Brain Workouts

Spanish on the Brain

Hello again. It is the start of a new school year, and so I am once again buckling down on my home study of the classics. I rarely blog about what I’m reading, but I am reading nonetheless. Sometimes I’m even reading things that are harder to comprehend than People magazine. But I still love People. This month my on-line reading group is tackling Immanuel Kant, an 18th-century German philosopher […]

Continue Reading →

Call Me Ishmael

Slowly (so very, very slowly) I’ve been reading my way through the classics of Western civilization. I purchased a couple of book collections to that end a few years ago. One is the Great Books of the Western World, published by Encyclopedia Britannica (bought on eBay for roughly 1/6th the retail price) and another is called the Five Foot Shelf of Knowledge, or officially, the Harvard Classics. This set is […]

Continue Reading →

Graphing the Perfect Chicken Nugget

The Big M and I were walking through Sam’s Club with the kids earlier this evening when everyone’s stomachs started rumbling. There were supper fixings waiting in the fridge at home, but I had done no prep, and it would be at least an hour. We got into the car and looked at each other. Some beautiful spark crossed our synapses at exactly the same time, and we just knew. […]

Continue Reading →

Forbidden Fruit

Close to our vineyard there was a pear tree laden with fruit. This fruit was not enticing, either in appearance or in flavor. We nasty lads went there to shake down the fruit and carry it off at dead of night… We took enormous quantities, not to feast on ourselves but perhaps to throw to the pigs; we did eat a few, but that was not our motive: we derived […]

Continue Reading →

Oh, it’s hard to be humble

This morning I was looking back over the list of books I’ve read over the last couple of years, and I didn’t even remember having read some of them. This is why I write them down. My friend Sylvia is very smart; she writes a mini-review of each book after she reads it. That way, when she looks back she not only can remember what the book is about, she […]

Continue Reading →

feuerall things

That last post went a completely different way than I had expected. When I found the postcard from WWI, I started thinking about something amusing I had learned about people’s reactions in the U.S. to the war: anything German-sounding had its name changed. Hamburgers (Hamburg) became Liberty Sandwiches. Sauerkraut became Liberty Cabbage. I assume this is also when hot dogs became hot dogs instead of wieners or bratwurst or whatever […]

Continue Reading →

Shakespeare’s Buddies

I heard a line from The Tempest about eyes that turned to pearls (or something like that) and decided that I needed to read the play, because that’s the kind of weird thing I do. Frankly, it’s a miracle I ever finish reading anything with all the tangents I get led off to. I probably abandon half the reading material I pick up in any given year, usually because it […]

Continue Reading →

My First Oil Painting

There have been a couple of things I’ve wanted to write about, but until I have time and energy to do so, here’s how my finished oil painting turned out: I started with it dry… Then started working on it… And finished with this: One down and three to go before I get to try color.

Continue Reading →

The Progression of a Painting

Back in college I took art history, in which I learned the astonishing (to me) fact that the old masters had as many as 99 layers to their oil paintings. I always thought that meant they had 99 layers of, say, blue on Mary’s veil, something that would give the color “depth.” Not so. As it turns out, the layers have different functions. First comes the primer to keep the […]

Continue Reading →

Adventures in Art

As I drove up to my art teacher’s studio this morning, I noticed a young black border collie trotting up the driveway. She looked friendly enough, so I wasn’t overly concerned about getting attacked — more like getting licked to death. I parked my car, and she came over to my door as I opened it. “Eh!” I yelled at her, making what Diana Gabaldon would undoubtedly refer to as […]

Continue Reading →