Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

blythe spirit

July 24
I've been having spelling issues lately. I wanted a thorough definition for "blythe" as in "blythe spirits", the name I gave to dancers we saw on the weekend. Dictionary dot com spells it "blithe" which I think looks mean, not happy. So I thought maybe it was a British/US thing but apparently not, as Shelley's poem "To a Skylark", from which Noel Coward took his play title "Blithe Spirit", spells it "blithe".

When I was growing up, we had a cookie tin on which was printed the poem about what one is like if one is born on a certain day of the week. I read it so much that I had it memorized (too many cookies, perhaps). Some years after noticing it as a kid, it occurred to me to ask what day of the week I had been born on and Mum told me it was Sunday. Ever since then, I have been a little conceited about it.

(From Dictionary dot com:) blithe 
O.E. bliþe "joyous, kind," from P.Gmc. *blithiz "gentle, kind" (cf. O.S. bliði "bright, happy," O.N. bliðr "mild, gentle," O.H.G. blidi "gay, friendly," Goth. bleiþs "kind, friendly, merciful"). Rare since 16c. No cognates outside Gmc. "The earlier application was to the outward expression of kindly feeling, sympathy, affection to others, as in Gothic and ON.; but in OE. the word had come more usually to be applied to the external manifestation of one's own pleased or happy frame of mind, and hence even to the state itself." [OED]

The Poem

Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace
Wednesday's child is full of woe
Thursday's child has far to go
Friday's child is loving and giving
Saturday's child works hard for a living
But the child that is born on the Sabbath Day
is bonny, blythe, good and gay.

(I always thought it was a little tough on Wednesday's kid.)

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Bike ride

Yesterday we went out on our longest yet tandem ride. It was "bike path Sunday" where the NCC closes several parkways to cars and people walking, on bike or roller blades or any people-powered equipment can have the road to themselves. It's very popular. I decided to take the camera along because I've become used to the back seat on the tandem and have relaxed my grip-of-death enough to be able to take photos. Most of the photos are here at Flickr and you can view them as a slide show. Also, Peter took several of what I am calling the "Blythe Spirits" and he'll be organizing those at his Flickr Site later.
Bike Sunday July 22 07
Here is my view from the back of the bike. In fact, I can easily turn my head and see fine except for dead ahead so I have no complaints. People have asked me why I don't ride up front. It takes more physical strength to steer and balance the bike up there and Peter is just bigger and stronger than I am. And frankly, even as a feminist, I don't have to be in command all the time and I am happy to let him "be the man" when it works for both of us.
Bike Sunday July 22 07
Pedal just a few minutes past the bus (transit) station and it looks like you are in the country, although you can still hear some city noises here and there.
Bike Sunday July 22 07
We are fortunate to be able to live in a very green city with rivers and a canal running through it. Over Peter's left shoulder is the downtown area - the left-most pointy tower is the Peace Tower on the Parliament buildings and left of it, the shiny thing that looks like a dome is the Parliamentary Library, newly restored. You can see a tiny bit of the river on the left.
Bike Sunday July 22 07
This scene isn't typical of the downtown business core but it is part of Ottawa. It's Sussex Drive where many of the embassies are, as well as the Prime Minister's residence and that of the Governor General (the GG to us). It is pleasant to look at and they have finally painted a bike path along it.
Bike Sunday July 22 07
Pretending we were tourists, we got another tourist to take our picture in front of one of the GG's Footguards.
Bike Sunday July 22 07
We biked from home to downtown and then south along Colonel By to Hog's Back and then back downtown again. From there we headed East to the Aviation Parkway and along the way, noticed that they had just let the horses out for a run at the RCMP Musical Ride training facilities.
Bike Sunday July 22 07
After 50 kms (31 miles) we decided to pack it in and have a late lunch. Not too many beer were allowed as we still had 15 kms to go before we got home. We ate at the Empire Grill in the Market. Good food and nice location. And fancy Flash web site!
Bike Sunday July 22 07
On the way home, we stopped by Parliament Hill ("the Hill") where they still allow foot and bike traffic but no vehicles for security reasons. We didn't have much gear on the bike but it was heavy to pick up the back end, even so.
Bike Sunday July 22 07
Along the bike path along the river, we passed several interpretive spots that educated us about our predecessors, the lumbermen and the explorers who used the river. Here I am, putting my back into paddling that canoe.
Bike Sunday July 22 07
Finally, at the spot on the river about 12 kms from home, where an artist puts up rock sculptures each Spring after the ice melts, we came across an interpretive "street" performance. We neglected to go look at the signs they had posted so I'm not sure what it was but it was quite entertaining, with the women dressed in red and moving in slow motion, sometimes completely immersed in the water. Someone had been playing a cello which stood down on the rocks but it was quiet when we got there. We watched for a while and Peter took several photos which he will put up on his Flickr site later. Someone Peter works with came by walking her dog and we chatted for a while. There were many passersby who stopped with their kids and dogs and such and it made for a nice break in the getting home. By the time we did get home, it was close to 6 pm and we had spent 67 kms out on the road. Not as much as we are planning to do each day on our bike trip Down East but a good start.

