Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ah, long weekends...

The first week of classes at university are over! I have two online classes and two classroom classes. All my first week requirements are completed for the online classes. I have a bit of catch-up to do in the junior English class I added after dropping a low enrollment class I thought would be cancelled. The beauty of this English class is that it is offered at the community college site where I am driving my youngest to her classes two days a week. I will only have to drive into the St. Louis campus two afternoons a week when the parking lots will be much less crowded.

Water lily pond with Chihuly floating glass orbs at MOBOT
This Labor Day weekend is a bonus break to catch up on sleep, complete an English paper and plow through my other course reading requirements. I took yesterday off to visit the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) with family & friends. I love the Garden venue and the Festival is a wonderful cultural event. Of course,  as a  foodie, I enthusiastically enjoyed a mushroom, bok choy, soba noodle dish and purchased some new chopsticks for home use. The day was hot and muggy but a lovely breeze cooled down the early evening. It was nice to simply walk throughout the Garden and enjoy nature.

Lantern photo courtesy of
The Japanese Garden is an 11 acre site that showcases specific traditional Japanese garden features. The garden has several waterfalls and islands as well as a tea house and hut. There are numerous stone lanterns and a zen garden. It seems every angle gives the walker or photographer a wonderful picturesque scenario.

Seasonally, the Garden changes offer a lovely environment whenever you visit. I often leave these gardens longing for just twenty-four hours of garden maintenance by MOBOT professionals for my own yard. I rarely see any weeds at Missouri Botanical Gardens and the perfect condition of the plants is amazing. Obviously, they have crews that are not distracted by school or work, that water regularly, and do the very important daily garden bed maintenance. I unfortunately, can only dream of this sort of dedication, so I manage with somewhat inattentive garden maintenance & survival of the fittest plantings.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and relaxing Labor Day weekend!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Odd disconnect

I have retreated indoors... Shockingly I've barely been in the yard these last two weeks, only quick jaunts to the mailbox or to gather tomatoes. The front yard got mowed, but only once. Our frequent thunderstorms are greening the neighborhood environs, my unmowed backyard definitely looks pretty wild. All I want to do is knit and read; seems like a serious hibernation mode is happening here. Work has been quite physically challenging. I am more sore than usual which is somewhat depressing, but is probably the cause of my low activity level.

Lately, the world full of bad news ranging from the devastating Ebola epidemic in Africa, the horrific massacre of the Yezidi tribe in Iraq by Isis, the tragic border crossings of South American unaccompanied minors and the violence here at home, following the police shooting of a young man in Ferguson, Missouri. All these situations create a sense of helplessness for those of us unable to effect any change in these situations. The militarization of our community police forces is shocking and somewhat demoralizing, since apparently we, the local citizens are the enemy here in small town Missouri. The backlash from this situation is the realization all residents are potential targets, race doesn't matter, retaliatory police firepower is aimed at all of us!

Friday, August 8, 2014

On Break

Green beans and tomatoes are being picked! I love fresh garden veg and am always thrilled with the first harvests. My two months of classes got me way behind on garden weeding, but we are still getting a fair amount of produce from slightly neglected plants. A typical summer in Missouri is ongoing, hot, humid & dry, so extra watering has been required. The rain barrels were empty two days ago, but we've had several big thunderstorms this week, so now they're overflowing.

During these few weeks off before the fall school semester, I have been working on my "to-do" list. It seems there is no end to this list of chores!  My youngest, is learning to drive and as instructor in residence, I've been spending a significant amount of time in the car. She is doing well enough and I haven't been totally terrified yet, thus I am fairly certain she will pass her license test this fall. I'm also doing the final picot bind off on the Tiara scarf; I'm getting scary short on yarn so hopefully, I'll have enough...

I am primarily taking the remaining couple of weeks to rest up, clean up and generally get organized, so life once classes start, won't be a total disaster. The dogs agree & opt for rest.

Friday, August 1, 2014

World of Words

"The limits of your language are the limits of your world." Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1922

I discovered this quote in one of my notebooks and have been thinking about the depth & meaning of these words for several days. Initially, an image of the Eliza Doolittle character, from the musical My Fair Lady, came to mind... someone with horribly accented, mispronounced speech that dooms her to poverty in the gutters of London. Eliza's physical and vocal transformation under Professor Higgins' tutelage, offer this new, educated Eliza many more positive life opportunities. More recently, the dramatic film, The King's Speech, emphasized the extreme importance of speaking with clarity and power but... speech and language are actually, two different things.

Language encompasses both speech and the written word; yet, isn't it also a mental dialog we automatically and unconsciously apply to every aspect of our environment? We use language to communicate ideas as well as feelings through verbal, postural and written means. The depth of our expression is influenced by our creativity and the effective use of a familiar language. The element of shared meaning is at the crux of language, flavored by the delivery of speech. That which humans have not experienced, rather our limits are devoid of language & from which we cannot communicate.

Stroke victims who have limited language live in a more limited world than the one they previously inhabited. Speakers of languages different from our own have as many limits in our environment, as we would have as a non-native speaker in their homeland. Still, each human strives to develop language to express their ideas to others. Infants communicate without the benefit of what adults consider language but indeed their expressions convey needs, ideas and feelings. Perhaps instinctively mimicking our first primitive attempts at language millennia past.

Words, indeed language, so crucial to our survival are also the tinder of destruction. Disagreements through faulty expression, and even the dire specter of war can be the result of the limits of language. During my philosophical pondering of this concept I can see many situations world-wide that are dramatically effected by the limits of language. Language is deeper than the spoken word, it reflects limits of individuals and cultures. Language also delineates the limits of the world of the speaker. So many different lines in the sand...