sausage at a time     
and the bus/train drivers who keep the urbanites connected with home
It's all here in Downtown...
In the immortal words... (umm, okay maybe not so immortal) of Petula Clark 
When you're alone
And life is making you lonely,
You can always go downtown
When you've got worries,
All the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtown


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