Update! Peter has posted the rest of the Blythe Spirits! He has such an eye.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

8 things

July 3, 2007

I've been tagged by Granny J.
Here are the rules she gave me:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each participant posts eight random facts about themselves.
3. Tagees should write a blogpost of eight random facts about themselves.
4. At the end of the post, eight more bloggers are tagged
5. Go to their blog, leave a comment telling them they're tagged.

I don't think I know 8 bloggers well enough to tag them. And it seems to me that I have done something similar in the past. But I guess I can try to come up with 8 random facts. I'll think in chronological order (as far as that goes).

8 facts about me...

1. I don't remember anything before I was about 5 years old. Some people say they remember being born. Hmm. I just recently wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that I was born with an astigmatism and nearsightedness and maybe I couldn't see anything past the end of my nose until I got glasses, which was when I went to kindergarten and couldn't see the blackboard, and so, because I couldn't see anything, I didn't remember anything? Thanks goodness I could see up close because at least I learned to read by the time I was 4 or 5. Or so I'm told - I don't remember.

2. I remember thinking I was lost in the woods when we lived at CFB Petawawa when I was in grade 2 (that was about 1965). In retrospect, the woods weren't very deep and they covered a hillside that sloped down to a golf course. But one day I was out exploring things with another little girl and we got into the woods and floundered around in there. I stepped in a puddle and soaked my white ankle sock in mud - I think the worst part was wondering what my mother would do to me when I got home and showed her the sock. Anyway, the other kid and I found our way out and went home. I think I rinsed my sock out in the sink and stuffed it into the laundry basket without saying anything. I never did know if Mum found out. Mum?

3. When I was in grades 3, 4 and 5, we lived in the States. My Dad was an exchange officer who was learning about how the U.S. military did things like support and logistics. We lived at Fort Lee, Virginia and I went to local schools there. Years later, it occurred to me that every day that I went to school, I not only said the Lord's Prayer every morning, but I pledged allegiance to the American flag! I asked Mum about it (I was probably in my 20s when I did so) and said, "how could you let your children pledge allegiance to a foreign flag?" and she replied, "It didn't hurt you did it?" And she was right. Even today, when someone starts up the pledge of allegiance, my right hand heads to my heart and I know all the words.

4. Also when we lived in Virginia, we had a little sailboat. One day, when we were out sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, some dolphins appeared and surfed on our bow wave. Since the boat was only 21 feet long, we could almost lean out over the side and touch the dolphins. They were unafraid and would roll on their sides a little to have a better look at us. It only lasted a few minutes, but it's a memory for a lifetime.

5. When I was in grade 6, we lived in Kingston Ontario and I walked in the Miles for Millions march that summer. It was 27 miles (before we went metric) and that day, it rained the whole day. I wore the equivalent of Keds - an unsupported running shoe. I walked the entire 27 miles and I couldn't get out of bed to walk the next day.

6. When I was in grades 9 and 10, we lived at CFB Borden and the big thing at our high school was Reach for the Top. I wanted to be on the reach for the Top Team so bad, I could taste it. However, in the summer between grades 10 and 11, Dad was posted to Europe. Not bad in retrospect but I felt cheated out of that team experience. I only told him recently and he felt a bit bad about it but what could have been done anyway? It was his job. So I have decided that one day (some day) I will try out for Jeopardy (again - I actually did once and didn't make the cut) and this will be the story I tell Alex Trebek (assuming he is still the host) as my bit of trivia, because he was once one of the hosts for Reach for the Top.

7. Rather than kill an insect in the house, I will spend five minutes trying to direct it outside. I just did that, with a housefly of all things. Exhausted moths I can just pick up in my hands and put outside. Active things like spiders are much more difficult - you have to use something like an empty margarine container and a piece of cardboard. But I have no hesitation in killing a mosquito.

8. I currently want to do something useful with my life that will also pay me a living wage. Something where I can use the things I've learned over 49 years and the talents I have naturally. And I cannot seem to find such a thing. So I am going to write this book I've had in my head for only a few weeks and see what happens with it. I was going back over some of these old blog entries for whatever reason and stumbled upon one dealing with themes. And the theme that I glommed onto at the end of the entry was "belonging" and sure enough, that is one of the themes of the newest book idea. That and community. But I have to go write it now.

Instead of tagging bloggers, if you read this entry and want to do this exercise, let me know in the comments when you have done it.