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Showing posts from December, 2018

Meditation 12.30.18

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Dear Henry,

Calligraphy enthralls me, as do fountain pens, and while I will never make a career with hand lettering, I do enjoy playing with word art and find it an incredibly fun hobby.

Even if you aren't into hand lettering, much can be said for the beauty of handwriting produced by the nib of a fountain pen, and the sophistication a letter written by steel possesses. 

There is no need to fear the fountain pen, according to The Fountain Pen Network, fountain pens require less pressure than a ballpoint pen, and while there is still the problem of wet ink, the situation is similar to the problem with gel pens now.

I am intrigued enough to want to begin writing with fountain pens and to incorporate the art of calligraphy into all of my correspondence.

Hmmm..... it is something to consider.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.29.18

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Dear Henry,

I have decided who I want to be when I grow up and that is Jean Jacques Savin.

Mr. Savin is currently floating the Atlantic ocean in what amounts to a well-stocked bucket.

Why?

Why not?

No really, why not?

Mr. Savin, who has traveled the Atlantic Ocean three previous times by sailboat has decided that on this trip he would go where the ocean currents take him and he is bobbing through the Atlantic at the mercy of the ocean currents. While not the purpose of the trip, he is also dropping markers in the water to aid in oceanic studies about Atlantic water currents.  The trip is expected to take approximately three months and will include a special bottle of wine and foie gras celebration for his birthday.

I love the thought of exploring the world in such a casual manner, and to do so well fed.  My world exploration will have to take place in something more traditional, however, I am prone to sea-sickness and Mr. Savin's pod sounds as if it would definitely bring that on…

Meditation 12.28.18

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Dear Henry,

Have you ever wondered how words come into the lexicon?

I do, all of the time.  Today, for example, after realizing my lettuce's prime has passed, I contemplated the word "wilt".

Wilt is a great word. It is one of those words which immediately brings a picture to mind, in this case, the word "wilt" automatically causes one to picture sagging greenery or English ladies falling into chairs.

According to Merriam Webster - Wilt is the anglicized version of the German "erwelken" (same meaning), first appearing around 1691 and becoming an increasingly popular verb at the height of the salad bar craze of the late 1980s.

Today, wilt accurately described the salad mix in my refrigerator.

xoxo a.d.




Meditation 12.27.18

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Dear Henry,
This Spring I will be on a hunt.  
There are dragonflies, called the Green Darner, that are an iridescent green and blue.  They aren't very big, only about 3 inches, but they look stunning and I want to photograph them.

According to this great article in the Washington Post, they migrate (like birds or butterflies) from Florida and should arrive in NW Arkansas about the end of March.  
Stayed tuned for pictures.
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.26.18

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Dear Henry,

The Christmas holiday was lovely and I was fortunate enough to have an abundance of treats, snacks, and really good food.
I ate entirely too much.
The treadmill is calling.
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.24.18

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Dear Henry,

I think almost everyone is familiar with the tale of Silent Night and how the lyrics, written by Joseph Mohr were put to the music of a guitar by Franz Gruber because the small town of Oberndorf Austria didn't have a working organ.

What I didn't know was that the style of the melody also reflects the location of the hymns creation.

Gruber used the Siciliana musical style to create the melody. Siciliana is often associated with Italian gondoliers and fishermen and contains a rolling feel, much like the movement of water.  Oberndorf Bei Salzburg is a town located on the river Salzach and most of the residents at the time would have worked with the salt traders who, because of a boulder in the river, had to unload their barges and reload their barges. By using this style, Gruber gave a nod to the importance of the river and its meaning to the congregation.

Little did the two of them know, their hymn would become a smash hit, and, ultimately, become one of the most bel…

Meditation 12.23.18

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Dear Henry,

All of the Christmas preparations are done - more or less anyway - the presents are wrapped and all the pre get together stuff has been finished,  and today is becoming a much needed day of rest.
We are also looking at another amazingly warm day.
I have a book and a chair in the sun.  I may rest there for the remainder of the day.
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.22.18

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Dear Henry,

I believe I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.

