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head still down

The healing angel's illness is mysterious and tenacious enough that we're off to a infectious disease specialist tomorrow. Work also continues fairly busy, and between caring for the healing angel and work, I haven't found time for much else. I miss folks here but peer in now and then while I'm working.

Warriors of the Wind karuta

Some time ago I posted about creating a matching game with quotes from Warriors of the Wind, a mangled dubbing of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind which we have an affection for in my family. I didn't have it quite done for New Year's, and then it became hard to find a time when the whole family was gathered, but tonight, on the occasion of a family birthday, we all gathered and played. True, the healing angel was ill (he's been sick with a virus now for more than 10 days...), and the ninja girl had to play with us via Facetime from Japan, but we did it! All six of us played, and everyone laughed and had fun. Even the cat got in on the game, temporarily sprawling himself on the pile of matches and then watching with big eyes as we grabbed the cards and shouted out the lines.

faith-hope-love ... also Star Wars musings

But first, an apology and some excuse making. I've had a crushing amount of work, so I haven't been here much, either to read and comment or to write my own entries (and reply to commenters). I think of my friends here pretty much all the time, and I try, gradually, to make my way to people's journals, but I do miss things--please accept my apology. Things should ease up soon.

So, what are you in the mood for? Theological questions?

faith-hope-loveCollapse )

Or thoughts on plotting?

Star Wars musingsCollapse )

your morning breakfast

One of the women I do essay tutoring with was telling me about the breakfasts her great-grandmother used to make for her and her siblings.

"She'd always make us the same thing," she said. "A cup of tea, and cinnamon toast."

She was smiling and her eyes were sparkling as she told me, and I could practically taste the cinnamon and feel the warmth of the tea. I love cinnamon toast.

What's your idea of a great breakfast? I remember my grandfather used to have an orange, cut like a grapefruit, so you can scoop out each of the triangles around the center. He'd also have an English muffin or toast, and he'd melt butter on one half of the muffin (or one piece of toast) by putting the other half of the muffin (or other piece of toast), fresh from the toaster, on top--the warmth would melt the butter.

Stories around the electric fire

The guys who oversee the town transfer station (aka the town dump, but some stuff does get transferred for recycling) keep warm in a tiny room attached to the big pit where the nonrecyclable trash gets tossed. You go in there to buy town trash bags or to renew the sticker for your car that lets you go there. Inside, a TV is often on, and, at this time of year, there's a three-bar heater running.

There are two guys there: one is in his sixties and the other is in his thirties. I was renewing my car sticker, which meant showing my registration. "Oh, you live in Drowned Woods.1 I always get lost driving there," the young guy says. "You know," says the older guy, "I used to go hunting up there, before it was developed. I knew every twist and turn, every stone and tree. But not now."

And then we got to talking, and he told some awesome stories about the town, 50 years ago. When he was little, a grand house that's now down the hill from the town common was right on the common. (It was bought for a dollar and moved to its present location in two halves, for $30,000. Now it's apartments.)

the two-headed calfCollapse )

He went on to speculate that they must have belonged to the women's now-deceased husbands or sons. Sure, that's what it must have been ;-)

I asked him about a building that's falling down by the railroad tracks where I used to tap maple trees.

a blacksmithCollapse )

Getting to hear town history from an old-timer is so wonderful.

1Not its real name. The development is named after one of the drowned Quabbin towns.

The Providence Granola Project

My friend dudeshoes told me about a nonprofit that employed refugees to make granola. My first thought was, Yay! welcoming refugees! Followed by ... Making granola? It seemed sort of out of left field.

But then I asked myself, what kind of project would I imagine that would be better? I had some inarticulate sense that the project should highlight refugees' own cultures--but that's a tall order if you're bringing together people from many different countries. You want common ground. Granola is part of America's culinary heritage, so people can be learning something about their new home while simultaneously learning stuff relating to entrepreneurship in a friendly, fun way.

And granola is a good choice for marketing purposes: it's a food that sits in the overlap space of breakfast cereal and snack, ordinary daily item and small luxury. Unlike bread or cookies, it's got a long shelf life, so it makes a good item to ship. Oats, the base ingredient, aren't too expensive--unlike, say, chocolate.

I liked the name of the nonprofit, too: Beautiful Day. I went to the Granola Project page and ordered some bags. They were delicious! Full of enthusiasm, I ordered Christmas gifts for family members.

