Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Henry David Thoreau...and Ultrarunning

The Quote of the Day on 16 April, from REFDESK:

I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. - Henry David Thoreau

Yeah, I'd say on the trail one certainly should "...advance confidently in the direction of his dreams..."  In so doing you are likely to meet with success.

The Thoreau quote--while not written about Ultrarunning but appropriate nevertheless--reminded me of an Ayn Rand quote from Atlas Shrugged that I once used as part of my signature block:

He knew that he felt an odd, joyous, light-hearted self confidence.  He knew that these were the right steps down the trail he had glimpsed.

This was a great novel from the standpoint of the craft of writing....though Rand's political and economic philosophies are totally abhorrent to me.  But under the concept that even a blind squirrel will occasionally find an acorn, even Rand can turn a phrase that will resonate with someone for a totally different reason than the original intent.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bloodroot is Blooming

[Bloodroot, image credit Gary]

Today I had the bride drop me off a few miles to the east, from which point I ran home, taking full advantage of a nice tailwind.

Along the way I passed a farmer's woodlot, a rocky knob that can't be cultivated, as the forest floor was just covered with clumps of bloodroot.  I have a bunch in my own yard in similar habitat, but mine are lagging this area by a few days due to its differing sun exposure.

The plant gets its name from its deep red roots, and is one of the early wildflowers here in south-central PA.  The leaves are deeply lobed and kinda reminiscent of watermelon leaves.  When I see it I know that spring is truly here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cats in Art: Two Reclining Black Cats (Marc)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I'm using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.

This is my fifteenth post on Franz Marc (1880-1916), a key German painter whose life tragically ended early on the Western Front in 1916. Maybe he even knew my great-grandfather. This will be a multi-week series (I am still uncovering his cat works)

Image credit The Atheneum, hereTwo Reclining Black CatsFranz Marc, 1913, India ink and opaque colors on postcard,  3.5" x  5.5", held in a private collection.

As we saw last week, here's another tiny image--postcard sized--this time of a couple of black kitties.  And covered with gray triangles that to me resemble nothing so much as cat ears (or shark's teeth, if you prefer).

These guys are alert and ready for whatever the painter may have in mind...but for now, just laying there is good enough.

Friday, April 11, 2014

DC's Cherry Blossoms...and Ultrarunning

Finally--after living within 100 miles of Washington DC for some 40 years now--the bride and I made it to see the legendary cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin:

[image credits Gary]

We had a great time being tourists, and the floral display was indeed stunningly beautiful.

The link to Ultrarunning, of course, is seeing posies on the trail.  The flat-out best display ever that I have been sites to is the Virginia Bluebells along Bull Run creek in northern VA (site of the 50 miler of the same name), and the same flower found along the C+O Canal in the vicinity of milepost 103, upstream of Williamsport, MD.

They should be blooming within a couple weeks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

William Wordsworth....and Ultrarunning

From the Writer's Almanac for 7 April--always a good read, and you can get daily free emails.

We learn here of the English poet William Wordsworth, who was born on 7 April 1770 in the unfortunately-named town of Cockermouth:

He was always a fan of long hikes, and in 1790 he took a break from college at Cambridge to embark on a walking tour of Europe. While hiking through the Alps, he found inspiration in nature, and later said, "Perhaps scarce a day of my life will pass by in which I shall not derive some happiness from those images." After he left the Alps, he spent some time in France during the French Revolution, and through his exposure to it, Wordsworth became interested in the "common man" — mainly his voice and his concerns. 

The connection to Ultrarunning is, of course, Wordsworth's passion for the backcountry, and his ability to capture it in verse.  Here's an example of seeing some beautiful daffodils, which are coming on strong right now here in southern Pennsylvania:

I wandered lonely as a cloud 
That floats on high o'er vales and hills, 
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host, of golden daffodils; 
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Oldie but Goodie

With the arrival of April, for some strange reason a joke from 50 years ago sprang unbidden to my mind:

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?


There. Now try to get that out of your head.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cats in Art: Allegories of Music and Prudence (Grien)

I'm really pressed for time this week so here's a repost of a couple Hans Grien images that garnered a lot of hits here when I posted it 3 years ago.  

As you view this, keep in mind that these were painted in 1525.  Let that sink in a moment: 1525.  That alone boggles the mind.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cats in Art: Allegories of Music and Prudence (Grien)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I'm using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.

Image credit here.  Left image: Allegories of Music and Prudence (or Allegory of a Woman with Song Book, Viol, and Cat);  Right image: Allegory of a Woman with Mirror, Snake, and a Pair of Deer.  Hans Balding Grien, 1525, Oil on Wood. 

You must admit that these two images have an interesting assemblage of props, which the titles reflect.  Zuffi tells us that Grien often painted elegant female nudes in the company of symbolic animals.

Personally, I'm of course partial to the left image, as it contains one very large feline.  Grien, unfortunately, did not leave behind information as to what exactly the cat was to symbolize.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

2 Rather Large and Callous D-bags

Today's first winner is former NFL quarterback and now announcer Boomer Esiason, who trashed talked Mets infielder Daniel Murphy for missing opening day of Major League Baseball due to his wife giving birth.

Basically it's not your business, Mr. Esiason.

Second d-bag is Maine governor Paul LePage, who strongly opposes making the anti-overdose medication Naloxone more widely available to first responders and family members of opiate addicts.  Why? Because, as reported in the Huffington Post, "Last year, LePage vetoed a bill expanding access to naloxone because he claimed it would give drug users a feeling of invincibility. Scientists say there is no evidence to support that assertion."  Also cited was the cost...estimated at some $22 a dose. 

That's per life-saving dose.

Mr. LaPage obviously thinks that addicts are not worth saving...better to decrease the surplus population, I suppose.

The mean part of me hopes that both these jerks get enlightened on these issues...knowing that true enlightenment usually only comes from personal experience.