Batting Practice

I meant to show Finney doing his favorite thing, batting things off my desk, but the blue highlighter apparently scared him. And what is that music I’m playing? I own it and I can’t identify it. Palestrina? Byrd? YES. Definitely Byrd. We just performed this a few months ago.

Reading The Death of Ivan Ilych yesterday was such a mistake. Made me feel completely bleak, of course. What was I thinking?? I had to re-create the distance to death that Tolstoy so brilliantly and effectively showed his character lose. We are ALL going to have to face that, the one time when we’re no longer going to be able to say, “Well, at least I’m not dying now.”

The funny part of all this is how Tolstoy showed Ivan Ilych’s desperation about how he lived his life, did he live it rightly or did he waste his time. So what do I do with that awareness? Make videos of my cats knocking things off other things (thank you, Monty Python). I am so Ivan Ilych, in his pre-marriage phase.

If Only I Didn’t Look Like a Zombie

I cracked up when I saw this picture in the Times of people doing walking meditation. It’s something I learned when I learned MBSR (Mindful Based Stress Reduction) and I actually love this technique, but when you do it you look like the walking dead. I only do it in my house, but I’m dying to try it walking along the river, or anywhere outside, but you need privacy which I don’t have. These people may look funny, but at that moment they probably felt so alive.

I finished The Secret Life of Bees and I’m sorry to say that in the end, it never really fulfilled the promise of the beginning. It was no To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m now reading The Death of Ivan Ilych. Oh Tolstoy. I love you.

SYTYCD Roundup. I think it’s pretty obvious Comfort and Thayne are going home. I feel bad about Thayne. First bad choreography, and then a bad partner. I was glad to hear Mia’s comments to him. Thank you, Mia. I wish there was some way Thayne could stay. He’s a better dancer than Twitch, but people love Twitch so that’s not going to happen. What else? There were a few routines that were so good I had to watch them more than once. Katee and Joshua, both routines. I so disagreed with the judges about Joshua’s waltz — I was blown away by his gracefulness. I guess I have to believe them that he wasn’t doing things technically correct, what do I know, but I didn’t care. I loved watching him. The Bollywood routine!! Courtney and Gev, still growing on me, loved seeing Pasha again, more Pasha please, Kherington and Twitch’s krump routine … the Bollywood routine!! I think I watched that four times.

BettyMac on YouTube!

Drawing1.jpg I was so thrilled to see a video of Dr. Elizabeth McMahan on YouTube. She was one of the scientists who worked at the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory. She was nicknamed BettyMac to distinguish her from Betty Humphrey, who was there at the same time. I interviewed BettyMac when I was in Durham, and she’s been very helpful ever since. In fact, I just pulled out my file on her because I only recently gained enough understanding of physics to realize that something she said in a letter to the famous physicist John A. Wheeler was kind of ahead of its time, and so now I have to re-read it and his response to her to see what he thought of it.

The full length version of the video is up at the Rhine Research Center, where she gave the talk, and a shortened version is up on YouTube [the video has been taken down].

BettyMac made this drawing while on a trip to Pitcairn Island in the late 90’s, I believe. (She left parapsychology and went on to become a very respected entomologist.) I couldn’t immediately find an explanation for it. It must have been something she witnessed while there, but that is just a guess. I have four volumes of an autobiography she wrote and I just love love LOVE the drawings running all through them. I found some of them here and there while going through the Duke Archives.

I would have taken one if I had the least bit of a criminal streak. But no. Those nuns did their job well. I don’t believe in God, but there is right and there is wrong.

Soldiers Dancing in Iraq

I forget what I was even looking for, cute animal videos probably, and I got side tracked by videos of soldiers dancing in Iraq. Of course it all makes me want to cry on one level, because people as sweet and charming and adaptive as this should be home, safe and sound.

Don’t be fooled by the one that starts with the sun. And the guy in the third one down clearly has had some real training, he executes a few pirouettes. The last one is from British soldiers in Afghanistan, (if I’m remembering correctly).

I love these guys.

[Videos removed because the link no longer works.]

Sometimes Beauty Hurts

Yesterday I was posting on Echo, “what to do, what to do,” and my friend Marisa said “come to Ikea and Costco with me!” I’d never been to either store before and I was curious. We had so much fun. I didn’t buy anything, but I took pictures of the sea of carts for the people who were there for other than sight-seeing.

More pictures below …

Afterwards we went out to brunch with her boyfriend Sinclair and saw his garden. This is the part that I refer to in the title of this post. I wish this was my garden. It was so beautiful it made me ache, and for some reason, his garden shed was the lightening rod for that feeling. I should have taken a picture of the inside too, because all the implements of gardening contributed to the feeling.

One more picture below.

At a certain point my camera started acting up, but I love the weird picture that it took of his garden. It’s like a painting. I mean, will you look at those colors. You can still make out the garden shapes. I believe that’s his fig tree on the right. I’m not sure. I’ll bet he could tell by the leaves though. Oh wait, it’s not the fig tree. That’s the fig tree to the right of the shed. Okay, I have no idea what it is.

It was a great morning. Marisa and Sinclair crack me up. Plus, they love cats. Insanely. Sinclair built a cat door for his.