They sent me an end-of-year letter that came in this beautiful card:

All the people in the picture have stories. Devote, on the far right, is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and was on the run from militias for 17 years. Siyad, standing next to her, fled Somalia and spent 19 years in a refugee camp in Kenya. Vivian and Evon, the other two women, are Assyrian Christians from Iraq. And Kenneth Cooper, the executive director, was born in Vietnam during the war and lived in a different country each year of his childhood. He writes,

Customers and supporters [have taken] a personal stake in extending hospitality (sometimes even jobs) to refugees. And, in an interesting sort of reversal, making and selling granola became a way for our refugee employees to extend hospitality to you, their new community.

I really love this project now.

frost departing

You've probably seen patterns of frost on windows. Frost on glass makes little meadows and forests, or elaborate feather patterns.

I noticed that frost also makes patterns on the concrete sidewalk blocks near here. What I saw was not the frost itself but the pattern it lay down, visible in its melting:

frost-melt pattern: flowers

frost-melt pattern fern

frost-melt pattern: pines

frost-melt pattern: coral


Push it to the limit

Since I'm sharing family fun...
We used to watch the Simpsons every Sunday. Sometime in the last few years, we lost that habit, and as a consequence, I didn't know about a recent awesome couch gag, featuring Simpsons characters drawn comic-book style in a 1980s, Miami Vice-style story, set to the song "Push It To The Limit," from Scarface.

Here are some fun screencaps:

Hero Homer, who fights crime in partnership with his couch, which is sort of like the car in Knight Rider

Villain Ned Flanders, with his godly prison tattoos

Rad Bart and Lisa Simpson

Sexy Marge Simpson

If you want to see the sequence, it's about a minute and half:

A few card pairs

Just so you can see how much fun the script of Warriors of the Wind is, consider the following pairs (ETA: not all are dialogue pairs--only the third and fifth are actually exchanges between people; the other three are one person speaking):

--I never saw so much pollution
--You couldn't cut it with a chain saw [note: the people saying this manifestly do not have chain saws]

--Let's teach these insurgents a lesson in crowd control
--Drop a bomb on them!

--Are you going to boil me in oil or burn me at the stake?
--Hmmm, take your pick!

--I can take off anywhere
--Except under fire!

--I really love this valley!
--And I loathe it

(That one's a real family fave. If one of us asks another if they can do something, we'll often reply, "I can [do X] anywhere... except under fire!")

a card game

In Japan at New Year's, one traditional pastime is to play a poetry matching game involving the Hyakunin isshu, a collection of 100 highly regarded poems from the classical period. I've never actually played it, but it's done by reading out the first portion of the poem and then having people compete to be the first to grab the card that completes the poem (... except when I look online it seems that maybe what you're grabbing is just a version of the poem with an illustration? ... Not sure how this actually goes down...)

Anyway: the principle is that everyone knows the poems so well that if you read just the first portion, everyone will know the second portion.

In our family, we have something like that, but it's not poems. It's the dialogue from Warriors of the Wind, a translation of Hayao Miyazaki's movie Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ). It edited the movie badly, removing some of the most important scenes and inexplicably changing the names of the characters. Which is all to say, it's not a great film--at all. And we're pretty big fans of the actual film, which we saw originally in Japan (though nearly a decade after its release).

However! The dialogue of Warriors of the Wind has an over-the-top, overacted delightfulness, with exchanges like this [not present in the original script]:

"I don't believe you're as evil as you pretend to be, Queen Selena"
"ah-ha-ha, oh, but I am!"

And some of these lines have become real family touchstones. For example, when Nausicaa (called Zandra in this version) falls beneath the Swamp of Corruption (called in this version the Toxic Jungle), she has a thought monologue that begins "The endless ironies of life" (not what she thinks in the original). So, we often will say that to one another when something ironic comes along.

You get the idea.

So I thought it would be fun to make a matching game with the dialogue. We'd say one half of an exchange, or one portion of a monologue, and people would have to race to get the second half.

I didn't have it ready for New Year's, but I've got it ready now. Here are what some of the paired cards looked like before I glued them to backing and cut them out:

photos of a few of the cardsCollapse )

I'll try to take a picture of all the cards when we play. I'm realizing as I type this that it's pretty much the innest of in-jokes, and therefore kind of inaccessible, but ... I'm going ahead and sharing about it anyway.

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