I love Southern Winters. 

Today it is supposed to top out at 60 degrees, with clear skies, and a brilliant sun.

I am going outside.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.21.18

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Dear Henry,

Still cleaning - Day 3 of the Christmas Cleaning Circus. 

I grumbled a bit yesterday when I looked around and realized how much stuff I still needed to clean and then immediately felt sheepish that I grumbled.

I am fortunate - I have a house to clean and furniture to put in it.  I have enough food to eat and clean water.

In other words, this season's housecleaning has become an exercise in gratitude and I am happy I am doing it.    It has been a great activity to prepare for the New Year.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.20.18

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Dear Henry,

It's Christmas Cleaning Circus day two  - Living and Dining Rooms - it is amazing how much "stuff" collects on bookcases, the end tables, and within the coat closet.

I am looking forward to clearing it out and having a fresh slate for 2019.

Wish me luck and a short line at the recycling center.

xoxo a.d.




Meditation 12.19.18

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Dear Henry,

It is time for the Christmas Cleaning Circus.  Today, because it is overcast,  I will do windows. 

Windows are not my favorite thing, but, I am armed with plenty of Windex and an audiobook, so the fun starts now.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.18.18

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Dear Henry,

This morning I was jolted awake at 3 am with one of "those" questions.

What is the difference between an algorithm and a math problem? 

You see, I have often wondered how we could have computer algorithms that were developed prior to the development of computers. 

According to Merriam Webster, an algorithm is a "procedure for solving a mathematical problem". In other words, algorithms are the "Math Rules" we were taught growing up.

Computer programing is ultimately the art of stating the problem mathematically and then creating an algorithm to solve it - or rather, just Google it, many problems have already been solved!

There is a book series -  "The Art of Computer Programing" by Dr. Donald Kuhl - that explores, in incredible depth, the algorithms that define computer design. 

I am not sure that I am brave enough to try and read that.

xoxo a.d.



Meditation 12.17.18

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Dear Henry,

Today I learned that President Grant loved to speed and race through the streets of Washington D.C. in the style of  The Fast and the Furious.

Yes, yes. The hero of the Union would race through the streets like a madman - giving his horses "free reign" to see what they could do.

Speeding carriages were actually quite a problem in the capital, there were many reports of carriage-pedestrian injuries and fatalities and the local police were continually being called upon to "do something".

One of D.C's police officers, William H. West, actually began arresting people who were speeding.  Officer West even arrested President Grant.

He didn't appear in court.

xoxo a.d.


Meditation 12.16.18

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Dear Henry,

For about a month, I haven't heard a single hoot from our resident owl.  We were guessing that the owl moved on and it actually made me quite sad.
It appears, however, the owl was just on vacation, perhaps a sort of singles cruise.  Last night whilst taking Ziggy for a walk, I heard the owl and then I heard a second owl.
Maybe soon, we will have baby owls.
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.15.18

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Dear Henry,

I made fudge for the first time in years.  
I used to make it all of the time, but then, I grew up and got busy.
You hear horror stories about fudge, about how challenging it is to make, and because it had been so long since I had made it, I was concerned.
Turned out, I didn't need to be.  My recipe still works and turned out beautifully.
It is:
2 C. Brown Sugar 1 C. White Sugar 1 C. Whole Milk 1 TBSP. Butter 1 Tsp. Vanilla 4 oz Unsweetened Chocolate 1 C. Walnuts
In a heavy saucepan mix the sugars, milk, and butter over medium heat until it begins to boil. Then stop stirring and allow it to cook until soft ball stage (about 238 F)  - Don't stir.  It is tempting.
Remove pan from heat and allow it to rest for 15 min.
Break up and melt the chocolate.  Add chocolate, vanilla, and walnuts to the sugar mixture and beat until starts turning creamy.
Turn into a buttered dish and let cool.
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.14.18

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Dear Henry,

I read on Quite Interesting this morning that it is traditional to roller skate to church on Christmas day in Caracas Venezuela. 

