Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Beach

Deb & Co.:
Lee on the descent:
Liam, Mali, and Roger:
Chilled girls warming by the fire:


It occurs to me that one key ingredient for a successful marriage is sheer stubbornness. Not the kind of stubbornness where one or both insist always on their own way. But a stubborn commitment to making it work -- and even (perhaps) proving all the nay-sayers wrong. How else to explain some of the long-lived marriages among friends and acquaintances where the "conventional wisdom" counseled against them tying the knot in the first place?

These include marriages of young folk:
* age 18, married for 20 years (no college degree)
* age 20/21, married for 14 years (one college graduate, one in college)
* age 21/25, married for 14 years (one college graduate, one grad student)
* age 23/36, married for 10 years (no college degree)

And I know of at least 5 marriages in which the wife is 8 to 12 years older than her husband.* (To be fair, the most recent of these marriages is in its third year -- it has not yet stood the test of time.)

That's not to say that "most" such marriages will succeed -- but at least among these folks, who happen to be from white, middle-class families who in some cases initially worried about the match, they seem to be beating the odds.

FN* None of these couples involve a woman who could be classified as a "cougar" in the current sense, and I believe there was no significant wealth discrepancy between the partners in any of these matches.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Welcome to Belle!

Today I got a chance to meet Belle. She is about 7 weeks old. Becky and I took her to Zoe's Vintage Kitchen, although she did not order from the menu:

We also took her for a walk on the beach, which she absolutely loved; that is to say, she fell asleep almost immediately and stayed in dreamland until we got back in the car.

Her name is pronounced "Bella" but she is not named after the heroine of the Twilight novels. (Becky denies ever having read them - and I'm pretty sure Bob hasn't either. )


I'd forgotten my camera was set on black & white, but it makes for somewhat interesting photos. Here's the birthday girl celebrating with silent noisemaker and party hat at a Spanish restaurant with 22 of her friends:

On the way to Grand Central afterward, I saw one of the mixed messages traffic signals we know and love in NYC, the glowing "walk/don't walk" sign:

Seems oddly appropriate sometimes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day at the BBG

Even at this late date, there was far more color and variety than I'd expected. Here are some of the highlights.

Crabapple tree:

Pagoda tree:
In the garden of edibles:
Shinto Gate at Japanese Hill & Pond Garden:
Water Lily:
Aquatic plant:

Goldfish with tree reflections in lily pond:

Outside the greenhouses:

Bonsai maple:


R.I.P. Fudo (ca. 1150 - 1971):
Gone to seed (with purple cornflowers in the background):
The last roses of autumn ("rainbow sherbet" variety):

Through the Bible in Less Than a Year! part 4

The golden calf episode. A number of interesting things in the story, which I'd known primarily from a Simon & Garfunkel song, "Sound of Silence" (I think my parents had explained the reference to me: "And the people bowed and prayed /To a neon god they'd made" -- though I'm not sure they explained the words immediately thereafter, that the sign "flashed out its warning /With the words that it was forming, /And the sign said 'The words of the prophets are /written on the subway walls /And tenement halls'").

I was a bit surprised by the story of the golden calf. It's formed of the people's gold jewelry -- presumably the spoils they took from Egypt at the end of the plagues? The people are very specific in how they imbue the golden calf with an identity - it is specifically Yahweh God, not some pagan god of their own (or their neighbors') invention. They specifically say that it's the calf who brought them out of Egypt. It's strange, in a way, that even in their idolatry they recognize the one true God. But I suppose that's typical of human nature. We are blind to our own invention of idols and we elevate them while we pay lip service to God. By calling the calf God, they are making their god into something quite a bit smaller and more controllable than God.

Moses learns about the idolatry, initially, not through his own eyes, but through hearsay from God. Though I can't help thinking that might be a bit more reliable than your usual hearsay. Moses pleads with God to spare his people, rejecting the opportunity to have an entirely new line spring from Moses himself. God's pretty quick to cave here, which suggests (as the commentator's notes suggest) that forgiveness was actually part of God's plan, even then. When Moses goes down to his people, however, he goes crazy with anger when he sees it for himself. He destroys the golden calf (made from jewelry melted down from the Egyptians, I think) and then grinds it into a powder and makes his people drink it. They must eat their words, as the commentator notes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Century Celebration

For my grandfather's 100th birthday, we all joined him on a short cruise to Cozumel on the Carnival line. As it turned out, my grandfather was in much better shape than a lot of the other passengers! He struck quite a figure with his distinctive beret, but was a bit disappointed to find that his 2000+ fellow cruisers were not particularly keen dancers.

