19 March 2010

Cyclone Season is Coming!!

It's official! Mark your calendars kids because the 2010 Coney Island Cyclone Season begins next Sunday, March 28th promptly at noon.

One of the greatest (well at least one of the most innocent) thrills to be had in the borough of Brooklyn, the Cyclone is not to be missed. Sure it's old. Yes, it creaks. THAT'S why it's so fun. Of course, some of the bloom has faded with the departure of Astroland a few years ago. And I'd much prefer a ride on the Cyclone AND a stroll through Luna Park...alas I'd need a time machine for that thrill...

18 March 2010

Dulce Et Decorum Est

I recently acquired this bizarre postcard that dates to World War I featuring a training corps of soldiers wearing gas masks. The image caught my attention due to my interest in World War I - specifically my minor obsession with the war poets. Some of these young men eagerly joined the armed services romantically thinking they would be doing their duty and embarking on a worthy campaign that may not have a favorable outcome ala The Charge of the Light Brigade made famous by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The horrors of the trenches on the Western Front ended the "romantic" notion of war once and for all. Nearly 100 years have passed since these soldiers took up arms against the Kaiser and for all that was learned during that conflict, warfare has become even more terrifying with each passing year. It seems that the smarter the world becomes in terms of science and strategy, the more we lose our humanity. I created this necklace as a talisman against war in our time:

Inspired specifically by
Wilfred Owen, and his 1917/18 poem:

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

15 March 2010

support your local library!

I love libraries!! I do admit though to being thoroughly overwhelmed when I enter them. SO many books, SO little time! If only I could learn through osmosis...
My local library, like so many around the country and world, operates a small shop to raise funds for its upkeep and expansion. This small shack is a treasure trove of discarded books - both donated and those removed from circulation. I try to stop by each and every week to peruse the new arrivals and recently was thrilled to find this stunning two edition set of Scripture Natural History from the mid 19th Century. Not only are the books bound in green (my favorite color) leather, they contain a treasure trove of colored plates depicting all of the animals mentioned in the Bible. The plates are gorgeous and the informational blurbs are quite astute given the time in which they were written. I have yet to read through them but am going to go for "an animal a day" goal.

I picked these up at the library store for a fraction of their estimated value and am thrilled every time I spy them on my bookshelf. More importantly, the library raised some much needed funds.

So be sure to inquire at your local branch as to whether they hold books sales, if you can donate unwanted books to their fund-raising cause, or offer to do some investigative work for them regarding items that have been donated. My two editions were marked down quite a bit from when they were first donated. But a volunteer had kindly included some bibliographic reference material inside the cover for the future owner's (ME!) reference.

Here are some of the plates.

The Saint Bernard (I adore this picture because it reminds me of the fantastic French animated show Belle et Sebastien from the early 1980s)

The Red and Black Squirrel (note: the Victorian-era book was printed in England when the Gray American variety had not yet invaded creating an environmental nightmare.

I used to have two black squirrels that lived in my yard and I have no idea why but they are about 1,000 times more adorable in both looks and movement than the grays..

The huge and frightful Cassowary (native to the islands of New Guinea and Australia). This mammoth bird (3rd in size behind the Emu and Ostrich) it was referenced in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records as the "World's Most Dangerous Bird"

And lastly...the arachnids...I've blogged about my "Arachnophilic" tendencies before...but I love spiders, and spider webs...haven't seen a Scorpion outside of a contained environment and I hope never to have that experience but they are incredibly fascinating...

14 March 2010

springing forward & lightening up...

it's hard to believe that only a month ago there were approximately 50 inches of snow on the ground. thankfully it's melted and spring is peeking through.
time to lighten up and look forward to warmer and sunnier days. i've been working on new photos for the shop and am surprised at how much my mood has improved after jettisoning the darker images.