We don't have any traditions quite as exciting here.  In fact, we are at a crossroads with our holiday traditions.  We no longer have little children and our children have plans of their own.  For the first time, Fish and I are no longer responsible for the whole shebang.

A liberating feeling for sure, but, I have been a little adrift this holiday.  What am I supposed to do? 

We are working on creating new traditions and plan on establishing Christmas Day Brunch as our designated "family" time.

Until then, I am just doing what I want to do, including making fudge.  From scratch.  Keep your fingers crossed.

xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.13.18

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Dear Henry,

I think I am finally ready to start celebrating for Christmas and I am ready to start decorating now.
For me, the Christmas season is a period of winding down the year and bringing everything to a close.  I don't feel ready to end the year.  
Perhaps that is the lesson of my 2018.  That no matter how unprepared I am for the future,  it will ultimately arrive.
The least I can do is decorate for it.
xoxo a.d.

Meditation 12.12.18

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Dear Henry,

This morning, prior to finishing my first cup of coffee, I stumbled upon an article about science in the Washington Post.  It was quite brain-jarring. 
This article, like many other scientific articles, was difficult to understand and I had to ponder that for a moment.  
Why?  Why is it that scientific writing is so hard to read and understand?  Granted, the concepts themselves are challenging and esoteric, but the bulk of "literature" is often hard to engage in for anyone other than the truly dedicated and that problem doesn't make sense to me, because, I believe, anything can be written about in an interesting manner.
I think the problem is language. Science has its own language and those who are fluent in "science" aren't necessarily fluent in "descriptive English".    There are exceptions,  Andrew Thomas's series "Hidden in Plain Sight" was, I thought, a great "science for everyone" book and I thought that …

Meditation 12.10.18

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Dear Henry,

I am incredibly embarrassed, I thought I knew someone and it turns out I didn't.  Of course, I didn't realize that I didn't know them until after I shared a rambling and somewhat off the wall story.

You see, I have a Goodreads account and for the last year or so I have been following a fellow reader named M*** who I thought was my friend M*** from Utah. We seem to have similar tastes and reading habits and, using the information gleaned from Goodreads, I would occasionally send M*** from Utah book recommendations based upon  M*** on Goodreads' reading list.

Yesterday I noticed "we" were not friends on Goodreads which I thought was odd, as we were friends everywhere else, so I sent M*** on Goodreads a friend request and answered M***'s required two questions.

Neither question seemed out of M*** from Utah's character.

One of his questions was to relate my favorite pun.  While I don't have a favorite "pun" per se, I do love them…

Meditation 12.9.18

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Dear Henry,

It has been cold lately. Below freezing, even during the day.  All of the animals, spoiled creatures that they are have been cooped up inside.
They are thoroughly sick of each other and after their antics last night, I am thoroughly sick of them. 
Today promises to be in the mid-'40s, with sunny skies.  Warm enough to go outside and out they will go for a couple of hours.
I may join them.
xoxo a.d.

A Meditation in Ink: Meditation 12.8.18

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Dear Henry,

I am waiting on Diego.  The storm, not the painter.  It doesn't appear that he will be coming, at least not to NW Arkansas.

It is sort of a letdown, as the previous week has been nothing but warnings regarding the impact of Diego.  School functions have been rescheduled, parades have been canceled and the grocery store has been completely chaotic this week.

I get that Mother Nature has a mind of her own, but, seriously, there must be some science behind this right?  So, I Googled. Here is what I learned:


Your local meteorologists should be the most accurate forecasters, as they are the ones who "know" the area.
If they are talking about a storm more than a week out, the forecast will be much different than the actual weather event, so don't rely on it to make plans.
Realize that if snow/rain totals are included, and the storm is still 48 hours away, those totals are a guess.
Finally, a forecast is a prediction.  A prediction is an educated guess.
In other wo…

A Meditation In Ink: Meditation 12.7.18

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Dear Henry,

December 7, like September 11 is a sad day for Americans.