The journey started nicely, as five or six dolphins frolicked in the wake of the ship as we left Galveston. (Probably just picking up fish, really, in this particular instance.) I didn't get any pictures of the dolphins, but here's our last glimpse of the sun:

Yes, the weather deteriorated from there. Throughout the journey, the sky was overcast and the seas were a bit choppy at times. On the roughest day, some adventuresome souls ventured out on the sun deck and discovered that a doorway toward the front of the ship created a lovely wind tunnel. My niece kept circling around to run through the doorway with the wind at her back, thus becoming a champion sprinter for the nonce:

It really felt like you could just lean on the wind and just stay there, and a lot of the grownups played with this in different ways:

It was great to see everyone. While most of the grownups and Felix seemed just as I remembered them, I had a great deal of trouble reconciling the Deirdre and Ethan I remembered from two years ago with the Deirdre and Ethan I encountered on this trip. They were probably 10 and 3 the last time I saw them - a little girl and a baby - and are now very clearly a young lady and a boy. It took all my self-control to suppress the urge to say "My, how you've grown!" But they have grown, and it becomes them well.

Highlights of the trip (other than the wind tunnel) included an expedition to the beach in Cozumel where five of us splashed around in tidal pools for an hour, watching snails, hermit crabs, augers, lots of darting little fish, a bright red sea urchin in a crevice, and some things that looked like living trilobytes, although others later identified them for us as chitons.

The cousins all got together for a rousing game of boggle on the final night of the cruise, where I learned some new words such as "ani" and "fado". I can't necessarily define them (other than to note that ani is a kind of bird), but I now know that I can use them in word games...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Bourne Identity: French Translation

In case you don't have time to watch the entire movie, here's the dialogue in French:

Acte I:
"Qui etes vous? Allez vous en!"
"Tu es la seule personne que je connaisse."

Acte II:
"Jason, merde!"

Acte III:
"Est-ce que je peux louer un scooter?"


Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Weekend

At the art show Thursday night, they chose 3 winners in each of 5 categories (painting, drawing, photography, crafts, and sculpture).* I didn't necessarily agree with their choices. For instance, the two most stunning photographs were of a fjord in Ireland (an amazing moment in time, capturing the smooth lines of a curving wake or tide) and an alligator breaking the surface of a reflected wooden fence (so abstract, it takes a few moments to understand the picture). There were also a few phenomenal photographs of people on display. Overall I was really pleased with the variety of talent and imagination on display - very cool.

Friday, I saw Where the Wild Things Are - the less said about that, the better. Luckily, it was only a $6 nap. And I enjoyed a garden burger at the Tick Tock Diner afterward.

For Halloween, after a scary encounter with my dentist, I took it easy most of the day. Then I went for Ethiopian food at a new restaurant called The Red Sea. I strongly associate Ethiopian cuisine with Washington, D.C., so it was novel (for me) to try it in Manhattan. It was fun to sit by the window and watch all the trick-or-treaters and party-goers traipse by. A lot of butterflies and bees this year. Even more exciting, I finally saw the entire Lion King show (a mere 10 years after seeing only the second half). The music, puppetry, and choreography are so thrilling. I love it. And "They Live in You" took my breath away... it would coincidentally have been a perfect addition to the All Saints' Day service at FAPC (less lugubrious and more moving).

Sunday, some bad news: G-san tried to run the marathon even though she was sick, and got a really bad migraine. As of today, I'm not sure her migraine has lifted... her neighbor apparently decided to do some construction during the day, which didn't help matters. But U-chan and I met up anyway and wandered around Saks for a while (just browsing, thank you) before going to Houston's aka Hillstone's for dinner. Despite the name change, I was able to get my jungle thai steak salad (a dish which by any other name tastes as sweet).

Today, I managed to pull a muscle in my left shoulder and experienced shooting pains most of the day. Ugh. But now, 14 hours later, it seems to have subsided to a large degree, as long as I don't turn my neck, and the upside is that it's just the excuse I needed to go see my G.P. I'm not good with the whole "annual physical" concept, so it's been about 3 years.

FN* : Predictably, photography was the most popular category -- it's a very accessible art, especially in the age of digital cameras where (even with mediocre equipment) you can literally take thousands of photos and delete all the bad ones.