Bits of Happiness

Finding bits of happiness along the bike trail:

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A cunning fish!

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Vandalism . . .

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. . .  and Art Installation

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. . . of Found Objects

I would have liked to have known who was responsible for The Shed!  It was boarded up — and presumably all the found objects inside it was removed — within the week.  The Shed is along the railroads, in an area used by the homeless as “hang out” spot.

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Word of the Year: 2019

Yesterday, I received a Christmas card from a friend I had not heard from in years.  We did residency together and were close at one point; it was shared misery, true, but we also genuinely liked each other.  It was lovely to hear from her, but the news was mainly about the various bucket list trips she had taken in the last year(s).  Galapagos!  Falklands and Georgia Islands!  Australia and New Zealand!  And for a few hours, I had envy.  In a sense, it was what I call “theoretical” envy:  as exciting as her travels sounded, I also knew that if it came down to it, I would not go to those places — well, except Australia and New Zealand . . .  What I do know is that I envied the resources she had to make these trips  — 20 years of working as a doctor does build up the bank account.  And to think I could have that amount of money, had I chosen to continue as a doctor!

In this season of plenty, in my life of plenty, the word that comes to me is “enough.”

 

Knitting in the Winter: Trailhead

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Trailhead cardigan

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Pattern:  Trailhead, by Veronik Avery, from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2015.

Yarn:  The yarn was a worsted weight Lambspun merino/silk blend in the color “barn red,” reclaimed from the Ogee Tunic  that I knitted back in 2009.  As pretty as the tunic was, I did not wear it.  Then I got smaller, but the tunic didn’t . . .  The yarn had dye variations (see picture #3) that I apparently did not notice in 2009.

The old lady buttons came from Mom’s stash; she had eight buttons, so I was able to use the extra one so that I have an alternative way to wear the collar.

Modifications:  Being a short woman, the cardigan turned into more of a coat on me, not a bad thing at all since it covers my hips completely and the pockets ended up at a comfortable and useful height.  I did make adjustments to the sleeve lengths as well as raglan depths and the shoulder darts so that the shoulder girdle fit properly.

Thoughts:  Clever patterns require a lot of directions, and in typical BT fashion, this pattern was quite long.  However, I do think it was overkill to include detailed directions on how to wash and block . . .  I like the tailoring details for the shoulder; I know some knitters didn’t like how high the raglan lines are in the front, but I think they look fine.  The arms are also more fitted than I would have thought given the relaxed fit of the rest of the cardigan.  It’s a design choice that I personally would not have made, but I went with it and ultimately I think it does work for this particular jacket.  I have knitted quite a few Veronik Avery designs in the past and always appreciate her attention to details.

Art of Citizenship

Civic:  relating to the duties or activities of people in relation to their town, city, or local area.

It’s like history:  people think of history as these broad narratives usually of, by, and for white men.  Digression.  Back in March 2018, the Hoover Institution (on War, Revolution, and Peace) sponsored a conference on “Applied History.”  Thirty male historians, one female historian, ALL white, ALL associated with American institutions.  Not having been there, I couldn’t tell you what “Applied History” actually means; my knee-jerk reaction is to wonder whether anyone talked about the use and misuse of history by policymakers, or whether this was just a bunch of white Americans telling policymakers what they should be doing on a national and international basis.

What do people mean by civic?

Yesterday, a very young and lost boxer followed me for a mile.  I went back to my Airbnb and not knowing what to do, asked my host to help me.  She cut me off:  “The dog needs to go back on the street, he can’t be here, and I can’t help you.”  After the initial panic, I realized that I can in fact take care of the problem.  I called the local no-kill shelter, they referred me to Animal Control, and I sat with the dog until the officer showed up thirty  minutes later.  He assured me the dog would be scanned for microchip information, held for 24 hours to wait for owner, then taken to the no-kill shelter.  Today, I have a “civic” survey in my inbox, asking me what I think civic means.  Based on the choices on page one, civic would seem to mean citizen action of the obvious sort recognizable by the general public:  voting, demonstrating, petitioning.  Yesterday, DH and some neighbors sent out postcards to registered voters encouraging them to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.  Yesterday, I rescued a friendly young dog with no common sense.  Yesterday, I found out my Airbnb host, who has a full life as a feminist/Democrat/community activist, did not see my action as a civic one.

I must admit that I was tempted to ignore the dog . . .  but he was so obviously lost and clueless.  A couple of local neighbors helped figure out that the dog belongs to a family not far from where I am staying, his name is Bruno, and he is quite young (about 5 months old).  I am hopeful his family picked him up from Animal Control last night.

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On my last morning in Santa Fe, I found this heart hanging on a fence outside a Canyon Road art gallery.  I am indeed grateful that I am lucky enough to live in a country where civic action — or inaction — is (still) a choice and a right.

Mysterious Salt Lake City

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This was the reunion weekend, but I had other things I wanted to do.

Decades ago, DH and I heard about the Gilgal Sculptural Garden, a place of visionary bizarreness conceived and built by a devout Mormon by the name of Thomas Battersby Child, Jr.