 What I didn't realize though, is that December 7 has, over the course of history, sort of been a crap day all around.

Within the U.S. alone, December 7th marks the day of the Civil War battle of Prarie Grove, the day Congress declared war on Germany, and, of course, the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

Worldwide, there was also a devastating earthquake (Armenia), a freak tornado in London, and the date of the infamous Nazi "Nordic Dominance" report.

However, a couple of positive things also happened.  Apollo 17 successfully launched on what would be the last lunar mission and Galileo made it to Jupiter.

All in all, though, December 8th appears to be a better day.

xoxo a.d.

A Meditation in Ink: Meditation 12.6.18

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Dear Henry,

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the known conservative and career politician said "Sh!tstorm" out loud, in public, in front of the media, and on purpose. This wasn't the first time she said it either. 
Because I am completely immature, I am still giggling like a twelve-year-old.
The term actually holds an entry in the German national dictionary - it means "storm of outrage on the internet" and doesn't carry near the same "naughty" connotations in German as it does in English, although the German dictionary does note that it is an English word.
As much fun as it was to think that she said something outrageous, she really didn't and I am sure she would never, ever use the direct translation, which would be something along the lines of "Scheisse St├╝rmt" because that would be inappropriate.
xoxo a.d.



A Meditation in Ink: Meditation 12.5.18

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Dear Henry,

I suffer from "wishful cooking". 
 Around each holiday and especially around Christmas, I go through all my recipes looking for holiday-appropriate treats.
After scouring through recipes, Pinterest,  and other sources, I generally end up with ten or twelve things that I am going to make.
Then, reality sits in, and I realize, who am I kidding?  There is no way I am going to be able to cook twelve different kinds of Christmas treats.
Then I buy fudge and call it good.
But it is fun to pretend that I will truly put the neighborhood to shame with my Christmas baking.
xoxo a.d.


A Meditation In Ink: Meditation 12.4.18

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Dear Henry,

Today in the New York Times, there was an article on animal intelligence, including that of the octopus.

While there are many times of intelligence and cunning in the animal kingdom, scientists generally consider an animal's ability to problem solve and remember things the key defining traits of superior intelligence

In the article, they listed the criteria that accompany intelligent animal life, which include a bigger brain, a longer lifespan, and a social structure so that an animal can learn from others.   These traits explain almost all the intelligent creatures on the planet. Except for one.  The octopus.

Octopuses are smart, very smart, yet most only live a couple of years at most.  They aren't hugely social creatures either, so they can't pick up knowledge from others and really, they don't have a "brain" - at least not like we think of one. They do host a central set of nerves, but then, there appears to be a "brain" in each arm …

A Meditation In Ink: Meditation 12.3.18

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Dear Henry,

I have just cracked open the pages of my first James Michener novel.

Go ahead, gasp, Dad did.

He does have a point, I do read a lot of historical fiction and I am also working my way through everything that has won either the National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize.  So James Michener was definitely on the "to read" list. I just hadn't gotten to him yet.

In any case, Dad was so appalled he mailed me his copy of "The Covenant".

I must say, this is a hard read.  Not because of the writing style nor is it because of a bad storyline.  It is because the book is about South Africa, a country I know only two things about 1 - It has had a real problem with apartheid and 2- They are running out of drinking water.  So, with every page, I have to keep googling something and then try and figure out where I was on the page.

It isn't a bad process (it is actually quite fun, I am learning a lot), but a slow one and one that is forcing me to realize that the…

A Meditation in Ink: Meditation 12.1.18

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Dear Henry,

It was quite the thunderstorm last night. Snarly, windy, the air crackling with excitement and excess ozone.
This morning we faced the aftermath of last nights chaos.
At least we faced the aftermath after we got the tree off the road.
As loud as the storm was, we did not hear the tree fall in the woods.
xoxo a.d.