Thomas Battersby Child, Jr.

Thomas Battersby Child, Jr., 1888-1963

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Back then the garden was still private property, though the owners were not sure what to do with it.  People knew about the garden: if they were polite, they visited on the one day a week the garden was officially open.  Perhaps more often they trespassed, on the theory that they “weren’t doing any harm.”  The garden is now an official city park, but mostly taken care of by volunteers gardeners and the non-profit Friends of Gilgal Garden.  People still trespass, some still vandalize, and a fair number of visitors still think they “do no harm” by climbing on the sculptures for their fun snapshots.

Perhaps the most famous sculpture is the Joseph Smith sphinx:

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Speculations?

Well, at the center of Mormon belief is a connection to ancient Egypt civilization and its writing system (Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the Book of Abraham from a papyrus scroll he obtained in 1835).  Joseph Smith was also a Freemason, and according to scholars, the “Old Charges” (Freemason origin documents) claim lineage from Egypt as the birthplace of the art of masonry (or mystery).

So . . . .  Was Mr. Child a Freemason as well as a mason?  It was a moment of idle curiosity on my part as I made my way around the garden and saw the carved quotation:  “After me cometh a Builder.  Tell him I too have known.”  The line is from The Palace, a poem by Rudyard Kipling published in 1902.  And Rudyard Kipling was a Freemason.  In the poem, he used the language and imagery of Freemasonry — and masonry — to explore his feelings about his place in the community of artists past and present.  As I said, a moment of idle curiosity . . . .  It is enough that Thomas Battersby Child had his visions, and was brave enough to set those visions in stone for posterity.

Remembrance, and Moving On

A couple of years ago I wrote about the the end of a friendship — as slow as I was to acknowledge it, I finally had that moment of letting go.   Two months ago, Martha wrote me a long letter, something by way of apology/explanation, though in fact not quite either.  One phone call, one letter, thirteen years.  And this is how I know I have let go:  it did not really matter.  Not the letter, not the contents.  The questions I asked myself — was it something I did, why was I not worthy, could I have changed anything — those questions and the sadness were long gone, liberated two-and-a-half years ago by the simple act of “delete contact.”

We have our medical school reunion in a month.  Martha says we will see each other then; I think not.  My wonderful therapist has a different take on this: the meeting would be a closure for Martha — letting her know that it is OK for her to stop feeling guilty about me, to stop feeling guilty that I am not one of “her people.”  She too can let it be.

In the winter of our 4th year in medical school, one of The Amigas had her daughter.  The day Martha told me Caitlin had the baby was the day I found out that (1) she had been pregnant, and (2) she married the father of the baby many months ago.  On that day (yes, slow to catch on) I knew I was not a friend and had never been.   Today, from the sidelines of co-chairmanship, I am an observer of this group of middle-aged women who have managed to remain friends for almost 30 years.  They have known about all the major events in each other’s lives, they have bitched and shared and celebrated together through the years, and this fall, they will gather again to bitch and share and celebrate.   I wish them the best of times.

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Bucket List: Going-to-the-Sun Road

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Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park

Many years ago I worked for the National Park Service as a summer historian on a HABS/HAER project in New York City.  When we were finished, the project leader gave me a signed copy of  America’s National Park Roads and Parkways:  Drawings from the Historic American Engineering Record  (Timothy Davis, Todd A. Croteau, Christopher H. Marston, and Eric DeLony).  It is a beautiful book, full of detailed drawings and plans for some of the most amazing engineering projects anywhere in America.  Over the years, DH would lift the book out every now and then and peruse the drawings.  Someday, we would visit Glacier National Park, and in particular, go on the Going-to-the-Sun Road (his bucket list).  I always assumed it would be in a car.

A week ago, on the last day of our seven-day Tandem Bicycle Tour of Glacier National Park, we rode 43 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  Bucket list indeed!  We were on the road by 7:30 AM on a cool clear morning, and 2.5 hours later (it was uphill and we are slow!) we made it to Logan Pass.  The parking lot was packed, and a very friendly motorcyclist took us under his wings and offered to let us park the tandem by his motorcycle, on the theory that the only difference between our two wheels and his two wheels was the engine :-))  But then we spotted the bike racks, so we didn’t need him to keep an eye on the Chipmunkmobile after all.  After the requisite Logan Pass/Continental Divide photographs, we began the spectacular 45-minute descent.  I do not have a head for heights at the best of times, and I was gripping the handlebars so tightly my fingers were cramping.  But the scenery!!  A couple of drivers ignored the 25 MPH speed limit on a very narrow and twisty road and passed us; one did it so that he could zip over to the very next lookout point, a couple of hundred yards down the road, to take that Special Picture . . . .

I don’t think I can tour the Going-to-the-Sun Road in a car, ever.  I saw it from a bike, the ride was a challenge, and it was perfect.

And now, I have bike jersey envy:

Going-to-the-Sun Road jersey

Going-to-the-Sun bike jersey, from Glacier Cyclery.